About Me

Interview with Paganland

Paganland are a Ukrainian group, with strong political opinions, a huge love for their homeland and culture and... without fear of saying what they think.
The band's first demo, Gods Of Golden Circle, came out in 1998. However, their first album (Wind of Freedom) only saw the light of day in 2013, partly due to the absence of one of the founders. Fatherland followed in 2015 and From the Carpathian Land in 2016. In between, two singles were released, an EP and a live album, the latter for the celebration of the band's 20 years. In 2020, Galizier is the band's fourth long-term and a kind of tribute to this area of Ukraine.
We had the opportunity to see some of our questions answered by drummer Lycane and guitarist Eerie Cold, elements of a hidden gem of Eastern Europe that deserves to be discovered.

M.I. - For those who don't know you, how do you characterize your group? For our audience in Portugal, how do you explain your sound? 

L.: Hi. We all are black metal fans. So, in our music there is lot of influence of that genre. But we try to add to it some of our native folk and pagan motives. All our lyrics are about Ukrainian nature and history. And we oppose the "traditional" religions imposed on us from the outside. 

M.I. - How did the band get together? What did you do before forming Paganland? 

E.C.: I joined Paganland in May 2015. Lycane, who was already drumming in Paganland, and I were rehearsing with our other band Atra Mors at Paganland's place, so that was not a hard choice or search for the band. 
L.: Yes, we can talk about nowadays, because earlier, other band members were in their own band. I joined Pagaland in 2014 when I left Crimea because of its annexation by Russia. Before Paganland, I’ve played in Nahemoth and some other local Crimean metal bands. The one who’s been here from the beginning is Ruen, but today he’s preparing to be a part of the Ukrainian Army. He’s the ideological core of Paganland. We are close to him in spirit. 

M.I. – What’s the story behind the name? Who thought of it and what does it mean? 

L.: You should ask Ruen, but he is busy right now. It’s simple - pagan land is our land with our pagan traditions, ancient Slavic gods, beautiful nature, heroic history, without Jewish influence, without Christian or Muslim churches and other destructive elements. 

M.I. - Your albums have always been short, time wise - only one exceeds the 40 minutes. Galizier is the shortest, with just over half an hour... Is there a reason why the albums are so short or is it unconscious? 

E.C.: Maybe, it’s because the global tendency to make albums shorter and leave the fans hungry for new stuff. 
L.: We play fast music, that’s the reason. For example, some Slayer’s albums don’t exceed 40 minutes. In my opinion, 1-hour (and more) albums fit to doom metal and ambient genres. 

M.I. - About Galizier...You added a strong militaristic component… What is it about? What do you address lyrically? 

E.C.: Half of the album is about the division "Galizia" (Note: Waffen-SS infantry division during World War II. Its headquarters was in the Ukrainian region of Galicia and was made up of Ukrainian volunteers from that region, headed by German and Austrian officers)… One song is about the Ukrainian Galician Army and 2 songs about our local nature and its beauty. 
L.: It’s moments of Ukrainian history which many do not want to mention. History is twisted by our enemy and enemy propaganda. We just remind people of the truth. 

M.I. - And the cover!!... In today's sensitive and politically correct world, aren't you afraid of being misinterpreted by the image and what it connotes? 

E.C.: As for me, it is the best Paganland's cover art! It has already brought huge butthurt to a significant number of scum, even self-proclaimed "nationalist", not talking about Antifa (*Note: The Antifa movement is a conglomeration of left-wing groups. The main characteristic of Antifa groups is their opposition to fascism through the use of violence) in Ukraine, so we hope it will be the same abroad. I wish one of MetalSucks’ administrators (Note: American heavy metal music news site, founded by Axl Rosenberg and Vince Neilstein, both Jews) got chocked by matza (Note: similar to unleavened bread, is a substitute for bread during the Passover holiday) reviewing our album. 
L.: Hard but true, our cover is perplexing for many people. Unfortunately, many people see only stereotypes and labels. "The Fascists of the future will be called anti-fascists." - this phrase does not belong to Churchill, but it seems to me that it reflects the essence of reality. 

M.I. - Are you satisfied with the way Galizier came out? Or listening to it now, would you make some changes? 

E.C.: We are very satisfied with the work done by our label - quickly and qualitatively. Listening to it now, there is only one wish… to continue. I mean, to develop the ideas brought to this album. 
L.: - Totally agree with E.C. 

M.I. - Your lineup changed a lot over the years, on all instruments, including vocals. How did that influence your sound? 

E.C.: It influenced the sound completely. Every lineup change brings different people with different instruments, different style and level of technique. 
L.: - All our albums have different sound and different music, because we had different lineup on it. 

M.I. - The band split-up between 2007 and 2013… Personal disagreements or creative differences? How did that change the future of Paganland? 

L.: No, the reason is that Ruen was in Italy, I think. There were other priorities. 

M.I. - Considering the relationship of Ukraine with Russia and their recent history, is it difficult not to address political issues in your music? 

