Talking With The Spirits – Interview With Ethereal Riffian …   Leave a comment

Shaman’s Visions by Ethereal Riffian is the début album of the year so far for myself and many others I know. It currently has ‘album of the month’ status here at Doommantia so we needed an interview and the Doctor of Doom has done just that. Here is a in-depth interview with Ethereal Riffian main-man and fellow doom-metal blogger Stonezilla.

Dr.Doom: Congrats on your début! Reading all those enthusiastic reviews about it I was wondering do you think “Shaman’s Visions” will ever receive any negative comments haha?
Stonezilla: Hi man! First of all let me express my gratitude for the review and kind words. The positive feedback we’ve received from various people, musicians and labels makes the band really motivated regarding our future. As for the negative comments, well, you never can tell! But if you don’t like it – you’d better be aware, for we have made some acquaintances with shamans during the record.

Dr.Doom:I remember I heard a song on “Odd Sonic Frequency VI” was that the real Etherial Riffian début?
Stonezilla: This is an interesting question to answer! It was the song I recorded with my “ancient” mp3 player in winter of 2009, when I had been playing guitar for something like 4 month (that’s why it sounded so awful! hahah), and there was no band yet. It was something I just felt playing. The song’s called Yeti’s Hide, and it came to my mind on one of those winter’s evenings when yetis woke up and trees fell.
So it can’t be called Ethereal Riffian’s début, though this song will be performed by the band once for sure (on the third record hopefully).

Dr.Doom: Can you give some details about the history of the Etherial Riffian, the band members, previous bands etc. Why do you use nicknames?
Stonezilla: The band is pretty young – it was formed last summer (in July), though the pre-history brings us back to 2007. I’ve met with my classmate Max (Southman), and found out that he was playing guitar. Damn, he was really good at it even back in 2007! At that time I had no skills at all and wanted to play drums. We’ve decided to try to create some music. During the following three years we’ve tried grind-core, blues, heavy metal, southern, thrash…well, a whole lot of styles! A lot of music was written, but nothing was released. In the autumn of 2009 I’ve picked up guitar (drumming wasn’t my destiny), and that was the push-up for the creation of Ethereal Riffian. Half a year later my brother (SAF) put his beard on bass, and half a year later we’ve decided that our beards are long, and our balls are strong enough to start up a band. There was also Dr. Smoke (great guy with cool ideas & concepts) who should be on vocals, but that wasn’t supposed to happen. Anyway he influenced the band and we’re thankful for his contribution.
The band’s name came to me right from ether three months before creation of the band.
As for the nicknames. You see – people don’t have a clue who Valeriy Korniev or Max Yuhimenko is, and they are more likely to remember something that sounds easier to them (for stoners even native) . Something like Stonezilla, Southman or SAF. Besides we are using these nicknames for a long period of time.

Dr.Doom: What has changed in the band since this small track on “Odd Sonic Frequency VI”? I mean in “Shaman’s Visions” you seem to have a very clear perspective about your music.
Stonezilla: Oh, a lot has changed since that time. Pretty much everything. Our ideas about the music, our line-up, my vision for the band, and it’s music. You know we have more than an hour of unreleased stoner/doom stuff which was written before the release of Shaman’s Visions. But on Shaman’s Visions we have shown what really the band is about – searching for new ways to breath new life in counterproductive genre. So now we have to work hard to make that old material as interesting as, or better than our début release. You won’t get anything, but something kick-ass and fresh-sounding – that I promise. What’s the sense of playing music otherwise?

