Андрей Смирнов (Andrey Smirnov)

Andrey Smirnov_Interview_January 2016 (ENG)

Posted by admin 19.11.2016

Guitarist, vocalist, composer Andrey Smirnov is known not only for participation in a number of groups and projects of Russian metal-scene (Everlost, the wizard, the epidemic, Galaxy, Flash of Aggression, Shadow Host, Margenta, etc.), but for the last three years as a guitarist for the world renowned group U.D.O., founded by Udo Dirkschneider, a former vocalist for a legendary band ACCEPT.
Among other Andreys assets are solo albums, touring with former Iron Maiden vocalists Paul Di Anno and Blaze Bailey as well as with the world renowned singer Robertino Loretti, music journalism and a degree of an art historian with excellent marks for his thesis on the history of Russian Heavy Metal. About all that and much more, in anticipation of the release of his new solo album “Gladiator” Andrey speaks in the interview with the portal www.mastersland.ripe.
Apart from that, with Andreys consent we used materials from his online conference on our portal and his official sites  www.asmirnov.ru, www.everlost.ru, www.udo-online.de.

Meloman Naruto : How do I address you  by Ty or Vy? (Informal / Formal way of addressing in Russian)

Andrey Smirnov: Of course by Ty

Yes, I remember that during your online conference on Masterland you were very warm and simple with people. But now youre a member of a world-renowned band U.D.O. Sometimes the fame changes people, and not in a good way therefore I decided to play it safe. Im glad you havent changed.

Regarding the fame  to many Russian metal fans what has been happening to me since 2013 is on the contrary like somewhat of a disappearance from the lamelight. Many of them are only listening to the Russian bands. On the 15th of January it has been three years since I officially joined U.D.O. as a full-time member. I toured the World several times, there were 4 releases featuring me, We played several sold out shows in Moscow. And now Im finally back at your forum (smiles).

In Russia indeed a significant part of metal fans is listening mostly to Russian bands.
Nevertheless, they know U.D.O. as some time ago this band had a joint tour with “Aria”, and Udo himself sang a duet with Valery Kipelov and starred in Aria’s video “Still”. So everyone knows Udo! And the news of you joining the band U.D.O. had a very large impact! However, let us not rush it. Better following the advice of Leo Tolstoy, let’s start from the very beginning – childhood, boyhood, youth… Tell me, how did you end up occupied with heavy music?

A.S.:There were no professional musicians in my family.
However, for instance my paternal grandfather was a super keen music fan. He had gathered an enormous collection of LP’s and tapes. I’d listen to it all while at his place. While in a primary school I actively studied my father’s music collection that consisted of casset tapes with the records of hard rock bands from 1980’s such as Scorpions and Queen. At 12 I heard for the first time Aria’s album “Hero Of Asfalt”. And off we go – Metallica, Megadeth, Accept, Iron Maiden, Маster etc.

How did you first start playing guitar?

A.S.: As a child I liked to dance listening to a casset tape recorder with my sister, pretending to sing and play music instruments. Most likely it is then I opened that sacred guitar case belonging to my father and he showed me the first chords. I didn’t want to play acoustics for my friends, I wanted to be in a real rock band. But I had trouble finding similarly minded people among my peers – my generation was preoccupied with a different music.

In my native Odintsovo (a regional city in Moscow region) I stumbled across all the places that were teaching guitar and ended up in a “community center of aesthetic education” that was a home to several teenager rock bands. Back then all the musicians from Odintsovo one way or another were linked to the place. There was a great music principal, Sergei Fedorovich Vladimirov, who simply injected everyone with his charisma and love for music.  There was no place for a guitarist in any of the bands but, having auditioned me and having seen my passion Sergei Fedorovich offered me a drummer’s position in one of the bands he mentored. Ans so I ended up in an unnamed band playing songs by Konstantin Nikolsky, DDT, Animals and originals. I myself has never been a big fan of Russian rock and on any possible occasion asked the guys to play something from Metallica. One way or another but this was the first band Iwhere I got an experience with the live gigs, home recordings and writing originals. I have become really interested in playing the drums however never thought of giving up the guitar. The thoughts of putting together a metal band were never leaving me.

At the time Odintsovo hosted an annual music festival “Silver Deer” however the music there was predominantly alternative – vocalist would rap, guitarists would play sloppy primitive riffs. It didn’t attract me at all. At last on one local bands competition I spotted a guitarist, Pavel Chernobai, who bombarded the audience with simply killer jazz riffs. We met and it turned out that we both were metal fans. We would jam together for hours, just two of us. From Sepultura, Slayer, Metallica, Death etc covers we gradually moved towards writing the originals. Then other musicians joined in. That’s how metal band “DETONATOR” was born.

How did the gigs come along?

A.S.: The very first gig detonator had was at the bands competition at the Golicyn Border Guard Military College. The audience really liked us and the local judges, regardless of our brutality, had to give the spectators sympathy prize to us. We understood that we were on the right path. Having the local bands competition prize under the belt opened for us doors to the local festivals such as “Day of the City”, “Day of the Youth” etc. Therefore even our first gigs were on the big square in the center of the city, with many thousands in attendance.

I could see the surprise of the common folks that came to the city festival to listen to some light pop and oversuddenly withnessing angry long-haired teenagers playing metal on the stage. What was their reaction – positive or they were stumbled like in the famous video “Rock-hard in the Siberian village”?

A.S.: A nice cut, I saw it (smiles). No, it was much more civilized than that in all possible senses. We understood that there would be more diverse audience would prepare a special set containing not only our originals but covers as well.

Why did you change bands name to “Everlost” later on?

А.S.: We didn’t like “Detonator” too much that name seemed too “Russian Rock” to us. On top of that there was another metal band with the same band at that time.
Since back then all of us had been the keen fans of Scandinavian melodic death metal we wanted the bands name to reflect this direction. It was also important that the name would be easily chanted and pronounced in both English and Russian.

Does it mean anything?

A.S.: If translated literally it would mean something like “Lost Forever”. Of course, within the realities of our Russian music rusiness the name may as well be understand literally – there was no music industry for the metal bands.
With that in mind the name sounds quite pessimistic and even sad that does not go well with our highly energetic music. From time to time there were even suggestions to rename the band “EVEREST” or “NEVERLOST” but in that case we would have to start everything over again and we don’t want to waste time and forget our past achievements. Therefore the name EVERLOST bears a different, more positive maning for us – lost forever in the grand and infinite world of music.

How do you write songs for Everlost?

A.S.: Normally the instrumental foundation for the future song comes first. It is being prepared on the rehearsals and later at home. Then the guide vocal melody is created and used for writing the lyrics.
The final stage include detaile musical arranging for the new song.

Do you use the software like Guitar Pro?

A.S.: Yes, I use Guitar Pro quite often. It provides an excellent opportunity to clean up all instruments parts.
I wouldn’t off course advise on composing the songs in Guitar Pro using computer mouse however it is a cool tool to work on the arrangements for the finished songs.

In EVERLOST you are responsible for all extreme vocals. How did you learn to sing?

A.S.: We were looking for a singer for a long time but there were no singing people in our circles, so I had to start learning creating some sounds myself. I like screaming even though I’m a quite calm person. My learning process commenced during the recording of out first album.

Which extreme vocalists influenced you?

A.S.: I think that it is not that difficult to master the basics of the extreme vocals, it is rather hard to learn how to sing maximally clear and recognizable using this technique. To me the main qualities for a great rock vocalist are his charisma and ability to stand out from the rest. I won’t discover America if I say that 90% of screamers and growlers are impossible to tell one from another. It is not easy to find your own way in the extreme vocal, neithertheless it’s possible. To me the main indicators are the voices such as of
Miland «Mille» Petrozza (Kreator), Tom Araya (Slayer), Chuck Schuldiner (Death), Chuck Billy (Testament), Glen Benton (Deicide)….
It is these vocalists, I think, who influenced the style greatly.

On top of your extreme vocals in the Everlost songs there is also clean, singing vocals of different guest singers. Why don’t you to get a permanent clean vocalist?

