Over the past two decades, Saint Petersburg-based quartet Grenouer has breathed new life into the European metal scene. Their elaborate blend of metal and alternative rock, combined with intense and cathartic live performances, has earned them a devoted fanbase and great critical acclaim. The band has evolved from sharp dissonances and tough subjects of extreme metal to an expansive worldview in both music and lyrics.
On their latest, seventh, full-length release Blood on the Face (Mausoleum Records), Grenouer firmly stands at the intersection of metal’s might and the innovation and melody of alternative rock. The album is a product of great collaboration. The band worked with behind-the-scenes talents like platinum-selling producer Anssi Kippo (Astia Studio, Finland), and the dysFUNCTION production team of Dualized and Eddy Cavazza who mixed the tracks and added programming and orchestrations at their studio in Italy. Engineer Mika Jussila mastered the album at Finnvox Studio in Helsinki, turning Blood on the Face into a gracious mix of Italian, Finnish, and Russian studio experience.
Blood on the Face was released worldwide in the summer of 2013, and currently Grenouer is making appearances at music festivals to promote their latest disc. Following the online release of “Blood on the Face” documentary and a series of music videos, Grenouer are hard at work on a new set of songs for what will inevitably be another epic release.
Recently Metal Empire caught up with the Russian metallers to find out what they had to say about their latest creation. With an album that certainly stirs some dark feelings within the soul, it was a great opportunity to find out what lurks in the mind of this great band. We also found time to throw some politics in there too.
Metal Empire: Hi, how are you? Would you like to introduce yourself for the Metal Empire audience?
Alexander Motor (guitar): Hallo, everybody! Here’s Alexander Motor from Saint Petersburg, Russia, guitar player of Grenouer band. It is really nice to meet you and your readers, answering questions and sharing our latest news.
Danny D: Hi, doing alright, I am Danny and I play the drums in Grenouer.
Metal Empire: What is the band up to at the moment? Is there something you’re working on currently?
Alexander Motor: At the time being we proceed promo campaign for Grenouer’s latest album “Blood on the Face”, answering interviews, releasing music videos and preparing for the big international festival event – PPM Fest, Belgium, and also playing gigs locally, not to mention that we write new songs.
Metal Empire: You recently released your seventh album, it’s a big transition from your older material, how have the fans of your older material reacted to such a big change in musical direction?
Alexander Motor: Comparing Grenouer’s debut album to Grenouer’s seventh album means comparing Mariana Trench to Everest, yet the change in musical direction had evolutionary algorithm. We were gradually changing from one album to another, still Grenouer managed to maintain individuality and openness. Die hard fans got used to metamorphoses and they welcome “Blood on the Face” even better than we expected. At least we felt their vivid appreciation on tour!
Metal Empire: Can you tell us a little about why you decided to make an album that sounded so different from your previous work?
Alexander Motor: I always wanted to create a heavy album with sensual vocals. In previous years that goal seemed unachievable, Grenouer were an extreme metal act, but finally we have grown into a rock band. That wasn’t an easy job to complete, in order to have correct emotions you need to experience them strongly. Each riff, each drum beat got through nervous system, and every vocal line was “suffered” at least one hundred times.
Metal Empire: Personally I love the new album. It’s got a really unique sound. How has the media and public reacted to your new material in general? Have you gained a lot of new fans or attention with the new release?
Alexander Motor: Thank you very much, that’s always cool if someone likes your music. In most cases we receive very positive feedback, including reviews in press and radio airplays. At the same time I can hardly speak about considerable influx of new fans, for that we need a vigorous and expensive promo campaign.
Metal Empire: What is your favourite song to play live from the new album? Which one does the crowd go the most crazy for?
Alexander Motor: I like to play all the songs from the album, and sometimes during gigs I discover new feelings that this or that song coveys. That has recently happened to Fix Your Life and Last Stop. I found out they are just different, but not worse than highly emotional Sands of Silence, quick-moving Blood on the Face and danceable Brain Fever.
Danny D: Every song is good in its own way and you just need to draw a correct set-list. I totally enjoy playing every song, giving my heart out.
Metal Empire: Do you have any tours coming up that you would like to tell us about? Where will you be playing over the coming months?
Alexander Motor: PPM Fest is the most important happening for Grenouer in the nearby. Of course we don’t limit ourselves to that festival only, still at the time being there are no distinct plans, because we are not signed to any booking agency. We are not going to relax though, playing live is a major part of our life!
Metal Empire: You released a video for Midday Show late last year, which uses stop motion effects with lots of atmosphere. Can you tell us about the idea behind the video and how it came about? Does it have a meaning?
Alexander Motor: Any finished product presents itself a metaphor, including ordinary sense and actions. Stop motion or any other effects remain tools of empathy, so that a viewer could walk in the main character’s shoes. Our artistic task is to touch the raw nerve and that definitely requires meaning.
