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Primitai's Srdjan Bilic: "Saxon are a huge musical influence on our guitar sound, and also an inspiration for never giving up…"

Interview with Guy Miller & Srdjan Bilic from Primitai
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 14 February 2021, 9:24 PM

It is a safe bet to say that there are folks thinking that it is amazing that we, the humans, are still here on the planet, roaming about, not really preserving it as we should. Everything can happen, as it may sound as a cliché, but it let's hope that we will be alright, at least for the next 1,000 years. However, there are those that dream, imagine and think beyond the box. The British Heavy Metallers, Primitai, took a step forward with their music, and their aspirations, and are set to come up with “Violence of the Skies”, the future of British Metal. Steinmetal had a chat with the two veterans of the band, Guy Miller & Srdjan Bilic, about the new album, musical direction and more…

Hello guys, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate, of course considering the mass mania going on over the pandemic?

Guy: Hi, I’ve been good thanks, all things considered! Very happy to be able to put out new music.

The UK has been quite in the news lately, and sadly not due to anything positive, so many cases of infection, casualties by the thousands, do you see the end of it? What are the chances to be vaccinated in the UK nowadays?

Guy: I think the entire UK population are due to be offered the vaccination over the coming months so hopefully the end is nigh for the pandemic!

With the culture being shut down for the past year, it has been hard for artists, and everyone else that is connected to the industry in any form. How have you been dealing with the situation yourself? How have you been keeping yourself in line, or better said, sane, all this time?

Guy: It’s been such a tough year for artists and everyone in the industry. We’ve just tried to make the most of our time, writing and recording a new album, “Violence of the Skies”, and we were fortunate to sign a new record deal with Rock Of Angels Records, so in spite of a challenging year we have been able to achieve something really positive in 2020. I also managed to spend a lot more time working on my vocals and vocal technique in the months leading up to going into the recording studio which was really beneficial!

Primitai has been known to be quite the active band out there when it comes to the live scene, since you probably haven’t stepped on a stage for too long, what have you been missing about performing the most? What is the first thing that you intend to do once a ‘Go’ is given to head back to the conquest of the stages?

Guy: Yes – we all miss playing live so much, and we’ve missed being able to see our favorite bands play shows. I missed everything about playing live, the whole experience – travelling to new places, meeting new people and connecting with an audience, and of course hearing music being played live! We will be back on stage as soon as we’re able to and can’t wait to play some new songs as well as our old favorites from across our back catalogue.

After being signed to a local label in the UK, you took the next step and signed with the Greek / German Rock Of Angels Records, which is a rather new label on its own. How do you feel about this signing? What exactly in the image of the label lured to the front door of Rock Of Angels?

Srdjan: The signing is really important for the band as we feel our music needs to be promoted and distributed in Europe which is where our kind of metal is the most popular, and ROAR have a great team for this.  They have been very positive about the band which motivates us to give it our best shot too.  One reason we approached ROAR was because we saw they had a roster of new bands that were making breakthroughs and we recognized them as someone that could help take Primitai to the next level.

Coming in strong with the shiny no. 6, Primitai releases “Violence of the Skies”, more or less stating that the Metal scene, local or international, is about to feel the next stage of the band. Maintaining that Sci-Fi feel to your release, you turn to the heavens, or rather outer space for answers about what could happen to mankind once this world would eventually succumb. When you think about it, how do you see in your mind, or imagination, this world ending?

Srdjan: Who knows how the might world end, our bet is a natural disaster sweeping in the earth – our song “I’ll Live Again” in particular talks about this scenario!

With your told story, do you think that the universe is ready to have mankind trailing the star systems, looking for possible new exploits or opportunities for perhaps yet another kind of Earth?

Srdjan: I will be honest and say we only think about space adventures as pure science fiction in the best possible way haha – in reality humans need food, water, light, heat, energy…in reality we will have to wait for all of this to be artificial first.

Though I have been skeptical about it to be honest, do you consider “Violence of the Skies” to be a sort of a concept album? If so, is the main element that guides it is pretty much survival of the fittest or survival in overall?

Srdjan: The whole theme came together quite spontaneously. Many of the song ideas were atmospheric with synths or orchestral parts – these all inspired us to visualize stories set in space.  Especially as in 2020 our daily lives were very restricted we had to live in our imagination.  The story talks about the world as we know it coming to an end, trying to rise up against the chaos, escaping into space to seek new victories. However once in space you have to deal with the loneliness, everything you have lost, not to mention the unknown life threatening dangers.  You’re right, the album talks about survival – whether escaping from disaster or flying into it. The best way for the readers to find out for themselves is to get comfortable and listen to the whole album back to front.

Musically, as I see it, nearly album after album, and you haven’t really started yesterday, Primitai is raising the bar of where its potential can take it. British Metal as we knew it became multifarious, storming with contemporary Power Metal and technical attributes of newly found Progressive Metal, ascertaining a level of musicianship that is stellar. How can you describe this developmental stage of Primitai through the veils of “Violence of the Skies”?

