Oct 5, 2010
Jesus Was A Stoner - A Interview With Stoned Jesus
You have read the review, now read the Stoned Jesus interview. The band from the Ukraine with the Psychedelic Doom grooves with an bluesy edge. Aleks Evdokimov put this interview together which really gets to the heart of what the band is about. We even get a in-depth run down of the album's tracks from the band themselves. Light up and enjoy this interview with the main-man Igor Sidorenko....
Q: Igor salute! How are you? When will Solitude Productions start to spread the first CD of Stoned Jesus?
A: Hello, Alex! Everything's better than ever, finally we have autumn instead of this horrible heat. Besides in this very moment while I'm answering your questions Jesus' CDs are expecting to be bought by our patient listeners - it's better late than never.
Q: First of all, man, what's about band's name? Of course, the terms "stoned", "dope" and "doom" look good together in monikers of other bands, but what's a reason to sound Christ's name in vain as themes of occultism/Satanism/Christianity do not open wide in your songs?
A: Why not, we're about religious issues, but not in your ordinary "smoke-pot-play-doom-worship-Satan"-vein, more different. The moniker itself at first was something like "The Stoned Jesus from the Outer Space", an obvious pun connected with all these stoner cliches. But I thought that would be unfair as for band's music, which is a serious deal, so I shortened the name.
Q: So from your point of view a level of seriousness between listeners and band becomes higher when you connect in the band's name few incongruous words, is it so? Sorry, man but there's no smell of weed in the air - just stench of slightly burnt pies which Osbourne's wife just bake!
A: I love such pies, ahaha! I disagree anyway, besides "Stoned Jesus" can be interpreted as "Jesus hit by stones", you may check related chapters in Bible
Q: Very few ones play such music as you do here, and I understand why you started to write songs in that genre. But didn't you think what listeners of Russia and Ukraine could take Stoned Jesus seriously for it's certain originality, but western public will write off the band as simply another clone?
A: I'll return later to my reasons for playing such stuff. As for feedback from non-Russian listeners and musicians they are already positive which inspires me a lot. As for the moniker again…I heard amazing material from a band with such a generic name as "Black Wizard", so you have to look deeper at times.
Q: Well… so don't you fear that others will see Stoned Jesus only as imitators? Sabbathical vocal, samples from horror movies and etc.
A: There's a genre, right? And there are some genre's laws, which you may either ignore or follow, but some cliches are really fun to use in your own material. Sure I don't get as low as stealing riffs or writing them by well-known standards, but why not to use some horror movies samples? It's fun, just pure fun.
Q: These samples would be funny if they were taken from Russian movies. I'm sure that we could pick up few films with really cool citations. Don't you think that Russian lyrics could help you to reach more listeners?
A: I think of English as universal language for music. I've been learning it both in school and university, even teaching children English at school! I dream in English, it's my second native language. It's harder for me to write Russian lyrics, besides it wouldn't fit for the genre, it would be just ridiculous.
Q: There are a few more new original bands into our territory - Lord of Doubts and Without God for example - you know them of course. We can blame first one its excessive passion to Electric Wizard, but the second one have demonstrated real keenness of wit with their new EP. Do you have any ideas how to enrich Stoned Jesus with some new features?
A: As I've already told, there's a genre, but there's also a style. This is what one should be aiming for - making out your own signature manner, which can be elaborated even within the borders of stoner and doom music. Just check out Quest For Fire or Asteroid as good examples of what I'm saying. To be simple, we want to move further from genre's cliches to hard rock and heavy metal roots like psychedelia, blues rock, even early progressive rock and stuff. Btw, the most recent Electric Wizard effort ("Witchcult Today") shows their movement in a similar direction, I wonder where would they go then.
Q: When did you start to play heavy rock? And who did help you to record the songs of this album?
A: I'm playing guitar for about 15 years, played in a dozen bands, wrote my own solo material, but if you're asking about StJ it's roughly 11 months old. I play with my friends Nick (bass) and Alex (drums), we know each other for a couple of years. I wouldn't say like they just helped me with this record, we are a full-time band, we playing live shows, rehearsing, it's serious!
As for how did Jesus begin…I had hard times two years ago, and I needed to pull out some negative from inside. The first demo was a some kind of lame sludge, but with some time later I realized what exactly I want to play. I've always loved old heavy stuff and StJ was meant to be a tribute to Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Blue Cheer…And this was the very moment when I found out that writing such stuff brings me more satisfaction than any other activity, it's easy, it's fun, it's amazing!
