Interview: TVERD
Title: Deep into history

It’s simply a sad and well known fact: in the whole global Pagan-, Heathen- and Folk Metal genre existing quiet less protagonists, which really also live day by day with heart and soul what they sing and play about with their bands.

Luckily some noble exceptions confirm this norm – among them the Russians of Tverd. In their leader Vetrodar pounds a giant heart for Mother Nature and the fine traditions of the ancient’s nature-based overwhelming wisdom.

Let’s take a look back: it was January 2007, when Vetrodar, known also as the main composer and main guitarist of Russian Metal horde Pagan Reign, formed his new group named Tverd. Herein Vetrodar became responsible also for all scream-parts, his good friend Ratibor strengthening the band soon later on the guitar front.

After a while the band’s line-up was completed, and even Vetrodar’s father, a very talented and experienced musician, became a member of the heathen minded clan. More, Vetrodar and Ratibor offered Svetlana Lebedeva, Tver State University’s folkloric-ethnographic ensemble’s leader to take the female vocal part – which enriches the sound of the band enormously now.

Beside her magnificent throat arts, talented tenor Alexander Ivanov brings his academic vocal style inside the compositions of these Russians.

A time ago Tverd released their very interesting debut album „Follow The Sun's Way”, which offers a great blend out of melodic arranged Pagan Metal the typical way and nice folkloric elements.

I ventured myself with Vetrodar behind his views about the band and Tverd’s offered pagan art.

Vetrodar, could you please give a short review about the fresh history of Tverd and the reason for founding the band for me and all those, who don't know you yet?

„Greetings, Markus! I'm glad to answer your questions, for a long time wished to communicate to you, considering, that I know you and your activity since times of Pagan Reign! To your question: To organize the new group I has solved after Orei has wished to finish musical career. For me leaving from affairs of this person was unexpected. For that moment (the end of 2006) affairs at Pagan Reign went perfectly, we even have started record of a following album. Well and in the beginning of 2007 I have decided, that Pagan Reign now the history and is time to give a life to my own project. I respected the former musicians which played with me for the time of 8 years, therefore my new project carries name Tverd, instead of Pagan Reign. By time of disintegration of the previous project I already had many new creative and philosophical ideas. With me together in group there was drummer Demosthen and together we have started to rehearse a new material for the future album, then gradually I have generated the basic structure of group. Concerning my life and work with other musicians Pagan Reign I will notice that there were many positive moments and creative successes. In Pagan Reign I was generated as the composer. With last group we have written down 4 excellent albums and it is possible to tell have set rate for further development Pagan Folk Metal of a scene in Russia. Now at me it is a lot of experience under the composition and realisation Folk Pagan Metal Music.”

Dou you feel personally a deep spiritual connection of your creative soul with the traditions and the ancient wisdom of your fatherland?

„Traditions and culture of the Slavic people are one of the most powerful cores for me in motivation for music creation. Slavs have centuries-old history. Our ancestors have heroically defended the right to existence and own unique culture. Now, in days of globalization, the nobility and to develop traditions of own nation is vital. Without the roots the human will cease to have the own person, and to turn in depersonalized the slave, the inhabitant of the present, becomes a puppet in hands of oligarchs. The knowledge of culture and history of the people gives clearness in judgements and acts. The person understands, who he is and for what he was born for.”

Do you practice your spiritual connection to our overmother nature in a special way at some chosen moments?

„I love Russian nature very much. I try to leave regularly in dream places of my native land. The nature gives a huge stock of forces, energy and sincere harmony. When you stand in the middle of Russian field and you look afar, you understand all greatness of our land. Far from city vanity it is breathed freely, and thoughts are not littered by inutile household problems. Also very much to like me the pine forest of the Tver area, it smells as an antiquity and is fantastically mysterious, and our rivers and lakes is simple majestic. Sometimes on the nature I meditate and I am inspired by pictures of an antiquity arising thus. I am assured that the human can operate the destiny and the desires.”

Which is the most inner driving force within your creative heart to create such epic, operatic, various and bombastic metal music?

„History of Slavs, Rus' and Russian Empire. Very strongly I am inspired also by Great Russian composers of the end of 19th – the beginnings of 20th century. I adore listening to classical music in execution of the Great Russian orchestra of national tools. My driving creating force is the ancient Pagan Slavic outlook and the philosophy behind it. To me the destiny of my people is not indifferent, probably, music we will push people to change the way of life and outlook. Now, when you look on group Tverd, it’s as a drink of fresh air in a musty premise of decaying culture, all of us feel responsibility that we play and about what we speak.”

And in general, who influenced/influences you mostly in making music?

„My Russian people, my relatives and my beloved – Masha.”

Let's talk straight about your current new album; what's behind all this? With which expectation(s) have you begun on writing music for this release?

„When I have started record of this album, I had a huge motivation to make all at high level and to reflect most clearly and openly my thoughts, emotions and outlook. I had no right to make an album on lesser professionalism as I’ve tried it with Pagan Reign. I already had a huge experience and on this album I have corrected errors of the previous works. Also for me there was absolutely new an attraction of professional classical vocalists in group. In an operating time over an album I up to the end did not know, how the material as a result will sound, I had only a general conception. And when I have for the first time heard Alexander's fine vocal, I have understood, that the album will be magnificent!”

Where you`ve got all these great catchy melodies for „Follow The Sun's Way”?

