Rock Hard 43

Interview prepared by PIKES MIKELLSON (for Rock Hard #43)

 

Здравствуйте! Could you recommend us anything in Moscow? What shouldn’t we miss when we visit the city and what should be avoid?
LadyOwl (Vocal): Привет!!! Well, I prefer to walk through Moscow streets! You better have a nice guide! Let me know when you‘ll be here ahahha
Ritter (Guitar): Добрый день! There are Boulevard ring, Arbat and Zaryadje in the very center of the city. Pretty sure, you will enjoy walking along streets to the Kremlin. There are lots of interesting things, bars, installations, live musicians, museums. Very similar to some European capital.
Avoid policemen. Fuck the police!
Moscow belongs to one of the most expensive cities to live in. How does a common person manages to survive there?
DedMoroz (Bass): I don't understand what you're talking about. Life in any capital is more expensive, than in rest of the country. But also you have bigger earnings. You have to be faster, smarter and stronger - and you will have no problems with survival in Moscow. It's a quite usual story.


You’re a young band and I’d say you’re not that well known in our area. You’ve been together for four years and I believe you weren‘t in any other band before. Could you introduce POKERFACE and tell us more about you?
DedMoroz: We are not as well known as some local band playing in your area every day, but we've already made several tours and we are not going to stop. Moreover, your magazine posts a big flyer with POKERFACE's spring tour.
Regarding members, actually, we've had quite many changes in band's life. Now we have a stable line-up. Our frontwoman - Alexandra LadyOwl - is the best extreme vocalist in Russia, she has beautiful voice and strong professional skills. Xen Ritter - our lead guitarist - makes our sound aggressive and melodic, her solos are amazing. Roman - our new drummer - as soon as Doctor left the band, Roman joined us several months ago. He shows good skills that helps POKERFACE to improve live performance. As for me - I'm not only a bass player from this band, but also a manager, a driver, a stage worker and so on.
LadyOwl: Well, I guess, you are not right about your area, and actually all of us played in bands before :)

Does the inspiration for a band name come from Lady Gaga’s song „Pokerface“ J? I think your name describes perfectly your way of thinking in which you deal with anti-Christian themes.
Ritter: If you mean these horns on the logo - well, I think, it was made more to separate from Lady Gaga (to show clearly that we are metal band), than for anti-Christian stuff. But if you think so, that's great. Or... is this antireligious theme still cool?
Anyway, it's all about Lemmy. He is our idol, both founders of POKERFACE (Doctor and Dietrich) have been strongly influenced by him. That's how the idea with the name have come - It's all about irony, sense of humour and flashback of Motorhead's "Ace of Spades". Lemmy still unites and inspires.
So, let people google "Pokerface", meaning Lady Gaga. To find us and say "wow!". It is rather fun.
LadyOwl: I guess, nobody was thinking about Lady Gaga when the name was chosen.

Is there enough male metal singers in Russia? Most bands I know have a frontwoman (SATARIAL, MERLIN). Or is metal a woman thing in Russia? Btw. do you think there’s a chance for MERLIN to ressurect?
Ritter: Sorry, I don't know anything about Merlin.
When I started, there were only few girls on Russian metal stage. And mostly these band were inspired by Nightwish and Evanescence. Nowadays boobs are everywhere, it is not only Russian feature. Maybe, it is more pleasant to watch pretty girls on stage, or maybe, it is all about contrast effect. Tiny, nice and tender girl brings brain-crushing metal with a creepy grimace on a pretty face. Who knows? Anyway, as Nekrasov said about russian women: "She would stop a running horse, and rush in a burning house..."
DedMoroz: I know for sure, that Merlin will never ressurect.
LadyOwl: Well, if you know Satarial and Merlin, that means, you know an underground part of Russian music well. If you will pay attention to more famous male bands like Aria, Amatory, Epidemia, Korrozia Metalla, Stigmata, Lumen and a lot more.., you will understand, that it’s pretty same with female.

Few months ago you released secod album of yours – „Game On“. Could you tell us more about composing process?
Ritter: We all take part in a music-writing process. Best songs are coming out, when two guitarists bring their own-style ideas and then Dmitry (DedMoroz) makes a whole composition from them, adds drums and bass. After that the track is ready for LadyOwl to do vocal parts. Everyone can focus on it's own part of work.
As to "Game On", the main objective was to do professional-sounding album and not to lose previous band songs' aggression and drive at the same time. I think, we did it well, I'm happy with this release.

