God

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

GOD, a very known band from Romanian underground, but in the same time a controversate one... Why? Let's go to hear peculiar details from the Castor, the voice of the group.

Hi Costel and nice to see you. How was the show? Bikes, leather, Metal music, drinks, great people... a good atmosphere for having a blast...

"Hi . How could have been a bikers party? It was great, just as you say, all sorts of bikes, beautiful women (yeah, we are in Romania), lots of beer, meat bolts... and the most important thing... a big crowd (aproximately 2 thousand people which payed for a ticket) and a great atmosphere for too much of a blast. I should mention the fact that for many kinds of these gatherings are invited bands from the Romanian underground metal scene. The only weak point of this gathering was the site which was too far from Bucharest, getting there was a problem, so there have not been many fans of the extreme metal who could arrive there and mostly being in front of the scene. Although, in these conditions, all the bands proved their proffesionalism and they played their music as if there had been hundreds of people in front of the scene."

Surprisingly or not, you have been jamming all over the country, in spite of the fact that you haven't released an album for a long time. Has GOD such a high level quotation?

"Indeed, we have been playing almost everywhere we could... for example, last year we played 10 times, in spite of the members'number and we had to play being two or three, helped by the CD; we have played for 7 times this year only, but I have to mention that we play in a five's formula (voice, guitar, bass, drums and violin) and we are doing the best in order to bring a keyboard player to gather around the band and to come back to the sixth's formula that made us known along the last years. Has GOD a high level quotation?... Well, I say that the answer itself comes from the many metal fans ( despite of few voices that criticized us ) that came at every gig that were positive to our old well-known tracks and the new ones. Other advantages are the GOD-Sublime T-shirts that sold very well (the first stock is already sold out!!!) and everybody asks us when will appear on the market the Aura album."

What is the matter with your fans? Have they separated in opposite groups? An entire campaign of dafamation started a while ago towards GOD...

"No, I do not believe that. Actually, besides of the ones who do not know anything else but to criticize us or to swear us, our fans remained faithful and they showed that to us past 2 years. When they were close to us in the mot difficult moments that the band went through and I am talking about all the concerts that we played helped by the CD. A small campaign of defamation against us is present but not only it... we could see it in the case of Negura Bunget and I still do not want to believe that there are "black" thoughts of certain people to dafamaite the bands that made history in the Romanian undreground and that kept the flag up, despite of hardships and problems of all kind."

You are thought to be very vain. Why are you so arrogant?

"People talk a lot (and you know it is a 'quality' of the Romanian people), but the ones that know us better are sure that the things are different. I say that every singer seems to be vain... but you very well know that at every gig you re caught in the flame. You are stressed out, too? You think how to get everything right and that is why to some it seems that you are infatuated.There are even some moments when you are not yourself and in this case too the people mey get the wrong impression of your behaviour... I am not trying to put myself in a favourable light, because I do not have to; everybody is free to think what they want. But I know how the things stand and I mind my own business, because if you listen to all the opinions and really care, you won't get anywhere."

In spite of the rumors, GOD has a good reputation in Romania. Why is GOD identified with the Lapusneanu brothers? Are the other members of the band neglected?

"You very well know the thing with the gossips; I think that when you are being talked about means that you are important. Without being less-modest, our band is very popular in Romania and this fact cannot be denied by no one. Why does GOD equals my brother and I? Well, I say that it is a simple thing. The two of us and the present bass-player started the band, me and my brother remained in the band all these 9 years, we kept the band alive (even when we were just the 2 of us), after Dray and Elena went to the USA and other members left. No, of course not, every member of ours had a contribution and made a difference more or less in our songs; we want to thank them for what we are today."

You have a new violin player from Suceava. Your old bass-player came back with a look rather punk than metal. What can you tell me about the present formula of the band?

"Yes, the violin player Diana Vartolomei is from Suceava (and has been on board for 1 year and a half) and this year she has matriculated at College in Iasi; the bass-player Dan Cozma with his punk-hair style (in the old times he was the second guitar-player of the band) used to have long hair past years. He listens to extreme metal mostly like us and has this hair-style because it suits him and his look is his choice. We choose our own look without being influenced by nobody... The other member of our band is Paul Balan (student in Iasi and he was member of bands like Tenebre and God Fearing)."

People talk that in this formula you try to keep the image from your good-old times. Am I wrong?

