Greetings, thanks for accepting to answer my questions and welcome to Pest Webzine. Please open our chat with the usual few words about the band's history.
Greetings from the windy and rainy Burgas! Well, I started Vrani Volosa back in 2003 as a one man band with the initial goal just to compose good songs and to record them later, the music was inspired by bands like Enslaved, Borknagar, Primordial and Bathory! Later I invited some of my best friends to help me with the recordings of the first promo cd "Vedi” and I sensed that special vibe and chemistry among us, so they stayed and this is how we became a real band actually. We have two albums so far - "Where The Heart Burns” (2005) and "Heresy” (2010) released formerly by our label Corvus Records and coming soon to be re-released by the German label Einheit Produktionen for Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium and The Netherlands! We have a good number of gigs in Bulgaria as a headlining band and as an opening band for such acts like Orphaned Land, Pungent Stench, Arkona and Skyclad.
What does Vrani Volosa mean and how come you decided to go for it as a band name? Do you have good laughs when hearing a foreign pronounce your band's name?
Ah, it’s been a long time since then, my friend. Memories fading away hahaha, I’m getting old! The name Vrani Volosa came out after we have recorded two tracks already and I felt the need to give a name to this musical journey. So I sat at home writing names – single words or combinations of words. Wrote about 200 and didn’t like one. At the time being I was working also on a new song, on which refrain was sung "vrani volosa” and suddenly I thought that it could be very nice if I use this combination of words for my band’s name. Yes, it’s not a typical one (at least for a metal band), sounds strange, but the message is strong. The black hair is often to be found in my fellow-countrymen, it was also very characteristic of the Protobulgarians thousands of years back in history. If you change the accent on the first syllable of "volosa” you would change the whole meaning to "ravens of Volos (known also as Veles, Slavic god of wisdom, knowledge, magic, art, crafts and cattle-breeding)”.
Well, I cannot laugh about wrong pronouncing of our name, cause this could turn back to me some day, hehehehe – my English is not excellent at all!!! I think it’s not that hard for you to pronounce it.
The band is around since 2003, what do you think when looking back at all these years? What went extremely good and what went wrong in almost 8 years of activity?
It went pretty fine when I was alone in the very beginning, because I had no plans with Vrani Volosa, I just wanted to record some music, stay at home, drink beers with my friends, no gigs, it was very easy for me as you can see. I just had to go the studio after finishing my duties at my job and nail some guitars and bass and later spend some time with my mates listening to what I have recorded. But when the "Vedi”-promo cd was released my opinion to everything concerning Vrani Volosa drastically changed. I felt some need to perform my music live, I wanted to be more focused on this musical journey, I invited two friends of mine to help me with the recordings and so naturally came the idea to release an album. I started contacting media and labels and finally someone was interested in the music of Vrani – Emil and Corvus Records from Sofia, Bulgaria. We met couple of times, talked about life, different kinds of music, the atmosphere during these conversations was very relaxed and Emil is a really controversial at the same time so interesting person as he is a part of the underground for so many years, he went through all the stages – tape trading, writing a fanzine, creating a magazine, creating paintings for cover artworks, organizing concerts, having his own label. I recognized his ideas in my own ideas and it was very easy to cross our paths and walk the same direction. He offered me to release the album "Where The Heart Burns” on cd and I accepted. So far, so good! All went wrong when Atanas, our former vocalist, decided to leave the band. It was very difficult for me, because he is a friend of mine and he wanted to leave, at the same time we had to stop the band activities for a while, I didn’t know what to do with Vrani Volosa. The great thing about meeting difficulties, struggling with bad times is that if you’re still fighting, you’re still alive, your mind is alive, your ideas are alive, so you keep going whatever happens on your path. I’m glad that we, all the guys in the band , found ourselves and ... keep going. No matter the bad, no matter the good! It’s a mission for sure!
How do you see your place in the Bulgarian metal scene at the moment, are you ok with your relationship with everyone involved in it?
We have so many friends amongst the bands in Bulgaria, some of us were involved in the scene before too, so I think everything is fine. I don’t feel it as a competition, we help each other a lot – sharing instruments, equipment ... As a band Vrani Volosa evolved a lot during these years and took a special place amongst the hundreds of bands, because we played our music from our hearts and people who attend our gigs can recognize that we’re true to ourselves, we believe in the mood of our music, we live our music during the gigs. But I don’t think we’re something more as I said before, it’s not a competition. If you’re an artist then you think only of your own paintings but not of the others. So are we too!
Your first two releases had a lot of aggressive parts, actually they were based on aggressive metal. Do you still like those releases? Please tell us a few words on them. Are they still available to purchase?
"Vedi” is our first release, as you might know, it was a promo EP that aimed to orientate people’s attention towards Vrani Volosa and this record did hell of a job for us! The relationship between "Vedi” and our debut album "Where The Heart Burns” is very strong, because the three songs from the promo EP were remastered and included in the album together with the album title song. I’m not sure if the music is so aggressive. Yes, the sound is rough, we had blast beats, but all in all I was looking for a specific atmosphere creating such kind of music, aggression was not my goal. I still like the music from "Where The Heart Burns” and we still play songs from it, not just satisfying people’s requests, but making ourselves feel good! That’s it! I remember that "Vedi” won some interest by journalists and of course by fans and the cd was sold out really quick. "Where The Heart Burns” is available on a digipack cd in Corvus Records and soon there will be a German edition on Einheit Produktionen!
Your latest album lost a lot of aggression, but gained on the conceptual part I think. Do you agree? Why turning from extreme metal to a calmer music?
