When I was first introduced to the music of Motherpig, I was really blown away; let's face it, when you listen to literally hundreds of bands each week, it's often times difficult to get excited enough to set aside other albums you have in the queue and simply sit back and listen to one album.
Nojev Let was one such album which I listened to repeatedly the first day I got it, it's an outstanding piece which beckons the listener to continue on; being that it's sung in Bosnian all it takes is reading the lyric sheet once and you've got it!
I've listened to bands from every corner of the earth and though there are many bands from this region of Europe, Motherpig is the most promising, with an incredible style and unique sound which is both outstanding and sorely needed in today's world.
I was able to catch up with founder Sharan and discuss a bit about the band, his musical background and the future of the Motherpig...many, many thanks Sharan!
ThrashHead: Were you born in Yugoslavia before it's disintegration during the nineties? Were you raised in Sarajevo?
Sharan:: Hello, Rene! First of all, I would like to say thanks for having me, it's not really a common occasion for Motherpig to be reviewed and interviewed at all, so any kind of exposure is great, but having us at ThrashHead is more than awesome.
Yes, I'm born and bred in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Back then in eighties, Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the six socialist republics of Yugoslavia. I've lived in Sarajevo my whole life except four years during The Bosnian War - then I was a refugee in neighboring Croatia.
ThrashHead: The Balkan conflict was the worse Europe had seen since World War II, the stories coming out of there as the world stood by and watched was horrific did that not only have a huge impact on you as a person but on your music as well?
Sharan:: It would be pretty much an insult to say that Bosnian war shaped me as a person, as I've previously said, I was a refugee, but I also heard some grenades, some bullets and saw some barricades and blood, fortunately, a lot less than my friends and citizens of Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Refugees also live through their own traumas, living in coastal shithole in Croatia full of nationalistic assholes in the nineties wasn't a really fun and games. But I don't like to brag about it - I'm alive and well and that's the most important thing.
Conflicts like war always shape you, mold you into something. I don't know how it shaped me up, but I could say post-war situation did most on that field for me, just as for my generation. Darkness in our music comes from our own personal conflicts, inner struggles, growing up here. Atlija, guitar player who completely wrote the music for the first album also had bunch of his struggles and musical inspirations on the table when he wrote it... it's a mixture of our feelings.
That conflict was surely the worst fucking thing since WWII, but then again, I can somehow see the bright light, although it's a small ray of it. Maybe I'm imagining, maybe that's what I would like to see. You know, world fucked us over not only by complete ignorance and false media storytelling in the nineties, but also by forcing our "constitution" onto us. Dayton Agreement is dreadful and unfair, it ain't worth the paper it's printed on. People here still live in fear, fear caused by narrow-minded perspectives, media induced terror, small talk by incompetent idiots that somehow end up on TV and in newspaper. It will certainly change, although Bosnia and Herzegovina still breeds fascist idiots and generations of morons, there are new forces arising, civil society is getting stronger, full belly is more important than God or territory.
ThrashHead: The lyrical content of the album delves heavily into socio-political issues, they take a long hard look at people, how they act, this world and the powers that be...but as I mentioned in a recent review of "Nojev Let" it doesn't feel like some white suburban punk from the States writing about these things, it has a quality of earnest honesty, of living much what you sing about...would it be safe to assume that being Bosnian plays heavily into that?
Sharan:: Lyrical content could be considered as socio-political critic, but it isn't just that. It's not your average crust/hardcore stuff. I'm not pissed off by some dickhead in the government, I'm pissed off because I'm too weak to react in a best possible way. I'm pissed off because society stands for bullshit and never reacts. Protests are a charade. Voices spend more time fighting against each other than together against oppression. It goes from global, macro scale to micro scale, to the nucleus of the family. "Krv Jeste Voda" (Blood is Water, as opposite to blood is thicker than water) is my own realization of myself in my own family. My father, my own blood, putrid blood to be exact, did everything in his power to fuck me up. So, this song is a final farewell, farewell I've said a long before song was written, but I had to make a monument for it. Fuck off, just because we're blood related doesn't give you any right to fuck me over. Nobody has a right to fuck someone over. Never. Blood ties can be best or worst thing. "Izbor" (Choice) is a song about choices we all make - you can be angel or you can be the devil, you'll pay your dues. Stand tall and fight. Now, if a person realize this on his/her own micro level, that person can be a useful member of healthy society.
