Romania Underground

 •  Posted in: Kogaionon Interviews

The webzine release desired to synchronize with the interview of some Romanian Metal Scene most popular characters; those who, by the time passed by, have gained more or less respect from extreme styles disciples. The persons we are talking about are Laurentiu (Lenti) Chiriac, Adi Mihailov, Nelu Brandusan and Adrian Ilie (Cristian Mocanu was not available this time, sorry). The list might have continued. Unfortunately, some of them retired long time ago and others are still building their visiting/business card. Otherwise, I never suggested (or intended to claim for such) that this material might reproduce a complete compact image of what is happening in Romania...for it is important that you, by yourselves, find it out. You must drop the conclusions relating to state of mind, working atmosphere...and everything that takes place inside this super-adulatory vampire realm, which is now turned into a parody because of "Dracula Park"-an embarrassing, yet famous all over the world, initiative! In order to avoid, as much as possible, arid boring answers I decided to advance a list of short questions, relatively formal but based on information since other details were not much too important for the time being.

   So, let us begin...

Laurentiu Chiriac/Radio Romania Tineret/MCM Rock.

   

Hi Lenti and may I found you in a proper state of mind for communication. How do you manage to get along these days? Either you are still at HMM or gone, that is so much uncertainty... What did actually happen? Did another conflict occur?

   "Hi to yourself. If I manage to get along??? OK should be the answer! As far as HMM is regarded, things stand like this: I never left HMM, namely HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE. It's me who conceived and gave birth to this magazine, in 1994, and since then I never left it. The only confusion is relating to the site hmm.ro, which is absolutely another distinctive thing. Hmm.ro means "Hot Metal & More". ro, not at all Heavy Metal Magazine, a mark under ORDA straight care. When Adrian and I decided to set the foundation of this site, we had in mind a different version for the site to be continuing the magazine's activity but, soon after, I realized there would never be a better restatement than on paper for HMM to appear. Besides this, I did not approve either many other facts, but that should be something to keep it where it belongs, in the past, since I prefer not to go back in time. The site has its true value itself as well, yet I find virtual frames not on my taste. All in all, I must announce that HMM will be on the market starting with April."

   

You are the first one who promoted and supported extreme Metal music on radio broadcasting and it is more than a decade since then. You picked up countless friends as well as plenty of enemies, if not even many more, why so?

   "I guess it is pretty common to have enemies. Did you ever meet someone not to have?! "Why so" well, I'll be damned if I know. I have nothing to share with no one and it is not in my desire to be, as some might think, the only one in Romania to take in charge rock music. In addition, if seriously thinking, I never was the only one. It is correct I was the first in deed who approached Metal (I refer now to all sub-divisions) and had most of trump cards in my hands such as press, radio & televisions. Nevertheless, it was not that easy my position, I would not recommend walking in my shoes. Do not get the false impression that my bosses (of course not all of them) simply adored or found great interest in rock music. In order to keep everything alive to survive, I mean, or to keep your shows going on, there is needed much fever, engagement and excitement...always to be plugged in. In Romania, that old saying about the neighbor's goat (which should die if mine is already buried) has still quite great quotations and, in these circumstances, nothing at all could or will impress me any more, just because, always, no matter what you did or do, there are some to criticize or curse you."

   

What can you tell me about Century Media in Romania? The Germans said you were in charge of Century Media promotion in Romania. What changes can you talk about that had happened lately?

   "I have been in charge, as far as Century Media is concerned, since 1994. In the meanwhile, I passed the responsibility to hmm.ro. Nothing to be worried about. In fact, I really see nothing bad or inconvenient in this matter. I have a lot of many other labels to take care of and other many things to do. One cannot easily do everything by himself. I hope Century Media grows in success in Romania as well and much as they did so far."

   

How do you picture Romanian Metal scene, for the time being, and, in comparison, can you describe the state of spirit used to be ten years ago?

   "Unfortunately, the old good times passed away. Ten years ago, I had super time! The public was extremely passionate and put their soul into music. There was, no doubt, another state of mind and spirit besides a great big deal of interest. As years went by, things have changed and the new generation has lost the interest others or we had experienced a decade ago. The same goes for the public and bands also. Long time back people were more sincere and, I tell you, that mood used to be transmitted to myself too. In the present, the majority of cases, everything spins around subjects like why broadcasting so much or less black instead of death...and so on. Their problem is to barge into each other and to be as negative and pessimistic as possible. If up to me, I would say Metal is a whole, an entity itself, and those who are on this side must always keep an open mind. It is not a rule or necessary to like a certain style or another, but you have to be tolerant especially since nowadays it cannot be counted on hands' fingers how many of such radio or television shows are broadcasted."

   

Back in time, what was the first material you received, what about your first interview? Have you not reached a higher routine just doing the same things for so long time?

