The return of Belarusian band KRUK is an important event for CIS scene by itself, but it would not have happened without the participation of the coolest drummer, Vaiug, also known in criminal circles as Virgin Mary, and in civilian circles as simply Alexey. While all the metal media ask the same questions to Ryks Asirg, I decided that it would be unfair to ignore the prominent persona of Vaiug. Memories of APHOOM ZHAH, puke from the balcony, the realities of Mahiljou Black Metal underground at the end of the century - read about all this below. Photos taken from Hitkiller.com and Homo Faberand from the personal page of the unknow photographer from Ural.
Hello Vaiug! As always, I want to start an interview with trivial questions: when and in what circumstances did you start listening to heavy music? Which albums, let's say, changed your life?
Vaiug: Greetings to you Raman, and greetings to those who are to read this interview. My acquaintance with heavy music, as probably it happened with many others, started under the influence of my friend in the year 1996. I came to visit him, and he listened to TIAMAT, PARADISE LOST, КОРРОЗИЯ МЕТАЛЛА. I will not say that at that time this music somehow impressed me - honestly, it made me sick, hahaha. From early childhood, when I was still very young and spent my holidays at my grandmother's house, I was imbued with the creativity of the band KINO, and, being pretty sad child, I was subdued. Actually, I do not remember the moment from which it all began - it all happened by itself.
What does your pseudonym mean?
V: paraphrasing Gandalf in this answer, I will say only one thing: I am Vaiug, and Vaiug is me. To all those who thirsty for answers I advise to address to the literature or to the Internet sources. I can say for sure that my name reflects my views, having stood the test of time.
When did you start playing drums? Why did you choose them?
V: It all started with the invitation of my school buddy to visit him, because he bought a drum set and played it in his parents' appartments in the usual appartment building. The very sensation of hitting this plastic... I still remember how it struck me, how it sounded. I adore the thunder and rain from childhood, and the blows on the volumes probably remind me of all this. I did not think much why it was the drums. Perhaps they chose me more than I had chose them.
What musicians influenced your style of play?
V: I was influenced by Black Metal-albums of classic 90s era. In almost every album I found something that, as it seems to me, is true Black Metal. I am constantly learning, trying to discover something new for myself. The constant practice - as for an ordinary person to go to the gym - became necessity for me. I can no longer imagine myself without it. Until now, I am amazed with the skills of Hellhammer’, his technuques, speed. Probably, for me he is a golden standard of Black Metal drummer. Also Fenriz. I'm still impressed by his manner of playing, by his simple playing that expresses the quintessence of Darkthrone. In this regard, he is my guide on this dark path.
Do you prefer to play with blastbeats or to beat old-school "rock-and-roll" rhythm?
V: It all depends on the song that I'm playing. The composition itself is more important, it starts to lead me. Am I tired of blast beats? I think no. I like playing in different tempos.
Have you played anywhere before APHOOM ZHAH?
V: "Played" - probably not a very correct word, haha. When I was studying, there was a guy in the same college who listened to metal. Together we decided to express our thoughts and ideas somehow , but since none of us could play, it was very strange. There were ancient instruments in this college, probably from 60s or 70s, and a small room saturated with the smell of rot. I took place at the drum kit (if you can call this collection of junk a kit), and my colleague took up the bass. We did not have a guitar player. What we "played" was quite chaotic, I don't think that the term "music" can be applied to this stuff. Although now, remembering that time, I remember that some songs even had some structure ...
Tell us about the creation of APHOOM ZHAH. If you believe Metal-Archives, the band was created in 1998 under the name DISCLAIMER, and was renamed only in 1999th. Am I mistaken if I suppose that you were originally not planning to play Black Metal at all?
V: In 1998 I met Cold Flame, who also did not have any playing experience or his own instrument. But he also had a desire to make music, he had similar thoughts on how this music should sound, so we chose Black Metal - more precisely, it chose us. There was no doubts about what to play. We knew what we wanted, and how it should sound. I remember that time: we did not had the money for normal equipment, so we, conventionally speaking, exchanged some ancient amplifiers for a bottle of beer and the like. Then that "Belarus" bass was acquired - again, for a symbolic bottle of beer - the sound of this bass you can hear on "Eternal Pain". I want to say a word about legendary sound engineer Sergei Nikolaenko, who was able to squeeze everything out of this piece of wood, so that it could sound as good as possible.
Especially for fans of "krewks" and "atum djahs" tell us how the band's name is pronounced, and what it means.
V: "Ap-hoom-zhah", and nothing else. For a long time I've heard such a huge amount of incorrect "pronunciations", that only pronunciation and spelling of the second name of Possession Prods leadercan compete with it.
