Thursday, September 8, 2016

Kashgar Interview

>     1.For those that have never heard of you before, can you tell us a little bit about the band?
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Blauth: The band started simply as a tool for countering the stagnant music scene in Bishkek. We were three guys who simply wanted to play the music that we enjoy and were not hearing in Bishkek. Kyrgyzstan is not the kind of place where metal bands tour, so this ended up being DIY.

Ars: After 16 years of playing in different genres and numerous bands, and loosing half of our last band's members, Warg and me were rather angry and disappointed. Warg decided to return to his roots and when I met Blauth with his complaints about Bishkek music scene and his huge passion for old extreme bands, I instantly called Warg to join forces in creating a heavy, uncompromising old-school metal band. The very next day we were already writing songs, trying to splash all the anger into the music! That's pretty much what we still do at practices and on stage: delivering pure, sincere plague of spite and horror - straight from the deepest parts of our souls.


>     2.How would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the album?
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Blauth: I see that this question merges with the subsequent question, so I'll try and differentiate the two. My tastes veer towards 80s/early 90s death metal, black metal, punk and speed metal. Ars comes from classic rock and progressive. Warg is more of a modern black metal type guy. The band is some amalgam of all of the above. On the album, I tried to encourage a disciplined approach towards making what I would deem "classic" early 90s metal, with sounds influences ranging from Bathory / Celtic Frost to early Kreator to My Dying Bride. In presenting this sound, I was really hoping to make an album whereby the gestalt produced a coherent idea. The music does jump around a bit in sound and approach, but I think that we were able to create a holistic album which sounds coherent, rather than the approach made by many modern bands which is "let's throw a little bit of polka and jazz-ambient in because it would be 'unique.'" We wanted an album which still compels the average hessian to band his head.

Ars: Crystal glaciers, sharp rocks and freezing high-mountain passes, vast empty plains, brown dust and wounding winds, ancient daemons and slaughters - that's what I wanted the album to sound like. These are the main themes of Kyrgyz folklore and of our songs too. If you ask about the tech side - I tried to achieve cold and rather dry sound with no or minimum effects on the tracks, we recorded live drums, no triggers or samples - all to get a rough, natural and not over-processed feel (that's what Blauth wanted the most). This approach was further polished and developed by Achilleas Kalantzis (Crown Audio Conspiracies), who helped us much in getting the crystal-cold and solid sound by his great mastering. Most of the songs were recorded in different time, some of them with different equipment and instruments - episodically, during 7 months or so. All that made the mixing process a real pain in the ass, but finally we got the result we're all proud of. Of cause lots of mistakes were made and it could sound even better, but there will be a new album to achieve some new goals.

>     3.You refer to your music as 'proper metal', can you tell us a little bit more about that term?

Blauth: From my perspective, metal died a mournful death in about 1996, awash in also-rans and and label-created product. After about 2002 the occasional new band started cropping up, or a classic band would put out an unexpected winner (see: Beherit & Celtic Frost), but overall most modern bands lack the soul and direction that one found in the 70s & 80s. I have been living in what many call "Developing Nations" for a large part of the last couple of decades, and so I had kind of lost track of what was going on with metal. However, any time that I was actually in Europe or the US, and had time to attend a show, I was vexed by the fact that only the headliners were tolerable. Any time that I would open a metal magazine or check out Encyclopedia Metallum, I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of bands that simply don't have a clue. They either put out "cut and paste" black metal / death metal, aping the classics but not contributing to the vernacular, or else put out hipster-clown music which denigrates the art more than anything else.My vision with this album was simply to create music which continued the dialogue / language of the art of metal. Nothing more, nothing less.

Ars: This was Blauth's term, which he used every time as an argument in support of old-school bands. We never cared much about what classification of metal we sound like, each of us is implementing his own background while focusing on the main idea of extreme metal, so when people started to ask what kind of music we play, this was the only way for us to describe it.

>     4.Your lyrics cover some Occult and Folklore topics, can you tell us a little bit more about your interest in those subjects?

Blauth: The lyrics must match the feel of the album. When one listens to classic Deicide or Blasphemy, one knows one is dealing with a pummeling, bullying approach to the occult. Burzum takes another and Morbid Angel yet a third. For us, we decided that Kyrgyz mythology and fairy-tales hadn't been over-plumbed, and might be something interesting to explore. The shamanistic feel of the album is compelled by the lyrics and artwork. Again, it's all part of a unified concept.

Ars: Blauth made some serious research on Kyrgyz folklore and beliefs (including some interesting superstitions) after which we all were impressed by wild and dark ideas, which some Kyrgyz people still seem to believe. He covers some very unique and dramatic issues in his lyrics, and it suits our music just fine.


>     5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Kashgar'?

Blauth: The quiet member of the band, Warg, came up with the name. It refers to a wild river valley in the Pamir mountains which flows through the southern part of Kyrgyzstan before continuing on to the ancient city of Kashgar in China. It's a place that most Kyrgyz have never visited, and is home to leopards, wild sheep and wolves. I think that Ars has visited it. Basically, the name conjures obscure feelings in the breast of many who live here. Coincidentally, some jazz-fusion band sprang up at about the same time as we did with the same name; people confuse us with them online. If you have any doubts which band you are listening to, note that we don't "jam." I also remember Warg telling me that criminals grow marijuana in the Kashgar valley, but I wouldn't know about that.

