Primitai have probably released their best album to date, and one of the top heavy metal albums of 2018. Grande Rock took the chance to talk with lead guitarist Srdjan Bilic so as to find out more about this young heavy metal band that have the potential to grow bigger over time. Read more below…
Primitai band pic
Hi Srdjan and welcome to Grande Rock. Your new album, “The Calling”, has been added to our “Gems” category and it’s among the top heavy metal albums of 2018.
S: Thanks, we’re very honoured to be among the chosen few, you guys review a hell of a lot of albums I’m sure!
How did the deal with Dissonance Productions come about? What are the things that you’ve gained with this cooperation?
S: Dissonnance is a new label, as well as signing some legendary bands like Diamond Head and Grim Reaper and doing some back catalogue deals, they were also in the process of signing 6 or so “younger” UK heavy metal bands. We were very kindly brought to their attention by our friends in Neuronspoiler, who were already signed, and the rest was history. We’ve gained a lot by signing with them, we have access to all of the resources of Plastic Head (the UKs leading distribution company), they have good PR contacts in the UK and Europe so we’ve been in the printed press all over Europe. Dissonnance gave a generous advance which helped us fund the recording and make it as good a possible package, and it’s certainly boosted our industry confidence having a record deal.
Was it crucial for you to release your new album under a music label or you would have done it independently no matter what?
S: We would have released our album independently as we had already booked the studio time, mixing and mastering. We sat down in Feb 2017 and made a plan to record the album in Nov 2017, master it by Jan 2019, and release it in May 2018 with a few months of PR campaign in the run up. The timing of meeting Disonance was perfect, they called us for a meeting the same week we were supposed to start recording, so we had a finished album to give them almost as soon as we signed.
What does the album title “The Calling” declare and what’s the connection with the cover artwork?
S: “The Calling” is a reference to heavy metal being our Calling. The cover shows a sci fi car blazing across a desolate planet towards a mothership and ball of energy on the horizon. It shows our clear goal ahead of us but also the long journey and challenges on our way to get there. There’s a lot of fire and light in the cover which shows our level of passion and energy that we put into reaching our calling!
What are the things that you’ve changed on the songwriting on the new album?
S: I’d say this album is quite progressive and experimental for Primitai. We’ve gone for longer songs, less straightforward arrangements, different time signatures, introduced synth for the first time, some quite ambient instrumental sections. There’s still plenty of hard rocking and riffing, in your face heavy metal but we’ve definitely expanded our horizons.
Can you say that “The Calling” is an “old-school heavy metal album” that was made with today’s ingredients?
S: I would definitely agree. If you listen to recent albums of bands like Saxon, Accept and Judas Priest, who are taking their sound into the 21st Century, you’ll find us quite similar to “Firepower”, “Blood of the Nations” and “Battering Ram”. The difference is that we have lots of other influences too from power, progressive, melodic, death and thrash, whereas those aforementioned bands can’t stray too much from their defined sound.
Do give u a hint about each track…
S: “Possess Me”: This an orchestral intro to “Demons Inside”, made by our bassist Scott; it’s quite beautiful but also builds up the listener’s tension to the first proper song.
“Demons Inside”: This is quite an aggressive song about being tormented by an addiction and the battle to break free from it, but also the thrill of enjoying it. The music takes a melodic turn in the chorus where the lyrics lament everything that has been lost from losing this battle.
“Overdrive”: This is the first song we wrote for the album. We’d just spent the previous 2 years rebuilding the band and really enjoying that process, so this song is a celebration of firing on all cylinders again and defeating your adversaries, told through the medium of a Mad Max style character.
“Curse of Olympus”: The storyline is inspired by an animated film about the ancient Greek tales of Ulysses but set in the 21st century. This is one of the songs where we introduced synths to give it that sci-fi feel.
“No Survivors”: This track tells the story of a pagan community being wiped out by mysterious invaders from overseas. Nothing remains of their civilization, just burnt ruins. The song is a raging riff fest until the middle of the song is stripped down to just drums and bass, giving it the “calm after the storm” feel.
“Memories Lost”: This is a song about succumbing to amnesia and fighting to hold on to your memories. The protagonist questions whether life is worth living without them.
“Into the Light”: This song is about kicking arse and being in ascendancy, hitting the streets and taking on the world. We tried to capture that feeling of being full of energy and confidence, rising to each challenge and going for the spotlight. Cue a cascade of fast riffs that doesn’t stop for breath.
