Interview: 1914
Title: Monumental admonitions

For years they have been considered among connoisseurs as one of the most original, best and also most serious troops in Extreme Metal, which profoundly deal with the subject of the First World War.

Founded in 2014, the brute-visionary Ukrainians fire their third full-time work into the scene this year. Symbolically baptized "Where Fear And Weapons Meet", the new storm disc is ammunitioned with fabulously imposing compositions - a truly massive increase on the previous!

As guitarist Vitaliy Vygovskyy, currently recruited by the band as '307th Infantry Regiment, Capt. Walter Wyhovsky', reports, he had rather mixed feelings regarding the new album at first, because 1914 have never done anything like this in the past.

„We experimented a lot on this recording, adding a lot of stuff we never used before, like orchestrals and industrial parts, but the more I listen to it the more I like it, it was fun time making this album and I hope it will be enjoyed by the maximum amount of people in the world.“

Who wrote the lion’s share of the material - and how long was the work in total for all the stuff?

„We usually write music altogether, all of us have some ideas and we jam, try to put them together, writing some demos in the home studio, nothing really special here except the lyrics, the lyrics are the absolute domain of our singer, we could sometimes just discuss some parts to fit them better into the track. This time the work on the album was pretty intense, it took us approximately 6 to 7 months to get the final result. We started putting all ideas into songs in the fall of 2021, entered the studio in our hometown (Jenny Records, Lviv, Ukraine) in April this year, and I remember the recordings were still hot when we sent everything to our good friend and amazing professional Alexander Backlund (Nailvillage studio, Borlange, Sweden), who worked with our previous record, for mixing and mastering.“

What have been the hardest or most difficult passages of the songwriting-process?

„The work on this record was very hard for us in general. It was accompanied by a lot of personal issues some of the band members were dealing due to a long lasting covid restrictions, some guys were struggling to get their jobs back after businesses were shutting down one by one. Add a commitment to a fixed time frame for the work completion and you’ll get a really stressfull couple of months. I am very happy we successfully went through this with the guys and that this resulted in a great piece of music which I am personally proud of.“

What is the most important fact for you on these new long player?

„When the previous 1914 recordings were mostly about the death, the hopelessness, and despair – this record is about life and hope. This could also be seen on the album cover where the wounded, bleeding soldier tries to reach the death’s hand seeking for relieve – and the Death doesn’t give it to him, does not want to take him because he deserves to live. This is the recording about those who survived and returned home as a heroes often doing the impossible things. One of the highlights is the song about Belgian armoured division, who were given as the present, were fighting for some years and then abandoned. These people could not return home from Ukraine to Belgium because of the war still burning in the heart of Europe, so they did impossible – they managed to run the around-the-world trip to get back to Belgium, they returned home as heroes. The life and hope are the main things we wanted to bring to the light with this recording.“

How did you guys manage to bait Nick Holmes for the 7th song „...And a Cross Now Marks His Place“ and how was the communication and cooperation with him?

„As a long time fan of Paradise Lost this is a great honour for me to have Mr. Holmes on this record. The story behind this cooperation is not that dramatic though. When we completed the song and our singer was working to fit the lyrics and reached the chorus part, he realised that the track started more and more bringing the vibes of Paradise Lost’s music for him, and he got the idea to do a chorus with clean vocals, which was never done before in any of 1914 songs. So the choice was pretty obvious. Though we didn’t know how Mr. Holmes will react we just decided to write an email. I’ll say nothing if I say we were stunned when we got the positive response and request for the demo. In a couple of days the demo was recorded and sent, another couple of days nervous waiting and we receive the message that Nick liked the song and is willing to participate. He appeared to be extremely responsive and cooperative, we have been bouncing emails with the ideas on his vocal parts until we defined the best approach, his job was done, and we proceeded with the rest of the album. I also think that the topic of WW1 is very close to everyone in Britain and probably every family has someone who participated or have fallen in that war, this could also have some impact on Mr. Holmes‘ decision.“

What is „...And a Cross Now Marks His Place“ about?

„The story behind the track goes to a real letter that was sent to a mother of a soldier who was killed in action. The letter was discovered by our singer when he was researching some of the British archives during the work on a record. That particular letter was different from the so-called ‚standard‘ form that were sent out in thousands to the parents of those who deceased, this letter was handwritten by a captain, it was personalised, telling words of condolences and consolation, that is why it caught our attention. In the times when tens and hundreds of thousands deaths were treated as a simple statistic, the death of one specific person is a tragedy. We thrived to tell a story of that person, a real person, a soldier whose remains was impossible to collect and send to his family for the proper burial, he died and is still laying somewhere there and just a cross now marks his place.“

Speaking of which, are there any influences from other Doom, Death or other bands lately that you could mention?

„1914 is a 5-piece band of people with absolutely opposite tastes in music I would say. Personally, I am a huge fan of Scandinavian Metal scene, my personal highlights are such awesome Metal acts like At The Gates, Dark Tranquillity, Wolfheart, etc. - the list would be too long to paste it here. Also, the guys have a background of playing in a bands from various genres, from Industrial, Hardcore Punk, to Sludge, Stoner Doom, Death Metal, and Melodic Death. What we produce is a result of the influence of a lot of different styles on each band member, 1914 music happens on the intersection of all the above-mentioned.“

I hear interesting song structures and a massive sound - who produced „Where Fear And Weapons Meet“?

