Singer/bandleader Andrey Ind Grenouer
Interview by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Cátia Cunha at Against PR for making the interview possible.
Thanks to Sleaszy Rider Records for the promo pictures of the band.
From Saint Petersburg, Russia comes Grenouer. Last year the band released deluxe editions of the albums BLOOD ON THE FACE and UNWANTED TODAY complete with new artwork and bonus songs by the label Mazzar Records. Last year the band released their 10th-anniversary edition of the album LIFELONG DAYS and early this year they came out with the new album AMBITION 999 which is an old album that lacked lead vocals the band partly re-recorded the album and added vocals to it. Today the band is signed to Sleazy Rider Records which is responsible for the release of AMBITION 999. I had the pleasure to once again talk to singer, and leader of the band, Andrey Ind, and we talked about the release of the deluxe editions, the new label and what the new/old album is about. I was also interested in learning why the bands’ video to the song “Alone In The Dark” got banned from YouTube. This is a very short interview and if you want to read more about the band, take a look in the metal rules.com archives.
Hi, Andrey, it’s great fun to talk to you again. I’m eager to hear what has happened in the GRENOUER camp since we last spoke. Are you ready to take on another round with metal-rules.com?
Andrey Ind (Lead vocals): Dear Anders and dear readers, definitely!!! Metal-Rules.com remains one of the best places online, and it is always a real pleasure to talk and share what’s on my mind.
Last year the albums BLOOD ON THE FACE and UNWANTED TODAY was released with new artworks and bonus tracks, they’re both also remixed and in the deluxe edition, why did you choose to re-release the albums? Was it the band idea or the label’s idea to re-issue the albums?
Both albums released on CDs were too difficult to get in Russia. Digital downloads are not the problem, yet some people prefer a physical format, and they markedly deserved something exclusive. GRENOUER managed to agree with the Russian label Mazzar Records on re-releasing, upgrading strategy, and consequently both albums obtained the revised sound, bonus tracks, the new artwork, and digipak editions.
Which bonus tracks are featured on the albums?
BLOOD ON THE FACE was augmented with two acoustic tracks, “Sands of Silence (Acoustic Version)” and “Alone in the Dark,” UNWANTED TODAY got “Redshift,” PARADISE LOST cover. As a matter of fact, all three songs gained music videos.
Who owns the legal rights to the old albums today?
The original audio versions must be still owned by assigns of Mausoleum Records, while updated audio masters are reckoned as available assets.
Are the albums released worldwide or strictly in Russia?
Deluxe CD editions can be purchased directly from Mazzar Records, and they are capable of delivering orders almost everywhere. Both reissues are also available worldwide digitally.
What did media think of the re-releases?
I am afraid they do not think much, and we didn’t expect anything like sensation. I am just happy with these releases myself, and they are really entrancing now.
Do you agree with the bio that says that “the band gradually transformed from being a 90’s extreme metal band into a melodic metal band compared by critics to BREAKING BENJAMIN and KATATONIA?
It is just the phrase to give potential listeners a clue, what kind of music they should expect from these albums, yet none of us is hooked on these two bands, and indeed, we didn’t have them in mind during the production process. Critics sometimes help to define things broadly. However, it is always good to avoid overgeneralizing.
What’s the deal with the re-release of LIFELONG DAYS that celebrates ten years, the album that was also released as a digipack CD with bonus tracks?
That was a spontaneous, clever idea prompted by the premium quality of BLOOD ON THE FACE and UNWANTED TODAY Deluxe Editions. Mazzar Records felt quite comfortable with another rerelease, after all, LIFELONG DAYS remains GRENOUER’s iconic album. 10th Anniversary Edition was remastered, one of the songs, “Patience,” was remixed, two additional tracks reemerged from oblivion, were mixed, and all that was consolidated with the front cover artwork, originally used for LIFELONG DAYS demo. Must have for diehard fans!
Is it possible to purchase the album from anywhere else but the Mazzar Records webshop?
Mazzar Records run business in Russia. Their focus area is licensing global metal releases for Russian territory, and that’s amazing that sometimes they do not forget about local bands, and that such releases make a very good showing. Therefore, they are capable of handling worldwide trade, but the company centers around import, not export.
Why is only the deluxe version of UNWANTED TODAY available on Spotify and not the other albums?
All albums should be there, yet I suspect that we cannot trust main digital aggregators in every instance. After all, that’s even good that there’s a place for flaws. If everything is perfect, there’s no room for improvement and brainstorming.
New album AMBITION 999
Let’s talk about the bands brand new album AMBITION 999, when and where was the album recorded and how long did it take to write material?
Just thinking about the recording makes me harassed. The material was composed fast and planned to be recorded promptly, yet the production process felt like a vehicle skidded off the road into a ditch. Well, in short, check out for reference the backstory of “Chinese Democracy” and change the budget scale.
You once again worked with producer Anssi Kippo, how was it to work with him again, and is it correct that you recorded all the instruments but not any vocals at Astia Studios?
