"Do not think that there was no heavy music in the USSR at all. Groups such as "Aria" and "Master" were prominent representatives of heavy metal and due to the fact that it was difficult for people to get albums of foreign bands, they became incredibly popular."
Promising Russian Melodic Death Metal outfit Drops Of Heart are set to unleash their second album "Stargazers" on the 22nd July and arguably is a huge step up from their debut, not just in terms of writing as the band went on to explain, but also the fact they recruited well known Swedish vocalists in Richard Sjunnesson from The Unguided (on "Frost Grip") and Bjorn Strid from Soilwork (on "Starlight"). 12 years have past since the bands inception and with this new album on the horizon, it was only fair for GMA to give the band a grilling... vodka was involved.
They divulged about the album writing process, challenges Russian Metal bands face in terms of recognition, touring and networking and how heavy music existed back in the Soviet Union era.
Guys you must be excited to drop your 2nd album "Stargazers", what (if anything) was done differently in comparison to "New Hope"? Will the new album be released on vinyl? Is Vinyl popular in Russia?
"It’s hard to explain, how much we are excited! Honestly, work on “Stargazers” was fundamentally different in comparison with “New Hope”. When we wrote our previous album, we suffered from a lack of professional experience. We didn’t know exactly how to do this. We tried to blindly imitate a sound of bands that influenced us and didn’t pay enough attention to the arrangements. Now the situation has changed radically. In “Stargazers” we wanted to reach the maximum of songs arrangements, make the whole album diverse and as entertaining for metal fans as it possible.
We can’t say anything about vinyl right now, but situation may change in the near future. If we talk about attitude to vinyl in Russia, it’s not as popular as in Europe or the USA, but this market is developing now, in comparison with CD."
Obviously COVID-19 has put a halt on a lot of events bands had planned, what events did you have planned that are no longer going ahead?
"Of course we planned a tour in support of the album, but the world situation made us stay home and deprived some of us of work."
On a greater scale can you tell us what the COVID-19 situation is like in Russia? What have you been doing outside of music in the mean time?
"The situation sucks. Not only because the number of infected is growing rapidly but also people's scepticism and dubious decisions of the authorities (the Government didn’t declare a state of emergency and made people stay home without salaries). Some of us work remotely, some stay home and have to wait."
Do you feel that Russian Metal has come a long way since the fall of the USSR? Do you know if rock / metal existed during the Soviet era?
"Metal in Russia was under a lot of pressure. The censorship of the USSR didn’t allow this genre to fully develop until the second half of the eighties, therefore, after its collapse, the bands had to create everything from scratch.
But years passed, globalization did its job, and the genre raised its head. But do not think that there was no heavy music in the USSR at all. Groups such as "Aria" and "Master" were prominent representatives of heavy metal and due to the fact that it was difficult for people to get albums of foreign bands, they became incredibly popular.
Unfortunately, there’s no world famous modern metal band from Russia nowadays. It’s really sad and we tried our best to make the world talk about Russian metal scene."
Looking towards the back end of 2020 and into early 2021, what plans do you have?; COVID-19 depending.
"After release of the album we will promote it online as possible. New merchandise, online live shows, maybe b-sides album. And, most importantly - due to the lack of tours, we plan to to record new songs as soon as possible. We recorded “Stargazers” for 3 years, and during this time we have accumulated a bunch of new material, which we are already eager to record and release."
It must be challenging to do a tour of Russia; do such tours exist? Given Moscow is 18 hours away?
"This is the biggest problem for beginner bands in our country. Big cities are located at a distance of 500 kilometres or more, and even a small tour can turn into a real adventure, for which new people in the field may simply not be ready. At the same time, problems can carry on if you have already covered this distance - today metal in Russia is going through difficult times, and it is sometimes very hard to gather a sufficient number of people in a not-so-well-known group."
For those metalheads visiting your city of Ufa, what sights / attractions could you recommend? Any venues, bars, etc?
"Our city is full of Bashkir folk influences and bars with pop-cover-bands, so it’s probably the most difficult question, huh. But we have a really nice historical centre and some really good pubs like “Harat’s” or “Jagger”. By the way, our vocalist Denis brews great beer himself!"
Do you have any greetings, thanks, etc that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans etc?
"First of all, we want to wish all people in the world to be strong and brave in this hard time. It’s important not to bow down and support each other. And we will try to make you a little happier with our music. Stay metal!"