Interview with band Kashgar from Kyrgyzstan is here!
1) Hey, guys. Before we start our interview, could you please introduce yourselves and your band Kashgar?
Blauth: The howl of the Albarsty from the heart of Central Asia. The thrumming clatter of horses hooves beating mountain passes.
Ars: That was our shout/yell/cry/bawl/vociferate /drink-to-death/sonic-abuse Master. I’m the local indigestible noise daemon. And there’s our silent skulking baSStard, Warg – somewhere around. We also currently own an evil goblin drum-machine named Alex, and a handful of second guitarists, which we already lost hope to identify. But all of them can ride a unicycle while juggling with three guitars and throwing knives in the audience. This fiendish circus is called Kashgar and is based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
2) You are from Central Asia, and I only know of one band from where you come from, folk metallers Ulyatu from Kazakhstan. What does the local metal scene look like and how many rock clubs are there in the capital, Bishkek?
Blauth: Only one rock club here in Bishkek – Zeppelin. They’ve been supporting us for a long time, and we greatly appreciate it. I’ve just noticed my colleague’s answers; it seems that we’re doing a different type of interview here. Reminds me of some of Master’s Hammer’s more piss-take ones. I’m not going to say much from here out.
Ars: A good friend of mine plays drums in Ulytau. He’s from Bishkek and he also played in one of my former bands, so I know them too, though I wouldn’t call them metallers. There are quite a few metal bands in Kazakhstan, like Zarraza, Zero Void or Sevensins, which work hard to revitalize the metal movement there. It’s quite stagnant in Kyrgyzstan though – much have changed since late 90’s, when underground metal scene was quite big here. Up until early 00’s we had 3 rock-clubs, many good bands like Necronomicon, Neocrima, Odyn’s Nocturnal North, Extremistic Negative Clan, Infernus, Ellodia (Warg and Alex played in some of those). You might have heard of Darkestrah, they were formed in Bishkek in 99 and then moved to Germany to become the world-known pagan black metal band. I actually had a nice conversation with Asbath (their main guy) the other night, we discussed the possibilities to make some acts together. They’ll do a couple of shows in the Czech Republic soon. However, I think we’re the only active metal band in Kyrgyzstan now. There are a couple of death-core and metal-core bands, and that’s it. We’re now trying to improve the situation by organizing regular shows and popularizing metal music, as well as cooperating with several enthusiasts like underground.kg and guys from Shahid. But it’ll surely take some time to raise a decent extreme music audience again.
3) Back to your band. I found a couple of explanations of what Kashgar means. Why did you choose this name and were there any other working names of the band before you settled with Kashgar?
Blauth: It’s a wild river valley in the south of the country which flows down to the ancient Uighur city of Kashgar out in the deserts of Xinjiang. On our side of the border it’s allegedly spectacular. Ars has been there. It’s home to a sizeable population of snow leopards and wolves; a place of imagination.
Ars: Astonishing place indeed. There were a couple of other variants, but when Warg came up with Kashgar – we all agreed instantly. Also, I’d say the city of Kashgar for us is as exotic and unknown as the city of Bishkek for you, though Uighur culture is very close to Kyrgyz.
4) You state at your website that you play “proper metal”. Can you explain what this genre means to you?
Blauth: Bollocks to modern metal.
Ars: It’s not a genre, it’s a statement. We got tired of all the soulless and meaningless white noise out there that is for some reason called “metal” and realized that if we want to do something about it – we have to create something that satisfies ourselves and our definition of metal. And that’s how we gathered and started to write some proper old-school extreme music. The goal is to play music that we’d actually listen to – not due to some temporary fashion, or commerce, or silly, widely abused mainstream poses… But because it’s an honest, sincere, energetic, experimental, yet classics-based mixture of physic anger and sonic aggression. That’s what proper metal should be about.
Warg: (inarticulate mooing while scratching his head)
5) There are five members in the band. Have you had the same line-up since Kashgar was formed? And is it the only band for the musicians involved in Kashgar?
