Interview with guitarist and vocalist Gašper Flere
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 10, 2014
Thrash is back big time and can be heard everywhere nowadays. Well-executed and high-quality Thrash Metal that is appreciated by many is a whole different story, however.
Slovenian Thrash Metal act Panikk has already proved to be worthy thrashers who love the Bay Area sound down to the cellular level. Panikk's debut album, Unbearable Conditions, released in 2013 by Metal Tank Records, sold out quickly.
So what's the fuss about this Slovenian Thrash Metal band, anyway? The Metal Crypt decided to find out a bit more about them and guitarist/vocalist Gasper Flere was kind enough to enlighten us about all things related to Panikk via the following interview...
Luxi: First off, can you give us some history regarding the formation of Panikk? How did you guys find each other?
Gapa: When I started to search for members in 2008, there really weren't a lot of people willing to play that style of music. After our first guitarist left to continue with his primary band, Eruption, it took months for me to find his substitute and all the others. We finally had our first real line-up in 2009 and we recorded a demo. The music back then was more Crossover oriented, but, in time, our interests for future activity became very different so we split up. I formed the second (present) line up in 2011 and we connected immediately. We all had the same goal; to play energetic Thrash. So, last year, we went into the studio to record the first album.
Luxi: Was it obvious from the very beginning that the style you wanted to play was, first and foremost, old school Thrash Metal?
Gapa: That's right. At the very beginning, I knew what I wanted to play. I've listened to bands from the Bay Area Thrash Metal scene. When I found the right people, the band started to develop in the best way possible.
Luxi: How did you decide on the name Panikk? I assume you wanted it to be different instead of just naming the band Panic, right?
Gapa: Right! At first, I picked the name because it sounded good and simple. But later, when we started making music with the second line-up, it was the name that became the main influence for the lyrics and the atmosphere of the songs. The word "panic" refers to something intensive and strong and that describes our music, so the name has huge importance.
Luxi: Your debut album, Unbearable Conditions, was released by Metal Tank Records early in 2013, and has been well received among Thrash Metal fans. Are you at least a little bit overwhelmed by all the positive feedback people have given you regarding Panikk's debut album?
Gapa: The response has been amazing and we are very flattered. People across the world are ordering our album. We received a lot of good reviews and we are taking them as a confirmation of a job well done. We will continue to work on our music with honesty and do our best to express ourselves and then just hope for the best. Big thanks to everyone who is supporting us!
Luxi: Was the recording process for Unbearable Conditions tougher or easier than you expected?
Gapa: We recorded the album relatively quickly. Drums were recorded first and were finished in three days. The guitars and bass followed and, at the end, we recorded the main and gang vocals. We are very pleased with the end product but we are planning to improve some things when we record our next album. The recording wasn't so hard; everything went according to the plan. It's just that I couldn't speak for two days after recording the vocals. (*laughs*)
Luxi: Would you say you exceeded your expectations as far as Unbearable Conditions is concerned?
Gapa: I think that we just met our expectations. Everything that we hoped for was reached and some things actually went better than planned (big thanks for that to our producer Dyz).
Luxi: Stormspell Records has now licensed the album. How did Iordan Kanev of Stormspell find you? Did you send some of your material over to him and that's how you won his interest toward Panikk?
Gapa: That is right! I contacted Iordan Kanev from Stormspell and asked him if I could send him some copies of our album. I sent him all of the material but then something went wrong. We have lost contact and still, to this day, I haven't found out the reason. Nevertheless, I am still hopeful that we will achieve progress towards our collaboration.
Luxi: Panikk has been gigging around your own home country quite a bit. How has the turnout at your gigs been and do you see attendance increasing in the future?
Gapa: I really couldn't give you an average turnout, but we have played gigs with just a few headbangers to some with over 100. If we continue to keep doing what we've been doing, I think the numbers should rise.
Luxi: How is the club scene in Slovenia? Do you have enough clubs and venues that book Metal bands?
Gapa: Our club scene is thriving. We have a lot of quality bands and fans that are going to different shows all over Slovenia. Also Metal Days Festival (ex-Metal Camp) is giving bands a lot of opportunities to show off their skills for an audience that comes from all over the world.
Luxi: Undoubtedly Panikk are aiming to play outside of Slovenia, so is something already in the works regarding playing in other countries?
Gapa: Yes, it is true; we have a goal set to play outside of Slovenia. Currently we are talking about playing in Croatia and were also given some offers from Italy. Some interest was also shown from the Netherlands. We are hopeful something will come from these conversations.
