Interview with Florin Tibu, guitar player, manager and composer of the band Bucovina.

Hello Florin, best regards from the Czech Republic! We do know that you are „spirit“ of Bucovina, the band you are member of. Could you introduce us into your art? What is the spirit of Bucovina and its style? What is your position there?

Well, my position is rather hard to describe. Let’s say that I do a lot of stuff for this band, haha. From writing music and lyrics to booking and management, visual concepts and all, down to working with my bandmates to polish up each aspect of our sound.

As far as style goes, that’s an even harder one. It’s easy to attach a label but often these labels are dead wrong. We are a metal band, as sarcastic this may sound. If we were to add some detail, I’d rather go for a heavy metal band, albeit a heavy metal sound with strong folkmetal and blackmetal infusions. Maybe that’s why I created the „Folc Hevi Blec“ label we’ve been marketing for a couple of years already.

Still, we are more interested in writing good music for strong shows than trying to fit a certain category. One thing you can bet on is that we’re trying to avoid that „polkametal“ stuff as much as possible.

Bucovina is getting pretty famous in Romania and recently is starting to be popular also in Germany. Can you tell us more about some experience you made on your way to succeed? How is your history?

Well, it looks like 15 years of stubbornness and sacrifice might be one of the recipes that work. We  stayed as far from compromise as possible and always did what we loved and saw fit for us. While others try to please everybody and sound like band X or band Y, we just made the music we felt like making and enjoy it even more when people started enjoying it.

We also made a ton of sacrifices in our personal lives, ranging from never going on a holiday like usual people do to divorces and shit like this. Making music and playing live is not at all easy. And seeing that more and more people from across Europe and South America (we toured there) start to look for us playing live in their countries is the proof that tells us we are on the right path.

You certainly had some releases. Please tell us something more about them. How many records do you have, how old are they and how is the progress in your music? Which release initiated the big national success of Bucovina und which its qualities were crucial in your opinion?

Our first album Ceasul Aducerii-Aminte (2006) was the one that sparkled interest in our music. It had a raw sound, but nevertheless, people instantly recognized it as being music that came from the heart. Then we started working with the amazing Dan Swano (mixing and mastering) and released the Duh EP (2010), which was acclaimed in Romania among the first five influential rock/metal records of all time. We never saw that one coming, but again, it was a proof that what we were doing was right.

Sub Stele came out in 2013 and also received a warm welcome, even though we had a slightly more melancholic, romanticist sound and vision. Finally, Nestramutat (2015) is our most recent album, and the most schizoid one. We just let our minds wander wherever they wanted. Funny thing, the album sold very well, probably because of our growing name. We are already working on writing songs for the 2018 album but it’s way too soon to talk about it.

When did Bucovina play abroad for the first time? In what state? How were the subsequent Bucovina´s abroad gigs? Which year did you conquer Germany/Western Europe, at which venue, and how was your impression from it?

I guess our first show abroad was in Moldavia, headlining a metal festival, but I just can’t remember the year right now; 2008-2009…just maybe. We then played at Wacken in 2011, also I guess we did Carpathian Alliance in the Ukraine that year. Honestly, we haven’t been playing too much abroad, and that’s why seeing so many people enjoying our music without us having played there is even greater.

Funny thing, we met people in Brazil that knew the lyrics to some of our songs. Well, that is really fucked up, in a good way, of course. It’s going to be this year when we will literally charge into the Western Europe, with shows in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Austria and the UK. I’d rather say that 2017 is a Moment Zero –  we are late bloomers, I guess, hahahah!

You are organizing your own events in Romania. How do they usually look like? What everything needs to be organized and how is the response of your public there?

We have a tremendous following here, and it never ceases to amaze me, even though this has been happening for 4-5 years now. We get to see parents who are about our age who bring their kids to see us play live. Seeing 4-yo children wearing ear protection at our shows is almost natural. Like it’s meeting guys that are 60 or so, coming to shake our hands.

We play from club concerts with 100 people to large venues accommodating 2000 people, and they are full. There was a time when festival organizers asked us to play in their debut edition because they knew we had a very strong presence on the stage and people would flock to headbang with us. We never let anyone down on these shows.

Since there are no two shows alike, I’d just say that the one things that is a common attribute of all Bucovina gigs is the energy we convey.

What about you? What does your band mean to you, of which importance is it on your life path?

Well, Bcovina IS my life. Metal and playing metal has been a very important part of my life since 1992, so it’s embedded in me. Recently I decided to only work on Bucovina, while keeping some small freelance writing as a side job. The results are expected in a couple of years, so I can say that now Bucovina is a VERY important part of my life. The same goes for the rest of the guys with one exception, Luparul, who is also an arts teacher.

What would you advice to the bands who are searching their unique way to the greater fame? What to focus on? 🙂

I don’t have a recipe for becoming famous. We did not start the band to become famous. In a way, it’s like that funny t-shirt that reads “I don’t play guitar because I’m good at it. I play guitar because I enjoy this.” If anyone starts out a band in order to become a rockstar, I’d say that the whole purpose of the band is shit. That’s not music, it’s shit. And people WILL, sooner or later (and preferably sooner) realize this and discard those guys.

If, on the other hand, someone feels like doing the music they feel like, I can only wish them to be strong, stubborn and prepare to work harder than they imagine. Making music is not easy, save for that shit I mentioned earlier. Be ready to push your own limits and, with a dab of luck, you might just make it big.

