Interview with Krauklis from URSKUMUG: „Tadas Forever!”
Six concerts in Lithuania, an album issued by “Ledo Takas”, impressive outfit and original sound has helped the Latvian metal band URSKUMUG gain popularity in Lithuania. Therefore, the head, soul and guitarist-vocalist of URSKUMUG Krauklis is interviewed about the past, present days and future plans of the band.
Hi there, URSKUMUG. How are the things? How are the sales of „Am Nodr“? Has “Ledo Takas” label satisfied your expectations?
Yes, we are satisfied with Ledo Takas work 99,99% :). As for the sales, things start slowly go to bright side; however, at the beginning mostly all was put into promotion.
So, let’s start from the very beginning. What was the origin of Urskumug and what musical influences did you have at the start? What concepts did you try to cover?
The beginning could be dated back to 2000-2001 when me and Slayorda decided on establishing a metal music band. We started to make sessions together and realized that the best way to express ourselves was black metal. Since I was formerly playing only death metal, it took about a year for me to get a feel and sense of black metal. When we had already made a few songs, Maero, who was also more tended to death metal, joined our band. We started playing in gigs and realized that it is time to record our material. Speaking about the influence of other bands, we have never tried to copy or reproduce some band musically and conceptually. We just have a need of creating something that is characteristic only to URSKUMUG. Of course, MORBID ANGEL, DEATH, EMPEROR, IMMORTAL, DARK FUNERAL, etc. could be mentioned as our idols.
Your biography claims that you tried to avoid live drums. What was behind this solution?
We have never tried to avoid live drums, but unfortunately a lack of drummers is felt in Latvia. It made us choose a drum-machine. Several Latvian drummers, who could satisfy our needs, are already playing in other bands. We would like our drummer to play only in URSKUMUG so he could devote us 100 per cent of his energy and inspiration. Also, we are not interested in a drummer who plays only black metal, we want an experimentalist.
Did you use your current image from the very beginning? What hides behind this image? Is it just a part of a show?
In our first gigs we were using traditional corpsepaint, but then we realized that we need to create something in our style, something new. Since our lyrics were about the stone-age, Maero thought out to create an image of a stone-age shaman. We decided to depict a stone-age man, who is a creator of beginnings of religion. Of course, it is obvious that such a scene image has given additional benefits for the identification of URSKUMUG.
You have released your first demo called “Pareja” pretty soon. Tell us a story of this recording and songwriting of “Pareja”. What were reviews of this release like?
Writing songs did not make any difficulties, we let our ideas drift along, because it was something new for us, since changing a style allows a lot of place for inspiration and ideas. None of us had any experience at the recording studio that is why we are very thankful to Gints Lundbergs for his strength and patience while working with URSKUMUG at our beginning. Recording of guitars, keyboards and vocal was slick, since we dedicated very hard work to it, for it the mixing made some problems for us. Each of us had his own idea of how the album should sound, that is why the most difficult for us was to agree on it and later to explain it to the sound engineer. Reviews were pretty good for the demo album, on average – 7 of 10 points, that is why we were satisfied with our work. Of course, there were some mentioned resemblances with early EMPEROR, IMMORTAL, etc. Certainly it was not our aim.
What impact did “Pareja” have on your future career after it was released? I mean, were you noticed by organizers, promoters and labels?
“Pareja” was only a little step outside the Baltic States, because in Europe we were known only to a few people. “Ledo Takas” was one and only who answered our “please” of releasing our next album.
Tell us about the period between “Pareja” and “Am Nodr” since I wasn`t able to find much information about it.
Already during the work on “Pareja” we created some visions for the next album and after a few weeks we started working on the new material. Series of gigs started to go on – Latvia, Lithuania, a gig in Belarus and the Czech Republic. Also the band members changed – the bass player Kriwix joined the band, but Draake from HERESIARH replaced Slayorda.
How did the contract with “Ledo Takas” come up to stage?
It was owing the work of our manager Juris Silders and personal interest of Tadas, head of “Ledo Takas”, of course. Since we are all acquainted with each other for some time, we did not have any doubt on the offer of this company, thus we agreed with pleasure on the collaboration with “Ledo Takas”.
Has “Ledo Takas” made any pressure of making and recording “Am Nodr”?
The only pressure of “Ledo Takas” was made by request of finishing the record a little bit faster :). I do not know what the situation with other companies is, but “Ledo Takas” did not provide us any requirements regarding the music and conception of “Am Nodr”, and we appreciate it. Tadas forever!!!
Tell us about the songwriting for “Am Nodr”. Was it easier because you became more professional? Maybe it was harder because you weren’t able to achieve the result you wanted or weren’t inspired at the time?
Actually it becomes more and more difficult. Each next song we write provides a duty of creating better songs, which would be more complicated and interesting musically and conceptually. We ourselves are getting older and we want our music to become more serious, thus we are paying much more attention to writing our songs now. The music sounds in our heads, but the most difficult is to implement it materially. Inspiration is always there more or less, but one must evaluate from aside if that what is created complies with his will. This is the everlasting problem.
“Am Nodr” is the second cooperation with Gints Lundbergs. Was the recording process easier this time? Is Gints and “Phoenix studio” the best choice for recording a metal album in the Baltic region?
Already during the recording of “Pareja” we had a very good collaboration with Gints Lundbergs, thus we are well acquainted with each others’ abilities and needs. We consider him to be the best sound man and board engineer in Latvia. As usual, we experimented with both sounds and drum programming, it also took a lot of time. The most difficult was the fact that we were able to work in the studio only on evenings after our work.
You now have a session drummer. What made you change your early “Drum-machine-only” concept? Will he appear on the next URSKUMUG release?
It is time to change something. We have received several offers of drummers. Balrogh is a session drummer in gigs since he is playing also in HUSKVARN and EX ANIMA, which is his main band. For the present we are not disclosing any information on other variants. When something new will happen, You will have an opportunity of evaluating the changes by yourselves.
What are your plans for today? Have you started new songs? Are you going to search for a new label or will you be sticking on the cooperation with “Ledo Takas” for some time more?
Only now we have started to work on the new material, because there was some kind of depression after the recording of “Am Nodr . We did not have any ideas what and how to do, maybe we became tired of each other. But now we have started to create the next album. It is hard to prognosticate when it will be finished, that is why I cannot say anything about the record label.
Which song do you enjoy playing live most?
All of them.
Which song is hardest to play live?
Which song is easiest to play live?
Final thoughts and salutations (and complaints of how boring this interview was :) ):
We want to express our thankfulness to our supporters for the strength they added to our inspiration during gigs. For the most we are thankful to Juris Silders and Tadas for staying with us for so long because working with us is very difficult.