Ever since I heard the demo from Slovenia’s Underground, I wanted to do an interview with the band. In a year were many of the most impressive releases have come from demo acts, the guys managed to stand out with their honest and straight in you face heavy metal-apporach.
Even though it took some time to get this piece togheter, and the band really didn’t go as in depth as I hoped for, there is not a lot of information in English to be found on this band, so here we go…By the way, all the answers (except for where indicated) are done by the band together. According to my information, Underground was formed in the spring of 2013. How did it happen and what were your ambitions for the band from the start?
– Correct, the spring of 2013 was the official start of the band Underground. It all happened, when our guitarist Jernej and our bassist met the singer, Mario. We were still in our previous band (Motorfire) and found out that we had common interest in music even after we left Motorfire, so we decided, that we’re going to create a new band. Of course all bands from the start are having dreams about playing on big stages and in front of thousands of people, but you have to work very, very hard to achieve that. Basically, we just wanted to create some old school heavy metal on our way.
Who came up with the name for the band? I guess you can say that you are an underground metal band, but Underground is still a pretty unusual band name.
– We were deciding between different names, such as Horror and Wasted and so on, but then one day, when we were practicing, our bassist David said:” “What about Underground?”. And then we all agreed, because we all liked the idea. We don’t know any other metal band with that name either.
Since three members have been in Motorfire, my first thought was that Underground was formed as a result of some of these guys leaving Motorfire . My guess is that since you had a drummer named Amadej Lampe for a while, Aleks left Motorfire a bit later than Jernej and David. Were any of you involved in writing the material that ended up on Motorfire’s debut album “Rising Fire”
– Exactly, you are right, we didn’t agree with the leading and ideas inside the band and we wanted to express our own ideas too, which simply wasn’t possible there. Thanks again to Amadej, that helped us to start the band, it was really hard to get the drummer. We were searching for him for like foour months, but in the end it showed, that he wasn’t very experienced and also he didn’t show a lot of interest in the band. In fact we think that he also quit drumming now. We had a session drummer for a few gigs, but then one day, Aleks contacted us, and said, that he loved our songs, and he wanted to come to play in Underground. Actually Aleks recorded the drums on the “Rising Fire”, so he took care only for the drums.
Your singer, Mario is also the new singer in Vigilance, which at the moment must be considered a more known band compared to Underground. As I believe he was in Underground first, and then joined Vigilance later, I was wondering if the rest of the guys had any problems with this? Will it be possible for Mario to do both bands in the future?
– Mario is no longer the lead vocalist of Vigilance. The band has existed for longer than Underground, so it’s only logical that they are more known than we are. About one month ago Mario left the band and now their guitarist Gilian is doing the vocals, as he was in the beginning.
For a while you had a guitarist name Rok Kallister in the band. Was he a part of the original lineup meaning that you have always had five members and two guitarists? As he is now a member of Vigilance, why did he leave Underground? Where did you find your “new” guitarist Sani?
– Yes, Rok was the part of original lineup, actually we believe this is the basic of heavy metal , two guitars are fullfiling each other with rhythm, harmonies and solos. Actually, he and Mario were invited to Vigilance, and he said he will give priorities to them, but that he could still play for us, something we couldn’t accept. We knew Sani from the local concerts, and we knew that he’s been playing guitar for a long time, so at one gig, our guitarist Jernej came to him and asked him, if he wanted to become the new guitar player. He’s never been in a band before, so he was very happy.
I noticed that at least couple of the band members are in their early twenties, are all members of the same age? There seem to be some new Slovenian heavy metal bands coming through lately, is this mostly due to a new generation of metal musicians growing up, or are there perhaps other reasons?
– Yes, but this is just coincidence. Our oldest member is our bassist, David and the youngest is Sani. I guess it’s the new generation of metal musicians growing up.
The demo was released about a year after the band was formed, in April 2014. What did you do in the year from 2013 till 2014 apart from writing and recording the three tracks?
– First as first, it was very hard to find the members, we had a lot problems with the drummer, because, he never had time to record, and also he didn’t have much experience. Therefore we wanted a better drummer to record the demo, so it would sound properly, in the end it was worth waiting. There were also some financial problems, as you know, these days aren’t really good for young metal bands.
How many copies of the demo have you been able to sell? Most of them to Slovenia or to other parts of Europe?
– Till now around 60 I believe, surprisingly, most of them went to other countries like Greece, England, Brazil and Poland, but of course also to Slovenia, we also sold some copies at our gigs.
