This month, I had a long-overdue talk with the singer/songwriter of the Serbian progressive metal band Burning Circle, Aleksandar, which turned out ton be a quite extensive - and most fun - interview about the band's new album, current plans, the state of metal today and in 20 years as well as Aleksandar's music memories.
Milena: Could you tell us something about how the band came to existence?
Aleksandar: It happened 6 years ago. We were a bunch of guys who shared a common taste in musoc, the other guys already played together in a couple of local bands, so we decided to join forces and do something serious. We didn't really have any plans, regarding our sound, so we let the songs shape themselves and as our music evolved through the years and demos we've finally rounded it into something you are able to hear now, on our first album - Ruins of Mankind.
Milena: Which bands or musicians have influenced Burning Circle?
Aleksandar: Too many, indeed… Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Rush, Savatage, Judas Priest, Pantera, Dream Theater, ELP… the list goes on and on.
Milena: What is your favorite song off of Ruins of Mankind, musically and lyrically?
Aleksandar: Can't decide between "Gargoyle On A Belfry" and "Ghosts Crying", both of them are strong, versatile, eclectic and epic songs, each in its own way, both musically and lyrically, full throttle emotion/energy roller coasters, I feel they work magically every time we perform them live.
Milena: As of today, Burning Circle is still unsigned. What is the most difficult thing about finding a label that is the right fit for your music? Have you ever thought of just streaming the full album on Bandcamp and promoting it yourself as many young bands do today?
Aleksandar: Yeah, we are working on our new website and we will be streaming our whole album there in a couple of days, so all MS members and guests - visit our page at www.burning-circle.com and check out Ruins of Mankind. Or you can google our Bandcamp, Reverbnation, Last.fm, Soundcloud, or our Facebook page and get it from there, we would appreciate your comments.
We all know that music industry in its current state and the internet don't walk hand in hand, so it's really difficult to get signed these days, especially when you come from a country like Serbia. Metal is a niche market, with all its sub-cultural pros and cons, and finding a strong label for prog metal - a niche (a very narrow one) within a niche - is very tough these days, so we'll see what will happen, especially when a band like Burning Circle is not your typical progressive metal band. What we actually need is a label that can help us promote our music live, because playing live, as far as I'm concerned, is what metal is all about.
Milena: When and how did you start listening to hard rock/heavy metal, and how did your taste evolve over the years?
Aleksandar: I started listening to music at an early age - during the 80s, with Queen and Iron Maiden, then moved on to the more aggressive subgenres such as heavy, thrash, death and black metal. Also, I discovered progressive metal in 90s and then moved back in time, discovering all the great prog rock bands from the late 60s & 70s. Today, I'm happiest somewhere between 1968 and 1978, but my speakers still blast Pantera, Carcass, At the Gates, or Bathory. And hard rock was always there, as well, back in the day it was the mainstream. Nowadays you can't imagine seeing it on TV (except on VH1 Classic). When it comes to hard rock - it was Rainbow's Rising, that I first heard when I was around 12 and it blew me away! Dio had huge impact on my singing. [note: that can definitely be felt!]
Milena: When and how did you start singing, and is there anything about your singing that you'd like to improve?
Aleksandar: Improvement is a never ending story for a musician, you can always sing better, or worse, or just different, and as long as your voice sounds convincing enough - you are doing the right thing. I started singing very early, I don't remember when; my parents bought me a turntable when I was 3, I think, so …
And there were TV channels like Super Channel or even MTV who played great music back then, so I used to sing along to those. I started writing lyrics in elementary school and later sang with a couple of local high school bands…
One of the first songs I've learnt was "Hello" by Lionel Richie and then came Queen. Freddie's voice was pure magic, but I also liked Roger Taylor's [ note: hell to the yes, Roger rules and is so underrated as a singer]. Dio, as I mentioned before, was a huge influence and of course - Dickinson, Tate, Midnight, Halford, Udo, Kai Hansen, Hansi Kursch, they all influenced me, but I also liked thrashers like Chuck Billy or Blitz, also admired Patton and Cornell and Anselmo. I incorporated death metal screams and growls to my singing, mostly due to Jeff Walker of Carcass, David Vincent of Morbid Angel and the great late Chuck Schuldiner of Death. Many non-metal singers such as Greg Lake, Steve Walsh, Steve Perry, Joe Cocker and Ray Charles inspired me as well.
MIlena: There are bands that just play music for fun, and there are bands who try to communicate and deliver messages through their music, for better or for worse. What category would you place Burning Circle in?
