Louna talk Behind a Mask and coming to U.S.
by Reggie Edwards
Russian metal sensation Louna are set to release their latest record, Behind a Mask, in the United States on April 30 and is a must-hear for any metal, punk or rock fan.
Behind a Mask is a compilation of tracks from the band’s first two albums and is destined to make a believer out of anyone who turns it on.
Louna have been picking up steam and garnering a significant amount of buzz in the States lately and The Front Row Report had a chance to sit down via email with Lusine “Lou” Gevorkyan, Ruben “Rou” Kazarian, Sergey “Serzh” Ponkratiev and Leonid “Pilot” Kinzbursky of Louna.
FRR: Tell me about this new record, Behind a Mask. I understand it’s a collection of tracks from your first two albums. How do you narrow it down to enough songs for one album?
Rouben: That was a hard one. By the time we decided to work on our English CD we already had two albums and we thought that it would be a good idea to make a sort of compilation, to pick the very best. The very best of greatest hits, as we joke. We relied on the assistance of our friend, English lyricist and producer Travis Leake, and he helped us choose, rearrange and compile this CD.
I like what we finally came up with and I guess these songs fully represent what we are and what we want to say.
FRR: Tell me about the metal scene in your home country
Sergey: I can’t say that heavy music holds a serious position in the music business in Russia. It’s the opposite- It’s an underground subculture with a few big names if we’re talking about bands that play real metal. There are a lot of bands who play heavy music–from hardcore to hard rock–and the target audience is pretty big too.
In the mid-2000s it was the impetus for creating an entire TV channel that created a structure and an outlet for a number of metal bands, but for reasons we don’t know everything just crumbled. Now, metal in this country is made only by people who live for it, and maybe that’s a good thing.
Rouben: It has grown significantly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now we have a lot of great and interesting bands here playing all sort of music and the variety of rock scene is really vast. Unfortunately it is practically unknown to the rest of the world and apart from Gorky Park in late 80s I do not remember any ROCK band that achieved any decent level of popularity in the West.
Pilot: to be frank, our heavy music scene for the most part is a pathetic substitute for [the United States’]. It’s a step-child. Heavy music in our country came along not too long ago. There are some decent bands, but even those aren’t supported by the media and the establishment. The stadiums here are packed with really old, aging, Soviet style folk musicians.
Lousine: The Russian rock and metal scene is really diverse and it’s been around a while and it’s developed on its own. But the most progressive and innovative groups are part of the underground movement. Hard, heavy music is only really listened to by young people. Groups that use unconventional musical styles and extreme vocals are confusing for ordinary people here. But still, young rock and metal is growing rapidly and gaining momentum and fans. It’s developing both qualitatively and quantitatively.
FRR: Let’s talk about Louna as a band. How did the band form?
Pilot: Lousine and Vit started it; they invited Rouben, who invited Sergey, and then they pulled me in.
Rouben: Louna was formed by Vit (bass) and Lou (vocals) in 2008, at that time they were playing in their original band but they wanted to pursue some other musical ideas so they decided to try those in a new project that soon developed in a completely independent band.
FRR: You’re bringing Louna to the United States as a musical force on this album. What can we expect from Louna in the US?
Rouben: I can absolutely guarantee that Louna live is something that is worth seeing. Besides, we are different. We come from a different continent, country, and tradition. We sing in English but we have thought it all out in Russian. I guess that is enough for the beginning to bring in and intrigue people or to make us stand out.
FRR: The question we all want to know- will there be a Louna US Tour anytime soon?
Pilot: We have to and we’ll do whatever we have to make it happen.
Rouben: We are looking forward to it because, as I said before, we do have a lot to show live. We will be watching the reaction on our CD in the US and if everything goes well then we will come and tour.
FRR: Back to Behind a Mask. What was the deciding factor in putting out a collection of songs rather than an album of new material?
Rouben: We wanted to show what we have already done, but just wanted to make it sound different and better. Besides we were really busy with promotion in Russia and we were short of time to sit and record a new album in English. Our friend Travis [Leake] helped a lot with adapting our songs and translating the lyrics and we are really proud of this kind of second coming of our own material.
FRR: If there was one song on the album that defines Louna, what would it be?
Sergey: I think there’s not one song that defines us. We’re defined by the whole body of work that we’ve done over the last several years.
Pilot: For me, it’s “Up There.”
Rouben: It cannot be just one song! We’re much deeper than just one song. Our lyrics deal with too many different things to be defined with just one song. BAM defines Louna quite well.
Lousine: Our work is multifaceted and difficult to identify using any one song both musically and lyrically.
FRR: So, after Behind a Mask, what’s next for you guys?
Rouben: Well, we have a lot to do with the band here in Russia. We have many local gigs and festivals coming up. Right now we are touring Siberia and the Urals. In parallel we are writing new material for our third Russian CD coming out this fall and of course we are hoping that the rest of the world will react to our music positively so that we can come and play where you live!
Pilot: To quote the song, “My Rock-n-Roll,” As the years and miles pass by, memories are stages I give my life and youth to see.”