Τετάρτη, 13 Νοεμβρίου 2013

Interview from Epizod

Epizod is one of the first heavy metal bands of Bulgaria.With a career lasting 25 year  and many albums Epizod continues to create great songs and play lives in all their country!In this interview Vasil Belezhkov , guitarist of the band and friend, says many things about band and himself.

ML : This is the 25th autumn of the band . Tell us something about this event. What is your band preparing for that?

VB : Every anniversary is great moment to celebrate as well as to think about what you've achieved and where you want to be in the future. We 'celebrate' our 25th anniversary with club concerts all over the country and we'll continue to do it till the summer of 2014 when we are planning a concert in 2 days. It will be in the nature near Sofia - there is a lake, a forest, the people may come with their tents and families... We hope that our colleagues from other Bulgarian rock and metal bands will accept our invitation to take part in this fest. That's all about the celebrations for now. If we talk about the achievements of the band - there are 11 studio albums, 4 DVDs, thousands of concerts, recognition of our band's work by foreign media like RAI (Italy) and BBC (UK)... The heritage of the band includes lyrics by Bulgarian and foreign classical poets, Bulgarian folklore and history, orthodox church singing and all of this mixed with heavy metal. As an admirer of our folklore, literature and history personally I am very proud to be a small piece of it.

ML : In 2012 the "My Prayer" album was released.Tell us something about this album.

VB : The album 'My prayer' was released in October 2013 and it includes 10 songs which represent all these typical for EPIZOD musical things I mentioned before. The title song is by the self-titled poem by the Bulgarian national poet Hristo Botev and it begins with orthodox choir intro. The next song is my first (and only for now) composition for the band where I tried to keep the traditions mixing the typical folklore rhytm of 11/8 with the lyrics by Stefan Stambolov (well known as prime minister and revolutioner from 19th century but almost unknown as a poet) and it's called 'Father's advice'. The 3rd and 5th songs are traditional folkore songs sung by folklore guest singers (Daniela Velichkova and Iliya Lukov respectively) and arranged with heavy metal riffs and Bulgarian folklore instruments: in #3 'A turtle-dove is cooing' my younger brother plays kaval and there is also a violin by Nikola Vaklinov and in #5 'Elena, young maid' I play tambura. The 4th song is based on the historical events at the end of 7th c. and is called 'Emperor'. The emperor is Constantin IV Pogonat and he sings about his intentions to expel a 'tribe of barbarians' (the Bulgarian people of khan Asparuh) from the lands of the Eastern Roman Empire. The lyrics are by Radko Radkov (1940-2009) and the music like the most of our band's songs is by Simeon Hristov. Here participates Zvezdi Keremidchiev from the Bulgarian metal band 'Ahat'. There are other 5 songs about these events in the previous 3 albums of EPIZOD. The 6th song is 'I don't like' with lyrics by the great Russian poet and actor Vladimir Visotsky and after recording it we found how suitable is the metal music to his message. The 7th song is 'Repentance' and it's our Bulgarian version of the song "И капает кровь" ('And a blood is dripping') by the Russian rock band 'AVGUST' who celebrate their 30th anniversary. They will release an album of their songs performed by various bands as a tribute to them and EPIZOD is one of the many. Pavel Kolesnik, singer and composer of 'AVGUST' gave us his 'blessing' to include the song also in our album. The 8th song is 'Winter evening' on lyrics by another one great Russian poet - Alexander Pushkin. This poem is well known by every Russian child in their schools and Pushkin dedicated it to his nurse-maid who revealed to him during his childhood years the wonder world of the traditional Russian folklore tales. The 9th song is 'Here I was born' with music and lyrics by Simeon Hristov and it's about the love to the Motherland and that each stone suits best at its own place. I told Moni (S.Hristov) that the story about the song reminds me about 'Nothing else matters' by Metallica because James Hetfield told to the other 3 guys in their band he wrote a new song which he didn't think it was suitable for the 'black' album. Now about a year later, 'Here I was born' is probably the most liked by the public song from our newest album. It's acoustic ballad and I had the pleasure to record a lot of classical guitars in it. The last song in the album is 'I pray for mercy' by the French poet from 15th c. Francois Villon. It's some kind of returning to the old traditions of the band who began in 1988 exactly with songs based on his lyrics. As a malcontent in his life, the hidden message in this 'prayer' by Villon is actually something like 'Forgive me but I don't give a f*** to you, and to you, and to you...

ML : Is there any video clip for this album?

VB : There are concert video clips on the songs from 'My prayer' and you can watch them here, in our official youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4ERQkhQqN8&list=PL8GgQ6xTAfTtluLBg_3aZ_FvbiF0QxyHl or just type 'EPIZOD My prayer playlist' in the search menu and you'll see the same.

