Thank you Yan for taking the time to talk to us. You are about to release your new album “Planetary Cancer” through Mazzar records on 2016.6.6! What a great date to launch a metal album! Are you excited about this release?
Thank You for this opportunity to talk about our new album! Yeah, the release date is quite “tru-metal.” Actually it was the idea of our lyric author Randy Gerritse, and fortunately the label has agreed. Sure, we are very excited about releasing our new stuff, in which we have invested so much. It’s even more exciting that this time we will release the album through Russian label Mazzar Records, and not independently as we have done in the past. So we will get a nice digi-pack, sale platform and additional support, at least here in Russia. For a DIY-band it’s very helpful.
What can you tell us about the album? In what ways is this typical Dissector album, and in what ways is it something new entirely?
As long as I’m the main composer in the band, from my point of view it is typical Dissector album in a way we compose, make pre-production and record it. I don’t think we change much of our metal-mix-style and we continue looking for our vision of a universal metal song. Our typical melancholic bitter-sweet melodies doubled with old-school thrash-metal or fast melodeath-metal riffs are here. We drift somewhere between power and thrash metal and integrate many different tinctures in it without fear or favour, so to say. But at the same time there are some differences on “Planetary Cancer” – in producing, sound, investments and general mood. Everything got bigger internationally thanks to guest-musicians (guest-solos are entirely new in the history of Dissector), better recording/mixing and social-media support by Metal On Loud Facebook community.
How do you compare this album to your previous full album release “Grey Anguish”?
Of course, most musicians love most of their stuff, and so do I. The only problem is I personally listen to our old stuff and old bands very seldom is the sound. I prefer more of a modern sound. But I like our music and think that our earlier demos and DIY-albums have tons of great melodies and hooks. But back to “Grey Anguish” – I like music we have recorded for this album (more than 20 songs), but we could do better work in terms of our sound and choice of material. Well, on the one hand we had a limited budget for recording and mixing, because we paid for making “Grey Anguish” from one's own resources. In this context we understand very well what exactly we could do better to make last year’s album more effective. On the other hand we had differences in the process of recording guitars/drums and getting songs ready for publishing. So we had finally two different grooves/drives/moods within recorded material, and had to combine the songs on the album in not quite the natural way, to get a full-length version. So maybe “Grey Anguish” comes short of wholeness, so to say. In comparison “Planetary Cancer” sounds like a monolith to me.
The sound on this album, to us, sounds a lot more international, more accessible. What did you do differently this time around, where it comes to the recording and the creative process?
I think that the international character of “Planetary Cancer” is Dissector’s biggest achievement so far. Sonically and musically we aspire all the time in creating a universal metal-language, based mostly on traditional metal genres, which formed our music tastes and understanding of “best music”. In the case of “Planetary Cancer” we had lots of collaborators, who helped us to reach this internationality. First of all, it’s Randy Gerritse, the author of almost all lyrics of the album, and a variety of guest-musicians from different European countries. This is the big difference and a new experience for us – to involve so many people in the recording process.
Another big difference is mixing songs in a very good studio with international quality. We record our songs only in Russia, in different studios in different cities (by Alex Bolotov and Simon Oblomkin in Saint-Petersburg, and Eugeny Peresedov in Vladimir-City), trying to play our cards right on home ground. It’s no secret that recording abroad is very expensive for us, who has Rubels in pockets. Actually mixing and mastering are expensive too, but it needs less time than recording. But making steps forward costs more than we’d like to put out sometimes, right? I know producer Christian Schmid from Music-Factory Studio in Kempten (Germany, http://music-factory.biz) personally. Many years ago another project of mine THE LUST had mixed the album “My Dear Emptiness” in Music-Factory Studio. The result was very successful, and the album sounds great even after ten years. We continued working with Christian, mixing other stuff throughout the years. He is a very experienced guy in mixing power-metal bands with bombastic sound and other metal stuff for Nuclear Blast and Massacre Records (Mystic Prophecy, Devil’s Train, Suicidal Angels, Fireforce etc.). So our choice was easy and natural; Christian Schmid has succeeded in his task, and “Planetary Cancer” sounds bombastic and transparent.