Dr.Doom: Shaman’s Visions gave me the impression of a single song rather than 5. More like a musical concept. Is there a lyrical concept also? The lyrics seem quite abstract to me.
Stonezilla: Yeah, we are bound to come up with conceptual albums – and Shaman’s Visions covers just one story. Actually it’s very important for us to make listeners hear the message we send in our music, though people seldom take notice of artist’s lyrics in this genre. “Shaman’s Vision” is about shaman’s soul-searching/truth-searching trip to the roots of the universe. Titles of the tracks and lyrics describe the progress of this trip. You know, it’s just the story which has to be told.
Our great friend PhillO))), who is an irreplaceable part of the ER team wrote nicely about it on robust fellow.
Lyrics is made a little bit amorphous to make your mind add your individual shades to it. Some of the topics covered are: complex simplicity, life beyond (earth & consciousness), ethereal world, soul-searching, shedding light.
I have heard that some people compared Shaman’s Visions theme to Carlos Castaneda’s creations. Well I haven’t read them, but as far as can judge from what I’ve heard – it’s pretty close.

Dr.Doom: In my review I wrote that “..this is how Sleep would sound like today…” how accurate do you think this comment is?
Stonezilla: Hah, thanks for that comparison. It could be accurate if Sleep evolved in terms of songwriting, but I think this band just doesn’t need it (same goes to Motorhead, AC/DC etc). Sleep is a unique band which inspired a lot of people first with Sleep’s Holy Mountain in 1993, secondly with Dopesmoker (the heaviest song ever, and the most influential for me) ten years later, and as for me they don’t need any evolution, they’re perfect as they are.
On “Shaman’s Visions” we try to recreate this feeling of a god-damn long song, and if you will play it on a good music center you won’t hear any breaks between the songs. We’ve recorded the CD this way deliberately to create that one-song-effect. In fact it is one song divided into five parts to make the concept more understandable.

Dr.Doom: You seem to give a lot of attention in the presentation! You even contributed in the cover art if I am not mistaken. Do you believe that if all bands gave the same attention to the album art, then things would have been different with the illegal downloads?
Stonezilla: Presentation is very important. You know, I think that musicians shouldn’t think only about the music. Because what musician comes up with is a complex product. It consists of music, visual presentation (great looking CD’s, kick-ass live shows), unique vision for their bands etc. So, in my opinion, modern musician should be unique to get noticed, that’s why we pay much attention to every detail of our activity – starting with music, ending with signing the CDs.
Max Mute (who made artwork for as) made a great debut with us, and represented the CD the way we wanted. Personally I have designed the book (in the right sleeve of the digi-pack) for the release.
You may ask if it gave us any benefit…Hellyeah! We have sold/exchanged more than a half of all copies we’ve made in less than two month. CDs in shamanic packing are selling out like hot cakes, we will soon just run out of them.
This experience makes me say that if all bands gave the same attention to the album art, then things would have been different with the illegal downloads, because having a piece of art on your shelf is way better than having just a good record.

Dr.Doom: Lately there has been a revolution of stoner sound in the eastern Europe. In your opinion why is that? I don’t remember it was like this a decade ago.
Stonezilla: It’s because of those pills and herbs they started to develop in their secret alchemical depots! Hah, kidding. To tell the truth conditions changed for the better. More people who are interested in creation of good musical product started to appear. It resulted in appearance of better equipment and record studios.
A good example is our sound director Max Poops. He’s only 20 years old, but he’s very passionate about what he’s doing, and I would be surprised if you could show me some other guy who would spent about two sleepless weeks to create a good master CD.

Dr.Doom: What is the scene like in Ukraine and how it differentiates from the rest of the doom/stoner scene?
Stonezilla: “Now he’s taking me to Black Woods, Oh YEAAAAAAAH!!!” (line from Stoned Jesus’ song)
We don’t have much stoner/doom bands around. The only active cool band is Snakerider. Stoned Jesus has changed its style to 70th oriented rock (good for them!), and we don’t have a drummer to make shows. So the scene is weak these days. But what’s worse – there’s no demand for such music here. We are receiving orders for CDs from all over the world, but have sold only five CDs in Ukraine. Attendance to live show is in average like 25-40 people.
For me it means only one signal – our bands should concentrate on quality more than on quantity. Got to search for better ways to express your band and your music.

