What started in tears – end up with laughter

We usually say that something started with laughter but end up in tears – guys from Somali Yacht Club are total & pure opposite to that thesis. They were about to play spring tour with Stoned Jesus in Poland, but it was cancelled due to the SYC’s visa issues, but now they’re growin’ bigger and touring Europe more than ever. I have a pleasure to talk with Ihor, Artur & Lesyk before their arrival to Soulstone Gathering Warm Up Party 2018 in Kraków, Poland. 

Were Passport issues permanently solved? What actually hapened on the Polish-Ukrainian border?

I: Yes, everything is now solved forever. It was my personal fuckup. I had an old passport and was 100% sure that it was still valid. Total sucker!

But, just following your social media, we can say that: what starts in tears ends with laughter. You’ll have 29 gigs (only in autumn) with Straytones, Stoned Jesus etc. How did you manage to book such amount of gigs – you haven’t played so much shows per year so far.

I: Yes, that’ll be a big challenge for us. I was so devastated by a “spring fuckup” that I tried to book every possible show we had had in plans for this autumn. Previously when we had in plans 20 shows for a 3-month period, usually half of them were not finalized to various reasons e.g. too far away, no suitable transport connection, promoter disappeared. And it’s probably the first time that all our plans became real tours.

A: The main problem now is with jobs. Ihor and Lesyk have changed their jobs and reached an agreement of these long vacations. My job allows me tour trips for now. Сoncerning booking… it’s not so hard. We share bookers contacts with each other and bookers also want to us come. Most important is to start planning a tour in advance.

During Soulstone Gathering Festival 2015 you were interviewed by Michał & Piotr from Metalurgia. You said something like: „our next album will be much more complicated with plenty of other genres influences, less stonerish”. Will you agree with you from the past right after releasing The Sea?

L: Fun fact – we actually thought that given description would be noticeable for the listeners, but it turned out that it’s not the case. Maybe about less stonerish. I think we kind of exaggerated things. It’s always hard and inaccurate to estimate your own stuff.

I.: Well, it still sounds less stonerish to me, actually we’ve never played “pure” stoner.

A: I thought we had learned lessons from the first album, when we didn’t expect anything, but it got good responses. But no – we really thought ‘The Sea’ would be complicated and not so ‘clear’, but main criticism was concerning absolutely unexpected things. So, it’s not so complicated for the listeners, but it is for us.

You also said that you were planning to release new album next year, which was actually released at the very beginning of 2018. Why did it take you so long?

L: Various reasons & excuses. First  half of the year we did remote mixing and mastering, then we were a bit late by the end of the year with the release. We could just put it on the web, but decided to work with Robust Fellow on some PR and stuff, so the album wouldn’t be unnoticed. Still excuses, right?

A: We believe that good stuff takes time..

Could you tell us something more about Robust Fellowship and your cooperation with them? They seem to be getting bigger every year. Is it thanks to Fillip Dobrov and Val from Ethereal Riffian, or there are more people involved?

L: I guess the main person behind it is Fillip Dobrov. He is moving engine of the label. And we want to say thanks to Fillip and Val and other guys for the work and all the help.

A: They do their job with real passion! If you have ever seen their products or merch tables, you will understand me.

Who is responsible for the music? Was it like the regular rehearsal stuff: „Hey guys, I was digging on some new riffs at home and… here it is. Is it cool enough to play?” Or are you working on it altogether?

L: Kinda like this, but sometimes unplanned jams become really productive.

I.: Most of the time it’s like jamming around some “home riff”. Sometimes it comes from pure jams which are transformed into more meaningful music later.

A: Jams occupy maybe main part of rehearsals, but I think a band can’t exist without a ‚driving’ person who brings ideas. Mainly Ihor does this, sometimes I do. We take “home riff”, carry it through jam, change or add something and do it until song satisfies us all. It could take a lot time, that’s why ‘The Sea’ was being made so long. 

The same question about lyrics.

I.: As for ‘The Sea’ I decided to put a lot of effort into the lyrics. Usually it goes like this: first of all, we decide on which theme it’ll be based. Then I’m trying to generate a few sentences which later will be transformed to suit the already existing melody. I think we’ll stick to this approach in our upcoming release.

Are lyrics, concept albums important to you?

L: I’ve always been more interested in listening albums with some story. Also many of my all-time favorites are concept albums. Sure, music comes first, you can’t enhance bad music by a great story, but it surely adds some value.

