1. You had some difficulties in releasing 'Fire Storm'. And problems in finding a proper label. Are you happy now with 'World Chaos Production' (actually that label isn't well known here in Europe)? Is it doing a good job for TVANGESTE? Did any other labels knock on your oaken door, 'coz 'Fire Storm' is such a killer?
Yes..there were a great deal of really big problems and even strange things during „FireStorm“ recording…first of all we got a horrible problem with the tracks synchronization…(al metal parts like guitars, basses, drums were recorded at Polish well know studio SELANI (Vader, Behemoth, Decapitated…) and all orchestra$choir parts were recorded at TV4 STUDIOS / Kaliningrad…). We used two studios because of the low as hell budget..so we weren‘t able to bring a full Baltic Symhony Orchestra‘s crew to Poland…after all orchestra parts were finished and we got back to Poland we were shocked: there was a great difference in length between classical instruments tracks and metal tracks…note: there were about 100 tracks in each song!…we spend alot of our own money to fix it but in vein…luckily our Russian sound engineer Alexei Artichevski managed to solve this album! As about label change: „FiresToprm“ was recorded for Norwegian label VALGALDER RECORDS (we got 2 CDs contracts from them..the first one was „Damnation of Regiomontum“ (was released in Nowar for worldwide in 2000)…and the second one was „FireStorm“…but for some reasons Norwegians weren‘t able to release it (remember: „Firestorm“ was finished in February of 2002 and released in September of 2003 – 1,8 years delay!!)..after some talks Valgalder sold all rights to big Japanese label WORLD CHAOS PRODUCTION. We are really glad to have such good label as our supporter ..they are running insanely great promo campaign! Regarding other offers to us…well…there were some good record companies that were interested in „Firestorm“ but as far as I know WORLD CHAOS simply paid more to Valgalder…
2. Your line-up is a bit "confusing". The cover shows five members, but your current line-up is of six (?) members plus the session musician Ekaterina on violin. Now who belongs to the "real" TVANGESTE line-up and who is a session musician? Could you help us? And is the TVANGESTE line-up complete now?
Yeah…I can undesrtand this „not clear“ situation with our line-up. So I‘ll try to explain it. Current Tvangeste crew is:
Michael ‚Miron“ Chirva – vocals, solo guitar
Naturelle Chirva - keyboards, orchestra arrangements
Nikolay Kazmin – guitar
Victoria Koulbachnaya – keyboards
Vanoe Mayoroff – guitar
Max Naumoff – basses (new „purchase“ of the band – just brilliant musician!
Cezar Mielko – drums (Polish virtuoso drummer from DOMINIUM (progressve death)
Ekaterina – violins, orchestra arrangement
Olaa –female vocals
+ Baltic Symphoy Orchestra musicians
+ Prussian Chamber Choir vocalists
My main goal is to gather the best musicians in one place to make a really good and professional music. That‘s qhy our line-up is „flowing“ all the time…I decided to make Vao Mayoroff our second guitarist because we met an excellent bassist which bass playing abilities were simply amazing! Being a great fan of Dream Theater our new bassist Max and our drummer Cezar are true complete rhythm section of the band without any defects!
I‘d say that Tvangeste crew insn‘t complete now since we still don‘t have a permanent drummer. We have an agreement with Cezar for big live shows but…he lives in Poland…in 300 kilometers from us…it‘s quite unreal to rehearse with him and it‘s too bad…
3. OK…but let‘s back to your drummer. What about live events and rehearsing? That must be a problem.
Yeah – it‘s one of the most painful problems for us. It‘s quite impossible to find a good drumer in our region so Cezar Mielko was (and is) our solvation…of course it‘s too bad for us because this way we can‘t rehearse often (as a matter of fact - Cezar plays in two his own projects: Dominium and Bright Ophidea)…we have another problem with our live shows. I‘ll tell You later…all our live concerts aren‘t just a metal concerts but sort of theatre performance…we pay a great attention on our visal part so each of our live performances contain many elements like fires, pitotechics, martial artists‘ scenes, decorations etc…beeing martial artist myself I‘d like to show the STRENGTH of teh Human to all of our fans. Guys who listen to such strong music like Metal should be strong!