    "I guess the first products I received, in 1993, were from some underground label which names I do not remember... and then I received "Exit 13"-I still have it. The earliest interview I took to a band from abroad was in 1993, which was with Gillan and Uriah Heep and, since 1993 until now, I can number over 1500 interviews. I sometimes find it a routine while I am like a robot, but this is it..."

  

 You used to present and introduce various concerts and shows, gigs and also participated to many outer ones, thus you have seen many and written much about. Why do you think West people consider and classify us as "exotic" or not to be trust? What should we do to gain credibility?

   "I have no idea what is the Romanian perception at a higher level, but I do know that as far as labels, musicians and agencies are appertained to, it cannot be said "mistrust". Unfortunately, Romania's promotion at an international level is not an excellent one and very few get to know about us. It often happened to me to discuss, on telephone, with different musicians who were shocked to find out it was a Romanian connection. Well, these things were in the past, at the very beginning, when almost nobody from Romania contacted them and they as well never talked to a Romanian. Now, they got used to it. On the other side, I don't think it is or ever was about trust, maybe at a higher level it should have been, but if proving yourself, and not only, to be professional, they definitely go on your way. At least, I myself did not face such problem so far. I got along with everybody I got in touch and I never tricked or mislead none of them, even if, sometimes, I made some mistakes."

   

What do you plan for the future to bring in your life? How do you intend to keep supporting Metal scene?

   "Right now, HMM is in my mind. Then, I guess in autumn, I shall have at least one more radio show and there are strong chances to enlarge a little mcm..rock. I also desire to organize a few gigs, in the autumn as well, and then...I will be thinking what else I shall do. I have many plans for the future but I intend taking little by little, as I need time to turn everything into practice. In addition, I would like and appreciate if at least this particular occurrence had more interested persons involved."

   

You had some rough time and conflicts with Cristi Mocanu. What did actually happen? What is your personal point of view relating to what Adi Mihailov and Nelu Brandusan do?

   "I have always had conflicts with Cristi Mocanu, but they were minor, never something extremely serious since he is a friend of mine; and if I don't agree with certain ideas of his, I find no reason to fight over this. I do stress him from time to time, yet I believe for his own good. I have always had a perfect cooperation with Adi Mihailov. I do value him since I assume he is the single one from underground zone who did in deed the most it could ever be done for young bands. Regarding Nelu Brandusan, I experienced, a couple of years ago, an incident, not quite pleasant but indisputably no fair play, and ever since then we stopped any mutual aid."

   

Where do you feel that respect ends and where from the compromise begins? Can you simply point out an example of callousness?

   "I am not so sure I know what you have in mind. I can actually give more than one example of such, but I assume I shall upset again certain people. Haven't I already enough enemies??? However, I think that when some arrogate themselves merits they don't deserve or just do not belong to them."

   

Thank you for accepting such challenge and may you have all the luck in the world to accomplish whatever you intend. Let us find out who is Lenti...

"Age: 37(born on February the14th 1965); Profession: music show producer; Family: not married; Hobbies: football, fishing; Musical preferences: rock (beginning with the '50's), I like, in fact, everything that sounds good and to be sincere I prefer '80's metal music and blues; Musical collection: over 3000 CDs; Favorite drinks: wine; Religion: I am orthodox but I do not have many things in common with; Politics: it is something I am not interested in."

Adi Mihailov/BESTIAL RECORDS

   

Hi Adi! May peace be with you. In addition, I wish you would be OK by the time you read these lines. How did you spend this weekend?

   "I am fine, thank you for wishing me such. I was just updating my web file. This is what I have been doing for the week-end."

   

Bad people are talking that they might cut off your long hair... Do you have a certain message for them?

   "If talking about enemies, each person, except those who are stupid and too common not to be ignored, must have enemies. Personally, I do not believe I have many. In fact, I think it is a word much too serious: there are people that do not like my style, which is, finally, their right. I do not pretend I am Iliescu (the president of Romania) in the 90's elections to be 97 % sustained. On the other side, people always doubting and criticizing are a necessary evil due to their feed-back."

   

OK. Let us approach different issues, more serious ones. You certainly were the first who took the risk of investing in Romanian bands and it seems like you have become rich. Can you put into words how much money did you advance and what profit did you get since BESTIAL RECORDS started to develop as a business?

   "Oh, yes, indeed, it was an incredible business: in six years I managed to earn enough money to buy a decent apartment, a house on the beach side and another in the mountains, a luxury car and, of course, enough to own a substantial bank account... Now, seriously speaking, in this country, there is not a chance to earn decent money on the back of metal music, either you are a band, label, distributor or else. One reason is the fans' decreased power of buying and the second one consists in "few in numbers" of those who listen to such music. If I must be sincere, I should acknowledge that I could not continue my activity unless I had different sources of money, for example, my brother's firm in which I am associated. This one is about Xerox duplication, consignation and selling various products, by far out of metal sphere. Our store sells tapes and CDs regarding all music styles, not only metal, because if it were not so, it would have meant burst up.

