Interview with Grenouer
I have always long maintained since starting this project with sleepingbagstudios back in 2012 that one of THE coolest aspects of what we doing is being able to talk with people from so far away & in different parts of the world entirely. Another one of THE coolest things about that though, is being able to share these experiences with all of you out there.
Meet Grenouer – coming to us all the way from Russia! Employing a work-ethic I can truly respect – Grenouer has just recently released their latest (7th!) studio album Blood On The Face and are looking to continue their momentum into this year and beyond. Never afraid to try anything new or experiment with new ideas and avenues to help highlight the music – I got in touch with Andrey (Vocalist) and Alexander (Guitars) from the band to see if we could coax them over to our Canadian pages…and after long last, here they are.
Couldn’t be happier about it! Grenouer seems like a great group of guys, passionate about the music they make, realistic and knowledgeable about the state of the industry and their local scene, and it all comes from that core belief that music is not something they should EVER give up.
Awesome right? Well, believe me – they say it even better themselves! After putting up with all my ranting questions in a language secondary to them, they have more than delivered here on the page, answering every question in full detail!
- Jer @ SBS
Interview with Grenouer
Jer @ SBS: First of all I want to say both thank you for being here with us in print as well as congratulate you ALL for the fantastic work you’re doing on your end. Truly! Looking at your official website at http://grenouer.com/ I am absolutely blown away guys – there is SO much to look at and learn about your band! The first question that comes to my mind is WHY!?! I think it’s fantastic that you’re putting as much into your social media pages and website – but I want to hear from you guys in GRENOUER – why has it been so important to stay on top of the online-life of the band and what benefits have you seen come your way from your excellent work on the internet? How has this all helped connect you with your fan-base?
Alexander ‘Motor’ (Guitars): Thanks a lot for your words and such positive attitude. It is always nice when your efforts are not in vain. We find it quite necessary to have a proper Internet representation, attractive and easy to use interface, revealing objective information and important updates. This is quite natural these days. Internet is more a luxury thing
Andrey ‘Ind’ (Vocals): At the same time we are not Internet-obsessive, it is just a tool, not the resulting product. Our aim is to create music and to ensure it gets anywhere. If a project is vigorously promoted that is great, but the fact in itself doesn’t mean connection to the fan-base or even existence of any fan-base.
Jer @ SBS: I’ve had a look back through our own past here at SBS and I can’t find any record of us being all the way over to Russia where you’re from yet! Not in print, not in video – you are the first experience we’ve had in your country – so THANK YOU once again for this incredible opportunity to talk to you from so far away! Now, because I’ve never been there myself and I’m not incredibly familiar with the current music scene and what’s happening in Russia…can you give me some insight into that? I’d love to know what’s currently happening there as far as music is concerned…like, if you walk down the streets of Russia and you hear loud music – what kind of music might you hear? What’s popular there in Russia right now musically; and realistically, does GRENOUER fit in with the current state of music and what people are listening to where you are?
Alexander ‘Motor’: Russia is a huge country and much depends upon territory and even the area within one and the same city. The normal thing is to hear primitive Russian pop/rock music and even more primitive songs, yet yesterday I heard someone playing “Master of Puppets” in his car. In general Russians have fairly conservative tastes, preferring the music of their childhood, something easy to understand and preferable with Russian lyrics.
Andrey ‘Ind’: That’s almost the same about listening to metal (and playing metal). The majority is not into experimenting; like older guys are tied down to older genres only and young metalheads do not care to check out music of 90’s and earlier periods.
Jer @ SBS: You’ve come to this online publication of ours, which is based on the west-coast of Canada in BC. I’m wondering just how far you’ve seen your music go in this world! It’s always incredible to learn about and listen to music that has its own unique elements and style, like yours does, when it comes from as far away as you really are. Would you say that, as an independent band in the present day and age, is it tough to gain the attention of the rest of the world? You seem to be going about it all in 100% of the right ways – but is it working? Tell us where you’ve been and what you’ve seen with your music as far as international exposure is concerned!
Alexander ‘Motor’: It is obvious that we want to be received by the rest of the world – and we are ready to go as far as possible. GRENOUER shows have proven that we are a matter of interest for fans abroad; at least the crowd pleasure was always visible. We would love to play in North America or in any part of the world, yet it is easy to say and not so easy to accomplish. GRENOUER can afford touring in Europe and cannot move further until we feel serious interest from bookers.
Andrey ‘Ind’: Making it massive…exposure takes serious investments. GRENOUER receives positive feedback in different corners of the world – South Africa, Japan, South America, Australia, which means that something is working.
