Grace Disgraced leave open mouths behind
The band was founded in March 2004 by Polina “Grace Dis” Berezko (vocs) and Alexandr Istchenko (guitar). Very soon Andrey “Snakebass” Kornienko (bass) and Andrey “Kuzya” Kuznetzov (drums) joined them. The name Grace Disgraced appeared at once and it means what you think it should mean, as the reality where they live in is drawn by their own perception. Their full-length album “Enthrallment Traced” has been released and the band is now preparing their second album and in the meantime vocalist Polina found time to answer some questions.
First of all, please introduce yourself so we know who is answering.
My name is Polina, I a vocalist and, actually, a founder of a Moscow death metal band Grace Disgraced.
How did you get involved in the metal scene? What attracted you in the first place? Remember the first metal band you heard?
I was a 6-year-old child when I first heard some heavy riffs of Metallica and Sepultura and I fell in love with that aggressive sound, so different from those pop and even rock songs I got used to. Sepultura seemed a real madness to me. As I grew up my love became stronger and my metal horizon broadened, my audio collection enlarged. First of all I liked the wild energy, the raw and uncompromising sound and the lyrics, enlightening worlds of war, fear and suffering – topics which seemed true and interesting to me. In my teens I went to rock clubs and dreamed about my own band. And after some abortive attempts, Grace Disgraced was born.
Being a female vocalist it must be difficult to stand against guys. Was it hard gaining respect and taken serious?
Youth gave me strength in this war. I believed in my band, ignored those who showed some disrespect to me (if there were some) and got closer to my associates.
Who are you fav vocalists? And do you take inspiration from the guys or female vocalists? Was it difficult to develop the growling technique?
My favorite female vocalist is Diamanda Gallas , though she is not a growler. As the majority of my favorite bands are guy-fronted), the inspiration goes from them. The only female-fronted band that really touches me is Dreaming Dead. Developing growling technique was natural to me, I could not say it was difficult, cause I worked in this direction and the work was pleasant.You can always think that your technique is not perfect and suffer from it, but prefer the way of steady enhancement without self-reproach.
As you are not the only member please say something short about the others. Good and bad habits.
OK, let’s start from the guitarist and the main composer, Aleksandr Klaptsov. He is a professional wrestler and he has no bad habits, what I can’t say about our bass-player Andrey Andreev who likes to have fun). Our drummer, Andrey Ischenko is the most popular metal drummer in Russia, he is able to create his own fan-club now. And his main bad habit is touring with other bands, leaving Grace Disgraced home alone. But he’s the one who earns his living with music.
So congrats with the debut album and how does it feel to see the product in your hands and finally on the shelves after label delays?
It is worth waiting. It is materialization of our efforts, a milestone in our history, which will remain physically. That’s great!
How did you record? Recording individually or did you do some 'live' recording as a group?
We spent 10 working days in Cosmos Sound studio, recording individually – a standard procedure, but for us it was a great experience, because we approached it far more seriously than our previous recordings. Andrey Ischenko, the drummer, had set the pace by having recorded all the drum track to “Enthrallment Traced” in one day! The rest of us were not such sprinters…
The production is good and clear. Did you spend a lot of time mixing? And how did proceed the album, you or an external producer?
We are lucky to have worked with the most talented sound producer in Russia, Arkadiy Navaho. While working on the album, we collaborated closely. We had got plenty ideas and a strong sound conception which he helped us to realize. We did not spend much time mixing and mastering as we had an intention to sound naturally and not to mislead the fans. That means that what you hear at the album you will hear at our show or rehearsal, except some sound effects between the tracks which I have not learnt to parody with my voice yet). By the way the samples were created by our guitarist – he proceeded very thoroughly to the task).
Looking back at the recording time, what was the hardest part and what was the most laughable?
As I was present at all the recording sessions I found the guitars recording the most difficult. I went crazy on the concentration of attention to each note, how it was executed, how accurately it lay in the piece. And just following the process was quite hard for me.
The funniest moment was that our bass-player had not learnt the material and came to the studio with his music sheets, trying to put the pieces together impromptu.
And having the album out you must have some high expectations about the flowing royalties. What will you do with the first paycheck?
Being an optimist I stay a realist and do not expect breath-taking profits. The whole Grace Disgraced budget is usually spent for production, recording, decent artwork, merchandise and other needs of the band. Not a cent goes for private needs of the band members.
Trying to sell copies to people while touring must be fun. Do fans get something special when buying the album at a gig? Did you got some strange request?
Yes, we always try to prepare some special merchandise for each tour. I like to stand at the counter myself and to talk to the fans. They often take pictures with me, I sign the CD’s and they get some discounts. Some fans ask me to give them a disc or a T-shirt for free, as a gift. In their opinion it’s quite natural because I did not buy it from someone else, I simply have it just like I have hair on my head. On the other hand, people in small towns in Russia and in Ukraine are rather poor and they cannot afford a T-shirt or a CD-disc instead of a serving of beer. We are often asked to bring some very cheap merch, such as small magnets which could be sold for $ 1. The strangest request was to put an autograph in the passport of a USA citizen. And I put.
