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Interview von: arne mit Timothy Mead, am: 19.08.2009 ]

Es mutet eigenartig an, wenn Relapse zu Referenzzwecken Neurosis, Isis, Kylesa, Baroness, Explosions In The Sky und Mogwai ins Feld führt, auf die mindestens ebenso nötige und berechtigte Nennung von Mastodon jedoch verzichtet. Dabei stehen MINSK der Prog-Heavy-Supergroup in nichts nach. Wer mag, kann das Quartett um Sandford Parker (ex- Buried At Sea) auch gerne als die dunkle Seite von Mastodon verstehen. Mit „With Echoes In The Movement Of Stone” legt die Gruppe den Nachfolger zu dem vor zwei Jahren erschienenen Überalbum „The Ritual Fires of Abandonment” vor. Neuerlich ist ein brachiales und ausladendes Monumentalwerk entstanden, das seine Hörer in die Knie zu zwingen versucht.


Musicscan: Minsk has always seemed to me to be an underdog band over here in Europe, always maintaining a high level of respect from critics and their peers, though never quite attaining the success within the heavy-underground that the band was due. How do you feel about it?

Minsk: It's always hard for me to gauge those sorts of things. And in the end, it can't really matter too much. A very small handful of bands end up with a large of amount of commercial success, and so many of the greatest bands ever were barely known in their time, or ever. If your focus as a musician is to become successful, there exists a very high probability that you will fail. Whereas, if you approach it from a different set of meaningful challenges and benchmarks, you can continue to create and perform music, and feel successful in that your life involves creativity. Obviously, you want your band to be respected by as many people as possible, and being successful in a commercial sense makes things easier. For us, I think we've always managed to keep the focus on the former, and been able to enjoy the latter for what it is, when it comes. If we are an underdog band, as you suggest, there's nothing wrong with that per se. We'll keep doing what we do, and as that type of success comes along, if ever, we'll deal with that then.

Musicscan: What moments in the bands history for you sum up the whole experience with Minsk so far? And what are your expectations for the future?

Minsk: For me, the moments that are the most memorable and significant are the times on the road when we stop and camp somewhere or stay on the beach all night long and watch the sunrise. These are experiences we try to have as much as possible while we are touring. There is something special about the night, and a fire, or a forest, or a mountain, or a beach. And, in many ways, I think this sort of metaphoric memory, for me, sums up the entirety of Minsk... the artisic catharsis, journey, struggle, joy, different elements of and alternatives to consciousness, pain, reflection. Those nights, I feel alive in the same way that I feel alive through the music that we make. As for my expectations of the future, I expect that we will continue doing this thing that we do because of all the things I just said, and how much those experiences mean in our lives. And I expect that some people will continue to connect with us in that way, and through this music. And I expect that it will never be easy for us to continue doing it, but that we will as long as it still means the same. Hopefully, we will continue to gain all sorts of further success to continue, and to travel further from home, and meet more interesting people.

Musicscan: Your releases always cover a lot of bases musically, beside the fact its dark, intense and complex of course, but there's something for everyone within the heavy underground. Were you going for a more "inclusive approach" right from the beginning?

Minsk: No, I wouldn't say that we intentionally tried to throw in a little bit of something for everyone, or anything like that. Our tastes are very ecclectic, and we do just draw from the musical vocabulary that is available to us. We saw potential for creating dynamics and interesting juxtapositions, through different musical elements, and we didn't want to limit ourselves to one specific sound. I think the very first Minsk recording is just as varied as the last. It just makes sense to us.

Musicscan: With this new wave of insane and technical grind / tech-metal-bands with progressive and jazz influences, aren't you scared that it has become harder for Minsk to find its listeners? You have to win the younger kids, too...

Minsk: Trends come and go, very quickly. They always do. It's always been difficult for us to find our listeners, regardless of the trends. There's no doubt that difficulty is directly related to your last question about our "inclusive approach." We don't fit neatly into a genre, I don't think, and so our style isn't going to be the next big thing. What style is that exactly? Trying to be different isn't always the easiest way to find a bunch of listeners, especially with technology as it is today. Where do we fit on Pandora? What is your Myspace genre tag? That sort of thing. People are comfortable with grouping bands into neat little categories.

