Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Heather Wasteland Interview

Can you give us an update on what is going on with the band these days?
We are busy with promotion of our debut EP to be self-released as the 6-panel digipack mCD (hand-numbered and limited to 100 copies) on December 21, 2016. We’ve just got the CD’s from the factory, so our EP is already available for preordering. At the moment (November 2016), the majority of instrumental parts for our forthcoming full-length album are already recorded and we are busy with mixing process, and composing new material to be played with new band mates.

How would you describe the musical sound of your debut EP?
Well, our sound would be described as guitarless three-bass supremacy incarnated in Heretical Folk Art by Cimmerian metalheads! No guitars and keyboards. Just a drum kit, a 4-string bass, a 5-string bass, and a 6-string bass with some synth wizardry. All parts of string, wind and keyboard instruments are played using a 6-string bass with a Roland GK-3B midi pick-up via a Roland GR-55 guitar synth.
The EP was mixed by Andrey Ignatenkov, a sound engineer with high level of the concert experience owing to his concert work in the Crimea with such diverse performers as Joe Lynn Turner, Goran Bregović, or pop-stars like BACCARA or SECRET SERVICE, and many more. “Under The Red Wolfish Moon” was mastered by Iurii Kuz’kin, who is well known to the fans of Slavonic Pagan metal due to his work with CHUR, OPRICH and “Triunity” project.

The music uses 3 bass players instead of any traditional guitars, can you tell us a little bit more about this concept?
We are not “guitar haters”, but, from the very beginning in 2001, HEATHER WASTELAND gave a special role to the bass guitar with an intended refuse to use guitars, because two bassists formed the band’s original line-up, and added a third bassist after the reunion in 2014. At certain stages of the musical formation, in spite of their various musical preferences, the heretics of HEATHER WASTELAND came in touch with the technical death metal classics, as well as with progressive metal and even jazz. Therefore, it found a reflection in some heretical views on the idea of experimental “Cimmerian folk metal”. Due to this precise “heretical” reason, the group describes their style as "Heretical Folk Art”.

All of the songs on the recording are instrumental, are you open to working with vocals in the future?
Yes, we’ve already started our cooperation both with some legendary and rather underground vocalists from several countries. I won’t list any names till the moment they finish their part of our joint recording process. I’d rather prefer presenting our modest results, instead of chattering about our great plans. I just can tell you that some musicians have iconic status in Pagan/folk Metal, and we highly appreciate their guest appearance! At the same time, we are going to present our vocal abilities as well as try some local vocalists.

What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Heather Wasteland'?
Now, in 2016, I’m not sure, but probably in 2000 – 2001 the band’s name, in some ways, was inspired by a Galloway legend described by Robert L. Stevenson in his poem "Heather Ale". Since our childhood, all members of HEATHER WASTELAND have been remembering this poem and an old cartoon based on this poem. In 2001 we used the band’s name in Russian (pronounced as “Vereskovaya Poustosh”). It definitely comes from some associations with European folklore in general, as well as with visualization of heather wastelands – for example, desolate battlefields with ruined castles, scattered bones, rusty arms and armours, and heather growing everywhere – as a symbol of new life and resistance in a broad context. At the same time, you can find desolate places with heather growing in our mountains as well!

- What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
- When we were younger, we were more violent onstage. In 2001 our debut 12-minute performance created a furor owing to the music itself and the unrestrained energy at the stage that moved the bored crowd. The group became a discovery of the festival, and a concert photo of yours truly (raging onstage bare-chested) was published in a very conservative newspaper. So, the group remained memorable long after the show. I hope that in the nearest future, with our new band members, we’ll be able to make more theatre-like shows with onstage dress and make-up.

Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?
It would be great to do. That’s why we are looking for the bass maniacs to be our new band mates with eagerness and possibility for touring abroad or at least going to play several gigs in neighboring cities.

- On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of folk metal?
No negative feedback at all, especially if we are talking about our audience among fans of gothic, neofolk, art rock, neoclassic, occult rock, experimental music and even black metal. Of course, many fans of grindcore, thrash & death metal will find our stuff too soft or boring, but some of them are our old fans since 2001. The majority of critical comments were connected with the absence of vocal parts and lack of heavy guitar sound. Many metalheads changed their opinion listening to our cover on PESTILENCE’s song “Personal Energy” featuring Andrey “Ind” Merzlyakov (GRENOUER, TARTHARIA): https://heatherwasteland.bandcamp.com/track/personal-energy-pestilence-cover

Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Even if we add some real folk instruments, in any way we are going to use the drums and three bass guitars – in order to stay the founders and adherents of three-bass supremacy incarnated in Heretical Folk Art created by Cimmerian metalheads!