    Let us clear up this profit thing relating to metal albums production. Usually, an average studio costs about 4-500 $, money to be reclaimed from selling the products (tapes). We have always tried to maintain a lower price to our products so that an album, produced by BESTIAL RECORDS, on tape, to have reached now, in February 2002, 35.000 lei, the equivalent for 1.1 $. The costs for each tape are about 25.000lei (tape, multiplication, voice-printing, cover, promotion and taxes) so the net profit should be 10.000lei and this one must cover the studio price. From simple calculus, it means that, in order to recover $400 in studio, it is necessary to sell, by far, 1200 tapes. In last three years, we did not sell so many tapes with none of the bands. Just for you to make an idea, the recording of GOD's "Sublime" album cost $1000, which we have not recuperated so far. It is true, not all albums produced at BESTIAL RECORDS swallowed so much money. Some of them were released with the bands' help, as they managed to record the material by themselves and, therefore, the contracts stipulate sharing the profits. We invested a lot in the bands, we promoted and there are cases in which we could not cover the investments. However, for the majority, we finally succeeded in couple of years. This should not be named business, as it is not efficient to invest in something and to gain that money back after years while the profit is very low since the product is already "old" (2-3 years old). I must add, as well, that sales are bad, year-by-year. If, at the beginning, we used to sell, in normal conditions, over 800 samples, now, we hardly reach 3-400.

    I apologize for such digression rather boring for some, but I needed to speak numbers for all interested to realize the value of Romanian market."

   

Please, try to turn back in time and succinctly  present your label activity from the commencement until this very moment.

   "This point is rather silent, as the story is generally known: BESTIAL RECORDS was given birth in 1996 when Black Pharmakeya Peporomenee (known as Negru) Negura Bunget's drummer proposed us to edit the band's first demo. By that time, Negura Bunget was a much-appreciated band although it was a young one. To their notoriety, "From Transilvanian Forests", demo released under WICCAN REDE, was quite a big contribution. B.P.Peporomenee got in touch with us, as distributors of this very demo, available in our store, BESTIAL MUSIC SHOP. We accepted collaboration and, in December 1996, Negura Bunget entered Magic Sound Studio Bucuresti. What is less known, is the fact that their first album, "Zarnindu-sa" was recorded in a week-end, by Negru at drums, and Huppogrammus Disciple's (all instruments and voice), while sound engineer was Oliver Vegh(collaborator of ours in the Spring of 2000 for Avatar album). Thus, at the end of January 1997, BESTIAL RECORDS had released a first album -BR001 NEGURA BUNGET"Zarnindu-sa".     When we decided to edit the band's demo, we had not in mind that the idea might get concretized into a label. We simply planed to release the demo and then getting back the money from selling the product in our store. Yet the cost forecast was a few times bigger than we expected. Still, the production was very good, for that period, so that "Zarnindu-sa" finally came out as an album not a demo. Soon after we finished the recording part, in the underground zone, right in December 1996, a copy entered the circuit and made quite an impression, which meant that bands like Makrothumia and Grimegod asked for the production of their albums. Therefore, we studied the law and obtained a license. Right after "Zarnindu-sa" release, we got in touch with HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE and we found quite a strong supporter in the person of Lenti Chiriac- by that time, HMM appeared under CAPITAL magazine shelter, in a newspaper form. Even if he did not know me any better, Lenti arranged for me a meeting to the advertising head and explained that my firm was from the start a suicide and, thus, at the end, of the meeting I could count on 10*3 cm space for advertising to a low price. Even so, we felt the financial consequences. We practically enjoyed, from the very beginning, the support of all persons involved in Metal scene: "Rocker" Ionescu, Gabi Gombos, Florin Silviu Ursulescu, Nelu Stratone, etc.     We started over and released Grimegod's debut album. They did the recording in Pacific Studio Arad. Since the studio was not extremely performing (only a multi-track on 4 channels), the band had to record the material live with all instruments. Although not a common method, the results were much too good than we expected due to Tibor's capacities (the band's leader). In the meanwhile, the HMM advertising made quite an impression and the surprise was guaranteed: daily dozens of people called or wrote to order for NEGURA BUNGET's album. I have been thinking over and over... and I assume that if our first product weren't so wanted, we would have probably given up producing others long time before. Then other bands' albums followed Makrothumia, Interitus Dei, God, Deimos, Korruption, Avatar, Dies Irae, Archaos, Serenity, Kratos, etc. Besides these ones, we licensed some from abroad that enjoyed Romanian fans' good appreciation: Helheim-Norway, Forbidden Site-France, Mare Tenebrarum Compilation-Hungarian bands, Veiled Allusions-Karsten Hamre's project and, recently, May Result-Serbia. We also tried to organize gigs but we, unfortunately, succeeded not to find sponsorship and thus, we lost lots of money. The most spectacular gig was the one where Avatar, Grimegod, Indian Fall, Irkalla and Vokodlok performed in May 2000."

