And now for something a little different over in the New Band camp: introducing Siberian Meat Grinder, the Russian hardcore-thrash crossover group who are hoping their second album – Metal Bear Stomp – will be the one to finally raise their international profile.
The album, according to frontman Vladimir, is the band’s “step towards creating an ultimate street-music, mixing everything we love – thrash-metal, hip-hop, hardcore punk, graffiti,” and is “heavier, more aggressive and even more technical” than anything that’s come before.
We have a chat with Vladimir to find out more about the new album and what they have lined up for next. You can check out a couple of their videos in the piece below.
Can you introduce yourselves – where are you from, who does what and what are your roles in the band?
“Hi! We all are from different parts of Russia – including Siberia, Urals and Moscow, but we all live in Moscow now. We’re Vladimir – the founder, singer and author of all the lyrics and most of the music, Max – guitar, Michael – guitar, Dr.On – bass, Egor – drums. Only Vladimir and Max are in the band from its first day, we had many line-up changes, but the current line-up seems to be the strongest. Of course, we respect the legacy of everyone who has played in the band before – without them we’d never be where we are now.”
How did you guys meet and start making music together?
“The first line-up knew each other for years before starting SMG, because of our involvement in [the] Russian DIY hardcore punk movement, graffiti scene and common interest in hip-hop, skateboarding and other aspects of street culture. In 2011 we all found ourselves in Moscow and decided that the time had come to start an ultimate act, [to] mix together everything that inspires us.”
What were your key influences/inspirations in getting the band together?
“Our main goal was, and still is, to create our own authentic style of street music, blending together everything we love from thrash to NYHC to hip-hop to black metal, adding the inspiration from graffiti culture, skateboarding, underground movies, etc. We wanted to demonstrate our style worldwide – that’s why we managed to climb out of the Russian basements to the clubs and festival stages of Europe.”
What’s the story behind your name?
“Many people think that the word ‘Siberian’ in our name is a geographical term, but it’s a spiritual one instead. Siberia is an ancient land of mystery – endless forest which hides terrible secrets in its depths. Siberian Meat Grinder is a bear, the master of Siberian Taiga and our mascot which you can see on our covers, merch and backdrops wearing a crown and a cape.”
How would you describe your sound in three words for people who’ve never heard you?
“Fast, Heavy, Authentic.”
What makes you special/different to other bands out there?
“It’s our style in the first place. Our aim has always been to play an original music. Like the classic American hardcore bands from the early 80s, [where] each one had its own unique sound and style. We never tried to be just another copy of Cro-Mags or Madball: who needs a copy when you have the original? Instead, we are trying to draw inspiration from many bands and genres to create our own sound.
Another thing that makes us special, in our opinion, is our unique style of vocals – we mix hip-hop with metal/hardcore, but are trying to do that in our own special way – putting rap flow over thrash, black metal and hardcore riffs.
And the last but not the least – SMG is more than just a music band, we can easily call it a cult. We have our own lore, based around our mascot – Bear-Tsar, other characters, connected to him and the whole universe which grows out of the urban ghetto style and the Siberian forest mysticism. We try to left our authentic graffiti pieces and throw-ups almost everywhere we play and recently we released a first trailer for our own graffiti video. We shoot a lot of videos, dedicated to our universe and are working on the first issue of our own comic book which will see the light soon. SMG is like an empire, which uses different kinds of warfare to spread its influence around the planet.
We are also trying to be involved in benefit activity – raising money for the children’s hospitals and organisations which help parentless children, etc. Actually, that doesn’t make us special, many bands are doing that and it’s great. Right now we are starting a massive campaign together with the largest Russian crowd funding company, Planeta.ru, trying to raise money for children with cerebral palsy.
And just an interesting fact - our first show ever in October 2011 gathered more than 600 people, filling the legendary Moscow club Plan B (a venue where acts like Agnostic Front, Hatebreed, Madball used to play) with a crowd of metal and hardcore maniacs. We did it all by ourselves on a zero budget, just releasing our first track, a DIY music video and covering the city with our graffiti and stickers.”
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What’s the story behind new album Metal Bear Stomp, and how did it come together?
“It is much heavier, faster, more aggressive and more technical than the first one and has many more influences. We believe that we became more skilled and are going to demonstrate those skills to the whole world. There is more hip-hop on the album, more different genres melted together – from thrash to death metal and even reggae. Just wait ‘til the release and you’ll hear it yourself.”
What, exactly, is the Metal Bear Stomp?
“It’s a war dance of the warriors of the Bear Tsar, demonstrating their world domination.”
What were your key influences on the album, and what drew you to the themes it covers?
“Musically it is more influenced by the 90s and lyrically it covers a lot of themes – from tour life to working on one’s skill to benefit actions and many more. There are many references to our favourite bands, movies, sport figures, books, games and so on.”
What’s your favourite story/anecdote from recording the album?
“The favourite story about this album is that it’s finally finished, because we spent a lot of time and energy to make it sound the way we want.”
What, in your opinion, is the stand-out track on the album?
“We can’t pick one, because we love them all – they all are different but still are the parts of one style.”
What do you hope people will take away from the album, and your music in general?
“In the first place we do music for ourselves – it’s the soundtrack for our own lives, the music we want to listen to while working, chilling, spraying graffiti on the trains and walls, riding skateboards, running from the cops, getting in troubles etc. If you dig this noise then you’re just like us – welcome to the tribe.”
What’s been the highlight of your time in the band so far?
“The greatest thing about being in a band is just playing music. The ability to travel the world, go on stage in a new city every night, see the people singing along with you, surfing the crowd and starting circle pits to your music is priceless and definitely can’t be taken for granted. We worked a lot to achieve it and we enjoy every second of it!”
If you could choose, who would you most like to tour with in future?
“I would pick Iron Maiden – it’s the band that changed my whole life when I heard them for the first time at the age of 12. I started playing music because of them. Anyway, I don’t really think it’s possible. There are also many bands we would love to share the stage with and we also would be happy to tour again with bands we have toured recently – Terror, Nasty, Deez Nuts, Sick Of It All – they all are super cool people!”
What are you most looking forward to about the future?
“I really can’t wait to lay my hands on our new vinyl for the first time – it’s a magic moment.”
What do you have planned for next?
“We are waiting for the release of the album to start touring like crazy to support it. We are going to visit a lot of places SMG has never played yet – Japan, US, China, UK, South America and so on. So spread the word of the Tsar and make your local promoters to bring us to your town!”