Interview with At Radogost's Gates maiman, Nikša Gospi?
By Frank Rini/AATR.UK
1. Ok, so how has the reaction been to your debut album, Reflection of a Lunar Eclipse in the Stained Mirror of Time and are you satisfied with how it turned out?
First of all I would like to thank you for the time you put aside to assemble these questions, because we know that time is one of the most valuable things a man can give to another. And for supporting At Radogost’s Gates with pre ordering of the album!
In this short time ARG received positive feedback from a lot of people as well as some criticism. I am pleased with how album turned out in every way. The only thing that I would perhaps change are the drums. But we delayed the recording for quite some time in search for a drummer. I gave my best and this is the result.
2. So Nikša, how did you get into playing the guitar, bass and singing? Do you like being a 1 man project and any chance of playing live?
If we find a drummer, yes we will play live. I’ve received a lot of support from ARG ex members Boba (bass guitar) and Buda (lead/ rhythm guitar), also my friend Lukas reserved the spot on the second guitar. They are ready to jump in if ARG ever goes live.
I started playing guitar when I was 15 years old, learned the basics and started making my own music, I would improve my technique only if I couldn’t play what I’d imagined. I never liked to learn to play the songs liked to listen to, it always ruined the songs for me somehow So I can’t say that I’m a great guitarist but I’m doing my best. I also play bass guitar in Mad&Goya (thrash metal), Defilement (brutal death), Rail (post-metal) and guitar in M?B ( hardcore/punk).
3. So how was it programming a drum machine and using one and what was your goal? Why is it so tough to find a Serbian drummer and do Serbians generally not like metal?
My goal was to find a drummer who would play the drum tracks but after months of searching, my friend Alen Habek and I sat down and begun programming the drums to the best of our abilities. I never played drums so I know only the basics. So we sat down, and I was making sounds that drums should make, and I was constantly blabbering about how drums should speak to the listener, and Alen was trying to hunt down those rhythms and try to program them. hahaha it was hilarious. It looked like the scene from Tenacious D - Pick Of Destiny, when Jack Black and Kyle Gass are standing in the circle trying to record the perfect song…
Serbian metal scene is a small one, but what can you expect from a country with a population of 7 million people? Being a drummer is an expensive hobby in Serbia, because you go into it with knowing that you will never return what you have invested, gear wears out faster than on any other instrument. You can’t earn any money by playing this kind of music in Serbia. We play because we love to play and sometimes we get our gas bills refunded. And that’s it. We have quite a few exquisite drummers but they are all focused on their own projects and you can’t blame them for that.
4. So explain to the readers the over concept of At Radogost's Gates, the band goals and since this is a trilogy, after the other 2 albums are recorded are you gonna end the band?
Yes, band will disband or change its name and play something else after trilogy is complete. At Radogost’s Gates is a band made solely for the purpose of telling this story.
Briefly ” Reflection of a lunar eclipse in the stained mirror of time” starts with the old man already dead, lying below his tree. The tree represents the old man - his mind, memory. The seed was planted with his birth and it grew as he grew. His spirit is still chained to the rotten body, floating above it. Chains are ripping his soul with every motion. Wind carries him up and down, smashing him against the tree he once called his mind. He speaks of his mistakes, his life, and what he sees is happening to the Earth and wandering shadows called humankind… still searching for his sanity.
5. The lyrical concept deals with spirituality, death, life and earth-are some of these concepts things you have gone through yourself? You had a tough past?
Like most of people on the Balkan Peninsula I had an “interesting” childhood. Witnessing, from the first hand, the dark side of human nature and what can religions do to human mind. I carry many scars within me, a lot of them could have been avoided, but they made me into a man I am now. It’s like running through the thick forest, but not being able to dodge the sharp slash of branches. Finally, when you reach the planes you can’t tell which branch hurt the most, you are out of the forest and at that moment it is all that matters… it’s time to be, dare I say it, happy? Can you even be happy in the world like it is today? I still have hope that planes are reachable. Yes, I was and still am that quiet kid that questions the concept of time, space and reality and enjoys the magic that is life and nature. I am quite fun guy to hang out with hahaha
6. I want to get into Serbian culture a little bit-did you see the “A Serbian Film”? It was pretty extreme stuff. The filmmaker said, relating to a very graphic scene in the movie, that ‘Serbians are fucked since birth’-does that make any sense to you-is growing up in Serbia really difficult?
