domingo, 13 de julho de 2014

Interview: Concordea - "From Russia With... Metal"

(Acesse a versão em português aqui)
When we think in Heavy Metal in Russia, the first name that comes to mind is "Aria", founded in 1985 (although in the former USSR), the "Russian Iron Maiden", with its beautiful lyrics, many written by poets Alexander Yelin and Margarita Pushkina, is probably the largest reference on Heavy Metal from that country, one of the first to break some barriers.

Many new bands have emerged in Russia, and the Concordea, is seeking for its place on the scene, working hard, having a very creative sounding, a Power Metal with various nunaces...melodic, heavy and dramatic, with well-crafted compositions, such as the classic "Aria" also with beautiful and poetic lyrics (though, with the difference that are written by the composers of the band itself), showing that, who knows may be soon they could be a new reference in Russian Heavy Metal.  Talent They showed that they have! The qualities shown cease sure that in a future album, perhaps also with an experienced producer, Concordea be prepared for higher flight.

To bring to the readers, as we always try to do, a bit more about the new promises, like the band Concordea, that arise by the metal world, we talked with the talented guitarist and founder Daria Piankova, who tells us about the Russian scene, the composition and the recordings of the recently released first album, the participation of Italian singer Andrea Bicego (4th Dimension), and much more, check out below!

Daria Piankova
Road to Metal: The band was founded by you and Alexey, in 2011, right? Tell us a little of band’s history.
Daria Piankova: Actually the very first band member of the future Concordea I met was Nikolay Konstantinov, our bass guitarist and composer. It happened in 2009 when I was starting my search for the guys to play with.  But at that time our activities were held apart. We met again in the summer of 2011. I had met Alexey before, in winter. The search was quite long… 

The line up was completed only in 2012. In the beginning of 2013 the vocalist Dmitri told us about his decision to depart from Ekaterinburg and to make opera singer career. In addition I must tell you about some changes happened lately: the second guitarist Alexey left the band, now we play with Konstantin Kirillov. Denis Baranov is on vocals. That’s our short chronicle.    
RtM: And to the readers who are knowing the band, how would you describe the Concordea’s sound?
DP: We have powerful guitar sound, strong thrash drums and “atmospheric” keyboards. And all this power is led by high vocal… that’s what you can hear on our EP. In spite of the fact that we are from one band, we all have very different musical tastes (fortunately and unfortunately) and you can feel it well listening to our songs.

Concordea current line-up: Alexey, Denis, Daria,Konstantin, Nikolay and back, on drums, Roman
RtM: What are the musical influences that you could name and in what ways do you believe the band will have a differential in the scenario?
DP: Since the music is being written by Nikolay and me, there are too many influences. As far as I know, Nikolay was influenced by very various bands of various styles in different periods of life: Aria (a very famous Russian heavy metal band), Rammstein, King and Jester (Korol’ i Shut in Russian, a punk band), Nightwish, Sonic Syndicate. 

As to me, I like a lot of different music too, from baroque music and classical music in general to classic rock, from symphonic black/death metal to new age etc. The strong influence was obviously exerted on me by Italian and Finnish power metal scene of the 90s and 2000s (Rhapsody, Vision Divine, Labyrinth, Highlord, Nightwish, Sonata Arctica etc.) So this variety will be surely imprinted on our songs also in the future.     

RtM: With relation to what I asked before, I will give my opinion on what I aim as a differential, which are the letters, and the variations in the sound, conveying various emotions and feelings. Would you comment a little bit about what inspires you to write songs.
DP: Everything beautiful that makes me experience feelings. The strong emotions move me towards creative work. Great song, inspiring concert, original person, deep text, unforgettable view… sometimes it’s enough to see clouds changing in the sky or how the sun shines and you already want to write about it.

Andrea Bicego (4th Dimension) and Daria, during the recordings
RtM: For recordings of vocal on “Before the Sunrise” you had Andrea Bicego from Italian band “4th Dimension”.  How did the opportunity come up? Will he remain in the band?
DP: When Dmitri decided to leave the band, we had already been mixing with Andrea for several months discussing various musical subjects. If a band has no singer it means there is no concerts, no recordings. Infinite rehearsals, without any chance to be listened. For a long time we couldn’t find someone who could fit at least a bit our music. And I got an idea to invite Andrea, although it was a risk-taking. I heard his live singing and also singing on CD, I thought his voice could perfectly go with Concordea’s music.

