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BLANKFILE discuss their place in Serbian punk scene

BLANKFILE is a melodic hardcore band from Belgrade, Serbia, formed back in 2002. They have just released their new video for the song  “Roadkill” (available below). They have put final efforts in making this video as a high quality one and considered it a tough task for “do-it-yourself” band in Serbia. We’d like to take this chance to introduce them better and make them talk! About what? Their history, plans, Serbian punk rock / hardcore punk scene and much more.

How’s it going, guys? To start off, please tell us about BLANKFILE’s history.

The band:

Hi there! Last time we checked, everything was fine.

Petar:

The band’s history could be separated in two periods – before and after the huge line-up reconstruction during the 2008. As the only one remaining from the “old” BLANKFILE, facing the crossroad 4 years ago, I decided to maintain the course of improving BLANKFILE idea rather than to let it go. In preceding 4 years with a significant help of these three great guys, friends and team mates, we walked through many uphills and downhills building the BLANKFILE as we have it today. So, speaking of the actual music and operating concept – the band exists 4 years so far, but speaking of the idea – its seed was plant in 2002. Generally speaking we are one hard working DIY band. We have staged numerous underground shows in our and nearby countries, got to perform on few big festivals and to experience European tour playing shows in eight different countries.

What caused the big split back them? Why didn’t you change your name?

Nenad:

Well, I jumped in to fill the gap after the lead guitarist left, he wanted to focus on his school and work career. After that drummer and bass player also left the band, Uros was our old friend so we called him to take place on drums and Dusan was the newest member on bass. In that time we took a turn in our music, bringing darker music riffs and lyrics, maybe it was the feeling back then. We started to play in neighboring countries, recorded EP and we discussed about changing the name, but the name was recognized in our DIY scene, so we didn’t want to change it.

Fair enough [smiles]. What were the first steps you took in BLANKFILE 2.0 reality?

Nenad:

First thing was to record new songs, that was the EP ‘Fast Foreword’ containing three songs and our first EU tour in late 2008. We started to play throughout Serbia and in 2009 we recorded our LP ‘Turning the Season’. That record hit some nice reviews that pave the way for our big EU tour in 2010.

Was there a difference in the crowd outside your neighborhood? A lot of people showing up to support you guys?

Petar:

Want to add that, for my perspective, the main difference was not the quantity but the dedication of people out there. They have dedicated venues for this kind of music, well organized communities and net of co-workers to help them out on each step…something that we are still trying to succeed with the DIY scene in Serbia.

Any locations that you haven’t performed at, but you’d like to experience with BLANKFILE?

Nenad:

There’s a lot of places where we haven’t been, like France or Holland, they have really strong hardcore scene and of course Great Britain.

Petar:

At some point of our band’s maturity I would like to experience some an eastern-Asia-pacific-Polynesia tour, I think it’s a whole new and different world waiting out there. You know?! You think you saw everything? Well – surprise! [smiles]

I think you should start off with Eastern Europe, then go West and hit Asia to make kids this excited [smiles].

About the DIY scene you mention in your previous answer, what have you managed to develop there so far?

Petar:

That’s what I’m talking about! Pure energy and spirit! And no stage, please!

We run an independent nongovernmental association – Means To Amend Promotion or just MTA. We have organized a lot of DIY concerts, trying to help almost every band asked us for concert in Serbia. In other direction, we succeeded to brought to Serbia some major names of hardcore and punk rock – MAD CADDIES, STRUNG OUT, A WILHELM SCREAM and was just a step from getting THE GHOST INSIDE play in Belgrade last year…the biggest project in which realization we were involved was an extreme sport and music festival, held in Belgrade’s skate park – Winner of Belgrade (2010 and 2011) through which we introduced hardcore subculture to wide audience. So, I think we have moved things a bit. Maybe it’s not much from general perspective, but for this type of scattered socio-economical environment, it’s a lot. At least, we are not just complaining and doing nothing [smiles].

Amazing! Do you have a lot of venues supporting the punk scene over there?

Petar:

Honestly, we don’t have any venue that is fully dedicated for this subculture and that is the biggest setback in developing DIY scene in Belgrade. There are some venues which are hardcore-friendly, but even their managers put before us rigid conditions and borderlines making the maneuverability space for the show’s organizer very narrow. So, it’s always struggle.

What’s the history of punk in Serbia?

Nenad:

Huh, dates back in late 70′, with first bands started playing raw and short songs. Back then we were communist country but western culture was big influence on the bands. Majority of them played songs on Serbo-Croatian, only in 80′ bands started playing songs in English. Some of the bands are still playing, and many bands are reuniting for touring ex- Yugoslavia. Today we have hardcore punk, metalcore and other sub-genres only in total DIY, no record labels for that kind of music, and media are strictly reserved for mainstream bands. It’s a struggle.

Yeah, but it’s supporting underground movements and pure DIY initiatives. DIY is always a struggle [smiles].

Petar:

Insanity or not, but we will struggle till all blood is drained from our hearts [smiles].

Nenad:

Yeah, of course. that’s why we still prevail. That sweeeet struggle. (smile)

How and when did you get into hardcore?

Nenad:

In primary school I began to listen thrash metal and punk rock and in first grade of high school I stumble upon NOFX. My world turned upside down. So I start digging up all of the bands and the rest is history. Back then we didn’t have CD’s and stuff like that, only cassette and exchanging music between one another. Nice memories.

