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Comrade Aleks goes in search of Colombian Doom, and finds it in the shape of Wartime. Founder Alejandro fills in the band's history and motives.

Interview with Wartime.
"Wartime is the first Doom metal band from Colombia that I have encountered. Named after a Pentagram song, they've been active since 2014, and you can judge their achievements by just taking a look at their discography: a pair of demos, one split album with Mexican project Brenda Marín, the EP 'Prayer In The Abyss', and two full-length recordings. The second album - just titled 'Volumen II' came out in 2018, and it's pretty well written and produced. Searching for good old Trad stuff? Wartime's drummer/vocalist Alejandro Osorio knows few things about that."

Wartime: Scum (bass), Alejandro (drums, vocals), D-Pig (guitar).

Hi Alejandro! What's the story behind Wartime? How did you manage to put together a full line-up for a Doom metal band in Colombia?

Hi Aleksey, thanks a lot for having us in Doom-Metal.com and congratulations for your work there.

The band was born in 2014's Samhain as a result of hanging out with close friends who were just finishing their previous musical projects and decided to start a new proposal of Traditional Doom Metal. In the beginning Wartime was lined-up by D-Pig on guitar, David Sick on bass and I on drums. We started by making some drafts on two songs and also a cover of Born Too Late by SV, but then, due to different projects and work issues, David Sick left the band and was replaced on bass by an old friend, Scum, who had already worked with D-Pig in some other bands. Since then, I took the vocals of the band and our line-up has remained ever since.

What are your main musical and non-musical influences? What's the general motive of all Wartime songs?

In terms of musical influences, our main references are from the Traditional Doom Metal scene (Force, Count Raven, Paul Chain, Calibre 38, Scald), we also try to include in our music some elements of Hard Rock and Proto Doom (Dust, Mountain, Buffalo, Coven, Black Widow). We are all lovers of traditional Heavy Metal as well as Speed, Thrash, Death and Black Metal of various periods. We are also interested in some classical composers like Beethoven, Holst, Chopin and Wagner.

In terms of non-musical influences, we are heavily influenced by authors like Hesse, Nietzsche, Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Tolkien among others. The band's themes and topics include mythology, religion, history, human issues, self-communion and folk tales.

Speaking about non-musical influences… you're from Bogotá, which was one of the most violent cities in the world in the '90s, and even though that's changed over the years how do your surroundings influence you?

Life in the so-called third world is very different from living in North America or Europe and this issue affects us directly: we usually have working shifts from 8 up to 12 hours and violence is still prominent, even though it's not like the one we suffered in the 90's. Drugs are still controlling our economy, our politics and several social items of our country. This is why we live in a constant state of risk and fear of our relatives towards death or robbery. All this scenario evokes mixed feelings in our lives and music: despair, negativity and anger. We deal with all this features in our lyrics but not literally with a Doom feeling.

How long did you spend working on your first recording? Who supplied most of the ideas for the album?

Our first recording was a demo in 2015. We worked a whole year on this project, rehearsing and improving the songs as much as possible. This record was made live and released on a limited issue of one hundred cassettes, afterwards we started to work on our first album during eight months of constant work to compose the songs and perfect our sound. We were saving the money to record on studio facilities (all of our recordings were financed by the group members). The lyrics and music of Vol. 1 were composed by all of us, checking the concept and adjusting our sounding until we were all satisfied with it.

Wartime - 'Wartime' (2017):

How long were your recording sessions for 'Wartime Vol I'? Was it easy to find a proper studio in your area?

The recording seasons lasted 3 days: the first day we recorded drums and the next day we recorded bass and guitars, letting the vocals and some other effects for the last day, finishing eight months of hard work of composing and assembling the music. Here in Bogotá it's quite hard to find a proper studio to record: some have technical problems while others are just too expensive, so we took the decision of going to a near city that caught our attention due to the equipment and recording methods they got. We believe this was a good choice as we saw the final outcome.

Okay, and what about your rehearsal place? By the way, how often do you gather for rehearsals?

Currently we have two rehearsal places to practice, one of them is worth 10 dollars for a couple of hours of training nearby my neighborhood, and the other place is my own house where we usually meet to perform and write our lyrics. We like that studio a lot because we can get to hear our sounding in a professional way. My house is pretty different and we don't have a great sound there but we're way more comfortable, we share our ideas, we also share some beers and work on our sound for extended sessions.