A.S: Modern heavy music is very demanding to the vocalists. With a great pleasure I would invite a standout and trained clean vocalist to join EVERLOST on a permanent basis. But, and it is very unfortunate, one could count those on our rock scene by the fingers.
I frequently find that majority of our young singers don’t have a clue what they’re singing about.
I don’t wanna offend anybody but it all rather looks like a karaoke-bar. On top of the fact that there’s not many dudes who can sing well most of them are also very touchy, cranky and unreliable people, often total dickheads! And I’m not wasting my time dealing with people like that…

There are some exceptions, but they are rare. Fortunately all the vocalists who sang for EVERLOST were, actually, those exceptions. We worked really easy and productive with Sergei Sergeev (Forsazh, ex-Shadow Host, ex Artery), Maxim Samosvat (Sunburst, ex-Epydemia, ex-Mechanical Poet) and Adrej Egorov (Epidemia, ex-Coliseum)

What do you think, what are the reasons for such lack of strong vocalists? For instance, Anatoly Aleshin (Russian rock singer) sees it this way:
“What makes artist a real artist on the stage is the gig school that they graduate from. Back in the soviet times any popular band had to do an enormous number of gigs. That was terribly tiring psychologically and physically. But since we were younger back then we got away with that. On the other side it was a splendid professional training. Every artist who survived those times is marked by a very strong professionalism in the delivery, in the stage action.
One can’t just erase the professionalism when it’s there. As an example I could mention Valeriy Kipelov.
Back in the days one would get into the grinders of that machine and would become a professional involuntary. Involuntary! And nowadays young singers don’t get into the machine because they don’t have any concert work. And if there’s no show business here in a professional sense how could possibly talented artists emerge?
We ourselves are the dinosaurs, who came in from the past, we’ve been through the grinders of the soviet style concert machine. That was a soviet style show business but at least it existed. Heroes of the asphalt, we’ve been through the soviet philarmonic school.
And who from the modern singers can now say: “Yes, we will replace them!”? Indeed, there are some great voices out there. So what? There’s no demand, no paid gigs therefore it all exists in itself with no exposure to the outer world”. End of citation.

Andrey, what’s your opinion on that?

A.S.: I totally agree with Anatoly Aleshin. Once I was in his place and we talked about many things, including this subject. Vocalists should be nurtured, guided. It’s very clear to me as a songwriter. The vocalist should live by the song, feel it and one should learn how to do that. There’s no rock vocal school in our country, there’s a just a few people that support and develpop this direction, but 99% of the new singers are self taught.

We need just to give them a chance to develop. Time will tell.

On its debut album «Bitterness Of The Triumph» (2004) EVERLOST played cassic Nelodic Death Metal of a Scandinavian school similar to In Flames, Dark Tranquility etc., but the following albums were much more experimental and diverse, leaning towards modern metal. Was it a conscious move?

A.S.: It’s been just a natural development. We’ve been looking for our own style and it is quite normal. There definitely have not been and will never be two similar albums in our discography. Writing new music, we’re trying to surprise not only our listeners but first and foremost ourselves.

What can you say about currently released EVELOST alnums?

A.S.: Our debut «Bitterness Of The Triumph» (2004) we wrote and recorded literally out of our pants. Back then we were graduating from the high school and would spend literally every penni we could possibly save on the record. That was our first contact with the record company, first gigs amd tours. Great memories!

By the time “Noise Factory” (2006) came out we were somewhat more experienced with the concert and studio work, we had been through some lengthy touring too. Incidentally, this album is one of my favourites in the band discography, moreover this album disk captured the voice of the Maxim Samosvat. With theis CD we started the quest for our own sound and added keyboards and electronic arrangements to our songs. We were one of the first bands in our country who started using portastudio live.

The experiments did not stop there. We decided to become closer to our audience and started singing in our native language. We invited an experienced guest author, who previously worked with many local artists.
Georgy Arustamjan did a great job. Not only he turned out to be a great professional in his trade but he was also able to adjust to the band’s style. Georgiy wrote great lyrics and actively participated in creating our album “Eklektika” (2009), including the album artwork. We prepared a luxirous package with original and meaningfull pictures. The ballads started appearing on that album – “Rose of winds” and “This night” –  these songs exposed another side of our music.

Year 2009 was a turning point for the music business in our country. The seemingly just revitalized industry suddenly collapsed and the record companies, for instance, were affected severely. The bands were in the same boat. The album did not pay off although the first edition of “Eklektika” is quite a rarity now.

“Path of the rogues” (2011) was created after the death of one of the founders of the band, a guitarist and close friend Pavel Chernobai. The Album had many of his original ideas, which we completed therefore giving them life. The album was quite grim, but with a lot of hits. It is very melodic, despite the absence of clean voice and ballads.

Our other ensparimet was the single “The air is melting” (2012). This release was quite unusual for it featured the musicians of eksperimental symphonic orchestra “HUMANOID OPERA”. We decided to split the material in 2 parts – chapters. The first one consisted of the tracks in our traditional style and on the second one there were compositions containing symphonic arrangements.

What is the new album “EVERLOST V” gonna be like?

A.S.: Last year we published several videos, the artwork of the new release and an audio preview. I think that those who are particularly inquisitive already saw it all and got the general idea. To me this release is a return to our roots. I can see there certain similarities with our album “Noise Factory” from 10 years ago. Of course, music and arangements have become more mature, but the direction itself was established back then. I am proud of this work and look forward to the day when the album will see the light. The date has not yet been defined, but I think that it would be in the first half of 2016. And in the meantime you’re welcome to check it out online and listen to a few brand new songs.

The majority of Russian heavy bands rarely shoot the videos or don’t do it at all. When the fans ask musicians about the reasons the standard response sounds something like that: “Why would we shoot the videos, this cost a lot of money, and they won’t let them on the TV anyways because it is not a mainstream”. On the contrary EVELOST had quite a few of videos, including staged ones. What is your motivation for that? And tell me about the shooting process. I was particularly impressed by the video “The air is melting”. I was watching it and could not comprehend how Russian semi underground band, given the local conditions, could produce such a fantastic video with the effective battle scenes and a lot of special effects in the “Lord Of The Rings” vein?

A.S.: Thank you! We are trying really hard. This was a very interesting work. We invited quite cool professionals from Europe to translate our ideas into the video. Note that the budget was also considerable. Historically our drummer Sergey Serebrennikov is the person responsible for the process of preparation and making the videos. At the time of the work on the video “The air is melting” he had a broken leg, and we were literally carrying him by hands on the set. And at the time of shooting scenes in real armor he was sitting on my shoulders. That’s the Rock-n-roll!

Since 2006 we have another member in the band who lives by our ideas gives us support – it is our friend and a battle comrade Sergei Tabakov. He is responsible for our entire video catalog more than anyone of us.

Are you planning a video compilation release?

If we receive such an offer from a production company we will consider it with a great pleasure.

EVELOST has toured Finland. How did the tour come along?

A.S.: It was one-off event, just a club gig in the middle of Finnish nowhere that was organized by our old friend Katya “Lucky”. But we had a great time, done some shopping and had a ball on stage.

How did the Finnish audience react?

A.S.: The audience response and support was great. Our colleagues musicians were very positive too regarding our music since at the time we were quite unique in our own style.

– From February 2003 to May 2007, in addition to the EVERLOST you played with the rock group SHADOW HOST and recorded with them the album “Curse of the Angeleye” (2005). How did you get to this band?

A.S.: Alexey Аrzamazov, the leader of the Shadow HOST, came to one of the concerts EVERLOST did in the old “R-Club”. There we met. Having received the offer to become a member of the shadow HOST, I listened to their songs and agreed.

What are your memories about that period?

A.S.: It was a fantastic time. I got to the band with good musicians and thanks to Alexey Arzamazov’s organisational skills and connections we opened up for many well known western bands – Nightwish, Gamma Ray, Grave Digger, Edguy etc.

Why did you leave SHADOW HOST?

A.S.: I’ve never been a bug fan of Power Metal as such and at some point felt that could not possible give anything more to this band. It was the time to move forward. I notified guys about my decision well in advance and we parted on good terms.

On their 2013 album «Apocalyptic Symphony» SHADOW HOST sound considerably heavier, there’s a lot of thrash in there. Have you heard that CD?