"It is natural that after a period of glory there has to come a time to come back at maximum. It has to be lots of work, rehearsals, good concerts and so the crowd will see that we are not trying to keep the glory image and that we are doing our best to be what we once were and perhaps to overcome ourselves..."

The 2 albums released by Bestial Records were best sold in Romania after Negura Bunget. Although, Adi Mihailov hasn't offered you any other deal. Why? I have heard that you are in a smouldering conflict.

"You are perfectly right. Our albums had a great success and they became the best sold out albums from the country beside Negura Bunget. I believe that Adi from Bestial could answer you better at this question; I do not want to stick my nose in Adi's business; and regarding the conflict... I abstain. I do not want to beat around the bushes. What was has passed. We have to move on."

Another conflict would be the one with "Bucovina", with Crivatz. He sang with you in the band and now... What is the truth? "Bucovina" was at a time some kind of sattelite of GOD. Almost all the concerts in Moldavia were made together, your popularity being a great help for the younger band... And now you are arguing...

"I won't insist on the matter, all there is to say is that we helped them a lot, we took them with us in almost all the gigs we had, making them known; we asked Crivatz to play the bass, when we had no bass-player in 2001... But then he changed the tactique, like a snake. In spite of all, we didn't gossip about him, because it is not who we are and we just ignored him. He hurt us very much."

How couldn't you have been gossiped about?...when you do not have any albums released... you are not content with your own lives, aren't you? I have heard that you are not that gooder friends with Nelu Brandusan/Pro Music, although you attented to this festival. There have been a few disagreements. How are things standing now?

"You are right about this one, too. At this certain moment, you get tired of all the gossip and try to be more detached. No more albums...(for many reasons) the important thing is that we have been trying for 2 years to release the 'Aura' album on the market but we cannot do it because we do not have the means and nobody helped us; it is very difficult... We are not the only that are going through a ruff time, I say that the crisis reaches the whole underground movement, the rescue is coming from the many concerts and lots of fests there have been lately. We are not so unsatiable with our own lives, you very well know that there are better and worse periods of time in life, the most important think is to hope of better days...Onestly, we don't have any reasons to be upset. We attended the fest organized by Nelu Brandusan in Cluj gladly, but what happened next is another story. I won't argue about it, we are sick enough in the existing fights and I don't want to start a new focus..."

Some facts about your concerts are the white shirts that became an old ritual as well as the cover-version "Alma Mater". In matter of scenical innovation, it seems you are overcomed. Is the crowd bored to see you live on the stage?

"I don't know how much overcomed is the cover-version of 'Alma Mater', when the crowd always asks for it. I don't know how much overcomed is the scenic image of white shirts,too... It is well known that a lot of people criticise the scenic image of most of the bands in our country. In our case, the fact seems to be boring, but, as you have seen, in Bucharest (there have been 2 or 3 concerts more) we have played dressed in shirts, but BLACK! Inovations? I ask you how many bands ought new images in our country?... I do not think that there is any other band that mey be recognized immediately because of the scenic image like us... and I say it is a pity that lesser bands are preoccupied about their wardrobe, because it has its role in the image of a band. I don't think people are bored with seeing us live, at least we have not noticed, on the contrary, we think that people want to see and hear us play. Let us get real! How many other bands besides us and Negura Bunget can gather crowds up to 3 hundred people? We have succeded this thing last year and this year, too. So the conclusion is simple that the crowd and the fans still believe in us, in spite of the rumors, the gossips totally unfounded."

About the "Aura" album, I had been hearing staff for 2 years now that it may be released in America, at HMM or with 2 A Computers. Everybody let you down. The band is a myth in Romania and you are not able to get a sure deal. It seems to be a paradox. What do you think?

"Indeed... just about everybody let us down, but we still have hope to release it with the help of 2 A Computers (with the help of Adi Zavoianu) by the end of this year. Maybe that we are a myth and that is why no one is able to offer us a contract... But the problem is that almost no one can... There are few people involved in this movement. Not many records labels... That is why many albums are self-produced, just like our case is."

I listened some tracks of the album and they seem to be more heavy than the ones before. Even more, the Gothic dimension becomes Electro, the change of the sound being a choice in fashion, but a bit too much for our underground metal music.

"Yes, the tracks on 'Aura' are more heavy, they have more rhythm with that Electro tendency in combination with Gothic, Death or Black Metal riffs. It may be a bit too much for our country, but we shall see at the right time; by now, the people reacted quite well to the new tracks."

