Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Zaraza Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the new album?
We have been mostly focused on promoting the album and getting the word out about its release.
The scene has changed drastically since our first album came out in 1997. I think it was easier to get exposure back then just be sending out physical CDs using snail mail.
Today, there is so much music being put out that all the metal magazines are just drowning in daily promos, press releases and getting noticed is actually more difficult for an independent band.
But we're learning and adjusting to the new realities of the metal scene in 2017.

2.Recently you have released a new album, how would you describe the musical sound that is presented on the recording and also how does it differ from the stuff you have released in the past?
We describe ourselves simply as experimental sludge / doom metal.
Our first albums ("Slavic Blasphemy" in 1997 and "No Paradise to Lose" in 2003) were far more electronics-oriented. Many people hail "Slavic Blasphemy" as the album that invented the entire "industrial doom metal" sub-genre.
On the new album, we definitely wanted to go into a heavier, more guitar-driven, sludge-focused direction. Sludge as a genre only really came into prominence during the last decade or so while we were away and it just seemed like the perfect vehicle upon which Zaraza could plot a return.
I purposefully try to avoid using the term "industrial" to describe our style.
For me, the "real" industrial music was exemplified by the experimental work of 1980s bands like Laibach, Swans, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Test Department, Holy Toy, Hula, etc.
Industrial music in 2017 sounds nothing like that. It's mostly synth-driven, electronic goth / dancey crap that I cannot stand.
Every now and then I sample some albums from Bandcamp's "industrial metal" section and they're usually so awful, I feel like throwing up and cleaning up my mouth with chlorine afterwards to wash out the bad taste.
So, no. I do not see Zaraza as a band affiliated with "industrial" any more, since nearly all industrial music I hear today is commercial-friendly garbage that has little in common with the 1980s industrial I grew up listening to.
We're a heavy experimental sludge metal band and that is what it is.

3.The band was broken up for a few years, what was the cause of the split, and also the decision to reform?
After our second album "No Paradise to Lose" in 2003, we started working on a new album.
Usually, we were a band that was brimming with ideas, we seemed to always have too many ideas and constraining them and keeping them all focused was a major challenge.
But suddenly, all of that stopped. We wrote 2 new songs for our 3rd album back in 2004 or so and I will honestly say they were not very good. It's as if all of  a sudden all of our inspiration had dried up overnight. I decided that if we do not have it in us to make outstanding music, then we should quit and that was it.
During those 10 years when we were away I would occasionally pick up a guitar, but there was nothing. No new ideas, nothing. I kinda accepted that my times with music were over, just a memory of the past.
But....about 3 years ago something changed. Various traumatic life events awoke something in me. I started feeling that "hunger" again, the same one we felt when we started out in 1993.
Started practicing guitar again on a regular basic and on one morning the opening riffs for the song "Maskwearer" arrived from underneath my fingers. I knew that we were back.
I was living in Houston, TX at that time. During my next trip to Montreal I met up with the other original member of the band (Brian Damage) during a 2015 Godfesh concert. He too has been musically inactive for a few years but felt the need to start doing something again. Long story short we agreed to restart Zaraza and collaborate on a new album via the Internet.
A few months later I moved to Ecuador, but the work on the album continued and after 1.5 years of hard work "Spams of Rebirth" was released and Zaraza officially returned to active status. I hope this is just the beginning of the next stage of our journey.

4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer music?
Our main themes are either our atheistic view of the universe (as exemplified on the song "Church of Gravity") or just dealing with the difficult challenges that life throws at you at various stages.
Zaraza has always been a band very much focused on the ugliness of reality.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name 'Zaraza'?
I just wanted a Polish name for the band, being a brand new immigrant when we started in 1993 in Canada. "Zaraza" is the Polish word for "disease" / "plague".

6.Currently the band members live in 2 separate parts of the world, how does that work in the recording process?
On this particular album I did all the recordings myself. Music was recorded at my home studio in Ecuador.
All the vocals were recorded at a professional vocal booth in a recording studio in Houston, TX.

7.What where some of the best shows that the band played in the past and also how would you describe your stage performance?
Being so remote, we don't really play live. Zaraza has always been more of a studio project.

8.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?
We did send some demos prior to the album, but getting signed purely on the strength of a demo is quite a challenge. Labels are also drowning in demos, so it seems they are also looking for something more, especially seeing a band live. Relapse explicitly states for example that they rarely, if ever, sign a band based purely on a demo.
That is OK. There is a lot of work that a record label does that is much easier today: releasing music, distributing it, promotion, etc.
So although being independent is definitely a challenge, in some ways it is noticeably easier to be your own label as well.
And you get a lot more of long-term control over your own music, which is important in the long run
9.On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of industrial and doom metal?
Well, we are always an experimental band, trying to push the envelope
I saw some comments where people wished we had put out another "Slavic Blasphemy Part Deux", i.e. with lots of symphonic keyboards, sad doomy interludes, etc.
Sorry, no way. That was Zaraza in 1997. This is us 20 years later. We did not want to come band and sound the same or do the same thing.
We wanted something new, something uglier, something more foul. We are not a 90s nostalgia act. I'd rather quit than allow Zaraza to live in the past.
Outside of that, the response has been very positive from those fans who knew we are here to push the envelope and not just give them a re-heated meal of something from the past.
There are plenty of other bands who are happy to do that for you. We are not one of them.