A.S.: I’ve heard several songs. I’m always following my colleagues and enjoying their successes.

Tell me about your participation in Margarita Pushkina project MARGENTA – A Dynasty of Initiated

A.S.: On the first part of the “Dynasty” (2007), Anatoly Pakhomov raised the bars high in terms of guitars sound. Therefore during the work on the second album of the project (“Children Savonarola”, 2009) I had to work my butt off arranging quite complex songs of maestro Sergey Skripnikov. Moreover, I had to do it under the time constraints – I was given only 2 weeks to learn their songs. I remember, I’d be falling asleep with the headphones in my ears and guitar in my hands, not cooping with the load… But I had received an invaluable experience and therefore am really glad!
To pull it off I had to work really hard on the sound and experiment with the different instruments and tuning.
Practically any song there had a different guitar sound.
For instance I recorded the title track on a guitar that Anatoly Aleshin has kindly given to me. This was a 6 string baritone that was very difficult to play as it had very thick (bass) strings. But it sounded very modern and aggressive!

For the next Dynasty album “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” (2013), I proposed to Margarita Anatolievna my cooperation not only as a guitarist and arranger, as earlier, but also as a composer. She gave me the lyrics for “Rat Killer” and I wrote the music. The bulk of the songs turned out to be hammering, aggressive and was sang by Dmitry Borisenkov (Black obelisk).

I tried to fiddle with another, folk song, but immediately said to Margarita Anatolyevna that I could not guarantee the result. I was not happy with the way the demos turned out and they didn go anywhere, I limited my songwriting to the “Rat Killer”.

How did you get to the band “MASTER”?

A.S.: I recorded guitar parts for one of the songs for the above-mentioned album “Children of Savonarola” in the studio belonging to “MASTER” and the producer there was Andrei “Kruster” Lebedev (MASTER’s sound engineer). We quickly enough found a common language and just in a couple of hours I finished it all. As I understand it, Andrei liked my work as a guitarist and recommended me to Alik Granovsky.

Having received invitation to join MASTER, I, as a keen fan of the band, very carefully prepared for our first Jam with maestro Granovsky. With a great joy I relistened to all the classic albums and rewatched the bulk of concert videos, found in the vastness of the Internet. In addition at that time they released a DVD dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the band. It helped quite a bit too. Alik Granovsky was very surprised when I, having come for the first jam, played almost all the band concert program from the scratch.

Which MASTER albums do you like the most, speaking about those released before you joined the band?

A.S.: I’d say the very first album, a self-titled “MASTER” (1987), and the Talk Of The Devil” (1992). Early Master influenced me greatly. All their recording (up to the album “Maze”) I collected still on the cassettes! Probably, it is easier to name their songs that I believe are not strong enough, than to list all my favorite songs of theirs.

Generally, I formed as a musician listening to thrash metal and I still love it – especially Metallica, Slayer, Exodus, Kreator, Sepultura, Megadeth.

Going back to Master, I can honestly say that have always considered them to be a very advanced and following modern trends musicians. When I heard the album “Talk Of The Devil, it simply blew me away! It sounds very cool for 1991, especially for Russian band.

In the 1980s Master was not less popular than Aria. In the first half of the 1990s both groups suffered a sharp decline of popularity, but then Aria made a comeback and returned to the stadiums, but Master has never regained its past popularity. What do you think are the reasons for that?

A.S.: The songs… The times… The business as a whole… The ability to properly deliver the material and find your audience.

Could you comment on your live and studio work with Master?

A.S.: Master is a well-known brand with a rich history and its own traditions. They are experienced musicians which were interesting to play with and learn from.

Our incarnation of Master had some magic when we played live. I loved to play the songs “The Torturers”, “Master of distressing affairs”, “Hands Off” therefore more dynamic compositions. And from the ballads I preferred “Ashes On The Wind”.

However I’m not quite happy with the featuring me album “VIII” (2010). It seems to me, had we wrote that album as a band, jamming on the rehearsals, the result would have been a lot better. The way it turned out though that “MASTER” live and “MASTER” on the album “VIII” were different bands. Neithertheless, after several years, I see that people are still listening to that album and continue to find something interesting in it. That is encouraging.

I stumbled into Alik and Kruster recently on the concert of “Kipelov”. It was very interesting to meet again after all those years. We haven’t seen each other since our last concert in Kiev and it was five years ago.
All the grudges and resentments were forgotten, I hope. As I recall, back then me and a drummer Oleg Hovrin had day time jobs, played with Sergei Skachkov (Zemlyane) and managed to create music with “Master” always giving this band the priority. In any case neing in this band have become a good lesson for me and I consider myself fortunate. Back then Master always sounded killer live. We were the well oiled machine – I’m sure that many who came to our concerts would agree with me. I am glad that I had an opportunity to work with musicians of that level and status and played my part in creating of an album of this legendaru group. I’ve received a great pleasure from the live gigs and rehearsals with those people. This was a big and serious experience for me, not only as a guitarist.

Music for one of the songs of the album «VIII» written by you. Tell me about that song (“Bulldozer”) and about the process of writing the lyrics. As I understand it was the only case so far where Margarita Pushkina wrote the text on your guide vocal melody?

A.S.: I did not interfere in the process of creating the lyrics in any way. I figured the music, arrangement, vocal melody and then Alik brought the text from Margarita Anatolevna and we recorded it. It seems to me that the song came out pretty good, it’s probably the best song on the album.

Tell me about about Aria/Master cover “The Will and Mind” by Everlost.

In the autumn of 2010 the band Aria celebrated its 25th anniversary and we decided to pay tribute to our heroes and make a surprise to all fans of the group “Aria” by making a cover of their song “The will and mind.”

With Master, I’d often play this song in its classic version, and here, together with their friends from EVERLOST I had the opportunity to radically revise painfully familiar to every music fan arrangement and deliver it in an unusual way. The result was a modern style industrial version, with lots of solos, with the electronic arrangement and my growling.

EVERLOST also played tribute to “Black Obelisk”

A.S.: I have a lot of respect for those guys and their legacy. I recently met Mityaj Borisenkov on the anniversary of a band “Epidemia”. It’s always a pleasure to chat with him about the music and life in general.

In EVERLOST assets there is such a surprising for a metal band cover, the composition «Set the world on fire» by the dance group E-TYPE

A.S.: We were growing up in the days (mid-90s), when the dance groups such as E-TYPE, YAKIDA, E-ROTIC etc. were very popular. My passion for music as a child started with these groups too, and I’m not ashamed of it. When I became interested in heavy music seriously, I put all the dance groups on the backburner. But as time passed we have decided to recall something with what we were brought up. The idea of ​​recording a cover like that has existed in our group for a long enough time.

The combination of extreme male and clean female vocals sounded quite interesting in this cover. Tell me how this duo was formed.

A.S.: I listened to a number of songs of domestic groups with female vocals on the Internet. Yuliana Savchenko from the group ANDEM intrigued me with her vocal diversity – she sings professionally in different genres and directions. I contacted her via VKontakte and we agreed she would sing on the record. In the studio, Yuliana proved to be a true professional, sang her parts very efficiently and quickly. The song became a hidden track on the album “The Way of Defiant.”

Do you like listening to cover versions of the hits of your favorite bands yourself? And, as a listener, what approach do you like more – when the cover version is close to the original or the other way around?

A.S.: I like when the band is trying to perform one or another song their own way. If the team is mature and musicians are experienced then as a rule the cover versions turn out to be a killer. The main thing is to find exactly right song.

Tell me about yopur collaboration with the band “Epidemia”.

A.S.: My first performance with the epidemy took place in 2004, during the radio broadcast dedicated to the release of the first part of the Elven Manuscript. It was a memorable day, where I became acquainted with Valery Kipelov, Dmitri Borisenkov and Kirill Nemolyaev. For the second part of the Elven manuscript ( “The Legend of all time”), I recorded a guest solo on the song “Without heart and soul.”

On the EPIDEMY album “The Road To Home” I arranged and recorded most of the guitar parts as well as played a few solos. I was invited by my old friend Max Samosvat, for what I say many thanks to him! It was a serious and unusual experience for me because I had to learn and develop all the arrangements in a very short period of time.

