RAMPART   HEAVY METAL FROM BULGARIA Band Questions answer by MARIA DOYCHINOVA    
© 2019 by Haschi`s Metal Corner
Please introduce yourself and the band members briefly? Hailz! This is Maria from the heavy metal band RAMPART. Currently my bandmates are Yavor on guitar, Victor on guitar, Alexander on bass, and Stefan on drums.   What does the band name mean and how do you get it? Rampart is a bastion, a fortification. This is a direct name. We are grateful that it is not occupied by any classic heavy metal band, to which probably we should be fans. We have a liking for the thought that we are defenders of the right faith. We are the heavy metal bastion on the Balkans.   Where and how was the band founded? The band is founded in 2006 at Sofia. At that time I succeeded to attract musicians to work with me. After the release of our debut album we parted ways. I decided to continue the adventure and I filled up the whole line up. Since then lots of worthy musicians passed through the band, some of them played for years or for a few months, others just being session musicians.   Have you played in other bands before? I played in several bands before. I had two all-female heavy metal bands – VIPERA and SERPENT’s KISS. In 2009 I created the thrash metal band REZISTANCE.   What does the band name mean? The name of the band comes from the game “Heroes of Might and Magic”. Do you play strategies?   Was it hard to find suitable band members who fit musically and humanely with the band? As it often can be seen in the music branch the synchrony could be impeded by two major factors: 1. The good musicians are always a bit egocentric and while working in the band they would like to have a significant place in it. 2. The other problem is that the artists frequently act irrationally and they do not have the discipline to work as a team! While accepting some of the things around the early members of the band emotionally now I am able “to repair” the band in a way that is good for its development without any unnecessary dramas.   Many of the ex-members after they pass through their “wanna be a star” mania come back in RAMPART. In such a way we became something like a club where everyone takes tasks which he likes and is able to fulfill.   You are the only original member of the band. Is it so hard to play with you or are you putting too high demands on your fellow musicians? It is known that the young bands are not feeling very comfortable in reference to their concerts and to their fees. That is why they have to be personally motivated to create music! I often make compromises but when I see a lack of personal motivation in someone I do not put so much time and efforts to create it… I already sacrificed a lot for the band but I cannot turn it to a psycho clinic for people who overrate themselves!   Peter Svetlinov Your drummer from 2011 to 2016 passed away in April 2016. this was certainly a very hard blow for the band. What was the cause of his surprising death in such a young age? Pesho was an exceptional musician who put in his music efforts lots of emotion and devotion. An awful and rapidly developing disease took him from the Bulgarian metal community. As his closest people do not reveal more details I would not comment more on this question. He definitely burned for his music!   What are the lyrics about and who of you is writing them ? I am the one responsible for the lyrical content. The messages of the lyrics are different… In our first album there are some social topics, some epic, some interpreted live situations in a metaphoric aspect. “Voice of the Wilderness” is an expression of protest and a short retrospection of the mass culture. Our next album “War Behest” is a conceptual piece of music and presents an anti-utopia of war as clash of interest. In “A Tale to Cold” the lyrics present the power of a new beginning. In „Codex Metalum“ I built the concept on the theme that heavy metal music refers to an ancient system of values as the Knights’ Codex is as far as nowadays we bind music with the worthy existence of man. In the new upcoming album „WWII: Memories for the Future“ I focus on less known historical facts. The issues of war and conflict are the main inspirations for my lyrics. In the real nature of conflict there are no losers and winners.   Which bands inspired you and how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard a sound from you?   GAMMA RAY, HELLOWEEN, SAVATAGE, IRON MAIDEN, RUNNING WILD, GRAVE DIGGER are among the main inspirations. I believe that Kai Hansen is the best vocalist of HELLOWEEN. Besides the names from the heavy metal scene I am a big fan of TESTAMENT, KREATOR, and many more. Victor thinks that the air is invented by IRON MAIDEN. He is a great admirer of ICED EARTH as well. Alexander considers Steve Harris as a living god. Yavor admires PINK FLOYD and QUEENSRYCHE. Everyone from RAMPART could mention a hundred favorite bands as an inspiration. No matter how strong is our liking to the music of our metal inspirations at this moment we have cleared a distinguished face as a band. The framework of heavy metal may seem restrictive but we have the skills and the will to go ahead on our own way. The description of our music would be a classical heavy metal with influences from rock`n`roll till thrash metal! Each of our albums has its stress on the influences as well as its surprising tracks. The new album we just recorded is with the most thrash influences!   