The future of the Ukrainian metal stage is a popular issue discussed today by many representatives of the cultural mass. Prospects for young bands and why domestic groups seek primarily to achieve success abroad. Who but the musicians will tell better about the ups and downs on the way to glory. Today's interview guests are the Ukrainian metalheads Jinjer, conquered not only the cities of Ukraine and CIS countries but also concert halls of Europe. During the six years of active existence, this band has established itself confidently in the genres of groove/progressive/death metal, joining the ranks of brutal artists with female vocals. Jinjer is a regular participant at major rock festivals in Ukraine, the winner of the Best Metal Act 2013 and the in-demand group on the foreign stage. Having completed another European tour, the musicians brought a lot of news that has been shared with Noizr Zine. In the interview, the bassist Eugene Abdyukhanov and the guitarist Roman Ibramkhalilov told us about working on the new album, about сooperation with major European label, as well as the band’s decision not to perform in Ukraine over 2016.
On Sunday, November 8, you played the final concert of the European tour. There is little time to rest, perhaps, to pursue other things. How are you going to spend the rest of the year?
Eugene: We still have concerts this year. In early December, we are going to Romania. Actually, we had planned to play an extensive tour in support of the DVD, but because of the tragedy in Bucharest, the situation with concerts and the general atmosphere in the country we’ve been forced to revise our plans. There are only three shows which organizers insisted on our arrival. The remaining time will be devoted to composing material for the new album. The process is already underway.
More than a month you were on the tour which started in Ukraine and continued abroad. It is known that in October, for the first time you played in Belarus, met Halloween at the concert in Vienna. Share your impressions about past performances.
Eugene: It went surprisingly smoothly and well. Everywhere was sold out, everywhere we were met truly unselfishly — I love when people do not feel sorry for themselves at the concert. Particularly worth mentioning concerts in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Ternopil, Poltava, Chisinau, and Vienna. It was particularly hot. And Lutsk! There was the smallest concert hall, but public came as elsewhere — under 200 people. Generally, we call such shows "wet".
The first concert of the tour took place in Kyiv, then the band performed in several cities in Europe, the CIS countries and then returned to Ukraine. Are there any differences between these concerts? How would you rate the level of festivals, events, which the Ukrainian audience can settle today?
Eugene: Let's just say it gets better. Especially in comparison to what it was 8 years ago. Definitely, we are growing and developing on that front. Of course, our partners Bookings in Vienna are already working on a completely different level, but Vienna is Vienna... and at the club, where we performed, the artists of a global importance also give shows. For example, one of these days Periphery will perform there. But we have a cohort of very worthy organizers. For instance, Alex Bedrin from Kharkov or MonteRay Live Stage team in Kyiv. It’s a big pleasure to perform at their events. Unfortunately, there few people like that. Often we have to be our own promoter, simply rent a club and engage in the activity remotely. This is life. But there are great clubs! Albeit not everywhere. For example, Villa in Poltava, MonteRay in Kyiv, RK in Dnipropetrovsk... and, perhaps, these three concert halls are only for all the country!
Recently, you have shared the news about the decision not to act in Ukraine, 2016. What caused such a step? Can fans expect a change of that solution?
Eugene: No, there will be no changes. As we announced, we will play at one summer festival, but that's it. The reason is simple — we want to devote ourselves to the band’s promotion abroad. As I said earlier, we often have to act as organizers, but it is such a time-consuming process that, to be honest, there is no more strength left. There is a lack of promoters/bookers, competent and experienced people who are able to hold the event at an appropriate level for the group. In addition, we feel that we need a break from the Ukrainian stage. The same clubs, stages and the audience. Well, how many cities in the country where you can play real concerts do we have... 13-14 at most. And everywhere we've played. I already know the guys in the audience who come to our shows. That's great, but it's time to take a break. The plan was not to give concerts in 2016, but we decided to give one, which will be a consolation for our loyal fans.
Do you think there are prospects for metal bands in Ukraine and in general, for the further development of the local metal stage?
Eugene: There are prospects for developing, but if a band is limited to perform only in Ukraine, it is a direct way to the grave. Our local metal stage is too small, the group will develop up to a certain level, but the air is running low at one point, and there will be a choice: either to suffocate or to strive abroad.
Unfortunately, the young and even not young bands do not understand it. But I’m very glad of the fact that we have groups able to kick the ass of even the most eminent Western maitres, both in terms of performance and material quality.
Just recently, the organizers announced the Czech Fajtfest Open-Air, in which you’ll take part. Where else can Jinjer be heard? Tell us about the band's plans for the upcoming year.
