We were so close on hearing a philosophical – existential manifest that would demolish the barriers of the sociopolitical status quo, but unfortunately I’m just a selfish music journalist and Kemerov is just the best Death Garage Roll band you have heard for years. So we had better things to talk about on the following discussion with them…
Let me welcome Kemerov to Metal Invader. Congratulations for your first album. But before that, give us a mini bio of your career so far.
Thank you! Our first album is a result of long persistence, as I and George (guitar) begun everything in 2013, trying to bring a lineup together. For two years, the rhythm section parts constantly alternated, thus no fixed lineup was at hand; until 2015, when Tasos (drums) and his brother Spiros (bass), joined successively the band. That was the first complete synthesis of Kemerov, which lasts until today. Immediately things began rolling with the release of our homonymous EP, many live performances, but also the release of our debut album “FMKD” just a few days ago.
I think my next question is quite expected; why ‘Kemerov’? You know, while I was writing this question down I was thinking about your answer. Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver) was at some point asked by a Classic Rock journalist about why he was wearing a nazi hat on the stage and the journalist was devastated by a bunch of arguments about art and invitations, thankfully leaving politics aside, while he (the journalist) was expecting a simple and unadorned ‘’just because it is cool’’ (stylistically speaking only) answer. Please don’t let me down as well.
You’ve blocked me. I was preparing a philosophical/existential manifest that would tear down the norms of the social and political status quo, but now I will just say that Kemerov is a Russian city in the Siberian territory where there are some rocks strangely placed one on another, and for which legend says that were put this way by giants. Plus, we liked how the name sounds.
I would ask the same thing about your title ‘FMKD’.
Shall I give it away then? The album got its name from the homonymous song, which in full it reads “Feed Mate Kill Die”. In other words, the circle of life. Survival, species perpetuation, killing of each other, conclusion. This is something that also applies on humans, regardless of them being intellectually gifted compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. These four words are unfortunately us in our most philosophical, especially opposite those who consider themselves unique in any way and hope to some salvation or life after death, only because that sounds cool. That is not enough to also make it true, unfortunately.
If someone has never listened to you before, how would you describe your music? How close to the average Death Garage Roll genre are you? What do you consider your biggest influences?
Such a term wouldn’t be far from the spot, I’d say it’s pretty descriptive of our sound. Surely we recognize that the foundations of heavy music were set by the legends 30-40 years ago, but musically we are kids of the ‘90s, well, half of us at least, as there is a broad age spectrum in the band (something that doesn’t work against the band’s functionality, by the way). So, when we were starting the band 4 years ago, our vision could be summarized in a mix of Entombed/Turbonegro/Cathedral. I’d say we more or less made it, although every Kemerov member adds his own touch, in terms of composition or orchestration.
Why is Death Rock ‘N Roll not that much developed in our country? Are we, as a crowd, more traditional or even conservative?
I’d say that this genre is ‘underdeveloped’ globally, not just in Greece. I daresay that there is a “polarization” in music, speaking generally and not denying that there are many exceptions, ones that confirm the rule though. What do I mean? For instance, metal fans generally attach to “metal” formulas, punks do the same thing, etc. Take a look at the disbelief towards bands moving in a more crossover area at their age, like Faith No More, Rage Against the Machine, Entombed and many others. Don’t get me wrong, all these bands are judged by history as successful, symbolic and with lots of fans, but, during the times of their experimentations, scepticism ruled among their fans. Focusing on the last of the aforementioned bands (and with me being a die-hard fan of theirs), just imagine how strange their punk and rock ‘n’ roll explorations could have sounded to someone who had known them with ‘Left Hand Path’ and ‘Clandestine’. This has a more general impact on music production. “Clearer” and “more specific” music equals greater popularity, more experimental and “stranger” music equals the opposite.
How difficult is it to have a group coming from the wider Greek region and especially from the Greek North?
Definitely much harder than having a band in the Athens area. It requires greater, harder and more costly efforts for recordings, live shows, promotion. We’re not sorry of anything we have spent so far, as, if our main goal was financial, we wouldn’t be doing this. But generally, the time required for a band outside Athens to start getting something back financially after all their efforts is considerably greater than for one in Athens.
Your album, to finally talk about it, has an extremely impressive cover. Talk to me a bit about this.
