Can you describe the important steps for you band history until the founding of the band“Circle Story”and what does it means for your and the members?
Igor Arbuzov: It all started when me and Anton were living in Omsk, Siberia. We played in a band called REVERSE ANGEL. It was a very fun period. We had no limits in writing music. Our style was very diverse. We could play anything from Hard Rock and Traditional Heavy to Thrash and even Prog Metal. We couldn’t stick to just one genre. Afterwards Anton was invited to play in a band called СЛЁЗЫ (TEARS) and moved to St. Petersburg. They made some touring and recorded a pretty cool album. I moved to St. Pete as well and eventually joined GRENOUER, once legends of Russian Death Metal. But when I joined, their music was quite different… more like Industrial Metal with Alternative Rock influence. We recorded a couple of albums, but only one of them was released. Same with music videos etc. Finally both bands have exhausted themselves and we decided to reunite with Anton and write something REALLY cool! We started doing some writing in 2013, then continued in 2014 and recorded some demos. Next year we started recording our debut album and that’s when Dee Pronin (ex-REDS’COOL, ex-GAINA) joined on bass and Antonio Aronne from Italian band FIGURE OF SIX agreed to record the drums. Now you know how it all started!
What does it mean for a band from Russia to write their lyrics in the English language?
Igor Arbuzov: It means that every second person is gonna ask you why aren’t you singing in Russian. Seriously. Most of music fans here really hate English lyrics when it comes to local bands. But they embrace German or Swedish bands singing in English instead of their mother tongue. Some obvious double standards here. But we don’t care. We have a strong confidence here and know how our music should sound. And the other thing is that we don’t want to grow our fanbase only in Russia. I think that it would be stupid for us to ignore the music fans from other parts of the world and focus only on russian-speaking audience.
Can you describe in your own words your style of Alternative Death Metal once more. Tell me about main influences and what are the most important influences from your previous musical past, in your experience?
Anton Golovatov: Death Metal?! Are you sure? We still keep getting the reviews for “Uncovered Fears” from around the world. And the majority of critics tag us with an “Alternative Rock / Progressive Metal” label. So I’d stick with that. But actually we’re not too concerned about the genre. I think that people now are way more open-minded than it was even 10 years ago. So they don’t stick just to one genre either. And that’s a good thing.
How do you see the current musical development in Russia? From my point of view, Russia has had always its own kind of music (Кино, Аквариум, ДДТ). Furthermore, I think that Russia is a country of clear musical styles – a band like Ария are playing classical Heavy Metal (Priest and Maiden) and bands like Сварга or Аркона are playing Folk-Metal. Where is your position in the Russian market? Is this market important for you or not?
Dmitry Pronin: Indeed, it happened that in Russia has everything of its own… its own music, its cinema, its own literature, and so on. And personally I think, and I think the guys will support me, this is a huge minus. I will try to explain – for example: all over the world, rock music tends to be global and to be spread on all continents. In Russia, there is the Russian-rock genre. In the whole world, representatives of the rock genre are well known, but no one knows Russian-rock bands (maybe 0.005% of the population of the whole world still know). One gets the impression that music from Russian Federation is not competitively capable in the global music industry. That is why in the Russia these genres were invented, which no one in the whole world knows. Moreover, I will tell you, we have our own king-pop music in Russia, and this is not Michael Jackson. What about French rock? or Belgian? And maybe the Czech-porn-blues-grind-core? Frankly speaking, the discussion on the topic of Russian music, mainstream music, it causes irritation and nervous trembling… However, I can safely say that we are the band that deserves to be and is able to compete in the world music arena. Doubt? Listen to our damn album! As for the relationship of Circle Story to the Russian music market. Of course, it is important. It matters as much as the European music market, the American one, the Japanese one, and the Australian one … and perhaps the Bangladeshi one.
