Interview with Maria of RAMPART
„Voice of the wilderness“ is out now for a longer time. Can you tell me about the reactions in Bulgaria and the rest of the world ? Would you say the album is successful so far?
We are more than gratified with the reactions. And I can say that our album is successful. Although “Voice of the Wilderness” is a debut it was more than welcomed in the world metal society. The press as well as the fans in Bulgaria and the rest of the world responded enthusiastically. This stimulates us to work in the same direction – classic heavy metal with a higher quality.
Tell me about your bandhistory. How did it come to form Rampart?
Rampart was formed in 2006 by the guitar player Yavor (Yatco) Kamenov and the drummer Borislav (Bobby) Glavev. Before that time the two friends were playing together for years. In May 2006 they invited me to join their project as a vocalist. Since then Rampart began to live as a band with the concept for concerts and the idea that each of us should contribute to the band. A solid base for this was the several completed compositions written by Yavor. After lots of shows we decided to involve in our work additional musicians. Now the best of them are in Rampart. The guitar player Victor Georgiev and the bass player Alexander Spiridonov are involved in the process of writing new songs and enhance the creative impulse of the band.
In my review I told that I can hear sometimes parallels to bands like Gamma Ray. How would yourself describe your kind of music and your sound ?
Our influences are diverse. As the main composer Yavor is inspired by Running Wild and by the classical music. Besides traditional heavy metal my influences come from the early thrash scene, bands as Laaz Rockit, Metallica, Death Angel, Paradox. As a vocalist I am influenced mainly by Kai Hansen and Bruce Dickinson. Our phythm section – Bobby and Alexander are influenced from the melodic hard rock. Our music is a result from the mixing of all these influences, of the original composer‘s talent of Yavor and the will of the band to create classic heavy metal at a contemporary level. Althought our high requirements toward ourselves and toward the quiality of the record, the fact that we produce ourselves, the lack of experience and the small budget are the reasons because of which we are striving for a better sound. In reference to our style we are already on the highway!
It seems that the whole band shares the work. Who is responsible for the lyrics and the music?
The monopoly on the lyrics is mine. Yavor holds the monopoly on the main music ideas. Sometimes it happens he to ask me to write a text based on his idea in a way he imagined it when composing the music. Our second guitar player Victor brought lots of new music ideas which we are currently working upon. However his ideas pass through the exact editing of Yavor. Everyone in Rampart is free to implement his ideas. And in this meaning we indeed work as a band. We have similar approach of thinking and enough freedom to act.
Your album is published by the french Label Inferno Records. How did it come to this contact?
The story began with the release of our demo EP “Warriors”. On 08.08.2008 we selfreleased it with the idea this to be our promo CD. I sent it to some European metal media, and to some labels, and that is how it reached the French label Inferno Records.LaterInferno Records suggested to help us with the promotion. The demo received a good feedback in some European contries. As a result, and when I informed them that we are recording our full length album „Voice of the Wilderness“ Inferno Records offered us a contract. For us their proposal was a good chance and a kind of recognition as well. We are grateful for their support. For all members of RAMPART the most important thing was that they are true metalheads and that they indeed like our music.
Bulgaria is not the main country of metal or music business. How difficult is it to get in contact with the people you need for support, touring and recording?
If you visit a metal concert in Bulgaria you could change your mind and correct some of your impressions. The metal fans here are more than could be expected. The music easy reaches their hearts, but a little bit hard reaches their CD collections. As being a metal band we have difficulties with the debut and with the small music market in our country. But these are difficulties which many bands face in the beginning. We believe that when we are working in the name of our music, the things will happen earlier or later. Here in Bulgaria lots of musicians say to themselves „Nothing’s gonna happen!“ and they stop to work for themselves. I don’t think that it is necessary to explain the difuculties we overcame in details. Until we take care of the band things are developing in the right direction. Till now we arrange our dates, our tours, our recordings and a major part of our promotion. And we are happy with the results.
Where was „Voice of the Wilderness“ produced, and who was working with you on that?
The album was recorded in a new Bulgarian digital studio called “Pacific”. About the producing – we did it. Of course it happened with the help of the sound engineer Alexander Kalanov and with the guy who mixed the album Jhelqz Jhelqzov. As it was a debut release there were differences between the people inside and outside of the band. There were also differences between our expectations and the final result. Our experience in the studio gives us conviction that our next recording will be better. We are currently working on the material for our second album which should be out somewhere in the beginning of 2011.
There are lots of orchestrations on that album. And some songs have a little middle age touch. What does this mean to your music and do you want to make it a trademark in your sound?
These are the elements which our composer Yavor uses. We think that they are successful to a high level. They do not dilute our style and at the same time differentiate us as a band. We will snatch at them again for sure. I doubt that a composer should run away from himself. And I endeavour to support these elements (the orchestrations and the middle age touch) with my lyrics.
Are their any plans in touring europe or even overseas?
We do have offers, but the negotiations are not finished yet. We expect the number of our engagements to be on the increase. We hope your readers to hear our music and to judge it on its merits.
What does the name Rampart exactly mean and what is the story behind that bandname?
