interview with Claymorean

Have any of you played in other bands?
Vladimir: I’m a co-writer in
Midnight Rain, together with our friend and producer Boris Surlan, which is an eclectic prog rock type of a studio project involving numerous musicians and vocalists. We recorded 2 studio albums so far and one single. Also I recently finished the debut album of my black metal project called
Sorrow’s Grave, which features my friend Matt DeVries from USA on vocals. Besides those I started a doom metal project called
Blackest Void, together with my wife Dejana, who happens to sing in Claymorean too, hahaha. As for my previous bands, there were just too many to mention here.
Dejana: Claymorean is my first “real” band. Before that I used to sing in a cover band and today I sing in a project with Vlad called Blackest Void. I sometimes sing backing vocals for Midnight Rain and wrote a couple of lyrics and melodies for that project.
Goran: Nope.
How is it that you started playing music?
V: I started playing the guitar at the age of 11, listening to Iron Maiden, Manowar, Helloween, Yngwie and many others. At that time I was already thinking of writing songs and starting a band, which happened shortly. Then someone stole our instruments from a place we rehearsed in, but that didn’t stop me, haha!
D: My first instrument was a classical violin at the age of 8. I attended music school for choral singing and after that I switched to operatic singing. As far as my metal singing goes I studied it by myself listening to a lot of hard rock and metal singers since I was small.
G: I looked at my brother’s guitar one day and said to myself “well, let’s try to do it, it doesn’t look too hard…”
What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you?
V: My name is Vladimir a.k.a. Vlad Invictus. I play guitar and occasionally try to sing. In a month I’ll be 39.
D: My name is Dejana and I’m the lead vocalist. I just turned 24.
G: My name is Goran. I’m the bass player and I’m 34 years old.
Have you had other previous members? V: Good question, since we have a really long list of ex-members… Too much to mention…
Did you make music even when you were young?
V: Actually yes! I wrote my first song at the age of 12. That song later appeared on our 2nd album “Lament of Victory” and it’s called “Crossroad of Forever”. Sure it sounds slightly different from the original, but the main structure remained the same.
G: Yes, a couple of novelty songs about neighbors and then shit started to get real.
Where are you from?
V: We are all from a Serbian town Lazarevac, a small mining place near the capital city of Belgrade.
D: Same here, hahahaha.
G: I’m couple of buildings away from these two.
What year did the band form?
V: Hmm… that’s a debatable question… First incarnation of a band called Claymore started in 1994, but the 1st album was not recorded until 2003. Then we went on hiatus until 2012. We also changed the band name to Claymorean in 2014. So, I’d like to think we’re a new band with the old roots, hahaha.
D: I became a band member in 2012.
G: I started to play in this band in 1998, then left until 2003, then left in 2004 and came back in 2014.
What's your style of genre?
V: It’s basically heavy metal, but since most people are into subgenres today, I will endulge them and say we’re a power metal band with epic elements and a female vocalist!
D: And we’re not another Nightwish clone, if anyone thinks that because of the female vocalist.
What inspires you?
V: So many things really, but mostly books, comics, movies, TV shows… anything that has something to do with fantasy, history and horror genre!
D: Epic movies and books… Basically anything that triggers an emotion which inspires me to write.
G: Comics, movies, video games and sports!
How often and where do you rehearse? V: A tough one here… Since we don’t have a drummer for some time now, we stopped being active in terms of rehearsals and live shows… Serbia is a small country and Lazarevac is even a smaller town, so basically metal is not a very popular type of music here. Hence, we don’t have many choices available for finding a proper drummer or places to rehearse… For now…
How have you developed since you started with the music?
V: I think we grew a lot musically… You can hear it in our music… One might say we’re back to the roots of a genuine and classical heavy metal, but with a touch of something ours, which we think is unique… but we might be wrong, hahaha.
D: On my first record “Lament of Victory” I was forced by Vlad to sing in some crappy falseto operatic style, which I personally wasn’t comfortable with, because I have very loud voice. That mistake was corrected on our new album “Unbroken”.
G: I’m not upgrading myself as a musician. I just play whatever they tell me to.
Do you have other interests of work outside the band?
V: I work as a solicitor in a mining company, I hope that’s the proper word for what I’m doing nevertheless, haha. I like to collect Masters of the Universe toys… pardon, action figures…
D: I’m still studying… few exams more to get a diploma as an engineer in industrial informatics.