The album was released via M & O Music. Now you’re with Metal Scrap. Why did you decide to change label? Personally I think that Metal Scrap does its best for their bands.
DedMoroz: Actually, we are an independent band. We are looking for an effective label. As for M&O Music. We only have distribution and promotional deal with them. It's not a big contract like "we sign you and give you a big pile of money". As for Metal Scrap - we haven't contract with them, but I know Anatoly personally, he is very kind man and he helped POKERFACE a lot. I will recommend my friends to work with him. Maybe one day we will sign a contract with Metal Scrap Records.

What do your lyrics deal with? Who is their author?
LadyOwl: For the first time in POKERFACE history we've had the lyricist Nana Traum Mond. That wasn’t a purpose, she just offered to try to match her textes and our music. About lyrics. "Game on" is not an ordinary album consisted of separated songs, but has its own deep sense and concept. All songs have a kind of certain line and different games of chance, casino theme, inner monsters and fears of people looking for simple ways to solve difficult self-problems inspired their conception. Everyone knows that the most simple way as usual is not the right one, but being under social pressure force the hero of this album to make aggressive and cruel decisions. His own behavior puts him into a trap of greed, fear and betrayal. His inner problems appear in images of monsters like Bone Reaper and Fatal Scythe, which hunt him and lead to the deeper layer of his own subconscious. Games that demons make him to play are in general ways to solve these personal problems. The hero tries these different ways, each of which leads to loss of all he earned during his entire life. The labyrinth with no beginning, no end, no exit. But diamonds are formed only under great pressure and temperature, and the hero of this album is not an exception. In the end of his struggle he understands, that the main treasure he owns is himself as a person, and until he remembers who he is, he is a winner in all dreadful demons' games and the one who won his own life and right to live as a strong-willed person.

Is it hard in Russia to make metal music? What’s the quality of local recording studios and how is it with rehearsal rooms? Is there a strong metal fan base? Do you feel the government makes it harder for metal bands?
Ritter: We are not persecuted for what we are playing, althought some time ago we had a series of cancellation of big concerts (Cannibal Corpse, Marilyn Manson, Belphegor) because of religious fanatics. So, the government just let things flow.
In Russia generally there is no musical industry, few good clubs, it is difficult to find a good music store. But in Moscow and St. Petersburg there is everything you need to make a metal band live - rehearsal rooms, stores, big and small clubs with good backline, a lot of good musicians, stage wear. Recording studios are cheaper than in Europe, and some sound-engineers in them are much better. "Game On" was recorded, mastered and mixed in Moscow studio, and it has the European-quality sound. The other side is that metal fans here make sold outs for Slayer and Black Sabbath, but they don't believe in russian metal scene. And we have stupid logistics and long distances between cities, that is bad for touring.Pokerface Rock Hard 43

I think Alexandra is inspired by former ARCH ENEMY singer Angela when it comes to the way of singing and image. Am I wrong? What bands have inspired you?
LadyOwl: Well, correctly would said, firstly I haven’t any extreme vocal idol, but when I got a job in my first band - they asked me to growl and I started to search some role models, Angela wasn’t first. I'm more inspired by Alissa than Angela, but they are both amazing. And before I was inspired by extreme vocals of Chester Benington, Cory Taylor, Deny Filth.. etc., more male than female. And then I found a huge world of female extreme vocals.

After the album was out you did quite a long tour and you stoped by in Slovakia and Czech republic as well. What do you recall about this tour and how did you feel in Slovakia and Czechia? Did you have some time to check out the towns and try local food and drinks? Did you like them?
LadyOwl: I must say, that some of our best concerts were in Czech Republic! Especially in Brno and Mlada Boleslav! I had an ability to walk through Prague and Brno, and Brno really reminds me Moscow a lil bit. The country and cities are very beautiful and full of amazing historical things everywhere! Beautiful castles, temples and so on. Amazing. Slovakia impressed me by nature! My instagram was full of pics of mountains and lakes that lie there!

What have surprised you about music indrustry lately? Both in positive or negative way.
Ritter: Resurrection of vinyl and even tapes. Hails to the stone age! Although, I love vinyl.
LadyOwl: Well, I guess, everything that could surprise me happened quite long time ago. In 2009, I think. If you want to work in music industry, you really need to forget about many things, including the thought, that you need just your songs to have a success. But I don’t want to disclose all sides of it publicly, let people have dreams hahah
DedMoroz: I like how the music industry works. You have some kind of game rules, and if you do everything right, you will have a result. But, at the other side, you have to deal with organizers and promoters. I can't understand these people very often.

How is it with CD, LP and merchandise availability in Russia?
DedMoroz: We have no problems with buying any merchandise of well-known bands. If you're looking for local bands, it's better to go to their shows and visit their social media pages. Btw, our merchandise is available at Bandcamp store: https://pokerfacerus.bandcamp.com/

Thank you for the interview.
LadyOwl: Thank you for considering us as an interesting band for making this interview. Listen to good music and stay metal \m/

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