I really think that the album cover constitutes a work of art and personally I was greatly impressed when I first saw it. It is an original work of our friend comic artist Apostolis Ioannou, with additional processing by friend Nikos Tsiolis, who perfected tha layout. The remarkable thing is that the cover is the artist’s inspiration, as some specific ideas we had as a band didn’t work out very well in the end. So in the end, the artist took it on by himself and created this masterpiece, which is very loosely based on our initial ideas.
The album songs emit a sense of confidence; a confidence about yourself and a mood similar to “Think Big”. I mean, it’s like the songs were written to become hits and be played live in front of a large audience. No irony or negativity behind my words. Do you think that this happens subconsciously? Do you, in the back of your mind, think that the material is worth more than the clichéd ‘a small step’ for the Greek scene?
I don’t know what to say exactly on that, it is something I have never thought of. We make music the way we like it, taking example from the way other music that we like is made. For us, every song we write is special, we never felt like composing a filler. On the contrary, there is a song that made it in the album’s tracklist almost in the last minute, as we felt that it just shouldn’t stay out. I mean that we love all our songs and yes, we think highly of them. Whether they will make an impact or how ‘important’ we will be regarded in the Greek scene is something that, on one hand, doesn’t exactly keep us awake at night, while, on the other hand, unfortunately is not entirely up to the quality of the music, which is subjective anyway. And this goes for every band out there.
As far as the composition of your tracks is concerned, which procedure do you follow as a band?
Giorgos is the main composer of our music. He usually brings a riff or a group of riffs and we work on them initially according to his vision, but very often adding collectively more music parts or changing the initial structure. Then, when we have the bare bones of a song, I come up with some lyrics that sit well on the melodies, always carrying the charming and romantically nihilistic tone that is always present in a Kemerov song.
How long did it you take you to prepare the album? Tell us more about the recordings and the production of the album.
Musically, the album exists for the most part from the beginning of the band 4 years ago, since we’re talking about the initial ideas that existed when Kemerov formed. New material couldn’t obviously be composed when there was no steady line-up, but, from the moment that was fixed, the flow of creativity skyrocketed. The recordings took place in the autumn of 2016, while the final mix and production was done by dear friend Emmanouil Tselepis, who plays bass in Craang and guitar in Birthday Kicks, while he also produces their albums, as well as many other underground bands’. I strongly believe that, according to the potentiality of the band right this moment, along with Emmanouil, we achieved the best possible result.
Do you think songs like ‘Slay Your Son’ or ‘Plague of Nations’ are more fitting to the sound that you will follow or will you continue with this mixture The Hellacopters meets Deceased in next releases?
That’s a very interesting comparison you’re making and I would gladly adopt it! There is no specific plan as to where we will move musically from now on. There are many simultaneous “tendencies” as each of us listens to rather different things from the others, so, if I can promise something, it is that in our future releases there will be variety and not monotony.
Which do you think is the most characteristic track of Kemerov and which is your personal favourite?
I cannot say for sure if there is a unique piece that can only come out as the most characteristic. Unanimously, we chose “Slay Your Son” as the most straight – forward track of the album to be released as a single-forerunner of the album. Beyond that, everyone has different weaknesses. I like “Gargoyle Keep”, George likes “Murdered in the Steppe”, Tasos likes “Plague of Nations”, Spyros likes “Sane”.
Since you are still hot from your performance with Sodom, with which other groups would you like to share the stage?
There is not a specific preference, we like to generally play live as we think we fit in metal situations, as well as in more punk ones, something that shows from our varied musical tastes. So we are open to possible propositions from everywhere. Of course we would die to pay alongside one of the three bands that we state as main influences, but, since two of them don’t exist anymore, to play with Turbonegro if/when they come back in Greece, would be a dream come true for me personally.
What do you expect of the future to bring to Kemerov?
We don’t have crazy aspirations and dreams, we take days one by one. Our goal is to always become better and better, and to reach greater and greater audiences. Since we do what we like and enjoy it (according to the initial motive), any “success” from then on is welcome.
Any plans? When can we expect your next hit or is it too early?
It sure is too early yet as just a few days ago we got a new album out. There are new ideas, but only in a primitive form so far. Our priority right now is to play live at as many places as possible. Taking days one by one, like I said.
Closing is yours…
Thank you very much for the interview and the support! I would also like to state that it is of the utmost importance to support the local scene because many diamonds are hidden in the underground and it would be a waste for bands with great potential (but not with great promotion) to go unnoticed.