My new interview with HNUS UMIRAJICI (Prague, Czech Republic Black Metal band).
Date: Sunday, 16 February 2020 (amended 21 March 2020).
Location: Neklid Restaurant, Ruská 568/34, 101 00 Praha 10-Vršovice, Prague, Czech Republic.
Interview Time: 90 Minutes.
Band line-up: Vojta (guitar1); Dalibor aka Dalboa (guitar2), Mates (bass), Tomas (drums), Peter aka Satan (new vocalist), Zubuch (vocalist on debut album). Dalboa also is an ex-member of Death Metal band LET THEM BURN.
Kieran James: Please tell us the band history…
Vojta (guitarist): The history of the band reaches back to those years. The first concert was in 2003 – the band was !ul.. It was Black Metal, not raw BM but we had punk and hardcore roots so !ul.. was a mix of punk, hardcore, and metal influences. For some it was punk, for some it was trash (rubbish). For BM people, it was trash, rubbish. For many punk-rockers and hardcore people, they used to love it. We always took it seriously but we don’t take ourselves so seriously. We wanted to make it fun but we wanted to make good music.
We split it up in 2010. Tomas (drummer) and I are the oldest members. We used to play in !ul.. We played for seven years and after the second album we split it up.
In 2016 we HNUS UMIRAJICI had the first practice. There are no actual photos or correct information on Metal Archives. Shortly before the end of the band we had a different singer for a few concerts.
Tomas started to make a new project – NWO - and I had a BM project called VEKSLAN. This project lasted a year or two, not more than two years. We split it up. After a few years we met with Tomas just for jamming. We said to each other: “I miss playing Black Metal, let’s start something together.” After the first practice, we are clear that we wanted to play together. We had some synergy. We felt that it works.
KJ: Tell us about the single Maruska please…
Vojta: First we didn’t take it as a single. We had these few songs for an album. We were asked to come up with a single. We chose Maruska because there are a few progressive parts. We wanted to show that it is not just raw BM; we are looking for something more colourful. It was originally not made as a single.
KJ: How many songs are on the album?
KJ: Did you have a record label?
Vojta: Originally it was self-made. We started to record drums for this album, three years ago. It took a long time to finish it. We made guitars after a few months. We were forced to or we wanted to re-record or re-make it. It took a long time. There came an offer from the label Metal Gate. There was one condition: We must wait one more half-year for them to release it. They had their own fixed plan.
KJ: Was there a physical CD and vinyl release?
Vojta: There was a physical CD. We wanted to do vinyl but it has not been done. We sell a package of T-shirt and CD.
KJ: How is the response to the album?
Vojta: I was so surprised that nearly all reactions are cool. If someone fucks it, he will never let you know that he fucks it. Most reactions are sweet and cool. Every positive reaction really pleases us. There was one small, but very positive, article in SPARK (Czech magazine).
KJ: How many CDs did you sell?
Vojta: We had half of all the CDs as a band. The other half are with the label Metal Gate. I don’t know how many CDs are sold. It’s not a question of money; it’s a question of publicity. We are grateful that someone wants to support us. The CD is available for free on YouTube. We know that if someone buys the CD then he wants to support us.
KJ: Why do you bring progressive elements into the guitar playing on Maruska?
Vojta: Maybe because of the fact that I listen to every type of music. I know only two types of music – good and bad. From my childhood I used to listen to King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, those progressive bands from the 1970s. For me, they are the cradle of modern music. But I listen to everything from disco to Extreme Metal. When I compose I play what I like and I don’t care what people say about my music. I want to play what I like. My bandmates liked it; they agreed with it. If they want to play the song as it is then we play it.
KJ: Is there one lead-guitar player?
Vojta: I write the songs. Some might think my guitar is lead but no. The more difficult solos are played by the other guitar player (Dalboa). He had a guitar education. The guitar solo in the single was played by him. I think that solo is cool. I say: “Here is a place for your solo, make it as you want.” I am open to changes in my songs but mostly when I bring some new songs I want to have it as it is. My colleagues most of the time like it and agree. They believe me that it works. I do all of the song-writing. I do not want to sound arrogant but this is my role. I really want to give space or place for solos or creative parts by other members. I might tell the bass player that there is a place for him. Or I tell the second guitarist there is a place for him in the song. He can play what he wants and it will be cool. Most of the time, the drummer is well-prepared and very helpful.
