Hi Miron, how are you?
Hello Deni! Thanks…I’m breathing so still alive and it means I’m ok..Thanks for teh chance to introduce Tvangeste to Your magazine’s readers.
First of all, I’d like to start with a few questions to present Tvangeste to our readers. Let’s start with the band name - Tvangeste is the old name of your hometown Kaliningrad (Koenigsberg), correct? Why did you choose it as a band name?
Yes.. It was an ancient time...XII Century. The cursed Christians started their quest to the Prussian Land... Yes, it was another crusade, drawn in blood to bring "true love, and a true God" to the barbarians. Tvangeste was a small site of ancient settlement destroyed in 1255 by Teutonic knights. In this place was a knights Castle, Koenigsberg. The town where we live, the town we love, the land we respect...our main idea was to remind people that land we are live in has a great history. So we decided to chose Tvangeste as the best name that reflects our thoughts.
Tvangeste was formed in 1996, when you posted an ad (where, by the way?) that you want to form a band. For how long have you been wanting to have a band and how did you first come into music?
Actually I decided to gather a band in 1995…it was a funny story. I was just back from army (1,5 years as an explosive specialist). Before my army duty I was a great fan of such bands like WASP, Bonfire and other glam metal music. So I was shocked after listening IN FLAMES…to be honest I haven’t heard such type of music and their “Lunar Strain” was kinda surprise for me. I was so into that Swedish guys that thought I wanted to play metal!…I think it’s quite unusual start for my way in metal world. For a long long time I tried to find the best musicians in our area. At that times I even had no idea about how to play guitar…just great desire to play – that’s all! So I often write 1997 as the date of Tvangeste creation since in 1997 our first crew was gathered and we had recorded our first demo single “Blood Dreams”
And what did that ad say? Did you get many responses?
He he…some stupid words of 20 years old guy. Something like “Vocalist is looking for musicians to create a Black metal band” . As I said above – I even can’t play guitar! Because our city isn’t too big it was a problem to find good musicians. I got some responses from the same level “musicians” that I was…so after some rehearsals I decided to start learn guitar science…
Almost all of the line-up of Tvangeste have played in other bands too. Was this experience important for the band?
It’s true…all Tvangeste musicians (except me and Naturelle) were and are in other bands. Of course each of them brought their pieces of soul that built Tvangeste’s style. For example Victoria (our keyboards since 1997) brought a lot of new ideas…Nikolay (guitar) gave some energy of melodic death metal to our style…without any doubts all Tvangeste members were very important for band’s maturity…
Those other bands are all from different music directions than the one of Tvangeste. What role did that fact play for the songwriting and playing technique?
Difference in our points of view on metal music helped us so much! Each song creation was just a finding of compromises between black, death, doom and heavy metal direction…and this “fights” created our personality ..our face that can be listened to on “Damnation of Regiomontum”. This CD reflects band’s level in 1998-1999.
Would you please present your new bassist Max?
Max is our latest “purchase”. My main goal is to gather the best crew of true professionals..the crew that will be able to perform music the best way. So after long searches I got a chance to get a new bassist I always dreamed of. Max is insanely good musician. He makes magic with 6 strings bass. Being a great fan of Dream Theater he’s able to play everything! Perfect technique and great metal mind! I’m really glad that we got such professional newcomer! Tvangeste’s rhythm section is our strong part now!
And your Polish session drummer Cezar Mielko (Dominium)?
Yes…Cezar Mielko performs the second part of our rhythm. He’s an extraordinary drummer. It was the big problem for us to find the drummer that suits our requirements. So after long searches we decided to invite a session musician for our “Firestorm” recording session. Cezar was that right guy we were looking for so many years! His two bands are DOMINIUM (progressive death metal) and BRIGHT OPHIDEA .
What about a few words about the rest of you (not what you play on, but rather what you’re like, including in “ordinary life”)?
Naturelle is our new keyboardess. Together with her we have created “FireStorm” CD. She was near all the time. Her excellent keyboards work can be listened to on our latest release. She was a co-producer, orchestra arrangements creator, keyboards player…I’m so glad that my wife is so big part of my music life!
Victoria is a very busy person. She plays in 5 bands! The most known are ROMOWE RIKOITO (gothic/darkwave) and DIS PATER (doom metal). I have no idea how can she combine all these works but she does! She’s DIS PATER bassist’s (Alexander) wife so it’s another great Union of metal souls.