Rampart means a bastion, a fortification. This is one direct and really pretty name. We are grateful to the fate that it is not occupied by any classic heavy metal band, to which probably we should be fans. The name has no special story. We have a liking for the thought that we are defenders of the right faith.
On the albums frontcover we see a flash hitting a tower. Is there any concept behind this artwork and who did it?
The idea of such a concept on the front cover of the album was Yavor’s. The artwork was created by a graphic design studio in Bulgaria “A 1”. This is the Baldwin’s tower at Tsatevets fortress which is a medieval building from the time of King Kaloyan who defeated the crusaders in the battle of Odrin. It is also a symbol of victory and of our band’s name as a bastion of the heavy metal in Bulgaria.
Let’s talk more about the lyrics. Are there special themes you like to use in songwriting?
I am inspired mostly by some subjects from the first Crusades and Pirates of the Caribbean. Later I wrote some texts about knights and pirates. The novel of J.R.R. Talkien “Lord of the Rings” is another source of inspiration for my lyrics. We have one song in the first album “Orchrist” concerning this topic. Orchrist is the name of the sword of Torin and Bilbo Baggins. I wrote three more texts related to “Lord of the Rings”, but probably not all of them will be included in our next release, because it will not be a concept album. Besides legendsand historical topics I often like to use subjects from the real life matters or social topics which I interpret to metaphoric fantasy stories for an easier perception.
Do you all work in civil jobs outside the band and how can you manage this with your band activities?
All of the guys in the band work in civil jobs, I work for the military. The obligatory military service in our country was recently abolished. When being asked if somebody of them has been soldiering my bandmates look at me and answer „She does!“. That is the reason for which in our first video you can see sequences of military equippment, tanks, helicopters, missiles and exersices of the Land Forces. These video flashes are used with the special permission of the Chief of the General Staff of the Bulgarian Army. You can watch the video in You Tube (//youtube.com/watch?v=YwE7WDAdxuw). The fact that we succeed to manage our jobs with our band activities is a reflection of our keen love towards heavy metal music.
On your myspace site you tell that you will appear in early autumn on a Helloween and Gamma Ray tribute album. A norwegian label will publish that. How did it come with this?
The upcoming tribute album to Gamma Ray/Helloween – “HelloRay” is an awesome initiative of the Norwegian label Epicus Records. The label succeeded to involve in this album fascinating bands as Germany’s Kickhunter featuring Markus Großkopf (Helloween), Signum Regis from Slovakia which features Göran Edman (Malmsteen, Time Requiem), Guardians of Mankind from Finland, Gaia Epicus from Norway. The idea of this tribute is the bands participating to be real fans of Gamma Ray/Helloween. This makes the album different from the previous tributes and I am sure that it will raise interest. Our participation is with the song of Helloween „Just a Little Sigh” which we recorded specially for „HelloRay”. I suggested to the members of my band to take part in this initiative. And we decided that the idea of making such a cover song is good for Rampart. I contacted the label and applied with our music for the tribute album. After submitting our demo EP „Warriors“ they chose us to participate in the project. The tribute album “HelloRay” will be out in the fall of 2010.
What bands or kind of music are you listening in your freetime and what was the bandmembers influences?
I already explained our influences. In our spare time we are listening to different kinds of music. When we are together we even have some conflicts on this issue. When the rhythm section is gone too far with the melodic hard rock stuff, we balance for instance with Bolt Thrower. The great drama of the guitarists is Running Wild against Iron Maiden. But this is the way we have fun. We are listening radically to heavy metal. The drummer Bobby and me; we are open for thrash music and heavier genders as well.
In 2008 you released an EP called „Warriors“. Now on your first full length album the song „Warriors“ is also included. Did you re-arrange that former single or did you leave it like it was?
All of the songs in the EP are included in the album. „Warriors“ and „Voice of the Wilderness“ are not re-arranged but only re-recorded. The song „Mirror to Dreams“ is seriously re-arranged because its version in the EP was special… Although the demo sound of the EP „Warriors“, I think that the release successfully reverberated our wild energy.
Soon you will be also part on a metal compilation called „Kill City Vol. 22“. Please tell us more about this.
On April, 6th 2010, the American label 272 Records released the metal compilation “Kill City Vol. 22″ with our participation. We were kindly invited to join this metal project with our song „The Flood“. The compilation includes all metal genders. Various bands from different countries took part in it. Some of them are German but we are the first Bulgarian band in this compilation. You can see the bands‘ appereance order at the web site of the label: http://www.272records.com/272_Records/Kill_City_Vol_22.html The release is already for sale in our MySpace Profile, Amazon.com and Amoeba Music – Hollywood’s largest and most popular record store.
I would like you to come over to Germany for some gigs and having some german beers with you. Any chance to book some dates in Germany next time?
We promise you (about the beers), ha ha ha. We are negotiating for some gigs and we indeed would like to see the reactions of the German audience on our concert.
Ok. Thanks for the interview. At last you can tell the people anything you want to.
Thanks! Listen to our music at MySpace – http://www.myspace.com/rampartbg. Wait for us and till then stay metal!
Interview by Kerbinator for METAL FIELDS