Why should people listen to our music? The people with the spirit of youth who still seek new music in the specter from hard rock till thrash metal should give a listen to RAMPART! They will learn interesting things. I dare to declare that they will hear successful riffs that may touch them. The Bulgarian guardians of the fortress expect them.   Voice of the Wilderness Your debut album is from 2009. How satisfied are you with the album today and what would you change? “Voice of the Wilderness” was our first full length effort. It was released by the French label Inferno Records.   From a musician’s point of view there is no instrumentalist who does not say that something could be done better. The album is ripe enough, it has excellent indices of the recording and clear messages. “Voice of the Wilderness” got some very good feedback from the metal community – both from the media and the fans. Our debut was a step ahead for us and I hope for the heavy metal community as well.   War Behest your second album was released in 2012. It was released on the French label Infernö Records. How do you get in contact with the French and how was the cooperation ? The story began with the release of our demo. On 08.08.2008 I released our EP “Warriors” with the idea this to be our promo CD. I sent it to some European metal media and to several labels, and that is how it reached the French label Inferno Records. Later Inferno Records suggested to help us with the promotion. The demo received a good feedback in the European countries. When I informed the label that we are recording a full length album „Voice of the Wilderness“ Inferno Records offered us a contract. For us their proposal was a good chance and a kind of recognition. We are grateful for their support. „War Behest“ and „A Tale to Cold“ were also released by Inferno Records. Inferno Records believed in RAMPART and we had exceptional relations for years.     Завера your third album was released in 2013. Why did you decide not to publish it in English? We made “Завера” for the Bulgarian market and for the Bulgarian fans. We feel our connection to the Bulgarian scene and this was our way to say thanks to the local metalheads who supported us. When in 2013 the Bulgarian label „Metal Industries” offered us a release we did not cease our relations with the French label Inferno Records! It was a question about one release in Bulgarian language. We did not expected strong interest in the other countries because of the language barrier. Afterwards it became clear that it is not such a big barrier… Besides the sales of this release on the Balkans, we were very surprised from the Japanese fans and their big interest toward this album.   In 2016, you released your last album Codex Metalum on Iron Shield Records from Germany. What do you expect from the label and how has the cooperation been so far? Iron Shield Records proposed us very good conditions for the release of the album, and the label was very efficient in releasing of “Codex Metalum”. The label fulfilled its engagements toward the qualitative parameters of the release. The cooperation between Rampart and Iron Shield Records is awesome.   What's your favorite song on the album and why? It is “Sacred Anger”. It is a fast and direct song. Its obsessing rhythm is combined with one of the most sincere messages on the album. This is also the song that is a door to future messages.   How long did it take to work on the album and who supported you? „Codex Metalum” walked its long road to reach the fans. The conditions in which the band is working are such that every song from it is ripe and suffered enough before touching the listener. Besides the support from Iron Shields Records we owe gratitude to our friend Rock Thrashler and to our sound engineer Vladimir Bochev. For us remains the pride from our achievements in “Codex Metalum” and the pleasure for presenting it live!   You also recorded a cover song on HelloRay - Tribute to Helloween & Gamma Ray for the Norwegian label Epicus Records. How did it relate to the contact ? The tribute album to GAMMA RAY/HELLOWEEN - “HelloRay” is an awesome initiative of the Norwegian label Epicus Records. The idea of this tribute is the bands participating to be real fans of GAMMA RAY/HELLOWEEN. This makes the album different from the previous tributes and I am sure that it will raise interest. Our participation is with the song of HELLOWEEN „Just a Little Sigh” which we recorded specially for „HelloRay”. I decided that the idea of making such a cover song is good for RAMPART. I contacted the label and submitted songs from our EP „Warriors“. In such a way they chose us to participate in the project and in my opinion the result is good.   