Decline the fall: Smo ljudje zdravilo ali bolezen? (2021)

Decline the fall, foto: DTF
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(scroll down the bar and find an English version)

O tem, kako naši umetniki zapuščajo rodno grudo in svoj ustvarjalni duh ustalijo nekje izven meja Slovenije, slišimo zelo pogosto. Veliko manj je zgodb, v katerih je rodna gruda neka tuja država, novi dom pa naša deželica. Ena takih ima svoj začetek v letu 2020, ko je virusni orkan dodobra okupiral vse kotičke sveta, a ni ustavil štirih glasbenikov, ki so se odločili, da svoje domovanje na Malti zamenjajo z novim v Sloveniji. Novi prebivalci Zreč Kris Farrugia, Ehren Fenech, John ‘Castiel’ Gatt in Matthew ‘BomBom’ Mercieca so sicer člani benda Decline the fall, a svojemu sobivanju raje rečejo kar bratovščina.

Svojo prvo jesen v Sloveniji so Decline the fall ovekovečili s prvencem Our own demise, ki pa ga še niso imeli možnosti predstaviti. Zato bo sobota, 30. oktobra 2021, ena izmed prvih priložnosti, da svojim starim in novim fenom postrežejo s povsem novimi komadi. Po natančno 22 mesecih bodo fantje znova stopili na oder v sklopu večera Helloween Raspaljotka v Centru mladih Koper.

O dosedanji zgodbi zanimive bratovščine smo se pogovarjali s pevcem Johnom.

Četudi bi hotela, bi težko začela drugače, tako da … Od Malte do Slovenije vodi dolga pot. Se strinjam, v lepi deželi živimo, a ne zgodi se ravno vsak dan, da štirje metalci, člani skupine, spakirajo kovčke in se preselijo v Slovenijo. Natančneje v Zreče. Torej, kakšna je zgodba?

Kot najbrž veste, je Malta majhen otok, kar pomeni, da smo omejeni tako prostorsko kot z možnostmi za ustvarjanje. Ostati na Malti je za štiri glasbenike, ki želijo uspeti na mednarodni ravni, predstavljalo omejitev. Slovenija je bila idealna izbira zaradi svoje osrednje lege v Evropi in tudi zato, ker so življenjski stroški in kakovost bivanja popolni. Hišo v Zrečah smo našli s pomočjo prijatelja, ki živi v Slovenskih Konjicah! Ker prihajamo iz dežele, kjer te obkrožajo le zgradbe, gradbišča in morje, smo bili navdušeni nad Zrečami, saj smo tu obdani z neskončnim zelenjem in gorami.

Zima je, uživate v novem domu, zunaj najbrž sneži, prava zimska idila … Vse bi bilo popolno, če ne bi bilo pandemije. Kot glasbeniki v novi državi ste se znašli v nezavidljivem položaju. Kako je to vplivalo na vaše načrte?

Za selitev v Slovenijo v času pandemije smo se odločili, ker raje začnemo na novo v neki drugi državi, saj je že to pomenilo korak naprej. Da, zanimivo se je bilo zbuditi in skozi okno občudovati zasneženo pokrajino, odmetavati sneg z dvorišča, da bi lahko premaknili avto, a smo se zelo hitro navadili na vse te zimske radosti. Zaradi pandemije nismo mogli nastopati, zato smo vso energijo namenili prisotnosti na družbenih medijih in ustvarjanju novega materiala.

Začetki skupine segajo v leto 2015, z drugačno zasedbo in glasbeno usmerjenostjo. Kdaj in kako je Decline the fall postal bend, kakršnega poznamo danes?

Zadnja sprememba se je zgodila, ko je Matthew nadomestil Nathana, ki je odšel v Kanado. Če se ne motim, je bilo to leta 2017. Kakorkoli, prepričan sem, da nam smer, ki smo jo izbrali, omogoča, da kot bend neprestano rastemo. Močna želja po učenju novih tehnik je tisto, kar nas žene naprej.

Radi rečete, da niste samo bend, ampak bratovščina. Kaj to pomeni?

Vedno podpiramo drug drugega. Ne povezuje nas samo ustvarjanje in igranje glasbe, ampak tudi sobivanje. To pomeni, da sprejemamo tudi pomanjkljivosti drug drugega in se zavedamo, da smo štirje posamezniki z zelo različnim načinom življenja in pogledom nanj. O vsem in vedno se lahko pogovarjamo, četudi kdaj ne delimo enakega stališča.