Igor Arbuzov: It’s great that you’ve mentioned Arkona that’s getting a great reception worldwide. I’m really happy for them and wish them well. Aria is getting some deserved recognition around the world too. But their heyday is far behind. A lot of good things are happening on Russian underground scene these days. The overall level of musicianship has grown up and there are a lot of young world-class bands that are completely unknown. That’s a shame. Hey, labels and promoters, take a closer look!
How does the musical development process in the band work? Is it important for you to live in St. Petersburg, or could the music have evolved in other parts of Russia or the world?
Dmitry Pronin: The process of creating music in CS is quite traditional, but with the opportunities of the 21st century: first, ideas, sketches, drafts, discussions … later it all gets finished form. And this process does not depend on the distance between us, which one of us is located.
Igor Arbuzov: Yes, it’s always great to be in the same rehearsal room and create something together. And I’m sure we will come to that in future. But the tracks for the first album were created in a different way. We all had our demos, bits and pieces prepared. Then we would gather in the studio and compile them, making song structures. Then the demoing process starts when we write our lyrics, melodies and solos. It’s a long but interesting way.
Which content, which message do you want to transport as a band?
Igor Arbuzov: That’s a tough question. We did not have a plan to record a conceptual album, so each song has its own message, I think. And every person has a right to interpret it in his own way as well. So I wouldn’t say that we’ve got some kind of specific message. But who knows what happens next, right?
The songs “Disintegrated”, “Forgotten Sunrise” or “Forever in my Heart” are for me the strong songs of the album. The songs seem to be very personal. Can you agree and what are the important songs of the album for you?
Igor Arbuzov: Thanks for highlighting those tracks. I’d personally pick the same ones. But in fact I’d call only one of them “personal”. The last one, “Forever in my Heart”. It’s dedicated to our dear friend Maria, who passed away way too early. Actually I wrote the song the day she died and it describes everything that I felt and still feel about this irreparable loss. So yes, this one is really personal.
Styles for Alice in Chains or Alter Bridge (information from the label) are also most likely to be found in these songs. What´s your opinion?
Anton Golovatov: The bands you mentioned have obviously had a big impact on us. And the interesting thing is that it’s hard to tag them with just one genre too. For example, Alice In Chains can play anywhere… At the metal fest, at the alternative fest, at mainstream fest. And the crowd will always enjoy. So the goal for us is to fill the similar shoes and to be able to reach different kinds of audience, the metalheads, the progheads, the fans of alternative thing and the girls, of course! (laughs)
How does the collaboration with your label work? How did the collaboration develop?
Igor Arbuzov: Another Side Records has a great worldwide distribution and the fact that we’re talking right now means that they’re doing something right regarding promotion! So yes, it’s all positive right now. They loved our tracks from the first listen. And you can’t sell music you don’t like or believe in, right?
Thanks for the time and the answers … greetings to Russia.
Igor Arbuzov: Thanks for having us here! All the best wishes to Legacy Magazine!
Interview was prepared by KREMATOR (Rock Hard #47)
This is my first touch with CIRCLE STORY band, can you shortly describe the history of band from its beginnings until today, something about the band members, etc?
Igor Arbuzov: Me and Anton were a guitar duo in a band called REVERSE ANGEL. It was in mid 00s in Omsk, Western Siberia. I was the founder of the band and was looking for a great lead guitarist. Anton joined and became not only a good collaborator, but also a big friend of mine. So it was the first time we worked together. Our band soon broke up and we both later moved to Saint Petersburg to continue our musical journey. Anton played in a quite famous Russian alternative band called СЛЁЗЫ for 5 or 6 years I guess. I joined another band so we were quite busy all the time. At some point those projects came to an end too, so we decided to reunite and work together again. Obviously we needed a bass player and Dmitry Pronin came in. He previously played with legendary KRUIZ guitarist Valery Gaina and also in a hard rock band REDS’COOL.