We at Metal On Loud can’t stop listening to this album. Can you tell us and our readers a bit more in depth about the songs on this album?
Thank You! We are honored with the fact that our music is now presented worldwide with the help of MOL Magazine and the Metalheads Foundation Community! We hope our music is listenable enough! Well, the whole content of the album was composed the same way as we did it earlier. I have to say I had about one year break in composing between “Grey Anguish” and preparing stuff for “Planetary Cancer”. The reason was simple - we had to finish everything we started recording during 2013-2014; the process of recording and mixing elongated, and I couldn’t start doing new material. It was too much. So we make demos of about 20-30 songs usually, do some selection and then start to record. Usually we record everything we have composed, but try to finish tracks first that we have chosen for the theoretical future album. We never use already recorded leftovers for a new album, only as bonus-tracks or as unreleased ideas so far; fresh compositions always seemed to be better somehow. On “Planetary Cancer” we have only new songs except one song “Invisible Lives”. Its first demo appears in 2007 or 2008 as part of next THE LUST’s longplay; for a variety of reasons we couldn’t finish it so long. For a couple of years we re-recorded all instruments for it and actually planned to have it on the album “Grey Anguish”. But the question with guest-vocals was open too long, so we have used another closing track for “Grey Anguish”. The finalized track “Invisible Lives” with the vocals of Rachel Grech from Maltese band Blind Saviour arrived only for “Planetary Cancer”. And it sounds absolutely well-timed. I think we will do a single with this song later.
Lyrically, the album seems to paint a bleak picture of the world we live in. What’s your current worldview?
My view of the world and human race in general was never positive. Way back at the university I defended the philosophical conception of man’s foreignness on this planet. He will never stop fouling his own nest, destroying life on the planet and investing his progressive knowledges and resources in killing himself.
Can you tell our readers a bit about the themes on this record?
The title of “Planetary Cancer” writes itself. This planetary cancer is called a human being, who poisons, spoils, destroys and kills everything on this planet. Yes, he is the crown of evolution blah-blah-blah, but who the hell will need to know it while sitting on scorched earth? Who needs it now, when the best skill of humanity is creating weapons and killing living creatures with the dumbest religious, political and social ideas on its banners? All his appetences, projects, desires and geopolitical doctrines are so miserable, wormling and ugly to me. Personally I don’t have any hopes that the human being is able to learn from his own mistakes. As the great George Carlin said, “The planet is fine, the people are fucked!” It’s the main theme on the album, and every song on it describes in no particular format one or another side of vile and thru and thru ill human nature.
Do you think artists can still make a difference these days, to make a change in this world?
I doubt that artists can make global and positive changes in this world, because those who really do it (with money, power or religious manipulations), measure the world and people with categories which are far away from the positive craft of art. But yeah, if we don’t think global, an art or an artist can fill one’s heart with beautiful emotions (dark or light) or happiness for a little while. Of course you need more of it. In this context music is the best drug or anesthetic. I’m sure that the right song can push someone to make very important decisions in his life.
You truly are a king of song intro’s. Dissector songs kind of grip you right from the start and drag you right in. How does your creative process work, how does a Dissector song get born?
I don’t need any special environment for composing music, but stillness, loneliness, turmoil of guilt or next soul’s disaster help very well. Most of the time the process is the same: it’s me sitting with a guitar without any amps and composing riffs spontaneously one after another. If I think that these ideas are interesting enough or have some potential to became a song, I record a complete guitar demo, together with all melodic lines etc. Then I send the demo to all involved musicians to let them make their own additions. In 90% the recorded demo keep the main form/structure until the album. In the studio I additionally record many guitar arrangements spontaneously and make other changes, but the main melody and rhythm-structure stays the same.