Q: How do you think why those bands have that stood at the roots of doom - Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Saint Vitus - are still popular? Well, okay, it's understandable but why are they still popular now?
A: I'm afraid of being too pathetic here, but these bands are still popular because they are REAL. If their music still touches millions of hearts around the world, this should mean they really have something in it. I don't know about "topicality" of whatsoever. Many claimed that there's a stoner trend when they see bands like Stone Cold Boys, The Moon Mistress or Evil Cosmonaut emerging. But since these guys don't earn their living with their music, there should be no "popularity/topicality"-talks on the post-USSR areas. I'd be deadly glad if my contemporaries discover psychedelia, blues-rock, progressive rock via "popular" stoner. I feel like there are loads of 80s stuff revivalists though, so I'd like to have more ones for 60-70s stuff.
Q: You play in bands Funeral of the Sun and Krobak, and their styles are not too diverse: for example Funeral of the Sun plays blackened gothic doom/progressive/doom-death metal.
A: To begin with, these projects are mostly one-man-bands. The only band I'm in except for StJ is SNAKERIDER, I play drums there. FUNERAL OF THE SUN is no more, KROBAK is having a new album coming out, some instrumental meanderings inspired by GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR and YNDI HALDA. There are also VOIDA (singer-songwriter/drone) and ARLEKIN (neo-prog/new wave), but they're kinda on hiatus. I write some stuff for them from time to time, no-one pushes me up, so don't expect anything new from them for now, he-he.
Q: What kind of artistic activity do you want to release with Stoned Jesus? Where is a guarantee that you will not leave the band changing it for another project?
A: I'm utterly serious with this one. As I've already said, I wonder where would we go and how far would we move from genre's cliches while working over our own manner. Why switch to something else?
Q: How long did you search for a label?
A: It has emerged somewhat spontaneously. I thought of releasing our stuff through foreign labels, but they always need you to play live shows. We won't mind touring with High On Fire, Minsk or Shrinebuilder, but would label drag us from Ukraine to let's say US for playing just a couple of shows? I chose Solitude for their distribution ties, huge client base, for what they have already done for the world's heavy scene, finally.
Q: And they without reserve did agree to produce just four songs CD, did they? Well, you play not funeral doom so you could compose few more songs.
A: Personally I myself pretty deep into 70-80s timing standards with albums lasting from 35 to 55 minutes. I don't like hour-long or even longer releases, I just get bored. Besides these four tracks were the best ones we had at that time.
Q: I can not agree completely but let's head on… as the album consists only of few tracks then would you comment each of them?
A: With pleasure!
"Occult" - one of the first tracks that have come through some serious transformations. Lyrically it's about the medieval Chruch as a bureaucracy institution, conquering new believers with steel and fire.
"Red Wine" - probably, my favorite track here, simple and catchy, with my fave guitar solo to date. It's somewhat considered to be a gothic-vampires stuff joke, but I was influenced by another thing, an old Czech movie "Valerie and the Week of Wonders". Our friend Polina made a beautiful video based on this movie, feel free to check it on youtube! Musically it's what I'd love to see StJ progressing - well-written songs, not just 10-min long riffage with some random weed-related humming on the background.
"Black Woods" - this is somewhat a pasteboard for our band that's usually played last. I didn't expect it to become that popular, but I like the result! It's about a wizard whose pride led him to a covenant and eternal imprisonment in these Black Woods. Looks like we're a christian rock band, ha!
"Falling Apart" - a quite different side of StJ's stuff, I mean different from "Red Wine", but I plan to pay as much attention to it as I can. I've always been into long hypnotic jams, and the whole stoner doom is pretty much influenced by psychedelic rock, this is obvious. Hence a 13-min track about Icarus-like trip-o-nauts looks like the ideal ending for the album. Samples here (as well as in "Occult") are taken from another old cult movie, "Alucarda", don't hesitate to check it, it's awesome!
Q: Stoned Jesus already played a few gigs in Ukraine, which songs were included in your sets beside album's tracks?
A: Sometimes we use to play two-chords-jam "Starshine Harvest", our humble encounter into the world of heavy psych rock, and "Insatiable King" from the very first demo, which into some kind of 3-min long mastodon-metal, ahaha. We're not planning to release both tracks on albums, maybe they will be released as a part of Kharkov's live show recording, some kind of a bootleg, you know. Also we did some covers when we had only two tracks rehearsed, there were "Funeralopolis", "Holy Mountain", even "Blew" by Nirvana among them!
