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With a new album recently released through BadMoodMan Music, Amber Tears offer their first new music in nearly a decade, but still with little in the way of self-promotion. Comrade Aleks attempts to lift that veil with the help of vocalist Anton.

Interview with Amber Tears.
"I remember that the Amber Tears (aka Янтарные Слёзы: "Yantarnye Slyozy") debut album 'Revelation Of The Renounced', released by Stygian Crypt Productions, was kind of a big thing back in 2006. First of all, the Russian Doom scene was just starting to slowly bloom, and this band from Penza turned to be a kind of discovery for many of us. Russian lyrics, a good portion of Pagan Death/Doom - in the vein of the then-inactive Gods Towers - and the quality material made this album like a Christmas present for fans. About that time, maybe a bit later, I tried to interview the band and was quite disappointed what it didn't happen. Now, Amber Tears once again prove their status of an underground Doom band: they have a relatively new album, 'When No Trails' (BadMoodMan Music, 2019), but they have no proper photos or pushy promotion, and it seems they can live with that. We're going to make a little change to that, and I'm glad to share this interview with Amber Tears' vocalist Anton Bandurin with you."

With Aleks today: Amber Tears' Anton Bandurin.

Hi Anton! Amber Tears was formed in 2002: what was your vision of the band? Did you see it as a Doom or Pagan band when you were working on the first songs?

Hey! It's hard to recall after all years have passed but at the beginning we definitely wanted to be more pagan than just doom. We were always spending a lot of time hanging out in the forests those days so it influenced our thoughts and our vision of a music.

Your debut album, 'Revelation Of The Renounced' saw the light of day in 2006. Did you spend all those first years shaping the band's sound, or did it take time to complete the line-up?

First we recorded a home made demo and when we started turning it into an album our sound producer disappeared and we lost all the materials. So it took time to make some earnings start all over again. But the good thing was that during that pause we'd rewritten a couple of songs and wrote new ones so it was pretty useful thing.

Anton with Alexey Rylyakin (guitars) and Dmitry Slipchenko bass).

The first thought that struck me, when I was listening to the album for the first time, is how close it is to Gods Tower's sound. That's really good, as there weren't any followers of Gods Tower back then. Did you aim to replicate Urakov's approach of emulating the sound of folk instruments with guitar?

Sure thing! We've always were and are their fans. We are in love with the unique guitar sound they have. I think no one could repeat their awesome sound. Cheers Lesley!

I remember that the album was welcomed very enthusiastically: did you have recognition from abroad, or did you mainly get feedback from Russian fans?

We didn't get tons of personal feedback on it but there were some. Our label promoted the album abroad and we got pretty positive feedback in magazines and at websites. In 2006/2007 we had a gig with Saturnus and are still getting warm greetings from Thomas. Cheers Thomas!

Amber Tears - 'Откровение Отречённых' (Full album, 2006):

Was it a problem when people compared Amber Tears and Gods Tower?

Of course not! We are so inspired by their music and they influenced us a lot.

Initially you only wrote lyrics in Russian, didn't you think to write a song with English text? Didn't you feel you could reach a wider audience working in this direction?

Indeed. I partly agree with that, but I just hate how it sounds when non native speakers sing English. In the most cases it sounds terrible.

The band split for a short period, between 2009 and 2010 - what was the reason for this break?

It was dark period of uncertainty and loss. We all were living in different cities and practically lost a connection. Nobody wanted to do anything for the band, no new music, no new lyrics. We were just living our lives.

Dmitry Schukin (guitars).

BadMoodMan released your second album, 'Key To December', in 2010. What's the story behind this album? Was this material composed right in the period of Amber Tears disbanding?

Well, I would not call it disbanding, but a hard time that changed us and gave a growth. Our bassist Dmitry left the band and he was influencing our sound a lot. At that time another Dmitry (our lead guitarist) became the main composer in the band and took the responsibility of recording all guitars and producing most of the music. He was sitting and recording the songs, sharing some ideas with me and I was writing lyrics in parallel. Then, sometime after, we met and understood that we have enough materials for the album agreed on album concept and overall sound and decided to kick it off. We invited Victor (our drummer) to the studio and started the second album production. That's why this album is what it is: a bit raw but it has an atmosphere.

