BATUSHKA interview. «Everything that I wanted to tell is in the music, in the lyrics and in the cover art»

It’s official now: the controversial band BATUSHKA is allowed to play neither in Russia nor in Belarus. One might have foreseen it happening after BEHEMOTH, CANNIBAL CORPSE, MARDUK and other orthodox activists metal-banning stories. Although there are other voices heard within Russian social nets, stating there’s been no real intention to make these concerts happen. That’s a kind of a conspiracy theory implying the agreement between the band and the local promoters: cancelling the gigs for «extreme reasons» they get both money (for tickets and merch sales) and a smear campaign. BATUSHKA have recently got BEHEMOTH’s agent working for them and it may be more than a pure coincidence.

Batushka

Here’s the band’s official statement (published before Minsk show cancellation): «Dear Friends & supporters in Russia, It is with sincere regret that we would like to inform you that we have to cancel both our shows in Moscow. We had all the approvals and ‘green light’ from the Russian Police, immigration control and responsible officials. Unfortunately we received threats from extremists affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church stating that they will beat up and even kill people attending to both shows. Since it’s beyond our control and we are not able to assure that the concerts will be 100% safe for both the audience and us we are forced to cancel both of them immediately. Hope you understand. We would like to thank our Russian promoter for his tremendous work & support he gave us. Once again, we truly apologize and hope that some day we will be able to perform on Russian soil. Stay safe!»

Yesterday the promoters in Minsk cancelled the show here, too. Not because of the «extremists», though. It’s always calm here. Just an «ideology committee request», «public appeals» or whatever. No matter what they say, BATUSHKA just won’t play in Belarus.

Anyway, several months ago, still hoping for the concerts to happen, I sent some questions to the band, trying to learn more about this mysterious project from Poland. And here’s what Кристофор (bass, guitars, vocals) told about it.

Batushka It would be interesting to know the origin of the band. How did it start? What were the sources of inspiration and who came with the idea to create a band like this?

The idea was mine. It all begun while I was working on the music for my other band’s new album. The riffs that I was trying to put together sounded nothing like I used to do before. They were more black metal in their core. At that point I understood that I was going in a totally different direction with this music. I came up with the idea to combine those riffs with orthodox chants because. I was inspired by a comment on YouTube regarding an orthodox video that went something like this: «God’s hymns are more metal than any satanic black metal music out there».

Have you expected the stir Litourgiya caused? What was the most remarkable opinion you heard about it?

No, not at all. There were so many reviews, mostly positive, so it’s hard for me to remember them all. I think that the funniest comment I read on the internet was a black metal fan asking his colleagues if he could listen to BATUSHKA since he was afraid that the band with this name could only play unblack metal.

I know the band members aren’t disclosing the personalities, though it’s said everyone from BATUSHKA represents well-known metal bands. I won’t ask who you are, but how are you going to hide away while touring? Wearing masks? Or your live performances would mean the end of disguise?

We would like to stay anonymous but it’s not the most important thing for us. We have many ideas regarding the clothes and stage gear but time will tell what we will choose at the end. We still haven’t decided anything in that matter.

And speaking about live gigs, is there going to be anything special on BATUSHKA’s performances?

Nobody knows that and nobody can foresee that.

Do you often go to church? What’s your favorite place of worship?

Places that are not stained by other people. I try to attend them as much as I can.

I guess the second main question about the band is whether you’re really orthodox – or BATUSHKA as a band has a tricky blasphemous undertone. Are you following the researches of the people inspecting your texts and visuals? And what would you say to these people?

Nothing, really. Let them think what they want. Everything that I wanted to tell is in the music, in the lyrics and in the cover art. The listeners must figure everything out by themselves. It’s great to hear that Litourgiya is an interesting & not so obvious album that people are really getting into, trying to learn everything about it.

Batushka

Have you got any feedback from real priests or other church officials? Aren’t you afraid your performances might be banned if orthodox people feel this «blasphemous» inception?

I heard that one priest analyzed the album thoroughly. I’m glad about that. I guess it triggered some emotions and he decided to confront them. It makes me really happy that the album exceeds the ranks of its «natural» listeners.

There’s a common view that rock music is a devil’s creation. What’s your opinion about it? Can rock/metal music actually bring people to church, what do you think?

Music, like religion, is a part of culture. When one is more popular, the lesser one is fighting to regain the leading role. When it realizes that it’s not possible it seeks the opportunity to co-operate. It’s a defensive reflex.

Have you already started working on your next release? How do you see the future of the project?

I tend not to have plans for the future. I try to enjoy the things that make me happy. Sometimes something creative is born. What will be next? Time will tell.

How many CDs and merch items have you sold so far? Do you see a commercial potential in the band?

Marketing potential in black metal?

How would you like the visitors of your gigs to look like? Any dress code?

Guests are guests, we are no fashion stylists, and they choose their own clothes.

And just anything you’d like to say to your fans (there’re a lot of them already actually!) looking forward to seeing you live in Russia and Belarus.

Come and see our shows.

Thanks!!! Amen.

Russian version of the interview here.

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Что ж, теперь это официально: группа BATUSHKA не выступит ни в России, ни в Беларуси. Что, с одной стороны, было не непредсказуемо, с другой, оказалось воспринято публикой неоднозначно. Помимо привычных уже сетований...

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