UPYR FROM SOFIA BULGARIA, WERE FORMED IN 2012 AND LAST YEAR THEY RELEASED THEIR DEBUT DEMO ALTARS/TUNNELS A MAGNIFICENT WORK OF OBSCURE AND COLD DOOM METAL, EVOKING DESOLATE LANDSCAPES AND GLOOMY MOODS. BRODNIK [VOCALS] MORA [BASS] AND B.V. [DRUMS] SHED SOME `[CANDLE]LIGHT ON THROUGH THE SHADOWS OF...UPYR!
When and how was the formation of UPYR
Brodnik: The idea for Upyr haunted the air for a while and it was meant to happen rather sooner than later because of our need to play doom metal and the deficit of such bands around here. We gathered in the autumn of 2012. For me, personally, the trigger has been a year in Prague, where dark things happened and I needed to release the gruesome energy when I came back in “cheery” Sofia.
Mora: That was a long-awaited event for me. As an introvert I found that is also a good method to work on my suppressed emotions and relate to other human beings.
V.B.: I’ve always wanted to have a band together with Brodnik and I’m proud to play with Upyr as a whole.
Please tell more abound the meaning of the band name and why did you chose it.
Brodnik: Upyr, just like Brodnik comes from the Bulgarian folklore and represents it’s darkest corners. I was looking for something native and at the same time universal in meaning. Those forgotten Balkan lands are soaked with blood and mischief and there’s a great amount of pain and misery in the old tales of our people. Long time ago when one of the main habitants of our territories were the Slavs – the mighty Upyr used to be half of their view of life. It was the unholy arch spirit, the bringer of evil, the roots of darkness which withstands the favorable Beregins – the source of light. It’s also one of the main sources for the idea of the vampire was established later, long before the legend of Dracula and Bathory up north.
Mora: As Upyr has it's roots in the slavic folklore, I find it a good way to be in touch with our cultural heritage. And with the dark nuances it carries it's just perfect for our concept.
V.B.: The Upyr is the symbol of our times. The world’s going from bad to worse and society is dominated by the tyranny of the consumer. This is the era of Upyr!
Tell us about the recording of ALTARS/TUNNELS and how is the creative process of your material? Do all members take part when composing music and lyrics?
Brodnik: There’s equality in the process of creation. I personally am responsible for the concept of the band, the lyrics and the visual representation alongside the vocals. I believe that today those aspects of a band are as important as the music itself, especially in the underground scene, where people are looking for essence not just something to nod their heads to.
Mora: We recorded the instruments for “Before the Altars of Necrotic Karma” and ”Into the Tunnels of my Sleep” live in a studio for about 4 hours, and then Brodnik added the vocals. Hymn to Pan has been recorded separately and the bonus track on the tape is from an early rehearsal - just a magical moment of jamming in the studio. The lyrics come straight from Brodnik’s tortured soul and are both personal and universal.
V.B.: There were no tricks in the studio and we tried to do it natural and raw as it can be. Normally I’m a perfectionist and I spend a lot of time in the mixing studio but this time there wasn’t too much to be done. It’s a DIY demo which Yanis Petras mixed better than we expected and deserves praise for his work. SPASM, our guitarist did the mastering.
Are you satisfied with the result regarding sound and production, was it the first time in the studio for all the band´s members?
Brodnik: We are all coming from different bands, some of which go two decades back in time. It was not our first recording at all. Although we intended to create a demo with low production costs so we recorded live all the instruments and I did my vocals later. It’s DIY release and there were adherents that helped us a lot.
Mora: For a demo recording I think we've reached a very good quality of the final material. We all have some previous experience in studio, so that helped us shape the release the way we felt it should be.
V.B.: If you are looking for flaws you can always find them but I’m very satisfied with the end result. It was important for us as a band to see where things went in the creation process and how we progressed in that first year.
Were you aiming at that obscure blend of Black and Doom Metal or did it just come out naturally when the band first started? Blackened doom metal is the best description for Upyr´s style?
Brodnik: I find your definition – obscure – as a prominent aspect of our music. What we were aiming for was doom metal with obscure presence but the style and the specific sound came by itself. I don’t think we have that much black metal in our music, but stylistically and conceptually there is a common ground with it for sure.
Mora: We don’t believe we should indulge too much in following the already defined presets. All of us have different musical influences (of course, we share some too) and that is what creates our blend.
