Doru Atomei - interviu Axa Valaha Magazine

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

1. Hello! How are you? I know it's not your usual position right now, as you are used to ask, not to answer, anyway I hope you'll manage to answer this interview. Do you want to give it a try?
Why not? It's not the first time, so we can even talk about a timid routine... Let's give it a try and see what shall come up...

2. Well, first of all let's see when you started to listen to metal! Also, maybe you remember which bands convinced you that this is the music that deserves your attention instead of the trendy DEPECHE MODE maybe?
History is about nostalgia, yet I doubt there is someone belonging to the New Wave that would be interested into knowing how I used to listen, about 20 years ago, to IRON MAIDEN or JUDAS PRIEST. Still, both back then and at this very time, DEPECHE MODE makes a good musical experience, as it is a Cult band for my generation, no matter the "disco" labelling that could emerge in the minds of some narrow-minded listening solely to exclusive music.

3. I think you were one of the very first persons in Romania who decided to release a fanzine and it's sure you're the only one still alive as zine editor, while all the others ceased to exist and started some "normal" lives. Did you have a reason to start a zine back then? You know, it was a very difficult work back then, without real information, without internet etc.
It was simply my madness, my fanaticism, the sole reason that determined me to pursue other paths beside the radio show that I've used to do since 1991, so, in the dawn of 1994, I chose to promote the underground Metal also in the written version .

4. I still remember my first "meeting" with Kogaionon, it was the 2nd issue that I've received directly from you in a brown envelope... All was printed on a HP or something, there was only one photo included (Karsten from PENITENT or I do not remember well?) and interviews with MORTIIS, ELEND or mighty BATHORY... How was it back then as zine editor? Even Ablaze was a stinky zine...
Same as it is now, nothing special. Yet, back then, huge patience was required and a great deal of endeavour into understanding that the OTHERS perceive Romania differently than I thought they do, as they could only define this country throughout names as Dracula or Hagi. Otherwise, there were plenty of liars, self - praising as owners of radio shows or fanzines, yet they were solely craving for promotional materials. Sure, there also were the very few inland LEGENDS, but they, instead of truly sustaining the underground, simply succeeded into acting embarrassing, being arrogant and infantile. Well, some of them act just the same nowadays and this can only make me smile.

5. Many years have passed and Kogaionon became the most important English written magazine from Romania. These days, Chris Spazdjel designed the logo, Lars from Oskorei took care about the graphic part. Is Kogaionon a "fancy" magazine these days and can it be compared with magazines as Ablaze, Legacy, Sonic Seducer, Ancient Ceremonies, Brutallica?
Kogaionon is solely a point of view, mine, one that I've chosen to contour periodically throughout different forms, some of them trendy, others original, all of them simply depending on my salient acting paths at the time... yet, there is no doubt that the environment influences us, no matter how many are those lacking the strength to admit this very weakness of ours, as inescapable as it is. I do not want for Kogaionon to be compared to any other magazine, Romanian or not, because this project consists in myself and a person that helps me with the translation. No team involved, no professional level aimed; if there were some names sporadically implied, it was solely in order to try to give them a start, maybe...

6. Some years ago you were almost sure that the time for the printed underground press is gone and the future is the Kogaionon webzine. I was quite sad back then. You know better than me that a zine is like a baby who grows up with many sacrifices from the parents, not like a webzine that is free for all, easy to be out, and alike a baby from a social asylum, without parents. Why did you decide to be back with new printed issues of Kogaionon? Was Imhotep the right thing at the right time? Printed magazines vs. webzines, which one is supposed to win?
It seems you're a constant Kogaionon reader. That's enjoyable indeed. As I've said before, I would rather write a review or conceive an interview than hanging out with my friends for a glass of wine... Printed magazines have no chance at all, especially in the underground. This is my answer! Why my particular decision? I truly have no idea! Maybe fanaticism could be the key, or perhaps my exacerbated nostalgia...