How far have you come up with new songs and when can you expect a new album? We just recorded 11 tracks for our new album „WWII: Memories for the Future“. Now it is being mixed. The main topic line of all its lyrics is concept and it features less known historical facts about the World War II. In „WWII: Memories for the Future” the classic heavy metal meets thrash. The album will be released this year. You can expect a diverse and heavy piece of work!   Is it difficult for you as a woman in a world that is still dominated by men or are you fully accepted in the metal sector? Are there even silly calls between concerts, or is this already past and how are you or would you deal with it? I am living in a cultural environment where gender discrimination has never been an essential factor. As a musician I do not perceive myself as someone very different from my fellow bandmates. The good riffs and the good singing have no sex. You are good at it or you are not. Actually, there were some absurd situations, but boys are not immunized from such threats! I‘ve seen a lot more absurdity with them than with me. We all do the same thing – we accept such situations with lots of laughter - sarcastic or sincere - it depends on the respondent.   What was your first concert as a fan? And what memory do you have of it? My first concert was a show of IRON MAIDEN with Blaze Bayley. My parents do not let me to go. I sold out all my textbooks to buy a ticket for the concert and afterwards I had to copy on Xerox all the lessons for the whole year.   What were your live highlights and with which bands did you play? No doubt, the utmost highlight we had so far was the participation of RAMPART in Wacken Open Air 2017 with a special anti-terroristic show. We had other high moments at the German festival Taunus Metal Open Air, the Czech festival Ostrava v Plamenech, the French Rising Fest II, and at Metal Crowd Festival at Belarus. We also had the pleasure to share the stage with bands like SAXON, KREATOR, QUEENSRYCHE, FLOTSAM AND JETSAM, ANVIL, UDO DIRKSCHNEIDER, SCANNER, BLAZE BAYLEY, SUSPERIA, HATE, ARKONA, WITCHBURNER, GODSLAVE, CRIPPER, GUARDIANS OF TIME, PICTURE, LONEWOLF, ELVENPATH, IRON MASK, METAL WITCH, WIZARD, and many more. We took part in Udo DIRKSCHNEIDER's “Back to the Roots” tour in 2016 with special guests ANVIL in Denmark and Sweden, and later in 2018 we played on tour with ANVIL in Holland.     Have already resulted in friendship ? It is always a fun to meet and talk with such experienced musicians. You can always learn something new or find a crazy moment. As a result of our shows during our „United Opus of Apocalypse and Staging Tour“, supported by Wacken Foundation, we found a lot of new friends.   Which band would you like to play live with and why? I would like to play live with TESTAMENT. It might be the show of the decade.   With what do you earn your money except with the music? Ha ha ha ha ha! It seems that I have invested much more money in the music ... That's why the musicians playing at RAMPART are willing to return to the band after they have been „free“ for some period. I work as a Strategic Communication officer at the Ministry of Defence. Now you understand why I keep the discipline in the band!!!   How important are social media for you as a band? The social media are very important for the band. This is the contemporary tool for promotion. Our strategy includes at first place – making of qualitative heavy metal with high-class compositions. Secondly, come the good pressing of the releases and the number of the shows played. At third place – but not last as importance - comes the good promotion on traditional and social media. Till now we keep our ascending position of development on all of these three key indices.   What would you want to achieve with the band? I would like to tour in United States, Australia, Canada, and Japan. I would also like to tell some untold stories with RAMPART! If we succeed to dress them up with compelling music, I would be happy!   What do you think about the Bulgaria metal scene in general? There are many good bands in different genders of metal in Bulgaria! Most often there is a lack of good production and the bands are usually damaged by their unrealistic anticipated and infantile attitudes to the non-musical aspects of their activities. Our metal scene has just emerged from its primitive period of accumulation of necessary key albums for its development and is newly “hatched“ for a wider audience. There are many bands that released one album in the 1990s but they were swept away by the political and economic situation in the Eastern Europe. This is a side and a quite extensive topic... The Bulgarian metal scene is better than it is known for it!   Maybe you can recommend some bands from your area? The fans would not be disappointed if they give a listen to JOHN STEEL (heavy metal), TERRAVORE (thrash metal), HYPERBOREA (death metal), BENDIDA (sympho metal), VRANI VOLOSA (pagan metal), OBSIDIAN SEA (doom metal), BOLG (black metal), VELIAN (progressive metal).   PERSONAL QUESTIONS !
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