I.: To be honest, I never payed attention to the concepts until I became a fan of prog music. I remember how I was listening to Mars Volta’s De-Loused in the Comatorium and was curious what they were trying to say. I read about the concept in wikipedia and was shocked. I was like “It is a book, like a real story!”.

A: Concept albums are like an additional layer, additional history to album. It makes the album much ‘deeper’ for me. I like this move. 

Do you have some favourite lyrics or some catchy phrases constantly coming back to you?

I.: “Sitting alone, I’m sitting alone, alone and watching porn…” or this one “Sands are everywhere, I can feel it in my balls”.

L: Did you mean in our music or in general? Cause in general that would be a lot hardcore punk singalongs. In some circumstances some lyrics are just carved into your brain.

A: In our lyrics I really like Sightwaster and the way it’s sung. In general, I’m absolutely solidary with Lesyk.
A: I remember funny moment with band As I Lay Dying. There was a popular video, where lyrics were replaced by appropriate Russian words. And when they had a show in Moscow, people were singing that Russian text. Tim Lambesis was surprised at the number of people who ‘knew’ the words.

You created a amazing song called Religion of Man. What’s your religion?

I.: Well it’s not about a particular religion, it’s more like an allegory. About a man that has his own obligations and he has to deal with them. But, fuck religions! More knowledge, less belief.

A: I was a catholic for years. But after Maidan revolution in 2014 I lost the faith. Absolutely. Religion is for weak and scared people. I believe we live in some kind of video game. We were created for some reasons and now we’re just forgotten. Creator is not a god. It’s just creator. The only meaning of life is to celebrate life and not interfere with others, develop and progress, follow Elon Musk.

It’s not like that you just believe in mighty nature and her cycles ? (>The Sun, The Sea…) I’m quite sure you that you said something like that from the scene during your first gig in Kraków in 2014.

I: Well, that’s complicated, but you cannot argue with nature. So, while we still cannot (maybe in future we’ll understand it more and we’ll be able to establish some kind of control over nature), we can consider that that’s a “god’s plan”. Who knows? But with more understanding, our “god” is gettings smaller and smaller.

So, who’s ‘the old man’? Everyday man struggling with the same problems as we all do?

I: I’d love to leave it unanswered, to let everyone understand it in their own way.

What’s the story behind The Sea’s cover? The graphics is totally immersive and seems to be related with titles of your songs…

L: That was the idea. Dasha, who made the artworks, just scored 10 out of 10 in depicting each song.

A: It is always hard to do other creative stuff except music. We can have some ideas, vision, but we can’t implement it. And Dasha citing to songs and lyrics made excellent covers!

And you’re right – it’s separate cover to each song.

What’s the story behind 84 days? What do the lyrics mean?

I.: It’s about sacrifice you make while you’re on your way to your goals. Sometimes these sacrifices are justified, sometimes they’re not.

Why 84?

I: Ha, that’s a good question! That was a duration of an adventure from the book “The Old Man and the Sea”.

The song from The Sea you’re proud of the most is… And why?

L: Not sure if proud but Religion of Men. At least the most exciting song to play, and too bad it’s not so ‘concert song’. So it’s cool for us, but not cool for the audience often.

I.: The same. For me it’s the most interesting song to play from the musician point of view.

A: Almost all songs from ‘The Sea’ I still love. But I understand that there are two sides of each song – one is for me as musician who plays it and another is for listeners. I’m proud of ‘84 Days’. This is a song with deep meaning and majestic ending!

The same here. Will you play that song in Kraków, during Soulstone Gathering Warm Up Party? Will you play something from The Sun? 

I: We’ll try to prepare the most diverse program we ever played yet. We’ll definetly play something from The Sun.

A: It would be a mix of songs from two albums. But the main part would be with ‘The Sea’ of course.

The Sun, The Sea? How you will name your next album? Any plans? Maybe The Mountains with guest appearance of Igor S. from Stoned Jesus?

L: We didn’t intend to follow some ‘line’ between these two. It’s rather a coincidence that the concept is related to the Sea, so that’s the most concise and obvious name. As for the next one I really liked the idea given by MORE FUZZ about naming it ‘The Sex’. That joke can be really understood by French people and fans of Serge Gainsbourg.

A: Ahaha! Nice idea with Igor! But together we usually play RATM. We have some idea for naming of third album, but we keep it in secret.

Up in the Sky is the 2nd most popular stoner song from Ukraine. It is I’m the Mountain syndrome? Will you agree with this thesis? I remember that people often whisper the begging of this song along with guitar.