„Well, what I can tell?! From my head, probably. Actually I do not catch the moment as to me this or that melody comes. Sometimes the fine musical theme comes to me when I am in a condition a semi-sleepiness and I play a guitar, i.e. my consciousness is on border between a dream and wakefulness. Often I before the melody composition have a certain psycho-emotional spirit, I imagine heroic pictures of the past, beauty of Russian wood, or I feel a fighting rage or joyful euphoria. Usually I intuitively feel a certain sincere necessity to turn a course of a melody or a song in this or that direction in the development. But the accurate recipe at me is not present. Certainly, some influences on me render both Russian-Slavic folklore and Russian classical music and even Black Metal of the Norwegian school (Satyricon, Emperor, Immortal).”

Please tell me about the cooperation with the opera singers Alexander Ivanov and Svetlana Lebedeva – are they also pagan believers in their private life as you?

„These two musicians – two brilliant ones in the musical cloth of the group Tverd. Alexander Ivanov – the successor of classical academic Russian school in a vocal and, in general, in the outlook. It was trained in well-known Gnesin's academy on a class of an opera vocal. Its presence at group does us by very professional and mature command, comprising as well a heritage of Russian culture of 18-20 centuries. Svetlana Lebedeva is the head of folkloric-ethnographic ensemble "Slavianochka". She’s a Cand.Phil.Sci. and professionally she is engaged in gathering of ancient Slavic and Russian songs, even will organise folk-ethnographic expeditions to the remote corners of Russia where live carriers of Russian national creativity have still remained. The song "To The Foreign Land…" is the real ancient Russian national song which Svetlana has written down in one of the trips to deaf areas of the Tver Area. Svetlana adheres to ancient pagan Slavic beliefs and outlooks on life, as well as all other members of collective "Tverd".”

Who or what influenced the writing of the lyrics for your album? And what are they exactly all about? Is it a concept album?

„Certainly, as mentioned, the album has a general conceptual line is an ancient Slavic philosophy and outlook. Each song reflects separately taken picture from history of our people. In this album I have tried to reflect different aspects of life and attitudes of people of that heroic time. Here there is a place and to fighting epic hymns ("The Wolf & Gyrfalcon", "A Falcon Is Over Rus'", "When The Steel Is Being Broken... "), and to the heroic epos ("The Motherland's Heart", "The Bogatyr's Gates"), themes of love to Russian nature ("The Spring", "… Under The Sun's Magic Arrows"), and the festively-ceremonial culture ("Wide Maslenitsa", "To The Foreign Land…") and finishes an album a song with idea about a natural course of time and pagan idea of reincarnation, possibilities of a repeated birth of heroes of the past and in our time.”

What you want to tell the listeners with your lyrics?

„The lyrics I wish to give to people aesthetic pleasure from perception of ancient European culture, to stir up in people the forgotten feeling of pride of the history, for the nation. I wish to light in hearts of people ancient pagan spirit of struggle for the native belief, traditions and sort prosperity.”

About the fine front cover art of the album – did it come from your mind or from the painter’s idea? What exactly tells it?

„It was our joint idea with artist Levkin Alexander and designer Erwin Max. This picture is as some kind of a window in the past, a sight from depth of the Universe. It reflects time course. In the picture centre the Sun – one of the main Slavic pagan deities, a ancient symbol about life-giving energy of light, is located. For us, Slavs, the Sun is a symbol of all of the most light and pure, which exists in this world. With a sun symbol on the banners and boards our ancestors went on mortal fight with the enemy and made feats. Sun is that key symbol which will strike the light of new day over a cold night of a modern society. It is a symbol of the future revival in souls and minds of people.”

Please tell me about the picture of an UFO (!) inside your release, what has it to mean?

„Thus we wished to show idea that we not unique in the Universe. Also, in Slavic pagan mythology and knowledge there is an idea about an extraterrestrial origin "Homo Sapiens", ciphered in fairy tales and the epos. The modern science knows about the most ancient culture and mankind history very few, or does not wish to know.”

Why you've decided to put a strange Techno-passage at the end of the disc?

„Last song on an album is some kind of travel from the past in the future. It is connected with belief of Slavs in reincarnation possibility. Given by a techno-sheaf we wished to represent a time jump. To show the contrast between both: fine heroic last and the modern decline of culture. But in this song the appeal is ciphered: "People unite, time to heroes of the past in our hearts has come to revive!"”

Do you planning any live gigs in 2009/2010? Are there plans for a tour? Surely your art is difficult to represent live on stage with all the special clothes etc.

„Yes, with pleasure we will act on any worthy platforms of Russia and Europe. Negotiations are now carried on. Our structure is very skilled and professional. In the performances we use the Old Russian clothes made by ancient technologies; and, by the way, in it to act – it is a pleasure for us. Now as at full speed there is a record of our second album. It will be a surprise for fans of Pagan Folk Metal, it will be Folk Metal Opera!”

What do you think about nowadays genre bands which do mostly anything (even change the style of music) just to become and stay popular?

„I think, that when the musician or in general any creative person starts to do that and it is not reflected in its heart, sooner or later this falseness will get out outside.”

What's your favourite traditional Russian drink?

„There is such ancient Russian drink: honey, very tasty natural product. But in general I disapprove of alcohol. Sometimes on days off I dare to drink a mug of cold beer or a glass of red wine. I receive all other highs from a naturally basing life.”

Which CDs are rotating at all most in your player during the year?

„Russian symphonic music of 19th century (Glinka, Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin …) and of course Metal.”

© Markus Eck, 12.11.2009

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