Aleksandar: The latter, no doubt about that. I don't say we don't have fun playing, but as far as I'm concerned - the lyrics and vocals I deliver were always meant to convey a message. I don't expect people to understand the meaning of the lyrics exactly in the same way I intended them when I wrote them - if they find themselves within, or have their own interpretation of the words it's fine, but what I'm really fond of is feeling that wave of energy going back and forth between us and the audience, that's the beauty of playing live, and I think every musician would agree on that.
Milena: What are the professions of the band members and do any of you have any interesting hobbies beside making music? Do you ever find yourself stealing time from your personal or professional lives to commit to the band or vice versa?
Aleksandar: Well, who doesn't? If there's something you've got to do, you can't remain still until you do it - wouldn't call that stealing time, rather transposing or regrouping of time.
First of all, Burning Circle is much more than a hobby to us all. Knitting, for example, is a hobby; don't say anyone of us knits, to put that straight… LOL
Our bass player is studying Sociology, guitar player graduated in Sculpture, keyboard player is studying Music Theory, our other guitarist is studying Physics, drummer is a professional musician, and I have graduated in Economics, but we've all had some musical training, we've all attended elementary music school - well, all excluding me, I've never had any formal vocal training, and I learned piano for a couple of years, but I quit, which something I sometimes regret.
Milena: Where do you think metal will be in 20 years?
Aleksandar: I think nobody knows the answer, who would have thought it would come this far, with all the subgenres and variety we have today? In 20 years there still will be metal, in some form, too bad many bands we like won't exist. 20 years is a huge time span, but I think there will be a lot of people who would pay tribute to those bands, so it will linger on, like classical music does, so future generations will have a chance to explore, discover and reproduce all the great music of this unique genre.
Milena: Twenty to thirty years ago, an average metalhead was a young male coming from a middle-class family in the "privileged" parts of the world. As the love for the genre spread around the world, this started changing, except for the fact that heavy metal fans are mostly young adults or teenagers. Why do you think people stop listening to metal after their twenties and thirties?
Aleksandar: I think that true music fans never stop listening to good music; they may broaden their horizons, like I do, but never quit listening. Of course, lack of free time is what comes with job and kids and family, but it is all a matter of good time management and knowing your priorities. Growing up is a lame excuse. I can't see myself waking up one day and saying - OK, too old, no more Iron Maiden for me; it hurts my prostate…LOL! [ note: yeah, quite a few "old farts" on this forum would agree!]
Milena: Best and worst concert/touring experience with the band?
Aleksandar: We have so many great memories from our gigs across our homeland, really, coming to a town we've never played before is great experience, meeting new people who are familiar with your music is awesome.
The worst thing is traveling by night and risking your life while you travel.
Burning Circle in a live environment
Milena: Who would you tour with if you had the chance?
Aleksandar: Gamma Ray, definitely - they're my all time favorite in the German metal scene.
It would be great if bands from Serbia could accomplish more and tour together across Europe, there are many people here who can play and can offer something new, fresh and different, like Organized Chaos and Forever Storm, to name a few. That's why we need a label - labels in Serbia are small, financially struggling at the edge of existence and not professionally and logistically capable of such thing.
Milena: What was the best concert you've ever attended?
Aleksandar: King Diamond in Belgrade in 2006, Dream Theater in Budapest, 2005, Iron Maiden in Belgrade, 2009, and Budapest, 2000.
Milena: What were your favorite albums of 2012 so far, and what albums are you currently looking forward to?
Aleksandar: My absolute favorite of 2012 is the new Rush record, Clockwork Angels - I must catch them somewhere on the road next year. I'm looking forward to the new Pain Of Salvation and Testament albums, and the new U.D.O release should be due this year. I was excited for Running Wild 's Shadowmaker, but it turned out to be a disappointment.
Milena: What is the worst album you've ever heard?
Aleksandar: I only remember the good albums, because I play them over and over again, so… on the other hand I'd never listen to that awful poppy crap the mainstream media media is polluting us with, so I can't say Rihanna or Katy Perry, because I never played their records (nor I will). Maybe the first Drakkar album, and there's also some awful Ancient CD I remember. I recall the first Nightwish album was bad, and Sonata Arctica had some bloody awful singing LOL.
Milena: What is the next step for Burning Circle?
Aleksandar: Playing and promoting our album live, as much as possible, making new music, preparing for our next album (new songs are shaping up), meeting new people who appreciate what we're doing and sharing stage with kindred spirits.
Milena: On the behalf of Metal Storm I'd like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview. Let's end it with a question suitable for a philosophy 101 textbook - if you could make anything in the world disappear, what would it be?
Aleksandar: I'd like to thank you and everyone at MS for your effort and for helping Burning Circle reach more people around the world and the answer to your final question is: Evil, and auto tune.
Posted on 23.08.2012 by
A part of the team since December 2011, writes about the progressive, the sad and the melodic. She's nice until she's not.