So how did the past shows go? Arranged the dates yourself? Got good audience at the different places?
The shows went great. I like touring, sight-seeing, communicating with different people, so I met each show with a flash of enthusiasm and brutal affection). Our Ukrainian tour was managed by Froster, director of local metal internet portal. Dates in Russia were arranged by Aleksandr and me.
Is it easy for you to play? Russia is very big and take lot of time to travel. And what about getting to other countries?
You are right – Russia is not a convenient country for touring. You need to leave the club straight after the show, get in the bus and head for the next town, spending on road the whole night and the following day. This winter we travelled 1000 km passages between the show sites. But the ordeals make me stronger and I enjoy playing at new sites very much. Next year we are planning to conquer Europe. I foretaste this great adventure.
Tell us how a Grace Disgraced show looks like? What can we expect and what absolutely not? And what is the wow factor of the show?
Oh, nothing special!) We just twitch as epileptic, fitting our crazy broken rhythms and bring down a storm of Grace Disgraced furious sound! Often the crowd cannot even understand what is really going on, they stand with open mouths, and those who are trying to do some headbanging quickly realize that it is almost impossible regarding the rhythms!) The wow factor from my point of view is that we are very natural and sincere and get a lot of pleasure while playing. People feel it and that attracts them.
Which show was the most memorable one? Why?
I remember playing at Metal Heads’ Mission festival in 2010. The festival usually takes place at the Black sea shore in August. When we got on stage, the sun shone right at our faces and it was real hell. We watched with envy at the fans who were standing in the shadows. The heat was so severe that we felt victors when we managed to stay alive till the end of our set).
Beside the good times on stage you must have some good laughs for us with backstage stories. Don't worry, everything will be kept secretly here.
I have no doubt about the secrecy). The funniest moments are always connected with meals before the show. For example, when we were touring with 2 Italian bands in Ukraine, one organizer brought a huge pan with delicious homemade soup. But our Italian metal brothers were not big lovers of Russian food – they preferred pizza and ravioli. So the pan was not emptied at a moment and we took it with us in our tour bus with all our instruments, merch, personal belongings and other stuff.
What are the plans for Grace Disgraced for the rest of this year and the ones to come? What are you hoping to achieve? And what are willing to sacrifice?
We are planning to finish artwork for our second album till the end of this year. The artwork is going to be even more ambitious than what was created for “Enthrallment Traced”. I won’t tell you the designer name - this will be a surprise!) The album release is planned for the beginning of 2014. And then we’ll go touring and selling merch. In general, we want to be a respectable and fruitful band. Metal is our way of living and I can’t imagine myself not playing it. As for the sacrifice – my time, my money and my soul is in the band, yet it always wants more and I am not able to refuse.
Most likely you are working on the 2nd album. What will be the progress? Can you give us a hint?
The whole year we have been focused on the second full-length album. I can say that everything is going according to our plan and a huge part of the work was done. This year we finished to create material for the album, recorded it in the best metal studio in Moscow, did a Herculean job to produce it. So recording, mixing, mastering and producing is over and the master disc is already in our hands.
Beside the band you must have an ordinary life. What do you do outside the band/music? And what are your hobbies?
As far as I can see, all the members of our group are mostly interested and engaged in music. Most of our time is spent on the band development and individual practicing, composing material and rehearsals, etc. I know that Andrey Ishchenko loves to travel, enjoys soccer, journalism and adores to keep records of his activities. Andrey Andreev travels to European metal festivals and loves cars. Alexander Klaptsov enjoys wrestling and video games. And I love literature, gym and logistics.)Oh, I almost forgot – every day we go to work, except Andrey Ischenko – he’s a lucky guy!)
Humor is important in everyones life. What is your kind of humor and remember the last time you had pissed your pants from laughing?
Oh, yes! Without the humor in our lives can do absolutely nothing! Every meeting with my band is filled with an endless stream of jokes. I do know that we love to laugh at ourselves and our colleagues from other bands. We’ve got plenty of inside jokes and people hearing what we say by chance cannot understand why we can’t stop trembling from laughter. Besides, we can spend long evenings with our friends watching YouTube and laughing without a stop. Anyway, our everyday life is never-ending humor!) Most of all we love to distort words to get some paradox or idiotic phrases. And we are just a hybrid of a parrot and a monkey.
Are you happy I didn't ask anything about the politics/regime in Russia?
Well, yes, although I am no longer afraid of such questions. I've forgotten how to be upset about the obscurantism in Russia!)Our internet and television are simply flooded with demotivating content about Russians. Every day we are confronted with another tyranny, religious madness, corruption, illegal immigration and so on. But I’m sure that other countries have their own domestic problems and foreigners are simply unaware of all this shit.
Your last change for shameless self promotion and thanks for answering and good luck with Grace Disgraced.
First of all, thank you for this interview! I am glad to have the opportunity to speak to the whole world!) Many thanks to those who support us and those who get in touch with us. Russians are not that scary!You can love us or hate us, but in any case we will make good music! Only death can stop us! Visit us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/gracedisgraced