Jer @ SBS: INCREDIBLE. I think I’ve literally just read the BEST thing I’ve ever read in years – and it’s right from YOUR Facebook page!
“Not a single day on hold in about twenty years.”
THIS is an incredible comment and true insight into a conversation I have with many bands when consulting them on how to push forward. I’m a firm believer that your art should be what eventually kills you in life, from spending so much time and love and dedication on whatever it may be for anyone. And I myself, truly don’t believe in time off when it comes to doing what you love – I mean, why WOULD anyone even WANT that? Ha! It’s a concept nearly beyond me!
But what many bands don’t realize is that the work REALLY doesn’t ever stop, does it? So here’s my question in all this rambling…I want to know about how you spend the downtime on tours. I’ve explained to independent bands that just because there’s a “day off” in between a couple of shows at night on tour…well…it SHOULDN’T be a “day off!” I figure if you’re out of your own zone and on tour in another area that there is all kinds of ways to use that downtime on tour to connect with the area you’re in through all kinds of different ways. What advice would you give to bands in terms of how they can help their band when they’re not onstage during a tour?
Alexander ‘Motor’: The best advice is to remain polite. In any case, impudence never resolves anything. As a musician you should be prepared to be ignored and even offended just because no one wants you. Show your presence anyway and remain friendly. If a fan contacts you – make the time – it is your work to provide a detailed answer and to be generous, a small gift – a flyer, a calendar…a promo CD is enough to raise a single devotion.
Andrey ‘Ind’: Saying “not a single day on hold” we meant that we never thought of putting an end to GRENOUER. Of course there were pauses and involuntary stops – like searching for new band members; still I wish to go on and no matter what it takes. And that’s right; being unwanted is the hardest part of that “job.”
Jer @ SBS: Alright! We should REALLY spend some time on your music as well as continue to pick your brain on your philosophies of course! You’ve accomplished a TON from what I can see – 7 full albums released all over the world and my favorite comment from you in the last question certainly indicates that this band has been around for a long time – 1992 to be exact! We’re just discovering you now of course – and now we can see just how far along your story is by the time we got here! But your bio-page on your main site is still under construction…so in the meantime – I’m wondering if you can give us a history on GRENOUER and how & where it all started…way, way back when…
Andrey ‘Ind’: Bio-page is under construction ‘cause we still haven’t managed to get a proper writer for that. The story is really a bit too long, a lot of happenings took place, and we need to have a readable narration; a balance between chest thumping and naked outline of facts.
Alexander ‘Motor’: The keynote of GRENOUER story might be – folks never give up and do what they do. Sounds pathetic, but it is true. If you are rarely supported then you need to have “the force of error.” And to be happy when you make music!
Jer @ SBS: Did you all start this up back then thinking it would realistically become the rest of your lives? It’s kind of hard to imagine beyond the dream of it all at first I would imagine…but what would you say the signs might have been along the way that indicated this was a project you wanted to keep going for as long as possible?
Alexander ‘Motor’: GRENOUER is a worthy band to grow old. Some of us had chances to join mainstream and more comfortable projects, and, as you see, we are still here, as firm as a rock.
Andrey ‘Ind’: GRENOUER’s career is fruitful, even though not each of our steps was a clever stroke. In the very beginning I was naïve but had apparently serious intentions.
Jer @ SBS: Playing live – you spent an incredible amount of time onstage in your hometown of Saint Petersburg over 2013. Tell us about the upcoming live plans for 2014 – are you sticking close to home or are you planning on taking yourselves out on the road again?
Alexander ‘Motor’: The most significant live event for GRENOUER in 2014 is participation in PPM Fest in Belgium, where we play the same day with AMORPHIS, MY DYING BRIDE, RAGE and MASTERPLAN. As for other scheduled gigs – well, they are more or less close to home.
Jer @ SBS: I can see the GIANTS of rock as well as some of the current heavy-hitters in metal & alternative listed throughout the bands you like that have presumably influenced you along the way. And us music-journalism types, well, we ALWAYS find a way to ask about who’s influenced your music, blah-blah-blah… I want to take it a step further today guys. I’ve already read the names and heard how they can influence your music when recorded, but tell me about taking your music to the stage. How have these bands and the way they come about their own live shows helped guide you in doing what you personally do onstage now as GRENOUER? You know what I mean? What were the qualities you saw from other bands onstage that you knew you would need to bring to your own shows?
Alexander ‘Motor’: We do learn something watching DVDs and attending gigs, and favorite bands project image issues, starting from hanging banner on stage. Still, it is not mimicry, but using best practices that were created by generations of rock’n’roll musicians.
Andrey ‘Ind’: At the same time there are no rules except being YOURSELF on stage and having necessary technical means.
