Three months after our track by track feature for Russian instrumental experimental rockers WEARY EYES, we’re back with an in-depth follow-up interview, giving you a chance to learn a lot more details on the band’s recent record “True North”, their gear, Moscow alt music scene, and a lot more. Read the full interview below.
Catch WEARY EYES live at Powerhouse in Moscow on December 23rd.
Hey there guys! Thanks so much for joining us once again. How are you? How has this warm Fall been treating you? How’s Moscow?
Hey, we’re good, thank you for having us! Yes, the fall’s been very sunny and warm but not so much anymore, winter is coming!
How do you approach winter time? Do you wish for warm days to return and hibernate, or do you embrace the cold and everything that comes with the upcoming season?
Nikita: Well, Russian winter is not of that Game of Thrones or The Witcher type in reality – but it sure takes time to adjust. Sometimes it feels better then too hot summer days though, especially in the city, but sometimes you do fall into some kind of depression, when it’s a blizzard outside, for instance. Still, every season has it’s highlights, and we’re happy to have all of them during the year in full, as it brings more variety. But you spend a lot on clothes!
Eldar: I hate winter and it’s really hard for me to get through it most of the time. I mean it is cool during Christmas/New Year’s Eve but having another 3 or so months of snow and cold afterwards is just way too much for me. I wish it was an endless summer!
Ok, so we’re not far from the recent release of your latest LP „True North”. What feedback have you received about it? Did you try new ways of promotion in order to market in properly in these fast moving digital times? Were there some tools that worked better than the other?
Nikita: We love “True North” for its songs and people seem to like it too. We’ve seen very little amount of negative comments, but it’s mostly because of tight amount of our audience. We’re trying to reach worldwide by some international press and by using common tools, such as uploading music to every known streaming service. For Russia, it’s also some promotion in VK, which is simply Russian Facebook. To be honest we have better interest abroad, as local mainstream is waaaay too different from what we have to offer.
Eldar: Yeah, the feedback was pretty nice. The only negative comment I can remember is something like ‘I wish they had vocals’, but we’ve heard that so many times over the years we got used to it. WE TOO WISH WE HAD VOCALS SO STOP IT PLEASE!!
We had some talks with the labels but in the end we decided to go full DIY with all the marketing, promotion and PR. It was a bit hard and we obviously made some mistakes but we are quite satisfied with the results.
Have you played a lot of shows with this new material? Any standout gigs you’d like to share?
Eldar: Not so many — we’ve played some shows in Moscow and St-Petersburg and that’s pretty much it for now. It’s hard to tour Russia properly (especially with this kind of music, as Nikita mentioned before) so we have to stick to big cities nearby. We’re thinking about touring Europe next spring but we’ll see how it goes.
We hope that our next gig will be the one to remember —a big solo show in Moscow on Christmas Eve. We’re going to reimagine the tracks from True North along with some older ones using acoustic guitars, synths, reverbs and stuff like that. So it’s going to be pretty experimental, calm and warm to fit the mood of the winter holidays.
We’ve done that before – our latest sets always included acoustic sections and we really like that side of our music and want to explore that direction on our future releases. It’s cool to play heavy bangers but sometimes you need something fresh, you know.
So we are really excited!
How does playing these tracks onstage differ from recording in the studio?
Eldar: I can’t say that the tracks differ much (apart from the times when we fuck the tracks up live lol). We consciously tried to make the sound of the record as close to the live shows as possible so there are not many additional instruments, double tracks and things like that. The record feels raw and kind of ’stripped down’ because of that. I’m sure there is still a lot of room for improvement sound wise both in the studio and live, but that’s a good thing – we grow and learn with every show we play and every track we write.
Alex: Well, you know, onstage you have many options to fuck stuff up — gear, sound, your own performance — everything can go wrong. So the main thing for me is to relax and have fun. If something goes wrong — fix it asap or forget about it.
On the other hand, in the studio you can spend the whole day trying to nail THAT PERFECT TAKE, and then BOOM — in the final mix it still sounds rubbish.
So in the words of Liam Gallagher — “I suppose I do get sad, but not for too long. I just look in the mirror and go, What a f***ing good-looking f*** you are. And then I brighten up.”