There are a lot of guests on this album! Can you tell us a bit more about these artists?
Yes, this time we wanted to do the album bigger, one step higher than “Grey Anguish”. It wasn’t our White Whale, because we were totally satisfied with our achievement on “Grey Anguish” last year. Well, maybe the sound was not expensive enough for some European reviewer. The making of “Planetary Cancer” was just from the start more detailed, even more song-oriented, and the whole approach was kind of ambitious. With such material I didn’t see the point that we can’t create an international project on a good European level. To make the whole story more global, we decided to invite guest-musicians from different bands and different countries. To our surprise and joy we’ve got so many talented and enthusiastic musicians in our team: Marios Iliopoulos from Nightrage (Sweden-Greece), Nick van Beusekom from Spartan (Holland), Rachel Grech from Blind Saviour (Malta), Lauri Tuohimaa from Tuohimaa, ex-Charon (Finland), Jorn Nord from Nordjevel (Norway), Marcus Grønbech from The Vision Ablaze (Denmark), Igor Arbuzov from Blazing Rust (Russia), Gramie Dee from The Autopsy Report Metal Radio Show (Great Britain/Canada), Marcel Staub from Samarah (Germany), and of course, as I mentioned earlier, the author of most lyrics Randy Gerritse (Holland) and keyboarder Max Delmar from The Lust (Russia). As you see the album couldn’t be more international. I like the result of our cooperation very much and don’t rule out the possibility to work with guest-musicians in the future.
What would be your favorite track on the new record, and why?
This one is hard to answer. Though I perceive other’s music as one-piece of art, trying to catch emotions which are harmonious to mine, I don’t listen to my own music this way. I resolve every song into its elements while listening. That’s why I like separate melodies, hooks, riffs and their combinations. There are fragments in every song of “Planetary Cancer” that I like very much. Almost every song on it is based on very simple but catchy riffs. I think the title-track is ideal in its simplicity and combination of punchy drive and melody. Slower tracks “Perfect Smile” and “The Currency Of Life” have this typical melancholic vibe a la Paradise Lost I like very much. All-in-all I’m pleased with all material on “Planetary Cancer” and the songs we have in reserve.
We also absolutely love the artwork on this record. What assignment did you give your designer this time?
It was a collaboration with our countrymen and longtime designer Pablo Antonov (www.facebook.com/pavlik.antonov?fref=ts), which is another tradition for us. He is like a fourth member of Dissector and is the author of all our artworks and merchandise. I don’t have any concrete assignments before discussing the artwork with Pablo. Usually we both have many variants and spontaneous ideas to start working from scratch. But sometimes he offers ideas ready for the cover with matched visual expression and then works on the details. But as my experience has shown there are miles between this offered idea and final grandiose work with crazy detailing. This time we decided to use for “Planetary Cancer” one semi-finished picture, which was just waiting for its moment of glory. Based on the fixed title of the album and the main theme Pablo has created completely new modern artwork with sensible atmosphere and cool additional pictures in the booklet.
You have been a busy man where it comes to releases. Not only have there been several Dissector releases in the last few years, you also work on several other projects. Where do you find the time and the inspiration?