In 2010 the leader of the “epidemy” Yuri Melisov’s daughter was born and I spent a whole year replacing him on tour. I’m keeping great memories of that. I really liked the active audience, singing along with the band. The audience of this band is very special and very open. People share their emotions with each other, singing even louder than the band plays. That’s how the metal show should be. I like the songs that these boys write, and all these songs sound great live.

Now we rarely see each other, but I keep an eye on their progress and new works. Not long ago the guys invited me to their anniversary concert.

Tell me about the project “FLASH OF AGGRESSION”.

A.S.:  FLASH OF AGGRESSION – a modern thrash metal project created by me and my brother Dmitry Ignatjev (TANTAL, EVERLOST). Drummer Sergey Serebrennikov
(EVERLOST, VALERY GAINA) and vocalist Polina Berezko (GRASE DISGRASED) helped us to complete the it.

The idea to write a real aggressive metal album came to me and Dmitry quite a long time ago. We are the same age and began to take an interest in music and play guitars at about the same time. As teenagers we would frequently jam together, recordingour first musical “opuses” on the cassette deck, we also shared  new records we’d get. It just happened that for a while we were constantly busy with own teams and with other artists, but then we still managed to find time and embody our plans into reality. One can say that this disc is the embodiment of one of the dreams of our childhood. The album was released in 2013 on the label CD-Maximum and it is called the «Seed of Hate».

How did you join “ZEMLYANE”?

A.S.: In 2009, the singer for “ZEMLYANE” Sergei Skachkov took a guest part in a concert dedicated to the anniversary of Alik Granovsky. During the preparation of this concert we have met. In late 2010, I replaced several times during their tour ZEMLYANE’s guitarist Gennadiy Martov, and also participated in a project by Sergey Skachkov together with legendary Kurt Hauenshtaynom (SUPERMAX). It was during one of these trips that I received an official invitation to join ZEMLYANE.

What are your impressions from touring with Sergey Skachkov group? There are different opinions about them. For some, ZEMLYANE is a legendary band, for the others – a “one-hit wonder.”

A.S.: Have those people not heard such hits as “Stunt”, “I’m sorry the Earth”, “Believe in the dream?” They definitely have more than just one well known song. Frankly, work with this band was my first professional music job with a full tour schedule. We played several concerts a day, we visited such places around our vast country I didn’t even know existed. I’d always enjoy the opportunity to play with Sergei if my services are needed. We recently went together for Uriah Heep and chatted about life a little, it’s been a year since we saw each other.

Tell us about your participation in the tour of the world famous singer Robertino Loretti. Was it difficult to switch to playing the music that the metal has nothing to do with, except perhaps a prelude to the Aryan hit “Hero of the asphalt”? (Smiles).

A.S.: Yes, the preparaton was very difficult … The tour manager had put together a huge program of classic hits, which had to be learned in a short time. In principle, all this could also have been played with the backing tracks, but my conscience would not allow that. I literally went to sleep and woke up with a players headphones still in my ears.

In the end, together with my colleagues drummer Oleg “Cobra” Hovrin, bassist Dmitry Rybalov and keyboardist Alexander Stepin I prepared a great live set, which Robertino adopted at the first joint rehearsal with just minor clarifications and amendments.

What were your feelings during concerts with Loretty?

A.S.: It was a different music, different audience … For me it was a challenge, a kick up the butt, a step out of the comfort zone. I had to change everything from the sound, look to my behavior on stage. He’s a great and funny guy, and women would just jump on him before, after, during the concert …. (Smiles).

Tell me about you touring with the original Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di’Anno.

A.S.: In 2010, Paul toured Russia and Ukraine. It all was timed to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary of the debut IRON MAIDEN album – «Iron Maiden».

The whole story began about 5-6 months before the start of the tour. The fact is that Sir Paul does not like to see the same musicians faces next to him on tour. He repeatedly admitted  this fact in numerous interviews. Di’Anno has his own backing band on every continent, and sometimes even in each single country. It helps him to not only get rid of an excess personal ties, but also save local promoters money on the flights etc. Despite the fact that Paul has an unthinkable number of bands, the normal ones can be counted by the fingers.

His Russian promoter also understood the situation and decided to make a Chess knight’s move – to put together a good Russian backing band. To his credit, he started planning the whole thing in advance and already a few days after the New Year holidays we started to rehearse hard with a band featuring:

Mikhail Vinogradov (ex-Scartown) – Guitar
Nikolai Korshunov (Crematorium, ex-Butterfly Temple, former Artery) – bass
Andrey Ishchenko (Arkona, ex-Catharsis, ex-Hieronymus Bosch, ex-Mortem) – drums
Andrey Smirnov – guitar.

Straight after the first show it became clear that we worked well with each other. And then it was the rock-n-roll!

I really enjoyed working with the solid singer (especially of his class). It can be said that my another childhood dream became a reality! IRON MAIDEN was one of those bands on whose music I grew up. On EVERLOST «Noise Factory» album we put Iron Maiden «Be Quick Or Be Dead» cover as a bonus track. And now I was able to sing those songs live with the original Iron Maiden vocalist.

How did you get along with Sir Paul? In many people opinion he is quite an expressive person. Here is what road manager Alexei Morozov reckoned in his book «Iron Maiden – Mark of the Beast” on his work with Paul: “Paul DiAnno is not possible to love or hate. He must be accepted as he is or not. Repulsive and attractive sides of him are interwoven in the same DNA, that can not be split. Now he is the father of all the pains in the ass, and in five minutes he is dearer than a five years old child, for whom the whole world suddenly became a candy. “

AS .: Alexey is absolutely right here. All that he said is the absolute truth. With Paul we had nothing to fight for (except for the scene, of course), and the rock ‘n’ roll spirit lives in each of us. We just enjoyed the performances, socializing behind the scenes, booze and travel there was a lot of laughing and joking.

In 2012 continuation followed – this time you have participated in a joint tour of both former vocalists for IRON MAIDEN – Paul DiAnno and Blaze Bayley. Tell me about this tour.

AS .: Backing band was almost the same, except that the guitarist Mikhail Vinogradov (Scartown) was replaced by Ilya Mamontov (Epidemy).

Each of these singers has their own personality, music vision and requirements. This cooperation was a very valuable experience for me. Literally, we had to transform from the set to set. We performed on stage every night for three hours … It was a little exhausting, but to play your favorite childhood song was a great fun.

As I know later on you toured with Paul Di’Anno and Blaze Bailey abroad?

AS .: Yes, we did a few shows in Europe. Just after one such show, which was held in Prague, I went to audition for U.D.O.

Blaze Bayley – one of those musicians whom I respect greatly for their personal qualities. After breaking up with Iron Maiden, he went through a sharp drop in popularity, bancruptcy, sudden death of his wife, but in spite of all the troubles and difficulties, stubbornly continued to forge metal.
The above-mentioned road manager Alexei Morozov recalled: “Blaze – a man who knows in practice what the world is, and confident in what he wants from himself and for himself. In public Blaise is a man with a sharp sense of humor and at the same time under the load of that weight on the face that creates the wrinkles …

Blaze is interesting the most right before going on stage. There’s a striking change in him. The old man disappears. There appears concentrated impulse, hard, gathered and knowing that in the world there is only one thing: singing on stage. He does not care if there are ten people in the blackness behind the boom, or ten thousands. He turns into a missile aimed at this audience, ready to give himself to them without holding anything back … “. And what are your impressions of Sir Bailey?

AS .: I could compare Blaze with the theatrical actor in every sense. Indeed, on the stage, he changes. This is his main difference from Paul, who does not change either on the stage or off it. We recently bumped into each other on U.D.O. concert inSpain, Ibiza, had a nice to talk, hugged each other …

How did you join U.D.O.?

AS .: In October 2012 I read on some news site that from Stefan Kaufmann is leaving U.D.O. and the band is looking for a new guitarist and that everyone can send their applications to the address provided. I decided to take a chance and sent your CV, as did many guitarists from all over the world (there were more than three hundred applications).

