Interview were done with all representatives of the band GROZA on 3 December 2022, just before the concert was to be held in , Zagreb, within the tour STORM OVER BALKANS. Interview has been held with the band members: P.G. (Guitars, Vocals); M.S. (Bass); U.A. (Guitars, Vocals) and T.H.Z. (Drums).
Thank you very much for making the time for the interview just before the concert!
P.G.: Thank you, no worries; we have time.
What are the expectations from the concert tonight? You have just started the tour through the Balkans.
P.G.: Fuck yeah! We are very excited to be back! As we also performed here in 2019. We played in the club Attack. It was a great show!
Wow, you have a perfect memory to remember the clubs’ names from years before:)
P.G.: Yes, I remember it vividly as it had a great atmosphere and a very good show. So we couldn’t wait to come back to Zagreb and are looking forward to the show very much so.
Last chance we got to see you live closer to Zagreb was at MetalDays in Slovenia this year.
P.G.: You were at the show?
Yes, it was great, I really love it! How was that experience playing at MetalDays this year?
P.G.: Yes, it was awesome! It was our biggest show up to date. A very special show for me personally. I loved it there.
What are the impressions regarding the experience of playing at the festivals when you compare it to the concerts in clubs?
P.G.: Both are kind of cool in their own way but I would prefer the club of this size as you get closer to the audience. For instance, we played in Paris this summer and it was this really small cellar, like a basement. You could smell the people as they were that close. That’s what really relates to me, that’s when it gets exciting! Playing at big festivals and for big crowds is also fun but there’s so much separation from you and the crowd. It’s a bit different for us as we didn’t play at too many big events. We usually play at small clubs, but definitely both are cool.
You can actually feel the feedback when you play at small clubs?
P.G.: You can feel the heat, you can hear the crowd, it’s just a different energy, you know?
What are the characteristics of playing in post corona times? Are you experiencing more enthusiasm in the audience in this hopefully post-corona time?
P.G.: Yes, especially in Germany; where we come from. People are not fed up with gigs, but there are so many shows that people become kind of spoiled. Before Covid it could be felt that people kinda were more distant and static. Now, after Covid you can feel that everybody is happy to be back at the shows. You could feel the energy shifted a bit.
Do you feel the difference when you compare the crowd attending the shows in the Balkans as opposed to Western countries or North Europe?
P.G.: I think people are a bit more passionate here. But, as I was saying, in Germany and Austria: there are so many shows. I don’t know the exact situation, maybe less bands are coming directly to Zagreb, if they play nearby. So it might be the reason. We like both atmospheres at the concerts, but people do seem to be more passionate at live gigs here.
Very nice to hear! How come you’ve decided to use only the initials? How come you don’t use really mean artist names?
P.G.: It’s all connected to the concept of masks and stuff. Its not about names or faces we want to just put the focus on music. It doesn’t really matter what we do besides music. Its what we get asked a lot. What are names and faces is it just doesn’t matter. For us it’s about the music so we try to eliminate everything that distracts from the music.
On the other side, some would ask themselves: “Are those guys just lazy as it’s easier to just put the hoods on and not have to put corpse paint and stuff”?
P.G.: Hahahah:) Yes, it’s more convenient, I guess. I’ve never done corpse paint, but it’s more of a question for U.A.
M.S.: Corpse paint is better for being able to see, but for after the show it’s better to have the masks, as you just take it off and put it away.
U.A.: Yes, you can’t see shit through the face masks.
T.H.Z.: You don’t have to go to the bathroom to wash your face afterwards and you can spare a lot of time with this. It’s so much easier having just this on our face than corpse paint and all that staff. For a lot of bands it’s a ritual, putting on corpse paint and preparing, but it’s definitely easier for us.
P.G.: It’s obvious we are not the first ones to do it. It wasn’t our idea.
T.H.Z.: A surprise;)
P.G.: Yeah:) But I feel like the hoods and the masks are a kind of “new corpse paint”.
It’s a known fact that you are being compared to Mgła and it’s nice that you don’t mind the fact of frequent comparison. But, do you think in a few years time you might get irritated when being constantly compared to other bands? Also, what is your approach on being original nowadays and having your own unique style? To what extent is it possible to be original nowadays?
P.G.: I think it’s getting harder and harder to find true originality as there are so many bands and so much that has been done already. New genres are combinations of the things that have been already done in the past. We are not claiming to be super- original. It’s not one of our main goals, we are just trying to make the music that really moves us and feels right to play.