In several weeks, Bucovina will perform in Czech Republic for the first time, as a special guest at the Grimner tour in Prague. Could you tell us more about this way into heart of Europe? What will be your next close gigs in this area? Are you looking forward to this? What are your expectations and goals, and next plans for touring?

We are very glad to add so many new countries to the list this year, and the Czech Republic is next in line. After the show in Pragu we’ll be heading for the Dark Troll Festival in Germany. For the autumn we’ also have a 7-gig tour from august 27th to September 3rd, starting with a Romanian festival, the Magura Wave, and then carrying onto Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, Bielsko-Biala, Erfurt, Berlin and again Prague. Also we’ll be in the UK in October, with some shows in London, Brighton, Birmingham and Nottingham.

As for the expectations, we are looking forward to meeting as many new guys as possible and letting them know about our music. After the “first contact” things will certainly roll our even better, so we’ll be prepared for more. Also, we’re already planning some touring with Rotting Christ in 2018 and another South American tour, only this time we’re not only going to Brazil. We have Argentina, Brazil, Chile and more on the list.

How is it to go touring Europe from Romania, from practical perspective? I was told that going to Romania, e.g. Bucharest, means hours and hours of serpents in unending wonderful highlands 🙂 brutal slopes down, you see the bottoms from inside your car etc. It would be nice to describe this aspect to the ppl so that they can even more appreciate Romanian bands coming here 🙂

Some of the roads are wonderful and truly amazing, but when you’re on the run, the lack of proper highways plays a major role in getting tired and exposing to unnecessary risks. One needs to be a good, enduring driver, who enjoys the road and always stays on the safe side.

We almost crashed twice and on one of those occasions it was only my father’s teachings about how to drive in extreme conditions that saved us otherwise we’d have been all dead.

Beacause of a speeding truck passing another one right in front of us… – it would’ve literally blown us and the van to smithereens. I am certain that we wouldn’t have even remained in one piece, the corpses. It wasa split second… I barely had time to become scared. Got a firm hold of the wheel, took the van’s right side wheels off the road, to the grass and gravel shoulder, keeping an eye as to how close we were to the concrete pillars of the small bridges in front of people’s houses and courtyards. I managed to squeeze between the truck and those concrete bridges – some 20 cm on the right, but the left side was fucking insane. You know 18 wheelers and those straps that are tied down to the chassis to ceep the cover over the trailer? Well, imagine that the loose ends of those straps brushed against our van’s left side mirror. I stopped the car. The first thing coming in my mind was to turn around, chase the trucker, stop him and beat him to a senseless pulp. Luparul, who was in the back, broke the silence: “Fuck my life, fuck everything, guys, open up that vodka bottle, i need to drink something. i thought we were all dead.”

Amazing Romanian folk metal band An Theos played in Czech republic just few days ago. Do you know them personally? Do you like their art? Do you collaborate somehow together or meet each other at the gigs? Which other Romanian bands would you recommend to the international fans?

We played with them on several occasions in festivals. They are more deeply rooted in the folk sound than us, but it looks like people really enjoy this. Even more, seeing them play abroad makes us happy as Romanians; this means that there is more to this scene than meets the eye.

Other bands you should check out are Dara, Untold Faith, Katara, Bucium, Dor De Duh, even though not all of them are on the folk-ish side of metal.

An Theos brought the memorial flag of Colectiv tragedy to the Czech venues, to pay tribute to their friends who are not with them anymore. These moments were very emotional. How did the Colectiv tragedy affect your band, Bucovina? How do you perceive the tragedy and all the impacts of it on situation in your country and in your community, from your point of view? (I am sorry to ask, we want to make people aware of what happened to you, which is best to do from personal testimonies). 

The blaze at the Club Colectiv killed Adrian Rugina, one of Bucovina’s oldest and best friends, former drummer of band Bucium and one of the best show producers in the country. When you get to work with names ranging from Kylie Minogue and Madonna to Dark Funeral and Metallica, this should say quite enough. Unfortunately he was too much of a hero that night, reportedly entering the club several times to save other metalheads from the blaze. The fumes made their grim move and Rugina would not make it. Still, he lives in our hearts. We even wrote a song to honor his memory, our latest single called Asteapta-ma Dincolo (de Moarte).

I can’t comment on this too much because I am not a prosecutor, judge or attorney, but I do hope that those responsible will pay. Sadly, until then (and even after) all that remains are memories of lost friends, daughters, sons, parents, wrecked families and all.

So I will just add that the Romanian government and state are (mostly) a bunch of fuckheads that do nothing to make a significant change. Sometimes I just wish that among the 64 people who lost their lives after Colectiv was the son or daughter of one of these fucktards. We have witnessed things changing only after the offspring of a politician got it badly before. But for now, these are only empty words.

What fucks my mind really bad is that Romania is now “more catholic than the Pope” when it comes to safety rules. If only the pricks that enforce the new law would be filmed in their fancy clubs that are run without proper papers…

Now it´s the time to invite our fans to your first Prague concert! Show yourself 😉

Well guys, make sure you don’t miss our show in Prague on May 26. If it’s “folc hevi blec energy” you’re looking after, come get your overdose! You’ll be hooked!

Thank you for your time! See you soon in Nová Chmelnice! 🙂

Autor: Petra Jadrna (Cruadalach)

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Interview with Florin Tibu, guitar player, manager and composer of the band Bucovina.

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