He immediately accepted my offer to sing our songs, he liked the material. Then he recorded some demo versions, the first one was “Behind the wind”, and it came out fantastic… We ALL liked his performance very much and Andrea became our official singer on the recordings. But as you can guess, for such band like ours it’s a huge challenge to live and play in a country and to have the singer in another one… Although we had some discussions about common concerts with Andrea, there are too many doubts about their realizability. Nevertheless I believe that everything changes and everything is possible if both parts have reciprocal wish and one purpose…  By the way, as I have already said, at the moment we give our concerts with a local singer, and his vocal abilities are very different from Andrea’s ones. 

RtM: Daria, I know you wrote most of the lyrics and songs, and most vocal lines too, how was to work  the vocal lines with Andrea, and he helped with the compositions?
DP: Well, the musical authorship is about fifty-fifty, half written by Nikolay, half by me. I should say Nikolay is great with the arrangements, especially keyboard arrangements. The most of vocal lines are mine, you’re right. That’s why I fully got the Andrea’s approach: he was very accurate, attentive with the lyrics and melodies.

He knew I should’ve translated my originally Russian texts to English and he was very careful both with their sense and form when he was going to change something to make it more pronounceable.  I think we were on the same wavelength; he could immediately catch the right intonation and attack I asked for. I liked almost every creative solution he offered and surely he seemed to be quite professional to such a lay person like me. I am very thankful to him. It was a great experience… and sometimes very hard too, ahahah.

RtM: Well, about your debut, the EP “Before the Sunrise”, tell us a little more about the recording and production. And how you came to Heart of Steel label to release the album?
DP: The instrumental part was recorded here in Ekaterinburg, in “Rukami” studio. It was very first experience for us and it wasn’t that easy for me, hehe. It fell out that I recorded almost all guitar parts except some solos. The vocals were recorded in “Greenriver Studio” in Varese, Italy. 

I attended all the sessions there. “Greenriver Studio” was the same studio, where all the mixing and mastering were done, the studio belongs to Tancredi Barbuscia. He did a great job! It was Andrea who recommended him. The second album of 4th Dimension was completely recorded and mixed there, after all. Concerning “Heart Of Steel” label, there is the same situation: Andrea offered our materials to the label and after that they were ready to publish it.    
RtM: As I said, the lyrics are a differential in Concordea’s songs, and the title track have beautiful and poetic lyrics, and is my favorite until now!!!  I would like you comment a little more about this song.
DP: This song was written by Nikolay, and it is an absolute hit. Originally it had the name “In the shadow”, and I started from this point. The track is very powerful, with great drums, potent guitars and leading beautiful keyboards which make its spirit very mystic, aggressive and gloomy. I imagined a gloomy forest: when last sun ray is lost, it feels like when you lose last hope… actually you will find description of a mystic night in the lyrics. But longing for the light and warmth, feeling despair it often tends to forget that “night is darkest before the sunrise”. By the way, among 4 texts this is the one Andrea worked on most of all.  

The line up that recorded the EP: From left to righ, Alexey Raskovalov, Roman, Alexey Turetskov, Daria and Nikolay
RtM: And about “Behind the Wind”, it sounds more Melodic and Prog, but with the final part is almost Thrash! I think it also brings the translation of the band’s essence as a group with your diverse influences, and how all these factors go together. Do you agree? Can you comment about it?
DP: To my mind “Behind the wind” is the most complicated among four published songs. Every instrument interprets this composition in the best way possible. The original idea was mine, Nikolay added the beautiful chorus, and I composed the vocal line. Roman worked hard on the arrangement for the drums, which turned out to be very complicated, Alexey (guitar player) decided to compose a solo, Andrea changed a bit the structure, he left the space for keyboard solo and Alexey (keyboards) invented a beautiful synthesizer variation of the main theme.

It’s very Concordea's song, it’s epic, romantic and aggressive, melancholic and a bit desperate. The final part is very close to thrash, you noticed right! The drums intensify the dramatic effect.
Moreover you’ll find there the variations of the guitar riff, which are very intensive, too…  And it feels like the final dramatic chords make you give up any hope, the lyrics assist it well: “your highness is caught by the wind and taken away”. I like very much the performance of Andrea here. His attack and style of expression are just outstanding. He caught well the intonations that were almost unattainable for the singers we had before.