They got back to me and suggested that I record demo versions of 4 U.D.O. hits. These were «Metal Heart», «Balls To The Wall» and some other stuff.

At the time I was with Blaze Bayley and Paul DiAnno on tour and rehearsed those songs in the hotel rooms. On arrival to Moscow, almost immediately off the train I ran into the studio and recorded everything that needed almost in a live concert mode. I was quite nervous – I did not want to lose my face. My old friend Sergei Tabakov did the camera shooting and video editing. I sent them those recordings and a few days later I got a reply that the band wants to see me. I think some role there played the fact that I’ve already had some international experience, not only Russian.

After the end of the tour with Bailey I arrived in Cologne from Prague, where I was met by Udo Dirkschneider and bassist Fitty Vinhold.

They met me quite warm. We went to the restaurant, had a bite, then walked through the park and talked. Here the musical questions were not that important, because in this sense, everything can be learned about each other and in advance. More important is a simple human communication. On tours people will have to spend a lot of time together, so you need to know in advance whether you’ll be able to get along well. Sometimes you can click with people staright away, sometimes not, as in ordinary life. We have clicked. In spite of the different backgrounds and mentality, we have found a common language.

Until the last moment I could not believe that this was possible – a guy from a provincial town near Moscow joins the legendary German band … After all I first heard abou Accept while still in school!

How did your infusion with U.D.O. go professionally and personally?

AS .: Of course, there were some rough edges, without them it is impossible to imagine the existence of the international team. If you think of it, one could count 6-7 people of different nationalities in our tour bus. Of course, the differences in age, mentality do their thing too… All of this is important if we are talking about the relationship between the human beings, but the music and the love for it as well as similar tastes unite us.

In EVERLOST you’re experimenting quite a lot. But U.D.O. is a quite conservative team, a classic old scool
metal. Haven’t you thought of doing a “creative revolution” there?

AS .: Listen to our new album and you will realize that everything is not so “old school” over there … Udo Dirkschneider – this is one of the masters of the metal scene. When we write new songs, it’s his voice what is fundamental for us. I do not want any revolutions, I want to create and make people happy.

At the time of your arrival all the songs of the album «Steelhammer» had already been written, am I right? What was your role in the process of working on this album?

AS .: The backbone of the songs was ready, but not in the sense that it was absolutely necessary to play this way here, and that way there, with no alterations at all. I have created all the guitar arrangements and composed solos. Sometimes we had discussions, I offered many ideas, changed some songs and created  new solos to diversify material written by bassist and vocalist.

But on the next album U.D.O. «Decadent» (2015) you have co-writing credits for almost all the songs. Tell me how you wrote the songs for U.D.O.?

AS .: In the spring of 2014, we got together in our studio in Spain and jammeda little, sharing ideas with each other. This was followed by an exchange of new ideas via the Internet. U.D.O. is an ultimate creative team, where each of us has the right to express themselves.
All the songs came together over the summer. In August we already started recording guitars. Perhaps it was the first studio session in my musical practice, which was happening in a hot weather, on the island paradise of Ibiza. I’d get up early, run along the shoreline of the beach, swim and sunbathe, and only then would come to the studio to play rock! (Smiles). That was my experience!

Did members of U.D.O. share their impressions of tourin Russia, where they have already been many times, and not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also on the outskirts?

AS .: The guys love Russia and I think that this is mutual. Previously they liked to travel around the country by train, now we prefer aitplanes. We’re trying to go there almost every year and I must say that the concerts are sold-out everywhere.

Heve the musicians of U.D.O. heard any Russian bands? What was their opinion?

A.S.: They know “Aria” and “Kipelov”, and now “EVERLOST” as well. By the way, Udo really liked our video “The air is melting” too.

How tight is U.D.O. tour schedule? Do you have time to see? the attractions of the countries you visit while touring? What are your memories?

AS .: We’re playing about a hundred concerts a year all over the world. We were in North and South America, in countries such as Mexico, Bolivia, Ecuador, traveled all over Europe, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine … there are no borders for the music and I am glad to be a part of the team whose songs are known and loved around the world. The public is excellent. By the way, one of our Canadian fans even working on an excavator with the U.D.O. symbols.

I always wander somewhere when I have a  free minute. A lot of photograph, of course for myself, but I’m thinking of learning professional photography too. And now, after 15 years of making music, I started to collect magnets for the fridge (smiles). Recently we were in Bolivia, there is such beauty … In a nutshell, our world is very rich and diverse, and I am lucky that I have the opportunity to see it.

Tell me about U.D.O concert DVD «Steelhammer – Live from Moscow». Why did you decide to shoot the live DVD in Russia in particular?

AS .: The idea belonged to my friend I’ve already mentioned earlier – the director and cameraman Sergey Tabakov, who has been an integral part EVERLOST for many years. He asked for an official permission from the management team to shoot the show, invited the company with expensive cameras to help him, filmed and edited everything and sent one song to Udo. The result surprised and pleased all of us. This is not a stage show with lots of decorations, etc. This DVD captures a real rock concert of a touring group, without any gimmiks. You know, people really want to see just that. The release received a lot of positive feedback worldwide. I’m happy with the result and thank Sergei for the idea and its realization.

In February 2014 U.D.O. performed in the city of Tuttlingen with The Orchestra of the German Marine Corps, could you share your thoughts about the concert, which was subsequently issued for the DVD «Navy Metal Night».

AS .: It was perhaps the most ambitious event in all my years of musical practice. we prepared this project while on tour in support of the «Steelhammer» album. The main challenge for us was the fact that for this release we were preparing absolutely new program consisting of odd songs, some of which have generally never been performed live. For me as a musician it was very interesting to be surrounded by a full orchestra, to look at the music scores of our songs. By the way, many of the musicians of the orchestra were fans of heavy music and knew our songs by heart. We had set aside only a few days for the rehearsals, and the concert itself was quite nervous for us. But everything turned out fine and lively, and the audience in Tuttlingen strongly supported us and made the concert an unforgettable event. I am proud of this work!

For the gig with the orchestra did you have to change anything in the song arrangements for the band?

AS .: Yes, we did. And it was the main difficulty. Note, we were working not with the symphony, but with a brass orchestra. This means that there were no “pop” violins and cellos. The guys were blowing the trumpets, playing bass and hitting the drums and cymbals. Yet the pace and rhythm of the orchestra itself imply quite long breaks, because the wind instruments play requires special skills and costs tremendous physical energy. Usually our rehearsals are like many hours of madness with small breaks in between. If we do something wrong, then, in most cases, we’d just play the composition again. In this case it was more like a fixing of particular pieces, small phrases and parts of the compositions. In its entirety the program was performed only on the final rehearsal run to a specially invited audience, which consisted of families and friends of the guys from the orchestra and the representatives of the German press. We rehearsed on the territory of the closed military unit, lived in barracks and ate in a soldier’s canteen. It was great and very unusual!

What songs benefited the most from performance with the orchestra?

AS .: I like to listen to this show as a whole. It is difficult to identify anything specific, because the concert program consisted not only of the jointly executed compositions, the orchestra played a few things on their own. From myself I added a few gimmiks in the program, performing an instrumental version of the song “Wait a minute, the engine!” on an acoustic guitar during the intro to «Trainride in Russia».

There is an opinion that classical music and metal have a lot in common, do you share it? Here, for instance, what was written by Mikhail Bugaev (Russian musician from the band Grand Courage ) in his on-line conference on “Sland” –  “The music of classical composers had a huge impact on the whole style of heavy metal.
Take, for example, “summer storm” by Vivaldi and play the electric guitar to the accompaniment of the rhythm section. You’ll get a powerful and melodic metal number. (Smiles). Rock and roll grew out of blues and country music, and metal has appeared on the basis of rock-and-roll in conjunction with the power and melody of classical symphonic music. Of course, the founders of the style, still very young and inexperienced musicians, could not compete with Wagner and Vivaldi in the musical ingenuity, but the main “lessons” of the classics they have learned well. Because of this we have received “canonical” ideas of ​​the style of heavy metal. ” End of quote

AS .: Here Mikhail pushed too hard! (Smiles). The result was a very patriotic speech – an ode to heavy metal! We all like to consider ourselves someones chosen and special. Like, we’re not some hairy monsters out there with a beers in their hands, but deeply intelligent people carrying great heritage of the ancestors to the masses. I think one needs to think simpler. It all had started with the desire for fame, women and money. Of course, the roots of this music are in the classics and blues, but nowadays we have so many varieties of heavy genre that it is possible to find there even ethnic music, reggae and folklore. Historically there have been many quotations from classical music In ACCEPT and U.D.O. songs. Perhaps at the time it was the fashion trend, although they were among the first who began to introduce these elements in the heavy metal genre. I like these things too. Now neither of our shows would be  complete, for example without the performance of Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”.