Jer @ SBS: Between the seven albums you’ve released, how would you say that the music has grown over time? What directions/new things have you tried with your music? What worked and what didn’t?
Alexander ‘Motor’: GRENOUER is always searching for new sound, and not everything works out. And that’s fine, ‘cause the other option is to remain unchanged is safe and boring, in most cases.
Andrey ‘Ind’: That’s right! I personally just love untypical albums, like:
KISS “Carnival of Souls,” DOKKEN “Shadowlife,” MEGADETH “Risk,” MOTLEY CRUE “Motley Crue,” SKID ROW “Subhuman Race,” PARADISE LOST “Host,” ENTOMBED “Same Difference.”
No matter what die-hard fans might say! The more you are famous, the more courage it takes to try something different.
Alexander ‘Motor’: Anyway, it is evidently a matter of emotion and ambitions to move forward. There are no formulas; inspiration and subsequent elaboration during rehearsals and studio sessions bring about the result. GRENOUER acted as an extreme metal band for a pretty long period of time and such experience is very useful, ‘cause it helps us to find our own path to great melodies today. And not to step back!
Jer @ SBS: Again looking back at your history recorded…what does it sound like to you all personally? Within the music – can you hear your own autobiography in there? With each recording, I’d assume you can almost still visualize where and who you were as a band even now, and that has GOT to be a cool kind-of side benefit to being around as long as you have been now. So tell us a story behind one of those times – take us back to when you recorded one of these great albums and share one of the memories that make that time as awesome as it was.
Alexander ‘Motor’: Speaking about GRENOUER history I regularly recollect recording of GRENOUER’s sixth album “Lifelong Days”. We worked in Finland at Astia Studio with Anssi Kippo as a producer. More than three weeks of involvement into atmosphere of groove and music cutting us off from the routine world. When we were leaving our country, the tress were green, and then, when we were coming back home, the trees stood bare. That was not an easy recording session, but very memorable. We didn’t manage to finish everything and had to book additional dates, including New Year’s holidays. It finally ended only in Spring in Finnvox mastering studio in Helsinki. Still, the taste of whiskey and the smell of sauna ring the bell of my memory whenever I hear the songs from that album.
Andrey ‘Ind’: “Lifelong Days” was followed by 5-song EP “Computer Crime” (released worldwide through Copro Records) also recorded and mixed at Astia Studio. We thought about adding extra tracks assuming them as bonuses for special edition, yet these efforts evolved into a totally new full-length album. Three of the 5 songs from the EP we rearranged and the material supplemented with 6 new songs. This time recording took place in our hometown, Saint Petersburg, and tracks were transferred to Italy for mixing and sound design – Dualized and Eddy Cavazza of dysFUNCTION productions completed that task with high level of professionalism! We are so happy about the result and feel very grateful to them. The final touch was mastering at Finnvox again by Mika Jussila. Therefore, this album is a gracious blend of Italian, Finnish and Russian studios.
Jer @ SBS: Your video for “Brain Fever” from your latest album Blood On The Face is absolutely incredible. Artistic, creepy and incredible well directed – I’m always curious about the band’s reaction to seeing these kinds of things for the first time. I mean – this is VERY well done GRENOUER – I can’t imagine filming it, leaving it with someone else and getting it back for the first time…it has got to be an incredible feeling when it comes back this well in support of a song that’s this good. Give us some insight into how this all goes down…how much about the video and the concept were you all apart of and when you did finally get to see it – what was your reaction? Was it anywhere close to what you pictured might come back to you as the final edit?
Andrey ‘Ind’: At the first stage, meeting with two directors of that video, I was asked how much freedom the band could provide them. Absence of restrictions was a vital issue for them, one that ensured a very efficient shooting and editing process. The incredible feelings, yeah, lots of them. Just imagine I had to sing before the camera in a specially equipped studio under showers of water. And we also spent the whole production day and night at a historic mansion!
Alexander ‘Motor’: The idea, the content didn’t come from us. After all it is great to be guided by professionals! I was just pleasantly surprised during the work and amazed by the final result that exceeded expectations! I was enjoying every second and feel proud that we do have a fully-featured band video!
Jer @ SBS: After watching several of the other videos from GRENOUER – it becomes extremely clear that when you put something out – you put it out RIGHT. I think the video for “Midday Show” has got to be my favorite, even though they are all truly well shot and spectacular…I just thought the editing and the song were incredibly strong on this one. The band itself is completely removed from this video in comparison to another like “Brain Fever.” Tell me what’s important to GRENOUER to represent your music onscreen through video. Clearly after watching something like “Midday Show” we can conclude you’re comfortable and confident enough to not have yourselves need to be at the center of every video or concept – but what IS important to you in communicating your music through the screen?