ML : You are in the band since 2009. What is the feeling to work with one of the first metal bands in Bulgaria?

VB : It's honour, pleasure, responsibility,... When I was still a teenager (it was before EPIZOD's most known album 'The Bulgarian God'), I've dreamt to have a rock band which sings about the great historical events and which includes Bulgarian folklore elements in the rock and metal music. When I heard some songs by EPIZOD, I told to myself that I wanted something similar but a bit better in musical terms (you know - every teenager guitarist thinks that the virtuosity is the most important). And so when in April 2009 my guitar teacher Tsvetan Nedyalkov from the National Music Academy called me that EPIZOD are searching for a guest guitarist to cover their next concerts I told to myself that God obviously has very interesting sense of humor, something like: be careful of what you wish for because it may came true. Of course during my time with the band I learned (and I'm still learning) a lot of things about life outside the music and I propose our drummer would say the same. Because of him I'm not the youngest person in the band anymore and he's with us almost 3 years already. Actually one of the most interesting things in the band at the moment is exactly this balance between the two older members (Moni, the bassist and composer and the long-serving singer Emil Chendov) and both of us with Deyan Aleksandrov, the drummer. They have their life experience as an advantage while we carry the spirit of our younger generation. They are the guys 'from the street' who can do different things outside music while we are the virtuosos from the 'machine factories' (music schools, etc.) who devoted our lives to our instruments from our childhood. It helps us to see every situation from different points of view... and to find the funny side even of the most hopeless moments.As regards the responsibility - there are young guitarists in the different Bulgarian cities who support EPIZOD and who often chat to me via Facebook about the things which are of interest to them. I always strive to explain them that I just share my own opinion and I'm not 'The one and only ultimate truth'. All these chats keep me down to the ground and remind me where I was at their age. And something else - these days Moni told to me and Deyan that if at the begining (when each of us joined the band) the public of EPIZOD just 'accepted' us now the public even 'love' us. This is actualy the most precious thing and our responsibility is to keep it for the future.

ML : Bulgaria has some great bands like Epizod,Ahat,Impulse and many others.Tell us some things about metal in Bulgaria?

VB : Unfortunately there are things about the life of the Bulgarian metal scene I'm not proud of. A lot of these great bands don't produce constantly new songs and some of them even don't exist at the moment. In result there are a lot of so called 'tribute' or cover bands which perform someone else’s songs instead of creating their own. And the worst thing is that the so called 'organizers' of the rock events in Bulgaria put the two different kinds of bands on equal base which is completely wrong. You cannot compare Lionel Messi to Sir Alex Ferguson because they are in different categories. But as we say in Bulgaria: 'Don't blame who eat the banitsa (a kind of traditional paste meal) but who gave it to him'. At all there are no rules and if there are any nobody strives to observe them. As long as the things are in this way I don't see how Bulgaria will produce a rock band from the world level of 'Firewind' for example.

ML : Are Epizod preparing new songs for the next album?

VB : We still don't work on our 12th album but we recorded an album with some of our songs on Russian language and there are internet radios which broadcast them. It's also called 'My prayer' and includes 4-5 of our newest songs as well as 4-5 older songs and an instrumental track called '100 bagpipes' which is a traditional folk tune from the Rodopi region. The Russian public accepts them relatively well and probably we'll do another one later. Meanwhile we are working on something for our non-Bulgarian supporters and we hope to have the final result put on the table at the end of this year so we'll be able to announce it to you in another one interview...

ML : Vasil, you also work on something out of the band. Tell us more about this.

VB : I consistently work on my instrumental music outside the band which I usually send to composition competitions. The results from this year are:

- 2nd prize from the 'Diko Iliev' composition competition in Montana (Bulgaria) for new wind orchestra 'horo' (ring-dance) work (1st prize wasn't awarded in the same category); I wrote a work based on a dance from the Thrace region called 'The three times';

- And 'encouraging' prize (this time I was outside 'top 3') from the composition competition 'New Bulgarian foklore music in 7/8' in Chepelare. Here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsyPfpDvfkc you can watch the live performance of my 'Smeseno horo' (or 'Mixed ring-dance' because of its time signatures) together with the chamber orchestra of the 'Philip Koutev' National folklore ensemble conducted by Georgi Andreev.

ML : Something to add?

VB : These are the news about our band for now but we hope to add more very soon!

ML : A message for the Music Legacy readers.

VB : Be healthy, be happy, do the best of you to achieve your dreams! All the best wishes from Bulgaria!

In this point we thank Vasil for this great and thorough interview.We wish to him and his band the best!

Leon Sgourdas

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