Ars: Blauth, Warg and me are the core of the band from the beginning. It’s a real pain in the ass to find a stable line-up for metal band in Bishkek, so we have had a whole harem of drummers and second guitarists during this two years. A month ago I was almost sure that we finally got a stable guitarist, but it was just another fata morgana. We ended up playing with Asad again (he was on some of the album tracks) – he’s a bright character on stage, we’ll see how it goes. We all had lots of different bands in the past. Now it’s only me an Asad who play in other bands, the rest are too busy with their jobs. I have an experimental “heavy disco-folk” side-project named Bizonders, where I do vocals and guitars. Asad recently formed a hard-rock band Purple King.
6) Ars, you play the guitar, and Blauth does the vocals. When did you guys start with making music? Did you have any role models when you started playing?
Ars: Don’t forget Warg with his Modulus 6-string bass, he is actually the only professionally educated musician in the band. We both started to play in mid-90’s, and Warg even studied in National Conservatoire. We formed Kashgar in November 2014 and of course we knew who we are and what we’re going to do. Except for Blauth, who wanted to do the vocals, but ended up playing drums for quite some time. Unfortunately he couldn’t both run around the stage with a whip and skull, terrifying people and screaming at the audience – and play drums at the same time, so we finally had to find a drummer. By the way, Blauth, I always wanted to ask you – did you use the same approach when you sang opera in Carnegie Hall?
Blauth: Hahahaha, I don’t even remember that I told you about that. Carnegie was a one-off gig.
Warg: yeahhh… well… What was the question again?
7) Your debut album is a fantastic effort! How long have you been working on it and who is the musical mastermind in your band?
Ars: Thank you, Šteffi. It took us more than half a year to produce the album, due to various circumstances and a long mixing process. And most of the songs were already written before we started the recording. You see, when you work in your own studio, it’s hard to keep up with schedule. Because you don’t pay for the exact amount of studio time and there’s no actual strict schedule. I’m glad that we had to borrow some recording equipment for a short period of time, otherwise it could continue for ages. But on the other hand we saved a lot of money and had a possibility to work out lots of moments in songs and the sound itself, without much pressure and hurry. I only regret that we had to really hurry with the recording of the drums each time. Finally, when we were satisfied with the result, the mix was sent to Achilleas Kalantzis of Varathron and Crown Audio and he stem-mastered the files, greatly improving the sound. As for the mastermind… Each of us brings in his ideas and we usually work on the songs together, so it’s hard to tell who was the main writer in the end. Me and Warg are the main riff-writers, our former guitarist Mike Cole brought some ideas too. Blauth wrote all the drums. He has his own “super-vision” of the musical concept, so he tries to drive us in some specific direction of darkness and dreadful brutality. Without him each song would be like a handful of worms, crawling away in all possible directions. I guess he’s like a rusty but rugged can that keeps our worms in one place. And he wrote all the lyrics.
Blauth: We appreciate your review and enthusiasm, Šteffi. If it were up to me, we’d do a one-take, Ildjarn approach, but Ars is afflicted by OCD / perfectionist affliction. I’m pretty sure that he keeps all of his fingernail clippings under his bed. I prefer dirty, nasty punk-like recordings.
8) During “Half a Devil”, the opening song your debut album, I was expecting to hear some folk instruments, but got raw guitars instead. Have you ever considered using folk instruments in your music?
Ars: We recorded the sound of tea pouring into the cup, what is more folk than that?! Seriously speaking, the lyrics are folk enough and we didn’t want to exploit this theme any more.
Blauth: It was beer, not fucking tea. Actually, this brings up an important point: We do most recording extremely loaded. Particularly the vocals. I hate recording unless my voice is completely destroyed from abuse.
Warg: I some-times play komuz-style bass-lines… and play harp in the bathroom.
9) “Tyan-Shan/Batyr” has an uncompromising intro that escalates when Blauth joins in. Blauth, your vocals are brutal at times. sometimes I have a feeling that it must be somebody from Scandinavia.
Blauth: . . .
Ars: He was raised and lived in such brutal places, that Scandinavia looks like the warmest and kindest land compared to those.
10) “Tyan-Shan/Batyr” is almost eleven minutes long, which put me off a bit at first, but I was excited when I heard it in its entirety. Ware you aware of the power in this song when you were writing it?