  

 I recall you have been declared year 2001- personality in Romania! Do you feel regrets for not building a statue as well...? There were people who asked for it...

   "I did experience great joy and felt flattered for being, two years consecutively, elected "The Personality of the Year". This happened because our label helped very good bands to be listening to by many fans. I do not think I am the kind of man to be affected easily and the living proof is I have not become arrogant, which can be confirmed by those who know me. In other words, let's forget about the statue..."

   

Amaze us with some of ' BESTIAL RECORDS' news and share with us the future expectations for 2002.

   "At the end of 2001, we released the debut album of DIVINE MUZAC, Dan Serbanescu's project (Archaos). The album, "En-trance", contains 13 dark ambient tracks, in my opinion, successful ones. Then, we edited, under license, the new album, "Tmina", of a Serbian band, MAY RESULT, that could be seen live at Deva Rock Camp Festival, last spring. We also produced the new NEGURA BUNGET t-shirt, which already caught the attention. For this year, we intend to edit a very promising band's debut album, ENITHARMON. The band performs a Technical Death Metal with rhythms fluctuations. In fact, Death is not quite the proper word since their music is rather a mixture of all styles, by far out of the classical patterns. This band encloses DISINTER ex members while two of them are conservative, which might say a lot about the instrumental possibilities of the band. It is true, they had not great activity so far, except two gigs in Alba Iulia and Deva Rock Camp, so people know almost nothing about them. For the time being, I am not in the position to know precisely what other projects of ours might get real this year. I assume it's much too earlier for such."

   

You introduced, for quite some time, a newsletter and weekly gained over 1000 visitors/readers. Moreover, not long time ago, you started to develop another project: a fanzine. It seems like you stuck exactly when the enthusiasm was reaching its climax...what did precisely happen?

   "Well, it's a weekly newsletter that has reached already 1400 readers. Lately, I have been forced to neglect it a little, as I faced many other problems, but I hope, sooner, things might turn back to normal so that the newsletter would become again periodically up-dated. That who are not yet subscribed, but desire to catch up the international and internal news, as far as Metal is the issue, can write me at bestialrec@flashmail.com, with the only mention: subscribing is free of any obligation and money. As for the BESTIAL METAL, we released, so far, three issues of this small magazine but some personal problems occurred and I could not continue last couple of months. This is not about not having enough material but about the lack of time and proper mood to finish issue no. 4. The magazine appeared in 700 samples and I sold it out entirely. Despite of its ridiculously small price (10.000lei-first issue and 15.000lei-the second), I actually covered my expenses. Since it was a viable business, I hope to find the required energy to go on, especially because I have interesting ideas."

   

You are the reliable person who organizes little "trips"(if allowed to name them so) for almost all gigs in Hungary and often you in person participate. What can you say? What was the most successful gig and the worse you experienced live? AETERNUS and AGATHODAIMON announced to perform in Arad. Do you think we should go to? In your opinion, does it worth?

   "It has been 4 years long since we started organizing trips to Budapest, for the gigs. Until now, I have been to over 30 gigs, including PEPSI SZIGET, the most important one from East Europe. I have just come from Budapest where ICED EARTH had to perform. Unfortunately, the band had troubles entering Hungary because of some bureaucratic shits (they had not the license for pyrotechnical effects, don't you find it stupid?!). We came back exactly as we left, except the fact those fans spend a fortune to see ICED EARTH, which did not happen. That was the first time something like this occurred.     One of the funniest and wonderful gig, I went at, was the MEGADEATH's, last year. This band followed my entire childhood and, when I saw them live, I think they really were in a great shape.     Unfortunately, AGATHODAIMON tour shall miss Romania; moreover, AETERNUS has already canceled the tour. Yet, AGATHODAIMON and HECATE ENTHRONED shall definitely be in Budapest on 10 March."

   

You also were in the middle of some conflicts and even "accused" for different facts. Is it just envy all about or, behind your character, a devil is hidden? I would like you to express your point of view concerning Romanian events' evolution in this particular field. Can you comment why sarcasm, pride and arrogance are the most representative features of all involved in Romanian Metal music? How would you characterize Cristi Mocanu, Lenti and Nelu Brandusan?

