by Eric Beasley
When thinking of Stoke-on-Trent, UK, a grindcore band with a Russian name is the last thing that will come to mind. But trust me, they are there. I was able to catch up with them via e-mail over the last week and after a three year hiatus, Krupskaya are looking to pick up where they left off: Playing fast, writing interesting songs, touring, and Ed laughing at Alex…
First off, could you introduce the band and it’s members? How did you guys form?
Tim – Ok well the current line up for 2013 is Alex – vocals, Tim – guitar, Matt – bass & Ed – drums. Ed is our original drummer and founding member who quit the band late ’08 to work on a shark conservation project in South Africa and for various reasons is now returning to the UK. Matt has been playing guitar in After The Last Sky for 15 years, they just split the band up so we got him in on bass straight away, (he did actually play half a gig with us a few years ago!) he was also playing bass in a band called Fuck Hate Propaganda with Alex some years ago. Also Skulda from Sheeva Yoga and about 9 other bands out in the Czech Rebublic, who was with us on bass for ’09 is still kind of in the band and might do some more touring with us someday.
As for how we formed, I moved back to the Stoke area early ’05 with 2 other musicians as all we were doing in London was working and it is expensive to rehearse there, that project folded after about a month of being up here – nothing was really happening for me at all, I knew Matt from college in ’96 after I left school, After The Last Sky had a track on the Terrorizer magazine CD. I recognised Matt on the picture so I looked him up for old times sake. He was doing ATLS and also FHP with Alex – we met up and jammed with a few other local guys, one song led to another. We made a power violence band called Kzzch for a bit and that folded. Alex knew Ed from playing locally and we all just wanted to play and were a bit tired of flakey musicians, so we got together and took it from there.
How excited are you guys to be back at it?
Alex – Looking forward to it, we’ll see when we start practicing, I can’t wait for a taunting off Ed, not exactly back at it yet, i’ve only seen Tim 3 times in the last 3 years haha.
Matt – Real exited that Krupskaya is getting back together, and looking forward to playing fast.
Tim – I’m exited to be making some noise again and be playing my guitar loud, will be nice to jam with these guys again and the line up this time round is overall, the strongest ever.
Was it beneficial to take a break?
Alex – Not really no, it was for a little bit but 3 years is a bit excessive, closer to splitting up then taking a break.
Tim – I agree really, we needed a little break, financially we were all broke after a lot of touring in ’09 and owed each other money, things were all over the place. Six months probably would have been sufficient to rest. We had a lot of problems, our rehersal space & Alex’s studio was wiped out by a flood while we were away, and due to that and shit going on in peoples lifes the band just ground to halt by default we never really chose a hiatus or fell out and split up, just it was impossible to really make anything else happen at that point.
How has the process of reforming been for each member?
Alex – Arduos, hard to say, nothing has really happened, we have all kept in touch with each other as we always did.
Tim – Painful, I have been working in London for most of the time apart – I did try to get Krupskaya material learnt and rehearsed with some good players I knew from down there but nothing came of it, a waste of energy really, we had a few things booked but we had to cancel which was a real bummer, it became clear to me that if I didn’t base myself in the Stoke area again with Alex around, the band would finish for good – we both knew if we were still into it something would happen, so it has been a long road.
December 15th is the day you have announced Krupskaya are coming back. What’s in store for us?
Alex – Death! Some touring, lots of recording, more song based craziness – I don’t know we haven’t played a note yet, we have quite a lot of splits lined up, probably a new album, maybe some lyrics, maybe not! Musical direction wise probably a combination of all the releases we have out so far.
Matt – Me hopefully being able to learn the songs, some world class bass playing.
Tim – Some strong Krupskaya material I hope, playing some new places and re-visiting some of the cool towns & cities we made it to before. Ed landing on a fucking plane in the UK on the 15th as planned!
The band seemed to have moved toward a more techy approach in later releases. What brought that out in your music?
Alex – Using the technology that was available to us, writing in the studio as opposed to writing as band, writing the songs on the drums to make them sound interesting however finding them hard to learn together and play, it ended up being a lot more straight because we started using a metronome as opposed to the earlier stuff.
Tim – Just the development of us as a band and doing a lot of gigs made us more able, we learnt to communicate with each other in a productive, fun way well fun for us not fun for Ed haha – Alex is a good engineer with his own studio set up so it meant we had time to work on the stuff, although as he was involved with each recording in a blow by blow kind of way I think by the end of each one he had had enough! The metronome really helped pull it together on the last 12″ less punk more metal approach perhaps.
Matt – I was involved in putting out the early stuff, I was really suprised how quickly things moved on for them and developed but I loved all of it for different reasons.
It seems like you guys touch on some pretty dark topics lyrically. What do you think causes people to view the world this way?