I asked you when you were in Cluj why don't you let your voice to be natural. Those grunts seem to be quite chaotic, even more, you do not have a female voice... Everything seem to be based on your voice and your brother's guitar. Don't you think it would be better to change the direction?

"I will contradict you here or better said I will explain a few things that you do not know, as well as most of our fans. On the album there are 3 voices - 2 brutal and 1 melodic - and there is a female voice (we used it more than ever), the one of Ioana Doroftei (Elena's sister) ... so not everything is based on my voice and my brother's guitar. Our biggest problem is that no one can sustain the female voice in our concerts and not even the keyboards that have a great importance on 'Aura'. It is natural that not even you or the rest of the fans could realize how the new tracks sound like. It is great that we started rehearles with a new keyboard player and maybe in our new concerts will sing more tracks from "Aura" so that they may sound as well as the ones included on the album. This is why we believe that the album will be a hit, because people like them as we used to play them, even if they were at half of their value. God help us to release it this year so that you and the others may convince of its value."

Referring back to "Aura". CNN has informed that the release of the album will take place in a fine club in Bucharest, which has to do with B.U.G. Mafia, when a few sensual women will combine an erotic style and natural leather with a synthetic one, maybe even some pyrotechnic effects. Are the Lapusneanu brothers going to appear wearing the suite and with short hair? Or topless, with a huge GOD tattoo on the chest? Or wearing the blackers make-up? Give me all the details about the album: the sound, the cover, the tracks, the lyrics, the guests...

"So, if we are going to release it as we planned, it will be very cool. It will be a big club, we will prepare a few surprises, but there is no point in revealing them now. It wouldn't have the charm and the impact we are hoping for! I hope we will have the money and the help we need so that everything to be great. No way! We won't appear wearing a suite and with short hair, not even topless. We don't practice weight-lifting, we are not on diets or anything else, we have no muscles to show, a less the people want to see our tummies. The make-up does not represent us,s so it is out from the beginning! As I was telling you, the album and the cover too has something different: it will contain angelic statues, different colours, and more, our faces will not appear on it. The sound, I say, that will be modern and new enough, according to the requirements of our times... The lyrics have somehow the same thematics as the old ones with slight changes as they have been written by a friend of ours, Codrut (from Suceava). There is one track in Romanian called 'Calatorul' (The Traveller) which is a mourning song from Bucovina and the rest are in English or Latin. 'Aura' (the song title of the album) is classical gothic and so is 'I'm Nothingness'. The rest like 'Spirito Sancto' (the lyrics are in Latin), 'You're Everything', 'The Traveller' or 'Illumination' combine all the metal genres and 'Shining' is the most Electro track."

You should know that I've never agreed with what you define the concept christian - orthodox metal. I have always thought it to be new-age bullshit in GOD style. Where does this idea come from? How can you debate with my ideas? Even more, people say you think yourselves to be true christian believers. But you behave badly, you swear...It seems to be a cheap behaviour, even shallow.

"Yes, it is our concept; everybody has his own 'modus vivendi' and every band sings about what they want.We did not do it because it was hipp, but because it was our believe. It doesn't mean that we are religious fanatics, but we simply believe in something real and it is not just a facade or just an image. The fact that we swear, we drink, we have fun does not mean that we don't really believe (it is a pitty swearing about clerical things), we know our limitations and we know when we sin, we have never preached anything,we just showed to the world what we are and what we want and nothing more... we have never urged or obliged somebody to listen to our music and songs, we have never asked anybody to be the way we are... I think it should be best that everyone should mind his own business, his own believe and he wouldn't care much about the ones around him and so we manage to change a few things about the mentality that doesn't let us evolve. For example, we did not care that Negura Bunget or Hathor were pagan or Satan beleievers... and for this matter we couldn't ask them to sing with us, to have a drink with them..."

The split of the band had been announced with a lots of noise. After the departure of Dray and Elena in USA, you found a possibility to go to Spain. Everything seemed to have a remarcable finish... then you were reborn. Unfortunately, the coming back message wasn't perceived in the same way, some voices said that GOD was history, only Lapusneanu brothers are just playing with the name GOD, singing in two and a computer. Do you remember those times? How was it exactly?

"There have been 2 or 3 times and only once it had been said officially, the rest had been just rumours. Yes, that concert from Deva in 2001 should have been the last GOD show, but I lost the visa for Spain, because I wanted very much to sing again for the last time before leaving the country. I know that it was meant to be, like every other thing happened in my life, whether good or bad. We tried to have a great finish (as you said), and if it was meant to be, should we have not continued doing what represented us. Why have we, the Lapusneanu brothers, been criticized for maintaining the band alive, although we had to make compromises? We did it fo GOD, for our fans and for the underground metal scene from Romania; we didn't do it for money."