Looking back at your experience with this band and the initial idea of abandoning vocals, why did you feel a connection to instrumental performance?
Dima: When you listen to the music (live or at home), vocals are always in front, it attracts the listener the most. It has a message of the whole track basically — i don’t like that straightforwardness. I find telling the story without the words using only instruments more appealing. You embrace it with cleaner vision and you can interpret it the way you want based on your own perception and musical taste. Anyway, real artist will never tell the meaning of his own work, right?
Alex: I don’t feel it anymore! Life is passing me by while I’m sitting all alone by the window. We should try and explore new stuff. No one listens to fucking math rock anymore! WE ARE DEFEATED.
Eldar: Yeah, so actually we never planned to become an instrumental math / post (or whatever we are called these days) band. When we started we were looking for a vocalist but failed to find the right one. And knowing that we all suck in singing we decided to stick to the instrumental music. And it’s cool and we like it, but maybe it’s time to push things forward and add something to the mix. I can’t say that we’re going to have a proper vocal parts with lyrics and stuff but we will definitely work in that field.
Ok, so let’s talk a bit about your gear. What are you currently using? Can you share some insights on your pedals, effects, amps, etc.?
Eldar: Yeah, my favorite topic! GUITAR NERD MODE ON.
I don’t actually have an amp in my possession — in Russia they usually have a basic backline at the venue. It is often quite crappy so we rent stuff. I prefer some Fender Twin Reverb or Vox AC-30 if I can get my hands on it.
I use two guitars mostly – Fender Jazzmaster JM-66 (that is now under maintenance after the last show we played) and Fender Telecaster Thinline which is basically my workhorse, it’s been through A LOT of punching, jumping and throwing around the stage but it is still in perfect shape excluding that time when it electrocuted me while we played the outdoor festival in a really bad weather. I mean REALLY BAD WEATHER — it was the worst storm in Moscow in decades.
My pedalboard goes like this:
TC Electronic tuner — Fairfield Circuitry the Accountant compressor (I thought about using it for tapping and fingerpicking only but ended up leaving it on all the time) — Ibanez TS9DX overdrive (my main overdriven sound) — Caroline Guitar Company Olympia Fuzz Japan Edition (for some heavier stuff and solos, one of my favorite fuzzes ever) — Earthquaker Devices Bit Commander (it is a monophonic synth that does some crazy video game stuff) — Boss PS6 (for some ‘going up/going down’ nonsense) — EHX Pitchfork (for all other pitchshifting and harmonizing stuff) — Boss DD20 delay (classic pedal, definitely not the best in the world but I like it) — Strymon Big Sky reverb (I’m a sucker for a good long warm reverb) — Montreal Assembly Count to 5 (my latest addition, super crazy but complicated delay/looper which is really neither delay nor looper, still need some time to figure it out properly) — Earthquaker Devices Afterneath reverberator (I use it mostly for some dark ambient stuff).
As for synths I use only my Korg Microkorg with some reverb pedals attached, but I definitely want more. This is basically the thing: you can never get enough gear, you always want something more.
That’s pretty much it. GUITAR NERD MODE OFF.
Alex: As per amps — I’d stick with the classics. VOX AC30, Twin Reverb, Sunn Model T, you name it. With pedals it’s easy as well — just pick random ones with weird names, pour some Strymon Timeline here and there, reverse the whole thing with good old DL-4 — there you go, naughty boy. Don’t forget to drench the fucker with reverb!
Anyways, nobody will tell the difference. It’s a sloppy math rock gig, not a Sigur Ros stadium tour.
Guitar-wise, I’m left-handed so it could be tricky sometimes. 9 years ago I bought brand new Les Paul Standard from the guy who ordered lefty by accident. It’s Russia, man. I also own a Tele and a Strat because nobody plays mathrock on Les Pauls!
Strat is custom, actually — I’ve gotten rid of tremelo, two pickups and all the knobs. It’s Weary Eyes, not John Mayer cover band!
Nikita: My bass has been with me for more then 10 years and I still love it! It’s a standard Warwick Corvette. As for the gear, most time I use what’s on the venue.