By the way, what does it feel like to be in a band with your wife? :))
It’s just awesome! As a minimum – she’s always near and when ideas come to my (or hers) mind we are able to make a little rehearsal even in the middle of the night (just imagine the Alexander’s reaction if I would ask Victoria to rehearse some new themes in…2.00 AM?=))he he…I bet he wouldn’t be so glad…
As a maximum – Naturelle’s perfect keyboarder. She is well educated and is able to play everything I ask her. Her point of view on metal music and Tvangeste’s sound differs from my thoughts…she’s more “darker” and….hmm..”heavier”…strange but true…sometimes she cries “what??..this theme is a pure pop music…let’s play something really strong”..I’m glad I have Naturelle as our keyboarder!
And is it true that you are the only black metal band from Kaliningrad?
Nope..we were for a long tome but times are changing so we have two more BM bands in our town. One of them is really professional musicians BLEEDING SKY. Just mix Children of Bodom and Dimmu Borgir – You’ll get their sound. Victoria plays there….
What do you think of other Russian black metal bands (there are quite a few of them)? Any favourite ones?
To be honest because of the poor economical situation almost all Russian metal bands aren’t able to play normally. Instruments, recording at good studios, live performances, tour….everything requires money…and it’s quite impossible for the most of Russian metalheads but please believe me there are a great deal of excellent metal bands! My favorites are: Forest Stream (Earache Records) - they perform excellent mix of doom, black and something else…and Radigost (SOYUZ Rec.) –good example of Russian pagan black. Also Rossomahaar is good…Ashen Light and Crystal Abyss should be metioned as well since these guys are true experts in making really strong and powerful metal stuff!
Tvangeste don’t play any live shows, right? That’s something very unusual nowadays - why don’t you?
We have played some shows. Our shows is too far from just metal concerts. We used a lot of visual effects like pirotehchnics, firs, theatre decorations, martial arts fighting etc…kinda metal theatre performance. Because of visa problems we aren’t able to play live abroad. Another trouble is our distant drummer…Cezar lives in Poalnd and such important member can’t play on our rehearsals…it’s more than just bad..it’s horrible…that’s why I’m concentrating on studio work now. New CD’s creating…
And what does the band logo (the painting on your previous album, I mean) symbolize?
He he…because eof this symbol our “Damnation…” was not allowed in many metal music stores in Germany. Because it “looks like swastika”…absolutely stupid thoughts but…this world isn’t perfect ..damn…there are a lot of stupid people ..our symbol is ancient Prussian symbol that means “heaven”…it has more deep meaning…it symbolize our growth, our progress…our way to the top….
Let’s concentrate on your new album “Firestorm” now. First of all, congratulations! I honestly think it’s a supreme work! How do you feel about it?
Thanks! Actually I have different feelings about this work. First is – I’m glad that this CD is out at last! That we were able to finish it. The second – I think that this CD doesn’t reflect our real abilities. If You don’t know we spend just $4000 on all metal parts, orchestra, choirs, female vocals, recording at Polish and Kaliningrad studios, mastering etc…it’s too low budget work and it sounds like low budget….”FireStorm” contains a lot of really good themes…but almost all of them sound too bad…because of such low budget we tried to “fit the money we had”….so it was just a stupid race…”recorded?…bad?…damn..one more time and that’s all…we have to record all violins for three songs today”…something like this.. so it was torture for me and Naturelle…and I want You to believe me that having about $20 000-30 000 we could do insanely good recording. Such work we did costs even more on the west (ask Opeth, Dimmu, Therion or Cradles how much did their recording sessions cost=)).
You have been having a furious promotion company. How do you feel with all that interest you get from all over the world?
I’m glad since we got an excellent responses, got so many awards, got so many new friends!
Our promo campaign is running now and I’m really glad but WORLD CHAOS’ work!
This is your first release for your new label World Chaos. How did you get signed by them?
“Firestorm” was the second album we have recorded for our first label – Norwegian VALGALDER RECORDS. This CD was recorded in February of 2002…but released after 1,8 years!!!!! So long delay can be explained as the big inner problems inside Valgalder. So I’m grateful to Marius Olaussen (Valgalder’s head) for his decision to sell us to the bigger label. Marius gave us a chance…another chance to move forward. So we were just sold to WCP.
