Latvia, one of Europe's forgotten metal scenes is alive and well in the underground, however it's on the surface that it lacks international recognition albeit for their torch-bearer's in the Pagan / Folk Metal band Skyforger. Focusing on the underground and you have bands like Stagnant Project, whose Modern Metal sound may be miles apart from the core Folk Metal sound that seems to engulf the national scene, but united they are with their fellow Latvian brothers and sisters. The quartet are not resting on their laurels having released their 2nd album "The Age Of Giant Monsters" back in 2018, they are in no doubt poised to release new material within the coming year, we will just have to sit and wait.
We therefore had to interrogate them, they elected Paul Rutkovsky to be the spokesperson. We spoke about the band's origins, the challenges that Latvian Metal bands face and have to overcome, their scene and what cool phrases fans tend to shout out at their shows.
For those who have not heard of Stagnant Project, could you explain how the band came into being and where the name came from?
"A long time ago in 2010, when we were teens we had a dream to play in a bad ass band without any metal sub-genre limits or something that can cut off our music ideas. We were rehearsing hard and took up a sudden Punk Rock festival participation offer. But we had no name for our band and so we decided to name ourselves Stagnant Project - almost like "just another music project without future". Right after the first show, the next day another gig offer came and we decided to leave it as it is."
Could you tell us more about your latest single 'Khuemraz'? Will it also be re-released in Latvian given it's in Russian?
"Actually, we had some thoughts about English version re-release in nearest future."
How would you describe your sound without the use of genre tags? What seems to be the more prominent metal genres in Latvia?
"The most prominent genre in Latvia is definitely Folk Metal, then Progressive Metal. But I would say we are influenced by bands from the Industrial, Death, Thrash, Nu and Metalcore genres, I think that it is one of the points why we are not really popular on the local stage. But our last release 'Khuemraz' made us really unique because of the Russian lyrics, that as far as we know, is one of the most popular languages in the world after English. And as we know, the Russian language has a huge poetry base that we can use to express ourselves from."
What has the band been doing at home during the pandemic? What other hobbies / interests do you all have?
"We are very careful under the restrictions and maintain all the distance suggestions, because we really want the live shows and touring to come back. So, the best way to reach the result is to be disciplined and begin with yourself. All of us are working from home and keep the distance. We are working on some ideas separately. Talking about myself, I found the isolation is a very nice time for my family and relationship, I dedicated a lot of time for my guitar tone, mixing / mastering skills and vocals. Also, I have found a lot of time for my comic book collection to be read. Talking about the guys - we have got a constant chat with memes and discussing our future plans and sharing thoughts on random thoughts. But nether the less we managed to print our new merch and continue to write music."
Are there some Russian or Latvian phrases fans tend to shout out at gigs? If not what are some cool Latvian / Russian sayings?
"Really cool question because we have got one like this. This phrase is "ebash", in the Russian language it is a swear word meaning 'working f**king hard', and actually our local fans scream the word during our live shows and to be honest it is more like a motivation word, no matter whether you are a pure Latvian or Russian, the spirit is the same. Also, Stagnant Project is to complicated to shout :)"
Tell us more about the Latvian Metal scene, when did metal arrive in Latvia? What is the public opinion of metal? What challenges do bands face?
"Actually we have got a lot of cool and unique sounding bands here and live shows are at a very professional level to be honest. But unfortunately the biggest part of them don't cross the borders of the country in meaning of international popularity. I bereave each of us, Latvian musicians, we try our best, but only a few names have got the popularity outside the country. But we, as Stagnant Project, really believe in ourselves and we will brake the wall saying "ebash" on our way."
For metalheads visiting Riga, what sights / attractions and bars / venues could you recommend?
"The first venue you should visit is Melna Piektdiena, there were a lot of shows by big metal stars like Meshuggah, Vader, Arch Enemy, Cannibal Corpse, Decapitated etc. and even Little Big were here. I don't mean the giant bands stadium calibre, but have to say, it is the legendary metalhead place here in Latvia. Also, Latvia is one of the most green countries in the world, I suggest visiting our castles, ethnographic museums, parks and I have to say Latvia is a very small country, you can cross it in 4 hours by car, but most part of the roads will be across the woods; we are proud of this. "
Do you have any thanks or greetings you wish to send to friends, family or fans?
"We wish everyone to take care of yourself and your relatives, the most important thing in your life are your family and your friends, because in hard times those are the closest people who will help you and care for you. Don't be lazy or too introvert, call your mum, dad or your best friend no matter what, just keep in touch with people who care for you."