10.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?
Heavier, uglier. Maybe even a bit faster, who knows?
Just because we're both in our 40s or 50s that doesn't mean we're mellowing out.
I think I am actually more pissed than when I was 20-30 years old. Our music reflects that.

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?
Great question.
Personally, I find metal today to be at its most stagnant and uninspiring in a long, long time. And I've been listening to it since mid 1980s.
With rampant piracy (which is basically another word for "so-called fans spitting in a band's face and stealing for free something the band worked on for months"),
it seems many bands today are just playing it safe and giving fans exactly what they want.
When I see video footage from huge festivals like Wacken, so much of the music is bloody boring, predictable and dare I say...commercial.
Even if you do growling, screaming, blast beats...but if  you are giving the audience exactly what they expect, then I say extreme metal has become shockingly "commercial".
Hence, most of the music that inspires me today is from totally unknown, underground bands in various genres that I discover on Bandcamp.
These artists are still hungry, looking for a new path and a new sound that is their own.
Their thinking is exactly the same as hours.
Here are some of the bands that have greatly influenced Zaraza's comeback:
Fever Dreams - stunning atonal hard core, major influence on our new album:
https://feverdreamshc. bandcamp.com/album/life-has- departed
Disrotted - ugly sludge, huge influence on the new Zaraza:
https://diseasedaudio. bandcamp.com/album/self- titled-lp-2
https://disrotted.bandcamp. com/album/demo-i
Palehorse: brutally heavy use of dual bass guitars:
https://palehorse-uk.bandcamp. com/album/looking-wet-in- public-2
LORN  - brilliant atonal black metal:
https://i-voidhangerrecords. bandcamp.com/album/arrayed- claws
Car Bomb - violently inventive brutality:
https://carbomb.bandcamp.com/ album/meta
Darkher: best doom of the last few years:
https://darkher-uk.bandcamp. com/album/realms
Chelsea Wolfe - incredible female vocals
https://chelseawolfe.bandcamp. com/album/pain-is-beauty
https://chelseawolfe.bandcamp. com/album/abyss
FVNERALS: stunning epic alternative doom
https://fvnerals.bandcamp.com/ album/the-light
Cursed Earth - brutal Australian hard core / death metal:
https://cursedearth.bandcamp. com/album/enslaved-by-the- insignificant
https://lifelairregretrecords. bandcamp.com/album/vae-mortis
Rise and Fall: "Faith" is a stunning brutal hard core album:
https://riseandfallband. bandcamp.com/album/faith
Bleak: another crushing hard core band:
https://hexrecords.bandcamp. com/album/we-deserve-our- failures
https://ihatebleak.bandcamp. com/album/bleak
Gazelle Twin - one of the very few industrial/electronic artists I listen too, her minimalistic style really inspired our new album
https://gazelletwin.bandcamp. com/album/unflesh
Hessian: brutal crust mixed with black/death:
https://hessiansl.bandcamp. com/album/manegarmr
Lucifer the Lightbearer : crust meets doom and sludge
https:// luciferthelightbearerhc. bandcamp.com/album/demo
https:// luciferthelightbearerhc. bandcamp.com/album/ generations-2
Arc of Ascent - amazing trad doom from New Zealand
https://arcofascent.bandcamp. com/album/the-higher-key
Hexis - a skull crushing wall of crust/black sound
https://hexisband.bandcamp. com/album/abalam
Napalm Christ - one of the greatest metal albums of the last decade
https://a389recordings. bandcamp.com/album/napalm- christ-napalm-christ
Watchtower: stunning sludge metal
https://watchtowerwatchtower. bandcamp.com/album/watchtower- radiant-moon-ep
https://watchtowerwatchtower. bandcamp.com/album/watchtower- absinthism-live-single-2014
GUST - possibly best HC album of the last decade
https://gustsl.bandcamp.com/ album/s-t
Morkhimmel: brilliant black crust from Czech Republic:
https://morkhimmel666. bandcamp.com/album/zlosk-ivec
NOD NOD : imagine if Bjork did a doom metal album:
https://nodnod.bandcamp.com/ album/nod-nod
..,\and many more....

12.What are some of your non musical interests?
Trying to make sure my body and my mind last me for a long time. Once you hit your 40s you realize they're not indestructible any more.
I am sure Lemmy would disapprove of my lifestyle: little alcohol, no drugs, mostly organic vegan food, living in the countryside, in the Andes mountains of Ecuador.
Not all of us are lucky to have his a-bottle-of-Jack-Daniels-a-day genetics.

13.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?
Thanks for the support.
You can buy the album from our Bandcamp site:
https://www.facebook.com/ zarazadoom/
Official video for "Church of Gravity":
https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=mDOkxy3-Ix4
My last words may be unpopular, but I will say them anyway: piracy is stealing. Nothing less.
When you download an album that took a band 1-2 years to create, you are just spitting in their face.
Pure and simple. Nothing fucking else to it.
It doesn't have to be Zaraza, but if there is a band out there whose music you love, go out and support them. Every single one of them.
That is what I do, spending hundreds of dollars every years supporting the artists that mean something to me.
You can see them all on my Bandcamp account:
Jacek / ZARAZA

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