T.H.Z.: And we present our personality and what we want to do. In the first record it’s visible that there’s a lot of influence from Mgła and other influences, but the second record already contains a lot of our own input and our own unique styles.
P.G.: For me it’s not so much trying to get away from Mgła, but we just opened up our creativity and it came out that way. I really don’t mind being compared to Mgła, I love the band very much. If people compare us: it’s just fine. I couldn’t care. As long as we enjoy what we do and enjoy the music that we write: I’m perfectly fine.
T.H.Z.: Yes, Mgła music is something we enjoy very much and if we create the same effect- it’s fucking great.
Regarding lyrics and themes of your songs: The second album is more about the inner dark world and spaces. Do you see your music and black metal as means to exit or dive deeper into depression?
P.G.: It’s a good question. It kind of works both ways for me. There are certain kinds of music that can really get you into those kinds of places, especially when you’re not feeling right and you listen to those kinds of bands- it can kind of enhance that. I also listen to a lot of depressing music and it’s also about feeling connected, as somebody is going through the same thing, and you feel kind of understood. That’s it. It can go both ways.
When I listen to your last album it kind of makes me feel it’s all about combating trauma and coming back stronger after traumatic events or loss?
P.G.: Yes, very much so. Most of the lyrics are about a personal issue that I had and it took me to a dark place and creating those lyrics and music kinda got me over it. It was kind of creating a pathway to get out of it. When you write a song on that kind of topic, for me it’s a way to conclude those kinds of things and leave it in the past. Leave them behind.
T.H.Z.: It’s a kind of therapy.
P.G.: Yes! It’s a catharsis. You feel relieved afterwards.
It’s visible and it can be sensed in a very powerful, strong way!
P.G.: You put it in a format, put it out there and it’s out of your system. It helps.
For instance, if you don’t find a closure or conclusion to a trauma that happened it gets really hard.
P.G.: Yes, if you can’t find a conclusion or closure you will be carrying that staff forever and it just gets worse and worse the more you deal with it. I mean the more you do not deal with it for that matter. Creating songs in that vein really helps me personally. Everybody is kind of different, but for me it’s kind of an outlet. It’s basically the meaning of art.
EVERY GIG IS SPECIAL AND A SMALL CELEBRATION
Do you have any rituals before the concert?
T.H.Z.: Lots and lots of cigarettes and beer:)))
You do push-ups with beer?
P.G.: No, we just drink:)) We like arm curls toasting with beer:))))
T.H.Z.: Well, for the first shows we played we’ve done stretching exercises:)))) But to be honest now, we only do the beer and cigarettes:)))) For me as a drummer the first song is a warmup as it’s very slow and I can get into the feeling, and I like that the setup is like that. Otherwise, I would be fucked if it was a fast song;))))
T.H.Z.: We started sharing a bottle of wine on stage because it’s a celebration and it kinda makes it special. We make it into a celebration as every gig is special.
It’s very nice to hear that the enthusiasm is way high, you don’t feel like you must just do one more show and be done with it.
P.G.: I guess when you get to that point: when it’s just one more show and it’s nothing special no more: then we could just stay home. When it stops being special- then we could just quit. As this is very special, not many get to travel across Europe and enjoy this much.
T.H.Z.: We were just talking about it, e.g. if you were just starting playing with your first band in the basement and someone came and tells you that in like 4 or 5 years you’re going to play a show here or do a tour in the Balkans- from it – my “past me” would go nuts. It’s great being here, in the backstage, having beer, doing the interview…we don’t take it for granted for sure. For all of us it’s the biggest therapy we can get, as we all have our private lives and problems at home. This is a way of letting it all get out and especially out with your emotions. I’m bashing the drums like shit as I fucking need it to have this expression and to release its power.
It’s visible that you do it all with passion!
P.G.: Yes! This is what I wanna do with my life. Doing music and enjoying gigs. This fulfils me way more than any regular job could.
At the time you had a solo project: you crated all the content and mixed and produced everything by yourself. Do you have background musical education in that regard or are you self-made master so to speak?
P.G.: No, I’m not a trained musician, it’s all just learning by doing. I never took any musical lessons, I’ve always taught myself. As well as mixing stuff, as when I do it myself, I’m more in the control over the process. It’s easier- as it’s hard to express and explain how something should sound. So, I much rather learn how to do it myself than depend on some external source to which I would have to explain first. That’s my approach to everything, even to the light on the stage and basically everything we do. When you have the drive and the passion you will invest whatever it takes.