Metal Empire: Can you talk about your production process? How does the band write new material?
Alexander Motor: We prefer to compose the major part of the material jamming, as Grenouer needs the group feeling. It is fine to bring ready ideas but they never work to the full, it is only a vector. Only after playing together we get plugged, beheld “electricity”, and normally it takes a lot of time. But when the instrumental parts seem ready – it is only the benchmark. Vocal parts might change everything and riffs get modified again until the songs sounds perfect.
Danny D: Right now Grenouer are in full swing of such process. Line up changes took place and we achieved the balance, feeling magnetism, connection and ability to express thoughts, understanding each other. I like that a lot, songwriting process is labor-intensive yet very interesting, including initial trying, blending and arranging with increased focus on details.
Metal Empire: As you guys are from Russia, it would be interesting to hear your perspective. Do you have any feelings on the current political situation that’s going on between Russia and Ukraine at the moment?
Alexander Motor: Sad times have arrived. Russian politics have unleashed cold war, no matter how they call that. I am against annexation of Crimea, against interference with Ukraine and I support democracy. The saddest point is that many people here speak in favor of that poor policy, looks like they don’t understand that living in Evil empire doesn’t bring neither happiness nor stability. Censorship, arrant propaganda and cult of personality… I never expected this could happen so soon again.
Metal Empire: Who’s the most interesting person or band you’ve ever toured with?
Alexander Motor: Several years ago we support Testament show in Moscow, that was unbelievably awesome, ‘cause I am a big fan of that band. After all, their songs made me a musician, and playing before them meant a lot to me. I also enjoyed supporting Textures on their Russian tour. Well, we have chanced to meet with many outstanding bands at open air festivals, and in most cases we experienced brotherhood, as a rule every metal musician is an all-around man, very positive and it is hard to distinguish the most interesting person. They are all great!
Metal Empire: Is there any band/s that you would really like a chance to play with over the next year, is there any bands you are going on tour with you are excited about?
Alexander Motor: There are a lot of bands Grenouer would love to tour with – Korn, Motley Crue, Sixx AM, Rob Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Stone Sour, Alice in Chains, Sevendust, Lacuna Coil, Stone Temple Pilots, Linkin Park and such list can be easily continued. Getting back to Earth, we have a lot of friendly bands in former USSR states and in Europeto team with, but if you want a bunch of two bands, working as a single whole, book Grenouer + Italians Figure of Six, together we shall kick some ass over!
Metal Empire: What are you hopes for the future of the band? Where do you guys see yourself going moving forward?
Alexander Motor: Moving forward is true meaning of Grenouer’s existence. Our expectations are great and we still reckon that someday we shall achieve world tours and heavy rotation. I hope that Grenouer shall manage that just because after 22 years we deserve something.
Danny D: The most important is to have goals and to set tasks, paying attention to objectives and never going around in a circle.
Metal Empire: When it comes time to write and record the next album, do you think you will transition even more, or do you think you will return to your older roots more for the follow up?
Alexander Motor: A bit too early to speak, yet I am sure that we shall not be “getting back to roots”. We are an independent artist, and we can afford doing what we want. Anyway, we shall proceed developing the mixture of something heavy and something melodic. We have got to sound not less fresh than on “Blood on the Face”.
Danny D: Of course the future album will have its own zest and character. This happens just naturally, starting from freewheeling. As long as we have a proper idea, everything begins to rotate around it, and thus we aim to find something very peculiar.
Metal Empire: Do you receive much fan mail, and if so what’s the craziest, creepiest or coolest thing you’ve ever gotten from a fan?
Alexander Motor: Receiving fan mails is also a big pleasure, seeing that someone follows you and knows what you do. Such mails arrive occasionally from unexpected parts of world, like Argentina or Malaysia. I don’t remember anything particularly crazy, there were strange words like “Grenouer music saved my life”, “me and my granddad dig your tunes” or “please come to play at my wedding”. It was also unusual one day to correspond with Billy Gould from Faith No More who said he knew our band and was quite aware of our background.
Metal Empire: A just for fun question, if you were trapped on a desert island what one thing could you not live without?
Alexander Motor: I would say wine, cheese and ink-fish with chargeable battery. Without these things life on a desert island is senseless. Or at least I ask for a crab, a coconut palm and a swimming pool.
Danny D: Sometimes I wish to disappear in a desert, and do understand that I need a lot of water for the day and some vodka for the night!
Metal Empire: Thank you for taking the time to speak to Metal Empire. Do you have any final words, or anything you would like to add?
Alexander Motor: Thank you for your questions and for your interest towards Grenouer! I would add only NO WAR, or GreNOwar, which explains everything.
Danny: Thanks a lot, that was really nice to talk! Thanks for support, stay rock and be good!
Grenouer – Brain Fever (Official Video)
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