KJ: Tell me more about the lyrics.
Vojta: Most of the time they are abstract, they may be funny sometimes. The first lyric is taken from Alexander Dumas’ book Salvator. With regards to the single, Maruska, a friend’s friend heals animals and then puts them up for adoption. She has a home for animals that have been left on the street. She takes pictures of the animals. Maruska was one of the poorest dogs. The words under the pictures on her website I used for the song. She offers the animals up for adoption and she writes something about each one.
KJ: But the lyrics sound angry…
Vojta: The song is magical for me. The text is sad poetry, melancholy. The melancholic emotion is behind the angry vocal. When you know the story behind it, it adds another dimension. It was a dog that was 13 years trapped on a short chain behind a house. She was tortured and abused. When the dog was 13, she was rescued by our friend. For the rest of her life she had love and peace and she died calmly in a new family. It is very emotional for us. I said it could be our lyric. The bandmates agreed and said it would be cool. Maruska is a typical Czech name for a girl.
Maruska was written by Katka of Zvire v Tisni organization, which is the most effective one-girl organization I have ever known. She helps many animals, not just cats and dogs but also ducks, hens, pigs, sheep…basically, any type of animal which she is able to rescue. She gives them love and patience. She is lovely. She has her own work and does this in her free-time. She is very active in rescuing tortured and left animals. When she found out that this dog was caught on a short chain on concrete she made every effort to rescue her. She helps to find a new home for every animal; she has rescued over 100 animals so far.
KJ: Tell me about the new singer…
Vojta: He is one of our friends from the hardcore and punk scene. We used to meet for years before he had his metal band of two members. When we needed our new singer we asked: “Do you want to play with us?” He said: “Yes.” It doesn’t sound interesting but he loved the band so he was very eager to join. With each concert he gets better and better.
KJ: Why did the first vocalist leave?
Vojta: It is hard to say as he didn’t say exactly. We think he wants to live a calm, family life. He does sport and spends a lot of time in the gym. He has no time to spend on music or travelling anymore. I’m convinced that this is the reason.
KJ: Are the two vocalists similar?
Vojta: Yes, very similar. The first vocalist has a gift from God; he has a great voice without any training. I am convinced that Peter is the best vocalist we could take after Zubuch’s excellent vocals. He has been working on it and gets better with every concert. He loves it and wants to spend time with the band. He loves it and does it well. We all like him. I’m convinced that you will have an occasion to give your own opinion.
KJ: How about the new songs?
Vojta: We work on new songs; it is a process. We have some ideas or riffs or proposals which we are working on. One day we will say it is done and let’s play it how it is. We have two new songs not on our album which we play in concert.
KJ: Is the style similar?
Vojta: I say that, if you love the first album, you will love these new songs. We can’t do anything different from what we are. I’m really glad that we still like to play the old songs; they are not boring for me. I’m looking forward to the new songs. Every musician or composer loves his new music more than the old.
KJ: Which cities have you played?
Vojta: Almost everywhere, all around the Czech Republic. We are a young band and did not play abroad. In autumn we have a tour (eleven concerts) in Brazil. It will be a huge experience. The fans love European metal. We have friends there and they are looking forward to seeing us. We may also have some concerts in Germany. First there was meant to be a European mini-tour – Germany and Oslo in Norway. But something went wrong and we may scratch it. There is no sense in travelling to Oslo for one concert. But Brazil will be cool. Most of the positive sounds are coming from Germany; it is pleasing. We might have one or two shows in Germany this year. Last summer we played in FUTURUM (Prague) with Philip Anselmo and the Illegals. He stayed in his bus, separate from his band. He did not want to be bothered by anyone but his band was cool. I gave Philip a present from a girl. I didn’t predict that I would meet him. I thought it was impossible.
KJ: Philosophy or ideology for the band?
