«Hello everybody! My name is Veronika Akellovna and today especially for darkside.ru we have met with members of TVERD band: Vetrodar — band’s leader and Pavel Bykov (Knyaz Ruric) to talk about the new album called «Rus: the Prophetic Oleg» in marvelous Moscow restaurant «Prance Dreadnought».

So will not beat around the bush many people think that TVERD is the logical sequal of Pagan Reign and is the same project with some new musical sense. Is it right or it is your another project?

Vetrodar: «Hello, Veronika! You are right, there is such opinion that TVERD is logical evolution of Pagan Reign. It has some truth, because we prolong Pagan Reign’s views on history, some ideological things, but it’s my another project in general. Here I have made real all thoughts, which couldn’t realize in Pagan Reign: first of all it is the invitation of professional academic vocalists to the band. During «Follow the Sun’s way» record Svetlana Lebedeva and Alexander Ivanov were invited. By the way we have revived Pagan Reign together with Orey and Dimosthen. There will be used another view on music, another presentation and sense. There we will take more brutal style’s direction: it will be melodic death, black and more strong musical presentation.

There is a great news that Pagan Reign will exist again for many of your fans. So what is the TVERD?

Vetrodar: «So concerning the band’s name «TVERD» it is very many-sided word and has different meanings. In historical aspect it is (one of version) the first name of Tver city where from Pagan Reign and TVERD. The second meaning is more sacral and has grubs in Slavic mythology and means «celestial tverd». It is a thin border of worlds, the layer of our reality, the place where is the heaven vivifying strength.

Vocals in TVERD band play the main role in our project and it is our differ from pagan black or death metal. Here I have mixed three directions at once: metal, folk and academic school.

By the way it is an interesting moment. The presence of academic vocals and the music structure of TVERD: the albums sound more orthodox from the folk music point of view. Comparing with another professional and high-level folk metal bands they try to modernize sound, seek for new forms and take experiment inside the genre. But you keep Slavic metal school if it can be explained this way. Why have you made such choice?

Vetrodar: «Pagan Reign first album had been released in 2008 so we have made a trend of classical sound of pagan metal. Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov (composers of the end og 19th ) broke the borders, standards and norms of classical music. That’s why I try not to keep only one form, so it is possible to use any genre variants according the narration. Our music has element of art rock and progressive and classical crossover and classic vocal is used as well as pop instrument and as academic. In particular, Svetlana Lebedeva mixes folk vocal with academic so we do not tell about concrete musical school.

How do you get the idea to create the folk metal opera? This is the first such composition may be not only in Russia.

Vetrodar: Our former album «Follow the Sun’s way» has such composition called «The Bogatyr’s Gate». This song was formed like folk metal cantata already in 2008. It hasn’t certain standard sound and strict interchanges. There is a musical narration and it is direct-coupled with the text.

So Pavel, it is interesting who did you find yourself in this project? As I know you are the opera and pop singer, the soloist of the Moscow Concert and suddenly there is a folk metal opera...

Pavel Bykov: It it really unordinary situation for me. I got a message from Vetrodar who offered to record my vocal part in rock opera. Folk metal opera! It seemed to me very frightful, I never did such things, but founded it very unusual and interesting! I was recommended to Vetrodar by my old friend Alexander Gami, who lives in Bremen and I visited him earlier, we had been walking to the Bremen and I had been holding the donkey on Brements Musicians’ Monument and since then this donkey gives me a luck (laughing —author’s notes).

Vetrodar sent notes for me and all voice parts. It was real uniq and interesting work. It seemed to me great and very difficult , because all voice parts have been recorded already so I should to form up the Knyaz Ruric’s voice part in this material. There were needed very delicate and assiduous work: to listen the other vocalists’ emotions and to get exactly in this mood. So It was very useful for my personal development and to touch some other sides of life. Really I work in opera and classical genre. I have tried and should say it caught me so I hope we will work further. And of course I was glad to the perspective of staging this folk metal opera especially to play the role of Knyaz Ruric the founder of great dynasty.

Please tell about the album’s conception. I have understood that it is only one part of a huge work with common theme and would be another albums composed? And if it so do you know how many it would be?

Vetrodar: The fact is I was under a strong impression from the Ilya Alexandrovich Maslov’s creation in 2005. Many of us know his pseudonym like Masel. Unfortunately He is just away, but his creation should be known.