Both your albums were released by local labels. How actively did you promote the debut album? Do you have healthy ambitions for Wartime?

That's right, both albums were released by Rotten Leather Productions (that is a label of some friends from Pasto, and Saviour Rec (that is D-Pig's label), who have managed to make contacts from different zines and labels around the world so we were able to show our Wartime material abroad. In 2017, "Vol. 1" was re-issued by the Barbarian Wrath label from Germany. The promotional work of all labels was very good, bearing in mind all the limitations we have from living in this part of the world (post issues, distance, lack of a music industry). We believe our work has been great so far now that Wartime is available for anyone who is truly interested in Doom Metal. As a novelty we can share with you that a label from Chile, Forgotten Treasures, will re-issue both albums on 2019 in tape with some bonus track songs. We will also go back to the studio to record a couple of songs that will be relased on two split albums with some fellow bands. In the near future we would like to re-issue the Vol. 2 with an european label (if someone is interested, please contact us).

What makes you support that old-school or, rather, obsolete "tape culture"? Did you really want to have some of your recordings on cassettes?

Underground metal is keeping this format alive. I think that tape, way more than the recent vinyl reprise, is the most accepted format on the scene for what it represents. We started to hear metal thanks to old re-recorded tapes due to the limited access to internet back then. That is why we appreciate so greatly this format. It is a great achievement for Wartime to have our music on this format and we can let you know that soon we will be re-editing some new and unknown content exclusively for tape. Nowadays the sound of this format is appreciated for its distinctive sounding and we already released an EP and a Split in tape, keeping the old-school Metal format alive.

Do you have opportunities to play live in Columbia and abroad? How often do you play?

Although the focus of the band is to release records, we have been part of some live shows, all of them in Bogotá up to this date. In terms of frequency, the shows and live performances were rather spontaneous: during the last two months we have played four shows but it might take quite a while to perform again, it obviously depends on having the opportunity to play this genre for a very restricted public in our country.

Wartime - 'Wicked Son' (2017):

Did you set a goal to surpass the first album when you started writing Volumen II? Did you have some elements of the band's sound in your mind which you wanted to improve?

The goals for "Vol. 2" were focused on improving the sound and our studio performance, even though we had the same issue with the recording schedule. We wanted to include some keyboards and also make our themes heavier and darker, getting our sound closer to Paul Chain and Count Raven.

Evidently, with the passing time and all the experience we have been gathering from studio and live performances, our band is clearly improving its technique, composition skills and the overall performance of our sound. This was our main objective for the Vol. 2 album and we think we did it without losing the traditional sound and imagery that defines us.

Did you use any new equipment for the 'Volumen II' recording? Was this recording technically easier for you?

The guitar and bass changed for this recording: we invested some money to buy better equipment. Inside the studio recordings, we used Lovell custom amps, manufactured in Colombia, and the other props were the same from "Vol. 1", vintage preamps, condenser microphones and tube amps. We recorded in the same studio.

The experience gathered in the recording of our first album was crucial to make us feel more comfortable but as I mentioned before, the short recording schedule was the only problem we faced.

What's people's reaction to the new stuff? Did you get any feedback from abroad?

The reaction was just great: we received amazing feedback from Peru, Chile, Germany among many other places around the globe, including old followers of the band who immediately understood our intention of making darker and heavier songs for the new album. In addition, our followers enjoyed our vocals in this record and the arrangements where also highlighted by them.

Wartime - 'Wartime' (Live, 2017):

Alejandro, you already have a new recording - 'Promo MMXVIII'. What do you aim for with this recording?

This promo was released exclusively in Chile aiming to share our band and make our sound known before the release of the two discs in tape. This songs are not new: the first two belong to our first recording and the other two belong to "Vol. 1". MMXVIII was released on CD-R limited to 100 numbered copies.

So is it too early to talk about Vol.3? Do you already have some ideas for the next album?

Hahaha, yes, it is still early to think of a new disc. For 2019 we have planned the recording and production of our first 7". We want to focus on new material, new sounds and new lyrics but this time without so much hurry like we had in Vol. 2. We want to have the opportunity to rehearse a couple of songs for months until the outcomes are exactly what we are looking for. It is probable that during this stage, Vol. 3 will be slowly evolving. We already have some ideas to work on and from there we will be probably developing a third production.

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Wartime bandpage.

Interviewed on 2019-02-25 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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