Dmitry Pronin: I joined the Circle Story in 2014, or in 2015 … No, exactly in 2014 I received an email written in such a way that only after reading it, I was ready to agree to everything! (laughs) Yes, Igor is able to build good relationships! In general, the guys were invited to participate in recording of the album. I listened to the demo, and I was very encouraged! These demos stuck in my playlist for a while so I naturally agreed to participate and later became a part of the CS.
What was your main motivation to establish a band?
Igor Arbuzov: Creating music of our own without being told what to do and without following any fashion trends has always been our motivation. Actually the band itself motivated me to start singing and writing lyrics, because previously I would just play guitar and compile some riffs together. I guess this fact brought even more sincerity to the whole project.
What music styles and band contributed to that?
Igor Arbuzov: Lately I found myself being very open-minded listener. I can listen to brutal death metal one day and next day I’ll be sitting in my room cranking up some jazz-rock. So I guess everything that I listened to could contribute. While writing songs for the upcoming album we were much into Alter Bridge, Alice In Chains, Gojira as well as into Young Guns, Carpark North and others. But I won’t say that we copied or tried to imitate any of them.
Dmitry Pronin: Yeah, we have a lot of music in common. They are not limited to certain bands or genres. You never know what will affect you, what will hook.
Your trio comes from the Russia, specifically from Petersburg. What is rock and metal scene there in present and how the fans are perceive it?
Dmitry Pronin: In Russia rock and metal scene is not as developed as in the whole world. I do not want to say that in Russia such music can not be done. No, there are lots of really talented, good bands here. The problem is in the Russian public’s perception of this music. Unfortunately, many people do not understand and accept this music. And even if your band is successful, you have many admirers, then you are still in the underground. Your song will unlikely be spinned on the radio, and your mother won’t ever see you on TV. But, this is a story about you, if you are an artist from Russia. If you’re a foreign artist – you’re a star! At the exit from the plane you will be greeted with bread and salt, and your drunk bear with a balalaika leads you to your hotel room! Welcome to Russia!
Right now, I have in front of me a two track album (single) „Mind Your Words“. Can you tell me something about this album?
Dmitry Pronin: This is not an album, it’s a single. So to speak – peeking into the keyhole before seing a real monster!
Igor Arbuzov: Those two tracks were released almost a year ago whilie we were deem into the mixing process and they were the first to be recorded and mixed. We threw them into the web because we just wanted to give a hint to the listeners on what our album will sound like. Both two songs as well as nine others will be featured on our new album. Nothing will be changed completely. Just a little more polish.
Where you record it, how long you were recording it, and who is behind the technical part of this album (mix, mastering, etc)?
Igor Arbuzov: We started with recording drums at The Form Studio in Italy. The rest of the album was recorded at our home recording studios. Artem Kornilovsky of NRQ’s Studio (Kharkiv, Ukraine) was responsible for mixing and mastering. But the last song on the album was mixed by our guitar player Anton himself. It worked extremely well too.
How are individual band members participating on composing of the tracks? Who is in charge of the musical part of the tracks and who the lyrics?
Igor Arbuzov: As for the writing, I guess 70% of music is me. Two tracks were written by Anton and we collaborated on a couple. Also I wrote all the lyrics and vocal melodies. However, Anton’s participation is huge in arrangement and production. Without him it wouldn’t sound as good as it does. So the album is a 100% collective effort.
A special guest helped you with the album – the drummer Antonio Aronne. How did he actually participate on individual songs and how did you get to work together?
Igor Arbuzov: I got acquainted with Antonio in 2012 while on tour with GRENOUER. We were opening for italians FIGURE OF SIX and I really enjoyed watching his playing every night. After a while I found out that he’s also a studio engineer and can record drums at his own studio as good as he could play them. So I texted him on Facebook asking if he could participate in my new project. He agreed and nailed it on every track! You’ll see….
What takes the most of the time on composing, arranging and recording?
Igor Arbuzov: Arranging took most of it. And writing lyrics too. Don’t forget that we’re not native English speakers.
