Muscovite noise-rockers Jars stopped in our area last November and we had the coolest time. The show was a total blast in a packed Bistro des Tilleuls and in front of an audience gone wild. This interview was done after the gig with Anton (guitar, voice), Pavel (bass) and Sasha (drums).
You are in the middle – or, rather three-quarters, – of the tour, how has it been going so far ?
Pavel : So far, two days off but the second day off was because of the car. We didn’t want it, we didn’t have a rest, we just fucked up with the car.
But they managed to put up another gig for you, didn’t they ?
Sasha : Yeah, and the second gig was even better ! Much more people came and everyone enjoyed it so much ! We had a great time in Guéret !
Is it your first European tour ?
Anton : No, I’ve been playing in Jars for 8 years, with a lot of different people,. We’ve been together for about two years. This is our first big European tour. Our first time further to the west than Germany.
S : So it’s our first time in France, in Spain, etc. all together. Definitely worth it !
Your last record was put out by a French guy, Lionel from Pogo records. Can you tell me the story behind it ?
A : The story is really simple. He just wrote us on Facebook and asked if he could put our record on his bandcamp. I said yes and then he helped us releasing the new one. He also helps a lot on this tour, sending info to everyone, spreading the word. Thank you, Lionel !
S : Yeah, he is a great guy.
Your music is grounded in noise-rock but you sing in Russian, unlike many bands who sing in English even if they’re not from this country…
A : We have some records in English – early ones. For me, it’s very important that the words I sing touch me. I need to feel what I sing. And, at some point, English stops doing it. The lyrics in Russian are a good way to go deeper… To tell yourself what you think and feel about different things.
P : I’d like to add that, on this tour, we played with different bands from different countries and when the bands sing in their native language, for some reason, it’s more interesting. Today, in the van, we listened to a band from Basque country, they sing in their language and it’s really great !
A : It makes music more diverse…
Anton, obviously the lyrics are important for you… It’s something that you spend time on ?
A : A lot of time…
S : After the song is ready, Anton spends several months creating the lyrics. This is how important it is to him.
A : Some of the new songs that we played tonight, the lyrics are in process. But no one can understand them. (Laughs)
Yeah, except when you explain it between the songs just like you did tonight when you talked to us about political events happening in Russia… Is the political situation in Russia something that has an influence on your music?
A : Not the music but the lyrics, definitely. Everything comes from the feelings inside… so maybe our music too !
It’s quite unusual for a noise-rock band. Usually punk and hardcore bands are more into politics…
A : I consider us as a punk band ! And, anyway, if you walk in the street with a guitar and somebody stops you and ask about what you play, it’s easier to answer « I play punk. » than going into details about noise-rock…
S : Basically, noone understand what noise-rock is. (Laughs)
So how is it to be a punk band – or a noise-rock band – nowadays in Moscow ?
A : Nowadays, Moscow is a good place to do any kind of music ! We have strong social networks, a strong scene. If you want to book a gig, you just do it. I’ve been in the punk scene for a very long time. I know everyone so it’s kind of easy for us.
S : I see a lot of newcomers and a lot of great new bands. In my opinion the scene in Russia and in Moscow in particular are on their rise. It’s really wild !
A : And there are people who want to listen to it, that’s very important !
S : And when you are in this environment, it’s so inspiring that it really helps you to push yourself and rise above yourself. Actually, I think that right now Moscow is the best place in the world to create music !
A : Yeah, one of the best place ! Ten years ago, we needed a lot of media to do a good show. Today we still need it but it’s much easier.
P : I think somehow that people have changed. They are far more interested in knowing what other guys are doing.
A : Yeah, ten years ago, a good band was a band singing in English. You were good if you played like Arctic monkeys. Now you’re good if you play like Grazhdanskaya Oborona and you sing in Russian ! Now we’re looking inside our own culture.
S : And also there are a lot of bands from different parts of our country, not just Moscow : Khabarovsk, Irkoutsk, Vladivostok…
A : And the guy who drives us has played a major role in that !
Yeah, you talked about Denis during dinner… So, let’s pay tribute to the man ! You said he was able to drive from Portugal to Vladivostok !
P : Several times !
A : He did six tours from Moscow to Vladivostok. The point of this tour is the connection between different cities and it really works ! Now we have a lot of friends from Siberia…
S : Yeah, it makes touring way easier. Some years ago, it was almost impossible to imagine that you could tour through the whole country, right now it seems doable even if it’s difficult. It just takes a lot of time but you know almost everyone on the way, great people and great bands. So it’s easy : you quit your job and go touring ! (Laughs)
OK, so can you educate me a little about the Russian scene ? Can you give me some names that are important to you ?