G: I’m collecting comic books. I read them too, hahaha. Mostly Marvel stuff.
Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that? V: Currently my answer is no. We tried, but got robbed, hahaha… Not a huge amount of money though…
Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that?
V: We were on 3 labels so far, but our current label Stormspell is doing a great work, so we’re more than satisfied with where we are at the moment.
G: Those CD’s they print look pretty sweet…
What made you decide to make this music?
V: My love for metal music for sure! I always say I’m a fan first!
D: Music really pumps up my blood and I love it! It’s my driving force!
G: I’m a metalhead for 25 years now and counting… I love to make metal songs!
What are your songs about? V: Mostly fantasy based stuff… On a new record there’s a quintology based on Warhammer story. So, anything that has swords, axes and loinclothes works for me!
Who does the composing and writes the lyrics?
V: On the first 2 records most songs I wrote by myself and very often with Goran’s help, but on “Unbroken” all of us composed together and that’s the real beauty of it!
D: On “Unbroken” I wrote my first stuff for Claymorean. I hope I will continue to do it on our next releases.
G: I usually come up with some ideas and then we exchange them together and make some epic songs…
Do you start with the music or the lyrics?
V: It depends… Sometimes I have some very powerful riffs and melodies, but can’t write shit! On the other hand, sometimes I write great lyrics, but musically nothing comes to mind… That’s when a little help from my friends jumps in!
D: I always have a certain melody first. Then I think about the lyrics.
Do you compose in a certain environment?
V: Yeah! In my living room! It has everything I need… the smell of books and plastic toys always makes a fine inspirational environment for me!
D: My living room is a beautiful place for a musician.
G: It just clicks!
Have you done any covers live?
V: A bunch! Virgin Steele, Manowar, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Stratovarius, HammerFall, Judas Priest… I like doing covers live! Audience seems to love it too!
D: I used to sing Whitesnake, Purple, AC/DC, Rainbow, Heep and many more with my previous band.
What language do you sing in? G: It’s 99.9% in English, but we do put Latin and Serbian occasionally.
What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs? V: As far as this band goes, we had over a thousand at a festival in 2004, but surely not everyone came to see us, hahaha. Few times we played in front of 50 people! It was great, because sometimes 50 true metalians can be as loud as 5000… No, not really, but still loud!
What ages are most of your concert attendants?
V: I’d say from 15 to 25…
D: Yeah, if we don’t count my parents, hahahaha.
Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary? V: We haven’t had that many gigs, so the answer is probably 50:50… We tried to perform live as many of our songs as we could.
Do you have a regular place you play live often?
V: Earlier it was this place in our hometown, a Culture center, where we had lots of gigs… Nowadays not that much.
What was your first gig like?
V: It sucked, but we won some prize, for covering Mozart’s composition… It was in 1994 with the first line up of the band… Crazy times…
D: It was on a local festival in 2012 with Claymorean, then known as Claymore. The PA was goddamn awful. I couldn’t hear myself singing. It was louder than hell, thanks to our drummer who turned himself up as if he was a leading instrument!!!
G: My first gig with this band was in 2003. It was pretty cool! Before each show I have this stage fright which disappears as soon as we hit the stage!
What was your latest gig?
V: June 2014 at Serbian Metal Festival in Belgrade! Great show! 14 excellent bands in two days, but not much of a crowd…
D: Same one and it was a great experience for me.
G: That show was awesome!
Have you had to cancel a gig?
V: Many times… more than I’d like to remember… but one stands out as a most regretful cancelation… Storm winds really didn’t want us to play that day…
Where have you played live this year? V: Sadly, nowhere…
Where do you plan to gig the comming year? V: If there’s a possibility, we’ll work on it. Had a few invites, but without a drummer it seems highly unlikely for now.
When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale? 
D: We sell CD’s on our Bandcamp page, but we’re out of stock soon. If someone wants to buy them, better hurry up!
Where can people buy your merchandise? V: Through our label Stormspell Records, also on eBay, CD Baby, Bandcamp and various webstores.
What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days?
V: It’s OK when people download an album to hear it before they buy it, but downloading for free and not buying the music you like is making things hard for musicians. Money doesn’t grow on trees and every musician must pay for the instrument, equipment, studio, videos and lots of different stuff. If there’s no selling, either albums or shows, there will be no new albums and no new shows. So, by buying a record, you help the bands to survive.