   "It is envy, in my opinion. Behind my character, most certainly there is not an angel but neither a devil. And, if it is about my conflict with Cezar Covrig, named Sarasail, since it was strongly brought in media's attention, well, that's another thing. Covrig accused me to have become rich on the back of young bands and said I was Jew (he also spread hand bills containing BESTIAL RECORDS logo cut with a writing band line: "GAS THE JEWS" ). To be sincere, I never enjoyed neo-Nazi Satanist ideology that Covrig promoted en-gross.     ...Now you're talking..., absurd pride is characteristic for many persons involved in this field, either we refer to bands, editors or promotion-guys, etc. I do not think there could be any justifications for such arrogance, if we take in consideration we are in deed few in number...     I believe, all people you mentioned serve Metal cause, less or more. I never met Adi Ilie, in person, but I have heard of him and hmm.ro is a very good and useful site. Lenti helped me from the start and I am grateful to him. Cristi Mocanu did a good job having licenses from important labels but I must say he has to work a little to the tapes' quality. Nelu Brandusan is struggling to survive on a market continuously degrading".

   

I guess that it should positively be enough in the talking part. Thanks for the interview and I hope we meet each other soon, perhaps at a gig or something. Before ending our "discussion", please, fill these lines:

"Age: 32 years; Profession: I graduated Electro-tehnica, yet never practiced my job Family:

Hobbies: computers (programming and web-html), fishing (even if I do not have enough time for such, except the usual journey in Dela Dunarii I take each year), reading

Musical preferences: I generally prefer quality Metal music, for example: DARK TRANQUILITY, IN THE WOODS, DECORYAH as well as vivid legends such as IRON MAIDEN, METALLICA-earlier albums, MEGADEATH, etc Musical collection: I do not collect albums, yet because of my job's nature, I have access to a great amount of music; Favorite drinks: beer; Religion: I consider it a too personal subject to develop here; Politics: I detest extremism in Vadim Tudor style (nationalist parliamentary); as I up mentioned, I do not find extreme right ideology much attractive Although it is common for the Metal people to fit into a pattern of depressed nasty person, who always live inside himself, on contrary, I find myself a very open man, with great taste of humor. I do not believe I am a Romanian Metal personality, but a normal, very lucky man whose job is, as well, a great passion. Thank you too for this interview."

Nelu Brandusan/PROMUSIC RECORDS

   

No servus, Nelu! I wish for us to, pleasantly, find each other in Funar's land (Romanian city's mayor). Do you still have town's benches painted in Romanian Tricolor? I have heard rumours that Matei Corvin's statue is about to take the road to Hunedoara...

    "No servus, what is the trouble, do you need much tricolor paint? As for the benches, they are at their place and you know why, simply because no one wants to steal them. Do not worry about Matei's statue, Funar, the mayor, just needs space; I believe he wants to create, downtown, a certain room for metal gigs!!!! (I knew it, you had quite big entrance at the mayor.....)"

   

Now, if possibly, we should get to the point and be serious. Please, make a succinct historical presentation of the label you run.

   "The label was founded in 1996, but the activity practically started in 1998 when I edited the first material, a Romanian compilation, "Romanian Metal Underground" that gathered valuable and famous bands at that time. Then, other 17 materials followed: Cronos-'Si voi ucide timpul', Protest-'Beyound Tomorrow', Anarhia-'Nici o vina' , C.a.s.h.-'Blame It On Love', L.n.d.h- 'Hardcore ist wunderbar', Coman l Hoisan-'Onoare, suflet si credinta', Taine-'Cealalta parte', Funeral Ceremony-'Intersideral Mental Dimension', Legion-'Marfa', Dirty Shirt-'Very Dirty', Defect-'De-a amestecatelea', Oblivion- 'Appearances Deceptives', Voices of Silence-'Stories of My Ways', Romanian Metal Underground vol:2, C.A.S.H.-'Vreau', Buried Beneath-'The Last Trays Of The Moon' and the last one, released in December 2001-Indian Fall-"Pathfinder".     I organized, and still do, many gigs for these bands but also for those who have nothing in common with Metal music. We were deeply involved in numerous rock festivals, where we awarded the bands with the act of releasing or producing diverse materials such for: Anarhia, Dirty Shirt, Defect, Voices of silence, Indian Fall. We succeeded to build a pretty strong network of stores, all over the country, and we distribute some materials in Spain, Russia, Japan, Canada, Belgium, Bulgaria, Indonesia, Mexico, Germany, Austria, etc. More information might be found at our new address: http://www.promusicprod.go.ro ."

   

If you have certain future perspectives, do not be shy to share with us! What new or old bands did captivate your interest lately?

   "We have to release, so far, Hathor's first album (a Black Metal band from Galati) and to record the second material of Voices of Silence (symphonic/ progressive), for which we have already prepared distribution in Italy, Germany, Japan, France, Spain, Canada and Austria, just for now. I intend to launch the third volume of "Romanian Metal Underground" compilation, although it is much harder to do such things since autochthon bands seem not to understand that promotion requires quality. I hope it will be fine. I find annoying to receive promo materials from interesting bands yet not to be able to do much because of the recording in "home studio". Autochthon scene has a strong potential and I affirm such due to bands like Trooper, Katarsis (ex-Puls), Vielftava, etc which come in forth catching up the others."