What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
We had some changes in our line-up, but I find it correct to tell you about those members who took part in recording of the stuff we are promoting now. The original members are: Alexander Vetrogon (6-string bass), he is a fan of folk metal/rock, progressive metal and fusion/jazz; Anatoliy Polovnikov (drums), a fan of old school thrash metal and techno death metal; and truly yours Sergey Pavlov (4-string bass), a fan of Pagan/folk, black metal, darkwave, ritual, occult rock and techno death metal. The fourth member is Andrey Anikushin (5-string bass); he is a metalhead with really wide interests – from Arthur Brown to gore grindcore bands.
As for my personal influences which inspired me to compose the tracks of our debut EP, I must name EVOL, CRUACHAN, early IN THE WOODS, BATHORY (of Viking period), BURZUM (of ambient period), and maybe old SKYCLAD. The band concept was definitely influenced by ANCIENT RITES.
The band was broken up for a few years, what was the cause of the split and also the decision to reform?
- As far as I remember, a lack of time in general and the main band of our drummer and other bassist were the main reasons for the split-up, although I was a manager of their band. Another serious reason was a kind of fear of… solfeggio (Rudiments of Music) which struck me, when my ex-wife tried to give me solfeggio lessons. Just as I attempted to realize my own music from a point of the musical theory, it resulted in a way of “the centipede effect” from a well-known anecdote. Trying to analyze my own music, I ceased the way of feeling it without analysis. I understand that this is absolute nonsense for the majority of “normal” musicians, but it became my reality to be dragged on almost for 15 years. Fortunately, in January 2014, I was involved in the organization of the Ukrainian mini-tour of Newton Schner Jr., a piano player (LEBENSESSENZ, Brazil), also known due to his participation with some black metal bands (DROWNING THE LIGHT, EVIL, KYLA etc.). Midnight conversations about the music and life convinced me that I met a spiritual brother who was able to estimate my music, and understand my problems with "solfeggio phobia" in the best way possible, and I decided to reform some of my old projects. Almost immediately after LEBENSESSENZ’s tour, I came across an old acquaintance – our original drummer of HEATHER WASTELAND, who told me about his desire to gather the original line-up of HEATHER WASTELAND, and our reunion became possible.

What are some of your non musical interests?
- Besides playing music, I would name music journalism, dream interpretation, alternative history, obscure or “forbidden” topics of Pagan and medieval periods of European history (mainly in the esoteric context), linguistics, psychology and PR-technologies.

- Can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in Pre-Christian European History, Philosophy, Esoterics and art?
- Without getting involved in the maze of a certain ceremonial or practical context of Paganism, I will tell you that my dreams play an important role – I mean prophetic ones, and symbolical dreams with images whose meaning becomes clear later. Taking into account the subsequent recognition of their personal meaning, it is possible to see interrelation between the World of Nav’ and the visual reality (Yav’), as well as interrelation of events which do not seem connected with each other.
I don’t treat Paganism as “an organized institution of religion”, I do not belong to any official movements or societies, except for a small group of my Pagan sworn brothers, who treat Paganism as their way of life, as a serious philosophy and knowledge. It is the Way to know, not just to believe as a blind man. As for me, Paganism is a symbol of harmony between the Man and the Nature, an equivalent of honoring the traditions of ancestors, and living under the laws of conscience. Moreover, it’s a symbol of internal freedom with the main law: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, BUT DO IT FIRST – before someone’s deeds impact you!
Talking about Occultism, I’d rather prefer using such definition as "Slavonic and Nordic Pagan Esoterics" in order to make a distinction between different "schools" and avoid unnecessary associations with those systems which are alien to me. As you understand, it’s not my “cup of tea” if we are talking about drawing some Cabbalistic signs, banging the voodoo drums, or ganja smoking to get “augmented cognition”. At the same time, Esoterics should remain something “clannish” to be clear for “the clan” only.
I’m a fond of Pre-Christian and medieval history, and if we take a look at it through the lens of the little-known historical facts concerning my native Cimmeria-Taurida, we’ll find a lot of interesting things concerning archaeological, linguistic and cultural heritage of Celts, Normans, Greeks, Slavs, Goths, Genoeses on the shores of the Black Sea. Ley lines, Opuk’s runic stone, the ruins of the Genoa fortresses, the Crimean Gothia’s Celtic place names and some little-known artifacts, which are associated with taboo subjects of history.

Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
I’d like to thank Occult Black Metal Magazine for this interview, as well as your readers and our fans for their interest. We appreciate your attention and always try to reply all “mentally competent” messages of our fans and interesting persons. Follow us on:
I’d like to express HEATHER WASTELAND’s gratitude to all our heretical supporters – you know who you are!
Don’t advocate a view, but common sense: the figure of nine may look like the figure of six, especially from the opposite point of view, but zero is always zero. Look for your own Path and don’t betray the dreams of your life. Be blessed! \m/

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