4. On the one hand your music is aggressive, cruel and evil, if we take the power instruments and the blackish singing. And on the other hand very calm, lovely and nice, if it comes up to the classical instrumentation and the choir. That are two oppositions, evil and good, which is very interesting to listen to. How did that came up?
Okay, a lot of bands do that. But with the Baltic Symphony Orchestra and the Prussian Chamber Choir you were able to include "real" instruments. So the sound differs to the usual evil/ good Metal albums.
I always try to make Tvangete‘s music different. The best comparison is forest path…just imagine Yourself walking along the narrow path in the heart of the forset..this path is sinuous and You never know what‘s waiting for You ahead that turning…so Tvangeste‘s songs aren‘t the same…there are many changes of the rhythm, tempo, melodies…changes of feelings…we tried to make our songs more than just songs…we tried to create full music themes with many unexpected moments, changes… so some moments of our songs are able to make You thinking, some of them make Your mood good and after some fragments the same song can change Your mood to opposite one. My dream always was to use a real orchestra…to play with the mature professionals…to create complicated music- but not complex themes technically – complicated emotions! Without any doubts orcehstra‘s sound is so wider than keyboards abilities…it‘s clearer, stronger, more attractive. The work with the real orchestra and choir was a great experience for me. That‘s really great to work with such professionals. As about evil/good …I think that our music contains more moods…at least we tried to make it with more different emotions like Love, Hate, Anger, Sorrow….
5. The lyrics of 'Fire Storm' are based on ancient Prussian legend. I presume you did translate that tale into english to use it for your songs. 'Coz Alexander Marchenko as well as Vladimir Zgursky aren't TVANGESTE members. Are they russian poets? Or friends of yours? I've got no idea. Could you explain that?
Actually our albums‘s lyrics isn‘t just „based“ om ancient myth…it‘s more than pagan tale in modern interpretation…we tried to combine two different streams: our almost forgotten ancient history and thinking about Human‘s place in this world…it‘s not a philosophy…our songs are based on our own point of view…on our thoughts…we tried to make mental part of the album as much more wise as possible.
To be or not to be –
There’s no such question!
To be! But to be WHAT?
A weak-willed sheep that’s taken to the slaughter house
Or a proud wolf
Whose heart is filled with freedom?
What’s in your eyes, Human?
Fear or Rage? Blind Submission or Resistance?
Love and respect your friends
And let your enemies die!
6. You do love your native russian culture. But if you do so, why are your lyrics in english? Just because of the understanding? Actually you should write songs in russian to pay tribute to your ancestors. A song in russian would be really cool to listen to. Have you ever thought about that?
I was asked about Russian language in our songs so often! Yes – I absolutely agree with You – Russian language should appear in our songs. Actually „FireStorm“ was creted in two language versions: Russian (with really good poetry) and English (just translation made by professional interpreters)…my idea was to record our Cd in two versions. One for Russian and Slavonic speaking nations…and another one for the rest of the worl. Of course understanding of our lyrics was the main thing. But because of the low budget we weren‘t able to make two versions. And as You can gather - we:
1 recorded this album for western countries first
2 we were interested to be understandable for all over the world‘s listeners.
New album (we are working hard on new album now) will contain some Russian elements in clear vocals.
7. Russia is a rough, cold, freezing, dark country. Does that influence you in writting songs? Do you like the cold freezing nights in winter? Do you often take a walk in the nature? Does that inspire you?
Ha ha…Man…it‘s something like „bears, vodka, perestroyka“..=))) stereotypes…I live in Europe (Kaliningrad Region…eastern part of Europe between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea shores)..in 700 kiometers from You on the same latitude…I haven‘t seen a true frost…our winters are often without snow. So I‘m afraid – Your question is for ..hmm…Norwegians or guys from Sweden…as about nature – yeah! Nature is always a great inspiration for me. I live in a beatutiful place – Kaliningrad‘s suburbans…in the middle of gardens. Near us is a great old German fort. True gothic influences indeed! Also we have a great opportunity to walk along the sea shores…there are really impressive sights! As about Russia as a „rough, dark, cold, frostbitten“ country – remember that Russia is a really big country – 17 075 200 square kilometers – it’s about 204 Austrian territories……so some parts of Russia is in the South with all things like oranges, palms etc…another part of Russia is in the middle climat zones….of course some parts of Russia territory is in the North…with the really cruel weather.(he he – nice little geography lesson=))