Musicscan: Beside what I just have asked: Minsks sound is pretty unique for everyone who ever got in contact with you guys: Is it important to you to create something original every time or would a simple punk rock song do the trick for you if it feels right?

Minsk: Well, I don't know if we've ever created anything original in the entire history of the band. Or maybe we have every time. That's hard for me to speculate on. I think originality is important to us, but while drawing from a familiarity that people can connect with. If a simple punk rock song felt right, then it felt right. For us, it hasn't yet, but at the same time, that doesn't mean it couldn't in a certain setting or time in our lives.

Musicscan: Have you been surprised about the fact that listeners from different musical tastes are getting Minsk? And being active with this outfit: How soon did you guys realize the impact the band had?

Minsk: Yeah, we're always pleasantly surprised when that happens. I don't know when we realized we'd had any impact, if any. But from the beginning we felt like we had stumbled upon something special, that could have an impact somewhere at some time. Seeing the realization of that has been a great thrill these past six years.

Musicscan: What sort of evolution has Minsk gone through that lead to With Echoes In The Movement Of Stone? Did you do differently by choice?

Minsk: We were two years older, thicker skinned, different people in many ways when we this album came together. We didn't intend to shift our sound in any ways, just responded to the creative place we found ourselves in. Each time we record a new album, I feel like that happens in some way. I doubt any two consecutive Minsk albums will sound the same.

Musicscan: With the direction of Minsk heading a certain way and fans growing with you over the years and releases, do you feel the fans can now relate to what you are feeling or at least understand what you are trying to tell them with your music?

Minsk: Yeah, I think that the time definitely helps. As more people discover the band, a lot of them go back and listen to previous records. If we are accomplishing what we ultimately hope to be, it will take people time to digest everything there, and that they will be able to revisit the albums over and over and hear or understand it in different ways at different times.

Musicscan: Musically, and especially lyrically, Minsk seems like a band fueled by raw emotion which is at the same time connected with a reflected approach. What are the motives behind writing in this style, what reactions are you seeking to evoke in your audience?

Minsk: I think that your description is fitting. We do try to connect moments of reflective or meditative states with raw primal sorts of experiences. That ebb and flow between the two is sort of like the way we live, through moments of something raw and reflections upon that. For an audience, I hope that this approach allows them to be able to expience the songs and albums as having something in common with the way they experience the world too, or to feel at home in this one hour journey somewhere.

Musicscan: Some of the heaviest Minsk parts I have ever heard are on With Echoes In The Movement Of Stone. Was this in any way intentional or did it just come naturally?

Minsk: It just came naturally. We were dealing with heavy issues in our personal lives that seemed to bring forth a different sort of aggression in certain places. It felt good to write some songs that felt that way. I'm happy to hear that you feel these are some of the heaviest we've done.

Musicscan: I know a strong part of the Minsk sound is about experimentation. Of the albums and songs you guys have recorded, which one do you feel crosses the most borders? What other borders, musically and lyrically speaking, do you guys wanna knock down in the future?

Minsk: Right now, I'm still really feeling the new album. We were very pleased with how it came out. People keep saying to me that they feel it's very different from the rest, and that they can't place it, and pointing out the differences. But personally, I feel that it crosses the same and more boundaries than the previous ones, and comes together as an album in ways the previous ones didn't quite satisfy me. I can't place my finger on it, so I've just decided that it's still obvioulsy Minsk, but the best snapshot of Minsk we could have possibly taken, at this point in time, and better. As for the future, who knows where we'll end up? It'll be exciting to figure that out.

Musicscan: Final thoughts?

Minsk: Thanks for the interview. It was a pleasure. If you haven't heard, we will be returning to Europe in October and November with A Storm of Light. We'll be playing three shows in Germany. Hopefully we'll get a chance to meet you and some of your readers. Thanks!