Last year at the Wacken festiva Udo Dirkschneider announced that in 2016 U.D.O. will perform ACCEPT songs for the last time, and in the future the group will perform only their own material. What is the reason forthis decision and whether it is final? The decision seems very, very controversial to me because many fans not in the least want to hear from Udo «Metal Heart» and other gold ACCEPT hits?

A.S .: Recently, we’ve been playing only 2-3 ACCEPT songs out 20-25 in our set list. The group U.D.O. has its own rich history and its own set of classic hits. Now we have had so many successful releases with U.D.O. that we depend less on the classics from maestro’s former group. A forthcoming tour will no doubt become a special event for us and our fans. It will be very interesting for myself to perform the songs on which I grew up and was educated.

What does Russian and foreign metal fans have in common and what are their differences?

AS .: Russian audience is practically no different from the European. There used to be more differences than similarities. Now nobody is surprised anymore by the performances of Western rock stars. On one hand the audience became more picky and has lost a bit of a primal drive, on the other, for instance, communication with the public has become more civilized.

What are the main differences between Russia and the West in various aspects of music and music life, in terms of:

organizing tours, transportation, lodging, general living needs.
concert venues, sound, light, etc.
radio and television rotations
metal magazines and other music journalism, its level
studio work, recording, mixing, mastering
Publishing CD’s and other products, their distribution.

AS .: If we’re talking about the European market, then everything is in order and well tuned.

Almost all major European cities have their own venues and clubs of any type and capacity. They work non-stop, they have their own audience that’s coming from the neighboring cities and countries. There are no issues with the accomodation as most of the bands have their tour buses. The equipment (sound and light) is partially brought by the bands themselves, the rest may be ordered by the concert site manager.

There’s no problem with the rock radio stations as well, but, of course, it all depends on the country. It’s no secret that Germany, Sweden, Finland, etc. all like heavy music, therefore there’s a lot of it on the radio. In Germany there’s a lot of credible media writing about heavy metal, for instance, everyone knows the legendary Metal Hammer. Yes, that’s exactly where some of our journalists get the materials and then translate and publish them here.

In terms of studio work theer are no specific differences except there are more high-level professionals in that business over there. We have a lot of well equipped studios that just sit idle because the most important ingredient is missing – the person responsible for work with sound. In this genre, unfortunately, our Bob Rock and Andy Sneap have not yet appeared. Although I can surely recommend such professionals as Igor “KIV” Korolev from KIV Records and Eugene “Jack” Vinogradov from GIVE Records, whose work is quite competitive.

There is a number of labels in Europe that deal exclusively with the heavy music. I don’t think it would make sense to list them here. Of course, nowadays the whole industry of music sales and production is in decline, but these companies survive. They are still looking for the young talents, investing in videos and tours. Such cases are not frequent, but they are there. Bands with a rich history and fan base have a better life. Those tend to get signed for long-term contracts for several releases.

It’s no secret that almost all metal musicians in Russia, with the rare exceptions, make a living working day time jobs that are not related to their group, and often to music at all. They create music in their spare time as a hobby. Is it the same in European countries?

As for yourself, have you been able to fully concentrate on metal after joining the U.D.O., or you still have to work somewhere?

AS .: Day time job has been a part of my life for almost all the time I was engaged with the music. I’d play at the stadium, and the next day would return to work. I was lucky, though, and even though my day time job was not related to the music, my colleagues were great and bosses understanding. I was able to combine the two spheres of my life, even in the first year of my work with the U.D.O. But for more than a year now I can safely call myself a professional musician.

Have you moved to Germany or remained in Russia?

A.S.: I live here and there. Constant moving around is a part of my work and it’s difficult to say where I’ve been spending more time recently.

What are your hobbies apart from the music, what do you do while on leave?

.A.S .: Currently go skiing, to the sauna, often bath in a fishhole in the winter, watch new movies. In the summer I’m ride a bike, swimming in the river or sea, travelling the world. I rarely go anywhere without a guitar, I prefer to have it with me always and everywhere. You never know where or when inspiration can strike.

A question from the numerous and influential Cat association of Masterslend. Do you have any pets?

AS .: Yes, I have a cat, and not only one. To be more exact they all live in my parents place currently, but I love them all. Especially fluffy white cat with blue eyes, that was found in the snow in winter. I called it “Tat”.

Thank you so much for saving the cat! I think that all the members of our association will join me in that! Well, now let’s go back to the music. Tell us about EVERLOST’s upcoming album “V”.

AS .: It will be a great release that we’ve been preparing for as long as four years. I’m often listening to it in my player, and I can not wait to introduce it to the public. The compositions have become more complete and mature, the arrangements more thought over and concise. The addition of my brother Dmitry Ignatieff to the group gave us some kick in the creative sense. I am often away from home and do not have control over certain things, now the guys can cope well without me. I like the fact that we write songs together. Perhaps it is this fact makes this album special. EVERLOST are brothers in spirit and mind, but each of us has his own style and creative outlook in terms of writing music.

How in the future will you combine your involvement with both EVERLOST and U.D.O.? Will EVERLOST lead an active concert career? Would you consider a joint tour of EVERLOST and U.D.O.?

AS: U.D.O. –  is my priority and my main job, which occupies a large part of my life. EVERLOST – my baby, with whom I’m engaged with my friends when the time permits and when the necessary inspiration is there.

Talking about touring with any other group as a member of U.D.O. is simply impossible. I do not want any joint tours because the audience a little bit different (for U.D.O. and EVERLOST) and for me it would be too much responsibility and workload.

Do you plan on inviting your mate Dirkschneider and other U.D.O. members to participate in new EVEROST records and your solo albums as special guests?

AS .: I would never do it as a bait for the listeners, but if the song itself would benefit from it, then why not.

Tell me about your collaboration with band “GALAKTIKA”.

My friend and drummer Oleg Khovrin suggested me to make a few arrangements for the old songs of the legendary band “GALAKTIKA”, which member he was in the past. The result of this collaboration was the mini-album “The Last Summer Day” (2012). This is the first official release of the group since 1991. The album contains 5 songs and one bonus song, for the most part those are works from the different periods of the band history performed with the new arrangements.
To me this release was an interesting and productive experience, both as a guitarist and an author and arranger. I tried to modernize the sound of songs a little, not to spoil them at the same time. In addition, we wrote a new song «Hold on!» with the singer Slava Sinchuk and Oleg Hovrin. It was also included in this release.

Tell me about your collaboration with Artur Berkut.

AS .: I first worked with Arthur in 2011, while recording  my solo album «Adrenaline». We recorded the song “Born to breathe freedom”, which was supposed to be originally recorded with Michael Zhitnyakovym, at that time the vocalist for Grand Courage. In the early autumn of the same year the fate brought me together with Arthur, and I am extremely happy about it. Arthur, despite his busy schedule, came into the studio and after two hours the work on the track was finished.

Subsequently poet Anatoly Zhukov, who writes the lyrics for Andrey Berkut songs, asked me to create arrangements for Berkut album “Each to his own” (2012). It was an online project: I was working alone in his studio, and Arthur recorded his vocals in a different time and place. I was pleased with the result.

You guested in many projects and groups not only such famous as “Dynasty dedicated”, “Elven manuscript”, “Epidemiy”, “Ertur Berkut” and the like, but also less well-known.

AS .: For me there is only one criteria – interesting original material. During my participation in the guest projects I noticed one funny peculiarity – many musicians offer for the guest work those pieces that they have not been able to think through and arrange, but they are often the most “delicious” ones for me. Of course, in this case one no longer get away with a standard metal solo, and it is very encouraging!