Alex – I dunno why people see the world that way, for us it was never really about seeing anything in a dark way it was looking at more obscure historical events. It was more about being aware of the way our supposed civilised society treats human beings and for that same society to stop it ever happening again. It was also a bit about culpabilty and being responsible for your actions, that was what Clouds Over Pripyat was about – human beings created nuclear power and as whole race we should be responsible for the product we create, and if what we create is a nuclear disaster poisining children for the next 50 years the the human race should take responsibilty not just the Ukrainian government. We covered a very wide subject matter, the three tracks on the Teriak Records compilation were more about breaking programming, the split with Trendy Bastard was more about war or the self imposed boundaries between nations. We are all human at the end of it. Symbisois Through Decay was about environmental issues – sort of. What happens when big industry moves out of an area – partly. The split with Kill A Celebrity was loosely based on the Gulags in Russia, it’ all very difficult to explain – mostly going back to what human beings will actually do to each other. The split with Sandokan was much more on the covert & overt chemical weapon testing theme.. It’s getting to be 4 years ago since any of this stuff was written so it’s hard to remember it all!
Matt – Some people will see the world like that because of the way it is presented by the media, others who look into it deeper past that presentation – will see the world at large probably even darker and more fucked up as they discover corruption, contol etc – it is to some degree a choice.
Alex – Maybe people see the world that way because it is, dark and fucked up.
Tim – I couldn’t comment too much on peoples own perception I guess that depends on your past and present life experience, and geographical location on the planet. As for the bands topics Alex led the way so his words are the most precise on that, we never dramatised anything with emotive lyrics or attempted to put ourselves in the shoes of anyone, I’m proud of the subjects we have covered, it is up to the listener – enjoy the music for what it is or isn’t, or if you are intrigued by the subject matter, type the song titles into a search engine and perhaps you will find something that interests you and lead to further thought. In some ways I think it is also an alternative to punk politics, acab, witches and wizards, demons, the night, serial killers, hate, murder and some of the usual topics. Not that there is anything wrong with any of that stuff, there is just plenty of it.
Do you think music can bring these issues to the forefront so they can be addressed?
Alex – Music is not a forum to bring these issues to the front is it? Not if you want to seriously talk about something or try and instigate change, it’s a difficult one. I think as a band or a musician your songs are at most a medium for introducing subjects – not a medium for seriously discussing subjects If people get involved in stuff because they found out the basic information from a band then thats cool, but I dont think any band is about serious political activism, if you want to get into that it’s not really going to be through music. You can be introduced to it – as far as i’m concerned I dont stand on stage sermonizing, I present what we say. We are all responsible enough of our own lives to take things further if we choose to. Having said that, through music we have seen and met some inspirational people, seen some amzaing places and experienced things beyond certainly what I would have ever considered achievable.
Tim – I agree more or less, serious political or social activists, who achieve results, resist attempts to be silenced and dedicate their life to a cause at a local or international level are rarely active musicians, I cannot see how you would have time to do both. I grew up feeling inspired mostly by the bands that had something to say other than songs about girls and partying, or the common subjects I mentioned earlier, I was interested by social comment and still am. There is something to be said for artisic license and a good musician, band or songwriter may be able to use their talents in a respectful way to throw light on something they care strongly about, and in turn raise awareness to a larger audience, but you need to have a larger audience in the first place to do that and would be risking commercial suicide by touching on anything too contraversial or provocative, so few bother, and I am sceptical of those that do, Bono for example. Other than that I would refer to the point Alex makes.
Matt – It’s kind of down to the individual as to whether they are going to be receptive to what a band is saying, if a person is interested in what a band has to say it could open a door to more exploration on the subject.
What bands influenced you to play?
Alex – The reason I ever wanted to be in a band was because of my VHS copies of ‘Another State Of Mind’ (social distortion & youth brigade touring) and ‘Decline Of Western Civilisation’, before that when I was just into metal being in a band was something that seemed unattainable but when I heard Minor Threat, Void, Articles Of Faith, Agnostic Front etc – all those hardcore bands, it became achievable by yourself. Krupskaya was the four of us without any agenda at all, four guys into totally different stuff, what came out came out.
Matt – No specific bands influenced me to play, I just wanted to be able write my own songs really, a little bit later on the whole DIY thing inspired me to take it into doing gigs and tours and doing records and stuff. When i was 13,14 i just wanted to do songs like Carcass, My Dying Bride, Obituary and all the other bands I was into. I didn’t know there was death metal or black metal or grindcore or whatever, it was all just metal!