Isn’t it hard to work with a label “on the other side of the globe” - Japan?
No. Since we live in a modern world it’s easy. We have internet, fax and phone..what else do we need to contact to each other?…there weren’t any problems with contacts to World Chaos. We keep in touch. They update us with the fresh info regarding our band and general news.
For this album you engaged the Baltic Symphony Orchestra and Prussian Chamber Choir. Tell us some more about it!
It was my dream to record our music with the classical musicians. It brings a fresh, more clear and powerful sound to the whole sound. Work with the real orchestra was a great challenge…great experience for me and Naturelle! It was very interesting work with professional people. Now we have a lot about work with real orchestra…so new CD will be much better thanks this great “lesson”. I was glad to work with mature musicians…they were very sceptic at the beginning of our work .. but after we gave them all note sheets (were prepared by Naturelle and Katerina – violin) they changed their mind….after all works in studio were finished and we gave our CDs to some orchestra members we got very positive responses so I’m glad that our art was appreciated!
Do you think it’s a steady trend for black metal bands to use real orchestrations? (What I mean is that there have been a few albums recently like that - Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, etc.)
I think it’s a good and logical choice since orchestra sound couldn’t be compared to keyboards. It’s so powerful, so majestic! There are much more possibilities to express musician’s thoughts using more instruments…actually I don’t think it’s affordable for many bands though…we were lucky to get a poor fake of a whole orchestra sound (since all parts were recorded separately: violins first. Them cellos, violas, winds etc…) Dimmu and Cradles have a lot of money ..they are supported by great labels…so they are able to spend money on QUALITY. By the way – we have recorded our CD before Cradles’ “Damnation and a Day”…
Is it difficult for you as composer to combine these two very different genres - metal and classical music?
Actually it’s my mind has both of these parts. It’s really easy for me to combine classical music and metal. I don’t have any difficulties…it’s even pleasure for me!
Actually, do you have any (classical, maybe) music education?
Nope…but I’m glad that I don’t have any musical education. Classical education often simply spoils people’s imagination…they become a classical music’s addicted persons. So “Bach’s real and the rest is crap”..I’ve seen many people like these…so my “clear” mind simply “plays” with both styles…orthodox metal heads can’t accept any “additional stuffs” to metal….the same goes about classical musicians…I don’t feel any discomfort and mix different stuffs to make something new and interesting.
And how does the songwriting process in Tvangeste look like?
Actually it’s always different. New CD creation was our with Naturelle collaboration. Hard work indeed. I think that each song should contain only the best themes….no weak notes – it’s kinda my motto. As You can understand it’s quite hard since brilliant ideas not too often come to our heads…because of this “problem” all our songs took a lot of mental energy without any doubts…of course we create music first…then lyrics…and then the most interesting part: arrangements…during this work we make song glossy…think hard how to play different themes the most interesting way…what instruments should play….etc….
What kind or kinds of music would you say have influenced you?
Without any doubts – there are no metal bands in my influences at all! I prefer classical music, soundtracks for movies and games and professional virtuoso guitar players. So I think the main influence for me was my own mind, soul and heart….
What about any favourite bands - for example, what was the last CD in your player?
Hmm…Soilwork. I like such kind of metal music…fast, very skilled and…hmm…kinda simple to listen to…their structure is close to pop music but well done…I like such style so Children of Bodom, In Flames are bands I really like. It’s cool that all musicians like different music….Naturelle prefers MUSE, two latest Dimmu’s CDs, System of a Down. Nikolay likes Lymbonic Art and classic music in vein of Vivaldi. Victoria’s favorites are Rhapsody, Cradles and HIM…Vanoe’s idols are guys from Morbid Angel. Max and Cezar are greatest Dream Theater’s fans.
Ok, back to the album. Tell us some more about the recording sessions!Did anything interesting or funny happen in the studio?
We recorded our “Firestorm” at two studios: Polish SELANI (Vader, Decapitated, Behemoth…) and Kaliningrad TV4 STUDIOS (where our “damnation of Regiomontum” was recorded. In Poland we recorded all metal parts: guitars, drums, basses….then we recorded all orchestra, choir, my vocals parts at TV4 STUDIOS…and then we found that there was a horrible synchronization problem….damn…we had all metal parts recorded using analog way of recording…and in kaliningrad we used digital way of recording…to after our return to SELANI we found that our orchestra and choir parts (about 100 tracks in each song!!) didn’t match to each other…it was worse than the most horrible nightmare for me…damn…thanks to our sound engineer for TV4 STUDIOS…this guy made magic and saved our CD..he made it real to get “Firestorm” finished!