What moved you towards recording of your solo albums?

AS .: On solo albums I’m trying as much as possible to express myself not only as a guitarist and arranger, but father first and foremost as a songwriter. Before the creation of the solo albums my name was associated mainly with EVERLOST. At some point I wanted to show off my different side. I am sure that many do not even suspect that I could write songs on my own, and even in a completely different way than my group requires.

In EVERLOST we share the workload and in solo albums the main work falls on my shoulders. At the same time I would like to thank everyone who participated in the work on my solo albums, for their help and support. Over the years in music business I have met many wonderful and talented people and very happy that I managed to get some to help me on those CD’s.

Tell us about your first solo album «Adrenaline».

AS .: The musical material formed in several stages over the period of several years. The first bunch of songs was written by me for never realized project with Maxim Samosvat (“One role for two”, “Born to breathe freedom”). The composition “Time of the wind” was created during our joint jam with Oleg Hovrin in the studio of the band “MASTER”. One more portion of tracks I wrote literally during one evening after some tour (“Among the ruins”, “Dead Souls”, “The hands have a dream”). Instrumental tracks («Andrenaline» and «The Fourth Dimention») I prepared especially for guitar master classes and performances at the “Music of Moscow”. The songs “Leaves”, “Love is stronger than death” were written by me in just a few hours too.

I was working on the solo album in my spare time, so the work lasted for two years.

I was fortunate that a number were around, such as drummer Oleg Khovrin, bassists Nikolai Korshunov and Alexei Balabanov, guitarist Vyacheslav Molchanov, vocalists Arthur Berkut, Vyacheslav Sinchuk, Alexander Grata and Boris Golik, poets Nina Kokoreva, Eugenia Bescherevnyh, Artem Soloviev, engineer Igor «KIV» Korolev, photographer and designer Anastasia Buzova. I would like to especially mention the role of my friend drummer Oleg Hovrin who made me believe in myself and helped to complete the work.

The album turned out to be diverse, but rather holistic. I did not want to limit myself to some stylistic framework and made each specific composition as felt. The result was such a thermonuclear blend of all the subgenres of rock music. Each of my compositions echoes one or another genre of heavy music: in these songs there are feelings and melody inherent to the classic 80’s rock, energy and punch of heavy and thrash-metal, elements of modern metal and even those of modern electronic music.

As for the name, I liked the meaning of the word «Adrenaline». Adrenaline is the hormone simply irreplaceable for a touring musician. It is dor the sake of these sensations we overcome hundreds and thousands of kilometers!

On top of that, the word is pronounced almost identically in both English and Russian, and goes well together with my name.

In addition I did not want to emphasize any song with the vocals, naming the album after it. Vocals for the album were provided by such great singers, like Arthur Berkut, Vyacheslav Sinchuk, Boris Golik, Alexander Grata. And «Adrenaline» was an instrumental composition.


 And haven’t you think about recording an instrumental album?

AS .: I prefer to listen to music which has a voice in it, and in my work I prefer to combine guitar with vocals too. Personally, I wouldn’t be not very interested in listening a purely instrumental album without vocals. I understand that it is also quite problematic to many listeners. In a nutshell, the main thing to find a right balance. I can stick a couple of instrumental tracks on the solo album, but trying to make a complete instrumental record is not mine thing. The song genre (even the extreme styles) does not leave too much room for instrumental side of things. For these experiments there is a prog or purely instrumental music.

Your second solo release – mini-album “A Fine Line” was released in 2013. Tell me about it.

AS .: This CD was created in a short period of time and included three new songs (one of them was represented in the instrumental form), as well as an acoustic version of the most successful song “Leaves” from my first solo album and an acoustic version of another new song. Despite this format, the release turned out to be quite interesting and somewhat unusual, because it presented an all sorts of a palette of musical colors. This time with the vocals I was helped by such talented singers as Boris Golik, Philip Sikovsky, the cellist Ruslan Sahab was also invited.

What should we expect from your third solo album? And when is it due?

AS .: In Russia the album will be released in late January – early February, thanks to the efforts of the Metalism Records label. The CD is called «Gladiator». The material was mixed in Germany under the leadership of producer Martin «Mattes» Pfeiffer, whose work is well known to the fans of heavy music by the albums of such bands as U.D.O., «Mob Rules», «Love.Might.Kill», «Anvil». The legendary rock singer Vladislav Sinchuk (group “Galaxy”) with a voice that had inspired a whole generation of Soviet music lovers took the mic stand, and the place behind the drumkit was entrusted to a longtime friend and “comrade” Oleg Khovrin ( “Nargiz”, “Earthlings”, ex- “Master”). «Gladiator» is a 5-song EP in the style of a cross between the hard rock and A.O.R.

Andrey, tell us more about the songs from the new solo album.

AS .: All the songs perhaps with the exception of the title track «Gladiator» bear romantic characteristics and tell us about love. This time, contrary to the all laws of the genre, I started with the rhythmic driven mid-tempo track, that tells us about life and struggle. We are growing, we brought up in the same environment, sharing the accommodation and food, and then mercilessly kill each other in the “battlefield” in order to survive. This is the story about us and the modern world.

«Play With Me» – rhythmic, melodic and “rock ‘n’ roll” type of a song, the lyrics following a story of a groupie and rocker hungry for a non-commital love. About the fact that any girl who wants to get a celebrity boyfriend for a one-night stand needs to know and understand the rules of the game. It’s not without self-irony, which is reflected in the fact that the main character of the song though posing himself as a playboy is also not completely devoid of the feelings and this time he falls in love. I think this idea will be very close and understandable to any musician.

After this revelation the next song “Without you” looks like the protagonist’s repentance and his return from such a groupie’s home. Music and vocal line were written by me right in the studio, but the song itself was waiting for its turn for a long time. I recorded it the very last of all, and am very proud of how it turned out in the end. Perhaps this is my favorite song on the CD at this time.

«Alone Again» – an ode to loneliness eating from the inside when the longing and despair stifle and won’t let to move on. A classic rock ballad in the beautiful setting of an acoustic guitar, keyboards and magnificent vocals.

And finally there is «Stay Away», which lyrics tell us about the injuring love, which causes nothing but pain. It’s about the situation when a person realizes that he was giving a lot more than received in return and that it is time to stop, to put an end to the relationship. Music is still melodic and melancholic with the bright splashes of keyboards and a lengthy arrangement.

I think that for many listeners, this release will present my creativity in a new way and will be somewhat of a revelation. For me personally this CD is a very mature and complete piece of work. I am sure that you will appreciate it as what it worth! Oh yeah, there won’t bee too many copies printed so hurry.

There’s an opinion that as a music media carrier CD’s belong to the past.

AS .: When we began to study music seriously and were taking the first steps in the field people were still buying discs, exchanging new releases etc. It was a whole musical world. Unfortunately, the financial situation of our fellow citizens as well as the possibility of free downloading anything from the Internet lead to the fact that CDs are turning into a product for collectors, which is not in high demand among the mass audience.
But among those who care about our work there are people who would like to receive new albums on the physical media. Not once have we received messages from them with a request to release a new album on the CD. Album artwork plays an important role too and with both Everlost and my solo albums I’m always trying to supply the high-quality, interesting covers and booklets. I am sure that those who have ever bought our albums or just held them in their hands were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the design. Nowadays CD is just a part of the band merchandise. But of course there are collectors who support us financially.
Once again, I am very grateful to my friend Pavel Suvorov for the excellent album artwork.

What would be your advice to novice guitarists? Unlock the secrets of a mastery.

AS .:There are no special secrets, unfortunately. Simply tie your ass to the chair – and off you go! I strongly advise to not just play exercises but to record yourself as often as possible, considering now this opportunity is available to anyone with a computer. With the help of modern music editors one can “revive” their favorite song of some cool band and record their guitars to a finished arrangement.
It is also very useful to practice with and record with a metronome. By recording and analyzing your playing you can notice not only the shortcomings in terms of technique but also to carefully focus on finding and choosing your own sound. I have been recording and analyzing my own playing since I was 12-13 (still on the cassette recorder back then). This greatly helped me with work on my own mistakes.

