Lunatic Gods is definitely not what would you call a regular metal band. They have their own original and complex style, combining elements of thrash/death/black/doom metal with jazz beats and folk tunes. In their 10 years of existence they have released 3 full-length albums and also a split CD and a MCD. Forthcoming album “Mythus” is on the way, until then read this interview with Hirax, the guitar player/songwriter of the band.
You started playing metal with Bestialit in 1993. I haven't had the chance to listen to Bestialit. What kind of music did you play? How do you remember those times?
Bestialit was some mix of brutal death metal with grind. The whole material was released as a split CD with Dehydrated, i.e. the four songs are available for download from our website in remastered form. You can find the complete release with the cover. There were 1100 copies, sold out for good. How do I remember? It was one of the nicest periods of our lives, we were growing adult and drinking and fucking everything available, all we cared about was music, we had no families. Ok, stop here, I feel like crying when I think about those careless days, hehehe.
Who were your major musical influences at that time? How hard was it for a metal band in Slovakia back then?
It was the rise of death metal, mainly Sweden was taking off. But we have always listened to everything, grind as well as the waning thrash, whatever that had enough quality and original feel.
Did you split up with Bestialit, or you just changed the name of the band? Why did you choose the name Lunatic Gods? What's the significance of that name?
After the Bestialit release we finally found our way, it was a way different style so we also changed the band’s name. I came up with it and the guys simply liked it, so we remained lunatic...
How would you categorize your music? How would you describe it for your grandmother for example?
Well, that's something for press experts, I can simply state anything that you find in our music: death, black, doom, thrash, psycho, experimental, classical music, folk tunes, jazz - simply lunatic metal.
Some reviews compared your music to the first releases of Cynic and Atheist. Were these bands an influence for you?
Of course, we had also been listening to these bands, but we have never been so amazed as to copy them. Those who know our music, know that we are different and we are Lunatic Gods only. OK, you can hear traces of old Atrocity or Therion, but again, not a copy. We don't like bands who copy somebody else, I won't play in a band to take over somebody else’s expression, what's the sense?
You played at the Dynamo festival, which is a really high achievement for a Slovakian band. How did you get that offer? How was that show?
Well, that was the Czech edition of Dynamo festival. Anyway, it was cool to share the stage with the likes of Tiamat, Clawfinger, Therion, In Flames, Voi Vod etc. What did we offer? Our classical show. Well, the singer Emil was a bit too drunk, else it was quite all right.
Your last album - The Wilderness - is a concept album and it's divided in two parts: Circles of Blindness and The Wilderness. What's the story of the album?
Wilderness is not a concept album. The lyrics are connected with the topic of human soul looking at the world, depression and hopelessness, but it’s different things by different people. The three-piece Wilderness is separate due to musical uniqueness. For our new album "Mythus" we prepared a concept story, though. It will be out in January 2004. We have to finish a video clip and then it can be released. It will happen through HROM RECORDS.
I have found some philosophical aspects/ideas in the lyrics. What are the lyrics really about and what inspired you when you wrote them?
Like I said, its inner feelings and psychical processes as conceived by the authors, especially the lyrics by Horar or Natanael go very deep. My and Cingel's songs are simpler. So you can figure, four different people are responsible for the words on "Wilderness".
On "Cuckoo" EP cover there is a statue of Stalin and in the booklet of The Wilderness there's an image of Hitler. What is their role in the booklet? What do you think about these people?
These are symbols of mass stupidity of people. Some psychopaths come up with an idea and skillfully manipulate crowds of people who are then willing to kill. There were plenty of such leaders who brought a lot of pain and suffering to the world. We used it a reminder, people should not forget!
Are you fascinated of stuff, like history, war, etc? It seems that many of the lyrics are about these topics. Do you think that aggression or violence can solve any conflicts?
Yes, I am fascinated by both World Wars, especially. Especially the ideology behind it, how a sick thought can infect such a mass of people. I watch and read anything related to that topic. And as for violence and aggression, I don't think it ever solves anything, evil breeds more evil still. Problems have to be dealt rationally.
From the progressive rock of Jethro Tull through the brutal death metal of Nile many bands are mixing folk elements with rock/metal. What do you think about other bands, which are using many traditional instruments in their music?
I love both of the bands mentioned. I love old art rock like Yes, King Crimson or the above Jethro Tull. Equally I respect bands that look for new ways of expression, Nile being an example of a very good band. And as for the classical folk instruments, be sure we found something exotic for our new album again, namely violin, double bass, cymballon - death metal with a cymballon, that's our new face!