Guy: Violence of the Skies draws upon the styles of heavy metal we have been playing since the beginning and takes it to new levels.  I think the album is the similar kind of progression made by the first wave of bands influenced by Maiden and Priest – such as Savatage, Crimson Glory or Helloween, pushing heavy metal from its roots to the boundary of power and progressive metal, by making it more melodic, intricate and accomplished.  We are also open to influences from any kind of metal or non- metal, our only rule is that the end product sounds great. Overall Violence of the Skies is a culmination of our growing confidence with different keys, modulations, tempos, longer song structures, time signatures and textures.

With relevance to the previous question, I sensed that “Violence of the Skies” tends to its melodies far beyond of your previous albums, so is this key to penetrate people’s hearts, through massive melodies and energetic riffery and punches?

Guy: We’ve always been about heavy metal but with melody, often in contrast to the prevailing sound of the contemporary metal scene. In my opinion melody, hooks and huge choruses are so important and make for the most enjoyable music.

Since there have been a lot of bands nowadays that found out that it is possible to inherit Traditional Metal aspects while putting on a modernized technicality to the music, what do you think that Primitai brings fresh to the table with the likes of “Violence of the Skies”?

Srdjan: I think what’s different about us is that we’re not trying to belong to one of the many subgenres (of subgenres), which is what many other newer heavy bands are doing.   We’ve always found that many kinds of metal fans and music fans can relate to our music. Over the years we’ve played all kinds of festivals and tours alongside anyone from Sepultura to Crazy Lixx and nearly always got a great response.  Another good example is that when we played our anniversary show we had a heavy, power and progressive bands supporting, and NWOBHM DJs between live sets – that says it all really!

Guy, I think that your comrade in arms, Mr. Bilic, outdid himself lead guitaring wise, he simply ripped it to shreds. How about that pushing up to the limits?

Guy: Srdjan and I joined the band together in 2009 and ever since he has continued to impress me with his musical ability and has really outdone himself on this album, which I believe is our most accomplished record to date.

One of the chief elements of this album is its sound, a massive improvement over the “The Callings” for certain. What is your input in regards to the sound direction that this album is on?

Guy: We wanted a more dynamic sounding album, of course with soaring guitars and vocals, but with a slightly more organic and natural drum sound to really give our drummer Jon Warren time to shine – he doesn’t require any studio trickery - so this is very much a showcase of him as much as any other member. This album also really showcases the complete rhythm section of Scott (bass) and Jon.

 “Valley Of Darkness”, as if right from the first vocal melodies, invited itself to become a paramount on this album. Sure, it is catchy and melodic, yet it is also intelligent and takes one to new horizons. How do you appreciate this track and its impact on the record?

Guy: It’s a track with much depth and dynamics to it vocally and I really pushed myself on this album to capture more emotion, depth, character and dexterity in my performance.  We feel this song is the “magnum opus” of the album, where we take the listener on a musical journey.   It’s a song about a dream turning into a nightmare, a valley where you see the ghosts of your lost ones and you share a poignant moment with them, but then the valley quakes and this time they are lost forever.  Musically we reflect this with calm and serene moments going into some of the heaviest passages we’ve ever written.

Sliding as the technical monstrosity, “Innocent” holds no prisoners, its main riffery is destructive, fuming with that Power meets Thrash Metal descending fire, everything sounds tight and accurate. What can you tell about this song’s creation?

Srdjan: The music for Innocent was written by our other guitarist Sergio Giron who is now based in Spain.  The pandemic situation means we were forced apart geographically but we still managed to keep our musical relationship going and have him be a big part of this album.  He’s a very technical player and this song is his showcase for his style, hence the sharp precision of the riffs.  We’re very grateful that we are still making music together and that he really outdid himself, he really made his contribution count.

It is not secret that you are part of the royal Metal scene, which made Heavy Metal what it is, and as a celebration, you invited Saxon’s six stringer, Paul Quinn, to send that shard of tradition to your material. “Put To The Sword” is rather old school in its vision, an audience tune. How was it to work with Mr. Quinn? How did this joint venture generate?

Srdjan: Saxon are a huge musical influence on our guitar sound, and also an inspiration for never giving up– in the 90s when most classic British metal bands slowed down, Saxon relocated to Europe and remained a contemporary band playing with a new power metal edge and modern production, releasing their strongest material.  There is a lot in common between Saxon’s sound from the last 20 years with ours.  In our humble opinion Paul Quinn is up there with the best of the classic metal guitarists like Adrian Smith – just listen to his solo on Crusader!  I was chatting to him about guitar stuff on Facebook when the thought crossed our mind to see if he wanted to play a solo on our album. While it is our huge honor to have him, we also hope to help Paul gain just a bit more appreciation and recognition as it is fair to say he is underrated.  Paul was great to work with and everyone is really happy with how it turned out.

Looking forward into the not too far future, what are you planning to properly promote this new record? Is a live stream show in any line of thought or do you prefer to do it right in the face?

Guy: We are planning on releasing more music videos and lyric videos over the course of the year, hopefully 5 or so in total, so that we can keep showing the world something new as the months go by.  We have some exciting and original ideas we can’t wait to show you.  We are optimistic that we can play some shows in 2021 and our plan is to increase our live activity more and more as the restrictions go down.

Guys, I can’t thank you enough for your time and effort for this interview. Simply amazing outcome for “Violence of the Skies”, keep up the greatness. Cheers gents

Guy: Thank you so much for your kind words and for your support and really glad you like the new album. We hope to see you on the road soon!


 



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