RtM: Continuing, comment about the beautiful lyrics of this song. “Slake my thirst, quench my fire, relieve me from painful thoughts!” And then… there’ll be no response! (be no response...)”
DP: As for the lyrics… I’d like every listener to have his or her own associations. Andrea said once that “Tempest” had reminded him of Shakespeare, ahah. Well, the lyrics have too personal background. As a matter of fact, it’s a song about my unrequited love, about my passion.     
Daria's dramatic and poetic lyrics are important part of Concordea's identity
RtM: As we said before, the Concordea’s songs have various nuances, contrasts and feelings, and to talk about the two last tracks, I would like you to comment “Delusive Shades”, that sounds more “dark” and has an interesting vocal line, where Andrea practically interprets the song!
DP: I totally agree with you! I consider “Delusive shades” the most “mystic” song on the EP from the point of view both of the instrumental part and of the textual part/vocal line... The lyrics I wrote for it are my favorite. The same person who has inspired me to write “Behind the Wind”, was my inspiration for “Delusive Shades” as well. In fact the lyrics about “round dance of shades” and “changing into a shade” are a fantasy interpretation or, better to say, an allegorical dress for some very personal layers of my life, the life of those person and my strong feelings towards him... But actually everybody can interpret the text as he/she wants, eheheh.

The song sounds very gothic, and every guitar part, every keyboard part, every change of rhythms in it create a special atmosphere, but the final part of this song still gives me the creeps! This word “wistfully” sounds perfect in english  and it sounds like a spell towards the end... And the lasting guitar creak makes you feel deeply the mystic atmosphere of the track and you become enchanted... That’s what happens to me listening to the song, I don’t know what the listeners could say, ahah.

Andrea Bicego: pay attention to this great italian singer!
RtM: While "Message", we could say it sounds "brighter" and more "up".
DP: As for the “Message”, it’s quite merry and peaceful song, it concerns esoteric things: every song we write is a gift of the “supreme forces” which we translate into music and lyrics. And every such song is a sort of “message” we send to our listeners... And may these “messages” be sincere and kind in essence, ‘cause we must concentrate our consciousness on beauty, harmony and peace to create beautiful and peaceful reality around us. It’s simple and it’s hard. The musical variety of “Message” is exactly about it: there are many guitar passages, there are various rhythms, unusual drums and fast solos. And Andrea’s voice fits the song very well, I’d characterize his vocal here as light and fresh.      

RtM: Well, a little more about you. When did you start to play guitar, and how born the passion for this musical style?
DP: I started to play acoustic guitar a bit late when I was 19. I took some private lessons. Generally speaking, my first instrument ever was block flute when I was 7 or 8, and at the age of 10 I began to play piano. The passion for this musical style was born in 1999, when I listened for the first time to the album “Symphony of Enchanted Lands”. I was 12, I was completely enchanted by Rhapsody(of Fire) and my life was totally changed from that moment.

RtM: Speaking about the Russian scenario, tell us how is the support to the bands, the space to Metal concerts and conditions (including economic) to keep a Metal band? Some time ago, Russia was closed to many things.
DP: Well, one of so-called “supports” is when you can go to rent some fully equipped room, pay for 1-2-3-4 or however many hours and play there with your band mates. There are a lot of small events held in the small pubs or bars where several bands can play in an evening. If you have enough money and abilities you can always pay and play once as a support band on scene with a touring star. Often the same happens with festivals. As you can see, the only and most reliable support is our enthusiasm and our love towards what we play and what we do.   

RtM: Well, you are one of the former members, composer, and have other responsibilities, even assuming a natural leadership. In your opinion, what abilities/characteristics must a modern leader of a musical band have?
DP: Besides the musical abilities he or she must be quite flexible, strong enough... full of various ideas and must translate them well into reality. He or she must be interesting, friendly and maybe a bit eccentric to make others follow him or her... That’s how I see it at the moment.

RtM: I realize now that here in Brazil we are having the Football World Cup, and the next Cup will be in Russia.  Here there were many criticisms because of government spending, and some popular manifestations and protests, but as for events and tourists, all ok, because the Brazilian people are very hospitable. And there in your country, as you are seeing the fact that  Russia will be the next  country to receive the World Cup?
DP: Do you know it’s planned to hold worlds also in Ekaterinburg? They want to build and rebuild stadium/sports grounds, relocating some constructions within the city. It will strongly affect the lives of people. A lot of citizens of Ekaterinburg and other cities too dispute these programs. It’s obvious, they have no sense, such investments volume could have far more useful application!    

 RtM: Well, Daria, thanks for your time, the band have a lot of potential and talent, we wish much success to you, and hope someday see you alive in your beautiful country, and maybe in a big festival like Hellfest, Wacken or Sweden Rock…and, why not, here in Brazil! Let the space to you final message to the readers!
DP: Wow, Carlos, thank you very much for your wishes and for this amazing opportunity to give the interview for your great webzine! We shall do our best. Readers of “ROAD TO METAL”, keep listening to good music, keep following "Road to Metal!", follow us, be positive and smile more! 

Interview by: Carlos Garcia
Photos: Concordea Archives

Web site (access and listen to the album)
Label site

iTunes (buy the songs)
Read the review of the album on Road to Metal

                                                   Demo Versions:

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