7. To continue our talk about print vs. web, let's say you're a big supporter of the Norwegian Imhotep Magazine. In fact, I think both Kogaionon and Imhotep grew up in the same period of time, yet you didn't publish interviews with RHAPSODY or DIO. Is there any chance to see "exclusive" discussions with IRON MAIDEN or MANOWAR in the future Kogaionon issues?
Roy is a good friend of mine and I could even say that we're able to reach several dimensions into communicating to each other. Recently, due to his appeals, I've made the promise of sending him now and then some of my materials, in order to be published in Imhotep (so I'm part of the staff he, he...). Still, the decision regarding what gets to be published within the magazines is purely personal, and I guess you can already find my answer to your question if reading my reviews about those particular bands. Kogaionon will never harbour MANOWAR if you want an exact answer. It might sound as a limitation or a biased idea, but this very band is not underground and it would certainly turn erroneous if cajoling myself with the satisfaction of conducting an interview with bands alike, even if I am an IRON MAIDEN fan! Still, I've written about this band a long time ago, in a local publication, consequently after participating to one of their concerts as a press figure.

8. It's extremely clear that Kogaionon is the most representative underground publication from Romania and one of the very few from Eastern Europe that deserves to be mentioned. But what do you think about the other Romanian fanzines? Do you have an objective explanation about their small number and premature death? How about their level if compared with the other underground publications from Europe and worldwide?
Thank you for the beautiful words. You know, I would be truly happy to know that you're not the only one thinking so. Romanian fanzines, hmmm... it's hard for me to give you an answer ... you're the one acting on this very market, you have a better knowing on the subject, while I am completely detached; isolated if you prefer. Otherwise, I've got no idea about the number of big underground publications in Europe... Brutallica brings nothing new, Imhotep turns into a webzine, Ad Arma! still struggles, Ancient Ceremonies lost its conservatory view... My guess is that there aren't more than 15 European fanzines able to outlive for over three or four consecutive years... so that's not solely a Romanian problem...that Gates guy makes the game...

9. Well, time passed and right now we can find some full page advertisements in the latest issues of Kogaionon. Maybe I'm a jerk right now asking about this, but was Kogaionon editor forced to interview some bands, otherwise their label wouldn't agree to pay the ads? Do you feel comfortable with this?
Once again, my Rhetoric inspired you. I have never made perforce compromises, and the advertisements you've mentioned are not necessarily connected with the financial aspect... I would rather offer publicity support to my friends, to the ones I've grew up along, so if you take a mindful look to those 3 - 4 particular pages, you'll see that the ads sustain the same labels for quite some years now. Well, if there are labels conditioning the publicity with the interview it certainly isn't my problem and moreover I see no reason for me to give any names concerning that aspect. Yet, in order to help you a bit, almost all of them...

10. You didn't support the local scene in the past. I mean there were some reviews, plus that interview with NEGURA BUNGET, but nothing more. Later you have started to interview quite many so said successful Romanian bands. What was the reason you acted like this? Wasn't the Romanian scene prepared to be featured in the pages of Kogaionon? Did you like some bands back then? As I understood, you were considered a very "strange" person back then in Suceava. And what about the Romanian bands these days?
I am never in mood of asking the bands to send me their materials. Probably the Romanian bands considered that Kogaionon is a far too tremulous path in order to promote their activity and therefore they've chosen to ignore me! I have always gladly sustained the ones that answered my messages. As for the fact that I'm a strange individual ... it's the first time I've heard such a thing...but, feel free to give me more details about it!

11. What does Metal music represent to you as a person? Do you regard this kind of music as a machine-gun in order to express your hate, frustration against this world, way of life, trends, preconceived ideas?
Music plays an essential part within my life!!! Life means: frustration, hate, joy, inspiration... throughout music you breathe and enliven everything around!

