Jinjer’s energy landed on Italy for two consecutive evenings: during the second one, at the MK Live Club in Carpi, we had the opportunity to have a chat with Eugene Kostyuk, the band’s bass player. With him, we went throug a long overview of the whole career of the band, from the origins up to their ever-increasing popularity.Italian versionHi Eugene! I’m Leonardo from MetalPit, and it’s a pleasure to have you as a guest on our webzine. It’s been two years since the release of “King Of Everything”, your latest album: since then, what’s changed in your career, and in your life too?
Everything has changed, our drummer too (laughs) – in fact, we changed our drummer two months before the release of “King Of Everything”. And, with that album, basically everything changed: before “King of Everything” we were just a small band from Ukraine, and now we are an international band with tours around the world.
A couple years ago you played at the BUMA (Best Ukranian Metal Act), sharing the stage with other young talented bands, such as Ignea etc… Do you feel yourself like a standard bearer for Ukrainian metal? Is your ever-increasing popularity opening the door of your country to metal?
To some extent that’s true, but it’s not so straightforward. Only because our band, Jinjer, is famous, it doesn’t mean anything: it won’t open any doors (directly, I mean). Maybe for some people there’s a reason to look at the whole Ukrainian metal scene and find new bands, but it’s a small portion of people. I can’t see any real influence, any straight impact on making our bands famous all over the world, just because we are famous.
But it works in a different way. After a lot of years on tour, I’ve had a lot of contacts and I’ve met a lot of friends, in Europe and now in America. When a young Ukrainian band comes to me and asks for a piece of advice or for contacts, just to get in touch with them in order to organize a tour or at least one show, I just give them these contacts, and it helps a lot. For example, in Ukraine we have a band called Space of Variations: a very good one, they won the BUMA last year. I gave them contacts and it helped them, because they started to tour Europe this year and they’re playing more and more: I think that for them this is only the beginning, and they’re going to make their own way. In this way we help the others, but just because one band is famous… nah, I don’t think so.
All these difficulties are caused by the economic, politic and social situation in Ukraine, or are there any other reasons? I think that for Ukrainian bands is difficult to break through the international metal scene…
I think that there are difficulties for all bands: at this point, I can’t see so much difference between a Ukrainian band and an Italian one, in order to break through. Maybe for German bands it’s easier, because they have a big market in their own country, a lot of places to play and a lot of metalheads; in countries such as Italy there are less people who listen to metal, and even less in Ukraine. Generally, it’s difficult for all the bands to break through because, as I told in an interview a little while ago, it costs a lot and it doesn’t matter where you come from. Sorry for being straightforward, but it’s a matter of how much shit you can eat. You have to sleep on the floor, in somebody’s apartment; you have to sleep in a van for a few days; you have to cover enormous distances in a van, 2000/3000 kilometres in a days, to play only one show. Also, you have to save money on everything: instead of buying an hamburger at McDonald’s, you have to take a slice of bread and some fish (not fresh fish) at the supermarket. We’ve passed through all of these things during our first tour. But, more than everything, it depends on two things: how much effort you put into it, and how much good your music is. If you compose bad music, nobody will come to your shows and all your efforts will be useless: instead, if you compose good music you can go straight ahead, put everything aside and put goals in front of you.
In 2018 Jinjer travelled around the States for their first time. For European bands it’s very tough to make a tour in the US, and not only economically. Can you tell me more about your experience?
It was awesome, and it is awesome: we had our first tour in spring, we just came back from the summer tour and we’re going to return this fall with Devildriver. Things are going very well, and all this success is probably caused by the fact that we made people wait for us for a very long time. We have the biggest fanbase in the States, and they were very eager, very hungry to see us: we satisfied them, but I think we will not go back in the States until the fall of 2019. It has been really cool, so far: full-back clubs everywhere, a lot of people who came to see us. But you’re right when you say that it’s very difficult and expensive. The main problem for European bands, no matter if you come from an EU country or not, is to get a Visa: and it’s not a B1 (affairs Visa) or B2 Visa (tourist Visa), it’s a worker Visa. We had to skip our first three shows in Texas because they got delayed. Visa costs are very very high, as well as flight costs. And, if you finally make it there, you have other costs: van rental, paying your professional crew (at the beginning of our career we had friends as a crew, and one time we couldn’t pay them), and at least you need a tour manager. A tour manager who knows America very well, who speaks proper English, because not everyone speaks English, and maybe your English level isn’t enough to go into business there. For most of the bands it’s the label who pays for it, but some of the expenses you have to pay out of your pocket. In our first leg of the American tour we haven’t earned anything, but it’s okay: we loved to play in the USA, and we were very happy to finally make it real.
Now you’re an international band, playing headliner tours but also the most important metal festivals. Which one do you prefer: the most glamorous stages, or the clubs where the crowd is two step in front of you?
It just feels different, but both of them are important: yesterday we played in Milan, in a club like this (MK Live Club) where the crowd was right in front of me, but it’s as important as playing for 2000/3000 people like we did at the Ressurection Fest in Spain. Both of them have pros and cons, and this is why I can’t choose one of them.
We’ve talked a lot about your career and your tour life, now it’s time to talk a bit about your music. Your genre is really difficult to define, because you have a lot of influences (as a lot of modern metal bands). Can you tell me more about your musical background, if you have some bands that influenced you more?
It’s difficult to pick one, two, three bands: there are more groups which influence our music. But well, obviously I have favourite bands, which are Gojira and Meshuggah. I grew up with American technical death metal, such as Death, Cannibal Corpse, Atheist and Cynic – which are also progressive metal bands. I also loved doom metal, bands like My Dying Bride, Anathema – even the latest albums, more melodic and softer but still wonderful -, Katatonia… I love all the subgenres of metal: the progressive metal of TesseracT and Monuments, and nu metal too. One of my favourite bands are Mudvayne: I have to say that Ryan Martinie (Mudvayne’s bass player) is probably my biggest inspiration, and has had the biggest influence on me as a bass player. But the spark who ignited my love for rock and metal music was Nirvana: I was 12 when I listened to them, and I was completely floored.
But we listen to more than metal: as a bass player I listen to funk and jazz, where amazing musicians play, like Marcus Miller, Victor Wooten and Jaco Pistorius. And finally, we also enjoy rap music: Cypress Hill, House Of Pain, Wu-Tang Clan – guys love listening to them -, Onyx … as you can see, there are thousands of bands which we listen to and influence us!
Thank you very much for your extensive answer. We’re arrived at the end of the interview, but before you leave, I have the last question. With a post on Instagram, you’ve announced that this fall, in the States, you will play new songs. Can you give me a little preview about that?
We’re going to release an EP: we don’t have any release date scheduled, but we will enter the studios on the 15th of September. It will be more progressive than ever, a new chapter in our career!
I look forward to listen to it! Now the interview is over for real: thank you very much for your time, it was a pleasure to have a chat with you.
Thanks to you Leo! See you soon!