Deep in the recesses of Saint Petersburg, four musicians otherwise known as Grenouer are breathing new life into the metal scene. Whilst the current members have been around for over a decade in the band, they still remain true chameleons of alternative metal. The outfit has shape-shifted over the years, constantly pushing boundaries in this genre. They've gone from the conventions of extreme metals 'growling and shouting', as charismatic front man Andrey Ind explains, to intense vocal drills and training.
The result has produced some spectacularly powerful and emotional harmonies. In a landscape that demands authenticity, Grenouer are beacons on metal's horizon, showcasing their ingenuity, craftsmanship and staying strong amongst the haze. With seven full-length albums tucked into their world-wide repertoire, Andrey Ind and guitarist Alexander Motor have taken this outfit to a whole 'nother level with guitarist Danny, and drummer Daemon completing the bill.
They released a full-length album 'Blood on the Face' last year, a high quality production featuring the talents of Finnish platinum-selling produce Anssi Kippo and engineer Mika Jussila. The dysFUNCTION production team of Dualized and Eddy Cavazza mixed the tracks, and added programming and orchestrations at their studio in Italy. This international imprint is felt through each of the songs, the expertise is palpable and the finish is so masterful it'll surprise you with its elegance. This must surely be a paradox in alternative rock terms. To put it simply, this is the raison d'etre of Grenouer's music, artistic and visual brilliance.
Andrey Ind chatted to me about the band, their artful video clips and of course, the music.
Question: I've watched a number of your clips, plus the documentary (love that) and it's interesting, because after watching a few of your songs I wrote two words: Raw emotion. Your videos (which are spectacular) showcase a dark, gritty aesthetic, and are really symbiotic with pushing your music's emotional charge.
I'd love to know more, as it is a potent combination of mini-documentaries, really tight little stories that invoke a great sense of feeling on all ends of the spectrum. How have you consistently delivered on such high quality?
Andrey 'Ind' (lead vocals): Thank you very much! Video production turned out to be a prominent part of Grenouer's album "Blood on the Face", but it happened quite by chance. We intended to shoot clips for two main singles only, but the directors involved, did not manage to fulfil their jobs properly and Grenouer were forced to look for other directors. Our seeking ended in finding more people able to shoot a lot more than two songs.
At the end of the day, seven music videos were accomplished by different directors with substantially different approaches - including different equipment (one preferred magnetic tape camera, another one just used iPhone 5S), and there were ones using expensive cameras and lenses). Some of the videos tell a story, some show musicians only. The best part of it is, these different clips shape uniform and mood, corresponding to the whole album, and subject matters are closely intertwined. We are happy about the generated aesthetics that evokes strong emotions, because the music of "Blood on the Face" is also dealing with emotions, and implementing spectacular visual representation for the major part of the album is not what every band undertakes today.
Question: I wrote down some lines that struck a chord with me from Blood on the Face, 'world's against me', 'the violent power of my hate' and 'I won't survive' (purely from a powerful vocal perspective). In the Metal Rules interview you said you like to give 'pegs for listeners to hang onto to'. Can you tell me about some of the pegs in this track and the driving force behind it?
Strong emotions are easier described by strong words, yet by no way I suppose my lyrics are violent, at least not these days. These strong words have symbolic impact and I am not a narrator here - just sharing my stream of consciousness that fits the flow of the song. I guess a reflective listener understands that. For instance, 'I won't survive' means not the state of dying, but dramatic excitement of frayed nerves. As a matter of fact, the title of the album 'Blood on the Face' was initially 'Blood in the Face' meaning the feeling of anger rather than actual blood. And don't ask me about the front cover picture! That job was done by the label.
Blood on the Face, Grenouer
Question: Whilst each of the song compositions is slightly different, there's a definite sense of momentum when I listen to your tracks. From the creeping guitar riffs, the layering of the drums – how it builds and then releases, typically with the chorus – the evocative reprieve.
I know you've collaborated with some stellar sound engineers, mastering, musicians etc. … As a band, do you work on melodies, riffs, etc. together, or does someone get inspired by something and you pull it together? Keen to understand how you create your combined expressions.
It normally starts with a guitar riff or a drumbeat, but we need all of us together to turn the initial thought into a framework of a future song. Thus it is not correct to say that a guitarist composed this or that song. And even if I write every word in the text myself I prefer to credit that to the whole band, 'cause without the embedded logic and vibe of the songs I wouldn't have written it this way.
Question: I've read that you do\have toured through Russia and Europe, where do you have a fan base that surprise you? I'd love to know what other parts of the world are listening to Grenouer. With many fans from your 'harder' days still staying on the journey, was being malleable as a band, and experimenting with a different sound important for evolution?
We are humble warriors, and we have never been familiar with serious success, even though Grenouer releases are distributed worldwide (that's right - promotion leaves much to be desired). It is a rare occasion when someone mails us from an exotic country. Well, but Russia being huge in itself is a peculiar country, and it surprises a lot.
Just imagine, a 70-year-old fan from Siberia is delightedly buying our records. Speaking about the fan base, "from the previous decade", I have to admit that many old-school fans are disappointed; still we are independent enough to follow our own path. It is a challenge to plough a lonely furrow and Grenouer is doing that not for gold medals. There are fans growing older and wiser together with us and they are definitely the best!
Question: What would you like Australian audiences to know?
Since Australia looks like the opposite part of the world, it's with great pleasure I would love to tour in Australia. I guess those who like contemporary metal based on decent melodies can easily understand our music. Whatever bullshit politics might say and do, I always hope this by no means should separate ordinary people and especially people sharing interest in music.