It isn't often that a band from 4500 miles away makes an impact here in the US. Serbian classic metallers SinophiA have a sound that may come off as familiar. Embodying all of the best traits of bands from Judas Priest to Hammerfall, this young team of musicians are about to make a big splash. We sat down with guitarist Stefan Apatović to get the ins and outs of Serbia's up and coming metal kings.
First and foremost, we want to thank you for taking the time to answers some questions for us. Let's start with the name. Where did the name SinophiA come from, and how did you decide that it would be right for your music?
Thank you guys for calling me. It is an honor and privilege to do interview for Sorrow Eternal Blog. You're awesome.
The first ideas for SinophiA's current work and music writing were established in 2008. in Serbia, when singer Miodrag Fodora, my blood brother and bassist Nemanja Apatovic and I began to cooperate in a former band. After a few bands and members were exchanged, in the middle of 2011. We decides to elevate our work and music creation to a higher level, and we finished a couple of our own songs and started looking for permanent and serious members in order to make it all come true. Drummer Ugljesa Cubrilo and guitarist Attila Lukacs soon joined the lineup in January 2012.
Let me introduce you inside our story. SinophiA story happens in the 41. millennium where the world is no longer what it used to be. After many disasters that our civilization has endured are born many many more. Humanity has experienced a crisis which many do not even remember. Spaceships are the only way to travel through many galaxies, and death follows us at every possible corner. Heresy took advantage of mankind and trying to root it out. SinophiA is one of many cities that are victims of corruption and conspiracy. I personally chose this name for the band, because the story I'm going to break down over time, it will describe the world in which we currently live. When you look at the story you will see that we are not far from the truth. You need to stand and fight for what is ours and what we have been building for centuries.
Your influences include some of the biggest names in metal, past and present; from Iron Maiden to Dio, Iced Earth to Hammerfall. How did those bands help to bring you into metal, and shape your sound?
The most distinctive element of the band’s sound is the harmonies, melodies and gallops that can be heard in every song. The vocals are often high-pitched, but express a full range, while the rhythm section uses thrash and power metal techniques such as double-bass-drumming to keep the speed and energy high. I personally have gotten into the whole story about themes and stories that stretch to almost every song. I'm a big fan of concept albums. I am an amateur writer and because of these bands I started to write lyrics and books.
What does the name of the new EP, "Blessed & Cursed," mean to you personally?
Personally, one part of my life is in that EP. We sacrificed a lot for this band, and I thanks my brothers from the band for helping me with that whole story. Some good and bad things that have happened to us in life, we have poured into this EP of 4 songs.
I am grateful to people who were with us and whom without this would not be possible. I also want to thank the people who did not believe that we can do this. I believe that everything in life can be achieved if you have enough faith in yourself and in what you do. That's exactly what we did and here we are.
Two things stand out over the course of the four songs on the album. First, the vocals are very strong, with great range. How does Miodrag's vocal range help when writing?
Miodrag is a music genius. He is the main composer in band. He's insane. Whatever we wants, it's not a problem for him to make that possible. And I need to mention it. He only have 18 years and he never went to singing lessons. He just sang along with his favorite bands.
Secondly, the layered guitars make the instrumentals so powerful. How did you balance the heavy distortion with melodies and get this classic metal sound?
Well, it just happened. I think that good part in that have studio where we recording. We love old school rock, metal bands. We just found our sound. We don't have expensive equipment, but we definitely have a lot of ideas.
The production on your album is good. How easy is it to find places to record, and what is the recording process like for an up and coming band?
Well, in Serbia we don't have many studios where we could record our stuff. You just need to pick one of 5. Some of them is very expensive and we just don't have opportunity to record right now in some huge, expensive studio. I've entered the studio for the 1st time in my life with SinophiA. And it was like, whoa, stop.. This is great! I've found myself in there, and I like the time that we spent in the studio. It's funny, and awesome experience. You just need to be yourself. Don't hurry when you need to record your parts, and everything will be ok.
Being from Serbia, what is the metal scene like in your country? How big is metal there, and how difficult is it to build a name for yourself?
My personal opinion of Serbian Metal scene? Huh,that's a complicated theme, I must say. I personally think that Serbia has many good metal bands, I can assure you in that. But it's very hard to find places for young bands to play some gigs. It's also hard to find money for financial support of these bands and to promote them. Surely, metal is not the main genre in this country, but Serbia does have a lot of metalheads which support domestic metal scene, which is very important.
As for some big names in Serbian metal scene, I have to mention some bands like Sangre Eterna, Forever Storm, Destiny Potato (who signed for Century Media month ago), Midgard. Those are bands in which Serbia can be very proud of. I don't think that Serbian metal scene is very developed, but I hope that soon there will be some good conditions for the bands to develop the scene as much as they can.
That said, you have shared the stage with other Serbian bands over the last year. Who are some of your favorite local bands?
Definitely Power metal band Forever Storm. They recording 2nd album right now. Thrash/Groove metal band Rapid Force, Heavy metal band New Mythology and Heavy Progressive band Third Gallery.
In September, you have the opportunity to open for Tim "Ripper" Owens, former frontman of Iced Earth and Judas Priest. How do you feel about playing this show, and sharing the stage with a legend?
Our greatest achievement so far was gaining the approval of the Extreme Metal Fest organizer and owner of Zlabog Promotions (booking & promotion agency), Nikola Vukobratovic, who gave us the honor of sharing the stage with the former singer of Judas Priest and Iced Earth, Tim "Ripper" Owens, as well as the bands Atlantida (Serbia) and Sandstone (Ireland). It happened completely unexpectedly. He offered us a gig and we accepted it without even thinking about it. I believe that we are worthy to open the gig and for us this is a dream come true.
Do you think that playing this show, along with your other dates for the year, will help to spread your music farther around the world? How get hard has it been to get your name out there?
This is our time, right now. I hope that concert will open some wider horizons further. There are not many bands that get that opportunity and ruins. This is the life opportunity, and we're still shocked. We can't wait for it.
With bands from across the world, there is always a question of language. Why do you think English tends to be the chosen language across metal, and why did you guys do your lyrics in English?
It's easier for me to write in English. I feel more comfortable. English language have many aspects of words and it's pleasant. It's the language that speaks almost every person in the world, and everyone is ok with that fact.
Lastly, with the EP out on your site, and live dates lined up, what comes next for Sinophia? What are the plans for the future of the band, and when can we expect a full length album?
More and more gigs that is for sure. We wants to visit some states like Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Hungary, they are our neighbors. There is a video too that we need to do. We still don't know where, but everyone will be informed when it comes to that. Also, next year we will surely entered the studio and start with the recordings of the 1st full length album. That's it for now.
Thank you again for taking the time to sit down with us. We are looking forward to a bright future for Sinophia, and other Serbian metal.