Tim – Iron Maiden changed my ears totally, probably for the worse haha when I heard that at 11 or 12 years old and thats why I started playing the guitar. I was a diehard metalhead as a kid, really into Pantera, Sepultura, Fear Factory, Slayer, Anthrax, Carcass, Entombed, Napalm Death, I liked the black metal that bands that were around then, that was pretty exciting for me. I was into some more obscure stuff – Fudge Tunnel really opened up an alternative world for me and I loved the guitar playing on that. As for Krupskaya at that time I was really into death metal and the more metal end of grindcore and hardcore – Alex as I got to know him, suprised me by saying most of that stuff was ‘too slow’ – I thought that what I was into was the pinnacle of speed and brutality, he played me some fucking awesome records all night a few times while I sat in his living room chair smoking joints to myself taking it all in. After that I just wanted to do something fast by those standards. We never once name checked bands we wanted to sound like with each other or drew up a plan, we just wanted to play and started throwing things together.
What have you guys been listening to lately?
Alex – Gamma Ray, Helloween, Running Wild, Human Error, Paradox, Death, Proletar, Die Kruzen, Nile, Ackercoke, Active Minds, Sheeva Yoga, Sete Star Sept, Despise You, Hiatus. Loads of Russian stuff – Turbolax, Bagna, Iknow, E123, Third World Planet.
Matt – Column of Heaven (Endless Blockade guys new thing), Swans, Corrupted, Hellnation, Leonard Cohen (first album) Fubar, Crass, Despise you.
Tim – A general mix of metal, thrash, death metal & grindcore from across the board, loads of black metal lately, some hip hop and techno stuff – some artists like Bryan Ferry, Nick Lowe and Adam Ant plus loads of pop & rock stuff from the 70’s and 80’s, some prog – could go on forever, too much!
Top 5 albums of all time for each member. GO!
1. Naked City – Grand Guignol
2. Lajko Felix – Vox Naturalis
3. Catharsis – Passion
4. Gamma Ray – No World Order
5. Articles Of Faith – Any/all albums.
1. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
2. Neurosis – Anything really depends what day it is.
3. Nasum – Human 2.0
4. Darkthrone – A Blaze in the Northern Sky
5. Crass – Penis Envy
Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden
Judas Priest – Sad Wings of Destiny
Quicksand – Slip
Nas – Illmatic
Ozric Tentalces – Erpland
What is the DIY scene like in England?
Alex – We used to have a good scene in Stoke but it’s kind of died a death.
Matt – When ATLS played in Leeds the other week it was based on the european model i.e. we got fed, the gig was great and packed with people, Manchester the other week was really good but it was more on the metal end of things, but still DIY, there are pockets of very enthusiastic and well organised people here, but overall not as strong as on the continent. There is some cool places in Leeds, Brighton/London and Nottingham. It would be nice to see more cities available for DIY gigs and touring bands, there are lots of cool labels and distros here.
Tim – I’m a bit out of touch really, over the years we have played some good DIY shows in the places Matt mentioned for sure, also in Sheffield, Leicester, Newcastle, Scotland was always cool, Dublin, Liverpool and more I can’t remember. There is a network here that is worth checking out and any bands from abroad getting in touch with for gigs here.
You’ve played many places outside England. Which was your favorite?
Alex – All of them, it’s not possible to answer, it wouldn’t be fair to have any favourites or to pick one place over the other because of all the effort people have put in to support us. Playing Borneo was way beyond anything I could ever imagine.
Tim – Yeh I could not pick one favourite, I enjoyed different places for different reasons and value them all equally really. We have played a gig where only 4 people turned up but those 4 people travelled 150-200km to see us play and whose attendance made the gig possible – and then we sat together after, talked and became friends, that is just as awesome an experience for me as when the gig is packed with crazy people and it is super high energy with lots of pits and moshing. Touring S.E. Asia was pretty mind blowing.
Any funny stories?
Alex – We could write a book on it, the problem is after the event and the beers gone flat it is not always as funny to recall – it depends how you tell them, if you try and write them down they are not funny, so we won’t!
Tim – Yeh I won’t attempt any comedy – the usual highs and lows of DIY touring – border guards and their brilliant humour, numerous stories from our revolving door bass player saga, Alex hurting himself always gave Ed hours of side splitting laughter, things that were not so funny at the time but looking back… you name it really!
What was your favorite band you played with on tour?
Alex – Od Vratot Nadolu, Wojczech, Idiots Parade, Vocatio Interna, Mumakil, Keitzer, Flesh Disgorged, Nashgul, Hydro Acid, Hantamrata, Proletar, Human Error
Tim – Along with the above bands – Daighila, PLF, Infinite Delay, Wormrot, Blood I Bleed, Lycanthropy, To Die
What’s the future look like for Krupskaya?
Matt – Bleak.
Alex – It looks more or less the same as the past, but in reverse, 1000’s of miles playing to hardly anyone, same shit, another bass player!
Tim – Yeh same shitty clubs and long drives, no more 3 year breaks, it’s till death this time!
Lastly, anything you would like to say?
Alex – Thanks for the interview.
Matt – Yeh, thanks for the interview.
Tim – Thanks for the interest and support Eric, was cool getting to know you a little with the communication around this and talking about noise music. Cheers!
Fake meat & blast beats – Krupskaya 2013