A bit of a mistake is to do new things in old ways. Another issue is conducting it like a double-blind study. Non-blind studies tend to report better results, let alone the wasteful expenditure when you are generally in two minds at the studio. Anssi Kippo is a well-proven professional of the sound recording industry, yet looks like we were on opposite ends, and the album stuck for years. All instruments and vocals for several songs as well were recorded at Astia Studio in Finland, but at the end of the day, the album demanded new production almost from scratch. Well, there’s a difference between walking the path and knowing the path.
Which elements did you keep from the first recording sessions?
The drums and bass, a bit of vocals, a couple of guitar solos and a few minor things.
Are all of the 15 songs older tracks or have you added any newly written songs?
The newly written song, “Burnt to the Ground,” became the opening track of the album, the other songs were reviewed, and many of them were modified.
How does it feel to rerecord the same songs?
Very often it felt so wrong, almost “dead or alive,” yet I have no doubts, the challenge was worth taking up.
The press release states that the album from the beginning leaned towards becoming a hard rock/grunge-inspired album, is that true?
And that was the catch. The songs had somewhat similar emotion, but aesthetically it was not a hard rock/grunge album, and that became obvious kind of late.
Was it your intention to make quite a long album, it clocks in on 60 minutes?
It took GRENOUER too long to get the album finalized and released, so why not to make it a long one — appreciation to everyone who kept waiting.
What does the title AMBITION 999 mean? Does the title have any special meaning to you and the band?
Album number nine, pointing at infinity and pursuing goals – the reason is not too far to seek. And still there’s enough space for interpretations and symbolism, not to mention that’s a reasonably catchy title.
Who did the cover artwork to the album this time?
This time it was Jobert Mello, the artist from Brazil, his talented works can be discovered as the front covers of such bands as Sinner, Sabaton and Primal Fear. However, without great diligence of Simone ‘Zimon’ Sut (New Breed Studio), the rest of the artwork would have never become a final product.
Do you think old hardcore fans of GRENOUER are going to like Ambition 999?
If we are talking about hardcore fans, they will surely detest the album, or more precisely, they already did. I have seen reviews labeling “Ambition 999” as emo, gothic, and boring. Luckily the record is not for hardcore fans, and not for the ears of those who find it annoying. Those fans, who are still with us throughout three decades, liked it by default. Those who always disliked GRENOUER will never change their mind.
How would you like to describe what kind of music GRENOUER plays today?
Describing your own music is the ungrateful task, and the sincere answer would be, I do not really wish to know. Trying to compose and produce worthy songs, and then having them properly released and playing live – that’s the only objective. Music is a reflection of what’s going inside your mind, and your mind may occasionally be changing.
Looking at the song titles “Uncommon Faith” and “Crimson Lines” one can’t help asking what the song might be about?
The album lyrics are not utterly bleak; I passionately check chances for recovery. That’s the language of allegories, and very often they are plain and transparent, blending strong words with delicate sensations, which helps to explore the freedom of symbolization.
Your album trailer on YouTube is short and simple, nothing like an epic documentary about enduring studio work.
The full story would be great to be told, yet such saga needs a good director, a screenplay and a budget, something in the style of “Anvil! The Story of Anvil”. The trailer’s task was to announce that the album is out soon, and not to reveal its problematics.
Ambition 999 Album TRAILER
I think that AMBITION 999 is a fantastic album, are you happy with the outcome?
I am so happy that it is finalized at last and that there’s no need to think of it as a headache that accompanies your routine, your food, and your sleep. And that nobody has given up completely.
Burnt to the Ground Lyric Video
Are there any differences in how the foreign and native media writes about the band?
Good reviews and bad reviews and no difference between foreign and local media. Better not to pay any attention to anything bad, writing a review takes half an hour, finishing that album took us several years.
Paranormal Star Lyric Video
How does it feel to be compared to a pop band?
It feels very good, and I admire bands like Duran Duran, INXS, Alphaville, Level 42, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, even though GRENOUER’s music doesn’t have much to do with them.
Many bands and artists often claim their latest album is their best one yet, is it also the case for you and AMBITION 999?
I hope very much that the best album is yet to come.
Studio and production
The band recorded the album in several studios, which studios were used and which parts did you record in which studio?
Drums, bass, guitars, lead and backing vocals for several songs were recorded at Astia studio in Finland with Anssi Kippo. Then most of guitars and vocals were rerecorded in Russia, and the material was ultimately produced and mixed by Giuseppe ‘Dualized’ Bassi (dysFUNCTION Productions) in Italy.
What’s the strongest feature of Giuseppe ‘Dualized’ Bassi as a producer?
Smooth, fruitful, and organic cooperation, even though “Ambition 999” was not the easiest album to be produced. At a certain point we even tried to call it “Trouble Album,” but all the troubles are gone away.
And what about Eddy Cavazza, you also worked with him again, what makes him special to work with?
Eddy is also the part of dysFUNCTION Productions, yet this time he wasn’t involved. Eddy Cavazza and ‘Dualized’ may be independent units.
GRENOUER is now signed to the Greek label Sleaszy Rider Records, are you happy with the work they have put into the band so far?
We were searching for the label to have the album released promptly, as it felt like a burden. Sleaszy Rider deal is nothing really special, but we can move forward now, and it is finally out worldwide.