I.: I don’t think so. It’s a really simple song and easy to remember, but we’re not that band that produces “singles”.

A: Mars Red Sky syndrome.

But you can’t deny that Up In The Sky is catchy!

I: Probably, for us it’s really hard to consider our songs as catchy or not.

For sure you’re not that type of band. But it’s hard to imagine that you won’t put this song on your set. I felt during your Kraków’s concerts that the audience were waiting for that particular song. Maybe it’s only in Kraków? To be exact – I’m not talking that they want to hear only Up in the Sky, but this song seems to be kinda special for us – maybe due to the context?

A: It’s not so special… But it’s cool, it’s harmonious and completed. We didn’t put a special meaning in this song. The sympathy of the listeners made it so.

I: Krakow was the first city which singed along with us and it was during Up in the Sky. It’s the best song to finish our shows at this moment.

Igor’s Peach Blossom. Just a side project or can we expect some tours & first LP? I have to admit that it sounds promising!

I.: Unfortunately, no. Somali took all of my free time. But now I have a new project called Takoe. So probably, you’ll hear something from that my electronic alter ego.

Could you recommend us some local band from Lviv? I’m asking not only about stoner / shoe-gaze / post-metal bands.

L: Probably ‘1914’ – black metal with some sludge based on the concept of WWI (yes first, not second). Nonsun, hopefuly guys will continue live shows not just studio work – for fans for Earth, Swans and Sunn o))). Also The Sunset Survival – melodic hardcore with some emo.

A: I can’t add anything to Lesyk’s answer. We don’t have many bands now. Only cover bands. iIt’s a very bad trend, which will change soon I hope.

Artur, specjalnie dla Ciebie pytanie po polsku – jak to się stało, że tak dobrze władasz naszym językiem?

A: Unfortunately, I write Polish poorly, but I speak well. This is thanks to the years spent in the Catholic Church and my mother’s Polish roots.

Opowiesz nam coś więcej o Twoich inspiracjach muzycznych i wpływie ideologii Straight edge na Twoją twórczość, wrażliwość artystyczną? Pytam, bo w wywiadach często podkreślacie Wasze różnorodne gusta muzyczne. Zastanawiam się, jakie są Wasze korzenie. 

I.: That is very interesting question. I demand answers!

A: The Straight Edge ideology didn’t affect in any way. It couldn’t influence, because it was personal convictions that concerned me only. Thanks to Igor, I got rid of these beliefs years ago.

But punk rock beliefs will always be with me. And I’m very glad that in the band, we are all like-minded people in this respect. We give preference to DIY, we love music and listeners, and we don’t have in plans to make big money on that, we have a clear political position, and we are all vegetarians.

Lesyk, how are the things with your ‘beer business’ going? Is it still a hobby or is it getting serious?

L: Still a hobby. There is no real easy way to scale up with that. If you decide to brew at least at the commercial level, you would need a brewery that costs a fortune, or go with contract brewing (renting time at brewery) so you kind of lose some freedom. IDK, time will tell, maybe try something soon.

Lesyk & Igor, you’re web developers (correct me if I’m wrong), Artur, z tego, co mi wiadomo jesteś inżynierem. All in all – you’re having well paid jobs, but what if you could live only from music? Will you be happier?

L: Artur is also in our sect now, hahahaha. Still an open question for me. I think I might need a try, to know would it be better for me.

I.: Dunno. It’s complicated. What is happiness?

A: I’m afraid of this and want to try it, on the other hand. Afraid because when music becomes the only way to earn money, it starts affecting the creativity. Different needs and requirements appear, you are compelled to compromise, it is necessary to release an album this year, it is necessary to go in 3 tours this year, it is necessary to play at that festival. I do not like it and I enjoy the model that we have now – well-paid work and music as a hobby.

But we’re starting to talk about music, as basic employment. Will see.

Hey old man, what is happiness?

A: Love

I: …Peace and understandment

I’m asking ‘cause your FB is growing in number of new fans, your bandcamp is on fire… Maybe it’s not as absurdal as your band’s name.

I.: Yes, obviously, we’re observing a positive dynamic but still, it’s too early to talk about quitting our jobs.

Some word to your Polish fans… or drop it, you will meet them f2f 13.10 in Kraków! 

I: We’ll make  a special surprise for our Polish fans – a really rare song. We hope you’ll enjoy it!

Interview was made by Jacek Szczepan

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