How about the lyrics? Would you say “FireStorm” is a concept album?
Yes..we tried to make it conceptual. All songs like one long story. We tried to make our lyrics interesting and wise and as I can gather – our tries were successeful. The main idea was to mix two different streams…one - Grief about Great Prussian Land (that was destroyed by Christians in XIII)…another stream - idea of STRONG AND FREE MIND…about real place of Human in this world…
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!
In that context, do you yourself feel rather as a descendant of Prussian than Russian culture?
According my passport’s details I’m Russian…but I was born in Prussian land and I feel myself as a part of this land….a part of its history, its energy. So I think that I’m Prussian Russian….or Russian Prussian….
By the way, who is Alexander Marchenko who has written some of the texts for you?
Actually the work on “Firestorm” took so many our inner resources…we simply weren’t able to make everything on our own. I created a main conception of the album’s lyrics. Idea for each song…after this work we asked our friends to help us with poetic forms for our thoughts…both of them are poets and their work was just great!
And what about the artwork?
Album’s CD cover was designed by Naturelle. She’s a professional designer – works in media agency Avesta Media. We tried to make cover and booklet as a one indivisible part of the whole album ..with the same feeling….All pictures were created by Margo – our good friend.
How did you get in contact with your painter Margo Succubus Filth?
I’ve known he for some years. She lives in Kaliningrad. Her artworks could be found on many Russian metal covers (Athremesia, By Autumn Embraced…) She works for Australian printing company now…makes illustrations for books.
Themes from “Firestorm” will be featured in a Canadian movie called "Sinner and Saints". What is the movie about and how did that co-operation happen?
Yes…Canadians contacted us and asked if they could use our “FireStorm” themes for their new movie “Sinners and Saints”…as it was agreed we would be able to use their footage for our new video…they use “FireStorm” music as an official soundtrack. Also we’ll compose a full classic music soundtracks for their next movie. As about “Sinners and Saints” - it’s a cool mix of mystic, erotic, action …will be our up to March of 2004 on DVD. Check our web site for details.
What do Tvangeste’s plans for the future look like?
We are making new material now. If everything would be OK we’ll start recording session next autumn (2004)…I can’t tell You about all details but prepare for new fresh tricks! Tvangeste’s music will become more powerful ..more guitar riffs will be added. Of course we’ll use orchestra again…but this time we’ll make everything much better since now we have a great experience in real classical musicians recording ..we know all hard sides, we remember our mistakes and of course we’ll try to make new CD without any crappy things that still exist on “FireStorm”…as it was requested by many Tvangeste fans we’ll add more Olaa’s vocals….of course the main style of the band will remain the same…in my opinion we found our own way in metal…but still have to make it better!
Finally, would you please say a couple of words for each song on “FireStorm”:
- Raven (Under the Raven's Black Wings) – Ruthless, fast and evil song…describes a great batle seeing by Raven’s eyes….
- Birth of the Hero – serious song that announcing You the Hero’s Birth.
- Fire in our Hearts – fast furious themes show You the true Hatred of Prussian warriors.
- Perkuno's Flame – the most interesting song in my opinion. Its structure is so unusual and not typical for all the rest of Tvangeste songs..excellent mix of classic music and metal drive..
- Godless Freedom – probably the most “pop” song on the album. Structure is closer to classic themes performed by power metal bands but in Tvangeste’s interpretation…
- Storm – hit number one for all my friends. The most wise musical composition both lyrically and musically.
- Tears (Tears will wash off Blood from my Sword) – we created this song in the studio…instead of this song should be cover version on “From nameless Oracle” from our first CD..but we decided to finish our album with “Tears..”
If there is anything you’d like to add or I forgot to ask, please feel free to do so now –
Thanks You for so interesting interview! It was a real pleasure for me to answer all your questions since a lot of them are so unusual! 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 big countries. So simple ask for Tvangeste in Your local store or click to MERCHANDISE link on our web site. Thanks again!
Thank you for your time and good luck!