12. What do you think about the life you're spending in here? How is to live in Romania, the so-called "democratic" Romania? Tell me about economy, politicians, church and other social things?
I desperately love Romania and if I have chosen not to go abroad it's because I truly believe that I can live respectably on these very lands! Sure, there is harder working involved, higher stress but also double satisfaction! Doesn't it sound alike Kogaionon's history? Wouldn't it have been simpler for me to choose writing for a Romanian magazine and bring my madness to an end?
There are bureaucratic problems, plenty of abuses, mafia exists all right...but they'll all be solved in a controlled manner, it is all about time and beyond our power... there are others forcing us to join Europe even if we ourselves also act interested. The shameful way throughout which we are "negotiating" our entrance despairs me, but there is nothing we can do differently as long as solely the ones aware of themselves as Romanians participate to the voting ... education is the issue, along with the pride of being Romanian, without reaching extremism. Yet, many preferred to stay aside, mind their personal lives and try out their chances, some even prostituting themselves on the Occident streets, or oddly, at the Oriental gates too. Yes, it's quite amusing to listen to so many stating that they never intended to leave but the system determined them to emigrate... just lip services and democracy all around. Recently, the same thing happened at the latest elections. I am completely disgusted, but I haven't capitulated yet! And you can see the analogy with Kogaionon again... Thousands of years of history forbid us into continuing to ignore our ancestors over and over again! We are a big nation, with a geo-political location to covet, it's just that we haven't set our inner value criteria on the right path... an incurable hoper, that's what I am! Also, I am waiting for those that have succeeded abroad, to return HOME, with a fresh mighty breath and less anchored in the tormenting financial problems. Maybe together we shall alter the Essence...

13. How do you feel being a "future European citizen"? What's your opinion about the image of Romania and the Romanians seen with the eyes of an EU citizen? Are you for or against the position of our country considering NATO and EU?
You can urinate against the wind but you'll spatter yourself... everything under control so far, you may shoulder that responsibility. The bad side is that you're also spattering the ones around and you make them a part of the mistakes you do...therefore, both delicacy and inspiration are required during negotiation... what difference does my belief make as far as not even the 22 millions Romanians cannot change the course... sure, I would like us to have Norway's verticality and independence for example... but there's no way, not if we are living in a Latin country located in a Slav sea... plus in the middle of the continent and confronting with a high poverty degree... still, the important point is that we take some advantages out of this international political flustering and not solely to be dragged somewhere behind NATO!

14. You're in this underground media scene for like 10 years now! Sometimes you were fucking fed up and didn't want to continue with your magazine due to various reasons, the most important ones being your family and the lack of time! You have a happy family and a beautiful baby child as far as I know, but it seems to me you're Kogaionon addicted or better said you can't stand without writing about the subterranean music and culture. Please comment my words!
Your words are totally driven by the thoughts I've written in my Rhetoric so I cannot see what is there to be said without turning redundant. Yes, I have a superb son who may release Kogaionon no. 50 some years from now...and he'll make interviews with Madonna or other pensioners...who knows...

15. Who are you in your "secret" life? In fact, this is a kind of ridiculous question, because I suppose you won't tell me too much about!
I am glad you can anticipate so accurately. Whoever wants to get to know me simply has to engage in that particular exertion; I am open as a book...that you solely have to find! Yet, not on shelves nor in bookstores!

16. Let's talk a little about your all-time favorite releases! As I remember, we have the same tastes concerning OPETH, also maybe IN THE WOODS... and CELTIC FROST, haha, but the rest is different. After all these years, you're more and more attracted by the avantgardistic and experimental part of the music. Being older means that you become softer in your tastes? Am I narrow-minded if I still like brutal metal as extreme as possible after more than 10 years of being a fan of the movement? You see, I'm a jerk again...
Fifteen years ago, Death Metal was in vogue, I used to listen with great joy alongside friends of mine to bands like DEATH, SINISTER, ENTOMBED or MORBID ANGEL and I truly appreciated this style, but my inner attraction was towards ATHEIST or CYNIC. It was a demented time, when Metal was flourishing, I was dying on PUNGENT STENCH or ATROCITY (not the Germans but the true American grinders), NAPALM DEATH was also present, and CARCASS represented the edge. Yet, a certain moment came, when thousands of clones appeared, bringing nothing new to the scene. That's why I keep listening to Death Metal also these days (more seldom, as I cannot imagine my four years old son begging me to turn the volume on cause CANNIBAL CORPSE sounds good), but I choose to enjoy the albums that created and promoted this musical style, and not the ones that simply copy (some of them quite perfectly) the music released back 15 years ago. Moreover, you have to play hypocrite if not admitting that life transforms you (as you can observe I didn't say we evolve), you desire more and even yearn to unveil different dimensions and musical realms, after writing thousands of review about the same brutal outputs. In conclusion, I have always been attracted by oddities to the detriment of linear approaches, simplistic and patterned ones. We'll talk ten years from now, and we'll see if you'll keep on listening as intensely Death Metal or you'll only experience the nostalgia of the faded away adolescence... The important thing is, in essence, to make a difference, to leave something behind and you are doing it already; you have an ardent fanzine, a small but enthusiastic label and you are involved into distributing certain Metal products. In my case, all that is there to last is Kogaionon and for some nostalgiacs, the name of my radio show, ANTOFAGASTA. The rest is ... vainness.