"Eternal Pain" demo was recorded as trio - Cold Flame played the guitar, you're on the drums, and someone named Nav' took the bass, the release design and the main vocals. Tell me a little more about this mysterious person. Why did Nav' left the group?
V: In truth, Nav did not played bass on this record. Cold Flame recorded bass and guitar. Nav' only did vocals. We have designated him as bassist in the inlay because we planned that he will become our full-time bassist and singer in the future. Unfortunately, it never happened. Nav' was my friend since childhood, since the year 1991 or something. We grew up in the same yard, had similar views, so when me and Cold Flame were looking for a singer, I suggested Nav'. After the recording, Nav' got into the madhouse. When we visited him there, he had no idea what to do with Aphoom Zhah, he had no plans for future life. A little later, we lost contacts with him, and then I found out that he had moved to Brest. I did not talk to him about five or six years after that. t the moment, we again communicate and maintain friendly relations. Nav' is an active painter now, he devotes all his free time to painting, so I wish him the best luck!
The lyrics of several songs from the demo were written by Twilight One of KRUK. How did this happen?
V: Before the recording, we had all music, but we didn't have lyrics for 2 songs, even no ideas of the lyrics. Leanid from Possession Prods / KRUK told that Twilight One has some texts that could be good for APHOOM ZHAH. I remember the day when the musical part of the song "Never" was invented. It was a snowy winter day, me and Cold Flame staggered through the woods. The atmosphere of a winter forest, a lifeless forest, without people, just pierced us with its misanthropy and alienation. After returning from the forest, the song was created within an hour or two. When Twilight One showed us his lyrics of "Never", I have understood that this song and this text are created for each other.
Why you have never played live?
V: On questions about many things that happened before, I can not give a clear answer. There was not such decision as "Stop, no concerts" or something like that. Remembering the past now, for some reason I am convinced that everything happens only when it should happen. We did not ask ourselves about the live shows, we just composed the music we loved, without any thoughts about the shows. We staggered through the woods, drank beer, talked, that was enough for us.
During the recording of the demo, you (judging by blury photos) used corpse paint, but then abandoned it - why?
V: At the initial stage, we were imbued with the idea of the inhuman component of Black Metal, the makeup was consistent with this idea. On «Symbol of new Aeon» we did not want to identify ourselves with the horde of the people painting their faces without any idea of what they are doing... All the evil inside, that's why we didn't used corpse paint anymore. The same is true about the term we used to describe what we were doing.
In 2004, your demo "Eternal Pain" was re-released on the split record with ŠMIERCIESLAŬ from Homiel. I know that you have a long-time friendship with Homiel scene. Also you have designed albums for ŠMIERCIESLAŬ and ZMROK. Why you are so welcomed in Homiel region?
V: I remember Modgud's birthday in year 2000. I wasdrunk as hell, standing on the balcony, trying not to vomit my guts. But I was still vomiting as fucking Bucephalus stallion. And at that moment I was listening DARKTHRONE's «Panzerfaust», and it was really special feeling. The atmosphere of Homiel is special. Probably, I have some of this aura in me, this is why me and Homiel have this symbiosis.
The only album of APHOOM ZHAH, released in 2005, was recorded as duo, and you made the main vocals. These vocals of yours are quite unusual for Black Metal - rather low, and with some hidden note of suffering or schizophrenia, it' hard to describe. Is this all on purpose, or did you just sing as you can?
V: Actually, it was originally planned that on this album each of us will sing 2 songs, plus Leanid will sing two more. But already in the studio Cold Flame was not pleased with how his voice sounded, so I made all his vocal parts. It is difficult for me to characterize my manner of singing. The only thing I can say is that when performing, I try to live in the text as much as possible, so that my personal presence disappears.
Is it true that "Symbol of New Aeon" was written in the end of XX century and just waited for it's time?
V: Yes, that's the truth. It was composed almost immediately after "Eternal Pain". old Flame recorded the guitar parts on the tape and gave it to me to think over the drums. It's very difficult for me to explain why the album was recorded only in 2005.
I can safely say that DARKTHRONE was your main musical reference point on the demo. But on the album it's not so obvious - it is much more complex musically and thematically. Can you tell what bands influenced "Symbol of new Aeon"?
V: I can only speak for myself: I was inspired by classical Black Metal-albums - «De Mysteriis Dom Satanas», «Under a funeral moon» and so on, plus some other records that I don't remember anymore.
As I understood, Satanism is the dominant theme on the demo, but on the album it seems that considerable attention is paid to the theme of death - one should just listen to «Flowers for the Dead» and all these movie samples... can you tell us about the concept of both releases? By the way, why are the lyrics written in English?
V: I'd like to clarify: APHOOM ZHAH has no demos, "Eternal Pain" is a full-length album, too. And I must say that our albums did not have a general concept at all, each song in itself was conceptual. The second album can be called a compilation, if you understand what I'm talking about.