Dmitry Pronin: It’s hard to say… it seems to me that the three of us just need to be locked in the studio without a permission to go out. I am sure, we will be able to work much more productively.
There are mostly very personal tracks on the album and describing certain moments and events from life: betrayal, depression and vice versa some positive, motivating moments. According to you, what is the greatest evil, that human is capable of?
Igor Arbuzov: I don’t want to complain. My life is better than life of millions of people in the world. But I have experienced many. I’ve been into deep depression and our song Daily Nightmare is just about what I felt at the time. Most characters of the songs are real… The lyrics may seem allegorical at times. But behind all of that there are real people and real events of my life. Going back to your question… I have no illusions about that. The human race is a bottomless source of evil. Homo sapiens gave life to Hitler and Stalin, thousands of maniacs and serial killers. Evil is an integral part of us. Some of us can fight and suppress it. Some don’t. Here’s the internal strength… To be able to fight your own demons.
Do you have some personal quote or philosophy of life? Was your life, respectively musical activity influenced by some current or historical personality or world event?
Dmitry Pronin: Keep on groovin’ – that’s my slogan!
Igor Arbuzov: There is a song on the album called “I Believe”. It is dedicated to the greatest tragedy that happened between two nations, two countries, Russia and Ukraine. I couldn’t ever imagine in my worst nightmare that someday we’ll start a war against our slavic brothers. This song is a scream of desperation in the darkness…. with a ray of hope though. So yes, we do reflect on real life and what happens around us.
Many of young fans start with a bands, which their parents were listening and to new ones, they get only with some distance. What is your opinion on this?
Igor Arbuzov: That’s really about me. I listen to a lot of music from 70s & 80s that my dad used to listen and still enjoys too. I think is totally okay. There are a lot of gems hidden in the music of the past. You can see how music has evolved, where it all started. But you should never stuck in the past. We should observe and be aware of what happens right now too.
Dmitry Pronin: I received my musical education first of all from my father too. It was he who showed the only correct vector of my musical development. Later I learned some new names, new styles, both close to rock, and diametrically opposite … If I did not understand any music, I tried to listen to it more often, until I get to its essence. And personally for me, it is very important to understand how it works, how this or that music is arranged. I think this is one of the most important keys in the development of the musician. Music is very interesting.
How did you get to work with the Ukrainian Metal Scrap Records and what are your experiences with Metal Scrap Records? Do you have an agreement with them for more recordings, respectively agreement for next cooperation?
Igor Arbuzov: We’re signed to their sub-label called Another Side Records to be exact. The company just liked our music and decided to promote it. We liked their deal. So it’s as simple as that. No, we don’t have any further agreements yet. We’re just looking how they do their job, they’re looking at us. But the fact that we’re doing this interview means that the labels is doing something right (laughs).
And what about your concert activity? Do you prefer live concerts or you are more studio band?
Igor Arbuzov: Nothing is on the map yet. We still don’t have a permanent drummer and our bass player lives in Moscow, so there can be some issues. But I really hope we can go on tour someday and establish ourselves as a live band. But we’ve got to look how people will react on the studio album first.
Do you have prepared some tracks for a new album, respectively can you disclose some information about new album? When we can expect it, how many tracks will be on it, etc?
Igor Arbuzov: Our debut CD comes out late this summer, so I think it’s too early to speak about the next one. We’ve never stopped writing though. There are several songs that are already demoed and written. So there’s no shortage in music material. I hope the next album won’t take us too long to record and release. The first one was a long overdue.
Russia is currently in football mood and not only for the high-quality results of the Russian representation. Can you describe us current situation in Petersburg and in whole Russia, where the World football championship take place? And you personally, how you stand to this sport?
