For many, Krobak‘s claim is due to featuring members of Stoned Jesus in their ranks, but for others it’s due to their awesome post-rock. The Ukrainians (who released Ukraine’s first post-rock album), released their amazing Nightbound album to critical acclaim. To find out more about the album, I sat down with the whole band to delve into the band’s history, the making of the new album, post-rock and the future of the band.
Jack: Hi, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. How are you?
Marko (Violin): Better than ever! This year has been one hell of a ride for everyone in our band and pulling ourselves together to record “Nightbound” and release it.
Jack: How did this line-up of Krobak come about?
Igor (Guitar): Well, I was just thinking of resurrecting “the project” for one festival show back in 2012, after a three-year hiatus from all Krobak-related activities. But eventually this “project” morphed into a full-time band, and I’m very happy with the result!
Jack: Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Yndi Halda and Mono inspired the band’s work. What inspiration did you take from these bands?
Igor: The scope, the range, the atmosphere – I was really impressed by post-rock back in 2006-2007, but quickly realised I wasn’t the only musician to be inspired by these particular guys. Unfortunately, too many bands fall into this “crescendo-core” category, and you must find the way to avoid that AND express yourself while doing all of it.
Asya (Bass): Mostly – some personal emotional associations, while listening to them. I believe, Nightbound doesn’t sound like anything from this list or even anything at all, and we’re really proud of it.
Natasha (Drums): There was that GY!BE show in Istanbul back in 2015, the most emotional and intimate live music experience I’ve ever had. Goosebumps and tears I couldn’t help. I can’t say it influenced me as Krobak’s drummer in particular, but the whole experience was truly inspiring and I think such things touch upon various areas of one’s life.
Jack: The Diary of the Missed One is Ukraine’s first officially released post-rock album, how does it feel to have this achievement under your belt?
Igor: [Laughs] It brings a lot of memories, but there’s no pressure of being somewhat “legendary” act or something. Basically because nobody cares that much, can’t blame them though.
Jack: Do you have fond memories of opening for Alcest?
Asya: It’s not only memories, we have video. [Smiles]
Natasha: I remember we recorded a short video invitation in French (!) with Igor playing Sur L’Océan Couleur de Fer on the background.
Marko: Yep, that was fun!
Jack: Maybeshewill, who you supported called it a day this year, what do you miss the most about this band?
Asya: By the way, our drummer Natasha did a very nice interview with Maybeshewill, when they were in Kiev with their last show (I suggest you to watch, it’s really good!).
Natasha: I guess it’s bass player’s smile I’m gonna miss the most [Smiles].
Jack: Your excellent LP Nightbound was released back in November. Are you happy with the response to it?
Natasha: We’d been pregnant with this album of ours for a bit too long, you know. Sure, we’d have been disappointed if Nightbound had no response. But what makes me really happy is reading real people reviews and comments. Our listeners appear to get images and ideas we could not think of when working on Nightbound, and it’s just wonderful, it lets the album live its own life.
Igor: I know it’s a cliche for an interview, but this is definitely our most mature work to date and the one to be defined by. It’s really amazing to watch it take over music fans’ playlists and music media ratings, and all the feedback we got so far is so, so positive. And it’s not like “yeah cool post-rock here”, people analyse the shit out of it!
Jack: Do you pay much attention to reviews?
Asya: As our music leaves a lot of space for imagination, it’s always interesting to read somebody’s independent opinion or personal associations caused by our songs. That’s why I’m trying to read some interesting comments/reviews on our music. But if to be honest – I can’t say that I’m obsessed with reading everything about us/our LP.
Igor: But I am! Love me some reviews, especially if they’re about the stuff that I’m involved with.
Jack: How would you say this album is different to Little Victories?
Asya: [Laughs]. I hope you can literally HEAR how much NIGHTBOUND differs from Little Victories.
Igor: Same here. The musicianship, the mix, the atmosphere and of course the musical direction of this new material – stepping up our game here. Everybody brings stuff to the table, ideas floating, comfort zones get crushed, all of that. But I’m already feeling like we can go deeper – and we certainly will on the next record!
