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Interview: ALKONOST
Title: Aroused ancient legends

Founded in 1995, these extremely talented connection made it pretty short in time to one of the very best and also most original Russian Pagan Folk Metal-successors at all on these globe.

And already their early written songs contain the typical massive dose of deepest passion for noble art and burning love for history, which one can hear until today in the intoxicating catchy hymns of Alkonost. To one of the true trademarks of the band’s brand got the absolute charming female nightingale-vocals, which are still a highly fascinating part within their truly unique music.

While others in the genre mainly laying their focus on a more or less rough attitude and harsh rumbling sounds, Alkonost on the other hand are the massive capable specialists for the admirable aesthetic type of Pagan Folk Metal-art. Currently they finishing the recordings for their upcoming new studio album „On The Wings Of The Call”, which will see the pagan light of day soon – it will be released through established German label Einheit Produktionen.

I’ve talked to guitarist Andrey „Elk” Losev and bass-player Aleksey „Alex Nightbird” Solovyov, to illuminate the motives and the backgrounds of these luckily abiding and honest Russian heathen enthusiasts from the autonomic republic Tatarstan.

Hope you guys are doing fine!?

Aleksey: „Yes! All is the best! But we have absolutely sunk in snow!”

Alkonost are one of the longest existing Russian Pagan & Folk Metal acts. What do you guys think by now, if you look back at the beginnings of your band?

Andrey: „This way is rather difficult. Till now I can’t really appraise what we’ve achieved. And what we’ve been doing earlier always seems to be better than what we do now. I hope that’s not really so. But we still tremble with the thought that somebody wouldn’t like our music at all, however we put so much thoughts, energy and means into it…”

Aleksey: „Yes, Alkonost’s way was very long. But to my mind we forged ahead in 2002, having released our debut CD in Germany. At that time the groups that have released the professional CDs could have been counted on fingers. And the quantity of those who released their albums on the West is even less. I still perceive our forging ahead as a miracle, taking in consideration that fact, that we are a group from the province, not from the capital-city. When I look back I see a great work of Alkonost’s members (those who participated earlier and those who participate now) being betrayed to the idea of music. And the first thought coming to my mind when I look back at the history of the group which has been lasting for almost 14 years is that the development and the progress of Alkonost have always been held up by the indifference of those people, whom we trusted as professionals, on whom the quality of the record of the material, the quality of it’s sound and the promotion depended. And the another thought is that the music, that we’ve been creating and recording all this time together with Andrey was always my favorite trend and it sill remains being so.”

What does mean the band name Alkonost at all?

Andrey: „This is half-a-woman-half-a-bird creature from Russian ancient legends. The legends haven’t been saved, but the image remained. It is always portrayed smiling with the open wings and a crown on its head. It’s believed that when it gives birth the sea is calm completely for seven days.”

When you take a critical look on our planet & the current dominating societies, which values "modern days urban human robots" could learn from ancient heathen philosophies & rules in general?

Andrey: „The respect for our ancestors and the world around us. It’s enough to look at the Japanese, who still remained being the pagans in some way. Till our days they live in harmony with nature, but there’s a great technical progress at the same time. I ‘d like our future be similar to something like that world.”

Aleksey: „We should honor our roots, get closer to our native culture, treat with respect those, who is worthy of it and study the respect-worthy cultures.”

In which individual ways the members of Alkonost praise the eternal beauty of mother Nature & the ancient heathen ideals day by day?

Andrey: „Well, we keep some traditions. Personally for me the Shrovetide (in Russian – Maslenitsa) and The Week of Water-nymphs are sacred. Concerning the nature… unfortunately, we live in the “stone jungles”...”

Aleksey: „First of all I always try to maintain the individual spiritual connection with the world of the past and the world of our Gods. The astral power maintaining is very important for me. It strengthens the inner spiritual shaft of my world view. Also I try not to drop the garbage in the forest and speak with respect with those people, who might have been the great warriors in the past.”

How deep is your contact to German fans of Alkonost so far?

Andrey: „I consider we know only those, with whom we communicated at the concerts after our performances, but, you know, the communication after the concerts is not very efficient.”

Aleksey: „During the period between 1999 and 2003 I’ve been receiving letters from Germany after dispatching our MC & CD to the European metalmusic magazines. And I remember that RockHard gave Alkonost 7,5/10 for the debut CD! We even advertised this event at a prominent Russian magazine! For us being a group from the outline city of Russia that was something amazing! Later there were fewer contacts with the European listeners because Alkonost received a refusal from Ketzer records to release the new album “Between The Worlds” and our music appealed mainly to the Russian listeners. That was caused by the fact that our debut album had got to Russia as a pirate edition and more people from our country knew about us. Besides, the largest Russian label «Soyuz Myzic/Metal Agen Records” offered us a contract. That was something like a beginning of a new life for us. But unfortunately that all fell short of our expectations. And that cost us too much.”

In which country of these earth Alkonost can count on the most & most enthusiastic fans?

Andrey: „Of course, in Germany and in Russia. I came to this conclusion having communicated with them.”