Yes, you have right! Actually we changed drastically so many things – when Atanas left I took the vocal duties by myself. I knew I couldn’t do the same harsh vocals as him and during the times of composing "Heresy” (our new album) I approached naturally the clean voices and felt really comfortable in this milleau. I can mention also the arrangements of the songs, this time simplified and more focused, straight to your face and spiced with Bulgarian folklore ingredients. First of all, when I started writing songs for "Heresy”, I had the intention to record an acoustic album, I was composing music on my acoustic guitar and probably that’s the main reason I simplified and softened a bit the new compositions. But when Kolyo (guitars) and Dessislav (drums) joined Vrani Volosa, we started playing as a band in the rehearsal room and naturally we got back to distorted guitars. With all respect to you, my friend, we’ve never had the intention to be an extreme band. Our main goal was to paint pictures with notes, so it is now too, but we use different colours. The main reason to change drastically our music was not only the leaving of Atanas, but also an inner feeling that grew so much and became the new engine of Vrani Volosa.
As mentioned in my review, although I love your latest album, I would have liked more tracks as "Sun". Do you think of including more Bulgarian Folk influenced tracks on your upcoming release?
Thank you, that you like "Sun”. It’s the most popular song from "Heresy” I guess. There’s an unique atmosphere to be felt when we play it live – fans and band are together as one. Yes, we have some ideas to add new colours to the painting Vrani Volosa, but it’s too early to comment the new record I guess.
The "Heresy/Epec" album was released by the Bulgarian Corvus Records, then got picked up by the German Einheit Produktionen. First tell us how your relationship with Corvus went so far and then how come you ended up signing with Einheit.
Vrani Volosa is a part of the Corvus family since 2005, I am very close friend with Emil, the label manager, and the relationship between band and label is more than just business, so I can say everything is fine. We know Einheit since the release of "Where The Heart Burns”. They distributed the album in Germany and did some really great job with the promotion as well. Olaf and the guys were really interested in what’s going on with Vrani Volosa, they got in touch with the band and with Emil from Corvus too with the intention to rerelease our two records so far in several countries in Europe and after small negotiations a licensing deal was signed. I can say we entered a whole different world when we started working together with Einheit – they do their thing really professionally, with love and passion and something good will come out of this for sure!
How was the response to this album so far? How would you describe "Heresy/Epec" to the ones that are not familiar with Vrani Volosa's music?
We had some really great reviews in the press, "Sun” managed to reach #1 in a radio chart, but the most important thing is that the fans reacted really good. You know, the past is a heavy weight, so were the expectations for the new record too. We, the members of Vrani Volosa, took the decision to play what we feel inside, not to be slaves of the past, so we didn’t feel any kind of pressure during the recordings of "Heresy”, but when we entered the stage for first time and had to play the new songs for first time, there was some kind of suspense, and all went good when the fans started celebrating the new music, being a part of the performance.
"Heresy/Ерес” is a musical vortex, it squeezes you step by step, song after song. It’s better if you don’t have any expectations before playing the cd, you just have to leave yourself to be guided by music. It’s a rough sounding record, it’s a straight to face attitude, a direct reference to history and an indirect one to some global problems in our country in the last couple of years. You can find metal, you can find rock, you can find folk.
What are your lyrics about?
Lyrically "Heresy” is not about religion at all, it’s about the decisions we take every day, what directions we take to survive, how do we treat each other, are we human beings or beasts.Some of the lyrics directly refer to the history of Bulgaria, I don’t really mention the actual events, but took some inspiration from them – you should listen to "The Rising Red”, "Sun”, "Heresy”. In "Horizon” you can read a small story about the life of the fishermen, "Fires Don’t Leave Me” is about an old custom, a ritual, during which men and/or women are dancing in the embers without damaging their skin.
What do you all do in your personal lives beside Vrani Volosa? Do you have any other musical projects?
We all have normal jobs, I personally work in a framing atelier. Music and friendship unites us above all. We try not to talk much about our problems, but to have good time together, whether we play music or have some strong drinks. Some of the band members have other musical activities – Petar plays guitar for the brutal death metal band Act Of Grotesque and Kolyo plays bass guitar for the alco-punk legends Alcophilia. Alexander (bass) is a proud father of a son and he really enjoys his time with the baby. Dessislav tries to embrace his spare time taking some rest, because he is an engine-driver and his working schedule is really tough. If I’m not busy with Vrani Volosa I spend my time reading about artists all over the world as I am strongly interested in art in any forms and also collect some memorabilia regarding the underground metal scene of my home town.
What's the next step for the band? Do you plan on releasing a new album soon?
We started already composing songs and till now we have 6 brand new compositions which I enjoy playing really much. We need 3 or 4 songs more for to fulfil the project and probably it will take some time before we are ready for a studio work.
What about live shows, do you plan on playing abroad also?
We play a lot here in Bulgaria, small clubs and halls, as a headliner or as an opening act for bands like Arkona, Pungent Stench and Skyclad. More gigs are in the works, hopefully we’ll play in Germany very soon – if not this year, next year for sure!
How do you see the Bulgarian metal scene at the moment? Any upcoming good bands we should keep an eye on?
The scene is alive here, a plenty of underground concerts are happening. There are so many good bands like The Revenge Project (melodic death metal), Smallman (ethno-alternative), Shambless (pagan, in the veins of Summoning!), Dark Inversion (pagan black metal), Past Redemption (brutal death metal), Act Of Grotesque (brutal death metal), Unhumanity (death metal), Necromancer (sympho-death), Dimholt (black metal), Balkandji (ethno metal) and many, many more!
Thanks again for your answers, I'm looking forward to a new Vrani Volosa release.
Thanx a ton for this interview, brother! Hope to see you soon! Take care! Cheers!
Answers by Hristo
Interviewed by Adrian