P : Oh, we’ve been asked that before and you’ll need to stop us because the list is long !
A : So let’s set up the rules : only bands that are active now, ok ?
S : The first band that comes to my mind is EEVA. Great band, the guitarist was in the audience. He lives in France right now. And also, another band : RAPE TAPE from Khabarovsk…
A : Terrible name…
S : It’s an absolutely insanely great band ! I think it’s one of the best live bands in the world right now !
A : My choice is Pozori. It’s feminist electro-punk. Right now, they kind of disbanded but soon there will be a kind of reunion. I plan to play in this band. (Update : Anton is now playing bass in Pozori. -Ed.) It’s noisy, it’s angry and it’s kind of funny. It’s music that punches you in the face ! By a girl ! Fucking cool !
S : I have to say that the music is absolutely disgusting ! You will love it !
A : And my second choice will be C.X. They call themselves « boozecore ». It’s really slow sludge metal. They sing about literally two things : weed and vodka. They are so simple that it becomes political. Weed is restricted in Russia. Vodka is not restricted but not admired. They sing against cops – or pigs, as they say – and their message is : you don’t have to tell me what to do. I will smoke weed and drink vodka everyday !
P : My first choice is Supergoats, two guys form a town called Kirov, one is on drums and the other sings and play guitar and I’ll call their music raw-power-rock. They sing about dicks, tits and fuck. On one side, it’s very silly but on the other side it’s very raw, very arghhhhh !
S : It’s great fun, they are so wild ! The vocalist beats himself in the face during the show and he beats himself really hard ! And he dances on the stage like this (pushing objects around. Ed.) It’s really fun. I love this ! Great shows !
P : His name is Pavel too. He is a big figure in the Kirov underground scene !
A : He is the Steve Albini of Kirov. Great guy !
P : The second band is IBN. I play in this band but I mentioning it because I only play the bass. The guy I play with is 10 years younger than me and I absolutely love him because of his fresh and open mind and his great ideas. As a person a bit older, it’s great to work with a younger, high-energy guy. It’s something like noise-rock but not as aggressive as Jars, it’s softer but… we do great shows too !
Thanks, I will listen to all the names that you have mentioned. There’s one name that comes to mind and that’s Pussy riot, the one Russian band that we have heard of in France in the recent years. So… do you have things to say about them ?
A : I took part in one of their actions and I got punched in the face ! (Laughs) It was really strange : when they see girls who gets power, they immediately get angry. It actually took place in MacDonald’s and I was really surprised that people reacted so quickly. I like them. They do a lot of good things – apart from being now a pop band. With the money they made on tour, they launched a media called Mediazona, which writes about police brutality and human rights and I think it’s the best media I read in Russia now !
S : Yes, it’s the most professional media in Russia today.
You mentioned bands of many different styles… What are you most interested at the moment musically ? What are you looking for when you go to a show or buy a record ? I mean : what’s your personal relationship with music at the moment ? What bores you ? What are you excited about ?
A : Actually, I like good punk-rock and noise-rock bands that don’t invent anything new. But, right now, I’m interested in improvisation stuff. Playing with rythms and time signatures rather than always the same 4/4 stuff. I like that, I like noise, I like what Death grips does. Pretty ununderstandable music for me, yet. I like… unusual use of instruments. Probably we can mention Lightining bolt. The things they do with only bass and drums are really interesting. I also like minimalistic stuff : you only use the sound of your instrument but try to make something really strange.
Are there any French bands that you like at the moment ?
A : Yes, I like Psychotic monks – quite like the Irish band Girl band. I even want to bring them to Russia but I don’t know how to contact them… Also Harpon, frightening music ! There was a band called Doppler. I heard them five or seven years ago and they totally blew my mind : so emotional, so technical, so cool.
S : I would say that… Some time ago, I stopped listening to records by emerging bands. Because I always want to see the band live first. The records are often a bad intermediary for the energy that the band has live. So I prefer going to live shows. Sometimes the records are cool but on stage it’s not so powerful and no so emotional. And also I’m in my thirties so I think it’s time to stop aligning my identity with the music I listen to. I don’t care about the style. I listen to jazz, academic music, everything ! It’s just about the talent of people who are really into what they are doing.
A : Actually, I do remember another French band : Aussitôt mort… or Mort mort mort ! We played with them in Moscow and Denis drove them ! It would be a crime to forget cool French punk bands like this.
P : I’m afraid that my answers aren’t that interesting… I’m trying to listen to new music, new bands and so on but, for some reason, I still like bands from the old age and for some reason I am still inspired by the Beatles and so on. Old stuff ! I listen to some new music but my heart, for some reason, is still with this old age. Sorry ! (Laughs)
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