I was a bit disappointed by the packaging, or the lack of packaging on the demo-CD. Why have you kept it so basic (just a CD-r and no cover?) Did you perhaps originally just plan to release it digitally?
– As we said before, we had a lot of financial problems, and we also didn’t get paid for some of the concerts we did, not even to cover our travel expences. We wanted to keep it simple. What does it help if you have nice cover and everything, if your music sucks? We are now saving up money for the recording of the album.
What are your ambitions with the demo-CD? To spread the name of the band and the music around, or to secure a deal for further releases.
– We want to spread the demo all over the world, so people can hear about us, now we have also made a re-release.
Have you been approached by labels that want to release the demo either on vinyl or as a more professionally printed CD-version?
– We were approached by mostly smaller labels, but first we want to release an album, and then we will see what we’ll do.
I guess Metal Tank, who in addition to Motorfire and Vigilance also has been releasing interesting stuff from Panikk and Thraw, would be interested in Underground. Do you already have an agreement in place with this label, or are you looking for an international label with better promotion and distribution?
– They were in contact with us, but as we said, first we want to release an album, and than we will see, but I guess our hope is that we get approached by an international label.
Do you have one or perhaps a couple of songwriters in Underground, or are all songs a band effort?
– Actually we are all giving ideas and creating the songs.
The song “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” has to be inspired by the movie. What are your relationship to this movie? Why do you think so many heavy metal band have been inspired by horror movies throughout the years? Will movies of this kind continue to be a source of inspiration for Underground?
– Yes, this movie is a true classic. but of course the original one from ‘74, when it was still spooky, nowadays these new movies are rather funny, more than anything else. Horror presents evilness, devil, death so thats pretty heavy metal to us.. not necesarilly movies but horror oriented inspiration for sure.
“Burn In Fire” is one of the best heavy metal songs I’ve heard this year. Great stuff! Tell me how this song came to life, from the first idea till the finished song.
– The idea was to create something that hit you right from the beginning and doesn’t let you go till the end. That’s how “Burn In Fire” came to life. First Mario wrote the music with Jernej’s help, and then he wrote the lyrics. It’s a catchy and powerful speed or heavy metal song that represents everything that Underground is about.
The vocals in this song are very, very high. I must say Mario has an impressive range. Has he sung in bands before? What are his idols, both as studio singers and when it comes to stage presence? Singer Mario answers this one himself:
– Well thank you! Yes I sang in an alternative band before, but I wasn’t satisfied with the music we were making, as my biggest wish ever was to sing in a heavy metal band. My biggest idol would have to be King Diamond. His mesmerizing style of singing inspired me in so many ways and always puts me in a trance. Rob Halford and Dio are also great heroes of mine…
I hear a lot of US metal in your sound, especially in the song “Burn In Fire”. Would you name the US scene as a big source of inspiration for you? If, so which bands? On the other hand, I guess there are probably also some bands from Europe and perhaps also some old ones from Slovenia that inspired you?
– Yeah, there’s a lot of inspiration in bands from USA, but the inspiration comes from Europe too. We all listen to many different bands and many different styles of music so for our own music we take small parts of other bands and build something new. As you can probably hear, main inspiration are bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica and Mercyful Fate. But we also like and support some younger bands that already constructed their road to success, Metalsteel from Slovenia is one example.
I guess you probably have more songs ready than the three you recorded for the demo. What can you tell me about the material you have so far? Are the songs similar to those on the demo, or are you trying to come up with diverse material both in terms of songwriting and arrangements?
– You are right. We have some more material. Some of it was already played live on some gigs. The song “House Of The Devil” is not so different but not too similar either. It has alot of styles in it. From thrash to heavy, from speed metal to slower stuff.
When it comes to recording, what is next for the band? Do you plan to do another demo, an EP or a full length?
– We don’t have money for demos and EPs. We decided that we will save money from our gigs and when we have ten or more songs, we will lock ourselves in the studio, record and give birth to a full length CD!
Earlier today, the band Terminal came to my attention. This is the project of Tobias Lindkvist from Sweden’s Enforcer paying tribute to eighties heavy metal from the European communist block, and the lyrics are in Slovenian. More info here: http://ljudkassett.bandcamp.com/album/heavy-metal-lokomotiva As Slovenians, what are your thoughts on this release on the whole concept behind it?
– We have listened to it, and we believe it’s impressive. Also Slovenian is a very difficult language and they’ve made very good job!