About Bosnian bands and lyrics... just as anywhere in the world, you have smart and dead-fuck-stupid lyrics and meanings. Motherpig had its share of stupid during noisecore phase in 2004/2005. But I've skipped it. You just grow up.
ThrashHead: You've said Motherpig has a hard time finding a proper audience... can you explain it?
Sharan:: Well, it's because most of the people like to get stuck in their own little barns. In Bosnia we're too punk for metalheads and too metal for punks and neither of these two are even vaguely interested in supporting the scene in right way except dropping bombs via WI-FI. We're rule benders in so many ways and we're not part of the whole clique. A friend of mine told me once we should put some fucking wolf skulls and bulletbelts on our cover art if we consider ourselves to be crusties and if that is "what it takes". First of all, I do not consider myself anything else than rock'n'roller. I dig bunch of stuff, but I will not eat veggies, walk a dog and have dreads down to my ass just to be likeable material. And I've always said stuff against narrow-minded politics of punk subculture. We should all be different, it is what makes us all interesting, our own DIFFERENT stories. Somehow, not having dreads and looking pretty casual (few tattooes, Rickenbacker and long hair probably doesn't count as valid today) also influenced our influence on a larger scale. But I'm too old to jump to some bandwagon right now. To each his own. I just think people who like to discuss stuff or think they like to discuss and investigate, learn new things are missing a lot by judging music by anything else but music. And I think Motherpig's music has a lot to say to potential listener. Early songs really didn't, but since "Nojev Let"... message is obligatory for every riff and every word on our albums.
ThrashHead: Long before Motherpig and other projects, how were you introduced to the underground music scene?
Sharan:: First it was music... Motorhead, Nirvana, Ramones, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Metallica, then came Iggy Pop, Pantera, Run-D.M.C. and then I've tried to find musical soulmates and I found them in the underground. Other bands came after that and I got completely hooked in my early teen years. I never came back.
ThrashHead: Out of all the bands which had the biggest impact on you while you were still in the early stages of becoming a musician, who would it be and why?
Sharan:: Number one and every other number: Motorhead. Lemmy's bass playing, singing, total direct lyrics and meanings. Motorhead is lot of times considered a classic, but based on very bad basis. Motorhead is not a greatest rock'n'roll band ever because Lemmy fucked 2000 women, snorted speed and drank 250 bathtubs of whiskey. They're great because they've never gave up and they have their own message. A good, solid, universal message that every single person in the world can very easy co-relate to. Who else? Hm... Amebix played a huge part in Motherpig's history because of that feeling that can easily be described as postapocalyptic, dark. But it's really a positive message. Just as messages in Motherpig's lyrics.
ThrashHead: Motherpig has had numerous lineup changes and it seems you've really had to fight to get to this point; what were some of the best and worst moments leading up to the phenomenal debut "Nojev Let"? There's even one point where you had to turn the vocal duties over to someone else because of "Health Issues"?
Sharan:: First it was only me for three years, during noisecore/grindcore phase. Bad programmed drums, lot of CDr releases and awful lyrics. Then came Zvone (guitar) and Alex (drums). Alex was really a guy who started it all, he bored me to death to make Motherpig a live band, and I didn't want to because there wasn't really anyone quite interested in grindcore we've played back in the days (when I say grindcore, think "Scum" and any album by Agathocles). But we did a few rehearsals and fit in pretty nicely, so we started getting people interested in stuff we do. Then Zvone left and Atlija came in 2009. Alex, Atlija and me recorded "Nojev Let" and upcoming album "Savršeni Krug". Atlija left at the end of 2012 because it started getting really hard for us to work efficiently as a team situated in two different countries (Atlija in Croatia, Alex and me in Bosnia) and he moved even further, to Zagreb. In 2013, Alex left the band because he managed to sign for music academy in Austria where he'll live for at least four years. He's still a part of a band in some way, but we'll see what future will bring. Johnny took over guitars in 2013 and we're still on the lookout for a new drummer. I have a friend of mine in mind, but we'll see what will happen, we need to hit rehearsal room first to see if we'll click. Anyway, we're not going anywhere.