Did Dmitry write most of the material from the start? Or was it mainly common work when you composed songs?

The first one was teamwork. Intro, outro and some riffs were by Alex (rhythm guitar). All synths were by Dmitry (chords and later bassist). Maxim (the first bassist) has written one of the texts. So yes that was a great teamwork.

This album shows Amber Tears individuality more clearly: how do you see the band's progress in these songs?

That album is inspired by the feeling of emptiness that we wanted to share with an audience. That's why it is about winter doom. I've accumulated all my internal cold, all what I've passed through and wrote a couple of texts. If we talk about the whole sound - we wanted to create something more conceptual following some main idea.

Amber Tears - 'снег' (Live, 2012):

So was/is it a main Amber Tears idea - to evoke that feeling of alienation and hollowness? Did it change from album to album?

True, but I always tend to put a bit of hope. I write about something that touches me and this is a baseline for all the songs.

How often and where did you usually play live? What's your most rewarding experience concerning gigs?

We recently made a show after the 3rd album release but we don't perform much now. In the past we had many cool gigs in Russia but it's hard to highlight some exact one.

How often did you play during the first years of being a band? Were you interested at all to perform Amber Tears material live?

In 2006-2007 we were performing once per couple of months. That was a time when doom was popular in Moscow and there were a lot of interesting bands. That was a cool time.

Did you use real folk instruments in your songs? There was a harp on your second album.

Starting from the second album we use harp played by Dmitry (our lead guitarist).

And does he play it during gigs as well? It's quite an exotic instrument, I remember only Shape Of Despair used kantele in their songs once, it was played by Aslak Tolonen from Nest.

Oh no he doesn't that's pretty hard assuming that he needs to play his guitar in the same time and he has only 2 hands :). But harp is a awesome instrument we definitely have to think how to add to our live shows.

'When No Trails' appeared in spring 2019, why did it take so long to finish the album? How actually long did you work on composing the songs?

This time that was me who delayed it for a whole year when all music was already composed and prepared for the recording. And the second thing is a time that Dmitry could spend on recording process. This time he was not only the author of all the materials but a sound producer as well. And anyway we do everything slowly (we are a doomers!). We don't hurry. And this time we wanted to make a 100% perfect album.

Amber Tears - 'Спой Ветер, Спой Ворон' (2019):

Will you hurry with the next album? Do you feel a necessity to write new songs right here and now?

Most likely. Honestly we are yet to talk about it. But we are pretty inspired after our latest release and feel fruitful. We need to push Dmitry a bit :)

How did you spend the period between albums? How often did you play gigs?

If you mean if we perform in any side projects, Dmitry plays in a folk band Strianniki, Victor (the drummer) is a professional musician playing in a tons of bands and I do nothing. And besides the music me and Dmitry usually take outdoor trips. We don't make any gigs as I mentioned above.

How was this recording session organized? How would you compare it with the sessions when you were recording 'Key To December'?

It was pretty much the same as the previous one. Dmitry composed all the materials then came to Moscow studio and victor recorded drums, then I came to Penza studio and recorded vocals. The only difference was that this time Dmitry was a sound producer and it was super comfortable to record (less nervous). Everybody became a real musician during these years so everything went smoothly!

Solitude Productions release your albums under the BadMoodMan sub-label, which specializes in "not true Doom" stuff. Is that OK for you? Do you see Amber Tears as a Doom Metal band?

Honestly we don't care about the borders and genres and what is true and what is not. We play just slow metal. Who cares about it in 2020. Everybody is experimenting now.

How would you sum up Amber Tears' ultimate message?

Listen to metal, love nature and friends! Don't be lonely.

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Visit the Amber Tears bandpage.

Interviewed on 2020-03-05 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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