Na Malti ste znani kot ena vodilnih metal skupin. Morda ljudje ne pričakujejo, da ima otok, ob katerem pomislimo na plaže, sonce in morje, razvito metal sceno, a to je zelo daleč od resnice, kajne?

Metal scena na Malti je zelo podobna slovenski. Če pogledamo statistiko obiskanosti koncertov/nastopov, smo nekje na enaki ravni. In tako kot v Sloveniji, je tudi malteška metalska skupnost zelo povezana, vsi se poznajo in medsebojno podpirajo kljub različnemu glasbenemu slogu. Naš glasbeni stil je bil za Malto nekaj nenavadnega in ravno zato smo pritegnili veliko poslušalcev.

Za seboj imate nekaj koncertov v tujini, kjer ste si oder delili z velikimi imeni, kot so Mayhem, Rotting Christ in Lacuna Coil. Prav tako ste nastopili na znanem bolgarskem festivalu Hills of Rock v Plovdivu. Kako je bilo igrati na tako velikih odrih in pred tako številnim občinstvom?

Absolutno fantastično. S sodelovanjem na festivalu so se nam uresničile sanje. Pričakali so nas na letališču v Sofiji in nato odpeljali v Plovdiv, kjer smo bili nastanjeni v istem hotelu kot vsi veliki bendi. Tiste štiri dneve smo dobesedno živeli kot rock zvezde. Nastop pred takšno množico seveda povzroči veliko vznemirjenja, a se ti za vedno vtisne v spomin. Nikoli ne bom pozabil našega pogovora med vstopanjem na letalo za Malto. Takrat smo si zadali cilj preživeti čim več takšnih trenutkov – ne tako, da bi bili samo eni izmed mnogih, ampak morajo postati nekakšna stalnica. To je bila prelomnica, saj smo se po vrnitvi začeli vneto ukvarjati z odhodom z otoka.

Decline The Fall, foto: DTF

Vaš prvenec Our own demise je septembra upihnil prvo svečko. Album je nastajal nekaj let. Kako ste ga ustvarjali in ali je kakšen del nastal tudi v Sloveniji?

Celoten album smo naredili na Malti, vključno s produkcijo in videospoti. Tako je, nastajal je nekaj let, saj smo morali prihraniti dovolj sredstev za profesionalno predstavitev. No, v Sloveniji smo naredili akustično različico našega prvega singla Nemesis in zanjo posneli videospot v Zrečah in na Rogli. Tamkajšnja pokrajina je čudovita, popolnoma se je podala akustični preobleki.

Vašo glasbo spremljajo zelo eksplicitna besedila o škodi, ki si jo povzročamo. Je to sporočilo, ki ga želite deliti s poslušalci?

Da, prav to želimo sporočiti javnosti. Vsi štirje imamo za seboj dokaj težke izkušnje in vemo, da je tam zunaj še mnogo ljudi, ki so se ali se še zdaj soočajo s podobnimi. Želimo jim dati glas, povedati, da jih razumemo, ker smo to že doživeli, in da imajo našo podporo. Žal je za reševanje nacionalnih sramot, kot je uničevanje dreves na Malti za gradnjo smešnega števila zgradb, naš glas premalo. Želimo si, da bi nas slišati tisti, ki lahko sprejemajo odločitve ali nanje vplivajo.

Je glasba še vedno tista, ki pripravi ljudi k razmišljanju, morda celo spremembam, ali smo tako preplavljeni s tovrstnimi sporočili, da jih preprosto ne slišimo več?

Kdor želi poslušati, bo tudi slišal. Težava ni v poplavi sporočil, temveč pomanjkanju zanimanja in nepriznavanju problema samega. Nekateri so preprosto preveč egocentrični in sebični, da bi sploh razumeli, da problem zares obstaja. Žal, mnoge ljudi v življenju vodita denar in pohlep.

Ste morda že imeli priložnost spoznati slovenske glasbenike in domačo metal sceno? Kakšne so vaše dosedanje izkušnje?

Spoznali smo kar nekaj glasbenikov in počasi ter postopoma spoznavamo tukajšnjo metal sceno. Konec meseca nastopamo v Kopru in prepričan sem, da nam bo to odprlo vrata za sodelovanje s slovenskimi bendi. Obiskali smo nekaj koncertov, vzdušje je bilo fantastično. Zelo podobno tistemu na Malti.

Kot si že omenil, ste avgusta izdali akustično verzijo skladbe Nemesis in povsem sami posneli videospot zanjo. Zakaj nova preobleka in kako je bilo delati video v lastni produkciji in režiji?