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Asya: For me – it was a pleasure [Smiles]. The whole recording was done at Studio Lipkyzvukozapys, just us and Vadym Lazariev, the calmest person in the whole world, probably. We had a whole space of variations to pick up the sound we like, to use or just try different effects, and other stuff like this. So when I’m listening to our LP now, I don’t have those thoughts like ‘oh, I could done it in this way…..’, like I used to have with some other records before.
Natasha: Real pleasure. Very friendly atmosphere at the studio, true professionals working there. Asya has already mentioned it.
Marko: Literally there was no pressure and the choice was all ours [Laughs].
Jack: How does a Krobak recording session differ from a Stoned Jesus one?
Natasha: The key difference is that unfortunately we don’t take part in Stoned Jesus recording sessions.
Igor: What she said! Well, all recording sessions are kinda similar, aren’t they? But if we talk creative process, that’s a whole other animal. Stoned Jesus is more like ‘I bring the songs and the folks help with the arrangements’, while Krobak these days is very, very collaborative thinking-based…and I’m loving it!
Jack: Krobak’s music seems to have a strong Eastern European influence. How has being from Ukraine influenced your band?
Natasha: It’s so hard to tell. The music we make is influenced by our lifeworlds. Surely, Ukraine forms a big deal of it, but I personally don’t really know how our music would be different if we had lived in the UK for example.
Jack: Is there a concept to Nightbound?
Igor: Not really, I don’t think so. But see how it flows just like a tiny live set: a slow burner (“Stringer Bell”), a banger (“No Pressure”), an epic finale (“So Quietly”) and an encore (“Marching”).
Jack: What inspired the name of the album?
Asya: We’re still not sure if this word actually exists, but it does in Russian, for example (although it sounds a lot more different). When we were thinking of the mood behind the album, I have to say ‘So Quietly Falls The Night’ was the main influence here. But, as we’re not going to spoiler our own associations about this album, I already said too much!
Natasha: It was Igor who came up with “Nightbound” and eventually insisted on the name. I like the night concept/spirit here.
Jack: Do you plan to tour in support of the album? Do you plan to visit the UK/Europe in support of the album?
Igor: We would love to, despite being pretty busy with our jobs and personal lives…like, Marko is a young father now! Playing festivals seems more like an option for now, but then again – it’s all about the booking.
Natasha: We’re open to offers.
Jack: What are the other upcoming plans for the band?
Igor: Again, some live shows in Ukraine and hopefully beyond – our 2014 European tour in support of “Little Victories” is our only non-UA touring experience so far. Natasha is in another band (H.Soror), as well as Asya (Small Depo), Marko is all about the dad stuff these days, and all these beautiful people still got their day jobs, you know? I’ll be working on a new Stoned Jesus LP this year, writing, recording, releasing and touring the shit out of it…so I’d say Krobak might keep a relatively low profile in 2017. But again – we’re pretty positive about playing shows, looking forward to offers! And working on new musical ideas is always great, especially now.
Jack: What makes post-rock such a special genre?
Igor: Well it was pretty challenging and fresh back in the day, but – as with every genre – tons of imitators have eventually drowned this excitement. But for me as a musician thinking outside the box is a priority, so I really hope with Nightbound we’re doing a good job at making post-rock suck less, [Laughs].
Asya: I’m still not sure what post rock is about as a genre, as far as bands like Slint, Talk Talk, A Silver Mt. Zion and Maybeshewill are “in” it, so for me post rock is a special one because it doesn’t have strict rules on sound/songs structure etc.
Natasha: Totally agree.
Jack: Finally, is the track Stringer Bell named after Idris Elba’s character from The Wire?
Jack: Thanks for your time and I hope to see you in the UK soon!
All: Thanks for having us! Cheers!
Marko – Violin
Asya – Bass
Igor – Guitar
Natasha – Drums