Summon: How did the band get started?
Sergey: HEATHER WASTELAND was founded in the spring of 2001. The group’s distinctive features were the two-bass line-up with a drummer, as well as an intended refuse to use guitars. HEATHER WASTELAND existed until the spring of 2002. In October of 2014, the band was reunited with our original line-up, but we also added a third bassist. All parts of string, wind and keyboard instruments are played using a 6-string bass with Roland GK-3B midi pick-up through Roland GR-55 guitar synth.
Summon: What kind of music do you play?
Sergey: We describe our style as “three-bass Heretical Folk Art created by Cimmerian metal-heads in Neo-medieval way” or “Cimmerian metal”. It’s a blend of Neofolk and Neo-medieval music intended for open-minded metal-heads and any fans of pagan/folk, Gothic, neofolk, art rock, neoclassic, occult rock and experimental music.
Summon: How has the fan response been?
Sergey: All these 12 years of the band’s non-existence since 2002 till 2014 we have been asked about a possible reunion at least for recording of our old stuff. Therefore, I find fan response great. Especially it concerns a good score of views of our first official video “Tre Sverd” on YouTube and in other social medias, and general interest in the band worldwide.
Summon: Where did the band name come from?
Sergey: In 2001 we used its Russian variant “Вересковая Пустошь” (it is pronounced as “Vereskovaya Poustosh”). It definitely comes from some associations with European folklore in general, as well as with visualization of heather wastelands – desolate battlefields with ruined castles, scattered bones, rusty arms and armors, and heather growing everywhere – as a symbol of new life and resistance in a broad context. I’m not sure now, but probably the band’s name, in some ways, was inspired by a Galloway legend described by Robert Louis Stevenson in his poem “Heather Ale” – at least all original members of HEATHER WASTELAND remember this poem and an old cartoon based on this poem.
Summon: Introduce the band members and what they do in the band.
Sergey: We had some changes in our line-up, but I find it correct to introduce those members who took part in recording of the stuff we are promoting now. The original members are: Alexander Vetrogon (6-string bass), he is a fan of folk metal/rock, progressive metal and fusion/jazz; Anatoliy Polovnikov (drums), a fan of old school thrash metal and techno death metal; and truly yours Sergey Pavlov (4-string bass), a fan of pagan/folk, black metal, dark-wave, ritual, occult rock and techno death metal. The fourth member is Andrey Anikushin (5-string bass), he is a metal maniac with wide interests – from Arthur Brown to gore grind-core stuff. As for the roles in the band… okay, Anatoliy is responsible for logistical matters at a city level (rehearsals, concert sound equipment, record session matters), Alexander helps with record session matters and arrangements, and I’m busy with our concept creation, promotion, public relations, translation into English, and holding negotiations.
Summon: Who writes the music? Lyrics?
Sergey: I composed the music for our instrumental debut EP in 1995 – 2001, and the band members arranged the music in 2014 – 2015. As for the forthcoming album, the majority of the tracks were composed by Alexander Vetrogon, and finally arranged by the band. He wrote the majority of the lyrics for the new album, and I’m preparing the lyrics just for a couple of tracks. I also expressed the debut EP conception in a poetic way – you can find it among liner notes in our digipack.
Summon: And where do the lyric ideas come from?
Sergey: Legends, fairy tales, philosophy, history, esotericism, life (as well as pre- and after-life) experience.
Summon: What is your view in Satanism and Occultism?
Sergey: At first, I must say that every member of the band has his own voice on such issues, so I will speak for myself only. Well, we should admit that all nations (before Christianity, and, as a matter of fact, before appearance of the term “Satanism”) had their own native God/Gods, as well as their Antipodes – evil or good. In spite of the essence of the native gods and their antipodes’, Christianity treats all them as “demons” and “evil creatures”. In this case the song “Ancient Pride” by NECROMANTIA may be a good illustration to describe the matter: “You came and slaughtered Odin,/ You came and murdered Zeus,/ Our Gods became your Satan/ And Satan became our God”. So, we deal with the use of equivocal language or substitution of notions, when we deal with Christian ideas. Yes, in this case Satan is an understandable symbol of rebellion to show my PERSONAL attitude to Christianity. If Christians treat Buddhists, Shintoists, Hindus, European Pagans of any kind, or even Yogi followers, and even jovial trolls from Flying Spaghetti Monster church as “devil worshipers”, then why shouldn’t I treat these Christians at least as ignoramus, destroyers of ancient national cultures and humorless persons? History is always written by the winners. By the winners only. I’ve never been a devotee of any branch of Satanism – theistic, traditional, spiritual, psychopathic, but as I proclaim myself a heretic, a Pagan, a person with anti-christian world-view, or a person who took part in some un-baptizing rituals, I’ll be proclaimed “the Evil One” in any way))
On Occultism: I’m highly interested in this topic since my school days, but it doesn’t mean that I draw pentagrams or write cabbalistic symbols with blood of virgins)) I even don’t use the Runes in the way the most of Pagans use them. I just try to understand many things connected with the invisible parts of the visible reality. In my childhood, I had a kind of after-life experience after a serious injury, but managed to survive. After that my dreams became my keys to the gates of other reality. Sapienti sat.
Summon: How many albums/CD’s have you released?