V.B.: The truth is it’s completely natural because we didn’t have an idea exactly what it’s going to be when we gathered for the first rehearsal.
The demo got a very good response with stunning reviews from death/doom zines and magazines. did you expect that receivement?
Brodnik: Sincerely we didn’t. Most important for us is to create and share those energies but when people so dedicated in what they are doing find it good and worthwhile it gives our efforts much bigger meaning. It drags our music out of the isolation which is amazing.
Mora: It was kind of shocking for me at first – such a flow of reviews! Though I'm somewhat a perfectionist, I come to believe that we deserve the positive feedback, so I'm really glad we've earned that with the first release.
V.B.: It’s all good and most importantly it shows that if you’re dedicated and you give enough efforts it always works.
Why the title Altars-tunnels? What kind of themes influence the lyrics?
Brodnik: Because it’s obscure, fragmentary and at the same time central in the release. It represents the two main songs in the demo: “Before the Altars of Necrotic Karma” and “Into the Tunnels of my Sleep”. “Hymn to Pan” is more atmospheric and peripheral addition to the CD release and “Welcome to the Ritual” is a tribute to the people who grew up with the cassette movement which was extremely important in Bulgaria in the 80s and 90s.
The lyrics are personally endured, and most importantly survived! Who reads them will find out what they meant. It’s crucial for me to feel those emotions when I sing so I try to be as sincere as I can. I’m more than glad that without instilling meanings I find people who experienced the same tough moments in their lives and the lyrics help them to get by.
Mora: These two words combine very well, the title is simple and yet having the air of despair (at least for me) which the lyrics are full of.
Which are your fave bands and your main musical influences?
Brodnik: As hard as it is to answer such a question I will try to approach is as a fan. My favorite bands are The Sisters of Mercy, Death in June, Danzig, My Dying Bride, Candlemass and Hellhammer/Celtic Frost. I think you can sense that easily in our music.
Mora: I have eclectic musical taste and I find it hard to determine my 'favorite' bands, so I'll mention Khanate as one of the important influences for me in the context of the dark side of the universe.
V.B.: As the oldest member of the band the list would be long… I’m a sprout of the punk, death rock scene but I find my roots in the 50’s blues and rock’n’roll and 60’s garage.
What things outside music would you say that influences Upyr´s music?... landscapes, folklore…?
Brodnik: Mostly the transitivity of life itself and our predestined existence as a society. Culture in all of it’s aspects. The suffering as a way of life for those who question their purpose here on Earth.
Mora: Sofia city dismal landscapes provide a good inspiration for me and also the state of our society – disorientation in its values and alienation to the greatest extent. My personal battle to reach some peace with this world also influences me.
V.B.: Life happing is the main catalyst. You can add some mystics, philosophy and occult knowledge. I belive we can turn everything that happnes to us in our lives into creative energy.
How did you get in touch with Serpent eve records and what can you say about them?
Brodnik: Vladimir from Serpent Eve contacted us for the cassette release. He’s one of those people who are responsible for keeping the underground scene alive with his efforts and persistence if you know what I mean. I can say only positive stuff about our collaboration.
V.B.: The cassette played a main role into our growing as fans and musicians. We discussed with Brodnik that we would do it from the early days of the band. In times when people don’t seem to care enough about anything, let alone underground music, Vladimir was upright and dedicated and that’s what matters.
What´s your opinion about the doom metal scene? Personally I´m pleased by latest releases from bands such as Uncoffined, Solothus, …and what about the classics like Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus? Are any of those releases among your faves of the past year?
Brodnik: You sure have a taste in music then! Personally I listen to a lot of oldschool evil metal and neofolk these days. Windhand, Cough and Anhedonist releases were amazing when it comes to an original interpretation of the genre. And of course we bow down before the classic doom bands
Mora: The scene seems lively nowadays. Windhand's 'Soma', Ghost B.C. 'Infestissumam', Boris's 'Präparat', Dark Buddha Rising 'Dakhmandal' are among the albums that made an impression on me through 2013.
V.B.: No matter strong or weak, the doom scene has had it’s fingerprints in heavy music through the years. There’s definitely a revival and exitement right now which is a good surprise. I’m waiting for the new Electric Wizard and I can’t stop listening to Venomous Maximus.
How is the metal scene in Bulgaria? Are there some cool bands to discover?