   

How do you picture autochthon Metal scene from Transylvania's standpoint? What is your opinion regarding this very scene and how do you intend to promote any further? You were telling me something about a Gala...

   "Great colors for that picture!!!!! You see, there are bands, interest also, but not enough money. As you well know, we have a club where, each Monday evening, we organize a rock-time and, when we feel like needed, gigs as well. This club sheltered all bands we considered they had something to say not only those that signed with Promusic Records. We are determined to go on with these live performances, either in Club Max or somewhere else since we consider such matter as a solid factor in order to promote and sustain this phenomenon."

   

INDIAN FALL did agreeably surprise me and thus my review could clearly mirror the impression, as it is more than encouraging. Do you take in consideration the idea of promoting it abroad, what about HATHOR? I must confess, neither during the gig in Buzau or in Pitesti, there was no band able to stand a point for me. It seems like, while performing live, the sound is incomparably different from the studi

o...

   "INDIAN FALL is a band which evolution was great and I am sure we shall hear a lot of them. Their album, "Pathfinder", sounds incredibly good. We worked very much for this material and we are satisfied with the final product. We have managed to distribute this material in Japan-Worldchaos Production, Canada-Great White North, Spain-Iberian Moon Records and Austria-CCP Records. Of Hathor, we shall enter more details when available. I want to assure you that the actual live performances of these two bands are not the same they used to be long time ago. Here is needed a warning: all people with heart problems must definitely avoid our shows!"

   

I found interesting your new readjustment, in Metal field, right after TAINE and VOICES OF SILENCE releases. Should I understand PROMUSIC RECORDS as being direct concurrent of BESTIAL label? And, as it came here, tell me, what do you think about Adrian's activi

ty?

   "Promusic is not necessary profiled on Black, Heavy or Hardcore, but on GOOD QUALITY MUSIC. If a band sounds good and we believe in its potential, we start the battle. We are a direct concurrent to Bestial Records since they do exactly what we do or, more properly said, we do what they do. Anyway, we are getting along pretty well. There is enough room for both labels and perhaps other 5-6 ones...ha, ha, ha....In fact, I am glad we are together on Romanian market, as concurrence might, usually does, stimulate, which is in everybody's advantage."

   

Moreover, what is to be said about Cristi Mocanu and Lenti? Do you or did you develop a friendly relationship with these two? Do you cooperate with them? How do you see their actions and achievements?

   "Cristi Mocanu does well what he usually does, but he should take in consideration the major disease, which is the "mp3" one and, in these conditions, it is a rough time for selling original products. Regarding Adi Ilie, I am glad he is in charge of hmm.ro. He is an open person, especially to any kind of collaboration. I do not think there is a band or a person (from autochthon rock area) not to be supported by him, if asking for such."

   

You also have a newsletter, which is trying to reach more and more readers. Do you really believe in this idea? What is the purpose for this newsletter to exist and which way it should help? What is your precise accomplishment if having one? More precisely, do you gain something by editing it?

   "If I gain??? ha, ha, ha....I simply announce what is happening in the underground field. There are many persons interested in this newsletter since, on the Romanian market or radio-TV cannot supply much information regarding Metal music. Sometimes the information comes after the events' consummation. In these circumstances, we try to send a newsletter every time we have great news. We hope, for the future, to subdue many more persons that are interested. That who desire subscribing must send an e-mail to http://www.promusicprod.go.ro with the message "play ok"."

   

How much money did you invest in that business called music and what is your financial status now?

   "I invested a lot of money in PROMUSIC and I did not recover the investment. Those who "play" in this field probably know what I am talking about. Yet, that is not quite a problem as long as I do what I really enjoy."

Statistics say men prefer diverse frequent brief things, so I find necessary for us to stop here. Thank you for your time and let us find out who is Nelu Brandusan:

"Age: 31 years; Profession: electronician in telecommunication (only in my spare time);

Family: I am married and expecting a little one; Hobbies: guitar, mountains, choirs music; Musical preferences: Faraon(ha, ha, ha), Children of Cargo, Dream T., Rhapsody, Dimmu B. and more others; Musical collection: diverse and plenty; Favorite drinks: beer, champagne; Religion: "Vaya con Dios"; Politics: non-political person.

Adrian Ilie/

www.hmm.ro

   

Hi, Adrian! Welcome Kogaionon's realm! It is our first discussion and my hope is not to be the last. Since when did you get the idea of HMM on internet?

