-- Welicoruss gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels

I first met the Siberian tribe known as Welicoruss in June this year during a charity gig at The Verlichte Geest in Roeselare where they shared the stage with Cathubodua, Lemuria and Saille. I had a pleasant first encounter with them that day and arranged to have them shredded during the Devils Rock For An Angel festival in October. And as promised I regrouped with Alexey and Gojko during Devils Rock to talk about Welicoruss’s style and presentation, the trouble they had a week before their show at Hellfest 2017 as well as sharing their tips for success to up and coming metal bands.

BMS: It’s good to see you here back in Belgium so soon after your last gig here. I guess you like it here!
Alexey: Well, it’s great to be here, you Belgians love metal a lot and eagerly visit gigs and festivals. Before 2017 we played a lot in countries like Germany, the Czech Republic and Switzerland but now we want to focus more on the Western European countries and expand our fanbase there.
Gojko: I noticed that symphonic and black metal are popular subgenres here in Belgium and neighboring countries so I believe we’ll be certainly able to attract many new people to our band.
BMS: I’m sure you will. You got me over after I saw you in Roeselare four months ago. Now, tell me, Alexey, where did you draw inspiration for Welicoruss’s sound and presentation?
Alexey: The entire Welicoruss concept as it exists today came into my mind around 2007 when I began to draw inspiration from Scandinavian bands like Dimmu Borgir and Nokturnal Mortem, Viking culture as well as the Siberian climate. I can tell you that Siberian winters are cold as fuck! Some places reach -60 degrees Celsius! So I wanted to bring the coldness of Siberia on stage as Welicoruss. The name Welicoruss itself is a reference to the North-Eastern part of Russia.

BMS: Tell me, all your lyrics are in Russian. Was that a deliberate choice or did you at first consider writing in English?
Gojko: Alexey here has always wanted to write in Russian because the words and pronunciations perfectly fit into Welicoruss’s music and atmosphere.
Alexey: That’s correct. I love bands who sing in their native languages rather than English. It makes the music feel more unique and authentic. However, for our next album we’ll also be including some songs in English and maybe in some other languages too. The reason for that is because we want people to sing along with us and that they understand what they’re singing along to.
BMS: Interesting. So, you’re working on a new album. How’s the progress going?
Gojko: We’re planning to release new material next year. We’ve had a few setbacks this year such as Dmitry leaving our band. He no longer has the passion for music and wants to work as a scientist. We accepted his decision and parted ways as friends.
Alexey: For the moment we’ve written several new songs so progress is going fine and we found a new bassist. His name is Ondrej. He’s very motivated and has much earlier experiences in composing and playing music.
BMS: You know, since your fanbase is steadily growing and you’ve already went on multiple tours throughout Europe, I consider you to be a successful band. What advice could you give to other bands?
Gojko: First and foremost, don’t be lazy. Being in a band isn’t something like a hobby that you can do from time to time. If you really want to make it out there, your band must be your life’s work! Work on your material, promote your band as hard as you can and stay in touch with your fans and promoters.
Alexey: You also need to spend a ton of cash into your project. You need money to produce merch, to go on tour and for advertising. Speaking of touring, it’s important that you go out and play as many shows as you can. During every show there’s an opportunity for you to meet new people who may introduce your band to a promoter or to their fellow metal friends.
Gojko: And finally, be humble and professional! Don’t go around acting like you’re the next big thing in the music industry as it will only hurt your own reputation. Be friendly and generous to your fans and to promoters because after all, they’ve done the effort of either coming to or organizing your gig so you should be grateful for that! And also be willing to work alongside other bands, cross-promotion can be a very powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.
BMS: I completely agree with that! Now, this year you played at Hellfest. How did the show go?
Alexey: The funny thing is that it was the Hellfest organization themselves who invited us to join the Hellfest lineup! And we received their invitation on Gojko’s birthday, so we couldn’t give him any better birthday gift!
Gojko: Yeah, me and the guys couldn’t believe what we were reading! However, our preparations for our show at Hellfest were troublesome! We had just finished a small tour through Belgium along with your country mates from Lemuria and our merch was completely sold-out! A mere week before we had to play at Hellfest! So we immediately called our merch manufacturer to have him print new t-shirts and other stuff and then we drove all the way from Belgium to our home in Prague to restock only for us to travel to Hellfest right thereafter! In total we drove about 3500 km just to get our merch to Hellfest! And after Hellfest we once again drove all the way back to Prague! It was a hellacious week but fortunately it all paid off in the end!
BMS: That’s some impressive dedication! I don’t think I’d survive such long road trips, let alone 3 in a row!
Alexey: You get used to it! And now we’re hoping to play at festivals like Graspop Metal Meeting, Alcatraz Metal Fest and Wacken Open Air. Hopefully they’re interested.
BMS: I’m sure you’ll get there one day! Now I’d like to talk about your show. You like to wear face paint and hunting clothes and using lightning effects to convey that Siberian winter feel. But what other visual or audio elements would you still like to add to your performance?
Alexey: Should we have the resources we’d like to add weather effects like wind and snow, but most of all we’d like to have a full orchestra on stage, just like Dimmu Borgir!
BMS: I’d love to see that! So, is there anything else you wish to say before we wrap this gig up?
Alexey: We want to thank all our fans and promoters for helping Welicoruss become the band it is today! And also our sincere gratitude to the people of Devils Rock For An Angel for organizing such a epic and professional festival. Keep it up, guys!

Welicoruss - Sons Of The North