Vojta: The most important thing for me is friendship and for humanity. We started up as a band on the left-side, anti-fascist. We stay on that side. We are anti-fascist; we are not vegetarian band, not all members are veggies, although we support animal-rights. We support anti-fascist action. We are supporting benefits. We stand for human and animal-rights. We support local activists. This might include help for homeless or for other people in need. We, in general, still have punk and hardcore perspectives. We have punk and hardcore roots and these cannot be altered. We play metal but it is just a style of music. We are not political activists. I feel that our lyrics can be a way to push our thoughts to people. But today it is just emotions and not a political force. !ul.. was a political band about human and animal-rights and against racism. This new band is against racism too but we don’t have it in our lyrics. Neo-Nazis hate us.
KJ: What do you think about NSBM?
Vojta: This is just my own perspective. I love many, many bands which are under this cover of neo-Nazi bands. But we try to avoid meeting any of these bands on the stage. We don’t want to play with any bands with xenophobic opinions. But I still at home must listen to any bands which inspire me. I am talking about Norwegian BM bands which are xenophobic. Their music is inspiring. But this is just my own opinion. But some band members, especially bass player Mates, will not even listen to those bands on their stereo. I don’t feel bad myself listening to this music behind four walls in my own home. Wagner was Hitler’s composer. Does that mean we cut it out of history? No. We don’t agree with his lifestyle or opinions but now I can separate the music from the composer. I will never put on an NSBM CD in public at a party. It is just for my use behind four walls. I don’t agree with their xenophobic stands, so I I fuck them in general but in some cases I love their music.
KJ: Does your band have satanic ideology?
Vojta: We don’t “hail satan” seriously, but, when you look at it, what Satanism could mean, for me it is the connection to / with nature, admiring modern science, etc. It is strongly oriented to individuality, not to praying to persons from a book written and rewritten multiple times by some humans. We talk about tolerance. We don’t know anything about the existence or non-existence of any higher will. What is left is just to discuss and respect each other. We hate dogmatism. One of our songs is called “Dogma”. We feel respect towards anyone who believes is whatever he wants to believe. We hate anyone who will force anyone by violence to accept his Al-Quran or Bible because the question of God is much more difficult. I feel the God in nature, physics, chemistry, and outer-space. This is God’s power for me. If it is not God, nothing changes. It works properly; we can’t change it.
KJ: What are your comments about the Czech Extreme Metal scene?
Vojta: I am a little bit out but…I am very proud of those bands which represent Czech Extreme Metal in the underground. I do not want to name any of them, because I don’t want to forget some.
KJ: Is the scene in good condition?
Vojta: Every day I’m not reading news articles so I’m a little bit outside of the loop. But I think that there are many bands – not “a few bands” as that sounds like it is weak – which are fucking cool. But for me it’s a shame that I play extreme music but I don’t have an in-depth awareness of what is going on in the scene. My friends could tell you much more.
KJ: What is your message for the fans?
Vojta: I really appreciate those fans who feel the music as I feel it. We don’t take ourselves seriously although we take the music seriously.
KJ: Future plans?
Vojta: Another plan is to make a vinyl. We want to combine the material for a new release. The road may be long. We are in the process of writing new songs. It would be cool, after the Brazil tour, to record some songs. We hope to start recording by the end of this year 2020. We can release it this time next year, or get it in the condition where it is ready to be released. The hardest thing can be for the band members to stay friends. We are all aged 40 or more so this can be the age that we consolidate and push it through.
KJ: Do you hope the band members can stay together for many years?
Vojta: I hope to stay friends and play a few more years with this band. I can promise you that if it will fall down I will do music by myself. I will make music just as a one-man project and distribute it through the internet. I can imagine myself at age 60 with a one-man project. But I hope to have these cool guys with me for as many years as possible.
Composing is my role. I like it that they believe in me and want me to be the composer. But those songs are so cool just because of them. The drummer and the guitarist are so talented. My ideas sound well because of the talents of the guys in my band. Without them, the songs would not sound this way. That is really important and I must thank them for it.
1 MARSUKA (OFFICIAL SINGLE)
2 NECHTEJME TO ROZHODNOUT (ALBUM OPENING TRACK)
3 FULL ALBUM