Yeah, I didn't sing for a short period of time in 2009, our vocalist was Osa aka Odron, a guy with million black metal bands and projects behind him. He replaced me in front of the microphone because I was wrongly diagnosed with hernia. It was really a minor cyst on one of my testicles. I've cured it, and came back to sing on European tour in 2009 because Osa didn't go with us. Shortly after, he left the band. Osa's voice can be heard on our 4way split album with Burial Ground (Belgium), Spooky Steve (US) and ... And You Shall Live In Terror (UK).
ThrashHead: When listening to Motherpig, I'm getting a heavy crust punk vibe, dark Amebix like qualities, but with some serious heavy metal overtones in the guitar playing and beats...how would yourself explain such a unique sound?
Sharan:: Well, as a friend of mine, you may know him, Rob The Baron Miller, would say: music is not a dick swinging competition. When Motherpig plays, we're not putting any pressure onto ourselves nor competing with anyone; what listeners will think, what potential label will think, what genre to fit in, it's all unimportant. The only important thing here is honesty. I call it rock'n'roll. It's Little Richard and Dismember and Amebix and Motorhead and Sacrilege, it's everything we like. It's Malignant Tumour and Inepsy, it was early Napalm Death and Extreme Noise Terror. It was even Anal Cunt and lot of porn and goregrind bands in the beginning. That's how we do. Taking inspiration from stuff that inspires us.
ThrashHead: Your first major European tour was back in 2009 right? You even opened for legends Napalm Death, how did that tour for you guys, what were some of the lessons learned?
Sharan:: Touring Europe in 2009 was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Bands fully develop when touring, as persons, as a team. Smelly van, cheap hostels or apartment floors, fucked up organization and bitch-ass promoters... it can be really, really hard for a small band such as Motherpig, but then again, you learn a lot, about respect, about responsibility even when having fun, about other people. You develop, as I've said. We also embarked on Balkan Mini-Tour in 2009, so 2009, all in all was the best year for Motherpig concerning gigs. Since then, we've never went touring again (we had tour planned in 2010, and it was completely canceled). Why? Easy. It's expensive, none of us in a band have a driving license, therefore no car and we're not owners of any backline. Playing in Europe all along would probably get us all in debts so deep we would never recover and with my paycheck so miserable I cannot buy food with it for one month (not talking about bills or any fun; and I'm a graduated journalist working since I was 17!) and family including 1 year old daughter (happy birthday, Lili!) to support, debts caused by Motherpig are least I need in my life right now. I wish I could play and pay my bills by playing because I'm in rare position of having really supportive partner and that would be my dream come true job, but the situation is like this at the moment.
Gig with Napalm Death in Sarajevo... what have I learned? Force your bandmates to bring spare instruments. I went on stage, Alex sat behind drumset and our guitar player (it was Zvone back then) dropped the guitar SECONDS before stepping onto the stage. Guitar broke and there we were, without a guitar on a most important gig of our lives. Other support band Flatline and their guitarist Slaven were using baritone guitars and they couldn't fit our tuning (standard E back then). I was so pissed trying to communicate with Zvone about it. Promoter came up to me and said: "Either you play without guitar or you don't play at all. You have 25 minutes starting NOW." I've turned toward the audience, hit the volume knob to the fullest on this huge Ampeg amp and turned my overdrive pedal to 11. We've smashed it, Osa was doing lead vocals, I did backs and bass, Alex was drumming. What I've found out later is that Mitch Harris of Napalm Death was so kind to retune his Flying V guitar to standard E, but Zvone didn't want to go out and play with us. He quit the bend after playing one last gig with us. Barney Greenway said to me we've sounded like some kind of drum'n'bass grindcore experiment. Which can be considered a compliment, right?
ThrashHead: I've heard rumblings that you guys are working on new tracks as we speak now? Tell me about that, are we to hear a new album sometime in 2013?