   "The idea took life while I was traveling to ANIHILATOR live performance at Tg. Mures, last year, on March. I was with Lenti in the car and, during the conversation we had on different issues, we have reached the conclusion we might try doing something more secure, professional and to last...for HMM history. The initial idea was for us to create a firm to edit the magazine and then to contact a few labels from abroad in order to sign some distribution contracts. After some second thoughts and calculations, I realized it could only be a collapse, as we desired it to be, since, in order to publish such, we needed at least 30-40.000$ and it was obvious the sales would not have covered the money. Typography, but especially the distribution under one single firm, either a public or private one, plus the low interest (we must have gained over 6.000 readers/buyers monthly to recover the investments), most certainly could have assured the failure. So, we came to the conclusion and solution that Codrut Bendovski' skills, also involved from the start as partner in this business, might allow an internet version of the magazine. Slowly, we initiated the work and, as you can see today, the concept of fanzine, magazine has altered and closely approached to the site one."

Was there any conflict between you and Lenti? The intention of writing together under the same banner on internet was laudable...yet something occurred...

   "I would not name it a conflict in the true sense of word. I experienced, at a point, great disappointment; let's say a sentimental one, because of some decisions and Lenti behavior as well. Even if I assumed all risks, from the very beginning, and never trusted 100% in someone else (I used to be "the strategic investor") but myself and only, I found sad to observe I was left in the middle of a road I started in a different formula. All of a sudden, all initial plans turned into a completely unexpected evolution. Although I had some "antecedents" as far as writing is concerned, we firstly thought of Lenti to do almost entirely the editorial job while I took control of managerial part. I would have agreed writing, from time to time, but I have not had planed to become a chief in such matter, as I really had more than enough things to do. So, in short time, the writing part became my responsibility either I desired or not. Well, I do not feel joy in being in the limelight; I simply prefer the dark side of the show...to be behind the stage."

Although it is new on the market, the site ranges a high quotation and many more visitors/readers than it is to be expected. I assume that, since you update the information weekly, the site popularity keeps growing. Are you satisfied with what you have accomplished so far? What are your goals, for this year, regarding HMM? Shall you change the site name in order to eliminate any confusion with Lenti's magazine?

   "Well, I might say I am pleased. Things are not quite perfect, always is place enough for better. We still have some deficiencies, yet, if considering the conditions and minimal resources we can use, I believe we must have reached somehow the great expectations we had. For this year, I would be happy if touching certain equilibrium between expenses and incomes. That should be the major circumstance for us to continue and afford existing any longer. In the present, we are like public institutions that survive with subventions, which is not normal or logic (it is only for a short period). If something is not meant to be, it better does not exist, there is no other way.     Name and logo are already registered mark. It is out of question changing them, no matter how much confusion might create. We have invested too much in it, therefore I see no reason at all to give them up, especially since we are not obliged, neither morally nor legally. In the end, HMM, which is Hot Metal &More, and the name domain, "hmm.ro", shall have not alternative but to exist for as long as we desire just because they are HMM Ventures SRL property. For amusement, I can disclose that the design for HMM logo belongs to Codrut Bendovski and he never sold out rights for his creation."

 You are surrounded by new names and you even look for hiring others. Should I understand HMM could be considered and seen as well as a business, or maybe a trampoline for young talents? What is your deliberation for the people you work with? Who can belong to HMM team and work under its banner?

   "I am sure there are a lot of valuable people in all fields, all over the country. Lots of them do not have the chance to be granted with a chance...or to learn and develop. I simply believe in teamwork, that is why I choose to let these people to express themselves. By definition, "internet" can be translated into "open mind", I would not find logic or fair for us to be a closed network. HMM can ONLY exist IF REGARDED as an affair/business. In this very present, it is not. It is still the beginning period and shy good signs of development do exist, therefore, we still have confidence in future. If someone had monthly 20-30 millions lei to provide this activity, then we probably would not be stressed to sell CDs and audio tapes. Until people understand subsistence means not to consume more than producing, we still experience communism. It is a false shame, an image advanced by those who were involved somehow, in this rock stuff, as they were the pure ones armed solely with beliefs and passion. There is not such thing, everybody watches his interest and tries to gain money or other facilities in any or other way. For not admitting such, well, yes, this is another thing, but it does not exclude or deny reality. Theoretically, anyone can join us; practically there are strict limitations besides seriousness, competence and professionalism. We are not in the position of paying too many people, we do not have enough space for and neither we accept (principles are concerned) people to work as constant as necessary just for free (even if they want). For example, solely the biographies, included on the site, cost so far over 150 millions lei."

The idea of a club seems at least encouraging, yet I am not sure I know what kind of success it might get in Romania. Do you think you could argue with me?