Eugene: For today, in addition to FajtFest, we will play at least one more festival in the EU. It still a secret which one, as the official announcement hasn't been on yet. Both festivals will abound with headliners and at the both of them we act as co-headliner, so we will support our idols! Also just recently we have come up with exclusive summer performance in Ukraine, which will be announced soon. Perhaps, something else will be added until the end of spring. Many fests will have finally been determined their line-up only by March. In addition, we are forming tour for spring with concerts in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, familiar to us Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece. We want to leave Western Europe for the fall. In general, JINJER will play a lot as usual.
After Dmitriy Oksen leaving, Roman Ibramkhalilov remains the only Jinjer’s guitarist. You've been playing for a few months and working on the new material with the current line-up. How did Dmitriy’s leaving affect, and just the lack of the second guitar, the band’s creative process?
Roman: At the moment, we don’t have any special difficulties in writing new material, well, what's the impact of the lack of the second guitarist, let it be evaluated by the audience.
In July, the band opened a vacancy, searching for a replacement to Dmitry. Conditions for the candidates were very demanding. How many people responded to join you? Is this vacancy actual and can Jinjer’s line-up update with new guitarist for 2016?
Roman: There were about 10-15 people, and among them, there were a couple of really skillful guitarists. The ability to play the guitar was the main criterion, but not a decisive one. JINJER is family and for joining it, it’s not good enough just to be able to play the instrument. At the moment, we have suspended the search, but all things are possible, only time will tell.
In the past year the band experienced a serious challenge associated with serious health condition of the drummer. What about Eugene's recovery, how does he feel?
Roman: Eugene feels good, as good as possible in his state. He is still a very long way to go to fully stand up, both literally and figuratively, but considering the severity of his injury, the progress is simply amazing. He is full of positive, cheerful set and will fight on. I’m glad that Mantulin seriously set about playing the guitar, constantly engages, writes something and records.
Talking about the creative process, in 2015 it turned out to be quite productive for many of your peers, both in Ukraine and abroad. What releases of the year did you select for yourself?
Roman: From the Ukrainian bands this year have pleased ZLAM, Megamass and Space Of Variations. Among foreigns, Lamb of God have come up with a good album. Many releases I haven’t listened yet to and so to say "to taste" them, so that's all for now.
In one interview you said about the readiness to release a new full-length album, closer to spring 2016. At what stage is LP now?
Eugene: We have 5 demo songs, though not for all of them texts are ready. We are completely caught up on work process. This is a new stage in all senses, very interesting! Personally, I go to the next level musically with the new songs. We have a lot to do, but, certainly, I feel the creative urge. However, sometimes my hands sore.
Eugene has mentioned the double record earlier. What other ideas are discussed for the band’s new album?
Eugene: Yes, we had the idea to record and release an album in two stages. But for some reason, we are forced to abandon it.
Before your albums were issued abroad, via The Leaders Records (Greece) in particular. What are the plans for the upcoming record?
Eugene: This is a very sensitive issue for us at the moment. We pay tribute to our Greek partners, they are professionals and they perfectly managed, and at the previous stage, the label did everything for the band’s growing and achieving the success, but the next album will not be released via The Leaders Records. Just a couple of weeks ago, a top metal label made us a very tempting offer, and yesterday we signed the contract. While I can't name the label or tell some other details... I’ll say one thing, the album will be released in the first half of 2016 through the label, which is among the top three in Europe.
In 2013, Jinjer was awarded The Best Metal Act. What can you say about the currently known this year nominees and their works? Do you plan to visit The Best Metal Act 2015?
Eugene: First of all, I want to note that this year, unlike the previous one, the competition will be really interesting. Selection of nominees is impressive — very serious opponents are gathered. In the past year, the line-up was clearly weaker, of course, that it's not about Megamass or ZLAM, they are without a doubt in the "top".
I have identified this year's favorite for me. Definitely, I will root for Space of Variations. They like no one else deserved the title of the best band of 2015. This is a breakthrough. About visiting... I'm a family man, It’s extremely difficult to get somewhere not for work, I mean without performing. But we’re planning an important "not a concert" event in Kyiv for December. So maybe that it will coincide in dates with BUMA, and then anything can happen.
The band is developing very rapidly gaining popularity in Ukraine and Europe. What are the goals that Jinjer set itself for the next few years? What famous groups you would like to share the stage with?
Eugene: Our goal is the same to compose and play music. Do it with the highest quality, with full dedication. Doing this, we need to conquer new horizons, to expand the audience, as well as working on the business end for eventually JINJER could afford the best instruments, equipment, our own technical personnel lest the quality of our live performances should not suffer from faulty switching of a stage, crappy sound at the trashy club, drunk, or simply inept local staff. Well, as any musician, I want to record my "gold" album, the top of career... although, of course, such work may itself be the final. And about sharing the stage, then definitely it would be great to play with Gojira and Lamb of God.
Interview by Yuri Somov
Translated by Anastezia