Featured on IDIOTEQ many times before, Lviv, Ukrain’e melodic hardcore band THE SUNSET SURVIVAL deserved a proper interview feature a long time ago. Their atmospheric and soaring melodic hardcore hooks and post-rock ambient passages reveal a solid amount of determination that bleeds through on almost every note here. These guys’ short offerings recall some of your beloved modern post hardcore / melodic hardcore records and perfectly straddle the line between hooky, ambient rock and more edgy sound. Taste their powerful work, feel captivated by its lighter touches and see what they have to say about Ukraine, their local scene, their band and a couple more issues we have touched on in their first interview for IDIOTEQ!
Some live photos by Vadim Sapatrylo.
Hey guys! Thanks a lot for taking some time with my webzine! What’s up? How are you? How’s Lviv?
Hey! Thanks a lot for having us! We’re pretty excited, because this is our first interview to a foreign zine. It’s cold and wet in Lviv, very typical)
Let’s start off with a couple of questions about the current status of the Ukrainian/Russian crisis, not making headlines anymore for some reason. Is the whole situation still widely discussed among your people in Lviv? Tell me a bit how it looks like from your point of view.
I don’t think that Ukraine has ever disappeared from the news, or doesn’t make headlines anymore, at least this is what I see when I check some international channels. Maybe it’s different in Poland. Of course the whole situation is always heavily discussed among everybody. After all it’s hard to ignore the fact that there is a war on the other side of your country. And yes, I personally call it a war – we all can play conspiracy and think of different reasons why all of this has started, but there is a fact that no one can deny – there is one country that sends people to kill people of other country and finances the bloodshed. That’s basically all you have to know.
How did this crisis affect young people and your local independent music scene in particular?
I think no one can deny that the crisis has affected more or less everyone. I know couple of guys from different bands who had to move from the occupied territories, and now they started a new life in different regions of Ukraine. As for those who live in safe areas, pretty much everybody has been touched by the crisis, but in different ways – somebody’s brother is in the military, somebody is a volunteer and tries to help as much as possible, somebody sings songs, somebody is an activist on social media, etc. There is definitely an impact, but it’s very different – physical, mental, social, it’s different for everybody. Can’t tell whether this is good or bad, but there is one thing I know for sure – people are never going to be the same after all of this.
Ok guys, so can you drop us a brief scene report on your local punk rock / hardcore scenes in other cities you feel you are confident to speak about?
There are so much great bands that honestly I even don’t know where to start) I’m just going give you a short list from the top of my head)
LA BELLE VERTE from Kamianets-Podil’sky is an awesome band, and heavily overlooked in my opinion. They play a mix of screamo/spoken word hardcore with heavy post-rock influences. I think that most of their inspiration comes from CARAVELS) We’ve played a lot of shows together and became good friends.
ORPHA from Kiev is a great melodic hardcore band, we’ve done some mini tours with them. Very emotional and energetic band.
WAYTAKER is cool 90’s influenced emo/punk-rock band. Part of the band is from Lviv and other part is from Mukachevo. We’ve released a split together not so long ago. Not sure, but I think they’ve played their last show last month.
I guess there’s no need to introduce you to such beasts as BLUESBREAKER from Kiev) They are probably ‘heavyweight champions’ in Ukrainian hardcore scene) A huge inspiration for everybody and a good example of one of the first Ukrainian underground bands that toured Europe.
I am sure that there are much more awesome bands, I just simply can’t remember all of them at the moment, and it will take a lot of time naming all of them) In any case you should check out Ukrainian scene, it’s amazing, and full of surprises, believe me.
Nice, thanks! How do you see Poland and the conditions of independent movements here? What are your associations with my country?
I think for us Poland has been something like a magical door to Europe and European scene. It has much more opportunities, and I think that overall cultural level is much higher, we still have to learn a lot from you guys. Every time when we go to Warsaw or Krakow to attend a cool show, we wonder if there is a way we can create the same ‘climate’ here in Ukraine. For example, here in Lviv we don’t have a single venue that is willing to host a hardcore festival (ok, maybe one). Usually the owners/art directors aim for more commercial music, and are not supportive if you are from DIY scene. As far as I know Poland is different, and there are a lot of quality venues/clubs that are, let’s call it ‘underground-friendly’.