Brodnik: The metal scene in Bulgaria if there’s any is a bit chaotic and sporadic unfortunately. There are acts of class and originality but they don’t lead to one strong core. The positives of that are that most of the bands are quite indipendent. The audience here is intelignt and well educated because they got into what they like the hard way by collecting and digging into it.. They are demanding and most of all deserving. In the last year there is some reshuffling and I see more and more people longing for slow and heavy music and more and more bands trying to achieve that. The most important thing is that those bands try to support each other which is kind of new here. I can mention some of them: the oldschool doom visionaries Obsidian Sea, the dirty instrumental sludge brigade Muddy, the psychodelic trio Trysth, bounderless Murder of Crows and the pure evil thrashers Axecutor.
Mora: In Bulgaria everything is small-scale so the support inside of the newly forming community of dark and slow bands is crucial. I'm optimistic, at last there is some movement and maybe we will even witness the formation of a 'scene' ... In the recent months the album of our doom associates Obsidian Sea, 'Between Two Deserts' , haunts me every single day, you can hear two of the songs on bandcamp and see if you end up hooked.
V.B.: It’s one of a kind, the bulgarian scene. There are fans and interesting bands but it’s hard to be seriously involved in music as there are no labels eager to do some work and promote your music. Till 1989 it was hard because of the regime and the so called “Iron Wall”. Somehow music got into here, through mysterious ways, but there were no concerts and it was impossible to build a real scene of any kind. It started decades after it first happned in the west with the arrival of the 90s. Even now, 20 years later it’s still all DIY.
How have been your gigs so far? I guess that you’re impatiently waiting for your 1st gigs abroad ? Is there something in the works for a tour ?
Brodnik: All our shows by now were quite full and well appreciated which is striking to me. There’s a specific atmosphere, especially when we play with Obsidian Sea. There’s the presence of doom in the venue which we were waiting for so long. We played with ISKRA (Canada) and in a few days we will share the scene with KYLESA(USA) and TURBOCHARGED(Sweden) which is flattering.
In April we maybe we will play in Serbia with one of the most extreme bands that I’ve come up to in a while – WHITEHORSE from Australia. Just a day after they will come and destroy Sofia alongside us, TRYSTH and may be MUDDY.
Mora: I'm very pleased with our gigs so far. We shared the stage with great bands. The proper atmosphere managed to emerge from the shadows of the subconscious and the audience was involved, so the experience was intense and rewarding. I expect the same from the upcoming shows.
V.B.: It’s unbelievable how things happened in our small “doom” community. There’s a lot of respect and support between us. As a band we’re trying to improve our live performances by adding something new each time we play in front of people. We want to back visualy our music and turn the songs into rituals of some kind. I’m personaly always up for touring and I’m sure it will happen soon.
Do you have some new songs written? Are there already any plans for a debut album?
Brodnik: It’s early for plans for a debut album but we’re definitely working on new songs. We already perform some of them live and I believe they are more complex but still as dark and heavy. What we’re planning for sure is a music video and may be a split with a fellow Bulgarian band.
Mora: We like to play with new ideas and see how they shape into new songs, so we already have some new material. Now we are concentrated on getting in shape for our upcoming concerts, so the work on the new songs is a bit slowed down. But we are looking forward to recording again when the moment strikes.
How do you imagine the band in the future? What are your goals with Upyr?
Brodnik: The only goal we can set for ourselves is to continue creating what we love and spreading it to the people who know what they are looking for. Everything else is a bonus.
Mora: I don't involve myself making particular plans (what must happen will happen). The most rewarding thing is the act of creating, so I hope that we continue with the pouring of our music trough time and space.
V.B.: It would be foolish to use the momentum of the good feedback and just write and record some songs. Most important is that we put our souls into it and we won’t make any compromise and hurry too much with the album.
The most strange and shocking place?
Brodnik: Come and visit us, mate, it’s quite strange around here! No seriously, I think that the planet Earth is enough shocking and bizarre. We know so little about our own home.
Mora: The most horrific places are hidden in the depths of our minds.
V.B.: That has to be my head. Believe me you don’t want to get in there.
With your debut demo out there, which plans do you have for the near future?
Brodnik: Live performances, a video and a split.
Ok, thanks for your time, anything you would like to add to end this interview?
Brodnik: If you ever feel lost come with us. Most probably we won’t find the way but at least we will be together.
Mora: Morituri te salutant!
V.B.: Support your local scene as the cliché says! That’s what keep thing going on.
Keep Lucifer’s torch close to your hearts and search for the Truth!