   "To be honest, I myself know not if the club idea could reach success or not in Romania. The only clear chance to see how we stand is to make it happen. So far, it is getting good. We receive, at the average, one request per day although not everybody sends as well the required money. Romania, I think, is a too poor country for such initiative, in the rock music field, there is not enough money to buy CDs or pay tickets for a gig, not even for t-shirts or audio equipment. That should be the real problem: lack of money. People are making real efforts and sacrifices just to read/visit hmm.ro or to buy something we offer. That is why we experience some tolerance towards piracy, even if it is about our work. Moreover, I believe, it is a matter of credibility. There were too many misfortunes; too many people deceived with false packages or other tricks, so that trust does not exist in sending money firstly and then only be delivered. I am sure, in time, we will reach trustworthiness as well, and that is why we use our address, telephones' numbers and all identification data. Each one that desires to become a HMM member simply sign a clear contract so that there would be no doubts we disappear with the money or spend it unauthorized. Until now, no one had complains regarding our seriousness and we hope neither for the future to face such, since we are staid and willing to execute all promises and obligations."

 I have not asked you what you all these years. Could you point out some historical moments so that you run through each significant step of your "rock journalist" career?

   "I am not a "rock journalist", not even close to be a 'regular" one. Last ten years of my life meant hard work, many risks, gaining much knowledge, which finally had as result: plenty of achievements and satisfactions. The rest, I believe, represents insignificant details."

What other prospects do you conduct as far as supporting music is concerned, here in Romania? I understood you represented Century Media in Romania. I find curious such fact, as Century Media advanced me that Lenti was the official one to represent the German label, what happened in the meanwhile?

   "I am not in the position to support anything, especially Romanian rock music. The only appropriate aspect might be the existing of HMM Ventures itself and probably what we do inside this company. No one represents anyone; this should be a false expression of an ego image, which I am not interested in. HMM has signed a contract with Century Media due to which we have rights and stipulations as well. There is no philosophy here, just a simple contract. This goes as well for Dream Catcher and Spinefarm. I guess it is natural, for a certain situation, when you contact a label, to guide you to their official representative zone distributor if relating to press issues. You see, there are big differences between a simple relationship or a trouble-free contact and a clear contract situated in certain business levels. Contracts, I repeat myself, involve rights, definite stipulations and, obviously, money. As long as the contract HMM signed with Century media is available, while Lenti is no longer one of us, I find logical for him not to be implied any more in this business relation. He made his choice clear and this should be the end of discussion!"

Inside the material I prepared for the site launch, besides you, I also interviewed Lenti, Adi Mihailov, Nelu Brandusan. What is your opinion next to them? Do you collaborate with them?

   "I have no opinion. I barely know some of them since I only met a few of them. Why should I have an opinion regarding everything?! Good for them, they may do whatever desire in order to be satisfied. If you could make a list ten times richer in names than this very one, I suppose it would be better for the public. We use to collaborate with anyone and everyone if there is a way for us to have common interests. Yet I think it is not quite proper for everybody to make business with everybody since it would be like MAFIA taking control of the whole thing. I assume it is fair for the people to have alternatives and their own choices."

What should be your regarding next to autochthon Metal scene? Do you think it worth to make investments in this area? In other words, how much money did you invest in rock, from the beginning until right now? Did you reach profit already?

   "Metal scene is not a viable one, in Romania. It is just about lack of money, seriousness, initiative, motivation, fair play or professionalism. Yet there is a confident public, a kind of potential, which is good quality even if we talk about a long-long way to go. In Romania, things seem to have stopped 15-18 years ago and I guess it is a handicap hard to overcome. I do not pretend I invested in Romanian Rock, but in my own company. As for the results-the profits, we are optimistic. I repeat, for 2002, our major purpose is to cover entirely the costs and I think this is ambitious enough."

I imagine this is enough, for a first time, thank you and I wish you for best luck in everything you planed. Who is Adrian Ilie (obviously not the football player....)?

   "Thanks for good wishes, other details?! Age: 34; Profession: manager; Family: not married; Hobbies: I like pets-dogs, (I promised myself I would have a word at Basescu's funeral-Bucharest mayor-in memoriam of dozens dogs murdered in Nazi style and I shall keep my words), I have two Setters and a common one. I like cars (I own a Peugeot 46 Coupe and a 266 one); Musical preferences: I suppose the first preference is heavy metal-music of my generation, but I appreciate many bands or certain albums, either old or modern ones. I believe last decade brought strong impressions on me through gothic and industrial-a little. I discover new interesting things, day by day...new albums, artists...some I like, some I do not, that is reality. I believe, nowadays, many interesting things happen and, if before 1990 we were not allowed to get in touch and that were perfect excuses, for the present, solely our ignorance or indolence obstruct information flow; Musical collection: I have many CDs but I do not want to make parade; lately I refreshed and completed my vinyl collection with re-editions on CD and I fear I already caught the DVD fever, which is grave and dangerous for my pockets; Favorite drinks: I do not drink but smoking too much; Religion/Politics: I hate communists and priests."

That should be all folks as far as Romanian Metal people, who have such business cards, are involved! No doubts, it is my duty and my exquisite pleasure to be continued when their or others facts/acts require...

February 2002.