If from the sales of your album you could have saved some money, from the sales of GOD T-shirts you could have went to Hawaii. I have seen a lot of GOD T-shirts worn by the fans. Have they been so well sold? Even better than the Negura Bunget ones?

"You make me laugh. As I have said before, GOD hasn't made any money from sailing the 2 albums. Although, the GOD-Sublime T-shirts sold very well (made on our money). I do not know how many sold Negura Bunget. I know that we just have to sell a new stock and, of course, we are prepared to make new T-shirts with Aura, after the album will be on the market."

It is annoing to visit your site and to see that it is upgraded once at 2 or 3 years. Isn't it a lack of respect for your fans?

"We have had a lot of problems with our site, then it was a period after 2000 when we were a bit down because of the band's breaking up and we had no idea what to do and so the only things updated on the site were the dates of the concerts... Anyway, in the near future, the new GOD site will appear!... I also want to appologize in the name of the band to the fans for this matter."

What do you think of the Romanian bands? What is your opinion about the Romanian music scene compared to the one that was 7-8 years ago? I remember that New Age, Grimegod and Gothic were great competitors of yours...

"Even now, there are great bands, but a few years ago, the Romanian metal scene had been better represented. We can remember Grimegod, Abigail, Gothic, New Age, Deimos, Interitus Dei, Makrothumia etc... It is great that now things are happening, a lot of new bands appeared, there are many concerts... it is not so easy with the record labels, but maybe this problem will be solved eventually."

How is your tattoo business going? Which is your most weird model ever made? How long does it take and what your prices are? Give me some tehnical details, perhaps you could convince me to get one,too. What is the difference between what you do and what the others do?

"Very well, hard to say considering the 3 thousand tattoos I have made by now and various models. The working time depends on how complex the certain model is, how many colours it contains... The prices varry from person to person, depending on a lot of things, such as how much it requires. It would be hard for you to write the technical details; it would be better to come visit me and I will explain them to you face to face (if you were a GOD fan, I would do it, but else what is there for me to gain? Maybe in the next life, mate!-ED). I shall mention that all the ecquipement is steril and it is very expensive. The difference between me and the others can be seen at the end of the work and this because I have attended the high-school and the college, section graphics. Just what you need to make a good tattoo. This is why there are few people that can make realistic tattoos or better said art on the skin (body-art). This is why I'm different.

How are the other members? What are they doing for a living?

"As I said, the violin player (Diana) is student and so is Paul (the drummer), Dan (the bass-player) works in an internet-cafe, my brother does piercing (it is a phobia that runs in the family-ED)."

In Buzau, I saw fans that asked you for autographs. How does it feel to be a star? What do you write them?

"This does not happen to me or GOD onlyand it did not happen only in Buzau... A star? It is too much and, frankly, I don't like the word. What do I write them? Something I have always written to all... When I will give your 1st autograph,you will see (I think you have written too much and not only your adrenalin has risen, but your temperature, too-ED)."

Your dream is to sing with MOONSPELL . What do you think your chances are? Do you still hope in their arrival in Romania? Maybe they will play a GOD-cover like Iris with Uriah Heep.

"That is right, but it is just a dream that may not ever become reality, but changes always exist. It only depends on how many... I know a saying: 'A man keeps hoping until he dies'. I would be delighted to play with Ribeiro&Company Alma Mater song and maybe the people will stop saying that it is overdone."

It is enough. What do you think we should have said more? What should the fans know more? Thanks a lot for the interview and a final question: where do you see yourselves in five years?

"You are right. My fingers ache because of too much writing. the fans should know -first of all- that we thank them from the bottom of our heart that were and still are close to us and that we will do our best not to let them down and I can assure them that "Aura" will reborn the band GOD from its own ashes. Thank you, , for the interview and I would like to say that it is the greatest interview that I have ever had. It is exciting, with a lot of deeper meanings and it was a great pleasure for me to answer (too much talking and nothing concrete on the delicate matters that I asked you about your conflicts with the others-ED). I hope I have myself understood and that we cleared a lot of issues and controverses. I shall end here. Ciao!... And the famous 'God Bless You All!!!' I will answer to your last question in 5 years. (Where is your maturity, Costel? Let us hope it is on your new album, good luck!- ED)".

 

September, 2002.