Q: Why don't you use Hammond organ in your songs? It's a good manner; it's a kind of reverence to psychedelic rock.
A: I saw the first LP as "traditional" in the very sense of this word, we even haven't had too much studio overdubs for it. I feel uncomfortable listening to a record with dozens guitars recorded while I know that this band would never play it live the same way beautiful as they did in the studio. But for an upcoming album I'd love to use some keyboards, acoustic guitar's background and even maybe some exotic instruments like Sitar, I dunno yet.
Q: I have information, that one song on your CD was recorded in collaboration with musicians of The Grand Astoria, X-box Murder and Without God; what is this track and which contribution did they make?
A: Yep, the guys delivered their guest solos for "Falling Apart". I like such kind of interaction: this August I've recorded some solos for a screamo band Date Rape, had a great time! Every guitarist has its own unique style, that's why we decided to play "Falling Apart" live without this long section for solos, in order not to spoil the impression from the studio version for those who like it.
Q: With which other bands do you collaborate? Or is our scene not interesting for you? "Our scene" is an underground scene of Russia and Ukraine, I still see both as one country, and all this separatism is total bullshit.
A: Any kind of separation/separatism is complete rubbish, I agree. Nowadays I see our scene is having more perspective, more air than for bands in Europe or USA. It's still somewhat new and fresh, it's interesting, it's very good for the bands that are just starting their way. We still have where to grow, it's a positive tendency.
Q: Everyone could download Stoned Jesus CD before it's official release - how did these tracks get into net? Don't you think that there's a problem for your label at least?
A: Well, all 4 tracks were somewhat available before album's release - "Occult" and "Black Woods" as 2009's demo-versions plus above-mentioned "Red Wine" video and my own lastfm upload of "Falling Apart". But it's leaked anyway. I'm kinda know who did this, but I won't like come down on him.
Q: And you do not think that there's a reason to kick the ass of that guy, do you?
A: I guess the ones who want to buy the album they will buy it anyway. There's a really small percent of those who wouldn't buy anything he/she has already liked. Besides it's stoner, there are loads of collectors who are into buying any kind of stuff! So I won't be harsh with uploaders, they just increase the hype, and I like it.
Q: There was a scandal between original stonerrock.com and stonerrock.ru not so long ago, it was about illegal downloads of legal releases. Don't you see that this situation is impolite? There's a stench of consumer's snobbery in the air, it's disrespect to musicians.
A: Well, this is it. I won't say anything either on quality difference between CD and MP3 or on moral aspects of the issue. It's mainly all because of the Internet, the information, there's too much information everywhere. I'm not the who buys every album I like on CD, I'm all for free music, but musicians need to have their bread too, you know. The best way to support here is to come to the show and buy a CD or two. I myself and the guys are ready to play everywhere just for the road compensation, like we already did on our Russian tour.
Q: Wait, what's the tour?
A: It wasn't like "TOUR", you know, just some shows: StPetersburg, Moscow, Kharkov and Kiev. We liked how the whole stuff was organized, we loved Piter, but the Moscow show was better, he-he. I hope we'll return there soon, and I'd love to play some European shows as well!
Q: Ukraine doom-scene is needed to be introduced to western listeners. Which bands besides Stoned Jesus are worthy to be mentioned?
A: I don't know much about Ukrainian "doom" scene, it's mostly low-quality sorrow-metal stuff. There were some exceptions though like Somnolent, which play some kind of prog-rock now. I'm more interested in the "Neformat" scene, this is a community related to neformat.com.ua, I can't see anything better than these folks in Ukraine for now. Bands like Snakerider, Kasu Weri, Slow Ride Home, 5R6, Uprising Fomalhaut, Nice Wings Icarus!, Mozergush are very good, I glad I know these guys!
Q: Igor, that's was my last question for today. Thanks for that interview and good luck. Do not break sacred tradition and add few words in the end of our conversation. Doom on! And so on…
A: Thank you for this interview, Alex! Have fun everyone! Peace and love, your StJesus
Interview Conducted By Aleks Evdokimov ( metallibrary.ru )
Stoned Jesus Myspace
Tags: Stoned Jesus