Sharan:: Actually, it was recorded in 2012 in August, but it took a bunch of time to be produced because somebody jinxed us or something. Wherever we went, computer broke, files went missing, no time to do it, imagine shit, turn it into shitstorm and release it upon us, that's our luck. We're finally wrapping it up, same team as on "Nojev Let", but it will surely sound greater than anything we've ever done before. Why? First of all, we've recorded it old school way, Atlija, Alex and me played together and we recorded vocals later. So, no overdubs, maybe one or two where we couldn't play acoustic and electric guitars at the same time. We've added some keyboards for atmosphere.
Album title is "Savršeni Krug" (Perfect Circle) and it's again in Bosnian, so arm yourself with Google Translate or ask for translation; we'll be glad to hand it over. It's a perfect, gem in the crown result of Lemmy/Taylor/Clarke line-up of Motherpig, different in many ways from Nojev Let, but still holding our essence. You be the judge. Album will be released on CD by Zero Budget Productions from Czech Republic, and Motherpig will also release it on digital download via our Bandcamp page. Cover art was hand drawn by magnificent Enis Cisic (check out his FB page facebook.com/enis.art) and layout was done by our good friend Boris Stapic who also did complete layout and cover art for that 4way split I've mentioned earlier.
First song of it is called "Borba" ("Fight" see below) You can also download it with name-your-price tag at our Bandcamp Page.
ThrashHead: Ok, I have to know, you have a Mexican in the band...how did that happen, did his family move to Bosnia for business? Did you meet him on tour somewhere else in Europe?
Sharan:: Alex real name is Alejandro Mulaosmanovic Alcantara. His father is Mexican and his mother is Bosnian. I really don't know his complete background story, but we met here in Sarajevo. He's been living here as long as I know him.
ThrashHead: Apart from being in a band you're very much involved in the Bosnia and Herzegovina music underground, could you talk to me about some of your other projects such as Izvan Svake Kontrole?
Sharan:: To keep a long, long story short, Izvan Svake Kontrole or ISK is my multimedia project started in 2004 consisting of ISK Web Magazine, ISK Radio Show and ISK TV Show, which first season just ended and we're getting ready for second season. I'm also a PR manager for BHxHC Booking and SMF Promotions, two biggest Bosnian booking agencies which gave an opportunity to fans in Bosnia to hear bunch of bands such as Madball, Agnostic Front, Biohazard, Exodus, Suicidal Angels, Death Angel and so on. So I also do that. I have my own little ambient/drone project called Topheth where I play everything and I'm singing in pure speed rock'n'roll band Snake Eater, bastard child of Motorhead and Turbonegro, under the moniker of Rocco Rajvosa. And I'm the president of Turbojugend Sarajevo. Quite proud of it.
ThrashHead: If you could really sum of the importance of music in your life in a few sentences, what would you say?
Sharan:: Music, particularly rock'n'roll, raised me alongside my mother and for me personally it did only well, made me a better person. For me it never was (only) about getting chicks or drunk, I loved every single moment of it, carrying amps, writing articles, losing patience, dealing with great and not so great aspects of it. You need to learn to love it and you need to learn it seriously. You need to give yourself in completely, without any breaks. Music speaks to you. Learn to listen.
ThrashHead: Once the new album is released, are there any plans in trying to organize another European tour? Any thoughts about maybe trying to get across the Atlantic and do some shows Stateside?
Sharan:: Another (and another and another) tour would be great, but money more than time is holding us down. I'm really strongwilled, but you just can't fight stuff like debts if you don't have any weapons. First of all, I think I need to get my driving license finally, it would make it much easier. Going to USA or Going to Brazil, as Lemmy would say it? I would if I could and I know I should. Another continent would mean new cultures, new experiences, new everything. If anybody finds us interesting enough, maybe some of you fat-ass, mortgage paying refugees living in USA (who probably don't waste time on ThrashHead, they're too busy listening to shitty pop or folk from their native country), call us up. And then, you punks should all come.
ThrashHead: What would you like to say to Motherpig loyalists out there?
Sharan:: Listen to rock'n'roll, ditch cigs if you can, it's expensive and stupid, I can't, but I'll try again in near future, mind your manners. Listen to Motherpig and hit us up via e-mail or any social media, we like to talk to our friends. Thanks, Rene!