Interviews

COINS AS PORTRAITS interview

We had a chance to chat with “insane, fucked up grindcore” band COINS AS PORTRAITS on February 12, 2012.

Hello, guys. Please, introduce yourself.

Lau:

Lau here, I handle bass and writing.

Bogdan:

Hi, I’m Bogdan and I play guitar.

Ichim:

Hey, this is Ichim, I’m dealing with half the vocals.

We conducted an interview with another Brasov band, I STARED INTO THE FOREST, few days ago. Are you tight with these guys?

Lau:

Along the way we have shared together: a European tour, tons of gigs, trains, vans, beds, rehearsals, gear, money, food, jokes, awesome moments, rough times and whatnot. Back when Andrei was studying in France, I filled in bass throughout the tour — that got us pretty close and from time to time I have this urge of playing again. We’re pretty tight and by the way their new songs are gorgeous.

Ichim:

Yes, we’re very close actually. We even shared two members on our European tour back in October. Most of us were friends well before we started playing, so you would expect our bands to be somewhat siblings.

It’s about 1 100 km between Warsaw and Brasov. Is it worth seeing? Shall I drop by on my way to the Black Sea?

Lau:

Don’t know that much about the Black Sea but don’t expect something exotic. If it counts, most people I know consider our hometown as one of the most beautiful around.

Bogdan:

Haha why would you go to the Black Sea? I wouldn’t really bother coming to Romania if I was you. The transportation system (roads, railroads) is so bad that it’s probably not worth the hassle. Then again, most people who come here seem to like it for whatever reason, so if you’re really going to the Black Sea (don’t!), then drop by. There are so many cool places around Europe, I don’t see many reasons for coming here. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of interesting things from a cultural and natural standpoint, but I’m not sure they’re worth the effort. The Black Sea part in Romania is really bad and kinda expensive so don’t go there, go to Greece or something.

Ichim:

Actually, I think it’s worth seeing. Of course, I don’t consider it as a competitive touristic destination when it comes to traveling through Europe, there are far better places worth the effort, but if you do get close, I’m sure you’ll like it. It’s a nice town to see and you’d be more than welcome!


Please, tell us about your vision of the Brasov and Romanian hardcore/grindcore scene. How do you see it?

Ichim:

The “scenes”, in all their varieties and ideologies, are quite weak here in Romania. I’m sure it’s not necessarily due to the people that form them, but I think there’s a lack of determination that’s keeping everything below par. I can’t state I have a strong membership whatsoever, but I am happy to say there are certain figures that really struggle to keep the “scenes” in motion, and that’s quite motivating for someone like me.

Bogdan:

For some reason there is no grindcore scene in Romania. We have shows for foreign bands and some people listen to grindcore, but there are no “true” grindcore bands like NASUM or PHOBIA (as far as I know). The closest is a goregrind band called CLITGORE and maybe two grindcore influenced metal/deathcore bands: CAP DE CRANIU and SPIRITUAL RAVISHMENT.
The hardcore scene is really small but it has a few good bands: PAVILIONUL 32, MEDIOCRACY and STUCK IN A RUT I like the most. PAVILIONUL 32 is less active lately but they have been a huge influence on the DIY hardcore scene in Romania and almost everyone likes them. Both STUCK IN A RUT and MEDIOCRACY have records coming out really soon so check them out.

Do you know people standing behind Bistritz Hardcore Brigade, Thrashsilvania Bandana Collective, Gluga Neagra, or Anopsia Radio Station? Tell us about your local shows organizers.

Bogdan:

Bistrita Hardcore Brigade (BHCB) has been renamed to Brave Hardcore Booking actually since they don’t live in Bistrita anymore. We know and we are friends with most of the people in those collectives. BHCB organized the first show we ever played in their home town Bistrita and since then we’ve done shows with all of them. Gluga Neagra has helped us book our first tour last autumn with EL CABRARET and I STARED INTO THE FOREST. There’s also Illegal Operations Booking in Sibiu and we organize shows in Brasov under the name Play or Die Booking.

Ichim:

I’ve met some of them, yes. The context in which they have to organize shows is far from ideal and that poses many problems in different aspects (financial, location, equipment, public attendance etc.). However, they continue to struggle and some of these guys are very dedicated people that manage to keep the wheels in motion. From a band’s point of view, they are quite supportive and we owe them big time.

Are there any zines worth recommending?

Bogdan:

It seems there has been less zine making in the last couple of years, at least from what I know. Leave Me Alone zine from Cluj-Napoca is pretty cool, they cover music as well as some political stuff and it all looks nice. You can download it for free.

What new things do you bring to the Romanian extreme music table? Please don’t tell me you’re not trying to make your tunes original [laughs]. I love the freshness and complexity of “Form and Structure. Storm and Fracture”.