Aleksey: „And personally I remember the contacts with the listeners from Indonesia, for example. Alkonost has a lot of listeners all over the world. And there are a lot of enthusiasts evaluating our music in all the countries! But of course most of them are from Russia thanks to our old age and 4 Russian-speaking releases.”

How has been developed your unique musical style over all the years? Under which influences?

Andrey: „Actually we are ruled by a constant desire of making something unusual in metal school. The Slavic pagan and folk theme is expressed well in the music of such groups as Gods Tower and Arkona. We need our own sound having no connection with others. We began playing simple melodies and improved ourselves with each new album basing on medieval Russian music. But also our music was influenced by the creation of such groups as Iron Maiden and AC/DC.”

Aleksey: „I do agree. We try to go our own way.”

Tell me about the songwriting process for your upcoming album "On The Wings Of The Call"!

Andrey: „We put together all our music material, the outlines of some melodies, which had been written during these 10 years, made some themes of them. After that we recorded three songs and a cover version of the song of the group from our city Canonis, where earlier I played bass-guitar. After that we listened to the material in order to see the sense of conceptual purpose of the future album. Then we recorded the outlines of some more songs and finally understood what sound should be there. One can get mad thinking over the process when after some films having been watched, and the books having been read, after some emotional experience there appear the melodies in your mind, which are severely criticized by our friends in the end. After that they are subjected to the putting “into shape” so that there’s nothing from those romantic impressions left. That was a rather hard work.”

Aleksey: „Andrey hadn’t gone nuts yet! I’ve already wrote many themes for the future songs! But only old punk-rock musicians compose without a sound-producing, I consider.”

Did you make any changes in the new material, which will surprise the listeners?

Andrey: „Certainly. We think so, at least. Perhaps, some elements, which we’d used, would sound unaccustomed for our fans.”

Aleksey: „I suppose, that the amazing guitar polyphony and the author’s a-la medieval melodies polished rhythmically performed by Alkonost will venture to become a new milestone in the history of European and Russian pagan-metal stage!”

Where you’ve got all the creative ideas for your new songs? And when they come regularly at best in your mind?

Andrey: „Oh, all these ideas are always in my head and day by day there appear more and more as it’s impossible to release all of them in time. I suppose one day my head will be broken off like a balloon.”

Aleksey: „That’s something like a delusion, like a voice from the inside. There are no influences from the outside! Only the voice of the internal force.”

Please be so kind and explain the readers the meaning behind the new great frontcover artwork of "On The Wings Of The Call"!

Aleksey: „It’s the image from an old Soviet cartoon about the flying ship. That’s a very beautiful cartoon with really beautiful songs! I don’t know why, but at one moment it came to my mind and I decided to use it partially as a plot for the cover of the album to make the expression of the world of the future. It should be mentioned that there are the outlines of a town looking like an ancient ornament under the ship…This is the solution to the plot of the design, the most of the text from the new CD of Alkonost!”

For what meaning exactly stands the new album title "On The Wings Of The Call" – please explain as detailed as possible!

Aleksey: „The title of the album is a symbol of a New Way!”

Please tell the readers about the main content of the lyrics of "On The Wings Of The Call"!

Aleksey: „The Fading-> The Reconsideration-> The Repentance-> The Way through-> The Fight->The Destruction-> The Rebirth”

Why you still do this music at all after so many years – which is also nowadays the most inner driving force within your creative heart to do such music?

Andrey: „It seems to be something like an attachment to the art and to the scene. Besides, there’s a great willing to go further ant to make something new.”

What do you feel in your heart & mind when you playing with Alkonost live on stage?

Andrey: „We just do what we do. This is the main thought, which nourishes us. We are here to give the pleasure to all of you.”

Aleksey: „During the performance I give myself up to the atmosphere of our music and texts, as though I tune my power canals for the emotional connection with the audience.”

Which is your preferred Russian traditional meal, beer & distillery?

Andrey: „I can cook an amazing Russian “borsch”. Unfortunately, I drink very seldom and I can’t drink to tell the truth.”

Aleksey: „And I like spaghetti with cheese and the slices of chicken meat, and, of course, the real Ukrainian “borsch” with the sour cream and the pancakes! According to the alcohol I prefer drinking vodka with pepper! And the beer, of course! Especially dark!”

When you`re looking back in the beginnings of Alkonost – have your musical "dreams" mostly fulfilled until now?

Andrey: „They have just begun to fulfill.”

With which expectation(s) do you looking forward to the upcoming way of the band, respective the new album deal with German label Einheit Produktionen?

Andrey: „First of all we are waiting for a new audience. We want somebody else like our music. You know, when we began creating music, we thought nobody would be interested in it. Now it turned out that we were wrong – so because of that we’d like to achieve more.”

Aleksey: „We are waiting for the next serious step of Alkonost concerning the promotion of the band.”

What's your personal current view about the pagan metal scene in your country?

Aleksey: „There are not so many original bands in our country. Mainly these bands have been made during the period between 1995 and 2004. It’s difficult to distinguish a good one among the new bands as almost all of them just copy the style of more famous groups paying more attention to the slogans than to the music.”

Most important goal for Alkonost in 2010?

Andrey: „We began working on a new album.”

© Markus Eck, 21.03.2010

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