Guys are always making fun of me because I don’t have a pedalboard, but I don’t use much: Empress phaser which helps me to sound weird, cool fat bass overdrive by H.S.E, fresh SYB-5 synth by Boss which I’m looking forward to support with wah-wah of some sort, and of course tuner – the most important part!
Awesome, thanks! By exploring the boundaries of composing and intricate instrumentals, do you find yourself immersed in higher levels of creativity by evolving this project?
Eldar: There are some things we have to think through while working on our music. Comparing to other more ‘conventional’ vocal bands we might have to put a little more effort to create an interesting track that will capture the listeners’ attention. Also it’s pretty hard to use common structures like verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus. So basically you always have to push harder and get out of your comfort zone more to see where you end up. But I think that it is the same with every style of music — if you want to create something cool, you have to give your absolute best.
Dima: Every person has his personal story, and Weary Eyes is our personal ‘vocal box’.
In your observation, what’s the tendency among young bands these days? Do they try in their own way to mimic what’s considered classic or even (auch!) generic, or do they strive to invent new approach to their chosen genres?
Nikita: Well, there are tons of young bands nowadays, with all kinds of approaches. Some of them are trying something fresh and it goes well for them – look at Tash Sultana, for example. This girl mixed the best stuff from a huge variety of genres and made her own passionate huge thing.
On the other hand, a lot of bands are doing stuff like by manual – from their music moments to the look, and some of them even still have their audience. If you can describe music with one tag, that doesn’t feel well for me. That’s what I feel as generic as fuck. We don’t want to be that thing and try to evolve with every release – but first of all, because we get bored of playing the same stuff ourselves.
Ok, so lastly, please give us some thoughts on the current state of Moscow independent music scene. How much has it influenced you during your run with this band and what other cities and music scenes have interesting music communities that you truly enjoyed?
Nikita: Ahahahah, man, don’t even start, this stuff is truly painful! Our major local genres nowadays are hip-hop/rap/trap and all kinds of this shit, and post-punk/lame-generic-rock on the other hand. It has nothing to do with us! We were inspired by the western instrumental rock, most of all.
Most important thing here, is that the audience is way more into image of the artist, then music representation itself. People are way more interested in how artists represent themselves and very little percent of them are truly into music. Everything is based on a hit, little amount of people even care about full albums these days, they consume music on YouTube, as music videos mostly. Imagine: our most expensive local band Leningrad don’t even release albums nowadays, they are just making quite expensive videos with clear messages supported by very simple songs about what surrounds us.
So we really feel ourselves a bit in the corner regarding this situation: we do the stuff we love, but it doesn’t have much supply, major amount of people are clearly into another kind of stuff.
So what do you do you guys have planned for the coming months? What can we expect from WEARY EYES in 2019?
Eldar: So for this year we have this experimental semi-acoustic semi-electronic show planned. As for the next year we’re thinking about touring a bit and having some shows in Europe if we are lucky.
Also we have already started working on some new tunes — we have around 5 or 6 demos that we are hoping to finish in the near future. We spent so much time working on TRUE NORTH that we don’t want to wait long before our next release. We don’t know yet whether it’s going to be an LP or EP, though. We’ll see how it goes — we want to shift styles a bit and add something new to our music.
Alex: Well as for me, I plan to take control here and get rid of fucking weird time signatures, sweep picking, metronomes and stuff like that to deliver the real TOP NOTCH HIT SHIT. Y_O_L_O
Eldar: Yeah-yeah, he always says like that and then ends up playing some 11/8 shifting to 3/4 and then 9/8 stuff.
Haha, amazing! Thanks so much for your time guys and a bunch of insights on your work. Feel free to share your final thoughts and take care! Greets from Warsaw!
Alex: Kids, stay at home and don’t play math-rock. No one ever makes it out alive!
Dima: Here in Russia we’re entering the darkest times. The shows are cancelled by the cops and ‘social-responsibility-groups’, lots of good music is drowning in tons of shitty post-punk and pseudo-indie stuff, the vibe of the real riot is being displaced with sweetly popular shit. I hope everyone would be able to keep his inner light through these times. And good luck, we all really need it.
Eldar: Yeah these are the strange times we live in! The world’s going to shit so let’s just stay alive for awhile, be healthy, hopeful and do good. Thanks for having us! Cheers!