Frankly speaking, my living conditions and a sort of changeableness don’t allow me to make music in qualities and quantities I’d like to do. In a lesser degree it’s not a subject of creativity and inspiration – I can compose a song in a day without any problem and every now and then will have an inner disaster to compose the next thirty songs about some sort of shit from the past. It’s more a subject of the right timing, money and readiness to sacrifice in private life. Fortunately me being a long-time freelancer allows me to organize the whole process much better and to work everywhere, including studios, airports etc. Think, for instance, of the album “Planetary Cancer” and the current material. I recorded guitars for new songs in the studio on the outskirts of Saint-Petersburg and wouldn’t be mistaken if I said that I spent all together one month or so there. Very often, after recording 8-10 hours of guitar in the studio, I was sitting at night in my room, doing stuff to pay for the current studio-session. Stinking trains, shitty food, living like a homeless person and many other things for other people’s vanity sake … Metal-music is team-work, you know, but the team sometimes doesn’t know it. Or better to say it doesn’t want to know. But who gives a shit right? Everyone makes their own choices and priorities. Usually after finishing the album I feel an endless emptiness for a couple of week and think that everything tha I’m doing is so fucking wrong. I curse all this damned musical creativity, prefer silence and dream about escaping to nature, happy family life or something like that. But then I start with new demos again…
Can you tell us a bit about the other projects you work on, outside of Dissector?
Besides Dissector I have another metal-project called “The Lust” since 2003. It’s gothic/power-metal stuff with female vocals, not symphonic at all but it has a unique atmosphere I dare to say. This project already has its own history and back-catalogue with a couple of international releases and some self-released stuff. This year, after kind of a hiatus we will try to finish the new album of The Lust called “Black Dahlia Poem”, together with members of Dissector Oleg Aleshin and Andrey Glukhov, new singer Anna Dust and some guest-musicians. Besides that I record guitars from time to time for “Tartharia” and “Satanation”- two projects of my colleague Igor Anokhin. I have to say over the last 10 years we have made really good stuff together, including the very first vinyl in my “career” – “Bleeding for the Devil” by Tartharia. I very seldom do these projects at the same time (only if I have enough time or feel inner comfort), because of enormous temporal and financial costs - all projects are independent now and underground.
How important is metal to you?
Music is in general a very important part of my life, though I started with making music quite late, lost too much time for nothing and unfortunately never had an option to do it on a professional level for living. But on an emotional level it is the only thing that can express coherently the mess of feelings and contradictions I carry throughout life, and is the best keeper of my memories. More than that, it makes me happy from time to time and escorts me during my whole life, during all the ups and downs. I liked fast music from my early childhood; my mother often played vinyls with fast classical pieces back in the day. At school I became a fan of AC/DC and started to listen to all sorts of metal music. I got in a relatively isolated living place in 80-90s. Of course I, my friends including members of all Dissector’s line-ups knew most classic albums of all heavy-metal and hard-rock heroes by heart. So, music becoming a part of me was a natural process. Doing music is not the same thing as just listening to it, but the greatest quality of music as an art is its gigantism and kind of endlessness. In one form or another it will be enough for everyone and it will be an endless source of inspiration, emotions, discovering, analysis etc. Well, I can imagine that one day I stop making music, but I will never stop listening to it.
You are also the creator of the anthem of our community: The Metalheads Foundation. You could say, you’re our house band. How do you view the current ever growing metal scene?
First of all, thank you for this great opportunity to became a part of the Metalheads Foundation family. Making the anthem and house-song “Metal On Loud” was the beginning of a new chapter for Dissector in a way. The metal scene still exists and many old bands are back. That is already great. Unfortunately, the biggest apologists of mass metal/rock genres are dying out before our eyes, and it is easy to see that there is no comparable or equal replacement for them. Well I would say the metal scene is becoming more self-consistent and thereby more individual. Ok, following the trendiness will exists in every art form, but I think musicians care less about some limits or strict rules nowadays. Destruction of old music business patterns give them an edge to move without waiting for the miracle. However it doesn’t mean to say that the quality of the music grows together with the numbers of bands. Everyone still keeps hope to become bigger – it is fine, it is an unaging motivation since monsters-of-rock-era. But I don’t see an overflow of great hits or albums which have potential to became classic. Even big bands don’t go for it and mostly exploit old ideas and old attitude. The sound is great and the songs are poor. But their music is better than 90% of young band’s crap.
As you explained several times in multiple interviews, even in our earlier talks, Dissector is a studio project these days. Yet we still hope to see you perform again at some point, if only for a limited tour. How big is that chance?