What year is it? Did you have a start in music before BLANKFILE?

Nenad:

It was 1997 when I first heard NOFX. I had one punk rock before BLANKFILE, in SCREECHING WEASEL, THE QUEERS style. I always wanted to play in a modern hardcore punk band because I was a really big fan of STRUNG OUT. Since 1997 I’m their fan, great band, great people! [smiles]

Yeah, but have you started any other bands besides BLANKFILE?

Nenad:

I have. For two years I was playing bass guitar in Belgrade low-fi pop band called TOUGH GUYS OF AMERICA. I also toured with this band in EU this year. I no longer play there because I didn’t had time to do stuff with BLANKFILE so I quit. I love that band and all of the guys in TOUGH GUYS OF AMERICA were in punk hardcore bands that no longer exist in Belgrade.

Petar:

Me personally, I liked those guys a lot more while they were in hardcore punk bands, before they became “tough”! [laughs].

We all had or still have some side projects, but BLANKFILE is our major occupation.

Ok, guys. Tell us about the official video for “Roadkill”. Was it fun to put it together?

Petar:

“Roadkill” was a turning point in our, so called, career. It is a first project originally created and realized by the current line up. Two years before it, we released “Turning The Season” and even though it was 2010, it still consisted of many riffs and elements created with former members. In those two years we promoted that album all over the Serbia and Europe, played those songs a thousand times and it was enough. It’s not like we wanted to escape our past, but as a creative team we felt it’s time to do something new. Since it was supposed to be some kind of a new breakout for us, we decided to make and record a new single accompanied with our first professional video. We were lucky that spontaneous evolution and progress of BLANKFILE’s music came along, so “Roadkill” was both new and revolutionary track we were proud to serve from our “kitchen”. The video was done in 100% DIY manner with only help of few good friends, so we had to invest a lot of time and effort into its planning, as in its making and producing, too. Finally, we got the fully packed product which completely answered our expectations and we were thrilled to release this video single which is highly competitive regarding underground scene worldwide. So, bottom line, it was a unique experience for us, it included a lot of hard work, but, on other hand, when you are doing something you all believe in, in the end it always end with fun.

What feedback have you got for your newest work?

Nenad:

The feedback was great! This is the proof that our music is evolving in a good way, we are not stuck in time with our ideas of music. Everyone of us in a band have different taste in music, and that different taste we manage to incorporate in our songs. We just finished recording new EP, new songs follow the path of “Roadkill” and with each new song we set the bar little higher.

Is there a thing you’d like to have to boost the popularity of BLANKFILE?

Petar:

Internationally recognized label! Someone that is professionally supporting our work and would be able to promote it worldwide. That would be more than enough at this moment!

Have you tried to find one?

Nenad:

Still trying! [smiles]

If you could pick any label you want, which would that be? Among what bands would you like to find yourselves? [smiles]

Petar:

Huh, tough one… let’s say that we would pick any that is able to set us as many shows as we are able to play, helping us feel happy while we’re doing it. It’s the same for the bands. We would like to play with the bands that are devoted to this idea and are ready to friendly interact with us. We love to make new friends and lifetime memories wherever we go. Of course, we won’t mind if in that quest we run into some major hardcore-punk-rock bands, too. That list is too long, but ARCHITECTS, WHILE SHE SLEEPS, A WILHELM SCREAM, are the first ones cross my mind right now.

The industry’s certainly changing.  When some people talk about how awful the music industry is today, do you think a lot of artists don’t try hard enough? Who’s lazy these days?

Nenad:

I don’t think so. A lot of artists are putting their best and yet they don’t get credit for their work. I’m not talking only for the hardcore punk scene, this is a general picture. I know a lot of alternative bands in Serbia that don’t get credit so they turning their focus towards international recognition. Some bands are still believe that music industry is going to help them and give them a chance. And I think, in other countries are the same story. After all, you need a lot of luck, maybe, and a lot of sweat and tears and hard work to succeed and get a chance.

What Serbian bands associated with heavy music have made the bigger names abroad?

Nenad:

First that I can think of is EYESBURN. They play reggae mix with hardcore and bunch of other styles. They made appearance with SOULFLY as guests on album and maybe on a few shows or a tour. There’s also DESTINY POTATO, I think that they sign contract with Century Media recently. I can’t think of any other. We have a bunch of other bands that do EU tour and appearances abroad but they are not ‘big’ bands. I can say that we are unexplored terrain in a musical way. We have a lot of gems here [smiles].

Ok, guys. What else should we know? Anything you’d like to add?

Nenad:

I think that’s all folks! Always wanna do that [smiles]. One thing is certain, our EP must be out before the world ends. Hope we are going to hear each other soon. Bye!

[smiles] Let’s hope the world isn’t coming to an end [smiles]. Cheers!

Petar:

No, no, you can’t close it before I had my say [laughs].

Yes, EP is recorded, but till we release it, you should check out our studio-recording-video featuring one of the newest songs. There’s a new breed of our music waiting to be heard [smiles]. And a message to all – make parties, make love, never give up your dreams, but above all, never give up your friends! Hope to see ya soon!

Now close it! [laughs].

Nenad:

And now I can say that’s all folks [smiles].

Bye to all and take care of each other. See you soon!

blockquoteNenad:blockquotePetar:

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