17. I felt really honoured when you visited one of my gigs organized by my Axa Valaha Management and you even paid the ticket, even if you were included in our special guest list! I know you're not so much into live shows too often. Is it a special reason for this? Is a night spent in a striptease club more enjoyable than a night with metalheads at an underground gig? I personally prefer both, yet the gigs have a kind of priority...
We are talking about two completely different and independent aspects. I find the striptease part irrelevant therefore I won't comment it. As for the concerts, I cannot participate too often because my job solicits 90% of my time. Honestly, I am less interested in the performing band (as it sounds bad anyway in the live version, due to rudimentary mixing or faint acoustic, deranging agglomeration, and screams of so called fun and entertainment) but it doesn't mean that I ignore this very aspect. I went for instance to Budapest to see TRISTANIA, ROTTING CHRIST, VINTERSORG and MADDER MORTEM live and I even enjoyed the sound of two of them, but it was all done in order to feed my curiosity. As far as I am concerned, events alike are important for being able to sense the inland Metal pulse, to see the participants' states of mind, to find out what they're debating about, what they are thinking... and moreover, I get to meet the very few friends I have. I guess the idea of a club fascinates me and I fear there will be a day when I'll decide to make one of my own! In what concerns paying the ticket, it is simply a matter of education and respect for the ones who struggle to do something! Unfortunately, in Romania we have far too many cardboard stars contaminating every single domain!!!

18. I would like to ask you something! Maybe you'll find my question ridiculous, but it must be! Do you consider you are (and all we are) special because of Romania, because of Eastern Europe? Of course "special" doesn't mean "superior" or even worst "anti-Semitic pagan exclusive warrior blah-blah", if you know what I mean!
It depends on the frame you choose to see. I've already given you a partial answer earlier. I want you to understand, that finally, we are all homo sapiens, no matter the gender, skin colour, race or religion. Pity that some individuals simply watch the mirror too long and delude themselves of being different... yes, we vary in forms, but the fond is essentially the same. Well, knowledge could make the difference though... as you get to know more you find out that you understand less... and so you become more indulgent with the others and particularly exigent with yourself. The bad part starts when the priorities inverse. Some consider us as belonging to the third world...or we regard the ones in Congo as being the third world... I do no care. I am proud of being Romanian and I do not feel either superior or inferior to any other individual on Earth. Yet, if extraterrestrials would join the equation, we may have a problem...

19. And because I've mentioned some extreme right-wing parts of "behaviour" in my previous question, what do you think about the bands that play "NS Black Metal", "Aryan primitive BM", "true Pagan Metal", "an iron fist in the face of every Judeo-Christian scum" etc.? Is it ok to mix extreme music with politics? What do you think about Varg Vikerness and his idiotic "Odinistic" ideas? It seems to me that life is different and more intolerant behind the bars...
Every single one has the right to rationalize and act as he/she desires, yet without disturbing the one beside. And, more important: respect the one beside, no matter the differences in cognition. Approaches alike: "if you're not with me, you are against me" are narrow-minded and embarrassing, but unfortunately there are still many warriors trapped in this very bias. About Varg, I can tell you that I've recently read a new interview with him, and I find it obvious that he had learned and become more aware since he is imprisoned. He seems to turn mature, as he stopped viewing life unilaterally even though he hasn't forgotten his past. He has to complete detention for the crime he committed, that's for sure! Anyway, the fact he is a criminal is not a detail to be put aside! Despite his incontestable artistic talent!
I see no point for mixing politics with extreme music, yet if some choose to do so it certainly isn't my business. My interest is voided in this direction.