Something really grandiose must happen in my life that can force me to go on stage again. Not because I don’t like it, but because of starting too much from the ground up. It will be only my duty to organize everything, to solve many additional problems and to pay for it, which is the worst thing. I’m not an oligarch, unfortunately. So I just don’t want it. Members of Dissector live in different cities, and all my projects have existed way too long as studio things. As for me, I like relaxed studio work and composing new songs. So far we finance everything in Dissector by ourselves and I prefer to invest money and time in new recordings.
You got a distribution deal with Mazzar records for “Planetary Cancer”. Up to now, you’ve been mainly a do-it-yourself kind of artist, correct?
Yes, you are right. Dissector has been since 1992 an absolutely independent and DIY-band. This deal with Russian label Mazzar Records is our first one. One of the good things in this situation is the fact that the label doesn’t bind us and we continue promoting our band outside Russia. The first edition of “Planetary Cancer” will be released as six-pannel digi-pack, which I like very much. I guess, together with very good reviews it is a great start for a new album. All of the next steps will depend on the success of the album on the market.
Is it hard being a musician in the current music industry?
I’m not sure I can answer this question. It’s too subjective and depends on many different factors. I can’t say about being a musician outside Russia, so maybe it’s a bit easier to start the career in countries with high level rock-culture. But I guess every beginning from the underground scene presents severe difficulties that every musician has to pull through. The current situation in the music industry is dual though for me, as for an old-school underground musician it looks hopeless. On the one hand it makes some activities of unprofessional musicians easier (promotion, digitalization, audio, video, print-technologies, plenty of instruments in all price categories, communication etc.). On the other hand young bands are getting fewer chances to become real big because of this media and technical accessibility, enormous creative struggle, total saturation on every music market and too high cost standards of quality that they just cannot pay off. These standards of sound and musical stupidity are the best joke in this story. They are forced by five-six global corporations which rule one way or another all music markets on the planet, and underground bands have to follow them to become bigger, paying for it from their own pockets. So after a couple of first self-made releases (maybe genius) it just disappears. But these fucking corporations and “organizers” (not musicians) will get their money anyway. Because there are thousands of bands waiting for the game of luck and for their turn to pay for the chance to be heard by someone important in the business. The epoch of giant bands, big studios and all this scandalous and innovatory rock’n’roll circus with steel balls is fading away irretrievably. But it looks like no one knows or can’t predict which way to go and which way the industry could develop. Not all prophecies come true: the self-respecting listeners don’t wanna be mp3-mass, became much selected and are going back to analogue sound, they still buy CD’s, expensive special-editions and visit concerts; bands release vinyl and even cassettes; big festivals still exists. So far digital music didn’t destroy CD-format. Unfortunately it has together with the Internet ruined natural ways for musicians to earn money making music. The bands now have to expend time and energy in searching for new ways. Very often the music becomes less important in this modern goods/money relationship.
What’s next for Dissector? Are you already looking to the future where it comes to songwriting and new albums?
Even if I’m pessimist by nature, or, better to say prefer to play with worse variants to have no illusions and enjoy than the best variant in full, I hope for the active future in Dissector’s camp. After we finish the new album of The Lust, we still have ten new, partly recorded songs after “Planetary Cancer” session, which we could use as bonus-tracks, b-sides or for an anniversary release next year. Stylistically it is very different tracks, from heavy ballad to melo-death metal. I still have the idea to make an album with different vocalists; if we find enough guests, we will do it. But if not … I already have several new demos, which can became very good songs if it comes to the studio. To compose 20-30 songs for the next album is no problem for me. As usual the problem is to find money to record and to release it in a proper way. We also have an idea to start one crowdfunding-project for a special release. It’s one of the things in this music-biz circus we didn’t try yet. No idea if it will work.
Do you have any last words for our readers?
The best way to save good music here is to support those who create it. Do it, my friends!