Andrey ‘Ind’: Each video has to have a fair concept associated with music. To put it out RIGHT you have to be selective, and in certain cases it is better not to “show off”. It also depends upon directors you are cooperating with, the price you are ready to pay and your ideology. “Midday Show” was shot in Vietnam, so travelling there not only seemed problematic – it just wasn’t required. The director (Sergey Shubin) suggested the story that did not copy the lyrics but dealt with similar concerns. He also managed to find great actors and terrific places, and all that suits the song perfectly!
Jer @ SBS: I feel the visual element of the internet is what leads to populated live shows in today’s world; meaning that successful videos equal a larger audience. You’ve had some great success with your latest videos – would you say that you can visibly see a difference in the size of the crowd as your video catalogue and awareness of your online presence grows? Is there a correlation there?
Alexander ‘Motor’: It is a complex question. Today a musician got to be an analyst, a manager, an investor. Visibility campaigns are of great importance of course, yet just a great video on Youtube or Vimeo makes no significant difference. The content needs to be promoted heavily and evoke a wide response. There is correlation of course, videos help us to get new fans, maybe not massive, but in any case that is absolutely not in vain!
Andrey ‘Ind’: Thus we have decided to shoot several music videos for “Blood on the Face” album – not less than five. Seems too much, but this is something we did with “Lifelong Days”, the previous album.
Jer @ SBS: Obviously the landscape of music has changed vastly since you first began. And if we do the math, you’re on pace for an album every 3.1 years or so. I’m wondering if you feel any additional pressure in the present to produce and create content than you may have in the past? You just put out Blood On The Face in 2013 – are you already working on new songs or feeling like you’ll need to put something out more quickly in the future? Again, I can both hear and see that you’d never settle for less than 100%, so I know that rushing yourselves will never be an option…but there is that pressure from the outside & what other bands are doing and how constantly new music is always getting out there through singles, E.P.’s and albums…any of that factor in?
Alexander ‘Motor’: GRENOUER is already working over new songs, I like “No bullshit” approach, no compromise; it takes time though. 3.1 years is a bit long, being an independent artist it is hard to make it every year, studio costs are high and labels have their policies. We do have a sort of a pressure, ha-ha, seeing a new release from our favorite bands or friendly bands, but as a matter of fact we are always on the run.
Andrey ‘Ind’: That’s right, no time to relax. Not sure, what we are preparing for in the near future, probably EP, while the full length is also included in the agenda.
Jer @ SBS: What about Canadian exposure directly…have you ever found your way to Canada? I can hear that your music would do particularly well here, especially in Vancouver as we’ve got many similar rock/metal sounds and rabid, dedicated fans of that style within our city and province…you should come out!
Alexander ‘Motor’: It would be fantastic to come to Vancouver or anywhere to Canada! Great to hear that you have similar bands and dedicated fans! That’s a remarkable environment! We‘ve just got to get GRENOUER into the serious biz!
Jer @ SBS: There’s all KINDS of places that people can go to find out about you and your music – we’ve already got that link above to your main page, which DOES give them access to EVERYWHERE you are and where you post – but are there any of them you want to point out specifically for the fans to check out? Where are you the most active online?
Alexander ‘Motor’: Different fans select different resources for contact and hanging around. All of them are important, and I am afraid to say that we are not everywhere…there are hundreds of social networks! We cover what we find easy and essential to cover, like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. If there’s anyone willing to assist us – just let us know, we don’t mind exploring anything! Like, soon we are launching official GRENOUER Instagram account.
Jer @ SBS: I would like to THANK YOU ALL once again, GRENOUER – it’s an incredible gift to be able to talk to a talented band with longevity in this industry like you from this far away. I know no matter how hard I could try and how many pages I could type, I’d still never get to everything I might want to ask or that you might want to talk about…so here’s a final spot for you to say anything you could possibly want. This is the SBS “Open Floor” – a moment where you can shout-out anything you like. GRENOUER – THANK YOU so much for your time and I hope to hear more success stories from you all in the future.
Alexander ‘Motor’: Thank you very much; it is a great pleasure, and awesome cool that you support independent artists! Keep rocking and lots of luck to everything you and your readers are involved with!
Andrey ‘Ind’: You and SBS are doing great indeed, that is fantastic that the world has true enthusiast like you, contrary to careless music journalists that don’t listen to albums they are reviewing! All hail to the Lords of the Ring!!!
Be sure to check out Grenouer and support them at their pages – who knows – maybe we can get them over here one day!! Show your support by liking their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/Grenouer