It is important to properly organize your studies so you would not waste time. If you feel that you can not develop your own training rhythm, then find a music teacher. At the early stages one won’t do without a competent teacher.

I studied on my own, picking up by ear songs of my favorite bands, getting, with a great difficulty, sheet music and tabs. I remember I would be running around “Gorbushka” (a flea market in Moscow – a note from a translator) and buy copied music sheets of Metallica and Sepultura literally by single pages! «Guitar College» company literature and advice of senior colleagues helped a lot too.

It’s a lot easier now. There is a lot of useful software, sites with tablatures, there’s an access to any video school. Then there is Youtube! You pressed the button – and now you can learn to play the cool riffs from Dave Mustaine himself!

But I would advise young guitarists to not copy blindly often created by who knows whome tablatures, but more often listen to what is coming out from the speakers or headphones themselves.

Which bands influenced your development as a musician or well, you just simply like more than the others?

AS .: From the heavy music I listen to everything – from hard rock to modern metal. I listen to classical music, I do not rekject quality pop music and even elektronic music. But 90% of my favorite music – classic rock and metal. My musical beacons are Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Kreator, WASP, Slayer, Annihilator, Arch Enemy, Master, Aria, Bruce Dickinson, Carcass, Children Of Bodom, Dark Tranquillity, Decide, Death, Dream Evil, Dream Theater, Symphony X , Edguy, Evergrey, Soilwork, Exodus, Gamma Ray, Gardenian, At The Gates, Grave Digger, Hammerfall, Helloween, Cannibal Corpse, Hypocrisy, Iced Earth, In Flames, Dio, Judas Priest, Kamelot, King Diamond, Kiss, Motley Crue , Ozzy Osbourne, Pantera, Rage, Sentenced, Sodom, Stratovarius, Anthrax, and others.

Among guitar virtuosos I adore Marty Friedman, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani, Stive Vai, Impellitteri.

Over the years, the list of my favorite artists has grown, but now I only mentioned the “time-tested” artists.

My teachers are James Heatfield, Jeff Waters, Dave Mustaine, Kirk Hammett, Marty Friedman, Alex Scolnick, Yngwie Malmsteen, Alexi Laiho, Max Cavalera, Stive Vai etc.
It was important to me to get the necessary push to start working on my technique. These people possess the magical energy that is radiating not only on the concerts! It can be received from the video and audio recordings, even from looking at their photos!

What can you advise on the guitars selection, especially to beginners, who still can not afford an expensive guitar of a high standard?

AS .: All guitars must be carefully listened to before you buy them. It also happens one can lay their hands on an inexpensive instrument in of the “low price category” that sounds a lot better than some “medium priced” guitars. My first electric guitar was $$200 PHIL PRO. It was good enough to even record the first Everlost demo, not just for the initial training.

For a beginner guitarist any inexpensive guitar of the student series (LTD, CORT) will suffice. But do get some knowlegeable person to check all the pecularities (configure Scale, etc.).

Before buying a new instrument, I’d advise you to clearly define the purpose for which it is needed for – studio recording or rehearsals and concerts. As a rule, a good “fleshy” mahogany guita, which sounds cool with an overdrive, won’t be a as spectacular on a clean sound as, for example, voiced one made of alder or maple. It is useful to have several different instruments in your arsenal!

Each guitar needs its own set of strings. It is not only the brand of the manufacturer and model that matters, but also, of course, the thickness. Sometimes one has to experiment for a long time in order to find the optimal set of strings for one or the other guitar. For example, I love to play riffs on the thick strings, but I need an ease of performance when playing legato solos.

I’d like to point out that there are almost no good strings in Moscow stores, they don’t last long and quickly loose their “shape”.

Tell me about your guitar arsenal.

AS .: In my guitar collections I have a lot of ionstruments from different manufacturers, but I prefer ESP and ERG instruments. These guitars have been with me through the hell and high water. There is no better test for any instrument than a many months long tour. I am using amplifiers and cabinets made by AMT Electronics and Laney.

Is it true that you are an art school graduate and your diploma topic was metal music?

AS .: Yes. My lean towards the humanitarian sciences prompted me to enroll in the Russian State Humanitarian University. The studying was very interesting. I felt quite comfortable at the faculty, where there were many members of the opposite sex. Studying full-time I still found the time to play in two bands and work part-time in a large company.

In 2005 I received excellent marks for my thesis on the subject of «Heavy Metal in Russia in the 90-ies of XX century: the formation of musical canon.” Originally I wanted to write a work on a more traditional topic, but thanks to the advice of my  younger sister I quickly changed my mind. It turned out to be right – working on this subject I felt like a fish in the water.

And  the gray-haired professors were not shocked by the chosen theme?

AS .: The fact is that due to the specifics of RSUH it is permitted and even encouraged to write the scientific works on the themes that are not quite standard.

The vast majority of diplomas are done under the following scheme: the student (or the one to whom he  ordered to write a diploma for him) finds a few diplomas with a similar theme, compiles them by copy/paste and brings the result to the board. In your case, I suspect, it really was the original and pioneering work?

AS .: Unlike most of my fellow students, I had to write my diploma by myself. In preparation for the work it turned out that none of these topics have been covered before… There were only a handful of research works available. I have found and studied almost all of them. Incidentally I am quite interested in the music related literature, I have a large number of various biographies of famous musicians and bands, magazines, books.

At that time, we were releasing our debut album with EVERLOST and I took advantage of all of my connections to prepare my scientific research in a most serious way. In the appendix to my thesis work there were interviews with a number of people who were at the origins of metal industry in our country, such as the head of MetalAgen label Evgeny Aksenov.

The defence of my thesis was conducted in an unusual way … I’ve prepared an audio appendix to my work, and we had the whole audience and the faculty heads listening to “Will and Mind” and other immortal hits!

I’ve heard that my work created a certain incentive for such studies to the younger generation of students. Now the work has a life of its own.

Apart from playing on stage you were also engaged in music journalism. Tell me about this side of your activities.

AS .: I have been writing articles and reviews for a number of well-known Moscow music magazines. It was not a work for money, but rather just a hobby. I was occupied with relatively young bands from all over the world. I’m always interested to hear new music and discover something new.

How can you describe the state of music journalism, music media in Russia and abroad? What can you advise to the journalists to help them to cover artistic events in the correct way, create interesting interviews, write reviews?

AS .: I’d like to note that we are witnessing the era in which not only the value of the music is fading, but a whole class of journalists and reviewers disappearing. We released our first CD with EVERLOST in 2004, and even on our site you can track the statistics of reviews and interviews.
Over time our group became more famous, however there were less and less reviews written every year, and now they are generally rare. Most of them are reprinted a press releases written by the musicians themselves. Journalists have completely no incentive to write articles and other materials. I would call modern Music journalism «copy / paste”. Everything relies only on enthusiasts. Of course, there are several editions here in Russia that are still keeping the bar. I could mention the InRock magazine and its editor in chief Vladimir “Impaler” Milovidov for instance.

You said you were a keen fan of music related literature and collected a large number of biographies of famous musicians. What books of this kind do you like the most?

AS .: I love to read biographies. Of course, I always give them some slack for certain exaggerations and understatements, but I like that sort of work. In recent years, I began to read the biographies in their original language. One of the last books of that kind I purchased was the biography of Dave Mustaine of Megadeth.

You were born December 31, 1983. What is it – to celebrate a Birthday, gradually turning into the New Year?

AS .: Actually it is very convenient and easy! (Smiles). The table is set, there is no excessive hype about it, and it’s easy to respond to people’s congratulations!

If Masterslend visitors have some other questions, will you have time and opportunity to respond to our online conference? Or won’t have time for this on tour?

A.S.: Yes of course I will answer even during the tour, time permitting.

What can you wish to Mastersland readers?

A.S.: The world of music is rich and diverse. I wish you to discover something new for you this coming year! Live, love and enjoy yourselves with the sounds of rock music!

I invite you all to my web site asmirnov.ru and to the official sites of Everlost и U.D.O as well.
Original interview text – http://www.mastersland.com

Категория: Без рубрики, ПРЕССА
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