Ashes You Leave and their fight for a better change
The band played on Metal Female Voices II, a festival in Belgium, where they shared the stage with bands like Nightwish and Epica. Ashes You Leave is very wellknown in the east of Europe, but the beaktrough to the more meanstreamscene is very hard. After their show there was a nice conversation with some members of the band to talk about their fight for a better label, the devotion to the music and many more.
In january 2002 there was the release of their last album called Fire. That album was more a breaktough in the gothmetalscene. Berislav (leadguitar and vocals) thinks it's a totally different album than the older three records. It's not that the band wanted to make more commercial music, but it was a natural development since the first record in 1998.
Luka (bassguitar): "This last album is gothic but there's a lot of chemic and there're a lot of heavymetal guitars. For people who don't listen to gothic it's more acceptable, but it's not more meanstream than the other records."
Berislav: "We always try to find a balance between the male and female vocals, the classical parts and the guitarlines."
Luka, Berislav and Matija, who plays guitar are sitting on the table in the canteen of the backstage area near their dressingroom. They all talk easily, enthousiastic and with the same goal. Both women from the band, the violinplayer and the singer, are taking rest at the moment. The conversation goes further, talking about the music and how to work together as a band. When I ask them if it isn't hard to write the music all together all the guys are clear to me. It isn't hard because they're all statisfied in the end. Also they have many ideas. I talked with the violin player briefly after my interview and she said that it can be hard for her. She told me that it's difficult to make new violinparts who has a combination with the guitarriffs.
Luka: "We have some songs in more than ten different versions and all of them are made in some weeks. The chemistry between us works very great."
Berislav interupts him: "We first make some demotracks, than we listen and than we discuss about what has to be changed."
Matija: "Also we talk about the music with some people to have a second opinion. It also make it easier because we're good friends."
Also about the inspiration they're very clear. It's Luka who talks much about it.
"We listen to a lot of music like death, trash, heavy-and blackmetal." When we talk about the performance, the guys said that it isn't something they have to practise. It comes naturaly and the audience give them a lot of energy also helps it when the sound is good. Luka almost screems: "When you give more you get more, so when we're on stage we give everything."
The breaktrough in west side of Europe took a long time and the guys immediately say that they still have to fight for it.
Berislav is realistic: "We're not from Finland or Sweden and for the recordlabels it realy matters that we're from Kroatia. Even in the Europian Union. They don't give you much credit from the label. A lot of people don't know that there's no war anymore and that's said. It's difficult to fight again and again but we have the strenght to go on."
Luka and Berislav screem together: "We enjoy it and we love this live!" Luka: "We hang out with eachother, love our music and this is what we want. Thsat drives us to go on."
They all don't want to think much about the furture. Luka thinks that the most important thing is that the band enjoy this and they all have jobs. They rather want to live for the music but at the moment it's not realistic. In the east of europe is a small scene of metal, but they don't like it very much.
Luka explains: "No recordcompagny wants to sign a band from Kroatia. They don't trust us, only think about the money. They don't see that a Kroation band can do something important in Europe. Some bands are very good but they fell apart and they had no future. We played a lot in Germany, were on tour with Darkwell, played in Poland so there's a change."
Nice to hear:
Ashes You Leave have very complex melodylines: grunt, womanvocals, heavy guitarlines and also a violin. The band doesn't see it as something complex.
Luka: "It just comes and every member try to give the best for the band. When something is missing we try to make it a bit more catchy. The vocals are complicated but we all work hard for it." They realy want to make a fith album. They have some matereal and have recorded allready three songs of it.
Luka laughs and says: "I think the music is more commercial but more harder than ever. We played two new songs."
They called their music a bit doommetal, but also there're some folk influences. They agree that is maybe has to deal with the culture and the important sound of the violin.
Luka: "Our country has a strong folkscene and the violin is very different from other bands. It's not that we think 'let's make a folkpart' but somewhere in the back of your mind it's the tradition. We don't have any pressure. It's not that the next album has to sell better than the last one. We make the music as we want, we love our songs and that's the best process. We made said music, but some songs are realy powerfull and transmit some energy when the violin come in. It's not realy doom but we're not very said. I think that we're more heavymetal, but all our songs has a dark feeling."
Berislav: "It's dark but always in a possitive way."
After the show they go home and want to concentrate themselves to make the next album.
Matija: "The next record will have some acoestic guitarparts and light melodies. A combination of everything and some technical deathmetalriffs. The song has a flow and it sounds naturaly."
Luka: "Our music is totally unpredictable."
That brings us to the lyrics. They all admit that's very hard to make them.
Luka: "The lyric express our emotions for instance we all know english but it's hard to translate that emotion from our foreign language. Some lyrics are written by friends and fans who gave us some textparts. Some lyrics are written before from our guitarplayer who left the band and Marina, the singer, also write songs. We all write together, but it's easier for the singer to do it cause she has to represent the emotions. She gives her best with our lyrics and she does it very emotional."
Their big dream is to have a good recordlabel. Luka says it very emotional:
"We pray for it each day and we want to give gigs all the time and live of the music. We work to give gigs."
Berislav: " It's very commercialised in the musicscene. A lot of bands introduced a lot of bands because it sell well."
Luka: "I was a fan of Ashes You Leave from the beginning. Personaly I don't know a band in 1995 who had female vocals as a lead vocal or the combination of keybord and violin. The new bands introduced female vocals to be in the meanstream. A lot of bands make one killer and they come and go. We try to be constant in the scene. We're still in the underground, cause we're not famous, but a lot of people heard a bit of it. Others'll faith away. We try to make something new, but we don't want to disappoint the old doom fans."
From the beginning the band has a typical 'Ashes You Leave sound' that's the combination of a violin and a female vocalist. You don't hear that combination in a metalband with a male vocal is something the guys repeat very often. Also they have regret from the fact that they couldn't a better production and a good promotion. The promotion was only in Germany where they have a lof of fans.
Luka: "Maybe we make a better production in the future."
After that it's time to leave the guys alone, so they can enjoy the rest of the festival. They realy had a great time and hopefully we'll hear more of them in the future
I want to thank Ashes You leave, Bobo Markulincic, Julien and Philty from Metal Female Voices to make the interview possible.
© Silvia Deurwaarder