– Hello, thanks for taking the time. How is everything going right now with POKERFACE? What are you currently up to?
DedMoroz: Hi and thank you too! Right now we are preparing our spring tour. The European part of this tour is almost ready: we will go to Serbia and Croatia as special guests with the band Tearless. And other acts will we announced soon, I hope :). Some of the shows POKERFACE will perform with special guest vocal of Alexandra Orlova from Russian metal band Korrozia Metalla. So we are starting to rehearse with her. Also, our songwriter Nick works with new material for the third album.
– Your first material was the «Terror is the Law» EP back in 2014, and one year later your debut album came out. How were the first steps for the band like? Would you mind to make some history of POKERFACE for those who may not know about you yet?
Doctor: It was a great time! We was trying to find specific sound and character. We used to play in other genres, vocal-style – glam, crust-punk, Lemmy-style. But a bit later we thought about serious sound producing and strategy. So we invited our partner from JC Sound agency and he helped us to find some unordinary in our band, he produced all tracks in EP, gave us some advices in choreography and activities. This period of our history – EP, big support gigs – we called «becoming» of POKERFACE.
– During these years you have had a few line-up changes. How has this affected the band?
Doctor: Nowadays it’s very hard to keep your band in consistency. You know – family, hardworking, small amount of money for tour, gigs, album. It’s really hard. So in the beginning we called POKERFACE as project – everyone can be changed, splitted, fired. The project must not depend on any member of band. So we change members from time to time. It’s ok, we don’t get blocked, we always go through problems.
– As I said, your debut full length album, «Divide and Rule», came out last year. How has it worked? Are you totally satisfied with the final outcome?
Nick: This album sounds perfect. All songs were written on rehearsals by me and by our former guitarist before he left the band. Some songs were played at concerts, some songs were never played before we come to studio. Also everything was recorded in august 2015 for 30 or 35 hours.
Doctor: Yep, last album shows the best compromise between speed and power. Music is more slow then EP, but more interesting. I love this release, I like that style of sound we made.
– This 10 songs album contains an extended version of «The Chessboard Killer», which was already included on your EP. How and why did you decide to include this time this extended version? How does it differ from the «original» version?
Doctor: After recording EP our sound producer recommended to improve this track for live performing. For example – do it more aggressive and faster. So we made some refactoring and used to play it on all gigs and shows. And it worked – metalheads love this track a lot!
– Nowadays that everyone likes to tag Metal subgenres as new or old «school» I think you mix a really traditional approach and basis with a more modern sound, with chunky guitars, a thick bass and drum sound and dense production. Was this the kind of sound you were striving for?
Nick: At first, I do not really care about tags, just it is hard (but possible) to find something good in modern music. At second, modern sound is much better and louder than sound of 70’s, 80’s or 90’s. Recording with ProTools, Cubase etc. is much easier and cheaper. At third, tags, genres, methods of recording does not matter, if your music is shit, and your producer doesn’t know how to get the best sound.
– You also throw to the mix certain Death Metal elements and some Speed Metal nuances but what could you say makes POKERFACE stand out?
Doctor: We are just playing what we want – it’s not about special strategy – oh, folks, we are going to smash mix with death metal or heavy metal – it sounds more commercial. No, no and no again. We love music we play and this is our style, no special pattern.
Nick: Tags again. What you think is «clean» thrash metal? What is Speed Metal? Sorry, I don’t get it. The point is to play fast, angry, simple and loud metal.
– Anyway I also found certain DESTRUCTION and SLAYER (among others) influences. Are these bands among your influences? What other acts could you mention as an inspiration for POKERFACE?
Nick: I did not listen to DESTRUCTION, really. Some SLAYER influences I can guess in two riffs from our songs. I just try to write music without remembering another bands because otherwise the songs become a parody of someone’s else creativity.
– Though you keep a quite straight-forward, not so complicated approach, you manage to bring something new with each track. To make every song have their own personality. How important is for you to have a strong personality and diversity on the album?
Nick: This is the most important, because we are not cover- or tribute-band. I always try to make some diversity and don’t lose high speed, simplicity and accessibility.
– What do some of the lyrics on the album deal with?
DedMoroz: I wrote most of lyrics for the Divide and Rule album. It deals with betrayals, religion, wars, politics and other darkest things of our world, And in some songs I have tried to explain that even Evil lord shocked by the nowadays world. And he helps to fight against this shit. Satan is your ally!
– And how do they connect to the cover artwork? How did you work on the cover?
Doctor: Oh, our lyrics about different problems, religion, manipulation and some wrong things. And cover is about it too – manipulation, fucking politics, evil, wars. So, cover should be very close to material – sounds and lyrics. We made a design with artist, Svetlana Golikova, who never did something for extreme music or metal community. It was her first task in metal industry. We were connecting via Internet, mobile, messengers – and I’ve corrected her artwork every time. And now we have an amazing color painting 1×1 meter and cover as a greyscale copy of that. Really amazing artwork!
– I specially know the Russian Metal scene some bands from the 80’s, such as ARIA, KORROZIA METALLA or MACTEP but, how is the Metal scene over there right now? Are there any new bands with your somehow traditional sound that you could recommend?
Doctor: Russian scene is very unusual – we love foreign bands any quality – from shitty to legend, but nobody believes in modern Russian groups, it’s very hard to be favorite rock-star in Russia. Yes, we have old bands from 80th, but not a lot of modern bands. So sad but it’s true.
DedMoroz: There are many new bands in Russia, but the main problem of those bands is that they don’t understand how to move their creation. They release their first album and don’t know what to do next. They play in small clubs for friends. Such bands arise and fall, changing names, styles, members very often. So I can recommend only bands that we played with. For example, our friends – Feelament.
– During your years of existence you have managed to play with bands such as SODOM or SEPULTURA among others but what could you say has been your live highlight? And what other bands would you like to play with someday?
Doctor: I remember gigs on Sodom support in Minsk, tickets were not expensive and we had a huge amount of metalheads! We had stagediving, circle pit and good slam, It was great! Thank you, Sodom, thank you Minsk!
DedMoroz: We were played with many famous bands and now it’s time to try our solo acts. But there is one band that I want to play with. It’s Arch Enemy 🙂
– And finally, what are now your near-future plans?
DedMoroz: First of all – to complete the spring tour schedule. After that we can take some time to write a new material. And in autumn 2016 I think we will release our third LP album and arrange a tour to support it.
– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
Doctor: Folks, we are living in bad time – wars, conflicts, crysis… But don’t be pessimistic – just think about you dream, focus on your target, keep close to your friends, relatives, listen to good music (not only metal, heh!) and all will be fine. Thank you and bless you!