Sergey: We are going to release our debut EP “Under The Red Wolfish Moon” on the 21st of December, 2016, as a limited edition digipack CD, but it is already available for streaming and purchasing in digital format at: https://heatherwasteland.bandcamp.com/album/under-the-red-wolfish-moon
Summon: Tell me about some the songs on the latest CD?
Sergey: “Tre Sverd” is dedicated to the famous battle of Hafrsfjord. Therefore, we hope our listeners would feel in the sound, how the blood-red waves of Hafrsfjord lap against the sides of the dragon ships after the most outrageous red battle asea, and imagine how the sea foam shows Úlfhéðnars’ faces. You can check our official studio video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA3wqStu20g
“Under The Red Wolfish Moon” is a kind of expressive medieval anthem dedicated to werewolves, Battle Magick and the cult of wolves in pre-christian European traditions. I hope we were able to express it playing this track alive: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ix6aRrb9-I
“Venice” is the most lyrical track in the album. It is like a way to glorify the pearl born from the sea, and destined to perish. This track is dedicated to Prince of Agony (EVOL, atmospheric black metal, Italy), whose music inspired me to compose this track, and who provided us with a photograph taken in Venice, and wrote some liner notes for the CD.
“Beltane (Intro) / Wicker Man” deals with Fire Magick, and the title speaks for itself. The solo bass intro in the neoclassic vein is a bridge to the most expressive composition dedicated to such a sinister symbol as the Wicker Man is. “Beltane” is dedicated to my band mates from BELTANE (Sevastopol, techno death metal), as I used to play this intro in our live shows in 1995 – 1996.
Summon: Do you have any side projects?
Sergey: Alexander and Anatoliy are aliens/extraterrestrials from this progressive metal band: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSZW6I_bGws&t=4s , but in their human form they play the same stuff in jazz arrangement: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y5htdO7y8M . In any way, you should not trust extraterrestrials – they may be dangerous even in human form! 😉 As for me, I know how to defend myself from them)) Well, I also run my Pagan esoteric dark-wave project AR, but at the moment I’m not very active with composing or recording new stuff.
Summon: Who are some of your musical influences?
Sergey: If we are talking about HEATHER WASTELAND, then I must name EVOL, CRUACHAN, early IN THE WOODS, BATHORY (of Viking period), BURZUM (of ambient period), and maybe old SKYCLAD. The band concept was influenced by ANCIENT RITES. The named bands inspired me to look for my own way and they provoked me to do something in my own manner. I should add: no double bass bands were taken as an example or a source of inspiration for our band, although I like very much NECROMANTIA and CANTATA SANGUI.
Summon: What is the band like when you play live?
Sergey: When we were younger, we were more violent onstage. Now we’d like to make more theater-like shows with onstage dress and make-up. I hope we’ll realize these ideas with our new band members.
Summon: Have you guys ever played in another country?
Sergey: No, we haven’t played abroad yet, but we’d like to.
Summon: How big of crowd shows up at shows usually?
Sergey: Nowadays, in our native city, the live shows do not attract a good crowd of people – no matter how famous or how good a band is. Availability of music in the Internet, and online socializing kill the local scenes. Sad but true.
Summon: How is the crowd response when you play?
Sergey: Young or drunk people usually prefer headbanging. The elder generation of metal-heads prefer just listening to the music.
Summon: What do you think of the US Black Metal/Death Metal scene?
Sergey: All band members have immense respect for the American techno death metal scene; it gave many great names to the world metal scene. We are old fans of ATHEIST, CYNIC, DEATH, NOCTURNUS. Also we’d like to mention AGHORA, although they don’t use growling (our personal salute to Diana Serra!). Some of us like more brutal stuff like DEICIDE, SUFFOCATION, OBITUARY. As for other issue, I’m not an expert in American Black Metal scene, but I like some bands and my collection includes CD’s of the following bands: AGALLOCH, XASTHUR, JUDAS ISCARIOT, VEIL, TARANIS, CLAIR CASSIS, VELVET CACOON.
Summon: What do you think of the Overseas scenes?
Sergey: Even if I can’t imagine all problems of Overseas scenes, I think that you don’t have such technically related problems as we have in C.I.S. countries. You have well-developed infrastructure of musical business in the broad meaning of this word. At the same time, I guess that the scene is overfilled with qualitative bands and there are more offers than inquiries. Therefore, their music remains Black Art for Black Art’s sake.
Summon: What are some of new favorite black metal/death metal bands?
Sergey: I’d like to name just a few bands from different countries: DOWNCAST COLLISION, THE GENERALS, GRIMTOTEM, MERKNET, Terrörhammer, VREDEHAMMER.
Summon: When do you guys plan on writing any new material?
Sergey: At the moment (November, 2016), the majority of instrumental parts for our full-length album are already recorded and we are busy with mixing process, and composing new material.
Summon: What does the future hold for the band?
Sergey: We’ve already started collaboration with musicians from Argentina, Chile, Ireland, the Netherlands, Ukraine, and U.S.A. Right now, I will not list any names until the moment they finish their part of our joint creative process. I am a little bit superstitious, so I would rather prefer presenting our modest, but important results, instead of chattering about our great, but vain plans. I just tell your readers that some of the musicians have iconic status in their styles, and we appreciate their support! So, horns up, stay in tune.
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