Ars: Yes, this river is called Kyzyl-Suu in Kyrgyz and it runs from astonishing Chon-Alay valley, on the south of Kyrgyzstan, to China, where it's called Kashgar. That is one of the many amazingly raw, wild and impressive places in our country and I totally endorsed when Warg came up with the name of the great river which takes its origin in such a place. As for the other Kashgar band... note, that we don't draw pink elephants on our covers either. Their music is not bad though.


>     6.What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and also how would you describe your stage performance?
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Blauth: Kashgar puts on a pretty good show, but there isn't much of a scene to watch it. Generally we play before the same 40 or so people in Kyrgyzstan. We have done one show in Moscow and that was again not well attended. Our stage performance consists of our entire album played in a slightly different order. I'm a purist and subscribe to the Ramones school of performance, which is basically - get onstage, kill the audience, get off without comment. I loathe between-track banter.

Ars: Well, I'd say we are yet to play our best shows! We didn't play much, being busy with the recording and producing the album, as well as constantly searching for a solid line-up. We're still building up our audience and it grows up with every concert. We did a good act with Kazakhstan's thrashers Zarraza this spring, which actually was well attended and had lots of feedback, and we are invited to play with them in Almaty this autumn. That should be a killer gig!

>     7.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?

Blauth: That will depend on whether we can maintain a stable lineup of backing musicians. Apart from the core members of the band consisting of Warg, Ars and myself, we have had a never-ending carnival of musicians who have come in and out of the band to handle the second guitar and drums. I ended up finishing the drums on the album because we simply couldn't find a drummer. This makes it difficult to tour. In addition, we are middle-aged dinosaurs, and hence have jobs and families which eat up most of our time. I wouldn't imagine that we'll be doing any sort of extended tour, but would be interested in one-off festival shows or short regional tours.

Ars: I think we have finally got a great line-up with Alex Babenko on the drums and Max Kitz on the guitar, and we're playing our first local show with them on 18th September. We also have invitations from Almaty and Astana (Kazakhstan) for this autumn - hopefully Blauth will be able to make it. We want to tour, but as he said it's complicated considering our jobs and location.

>     8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
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Blauth: We are looking for a label. A small record label out of Germany called 'Manifest of Hate' are set to release the album on LP with a limited edition run of 100 copies in the coming months. We would appreciate support / distribution from a larger label, as it is difficult to get enough financial support to play in Europe.

Ars: We also received several offers from Russia, Poland and world-wide promoters, but we're still searching for a best proposal.

>     9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of black and death metal?

Blauth: People who have heard the album profess to enjoy it. It's not everyone's cup of tea as it doesn't fall rigidly into either death or black metal. The biggest problem is just getting it out to people. There's so much white noise and so much to listen to these days that people don't have the bandwidth to listen to us.

Ars: We're getting some positive feedback, but it's truly hard to spread the word if you live in Kyrgyzstan and don't have many possibilities to tour.


>     10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
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Blauth: I think that Warg would like to see us go in more of a "pure" black metal direction, such as one hears on Satanic Warmaster albums. This becomes too "Xerox copy" for Ars and I, I think. We'll see. There are always plenty of colourful arguments in the creation of a Kashgar track.

Ars: It was an experiment of mixing up our various backgrounds from the beginning, so I think it will continue that way and hopefully we'll develop our approach furthermore.

>     11.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

Blauth: I listen to 80s and 90s death and black metal largely, although I really love punk and early metal as well. Some stuff that I listen to regularly right now includes Glen Danzig's entire canon (Misfits/Samhain/Danzig minus the late 90s / early 2000s stuff), 70s Judas Priest, Celtic Frost, Necromantia, Varathron, Mercyful Fate, early Sepultura, Repulsion, Sadistik Exekution, Ministry, Beherit, Darkthrone, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Kaeck, AC/DC, Demilich, Bathory, early Enslaved, Birth A.D., Darkthrone, Dead Kennedys, Discharge, the Dwarves, The Stooges, Iron Maiden, Sammath, Master's Hammer, etc., etc., etc.

Ars: I grew up listening to such classics as Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. In 90's I discovered some great metal bands: early Metallica, Samael, Tiamat and My Dying Bride, was a big fan of Anathema for quite a while. In 00's I switched to prog and art-rock: King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Trey Gunn, Camel, Tool, Porcupine Tree. These days I listen to a mixture of all of those plus some blues and jazz, and sometimes discover new pearls like Portishead's "Third", The Jim Jones Review or Rival Sons. I was also really impressed by the live performance of Mayhem, Sun O))) and Demilich at Brutal Assault fest last year - these guys know how to do proper metal, hope to play with them one day!

Warg:

>     12.What are some of your non musical interests?

Blauth: history & archaeology, world travel, conservation, literature.

Ars: photography and design, skiing, mountains and travel.

Warg: business, architecture, cars, modeling, world travel.



>     13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
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Blauth: We appreciate the exposure. Hail Occult Black Metal!

Ars: I want to give credits to our former guitarist, Mike Cole - we had fine times creating some of the best tunes on the album and I hope to work with him again some-when.
To the metal-heads out there: Thanks for reading this, we do need your support!

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