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Kozeljnik (The Stone)

Interview with Kozeljnik from The Stone
by Erika Kuenstler at 08 February 2015, 10:59 AM

This past Saturday saw the latest installment of the Bavarian Winter Battle take place, with the headlining performance being delivered curtesy of Serbian Black Metal masters, The Stone. With the release of their exceptionally well-received seventh full-length album “Nekroza” at the end of last year, THE STONE have left many fans eagerly anticipating seeing them live, and their show in Rosenheim proved to be no exception. Just before their tempestuous performance, I got a chance to speak to Kozeljnik, the main creative force behind the band, covering a host of topics ranging from the new album, the history and message of the band, all the way to the upcoming tour dates for THE STONE. So in case you missed them this time round, be sure to catch them later this year!

First of all, congratulations with “Nekroza”, it’s a very impressive album.

Thank you very much!

How have your audiences responded to it so far?

So far, very well. We have gotten positive reviews and the feedback from the audience is pretty much on a high level, so it’s made pleasant moments for us to know that we made a good album, and that people recognise that.

In terms of the recording process, there were several firsts for the band: you didn’t have the entire band together, and you also recorded the album in two different studios.

Yeah, our drummer has been living in Canada for some time now, so we were forced to do it that way so that he records the drums in Canada and we record the rest in Serbia, in Belgrade. We chose to do it in Belgrade as the previous album was recorded in the Czech Republic. It was the first time recording the drums separately from the others, but it was also exciting and challenging for the whole band. But I think we managed to do a great job according to production and according to all other aspects. With the whole energy of the album we achieved what we wanted.

You yourself did a little production work, along with a producer in Serbia and one in Canada.

Yeah, actually Rob Shallcross did the drum recording. He is a known producer for his work with bands like Testament and Dark Angel and he did a pretty good job for us. It was a bit of a weird experience for us because we had a limited time of two days for recording the drums so it was very fast, but he is a professional guy, plus our drummer is good enough to do a good recording in a short time. So it was a good experience and a successful one.

Do you think you’ll carry on in that way for future recordings?

Time will tell, because it depends on many other aspects. For now our drummer will stay in Canada because he has work obligations there. So probably at the moment it will stay like that, but we will see when the time comes with a new record, we will see how to manage it then.

For your non-Serbian fans, what does “Nekroza” revolve around lyrically?

It’s a concept about the necrosis of the soul. It’s kind of about the demise of modern values, and turning back to the primordial stage, turning back to point zero.

That can be interpreted either very optimistically or very pessimistically.

Well, when you speak about our point of view of modern society, then we are extreme pessimists. So it’s turning back to darkness, turning the human soul to where it belongs, to its very essence.

Is that a message that The Stone try to convey in general?

Well, the last four albums we’re mostly doing in that way. But not all the albums can be stated behind that concept. The last one is specifically about the necrosis of the soul, as I said. It’s kind of exploring the black void and the journey of the soul through that void. On previous albums we also dealt with similar directions. For example “Golet”, the previous one, is about barrenness and emptiness of the soul or the being. And everything can be linked with the phenomenon of death. Death is our main source of inspiration; that death is the climax of that primordial darkness, of entering the primordial darkness.

It will be interesting where you go next. There seems to be a progression from one album to the next.

Yeah, somehow. The only thing is that we are still doing lyrics in Serbian, so probably it’s hard for the non-Serbian audience to understand. But it’s not that we haven’t tried to write our lyrics in English but simply we felt that the best way is to keep the essence of words and thoughts bound to the language that is most familiar to us, which is our native language. But also, I think that can be challenging in the way that others explore the lyrics. Today it’s quite easy to make the effort to use the internet to translate stuff. If people want to try explore it, then they can do it. And it will be acceptable in the same way as it was in English.

That’s actually one of the things I admire about The Stone. A lot of bands write their lyrics in English just to be more accessible. It seems more honest to the music to write in one’s native language.

In our case, it’s definitely the honest way because we feel that’s the best way that we can explore what we to achieve with our words and our lyrics and our message.

About yourself now, you’re the creative force behind a number of bands, like The Stone, May Result, Murder, and Kozeljnik. Yet if you listen to these bands, they all sound so different. How do you manage to keep each sound distinctive?