8. Have you written any new songs yet? What can we expect of the next album? Do you have any concrete goals?
Yes…we are working hard on new material. We got an enough money offer from World Chaos for recording in good studio. New CD will be much stronger…more guitar riffs, much stronger and clearer sound. I‘m trying to make a „close to perfectness“ sound…clear, powerful. We‘ll record our stuff wityh the orchestra and choirs again…but now we have a strong idea about how to record real orchestra…how to make arrangements…to be honest there were many mistakes during „FireStorm“ recording session..so we‘ll try to remember all our problems and mistakes to prevent them in furure. I believe that CD will be recorded in Sweden but still not sure where exsactly. We are planning to give more freedom to our female singer Olaa since so many people really like her voice and always blaming us for „such small parts of such great operatic vocal“… expect for more interesting choirs as well! Also there would be additional fresh elements in our style …but I can‘t tell You know what exactly will be added, changed…it‘s kinda secret for now…together with Naturelle we are doing our best to make next CD as better as possible.
9. The 'Fire Storm' lyrics are very heroic, gory, dark and pugnacious. Do they also refer to the "real" life? Do you have to fight to survive? After the ruin of the Soviet Union many things did change in your country. I saw a few documentary films about russian life, the people in Russia, how they're living. Expecially old people who have retired often don't have enough money to live a proper life, they have to beg on the streets. Does that bother you in any kind?
Nothing related to real life…be sure. Actually all of the Earth‘s population should fight to survive. You‘re absolutely right…life in Russia is bad. Not for all – young and clever people are always able to find a good job / salary. But our oldmen…damn…they get about $30 / month for food, acomodation (gas, water, electricity…). It‘s really hard to be musician in Russia…not because of the any kind of prohibitions…no…just imagine that good guitar costs about $1500 and usual salary per moth is about $150…so middle russian guitarist should work for 10 month without food and any additional expenses to buy this guitar...western guys just go to work as a "part time" to McDonalds and buy a great instrument in a month or two...Fuckin‘ government of thieves and gangsters. I don‘t believe in bright future of Russia. I don‘t care about my country if my country doesn‘t care about me at all. Futhermore – I‘d love to move abroad for permanent living and doing all my best to make it real. It‘s more than possibly if You‘ll send Your next interview questions to..hmm..Canadian band Tvangeste.
10. And the unemployment did "explode" after the ruin of the Soviet Union. Many factories had to close. What do you think about the future of Russia? Are you afraid of what might expect you when you're old? What do you do for a living?
Sequel of my previous answer. Actually there‘s no such term „unempoyment“..if You‘re clever – You are able to work and get enough money for living and even more. There are no any oppressions from the government…but there are no any support from the government as well..many factories are close but a great deal of new are working hard…I am sure that I‘ll be OK because I see myself as a part of normal world…a part of normal country…hmm…like Yours=)) I‘m a web programmer. Together with my wife and our keyboardess Naturelle we run a small web development agency (programming, web design, graphic design etc.) So we can afford ourself alot that usual middle Russian can just dream of…but…there are a great problems with many ting that money can‘t buy…we are still Russian so: western people still think that „all Russian are stupid alkoholics, gangsters and generally strange persons“..it‘s a fact…being western band Tvangeste would be the same level of popularity as…Children of Bodom or Opeth (maybe even Cradles…) are…but we can‘t even get visias to play live in many countries because we have to prove that we „won‘t stay“…it‘s humiliating thing for me. I respect myself and when somebody tells me that I can‘t get visa because…blah blah..without any clear explaination – it makes me angry! This way we can‘t play live in Europe or America…but Tvangeste gets about 3-5 live shows invitations monthly…we could play with Ancient in Israel, with In Flames in Sweden, with Moonspell in Lithuania, Windir in Holland, Haggard and Graveworm in Italy and Germany….etc.we could play live tour with our label mates ILLNATH in all Scandinavia and a half of Europe but….visa problems didin‘t give us any chances. Everything that usual for You guys are still unreachable for us…
11. Russia is such a huge country. But there aren't that many bands known here in Middle Europe. What do you think might be the reason for that? Are the instruments too expensive? Or are young people not interested in Metal music at all? Are they worried 'coz of the unemployment for example?