T.H.Z.: All of us join in with our own talents regarding sound engineering and all that is to be done around the show. I’m still learning more and more staff.
P.G.: Yes, everybody contributes.
What is the dynamics in the band? How extensive is the contribution of other band members? How do you make peace with wanting to control everything and allowing others to participate?
P.G.: Well, it’s a good question, as it was an issue before. I had to let go, to some degree. At first, I had to get to know the guys a bit more and learn about what they can contribute to the sound and what are their influences. I had to learn how to let go- to get the sound more diverse. It was a best decision. As if I was writing everything by myself it would be a totally different album. I believe all the guys in the band brings in their own personality, personal style, background. It was a shift for sure, but all for the best.
T.H.Z.: Right now, we have a very good level of democracy, and everybody states their opinion and we decide together what we’re going to do.
P.G.: Yes, at this point we have a real band dynamics. It’s not a project in which I decide everything. Now we jam, rehearse in the same room and write songs together, which we didn’t do in the first record. It’s also more exhausting, during the song writing process as you have to discuss and sometimes fight about ideas. Its easier if you do it all by yourself. But than again, in that case you don’t have external influences from the other guys. So I prefer it having a group dynamics. It shows in the last album where diversity of sound is visible.
You live close by, can you meet and play together?
P.G.: Yes, some are closer, some not so much but it’s all about priorities, if you want to make it happen: you’ll find a way.
T.H.Z.: We also meet on weekends and make the best out of it.
Is there any chance you will do any songs with singing in German?
P.G.: Actually a good question. Funny you should ask as we are working on new material and we are considering doing some songs in German as I was a guest vocal for Karg ’s new record. Karg is one of mine absolute favourites right now. During this collaboration with Karg- I’ve felt a different connection to the content and it’s different when you sing in your own language. That’s why we might try to have it on a new record as well. We will consider it as we are all about experimenting and trying out new ways.
M.S.: Karg is a perfect example of how good it sounds and it adds up to the authenticity.
P.G.: Yes it’s a different approach. You can feel if someone kinda pours their heart out in a song and does it in their native language. You’re also kinda limited when you don’t sing in your native language. A whole different approach.
There are also ups and downs regarding the international career…
P.G.: Yeah of course, but it’s whatever the song calls for. If it feels right- I don’t think about how many people will connect to it, as those who want to know what the song is about: he’s gonna translate it.
T.H.Z.: It’s all about the music, if it feels right- we don’t think about the rest.
What’s your ambition in terms of dream concert or festival wise? Like something you put on a bucket list, a band you want to share a stage with? You already played with Mgła, but what other band or venue is a must you want to meet and play with?
T.H.Z.: Funny you should ask as it was my dream from a very young age to play at Summer Breeze Festival in Germany. And now it’s happening as we are going to play there next summer!
P.G.: Same with me as I kinda grew up with that festival. But also: we are doing a tour with Harakiri for the Sky next year and I really do admire the band and am looking very much forward to it.
Tour RITUALS MMXXII & MMXXIII started in March 22 and will last until February 23. Is it exhausting?
P.G.: Yes it is, it’s all about discipline and being professional. I mean you can party every night, as we did before but the results will not be great.
T.H.Z.: But now we don’t overdo it, as the main thing is being on stage and doing our best.
P.G.: It’s all about the shows, as you can’t afford to get crazy every night as the performance mustn’t suffer. You have to be professional enough to say- this is enough. You want to give the fans the best show you’ve got, so we try to control ourselves. We make music a priority.
So the tour dates are known for the future and apart from that: what are the other plans for the future?
P.G.: We’re getting back to writing again, so we will not have extensive shows next year- as we want to write and create and hopefully finish the record next year.
And for the last question: is there an important message you want to share or a question you like to be asked?
P.G.: It’s all about doing what you love and I don’t care what people think. Of course I love people coming to the shows, but also if no one cared I would be still doing this. I don’t think about being remembered by something, I just do what I love.
So: its: no compromises?
T.H.Z.: Yes. The best thing is playing in a band you like, releasing your inner anger and having fun in the end.
P.G.: Art is a wrong place for compromises. When art compromises: it’s shit.
Thank you once again!
P.G.: You’re welcome:)
Interview done by: Kristina Hećimović, PH-Pit