I heard about “A Serbian film” but I’m afraid I didn’t watch it, nor I have any interest in doing so. I’m more of sci-fi, fantasy, apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic kind of a guy. I am 33 years old male and I experienced 3 wars, lived in 4 countries without even moving and experienced third largest hyperinflation in the world, where prices doubled every 35 - 36 hours. Plus if you ever get time to study our history you will see that ‘Serbians are fucked since birth’ is just an understatement.
7. What are some Serbian food dishes that are delicious that you care to share with the readers and how horrible are the Serbian winters?
Not horrible enough. I love the winter, but in Serbia with every year we see less and less snow while the summers are getting hotter with every passing year.
Serbian cuisine, like most countries on Balkan Peninsula, is a fine mix of Balkan, Turkish, Hungarian and Greek cuisine. How can you go wrong with that? About the dishes… Please don’t make me speak about the food, it’s 2 am in Serbia, I’m hungry and if I start making food now I’ll have serious stomach ache in the morning.
8. It seems like you try and tell a story in your song titles, as well, since they are so long. What is the deal with the instrumental song title and its astounding length, Behold, My Body Torn Apart by Carrion Birds... Shredded to Pieces, Carried Across the Earth, Now I Can Finally Call Myself Free?
I loved how bands like Bal Sagoth and Demilich “explained” with song titles what you can expect to find in the song. With titles I tried to move the focus of the story in that song closer to the listener, state of the mind of the old man, what troubles him, etc. Since 10th song is an instrumental, point of the story where the old man finally accepts the change and unchains himself from his physical body. The last words his soul pronounces as his energy merges with the universe are in the title of the song. And since it’s instrumental you pronounce them instead of the old man. So you are taking an active role in the story.
9. What is a Radogost? How does the album cover tie in to the album concept and spirituality?
Radogost is one of the gods from Slavic mythology. He is the Slavic god of hospitality (his name roughly translates as “dear guest”). Some say that he had two heads, one of the human and one of the lion. In one hand he had an axe and in other bread and salt. But name of the band, At Radogost’s Gates, doesn’t speak of the god but rather the Slavic sanctuary in the town Rethra and its destruction by Christian army led by bishop Burchard of Halberstadt, in 1068. ( some sources say that it was in the year 1066.) I won’t go into details about the sanctuary or its beauty and meaning which it had for all surrounding Slavic tribes. At Radogost’s Gates name tells of the moment both armies gathered in front of Sanctuary Radogost. Now pause for the moment, and look at it like we would look at a painting. What do we see in front of us? We see on one side a christian army and on the other side we see the Slavic pagan army, in lesser numbers because of the political struggles between the tribes, standing to defend the sanctuary that bears the name Radogost – dear guest. Now can we remember any moment from the history of the humankind that can be similar to this? Of course we can, the whole history of humankind is based on fear of the unknown, destruction of that what is different, destroying the knowledge with it, always searching for the way to dominate and not seeking the way to coexist. Look at us, in search of the heaven we are destroying one, and we are too blind to see and too stupid to realize what we are doing. If we look at the evolution of mankind through Darwin theory, after all the inventions and achievements humankind is still stuck with that sharpened rock in one hand trying to make bigger, better and more deadly weapon so we can stand up and pound our chest. We are acting like parasites, so we are parasites. And we all know what we do when we get flies? The Earth will do that too.
The Album cover plays active role in the whole story. If we look closer to the cover-art we can see to the whole story of the album in it. Even the image behind the lyrics speaks of the state of the mind. The struggles of the old man that took physical form, and those inner struggles were ultimately the reality. What he thought was only in his mind, was, in the end, the reality. His body is lying below the tree, which he cut with his own hands. The crumbling moon represents the time. The Earth is resembling the old man’s face.
The moon and the eye, with light, form an hourglass, which is broken and the sand is covering complete face of the old man. Also, the pieces of the crumbling moon are falling in the eye, making it hard to see the real values in life, and the connection between the man and the nature(and the universe). The tree represents all the knowledge that he had gathered, from his birth to his death, and the closer it is to the moon (time), the more corrupted it gets.