Tako je. Želeli smo poskusiti, kako bi nekatere skladbe zvenele v akustični različici. Vedeli smo, da jih lahko postavimo v čisto drugačen čustven okvir, pa bo sporočilo kljub temu še vedno močno, jasno in glasno. Prvič smo vse naredili sami, od snemanja in produkcije komada do snemanja in montaže videospota. Zelo smo zadovoljni z rezultatom, ker vemo, kako pomembno je, če lahko vse naredimo znotraj skupine.

Po 22 mesecih je končno prišel čas za nastop v živo in predstavitev albuma. Kdaj in kje boste nastopili, predvsem pa, kako se ob tem počutite? Načrtujete v prihodnjih mesecih še kakšen nastop?

30. oktobra bomo nastopili v Centru mladih Koper. To ne bo naš prvi Halloween nastop, zato se veselimo vzdušja in, seveda, vrnitve na oder po toliko mesecih! Vsekakor imamo v načrtu še druge koncerte, trenutno se skrbno posvečamo izvajanju ukrepov zaradi pandemije, za prihodnje leto pa imamo kar nekaj načrtov in komaj čakamo, da jih delimo s svojimi feni.

Kako so se na vašo selitev odzvali vaši feni na Malti, vas še vedno spremljajo? Želite nagovoriti tudi slovenske poslušalce? Imate kakšno sporočilo zanje?

Nihče ni pričakoval tako drzne poteze, sploh sredi pandemije. Povprečen Maltežan je prepričan, da je meja morje, a mi smo to močno presegli. Seveda, še vedno imamo veliko fenov na Malti, a želimo poseči čim dlje, vsekakor pa pridobiti tudi slovenske! Naj vedo, da smo prišli sem z nogami na tleh, pripravljeni trdo delati za to, da nas sprejmejo v slovensko metalsko skupnost, in komaj čakamo, da jim predstavimo drugačno glasbeno izkušnjo.

V skladbi Nemesis se sprašujete: ‘Smo zdravilo ali bolezen?’

Lahko bi bili zdravilo. Bolezen bomo, vse dokler velika večina ne začne s skupnimi močmi ustvarjati boljšo prihodnost za vse, ne samo tiste, ki imajo moč in denar.

Avtor: Nataša Fajon


English Version:

Decline the fall: Are we the cure or the disease?

Even if I wanted to, it would be hard to start with anything else, so… There’s a long way from Malta to Slovenia. Ok, it’s a beautiful country, I know, but it doesn’t happen every day that four metal musicians, members of a band, pack their bags and move to Slovenia. More precisely to Zreče. So, what’s the story?

As you know, Malta is a tiny island, which means that we are limited with space and things to do. For 4 musicians who want to make themselves heard internationally, remaining in Malta was a limitation. Slovenia was the ideal choice for us due to its central location in Europe and also because the cost of living and quality of living are perfect. We came across our house in Zreče thanks to a friend of ours who lives in Slovenske Konjice! Coming from a country where all you see is endless buildings, construction sites and sea, Zreče gave us the possibility to live surrounded by so much greenery and mountains!

It’s winter, you’re enjoying your new home, maybe there’s snow all around… There’s only one ‘little’ problem, a pandemic. Not a good time to be a musician in a new country. What do you do? Sure, all that had a bad impact on your plans or not?

We chose to move from Malta to Slovenia during the pandemic simply because, we’d rather start from scratch in another country rather than in Malta, since this would still represent a step forward. Yes of course, it is interesting waking up to snow, having to shovel the driveway in order to move the car, but it is something which we adapted to rather quickly. Since the pandemic meant no gigs and concerts, then we focused all our energies on our social media presence and on creating new material.

The band started in 2015 with a different line up and musical direction. When and how did Decline the fall become the band we know today?

The last line up change we had was when Matthew joined the band after Nathan left for Canada; I believe this was in 2017! However, I would say that the direction the band took up is synonymous with the bands’ technical growth. We have a constant desire to learn new techniques and in turn, pushes the band forward.

You like to say that you’re not just a band, but a brotherhood. What does that mean?

We are a constant support for each other. It is not just about creating, producing and playing music, but it also about accepting each other’s flaws and understanding that we are 4 individuals with very different ways of living and seeing life. We can open up with each other, be it for confrontation or be it for solidarity.

You’re known as one of Malta’s leading metalcore bands. Maybe people wouldn’t expect an island of sand, sea, and sun to have a metal scene but that’s very far from the truth, right?

