Interview with Georgiy (Guitars, bass, programming) and Ivan (Vocals)
I have no idea what happened here and how this one got lost, but here is my interview with Russian experimental death/doom duo Mare Infinitum, originally planned for post in July of 2015. In it, we discuss the album, the background of the musicians, thoughts on America and things to explore if you ever choose to travel to Russia. Great interview, it upsets me greatly to see that it fell behind.
For those who aren’t familiar with the band, tell us a little about yourselves.
Georgiy: Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions! We are the band Mare Infinitum from Moscow, Russia formed in 2010 and we play doom/death metal. Our debut album called Sea of Infinity was realized in 2011 and the second album, Alien Monolith God came out this spring. Our current studio line up is a duet that includes Ivan Guskov on clean vocals and Georgiy Bykov handling guitars, bass and programing. Our former growler and lyricist Andrei Karpuhin left the band in 2014.
Ivan: Hello, everybody! My name is Ivan Guskov. I am the voice of Mare Infinitum and a few other bands from Moscow. I am also working as an actor in Moscow Music & Drama theater.
The new record is called Alien Monolith God, which sounds truly intriguing. Tell me a little bit about the concept behind this.
Georgiy: Our new album doesn't have any concept at all in terms of lyrical ideas. Each song has it's own different story behind it. There are lyrics about madness, horror, solitude and apocalypse on the album. My personal associations with Alien Monolith God deal with the eternity of space, stars and galaxies.
Tell us a little bit about the recording process for the disc. How long did that take and are you pleased with the final result? Because I know I am.
Georgiy: The recording process begun at the end of December, in 2013. We choose Primordial Studio to work with as we did with the first album. Drums were recorded first. I offered session drummer Vladimir Lyashkov and he did a great job. Rhythm guitars, clean guitars and bass were recorded second by me and then our producer Michael, who also recorded solos. Vocal tracks were done at the end of the process around April 2014. Unfortunately, the mixing process was a bit long because of some technical problems in studio so we finished the album in October of 2014. I have to say that I’m very happy with the result.
Ivan: For me it was a great experience. Not as difficult as it was for Georgiy and the other musicians. I had two sessions in studio. One with our growler, Andrey and one with my good friend Olesya Levina, who did all of the female vocals on this record. I am very happy with results. Feedback from foreign countries tells us that we did something special this time.
Let me tell you, there are some really odd things here that I’d never thought I’d ever hear on a doom death record, like the Dead Can Dance influenced stuff, for example. How did you come up with these ideas?
Georgiy: That was very natural. I always try to do things I like. I never thought that because something wasn't in the doom/death genre, that I wouldn't use it. I don't think this way at all! I try to listen to my songs in general and always ask myself if they are good enough. Did I say everything that I needed to say in the song? If some parts work together well I use them. It doesn't matter if it would be natural for the doom genre or not. I feel that you have to do something unusual instead of just doing the same thing as others around you.
Lovecraft’s ancient ones still hold sway on the public nearly a hundred years after his death. What do you think was so monolithic about H.P. Lovecraft and the way that he wrote?
Ivan: I think, it's all about an unexpected fear that lives inside us. Fear, that you can't explain or describe. Fear of the unknown.
Seeing that you’re fans of horror and sci-fi novels, what are some other authors or perhaps even some films that you’d recommend we check out? One of the best Lovecraftian films I’ve ever seen was Dagon, but that was particularly due to the ending. Can’t help but think that there’s a better one that I’m forgetting here…
Ivan: I am not a fan of horror movies. When I was younger, of course I saw “Nightmare on Elm street”, “Hellraiser” and other classic horror movies. But now I prefer cartoons. I think the world itself has enough pain, anger, fear and other negative emotions to spend my time watching these on the big screen.
I know a few horror video games that have a good atmosphere. Like “Call Of Cthulhu: Dark Corners Of The Earth”, “Dead Space” or “The Suffering."
What are some interesting things that you gentlemen do for a hobby that people here in the states really wouldn’t be able to do? What are some parts of Russia that you think we need to visit and experience for ourselves?
Georgiy: I don't think there are any activities here that you are unable to do in the US. I used to do quite simple things like meet my friends, go to rehearsals, go to the gym, go to the hot bath (Russian sauna) and travel sometimes. If you want to visit Russia, there are lots of places you could explore. You could find very interesting things everywhere from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok. If you are interested in seeing more civilized (and more "classical" I would say) places, your could go to Moscow, St Petersburg, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Vyborg, Yarolavl, Vladimir, Suzdal etc. If you prefer more wild and silent places, you have choices everywhere from Ural to Far East, Kamchatka and Chukotka. As far as I know, James Hetfield of Metallica visited Kamchatka for hunting.
Ivan: I like to travel around the world, spend time with my girlfriend, play video games, eat and of course, I like to make and listen music. I am a huge music fan! And it doesn't matter where I am – singing on stage or in the crowd with other fans. I like to go to the gigs and festivals here in Russia and around the world. Nothing special. I think we are very boring people.
Being Russians, what are your thoughts on the culture and political ideologies of the United States? Do you think that we’ve all gone crazy, or do you just shrug your shoulders and say, “Silly Americans?”
Georgiy. I think that if Americans were able to launch The New Horizons and the Voyagers 1 and 2, and if they reached the Moon and have about four-hundred Nobel Prizes as well as Hollywood, Walt Disney, Elvis Presley, Gibson guitars etc. how could I say they are silly? I think people in USA live their own lives, have their own problems and dreams as well as we do in Russia. I don’t think we have such large differences between us. Some Americans become Russian citizens, like Olympic champion Vic Ivan Wild or Jeff Monson (he is going to become a citizen of Russia). Both of them are very popular in Russia. If you ask me about the political aspects of the US as well as about politics in general, I don’t think this is right place to discuss such things. I think politics is something that divides people and music is something unites them. Thus, I prefer music.
Ivan: I was working with Americans in 1999 when we were doing Russian version of hippie-love-rock musical “Hair” in Moscow. In 2006 I was in LA with the show. I have friends in the US. I don't think that people are so different around the world. Most of us have the same problems. It's all about culture and education, I think. If you want to discuss political problems, you should visit my Facebook page. In this direction, I think that we Russians need to think about our own political problems now. Not about America.
Where can we pick up the album and see you guys live? Would you ever be open to playing here in the US?
Georgiy: We would be very happy to visit the US and play for our listeners! If you know some local promoters who would be interested in us, just let us know!
Ivan: You can pick our records from our label Solitude Productions, Bandcamp and maybe iTunes, but i'm not sure about this service. Of course we want to play around the world. Not only in the US. We are just waiting for a call from the local promoters.
What are some other projects that you are working on, which we might be able to check out in the future?
Georgiy: I have numerous ideas for the next album from Mare Infinitum. I have no idea when it will be realized but we will try to do it as soon as possible. Also, I play in the post-rock band A Young Man’s Funeral that is a project of a friend of mine.
Ivan: I have a few bands here in Moscow, with albums that will be released later this year. First is the southern rock-blues band called Red River Hog. You can check it on Soundcloud. And other one – it's my sludge-doom project with Andrey from Mare Infinitum. It's called Dopehaze. It was recorded in 2013, but because of many problems it will be released later this year.
Thanks for making one of the single best death/doom albums I’ve ever heard in my entire life. This is thing is absolutely astounding. There’s nothing quite like it, and nothing quite like your band. I thank you for taking the time to answer this interview and wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
Georgiy: Thanks for such great support!! I hope we will face all of you live someday! Big hug.
Ivan: Thank you for your support! I hope that someday we will meet! Keep on rockin'!