Lau:

I’m into left field and stuff that’s hard to pin down — though the complete opposite gets me just right. Even now, I’ve enjoyed IMOGEN HEAP all day long and feel like finishing with EINSTUERZENDE NEUBAUTEN.
In music a strong glued foundation is wonderful but sketching things can be way more powerful and interesting. At least that’s what I feel, and this is what COIN AS PORTRAITS somehow embraces.
I’m not really sure if it’s even grind or whatever people call it; I suck most of my ideas out of jazz, classical, electronic and avant-garde.
Most bands write as a whole, while we focus more on the momentum, I guess. I don’t wanna sound snobby; our next compositions will emphasize more and more of this.
Each and everyone in the band is highly sensitive to something, and it’s not only music (literature, film, visual arts). This has an enormous strength when we get stuck – ideas start floating on the fly. When I write, I kinda bring myself to the table; it’s personal but more or less confessional.
Finally, I think it comes down to diversity and trust. The guys might hate me sometimes for being just impossible but we’re good and finally have loads of fun.

Ichim:

I won’t say that different is necessarily better, but I like to think that we do stuff that others don’t “dare”. Someone outside our sphere might be more appropriate for such comments, but ever since we started the band, we focused on unconventional songwriting that tends to create a non-comprehensive idea in the first few listenings.
Some might even argue that we take a complicated approach to what we do, we’re actually aware of that, but we just hope that the end result does provide a valid contribution to extreme music in general.
To further satisfy your curiosity, go ahead and check the “Releases” tab on fadinghalorecords.com. You can download our album free of charge.

Bogdan:

We’re not really making music with a mindset of how it fits in the Romanian scene. What we do is pretty unheard of here. A few people enjoy it but most of them don’t get it or don’t like it. It’s all pretty inaccessible. We don’t write as brutal as some other bands but the fact that it’s always changing so that you can’t really move to it makes it hard to enjoy I guess.

How do you get along with your label? Aren’t you tempted to stay unsigned and do everything by yourself?

Lau:

Fading Halo’s CEOs [laughs] are Bogdan and Adrian from I STARED INTO THE FOREST. They’re some of my closest friends, we hang around all the time. It’s family. I’d also like to release on other indie labels – not really conglomerates.

Ichim:

In a way you might say that we’re already doing everything by ourselves. Our guitarist conducts half the efforts from “Fading Halo Records”, with Adrian from I STARED INTO THE FOREST dealing with the other half, and I’m personally satisfied with what they’re doing. I’m well aware of the benefits of being heavily promoted by a label that has a brand with weight, but I’m not sure that’s something on our short-term agenda.

You’ve been together for about 6 years. Have you started any side projects or bands?

Lau:

No, not yet. [winks]

Bogdan:

I’ve always had another hardcore outlet which has now become I STARED INTO THE FOREST. Before this I used to play shows with our old drummer under the name Speak Out and I also played in a powerviolence/grind band called AKU with a couple of friends in Timisoara.

What are your touring plans for this year?

Lau:

A small release this year. Some local gigs and maybe another European tour. And yes, we’ll open for NAPALM DEATHnext month.

Bogdan:

If we finish our record in time, we will probably go on a small tour with I STARED INTO THE FOREST again cause it’s easier for me with work.

Ichim:

We’ll definitely attend a few gigs throughout Romania and, ideally, a European tour late this summer. Most of the times we find concert opportunities a month or two beforehand, so it’s a bit too soon to tell. We have plans for a new release sometime this year, so hopefully we’ll manage to cope with our tight schedule.

What’s the funniest Romanian word ever?

Lau:

Can’t think of anything. Lots of words are funny and every time it’s context driven, it would sound flat no matter what translation I’d make. Sorry, help guys.

Ichim:

“Oaie”. Can you pronounce it?

Oh yeah! [laughs] So, please be honest here… Have you met Dracula? [laughs]

Lau:

No, not really but Bela Lugosi would be fascinating.

Bogdan:

That’s funny, foreign people expect vampires and Dracula to be a big part of our culture, but we actually probably never think about that stuff except for people who watch vampire movies or people who go by the Bran Castle (which is really close to Brasov).

Ichim:

Who is this Dracula, anyway?

Thanks guys! Any last words?

Lau:

Yes, actually. Speaking of Dracula, last October while touring in Prague, we had some extra time to stroll around the streets and noticed a lot of mumbo-jumbo Kafka souvenirs. Most of the stuff definitely kitschy, nothing really handmade – and it kinda made him look cheap and goofy. Back at home here it’s the same with Dracula. You feel like a sellout only by walking in between the boutiques. Now Kafka is one step away from being clubbed to death like a piñata and those < The Trial > mugs are killer. Anyway, you can’t imagine what silly Dracula souvenirs wander around here, the count himself would go on hunger strike. Oh well…

Bogdan:

Thanks a lot and don’t forget to contact us if you do decide to visit Romania.

Ichim:

Hey, thanks for the interview! I also took the liberty to check out your e-zine and found a lot of interesting stuff on it. You’ll definitely have me as a viewer again. My advice is to keep up the good work; there are a lot of people out there appreciating your efforts. To whoever reads this interview I wish all the best!

COINS AS PORTRAITS live:

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