Why did the band split up? Did you have any sketches of the new material that have not been used? Is there a chance that APHOOM ZHAH will ever rise again - even under a different name?
V: Probably this is the most difficult question, but I will try to answer. It's because Cold Flame and I became too different, and our roads broke up in opposite directions. I have nothing more to add. We had the unused material, it would be quite enough for a third full-length album, but in fact nothing will happen. Ashes to dust, dust to dust ...
You, Cold Flame and Ryks Asirg of KRUK created a project named SICKthat was pretty popular abroad. Tell us about how you came up with the idea of this project, and why it all ended with just one album.
V: SICK was invented by Cold Flame. Me and Leanid were just additional musicians, so it won't be right from me to tell about it. For myself, I would say that it was an excellent occasion to do something strange and painful at that time, before all this fucking ill-fated trend for industriality and "aborymination".
How do you feel today about the records you took part in? Are you pleased with everything?
V: Of course, I'm 666% satisfied with what I participated in, for one simple reason - after all these years I do not feel that it was me who played it. There is no such feeling. There is a feeling that my body was used by the Higher Power. Probably, after all, there is a Devil's Will. The devil used us as guides of his Will. Someone left... I stayed. Well, probably it means I still have something to say.
Tell us how you ended up in KRUK.
V: My friendship with the leader of KRUK and Possession started in year 1998 or something. Who is interested, he can find out the details and circumstances. After all these years, getting to know KRUK, I'm not sure that someone could plunge into its interior as deeply as I did, to understand and experience it, and to play KRUK's music better than me. Although no, someone could play it. Better, yes. More professionally, yes - there are many who can do this. But with total understanding of what KRUK really represents? Definitely not. To understand KRUK, you need to live near KRUK for many years. Hell no, no one can do this. That's why I'm here now.
In autumn, KRUK played it's very first live show. This show was also very first for you as a live drummer. Recently, the second show was played in Mahiljou. Then you had 2 gigs on Ural, in Russia. Tell us about your impressions. Do you like to play live?
V: It was strange experience. What else can I say! At first it seemed to me that there would be jitters, disturbance and so on. I do not like people, especially when there are many of them, but in fact everything was much easier. I turn off at the show, I abstract to 100% of what is happening outside the stage, so to all the friends who waved to me in front of the stage, I can say: sorry, I just do not see you, haha. Do I like to play live? I just don't care. I like to play drums in general, so any show is basically the same rehearsal for me, so I do not see a problem for myself. Regarding the shows in Russia, I can only thank all those involved: the organizers, the musicians who shared the scene with us, and also helped me hang up the iron before the performance - guys, you have my huge thanks!!!!!!!!!! And also I want to thank everyone who came to the show and supported us not with Internet words, but by action, buying a ticket... You have my 666-digit hail!
If you were invited to the band consisting of strangers, but playing good music, would you agree?
V: For me it has always been (and is) important not only to create music, but also to communicate with people who share my views on everything. So, if we talk about creating something only from musical point of view, this is impossible, it would be totally wrong.
Finally, a couple of questions about high art You are not only a musician, but also an artist - tell me when you seriously started painting? What do you like more - play or draw? (Some of your works can be found at DeviantArt under the link: https://vaiug.deviantart.com/)
V: I draw pictures since my early childhood, as long as I remember myself. For me, drawing is a kind of trance, immersion in yourself, visionary or something. I remember my childhood: I preferred drawing to playing outside with other children, and who knows, if it were not for Nav', gradually pulling me out into the street, maybe I would still paint in a room with tightly drawn curtains, ha-ha. Everything that concerns creativity, whether it's playing drums or drawing - I can not say that I'm doing it "seriously / professionally". It just comes out of me. I do not have an educationI just paint, without the slightest notion of proportions, compositions... I do not know if it's good or bad, I basically do not care, it just happens, that's all. To the question of what is pleasing more, is how to ask the child whom he loves more - father or mother. For me it's like two hands. Without hands, I would live, but it would be a real torture.
Are you also a great fan of reading - can you name a few of your favorite pieces?
V: Hell yes, thank you for this question! If you ask me what I do prefer - communicating with other people or reading a good book - I will definitely take a book, even if I read it many times before. Algernon Blackwood, Lovecraft, Gustav Meyrink, Leo Peruz, Colin Wilson, Jean Rae, Robert Howard, GG Evers, William Hope Hodgson, the list goes on ... If you know these authors, you and me speaking the same language!
Thank you for your answers! If you want to add something to all of the above - do it!
V: Raman, thank you for the opportunity to share the word. Be sincere to yourself and support our underground, because the little burning match in the end is nothing but a fire that ignites the heavens. Hail Satan!