To forge ahead I can break the news to our fans: it is only the beginning of a trilogy that will be released further. The next part will be devoted to Igor the Unfortunate (he is Rurik«s son) and his life and relationships with Knyaginya Olga and about family regulations of that time (laughing-author’s notes). The third part will be devoted to Svyatoslav The Brave strong and great personage of our history. He is famous for his historical fulfillments beginning from the Khazarian Kaganat’s destruction and finishing by his tous in Byzantium, when he had been widening the State till the Bulgaria.

There is a big pause between your first and second album. Why?

Vetrodar: First of all I spent this time for my own deals that are important for me and my family development. I had defended my candidate’s degree, had widened my own family —I have wonderful kids. All this time I have been doing music. I have made my own musical studio- Yarko MusicRecords and now we can make real all our ideas and thoughts on high quality level.

As I have understood you have made all album’s sound producing by your own from the very beginning. What changes did you have with this new experience? May be it was more difficult, simple or interesting for you? May be name some funny occasions or curious situations or against huge problems?

Vetrodar: It was really new experience for me. I always think about such opportunity even during the work with such famous sound-producer like Evgeniy Vinogradov. Of course I have taken over many interesting tricks from his school. What did it give for our project? We have gor more opportunities for experiments: we can try different sound, different setups so we had been doing such sound what we wanted. And due to such amount of vocalists as well this album had become so unordinary.

Some words about the record process: saying about the metal part recording I mean the record of drums, bass and guitars it was an ordinary process but it is not secret that just record of such vocal parts was very difficult process. Wondering Alexander Ivanov and Svetlana Lebedeva take participate in my project long time and know my principals and material but Alexander Gami and Pavel Bykov was faced with such experience for the first time.

I want to say that Alexander Gami is an ideological man: in spite of he lives in Germany, he recorded his vocal parts by himself on his own musical studio in Bremen according to my notes. And he recommended Pavel Bykov like a wonderful baritone so he will tell some words about our project and his participation and difficulties during the record that he faced to.

Pavel Bykov: Yes, I have got demanding part in historical and vocal sense, because I am used to work with stave material it is the base for me. But here Vetrodar hasn’t done it and have recorded harmonies already. I have asked Vetrodar to record my vocal part by just singing it. Imagine what a huge efforts it has took to sing it so. By the way Vetrodar is a great singer and I don’t understand why my help was so unnecessary (laughing —author’s notes). In my opinion He has good voice and understand how to sing. So we have done it, have been going to the Evgeniy Vinogradov’s Studio called «DayRecords» and have recorded it for 4 hours. It was not the biggest part in my life but the «bloody». More than that there is a wonderful coincidence: after this experience I have got 5 suggestions of recording at once, not rock folk opera of course (laughing —author’s notes) but in academic or pop genre. I have recorded 2 operas after «Rus».

So I can to say thank you for this work.

During the record of this album there were used a lot of folk instruments. Tell is it was made to your special order, by whom?

Vetrodar: Yes, the collection of folk and acoustic instruments is rather big. I have chosen all of them by myself. There are some of them are made to my order, like Tverskoy horn, orchestra zhaleykas, some pipes. There are factory instruments as well. But I have chosen each of it with heart and soul. Visiting musical shops I had been holding it, playing on it, listening it’s sound etc. Often people take into consideration the instrument’s price and by their opinion the high price the better instrument, but there are many cases when it is on contrary. You should to try each of this before buying.

Do you plan tours over the Russia to support the album or just some separate concerts by TVERD band? Pavel said some words about a staging of folk metal opera in fitutre, it is wonder.

Tell about it.

Vetrodar: To forge ahead I want to remind that «Rus:the Prophetic Oleg» is only the first part of a trilogy. We should record two more parts of the opera and then we could tell about plans for staging it. So it is only beginning.

Thank you very much for such interesting conversation. Thank you for wasting your time on us. The same way I want to say thank you the restaurant «Prance Dreadnought» for place to interview. And thank to all our listeners and viewers for spending your time with us. Read the Darkside, buy TVERD CDs, stay with metal music!

Vetrodar: Thank you for attention! Follow the news!

Pavel Bykov: Good Bye".