Luxi: I am sure all of you have different life situations; families, work, studies and stuff. Is there anything that might prevent you from doing an extensive tour, something that might last 3-4 weeks or longer?
Gapa: It is true, we all have different commitments in our lives; thankfully nobody is married yet. Our bass player is studying medicine, which occupies a lot of his time. Our dream is to tour all around the world. We haven't really talked about that but I suppose for a good offer we would be willing to play anywhere, even for 3-4 weeks.
Luxi: Panikk isn't the only Thrash Metal band from Ljubljana so it seems the area is pretty fertile ground for this type of stuff. I am aware of bands like Eruption and Teleport, which come from the same city as Panikk. Are there others you might like to enlighten us about?
Gapa: Yeah, our area is pretty well covered with Thrash Metal bands springing from almost every crevice, but many disappear as fast as they appear. Luckily, some stay active for good.
Luxi: What do you foresee for the future of Slovenian Thrash Metal?
Gapa: The Slovenian Metal scene is growing and this year a lot of bands released albums. The few I can mention are Lintver, Gonoba and Vigilance. There is space and opportunity to be had for new bands. The noise level is rising!
Luxi: You have also done some new stuff since the Unbearable Conditions sessions. Are you trying to stay loyal to the Thrash Metal sound of that album with your new songs or have you strayed a bit from the old school Thrash Metal style, just for the sake of experimenting?
Gapa: With our debut we found the sound we were searching for. There was some experimenting, as we don't want to sound cliché. Our main inspiration is Vio-lence's Oppressing the Masses, but we tried to keep it unnoticeable. Unbearable Conditions has some elements that I personally have not heard before (shocker!) so there is no telling what our next product might contain. We are open to other kinds of music and might find inspiration from an unknown source. Just look at Vektor, they don't play typical Thrash but have a specific recipe for their chosen audience.
Luxi: How important is it for bands to maintain the same sound and musical style, from one album to the next, in order to keep their fans satisfied? Would you rather bands evolve all the time, trying out new things to make it more interesting for their fans and themselves?
Gapa: If bands don't diverge from their sound they can quickly become boring and sound like they have run out of ideas. That's why I like bands that try out new and innovative things on every record, but they have to keep their signature sound. On the other hand, if a band has the ability to write an album from the heart and not change a major aspect of their music and still hit the sweet spot, that's fantastic as well.
Luxi: Do you have any basic rules for song writing? Who is the main filter that controls what will eventually be accepted for Panikk and which songs get rejected?
Gapa: We don't have any particular rules; we just write what we feel like. Mainly, we try to warn people about the hazards of life. I have written most of the lyrics and Nejc has contributed two song lyrics. Our lyrics are mainly a critique of society and we also touch on the subjects of drugs, politics and war, while one song is more personal.
Luxi: I have to believe you want to make Panikk more than simply a "hobby band" and you probably hope to break outside of Slovenia and make your living from playing, correct?
Gapa: That's right, we started Panikk with the intention of conveying our message to the people. To be perfectly honest, you can circle through all of the good clubs in our tiny country in about a month, which is why we are trying to push out and start to play abroad. So far we seem to be going in the right direction. Of course, it is our wildest dream to be able to make a living from this, but in these times, the lottery seems like a more realistic option.
Luxi: As you have surely noticed, Thrash is back with a full scale, worldwide invasion. Once disbanded Thrash acts have made their comebacks, plus there's a whole new division of younger Thrash Metal acts that have managed to create some intense buzz in the scene. What do you believe this tells about the future of this genre? Is Thrash is back to stay forever?
Gapa: A lot of young bands go into Thrash. It's awesome to hear a good band (Vektor, Warbringer, etc.), but sadly there are many mediocre bands that don't bring much to the scene and just want to be mean and fast. The bottom line is; Thrash is here to stay. I believe that there will be new "big" bands that will orchestrate the evolution of "good" Thrash Metal.
Luxi: What about Panikk's future? What are you hoping to achieve with this band in the future, and what are the next steps?
Gapa: Our first goal for now is to shoot and record our first music video, which will come out some time in 2014. Then, slowly, we will start doing some new material, release a new album in the future and play as much as we can, especially abroad. So far, so good. These are the plans for us right now.
Luxi: I think that is all for now, so I want to thank you, Gapa, for taking time to talk with me and I wish you all the best with your future endeavours with the band. Any closing comments, perhaps?
Gapa: No problem! Thank you for your wishes and for the interview! I would just like to add that people can follow us on Facebook and read all the latest news. We will soon have a new batch of freshly baked CDs, which you'll be able to buy from: http://panikk.bandcamp.com Cheers and enjoy!
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