Dmitry Pronin: In childhood, like any kid, I loved playing football, and now would be happy to go out on the pitch. But I never watched football on TV in my life, did not read football newspapers, and was not interested in football statistics, before this championship. Now I watch almost every match, I’m very involved. It’s not because this topic is now so popular because of the championship, it just coincided. As for the good results of the Russian team … Let’s be realistic and will wait for more serious rivals in the playoffs.
Oh… it’s a very interesting story. One night, Jesus appeared to me in a dream, and said:
«My son, I know you want to become rich and famous.Take it, it will help you..»
And he handed me an incomprehensible wooden object, with 4 stretched metal cables …
Just kidding (laughs).
Everything was a little different. I was about 12 years old. I had a friend, we always hung out together, he loved Metallica, and I was an AC / DC fan (just like Beavis and Butt-head). So, once we wandered along the street, discussed our rock heroes, and I suggested: “Let’s make a band together?”. And he agreed.
By the way, at that time we weren’t able to play anything, we’ve never even held guitars in our hands. Well, we decided to choose who will play what. I wanted to play solo guitar like Angus Young. But he got ahead of me, and said he wanted to be a solo guitarist like Kirk Hammett. I was pissed off, and was like … the drums are expensive, I’m a bit shy to sing … well, and then I said that I would be a bass player. But I touched my first bass guitar only t a few years later. When I saw those frets, thick strings… pulled the string, and it made this fat, steel sound “Baaam”. It really took my breath away, I realized that bass guitar is mine.
Do you think it is unfair or just lack of knowledge bass gets so little credit?
Honestly, I don’t think that bass is somehow underestimated or not well known, or that it is not that popular. Who likes bass, plays it! Some like harp or violin, but that does not mean that these instruments are underestimated. To each his own.
What kind of bass do you use? Model, color, year. And why?
My main instrument is 1993 Musicman Stingray 5, natural color. I had a certain amount of bass guitars, but at some point I needed a versatile instrument. One of my friends advised me to pay attention to MM, and for over 10 years we have been inseparable. Although the 1988 Fender Precission appeared in my arsenal for a short while, I sold it too. MM is mine, like a katana for a samurai. By the way, in one of the projects I use the four-string Stingray 1982, also of a natural color. This is good guitar.
Tell us about your amplification.
In fact, in terms of equipment, I’m unpretentious. Depending on the task, I use two preamps from the Finnish company Darkglass Electronics: B7K Ultra 2 and Vintage Ultra 2. In 90% of cases, I connect them to the “Return» input of the amplifier, so the amp itself is not so important for me. But then again, talking about amplifiers, I am quite traditional and prefer these brands: Ampeg, Trace Elliot, Gallen Krueger, Mark Bass, Marshall. I also prefer the 8×10 or 4×10 + 1×15.
With all of that being said do you feel tone is an important thing for bass?
Of course. “Your sound” as well as your voice emphasizes your individuality, your personality.
Who is your favorite bassist?
There are a lot of them, and I also want to note that to a greater extent I give preference to singing bass players and multi-instrumental bassists. I will highlight some who will influenceв me, but the list goes on and on: Glenn Hughes, Marco Mendoza, John Paul Jones, Trevor Bolder, Geddy Lee, Marcus Miller, Jaco Pastorius, Paul McCartney, Geezer Butler, Bob Daisley, Bobby Vega , Roger Waters, Sting, Scott Devine, Dylan Wilson, Duff McKagan and many others.
Who is your least favorite bassist?
Why do you think women seem to be attracted to playing bass?
Because art has no gender. Among women, as well as among men, there are a lot of talented musicians. Think of Carol Kaye, Tal Wilkenfeld or Nikki West…
What bassist dead or alive would you like a private lesson with?
Jaco Pastorius, Jack Bruce
Bonus question. Bobby Doll, Nikki Sixx, Les Claypool, Billy Sheehan – which is more ridiculous and why?
Are you kidding me?! Of course, Claypool Forest! Are you still asking why? It is enough to see him once. At the same time, he is an excellent and incredibly talented musician, and he has an excellent sense of humor.
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