“Into the Dark”: We threw out the songwriting rule book and ended up with quite a musical journey on this one, with constant key, time signature and tempo changes, synth parts, dueling guitars, although we tie everything up with a big straight forward chorus. The song is about feeling the presence and guiding light of a loved one even after they have passed away.
“Tempest Returns”: The lyrics are inspired by a famous battle in WW2. 100,000 Germans pursued and cornered 10,000 resistance fighters into a valley with the intent to wipe them out. Heroically against the odds the resistance broke through and evacuated 1000s of wounded people, who would have otherwise been executed. The harmonized guitar solo and Sergio’s lead work certainly transport our minds to mountain tops overlooking epic scenery.
“The Calling”: The grand finale and title track of the album, featuring a stomping triumphant chorus about the tireless and endless journey to fulfill your calling (in our case playing heavy metal), despite all the barriers and tough moments. We wanted the verses to conjure images of a desolate landscape with only distant lights to guide your direction, a metaphor for the sacrifices and you need to go through. However when the chorus comes crashing in all doubts are dispelled.
What are the things that you’ve gained from touring so extensively over the last months?
S: We’ve been gradually working around the UK making sure the whole country gets its taste of our new songs live. We’ve gained new fans, honed our live performances and most importantly have landed bigger shows and more bookings for next year’s live activities.
Which are your expectations from “The Calling” and what do you wish to achieve with Primitai over the next years?
S: We’re really hoping this album takes us to a higher level and takes us to new audiences, places, festivals and our highest achievements yet. We worked really hard to have all the right ingredients for success ready and now is our time to reap what we sow.
Time for your “weird questions”!!! How did you come up with the name Primitai initially?
S: It was an old friend of a friend’s nickname as apparently they were a bit of a primate! As it was a made up cool sounding word it was decided it would make a good band name.
If you could “erase” one thing from modern music, what would it be?
S: We would “erase” the culture of not paying for music (which we are all guilty of course). No matter what sub-genre of music, people buying music finances the industry side of things, which means the next generation of bands can get all the resources and investment to take them to the next level. Even in the 90s you could be a grindcore band and get a six figure advance – modern music needs this support too.
What’s more fascinating thing about the 80s heavy metal era?
S: Just how good the music was! Of course there were plenty of bad bands but we don’t know about them because there’s nothing to remember them. All those great albums like “Master of Puppets”, “Operation Mindcrime”, “Pornograffiti” were purely organic, just a bunch of dudes playing their own music, some of them great musicians and some of them not. It’s also amazing how quickly the style and production developed, you can tell just from listening to a song whether it was 1982 84, 86 or 88. Heavy metal expanded from hard rock at differing tempos to an explosion of different subgenres.
What do you think of the so called NWOTHM (New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal) movement of our time?
S: I think it’s great! This movement emerged purely from the love of the music. This style of metal was completely abandoned by the music industry for decades and this is all guys who grew up in the 90s with no media telling them to get into it. Of course a lot of these bands do have industry backing now, but it’s only because the bands built the scene and created the audience purely through their own work.
Which is the record you wish you had written and why?
S: Hard one! It’s a bit cliché but “Master of Puppets”; it’s a well-rounded and dynamic musical journey and is nothing like anything before it. I’d almost pick “Painkiller”, but despite being flawless songwise it’s very much one dimensional, whereas anything by Maiden is almost their own genre of music and wouldn’t be “outside the box”.
Fill in the phrase… “Heavy Metal music wouldn’t have evolved the way it did, if it hadn’t been for…”
S: Distorted guitars!
Which are the best 3 Heavy Metal albums of all time according to you?
S: I kind of answered this earlier, but I’d choose “Master of Puppets”, “Operation Livecrime” and “Painkiller”!
Which do you consider to be the best male & female vocalist in metal history?
S: Difficult question, but if I had to choose it would be Rob Halford and Doro Pesch.
Who is the sexiest female & male Rock Star of all time?
S: Haha! The ladies in Vixen or Doro Pesch, back in the 80s. If I could choose a male one it would be Kip Winger.
Were you obliged to give just one album to extraterrestrials that would represent the whole human music, which album would it be and from which band/artist?
S: It would be “Nightfall in Middle Earth” by Blind Guardian, just to confuse the hell out of them!
If you had the chance to travel in time… where would you choose to go? To the past or the future and why?
S: I’d say the past, may as well live twice rather than once!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Wish you the best for the future to come. Take care!
S: You’re welcome, thanks so much for supporting music!