It’s been so many years since I’ve been covering positions in two or three or four bands. It’s something I’ve gotten used to doing. But more or less, the priorities must be in line, and my highest priority has always been The Stone. But the other bands which I am involved in, I also give my true essence to them in a creative way of supporting the band. You mentioned May Result; at the moment May Result has been on ice for several years but we will see if we shall do some next steps. I also play in the band Kozeljnik which has released two albums and a few EPs. And then recently I joined a new Serbian Black Metal band, a very promising act, Ophidian Coil that is soon to release its debut mini-album on Obscure Abhorrence Productions. The main man behind that band is actually our new bass player, so that is going to be very interesting.

Many fans are wondering if there are any concrete plans for May Result to start up again?

Well, at the moment, there are no exact plans like doing a new album or doing live shows, but there are a few preliminary ideas to do some new songs, so we’ll try to record them. During that time, it became very hard for us to focus on many bands, so with May Result, after the fourth album, we thought to make a break, and to stop for a while and see how things develop. Unfortunately, that break still lasts. But as I said, there are some ideas to continue the band with the new material, but time will tell.

The Stone were one of the first Black Metal bands in Serbia. During that post-war period, that must have been very difficult. Do you think that has influenced the band and how you’ve manage to grow?

We have been here for years. The band was formed in 1996, and did a few years under the name Stone To Flesh. Then we changed the name to The Stone because of problems with the previous label back then. I don’t know if we were the first or the second band, but actually it doesn’t matter. But definitely we were the very first Black Metal band that lasted so long. 2016 will be the 20 year anniversary of the band, and we will definitely think of doing something special for that occasion. But coming back to your question, actually in 1996 the war was not in ex-Yugoslavia, but me personally and the vocalist were the only original members from that time. It was obvious that we were somehow even in our subconscious inspired by the war. It was pure black days back then, it was dark times, and it definitely affected the band. But nowadays that’s behind us. Today it’s hard to speak about those links fifteen years ago. In that time, when we were still a demo band in ’96, ’97 it definitely had a big effect on us. We didn’t cover those themes and subjects about war, but we were probably touched by that war spirit, so it definitely had some inspiration.

The Stone only play in Belgrade, your home town, about once a year or so. Why is that?

Actually, we never want to repeat ourselves all the time. If we play a lot of concerts, that’s pretty much the same. We don’t want to play twice or three times a year in our home town. Even last year, we made a big pause, we didn’t play for almost two and a half years in our home town. But we will play Belgrade in three months: on 21st March we will play a gig in Belgrade, and then our tour starts on 17th April. We will do a tour with the Portuguese band Corpus Christii, our brothers, and also with the Spanish band Muert, a promising act. So it’s going to be good.

You’ll probably be happy to know that The Stone has a quite a strong fan-base in Southern Africa, believe it or not.

Really? I didn’t know that.

Would you ever consider touring there? Obviously dependent on promoters?

Yeah, it always comes down to promoters and money, especially when playing those far far distant places, like for example South America, or America, or Africa in this case. Which, to be honest, I didn’t have a clue that we have any fans there, but it’s good to know. Touring is always a challenging issue for us, but recently there are so many bands, so many tours. I’m mostly asking myself “Where are all the fans that are listening to the music?” because most of the fans are on the stage nowadays. Who is standing in front of the stage? But, in our case, we always try to push the limits and to play wherever we can, and wherever is possible.

Do you have any advice for those new bands?

It’s hard to give them any message, because I doubt they would listen to the message. You have a new generation that completely reigns the internet. All the knowledge they have of the scene they found on the internet, so any message from the old goats would be pointless. Maybe it’s the better way: we will see what happens to the old goats and the new bands popping out everywhere, releasing the same music, the same riffs, the same covers, the same image. Everything is the same.

They usually disappear just as quickly.

We will see. For me, it’s very strange that a band that has maybe four or six songs got a cult status and play all around the globe. That’s complete nonsense.

Well, those were all my questions. Thank you, and all the best for the show tonight.

Thank you!


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Edited 17 October 2021

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