Do you see any problems with that Sleazy Rider Records are in Greece, and you are in Russia?
Today that can hardly be a problem, when smartphones are a part of the human body.
Why didn’t you stay with Mazzar Records?
We stayed with them, but they remain a local label, and I estimate to see the last album released on the territory of Russia precisely through Mazzar Records, and that got to be another deluxe edition.
The band have been linked to quite a few labels so far, what’s your opinion about labels in general?
We still haven’t met a label to call it our sweet home, since every time something is missing very badly, yet probably these days it’s time to leave behind the mythology about labels supporting bands and to study all domains of new technologies and smarter strategies.
Any plans on making deluxe editions of any other band’s albums?
GRENOUER is actively preparing an updated sound and new artwork for “Ambition 999”, and we hope to see another amazing deluxe edition from Mazzar Records. Speaking about other albums, preceding “Lifelong Days,” they need to be something very special indeed, not just remastered versions with enriched artworks. At the time being, I do not see a trigger for that.
Your new label has got many other acts signed to them; do you see any fears in being neglected by the label amongst all the bands?
I have no illusions, and that saves me from high expectations and great frustrations. So, let’s say, no fears and no time for prejudice.
Is AMBITION 999 featured on Spotify?
Absolutely! And all other digital platforms.
Any plans on releasing the album on vinyl, are you a fan of the vinyl format?
Thirty years ago I liked vinyl a lot, even though the price of records was enormous. I also didn’t mind magnetic tapes, as a matter of fact. CDs didn’t seem very different from vinyl, you still could “touch music,” smell the paper booklet, read the lyrics, and they were far more durable. And these days if I want a physical copy I prefer a CD, not tape or a vinyl record. An analog sound storage medium requires plenty of room at home. And we got to pay for luxury. I certainly do not mind GRENOUER released in any format, yet I can easily do without our vinyl records.
The two biggest internet record shops in Scandinavia doesn’t have any of your albums in stock, why is it so hard to get in touch with the GRENOUER albums?
A question to labels and their marketing and distribution channels.
How can fans get a hand of your albums easily?
The easiest way is to go online, to listen to music immediately; getting a physical copy is not an extreme necessity anymore.
In what parts of the world does Sleaszy Rider Records distribute your albums? Is the album out in North America and Asia?
I hope very much that at least any action is taken. Distribution is the label’s job, if something is wrong, time to diagnose failed jobs.
Past, present and future
What are the plans for GRENOUER after the release of AMBITION 999?
New songs, new songs. That’s the best option to get over past mistakes.
Alone in the Dark [UNCENSORED AGE RESTRICTED] Official Music Video
The video to “Alone in the Dark” has been banned on YouTube, can you tell us about the video and why it was censored?
Ironically “Alone in the Dark” was banned only on Sleaszy Rider Records channel. All the while the same video is about to reach 25 (!) million views on Beheading the Traitor channel, www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtjrcRl2pEU and this seems to be our biggest commercial and public success so far. Marking the video age-restricted was the only method to avoid getting banned. The music video directed by Max Poddubny (American Pie Production) is too far from XXX content; it is just a comic horror story that might outrage only blatant hypocrites. Silicone boobs, a crazy clown, artificial blood, there’s nothing utterly shocking, not even close to “The Shining.”
One Day (Official Music Video)
What can you tell us about the video to “One Day”?
“One Day” is the beginning of sci-fi trilogy, directed by Spanish director Jonathan Guttmann, and the second part is already out – music video for the song “Universe of my Heaven.” Probably, the viewer doesn’t get any answers whatsoever, but let’s wait for the third party.
Universe of My Heaven (Official Music Video)
The band got a really nice looking website what is it so few updates on there, who runs it?
Websites today serves the function of redirecting visitors to social networks, and there’s no more need actually to run it.
Have you thought of launching a pledge music campaign at Indiegogo or any site like that to be able to release the bands next album?
After considering all crowdfunding algorithms, we agreed not to try that, and the band is capable of producing and releasing albums without asking for charity or whatever you call that. Raising serious funds requires investing, in the very least, pressing time and efforts. There is no such thing as a free lunch.
Are you going to release more albums under the name GRENOUER after AMBITION 999?
This is out of the question. Too late to quit.
Are you happy with what GRENOUER have achieved so far?
Mixed feelings all the time. Sometimes looking at everything with a critical eye, sometimes thinking that it couldn’t have been better. In any case, the music doesn’t pass, and it continues forever.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard GRENOUER before?
Welcome to our universe, newcomer. We hope to be a pleasant discovery for you.
Could you give them three reasons why they should buy AMBITION 999?
Fastidious production, solid songwriting, and fantastic guitar work.
Thanks for taking the time to make yet another appearance in metal rules.com, I wish you and the band all the best and hope to see you on a live stage soon over here in Scandinavia!! Finally, do you have any words of wisdom to share with the readers?
Thank you so much for your super positive attitude, really hope to see you there! I am not sure I am wise enough to share anything wise. Let me just express gratitude for staying together with Metal Rules and maintaining interest in all forms of metal.