When Måneskin stormed to victory in last year's Eurovision Song Contest, in Rotterdam, the feeling that a swathe of rock bands that would enter the 2022 edition was soon to be expected. Alas it came to be.
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Slovenia, Moldova, Georgia, Czech Republic and Bulgaria all sent bands, and not just rock bands either. However, Bulgaria's Intelligent Music Project arguably were a unique entry, why you ask? They are a supergroup.
I might be wrong in saying they are the first supergroup to enter Eurovision but I am positive this is factual, either way they gave a great performance (find the video down below) and evidently showed the world that Bulgaria can turn it up past 11 (if you know the reference, you know), Intelligent Music Project spoke to us about Eurovision, rock music in the contest and their future plans.
It's not often supergroups enter Eurovision, let alone rock supergroups, how did you find out BNT had selected Intelligent Music Project (IMP) as their entry?
"Probably you should ask BNT about this decision. We applied for the contest with all our expertise and music experience - like everyone else. This year is the 10th anniversary of our first album "Power Of Mind" where the main vocalist is the late John Lawton - our dear friend. We have 6 albums until now, and have had a lot of world famous musicians play on our albums - like Joseph Williams and Simon Phillips from TOTO, Bobby Rondinelli from Black Sabbath and Rainbow, Todd Sucherman from Styx, Carl Sentance from Nazareth and many more. In the last few years we made a lot of concerts in Bulgaria and probably all of this made BNT confident to trust us to represent Bulgaria on the ESC."
Bulgaria in the past has typically sent ethnic or pop music, how did it feel to be the first rock group representing Bulgaria at Eurovision?
"We're honoured to be the first rock band representing Bulgaria at Eurovision, because there are a lot of great rock bands in Bulgaria. We know and we're friends with many of them. I believe we did not disappoint the world of rock not only in Bulgaria, but all around Europe and the rest of the world."
You've all been in various successful Bulgarian and overseas bands (esp. Romero) outside of the IMP, how do you maintain a balance in your sound given the various influences?
"There is a certain structure in our organization. The founder of the band, and author of the music and the lyrics of al IMP's songs is Dr. Milen Vrabevski. He is the one who decides how the songs should sound like. Then we, the musicians, take care to reach his expectations and of course to upgrade the sound with our long year expertise in the field of music. It is not hard to keep the balance because all of the band members are professionals and very nice people.
Talk to us about your song 'Intention', what is the back story behind the song? Musically it's prog rock mixed with heavy metal elements; arguably the sort of song you would hear on an action film soundtrack, how did you devise the song's sound?
"“Intention” meets the criteria for quality dynamic festival rock. And gets the best of it with the great Ronnie Romero, the catchy guitar riffs of Bisser Ivanov and the amazing Simon Phillips on drums! He is also the music co-producer of the song. What a team! The song speaks of the personal struggles in our thoughts and minds to break free from old patterns of belief and behaviour that hold us back. As of the very title the author wants to emphasize a very simple fact – It’s never too late to set foot on the right path – the path of growth, dignified existence, and life with a mission.
The shadow you are chased by is actually your former self. Turn your back on the ego and selfishness and start living for the people around you… but change often means a strong internal battle, within your soul... even a war with yourself. If the better part of you wins, you feel free & happy! And the freer you feel, the farther you walk away from real life. A paradox at first glance, but the environment you’re in is not meant to make you happy by default.
The sense of freedom and happiness is a state of mind that you teach yourself to prevail in your thoughts. It is the result of a meaningful everyday usefulness. So, find deep within yourself the inner signals of the incomparable feeling of happiness, the sense of freedom, and spiritual satisfaction with existence. For all this to happen you need a firm intention."
As Stoyan Yankulov-Stundzhi is a band member, he brought a lot of Eurovision experience to the group - did he offered any words of wisdom, or did you treat it as a full-on rock show?
"Eurovision is different every year, so there is no universal advice. But probably the most important thing he told us is "Whatever happens, just have fun!".
Arguably Måneskin caused a shock last year as the last time a rock / metal song won ESC was by Lordi in 2006, do you feel since Finland and Italy's wins, rock and metal has gained greater exposure in the Eurovision realm?
"It is not a secret that rock music nowadays is not in the same mainstream place as in the 80's and 90's. This is why it is always good when rock music goes on the top of the charts, the contests, etc. So, yes, Maneskin's and Lordi's win definitely gave a push and inspiration towards rock musicians."
What plans does the IMP have after Eurovision? Could we see a follow up album to 2021's "The Creation"?
"Yes, in July we're releasing our new album "Unconditioned". Intention will be part of it. Also, a couple of days ago we released second single from the album, named "New Hero". Check it out on our YouTube channel."