There are a lot of guest musicians, which are performing on traditional instruments on The Wilderness. Where did you find these musicians? How did you convince Jirko Dohmai to play the sitar on the album?
Jirko is a respected sitar player, I'm surely not wrong if I say world class one. He learned to play from the Indian masters. We were absolutely happy when he agreed to feature on our record. I think the result is great!
Can we expect more stuff like that on your next releases?
You can figure from my above answers. Of course we don't recycle ideas, so we also used some fresh ones for the instruments. This time we didn't go very far and incorporated some traditional folk tunes and traditional folk sounds from our home country. And one more thing, a surprise for many, I believe. For the first time ever you can hear a female vocal on our record! I just wonder if you can spot it!
Right now you're working on a new album. Say something about the new songs. What can we expect from you in the future?
Album "Mythus" is recorded, mastered, we just wait to finish two promo video clips, which will be on the CD as well. The album will be out in January 2004. The concept story deals with a fight between the human and worm nations. Mankind will lose of course...
Who do you think are the best bands around these days? Is there any newer band that caught your attention? What do you listen to these days?
I'm just listening to old Anacrusis, hehe. I'm more like living in the past. Anyway, from modern bands I like records by Cradle of Filth. I know plenty of people talking low about them, but they play good quality music. And then of course Emperor - Prometheus is simply an opera!!
Are you listening to other kind of music besides metal? Do you have non-metal CDs, which might surprise us? What kinds of music do the other members of LUNATIC GODS listen to?
I listen to a lot of HC, punk, grind, crust. It offers a lot of energy and a message that metal bands often lack. And I also like Slovak alternative, folk, jazz, fusion things ... it caresses my soul!
Do you have any favorite books, movies?
Similar to music, I am not particular about one type or style of things in anything. I read anything from history to good novels. I like Vonnegut, for instance. The same for films, I enjoy Leon as well as good independent though provoking film.
Which are the 5 "all time favorites" albums of yours?
Hey, you don't mean it! I can hardly judge like this, probably Slayer's albums "Reign in Blood" and "Hell Awaits", first S.O.D., Terorizzer, and some Yes etc. You know, I've been listening to metal since 1983, so it's impossible...
How do you make your living? Do you have a full-time job? I noticed that you are doing a kind of promotion/distribution for Shindy Records. Do you work for them?
I worked as a technical manager of a private radio station for seven years. They stopped working. Maybe they will renew, but I'm not going back. I have more and more work with my label. As for promotion for "Wilderness" we agreed with Shindy that I will take care of it myself. To cover some 1000+ media is not simple, but I did it myself and did it properly.
What do you do in your free time?
What do you mean free time? I can switch on the TV at midnight the moment I fall asleep. All my time is occupied by music. I have two bands - besides LG it's a Slovak HC/metal legend Editor, then two record labels, distro, concert organization ... I can give you my girlfriend's number, she will explain you something about my free time very well!
What kind of music plays Editor?
Editor started as a thrash band, way back also featuring Psycho, current LG drummer. Now we moved to some mix of HC thrash metal, sung in Slovak, aimed at Slovak and Czech markets solely.
What's the scene like over in your country? Who else is over in your area worthy of notice?
Slovakia is full of good quality bands. Personally I prefer Depresy, Wayd, Ethereal Pandemonium, Protest, Ravenarium, Thalarion. Not much black, on the other hand brutal death bands are rife.
How often do you play gigs in your local area?
Not many these days. Maybe three times a month. Sometimes we decide to stop playing for a while, like now when we finish the album works. When it is out, we will hit the stages again. We'll try to cover the summer festivals’ season and then arrange some tours in the autumn.
You have a very professional website, maybe one of the best band websites I've ever seen. It seems that you assign an important role for the Internet in promoting the band. Do you often check out other websites, webzines? What do you think of them? What about mp3s?
I visit a lot of websites, mainly zines, sometimes bands. Our web is by a friend who is a professional and you can see it. We have plans to improve it still, so keep on the watching. Websites nowadays are an integral part of existence of any subjects the time requires it so.
Last question: Hirax it's your official name or it's just a moniker? What does it means?
Hirax is my nickname derived from an old US thrash/core band. When we were kids we had nicknames like that and so it remained. My name is Pavel Baricak.
Thanks for your time, I wish you good luck with Lunatic Gods! Any final words?
Thanks to you for support, too.
If anybody wants anything related to our band, feel free to get in touch. Also, distros, labels, I love to trade for quality UG things. See contacts below. Hirax.
by Robert Sun