D: Agreed with Vlad on this one.
G: I understand a lot of folks don’t have enough money to buy all the albums they want. For that reason I can relate to those who download, but also I understand the position of the bands.
How do you think the music industry have changed because of this?
V: It has its downfall for sure. Only the big names can live from music. Smaller acts look out for themselves. Labels are signing lots of trendy types of bands. I’m talking about the big ones, of course. It’s a neverending wheel that went down the hill and sooner or later it’s gonna crash into a huge tree!
D: Small bands need lots of money to participate on tours with bigger names. Labels won’t pay for that stuff anymore.
What do you think of my work?
V: Journalists like yourself are helping the small bands to get some attention, like we do by giving this interview to you. Your work is maybe the final stand for the unknown acts.
D: Long live the independent metal journalism!
G: Journalists help a lot and it’s good to see all of them working for the benefit of metal bands.
How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music business?
V: It all depends on how many people will read it and luck is the deciding factor here.
D: I really don’t think of it. I’m just glad when anyone take some time to read anything related to my band.
G: It won’t change things drastically for us, but it’s cool to get some spotlight.
Do you have any role models or idols?
V: As a guitarist I was heavily influenced by the great ones like Yngwie and Gary Moore, but as a musician and a fan I can say that bands like Manilla Road, early Manowar, Virgin Steele, Running Wild, Rush, The Beatles, Venom etc. really helped me growing up to be a composer.
D: Since I was a kid I wanted to be a new David Coverdale, hahaha. Today I find inspiration in many great singers like Noora Louhimo, Ida Haukland, Eric Adams, Dio, Marco Hietala, Brittney Slayes, Blackie Lawless…
G: I like Chuck Shuldiner, King Diamond, Andy LaRocque, Bal-Sagoth, Rhapsody (of Fire), Manilla Road… They all contributed to my creativity and musical output.
Why do you think that they exist?
V: Because people need role models, for life is often very hard, so whatever works to make it through another day is fine with me, as long as it doesn’t ruin anybody else’s life.
D: I don’t know why do they exist, but still they inspire me…
G: If they’re doing something good then I see no harm if people would look up to them.
Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today?
V: It depends. I don’t think metal music today has nothing to say. There are many great acts nowadays that I personally love to listen to, like Rhapsody, Blind Guardian, Orphaned Land, Keldian, Ayreon, Bal-Sagoth etc.
D: Inspiration is everywhere where a certain emotion is present.
G: Older bands were the pioneers, but there are lots of bands today that took something out of the old ones and made it sound even better, so I’d say both are great!
What have been your biggest obstacles?
V: Not being able to find a constant drummer!
D: Apart for living in Serbia, my biggest obstacle as a musician is dealing with metal bands who are no more than “wannabe’s” and not being able to share my emotions with a live audience because of the current state in the band.
G: I agree with both Vlad and Dejana on this one.
What advice would you give other bands or artists?
V: Listen to as many bands as you can! Support each other and don’t follow trends dictated by the media! Get in more personal touch with your fans on social networks!
D: Do anything you feel is true to yourself as an artist.
G: Play the music you love, not the one label tells you too. I know nothing will change in the music industry’s thinking, but nothing’s more rewarding than playing what you actually like.
How do you get psyched for a gig?
V: Few beers and I’m ready to unleash hell!
D: Just gimme the mic!
G: Stage fright gets all over me before the show starts. Then I enter in some kind of a blackout state and I can’t remember what happens after, hahahaha.
Do you have any new material?
V: We’re currently working on our 4th record. The ideas are piling up slowly.
What are your web sites?
D: We don’t have an official site yet. We’re currently dependent on free social networks, hahaha.
How can people reach you? V: People can reach us on Bandcamp, Facebook, YouTube and Soundcloud.
What are your plans for the future?
V: Making as much albums as we can, as long as we have the proper inspiration to do it.
D: Being with people I love and keep making the music that inspires me.
G: To write good music, find a job and read a bajillion of comics!
Do you have something to add?
V: Thank you for this great interview and a possibility to say something for those who are unfamiliar with our work. Message for the metal fans everywhere - support your local bands and listen to Manilla Road!
D: Thank you for the opportunity of being heard! Keep up the good work! To the fans I’d like to say this - start listening to music and stop following the trends.
G: Thanks for contacting us at first place. This interview was awesome! Keep listening to metal!

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