E.C.: Correction: not recent history, but through the last 1000 years. And some historians dig even deeper, but this is an interview, not a history lesson. So, it is natural for sober and conscious Ukrainians to dislike Russian guts, Russian spirit. Hell, they even stole the name "Russia" from Ukrainian lands! So, let's call these lands "Moscovia", like it should be. 
L.: Difficult, but like E.C. said, it has lasted 1000 years. Russians are a barbarian horde. 

M.I. - Coming from Ukraine, how do you think Ukrainian music and Ukrainian metal, in particularly, is accepted worldwide? 

E.C.: There is a bunch of Ukrainian bands and singers popular abroad. You definitely can find a guy in a Nokturnal Mortum t-shirt somewhere in England or Norway, so it is pretty accepted if it’s well promoted. 
L.: Usually our local bands engage in self-promotion. We don’t have big labels and promotion agencies in metal genres. 

M.I. - Ukraine is not the first country when we think of European metal... What is missing to achieve the same level of recognition as Scandinavian or German metal? 

E.C.: It is missing a lot of things: money, because if you play somewhere in Ukraine - you play for free because promoters have nothing to pay you because of expensive rent or because people have lack of money. Or it is better to buy a burger at McDonald's than to go to a gig. But the main reason are those idiots who vote for liars, thieves, idiots and such people who "build" economy and so on... it is a little bit complicated.
L.: The majority decides the standard of living. We are a post-Soviet country with all the ensuing problems of communistic past. Metal music in Europe developed from the 70-80s, at that time we had an iron curtain. Even now, we cannot afford the studio equipment available to Europeans 20 years ago. 

M.I. - How’s the metal scene in Ukraine right now? Are there many good bands? Are there a lot of concerts? 

E.C.: Well, it is hard to call this dead frog movement "the scene", maybe only if you are talking about Kharkiv. They have someting like a "black metal scene". Of course, there are great bands in Ukraine like Nokturnal Mortum, Lutomysl, Lucifugum (until 2004), Gromm, Drudkh and other. Just check metalarchives.com and find out. Talking about gigs - coronavirus, no gigs. Everything is gonna be canceled or postponed, at least all April gigs already are canceled.
L.: We have a lot of talented bands and musicians. Many of them perceive music like a hobby. In our country you can’t earn money with metal music. The main part of gigs is held in Kiev, Kharkiv and Lviv. In other cities there are no organizers or promoters. Lots of gigs we do by ourselves, musicians for musicians. 

M.I. - What do you listen to nowadays? What are the best bands out there today? 

E.C.: It depends on the mood. I can listen to Katatonia one day and to Nebelwerfer the following day. There so many good bands in different styles so I don't know from which to start, but it is not atmospheric black metal bands definitely. Nowadays, there is an atmoblack project in every village. The same boring and shitty stuff. 
L.: The main music that I listen to is black metal of the 90’s: Emperor, Satyricon, Dissection, etc… But I`m open-minded for some new music, now in quarantine-chill, I listen to some synthwave and retrowave stuff. From the most recent bands, I really liked the album of the Norwegian Leprous, Pitfalls (2019) and our Ukrainian Hellhate, Æðè, Ãîñïîäè! (2020) 

M.I. - After 20 years, what’s the biggest lesson learned? And what do you say to someone who wants to start a band? 

L.: Do not listen to anyone. Do only what you like. 

M.I. - If you could choose any band to play live alongside, who would you choose? 

E.C.: Mayhem, definitely. I was on their show this January in Kyiv. Damn, that was cool. Such an energy from the stage, haven't seen anything similar in years. 
L.: I have already played alongside many bands - Immortal, Shining, 1349, Marduk, Skyforger, Inferno. Now, I would choose The Kovenant but I think they will never come together. Too bad. The band was good. 

M.I. - Touring plans? Any chance to see you in Portugal?

E.C.: If the logistic is good and book comfortable dates, why not visit Portugal? But currently one of our members is in the ranks of the Ukrainian military forces. 
L.: We are not planning anything yet. Let's see how events will develop further. 

M.I. - Do you know any Portuguese metal bands? What’s your opinion about Latin/Mediterranean metal? 

E.C.: I only know Moonspell, but I never was a fan. 
L.: Yes, in Portugal I know only Moonspell too, and iIwas a fan! The albums Wolfheart and Irreligious are my favourite. They were in Crimea in 2008 at the MHM festival. I was there and I was very drunk. But I managed to give Miguel Gaspar a CD with my music. I have no doubt that he threw it in the trash right away but he gave me a sticker! It was funny, they had to give a press conference with Q&A. But drunken fans disrupted it by shouting “Moonspell! Moonspell! Moonspell!” About Latin/Mediterranean metal I know some bands from Spain (Noctem), Italy (Graveworm, Lord Vampyr, etc.), from Greece (Rotting Christ, Varathron etc.), France (Peste Noir, Blut Aus Nord, Amesoeurs, Alcest etc.) 

M.I. - Any last words for our readers? 

E.C.: Read good books and buy guns, who knows, maybe in few months it will be the only way to feed yourself! 
L.: - Don't be sick, don't be dumb, support your local metal bands. Thanks for your questions and good luck for your career.

For portuguese version, click here

Interview by Ivan Santos