Ars: It’s actually 2 songs. Tyan-shan was our second song written, and then during one of the practices I just continued playing after the coda – that’s how we wrote Batyr. It turned out to sound epic on the album and I’m glad we could make an epic track. We first wanted to invite some Mongolian throat-singer for the beginning of Batyr, but then just left the first version of Blauth’s vocals which were recorded for the demo back in spring 2015. That’s how we made the whole album – just by ourselves, even when it seemed that it’s better to invite somebody to do it. We wanted it to be our own child, that’s why I did all the engineering and mixing and Blauth played drums on Scent of Your Blood and Come Down, after we had to kick out the temporary drummer for being an asshole. We also recorded the intro for Come Down with each of us doing 2 vocal parts, no synthesizers.
Warg: I did only 1 vocal part in Come Down and I can’t even hear it now!
Blauth: I became really discouraged during the writing of Tyan-Shan, when it began evolving past the intro section. We had just found another of our endless carousel of members, this time an American guitarist named Mike. He was really into progressive, as is Ars, and those two fucks kept making the track more and more off-the-wall. In the end it worked out, but I was ready to smash both of them for ruining a perfectly good black metal tune.
11) In “Albastry”, I really dig listening to the guitars that race with the drums at a fiendish pace. In the review of your album, I claimed this song to be the most technical of the whole album. Do you agree?
Ars: The most fiendish tempo for all of us was in Scent of Your Blood, I’d consider that track as the most technical. I’m always drained-out after playing it on stage. Though Albarsty is also fast and energetic, it’s not that hard to play it.
Warg: It is very hard for me to play any of the songs, so I have to do it sitting on the chair.
12) Have you had the opportunity to present your record on stage yet? Where have you played so far and what are your plans for the future?
Blauth: We play quite a bit around here. We also played Moscow back in March.
Ars: We’re trying hard to get our name and music heard and we hope to find a way to play several shows in Europe next year. For now we have 2 invitations to Almaty and Astana (Kazakhstan), and maybe we’ll play in Russia again.
Warg: I have to ask for permission from my wife to play the show every time. And I have to be back home by 12:00. It’s a cruel world.
Blauth: He’s not kidding.
13) What is coming up for Kashgar in the near future?
Blauth:The LP is at the pressing plant right now, and should come out on Manifest of Hate Creations, a small label from Germany, in mid-November. Pre-orders should be available on their webpage and our bandcamp pretty soon. There’ll be a die-hard edition with a wood-cut wrap.T-shirts have also just gone to press.
14) Ars, you mentioned your visit to Brutal Assault festival in our previous conversation. Did you have a chance to do some sightseeing around the Czech Republic?
Ars: Yes, we went there all together. Unfortunately, Blauth didn’t have much time to travel, but me and Warg visited many beautiful places and tried the best of Czech cousin and brewery everywhere we went. It was my third time in CR, so I already knew what Kutna Hora or Adršpašské skály are, and I kind of knew my way around Prague, so this time I showed Warg around and we had great time visiting all those places and many more. Warg even took a fly-tour around Jaroměř. Brutal Assault was really something! Guys stayed in hotels, but I slept in a tent and had the best times listening to great bands, meeting people and trying all possible spirits with metal-heads from all over the world. I went to a punk festival near Trutnov in 2001, I think – but it was something very different. In a few words – I’m simply in love with Czech Republic.
15) Is there anything you would like to tell to your readers?
Ars: Thanks for reading. It’d be great to do a show in CR one day – one of my dreams. Thank you for the great review and for this interview, Šteffi!
Blauth: Ars already said it all. Warg said nothing, but what else is new.
Warg: Me want eat BRAINZZZZ…
P.S.: Warg actually didn’t find time to answer the questions, but we know him well enough to speak on his behalf 😉
- Zemřel Alexi Laiho
- Bouřlivější vesmír God is an Astronaut je plný nejistoty
- Sychravý podzim nám z druhého břehu přivál The Corona Lantern
- Obscuro Podcast: Special – Metal za oponou – O nahrávání, marketingu, koncertech a jak to u nás vůbec funguje
- Metal: Ten zatraceně smutný rok
- Návštěvníci, fanoušci a organizátoři festivalu Brutal Assault vysadili více než 2.000 stromů