Dr.Doom: I believe that stoner or doom in general is a style that evolves really slow. Basically it is the most direct link with heavy music in its infancy. Do you feel like this could be counterproductive for a musician?
Stonezilla: Man! That’s the most counterproductive thing ever, hahah! Everytime we try to experiment -we end up cutting 70% of experiments, because they all sound kinda odd. But that is the way it works if you choose your primary genre. 60-75% is genre, other part is experiments. We don’t try to be something revolutionary, but we try damn hard to be fresh-sounding, and I think that our attempt to achieve it on Shaman’s Visions was successful.
We suppose that musicians should try to bring something new to music they play (even if the genre is counterproductive). There’s no sense in creating it otherwise.

Dr.Doom: You are an active member of the blogsphere, how has this helped you with Etherial Riffian?
Stonezilla: I’ve paid bloggers to give positive reviews! Hahah:))
Actually it was great to have our album reviewed on Doommantia, Sludge Swamp, Robust Fellow, Insane Riez, Stonerobixxx (and other blogs which I may have forgotten). How it helped me? Well, all the people behind the listed above blogs are great guys, who love what they do! They all knew me and they were interested in the music my band plays, so I’ve just asked them to listen to it, and drop some lines on their blogs about it. I’m glad they’ve liked it that much.

Dr.Doom: Since Shaman’s Visions is self financed I have to ask was it hard to raise funds for this release? Are you talking with any labels right now?
Stonezilla: Raising funds is hard, because it’s the money you receive from your everyday jobs, where you work like a horse, to do a good job. But you know, it’s worth it. Having our CD released is better than a plasma on a wall, a new notebook, or a loan in a bank. It’s the best investment we have ever made in our lives.
We aren’t talking to any labels at the moment and we don’t plan to. If someone would be interested in signing us, we will be glad to consider this option, but as for ourselves – we feel perfect doing everything on the old good DIY principle. It makes you feel good when you release a better product, than is being released on labels, on your own. It’s all in your hands. Want to be a slave – be a slave, want to be the king – be the king, want to be a stoner…well you’ve got the point.

Dr.Doom: Ethereal Riffian is one of the bands that impressed me the most so far this year. Knowing that you listen to a lot of music what band has impressed you the most lately?
Stonezilla: Since I’ve started playing music, the percentage of the music I like has fallen dramatically. The process of evaluation became more complicated. So there’s not many bands which impress me nowadays. But it really puts a smile on your face when you hear a good band! To name the few bands which impressed me lately…they would be Ayahuasca Dark Trip (meditative stoner/doom), Bluesbreaker (local hardcore band), Quest For Fire & Samsara Blues Experiment (well you know them), Sungod (heavy psychedelic tripping), WhoCares (they still know how to rock, Iommi’s riffs are perfect) and the goddamn Left Lane Cruiser which don’t cease to impress me for 3 years already!

Dr.Doom: I heard you are looking for a drummer does this mean that there are plans for any live shows?
Stonezilla: Yes man! And I’m planning to make them as kick-ass as possible. It will take a lot of work and effort, and I don’t know how they would look, but we’re determined to tour through Europe, US, and wherever the road could take us (Mars?).

Dr.Doom: So what are your plans right now? Is Ethereal Riffian one of those bands that needs to take some time off between releases, or you have something coming up already?
Stonezilla: We have plans to start recording our second album in the end of the year, don’t want to tell you any precise dates, because we don’t know them either. We will try to make something really extraordinary on that one. Hope we’ll have enough nerves, herbs and tea to cover our plan, and let the higher powers bless us.

Dr.Doom: So this is it. Any final words?
Stonezilla: Thanks for the interview bro, and a good set of questions!
As for the final words…look up you dark side, and start shedding light. There’s enough darkness around.
Cheers and riffs from the whole ER team!
Interview By Dr Doom  ( Dr.Dooms Lair )

Ethereal Riffian @ Bandcamp
Ethereal Riffian @ Myspace

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Posted May 28, 2011 by doommantia in Ethereal Riffian

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