I’d say that the metal scene in Malta is somewhat similar to the metal scene in Slovenia. Even statistically speaking, numbers present at gigs/concerts are more or less on the same lines. And same as in Slovenia, the metal community is closely knit where everyone knows everyone and there is general support towards each other, even if the styles of music vary. We represent a style that was uncommon in Malta and this helped with creating a very good following.

You played some gigs abroad, supporting international acts such as Mayhem, Rotting Christ & Lacuna Coil. Later, the band performed at the esteemed Bulgarian festival Hills of Rock, situated in Plovdiv. What was it like to play on a big stage in front of a huge public?

It was absolutely fantastic. The whole trip was a dream come true. We were collected from the airport in Sofia, driven to Plovdiv where we were accommodated in the same hotel as all the big bands. We literally lived 4 days of the rockstar life. Of course, performing in front of such a crowd gives the chills but remains imprinted in your mind! One thing I will never forget, is boarding the plane back to Malta and saying to each other that our goal is to live as many of these moments as possible – they cannot be one-offs, but they must become a constant. This was a turning point for the band, as this is what led to focusing on leaving the island.

In September your debut album “Our Own Demise” celebrated its first birthday. You were working on it for a few years. What was the process of making it, and did you make any of its part here in Slovenia?

As regards to Our Own Demise, everything was done in Malta – from music videos, production etc. As you said, the process took a few years since we were currently saving money to cover all the costs which go with launching such an album in an absolute professional manner. We did, however, work on an acoustic version of our first release ‘Nemesis’ in Slovenia and we also shot a music video in Zreče and up in Rogla. The scenery is fantastic up there and suited the acoustic version perfectly!

Your music is accompanied by very explicit words about the damage we’re doing to ourselves. Is this the kind of message you want to deliver to the public? What do you want to communicate with your music?

Yes, that is exactly what we want to deliver to the public. The 4 of us had our own experiences with many social situations and we know how many people out there suffer/ed from the same situations. We want to give a voice to these people, show them that we understand, that we went through it and that they have support. Unfortunately, when it comes to National situations like the annihilation of trees in Malta to make way for the ridiculous amount of construction sites, we need more than just our voices. We want to be heard by those who could take decisions, or possibly influence decisions.

Does the music still have the power to make people think and actually change something, or are we so overflowed with all those messages we simply don’t hear them anymore?

I think that those who want to listen, will listen. The problem is not the overflowing number of messages, but the lack of interest and acknowledgement of the problem in itself. Some people are just too self-centered and selfish to realise that there actually is a problem. Money and Greed have become the gods of many people unfortunately.

GHave you had the chance to meet and work with Slovenian musicians? Did you experience the metal scene in our country? What are your thoughts so far?

We did meet quite a few musicians and we are slowly but gradually getting to know the metal scene here. We will be playing a gig towards the end of October in Koper and I’m sure that this will give us an even better indication with working with other Slovenian musicians. We did go to a few gigs and we enjoyed the atmosphere that we found. Again, we found it to be very similar to Malta.

In August you released a new acoustic version and music video of the song “Nemesis” which was completely done by the band. The video was recorded in Zreče and its surroundings. Why the new version and video, and how did you feel recording your own material?

That’s absolutely correct. All members of the band had the desire to rewrite some of our songs with an acoustic mind frame. We knew that we could give a very different emotion, yet keep the message so strong, loud and clear. It was our first time doing the whole process, from recording, producing, shooting the video and editing the music video also. We are very happy with the result and we know how important it is for a band to be self-sufficient.

After 22 months, it’s time to play live again and finally promote the album. When and where will you playing, and most of all, how do you feel about it? Are there any other gigs planned for the coming months?

We will be playing on the 30 October in Center Mladih Koper – actually, this will not be our first Halloween event in general, so we’re looking forward to the atmosphere and of course, getting back on stage after so long! There are definitely other gigs in the pipeline, we’re currently making sure to implement the right precautions due to the pandemic, however we have quite a few plans for next year and can’t wait to share them with our fans!

What was the reaction of your fan base in Malta to your moving and are they still following you nowadays? Do you plan to reach Slovenian fans too? Is there any message you’d like to pass on to them?

No one really expected us to make such a bold move, especially right in the middle of a pandemic. The general Maltese person thinks that the sea is the limit, but we went well beyond that. We still have plenty of Maltese fans of course, but we plan to reach as far as possible and we most definitely want to reach the Slovenian fans too!

In Nemesis you ask yourself ‘Are we the cure or the disease?’

We can be the cure, but we will remain the disease till the vast majority start working together with pulling the same rope for a better future which suits us all, and not just the wealthy and powerful.

Autor: Nataša Fajon

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