„I’d say it is a nice synergy between us as a band, the sound engineer who helped and guided us through the recording process – Marian Kryskuw of Jenny Records, and of course the mastermind of mixing and mastering responsibilities - Alexander. We were not seeking for some particular sound, like any specific amps or cabs or any kind of equipment, we just selected what would sound good at some point in time and were moving forward with that. If we had a feeling some song needs to sound harder or softer or different from what we have - we communicated that over with the engineers and got that fixed until we were satisfied with the overall sound.“

For what kind of musical ideals stands „Where Fear And Weapons Meet“?

„I cannot say I could relate any musical ideals to this album in general. Our main idea was to tell the stories, the stories of war, of people, of events, to tell them to as much people as we could reach. The events and history of the Great War are starting to be forgotten in a lot of places nowadays, and we become happy when the listeners, inspired by our music, start doing some researches, read books, watch documentaries on the history, the most warming moments are when people approach us after the shows, tell the words of gratitude and explain that now they can distinguish the WW1 period rifles, or discovered some interesting knowledge about the area they live in, or finding out important information about the past of their families. These moments are really heart-warming and driving us to do more.“

It feels excellent for me to listen to the new songs - what kind of emotions dominates your new material?

„I hope that everyone finds something special and personal in the album, I would be more than happy if our music will help people stay strong during the harsh periods in their lives and be a good soundtrack in the moments of joy. Though the album was made during the very hard period in my life, and definitely not the easiest moment for the other guys, I feel those emotions while spinning the record sometimes, at the same time it reminds me that all crap will end some time, we will meet again, will have a pint of good beer and will be laughing remembering that stuff in the past.“

What are the main topics of your latest lyrics and could you please give a - short - overview info about the content?

„FN .380 ACP#19074“:

„This is the opener, as the war started by killing the archduke – we start the album by the assassination in Sarajevo, that started a series of events that shaped the modern world in some sort.“

„Vimy Ridge (In Memory Of Filip Konowal)“:

„This one goes for the only Ukrainian who was awarded the highest medal of the British Empire. Filip Konowal was serving his duty in the Canadian forces and did the achievement that changed the course of very important battle for the Crown.“

„Pillars Of Fire (The Battle Of Messines)“:
„This track tells the story of the Australian miners, who were digging the tunnels underneath the German positions, the tunnels that were used to blow up the highly secured trenches.“

„Don't Tread On Me (Harlem Hellfighters)“:
„This is a story about African American soldiers called ‚Hell Fighters from Harlem‘ who were the part of American Expedition Forces and served the longest time in action without the rotation and rest.“

„This one is about a young man, who were terrified of the brutality of war, have broken down and fled the battlefield. He was later found by his comrades and executed for this act of weakness.“

„Corps d'autos-canons-mitrailleuses (A.C.M)“:
„This is the story about Belgian armoured division that I highlighted in one of the previous questions. Really interesting story worth investigating.“

„Mit Gott für König und Vaterland“:
„This is a song about sergeant Kunze and his squad of 9 stormtroopers who were attacking and actually captured the fort Dumont.“

„The Green Fields Of France“:
„We took the lyrics written by Eric Bogle. Basically the song describes the story of singer speaking to a young man sitting next to his grave.“

About the cool, original artist names of you guys - why they were chosen each?

„9. Westpreußisches Infanterie-Regiment Nr. 176, Hptm. Ditmar Kumarberg - vocals
The 51st Highland Division, 1/9th Bn. 2Lt. Liam Fessen - guitar
307th Infantry Regiment, Capt. Walter Wyhovsky - guitar
Le 151e regiment d'infanterie, Cne. Armin d'Harcourt - bass
K.K. Landwehr-Infanterieregiment Lemberg Nr.19, Obltn. Rostislaw Potoplacht – drums

When a moment came to choose our stage uniform, we just didn’t want to represent some single specific side, so we decided to use the uniforms of different countries that took part in the Great War. We have the Austria-Hungarian guy, a soldiers from Germany, France, Great Britain, USA. That is how we decided to select a stage names corresponding to the side we represent, and put us to the real military divisions that actually existed.“

You are well established in the scene - what do the fans appreciate most about you? The authenticity? Singing about true events? The reminder and culture of remembrance of the terrible, never-ending warmongering of cursed mankind?

„I think its a bit of everything you have mentioned, at least it looks like that when we speak with people after the shows, read the messages we constantly receive. Yeah, not much to add here, need to talk to fans instead.“

On 1914's FB page one can admire so many unusual, historical pictures - where do you get all this? Mix of independent research and fan submissions?

„Exactly. Our singer is a long time war archaeologist on WW1, he is totally into this topic, did a lot of researching himself. He also has access to different archives which are a great part of the inspiration for writing lyrics and creating our stories. And, like I said in the previous answer – we receive tons of messages from different parts of the world, people sometimes even tell us the stories about their grand and great grandparents participating in actions, share some rare photos from family archives, etc.“

„Only the dead have seen the end of the war.“ - unfortunately, that's how it was, that's how it is and that's how it will always be as long as there are people in the world?

„‚Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it‘. Must agree with you. It is very sad to face what we are facing right now in the world and in our own homeland. As 1914 was never the band praising any form of war or conflict, I’d like to repeat it once again – fuck the war!“

Keep up the good work and stay enthusiastic! Anything you would like to add?

„Thanks again for having me here, really enjoyed the talk. Have a great time and cheers!“

© Markus Eck, 05.10.2021

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