How about the rest of European countries, the Western areas in particular? What are your thoughts when you look at Western society and its well-developed networks of bands and institutions, organizations and companies around them?
Honestly I really wish that we would have the same level of awareness and support from both people attending a show and fellow bands. It’s pretty tough being a promoter for hardcore gigs. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we don’t have the scene, but I think that it’s just not that developed yet. But we’re on our way, and I believe one day we’ll be there. Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know ) I think that the more Ukrainian bands are going to visit and play in Europe, the better it will affect our local scene. It is really important to bring that experience and culture to our country.
Ok guys, thanks a lot for your thoughts! Now, let’s dive into the band’s work and learn a bit more about you :) Please tell us a bit about the story of THE SUNSET SURVIVAL. What is your musical background and how did you decide to form this pack?
Well, the band was formed I guess about 2-3 years ago.
Actually we’ve been in the hardcore/punk-rock scene for quite a while, but in different bands.
I was a guitarist and a bass player in couple of hardcore and metal bands (RATBITE, ONE REASON LEFT). Bodya (guitars) and Arsen (drums) played together in an awesome punk-rock band called I GAVE BACK. Vasya (bass) played some experimental metal stuff in CALLMEUMBERTO, and Jim (guitars) was a guitarist for a melodic hardcore band HOME DESTINATIONS. We all knew each other before forming THE SUNSET SURVIVAL.
Once Bodya, our guitarist came up to me on a party and asked me if I ever wanted to sing in a ‘screamo’ band ) By that time the band was almost formed, except the vocals. I had some experience screaming in other bands, so I thought ‘Ok, why not, might give it a try”. So I came to the studio, and when I heard the very first song, I was impressed, and said that I’m in, without hearing the rest, because the whole mood and atmosphere was really close to what I like. So basically that’s how we started all of this.
Do you have a stable line-up or has it changed since day one?
The line-up is solid asa rock. And to tell you the truth I can’t even imagine it being changed, because everyone is a very special part of the band, and we’re all good friends.
How do you get in the mood for writing music? What inspires you lyrically?
Most of the riffs are written by our guitarists, so I can’t really answer for them. Speaking about lyrics, the inspiration might come from very different places. Some of the lyrics that I write are just pure fiction, which might be based on a dream, or I might get inspired by a movie, or even weather. Some of the lyrics are really personal, and based purely on my real life experience. And sometimes I can just listen to a riff for a long time and the words just pop-up on their own. Yeah, it happens sometimes. The inspiration is all around us.
After releasing one EP and a split record, is it the right time to ask about a full length? What are your recording plans?
That’s a tough question. We’d like to make a full album, but something always gets in our way. Anyway I think that we’ll deal with all the obstacles and make an album, no doubt, it’s just a matter of time ) Basically we are couple of songs away from LP, and to be honest we don’t want to rush things. It’s really important that your first serious record is consistent, and has some message in it. The worst thing is when you release an album, it’s just a simple collection of tracks, kind of shallow.
How about touring? Most of the artists I’ve interviewed believe that touring is the ultimate test for every band and one of the most interesting aspects of running an independent punk rock band. What’s your view on that? Will you be hitting European roads big time this year?
Oh man, this is a dream for us :)
We’ve never played outside of Ukraine yet, and we wish we could go on a European tour, but it’s pretty hard to get out there, you know. Especially for a young unknown (abroad) band, with no contacts of promoters, venues, etc. But we’re working on it, so who knows, maybe next year we’ll figure something out. Touring sure is challenging but I think it is totally worth the effort, because it makes you grow both as a person and as a musician. This experience is priceless.
Cool :) thanks buddies! What else? Would you like to add anything before we say goodbye? The final words are yours!
Thanks a lot for this interview opportunity, IDIOTEQ is great :) We really hope that we’ll come to Poland next year and play couple of shows for you guys, so you can check out the atmosphere and energy that we bring ) Stay tuned for the updates!
Thanks a lot! Cheers from Warsaw and good luck with your future endeavors!