20. Do you think that Romania can be the theatre of the so-called nazi-skins? I mean, I truly believe that generally the Romanian people can be really tolerant and not "raw warriors coming from the cold Viking North"... Is NEGURA BUNGET a band that can be associated with the "Pagan NS movement"? I mean they have quite controversial opinions concerning it and also Negru included many NS bands and even full advertisements in his Negura Magazine...
You should certainly ask Gabi about Negura or NEGURA BUNGET as it is none of my business and it doesn't interest me at all. He's the one who knows the best what he's doing. Romania is a normal country, just like any other normal country, a peaceful but also confused one for quite some time now. There is a saying I truly believe in: "the firs may break, but they never bend". In our particular case, if we are to take a look at our modern history, we can see that the wind bended us in whenever direction it happened to blow, so I fear the fir metamorphosed into a bamboo, he, he... so the vertebral column seem to have vanished.

21. What about your opinion about the nowadays terrorism? History changed after the crushed Twin Towers in the US, after the "terror trains" in Spain and lately after the "terror school" in North Osetia. Is this the new face of the world? I mean people started to be crazy about the security of their lives! Is this a reason to kill people in Afghanistan, Iraq or Caucaz? Do you think that some Arabian states should be obliterated?
This is a complicated subject and I doubt there is any use for me to approach it. Killing is the worst human act, no matter its reason! Some say money, oil, and power are the main reasons! In my opinion the answer is religion, and the attempts into imposing its point of view. I respect religion, yet I see no point into accepting it as a privileged factor! Every single individual has a belief of his/her own, so why should the priests try to brainwash us and afterwards enlighten us that the sole existing god is the one he invokes. I for one believe in Zalmoxis, or maybe in Myself! Oh, but this way I instantly turn New Age, narcissistic or deviant! Immediately afterwards I become labelled. Finally, it is also an extremist view! No matter the inner beliefs, it's imperative for any form of promoting terrorism to cease!

22. Why the "normal" people tend to have a band image about metalheads as well as about gypsies, black people? After 15 years of "democracy" in Romania, there are still problems because of the long hair, tattoos, piercing etc. in here!
There are preconceived ideas and mental patterns hard to destroy in solely fifteen years... but confronting them, we turn more exclusivist and elitist, don't you think? Our time will come!!!

23. Why the big and well known bands avoid performing in Romania, and arranging gigs in here? From 1990 till now, there were less than 15 foreign big bands playing in here and almost no one played extreme Metal. On the other hand, a lot of small gigs with underground bands from abroad are organized regularly, especially in Bucharest and the metalheands visit these gigs in a big number! Are these small club gigs an alternative to the big concerts in halls? What bands would you like to see playing in here?
I have no idea why the bands abroad do not perform on our lands and I won't exercise any suppositions as I am not an organizer. As for the small club concerts, I think they are an alternative and should be encouraged. The bands I would enjoy seeing live in Romania? Solely to feed my curiosity: DVKE, SUMMONING, WINDS, ARCTURUS, SOPOR AETERNUS, QNTAL, ELEND, RAISON D'ETRE...

24. Finally, what do you expect to happen on the Romanian underground Metal scene, as well as on the international one? Is it something you could possibly enjoy?
I expect nothing and I doubt I'll get involved in any way! Everything is cyclical, repetition is guaranteed. All depends in a certain degree on the political, social and economical environment we are part of...

25. Well, I am forced to finish right now! I still have a lot of questions, but I feel like it's enough for now! Don't you think so? Maybe it's only the first interview with Kogaionon I'm going to make, and certainly not the last one! If we won't be too old to remain in this underground movement, I'm sure we'll meet again in the pages of my filthy Axa Valaha zine!
As you consider. Thank you for the opportunity and certainly Time shall show us what we can do. The hardest thing is to follow simplicity and to act normal!
Maximum success in everything you do and have a fair life path...
Underground will never die!

December, 2004