I have a simply answer. There are no good labels in russia that are interested in their bands promotion…the main idea of such labels is“Cradles and Dimmu are popular…we can simply steal their CDs and released them for Russia“…so maybe 1-2 Russian labels make something for their bands…IROND, CD Maximum..that‘s all I know…Believe me there are a great deal of excellent bands in Russia…but all of them have the same problem:
1 yes – expensive good instruments
2 lack of money for recording (it‘s almost always kinda rule – the first album should be recorded on musician‘s money)
3 all russian musicians are „Russian“…it means – no live shows, no tours. As You can gather – metal business is the same kind of business like trading or advertisiment busines for example. People make money on bands…just imagine: band from far „rough, cold, freezing, dark country“ has a good album…but they can‘t record it because they don‘t have good instruments, because there are no good music studios with good sound engineers that can record metal (be sure there are many excellent recording studios in Russia with the latest equipment that even many western studios can just dream of…but…we don‘t have good METAL MIND SOUND ENGINEERS…so sound would be ugly if guys have no idea how to record metal). Russian can‘t get visias, don‘t have money for travel (tickets, food..). In other words – RUSSIANS ARE NOT ATTRACTIVE for western metal companies because it‘s stupid to invest money in such type of „goods“. Much wiser to find somebody from prosper countries like Sweden, Norway where each musicians can easily get money from local Culture Ministry‘s branch (like many Scandinavian guys did). Russia sucks Man…it‘s sad but true…I hate to tell this words but …
12. As you are Pagans, you do have a link to the nature. But if we take a look at the russian countryside, we can see, that many landparts are destroyed forever! Through the heavy industry or through the radio-activity. As for example the "Tschernobyl" catastrophe in the 80ies. Does the environment killing hurt you? Russia isn't known for its polution control rather for its ecocide. Your ancestors wouldn' like that at all.
We are not pagans at all…just tried to show our Land‘s history…to show the truth about Christians‘ crusades to the Prussian Land. I haven‘t been in the main Russian territory except Moscow and St Peterburg. Environt is killing me the same way it‘s killing You so 500-800 kilometers don‘t matter at all…as about „Tchernobyl“ – it‘s Belorussian territory – quite far from us but all people on our planet got a bad things from that catastrophe…as about Kaliningrad region - it‘s green and clean part oif Russia. We don‘t have any big factories…there are many forests, lakes, hills and fileds. Nature is close to Germany but of course Germany is much cleaner…
13. What can you tell us about Kaliningrad (Kцnigsberg)? The town is situated in the Prussian Land near the Baltic Sea, but where exactly is that place situated in Russia? Do you like your hometown? Or is it a boring place to live nowadays?
It was a great town – that‘s all I can say. I saw many images of old Kцnigsberg and I wanna cry when I see what we have here now…almost all central parts of this beautyful city was destroyed by English air forces and one yer later by Russian Army (1945). So now we have just a small „signs“ of old times like Immanuel Kant‘s Cathedral..I like my hometown and dislike it at the same time. I like it because it‘s my native land…but I prefer fine buildings, clean streets and I can‘t see it here in Kaliningrad…Our region is a small piece of Russian territory….it‘s about 1200 kilometers to Moscow and 50 kilometers to Poland so as You can see we are more Europeans than Russians…I know alot of people that live here and haven‘t been in Russia at all!!! At the same time they visit european countries every month. Actually I‘m glad that our town‘s growing…hetting better…but as I said before – Russia needs a lot of time to become a good country for living.
14. Is there a question I forgot and should have asked? Is there anything you've to tell the readers unconditional? Any last words?
He he..kinda „political interview“…but I like it! Just wanna tell to Your magazine‘s listeners that Russia isn‘t such crap that is describing in your local newspaper…it‘s even worse=)) he he…joke…let‘s bring it back to music theme (music is always better than politics) . Thanks for the chance to introduce Tvangeste to Your magazine’s readers again! If somebody has read this interview till the end – maybe he(she) could be interested “what a hell Tvangeste really sounds like?”..just visit our web site (http://www.tvangeste.com) and download three free tracks from our new album for evaluation. If You’ll like it – it’s not a big problem to order our CD in almost all countries. So simple ask for Tvangeste in Your local store or click to MERCHANDISE link on our web site.
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Thanx a lot for answering those questions Miron. I hope they weren't too boring. And all the best for the future. 'Fire Storm' is one of the best albums I've heard this year! Fantastic!