Kriva Istina quickly became one of my favorite Croatian bands being in the scene for twenty years now, with brief hiatus couple of years ago. Their album Manifest pobune is for sure one of the best releases in the history of this scene and what better way to celebrate twenty years of band than with new e.p. which came out couple of weeks ago. It was about time that I talked with Tomas (guitar/vocals) a bit for this webzine.
Hi and welcome to my webzine. So, first of all, talk of the day is your brand new e.p. Can you tell me about it, the concept behind it all and as I understood this will be eventually a concept full length, what is the theme and how did you imagine the release dynamics?
Tomas: Hi, thanks for having us in your zine. New e.p. is called Mural kolapsa (eng. Collapse Mural) and the main idea behind it, is to portrait current state of affairs in human society which isn’t looking very bright at the moment considering the fact that we have a raging war in our neighborhood, economic crisis with skyrocketing prices and climate emergency which is not dealt with in an adequate way. This EP is a first chapter of a future full-length album which we plan to eventually release on vinyl. It’s hard to predict release dynamics because we haven’t finished any songs for the second part of the album (2nd chapter), we only have some drafts of the songs, but I expect it to be finished at the end of this year.
Can you tell me more about process of making songs? You guys have such awesome and smart lyrics behind the music and how is the creation process? I know our country has unending well of inspiration just reading papers or watching news…
As you said in your question, media news and headlines can be a quite an inspiration for song writing. Usually, I write about topics that I consider to be poorly worked through mainstream narrative and try to offer my own political and ideological perspective. Sometimes I spend weeks writing and editing lyrics until I’m fully satisfied with the result. Blaža (our drummer) also writes lyrics for the songs. When lyrics are done, Blaža and I meet up and make an acoustic version of a song which we then practice all together in our practice space. Before entering the practice space, we usually have a basic structure of the song which we alter and fully arrange during rehearse.
Is it going to be a physical release of new material? Your epic last album was also a physical release with fine booklet/fanzine going with the music too, how are you satisfied looking back at this one? I personally think that this is one of the best records I have heard in thirty years that I am into this music.
Thank you for your kind words. New material will have its physical media in the form of vinyl (and maybe even cassette) just like our previous album Manifest pobune (eng. Rebellion Manifesto). Looking back, I’m really satisfied with everything we’ve done on that album. I think we managed to widen our audience, get more fans and to round up a whole album story with a booklet that explains our political stance on all sorts of topics that can be considered relevant today.
Did you already play new material live? There is a new line-up of band and I know from my experience how hard it is to start with new member(s) over again, was it hard for you?
We haven’t played any of the new songs live and we’re really looking forward to doing so in the following months as a part of our band 20-year anniversary. It wasn’t so hard to incorporate our two newest members in the band because they were motivated and practiced a lot at home so that went kind of smoothly. Also, we had more time during the pandemic restrictions and lockdowns to stay focused on practicing the old songs which are part of our regular set list.
Question for members from Slavonia region. I heard recently this theory: Slavonia is devastated, war and privatization(read:robbery) destroyed that region, there are no jobs, no perspective, no anything, people leave for other EU countries, leave to other parts of Croatia etc…Well, I heard one guy that I know say: Fuck it, people from Slavonia cry that Zagreb and rest of Croatia forgot them, that no one helps them, no one cares…But, on the other hand, when they need to do some work regarding projects that could inject some money, they sing: Inati se Slavonijo! What is your opinion about this theory? How is real situation in Slavonski Brod? Why did you leave and go to be Zagreb based band?
I don’t consider these kind of anecdotes and theories as a serious analysis of economic downturn of Slavonia region. Capitalism creates economic inequality between nation states but also among regions within the country, so in EU for example there are industrial core economies with strong state-capital connection and periphery economies which are undeveloped and were economically and politically dependent throughout their history on the core states. Within our country, Zagreb and Northern regions are more developed because they preserved some of their industry despite the war, privatization, and poor national economic policies. Slavonia owes its underdevelopment to tycoons and capitalists who managed to seize the opportunity during the war (with HDZ blessing) to extract and appropriate the capital and the means of production from the big state enterprises that existed in Ex-Yu. Lots of people lost their jobs in the process so some of them were taken care of by the ruling party which secured them jobs in local and county administration. These people and their families consequently embraced and internalized dominant right-wing ideology and became loyal voters of the ruling party, and the rest of the people were/are forced to find their luck across the border or in the other parts of the country. So, it’s a kind of vicious cycle of capitalist contradictions because a lot of voters support the ruling party for securing their material conditions but also by supporting them, they’re creating unstable economic future without productive development for their children. I left Slavonski Brod and moved to Zagreb 17 years ago because I started going to college. After college graduation I lived in Slavonski Brod for 2 years but then got back to Zagreb because I found a better job here.
Back to music. You guys have been around for a while now. What was the highest and what was the lowest point for Kriva Istina so far?
I’d say that the highest point is right at this moment because we regularly rehearse, and we added a second guitar to the band and have a more powerful live sound. The lowest point was when our first bass player left the bend, and we were on hiatus for about 2 years or so.
Among other songs, I can totally relate to lyrics in your song Manifest. To be precise, about part of the song that deals with social media, snowflakes and keyboard revolutionaries. How important is social media for your band? Is social media page necessary for underground scene, underground bands? Did it become already too much with people letting other people know what they do, where they are, no privacy whatsoever?
Social media currently is the best channel through which we can communicate with fans and people who like our music but I’ve noticed that its becoming much and much harder to reach all of the people who follow our pages on social media because of the Instagram and Facebook profit driven algorithms and policies. Social media is swamped with ads and commercials and it’s getting harder to swipe through all that shit to reach the content that you’re really interested in. The thing is that in the context of social media, pure music is not enough anymore so If you want to reach younger generations you must create all sorts of content to be relevant and interesting. I kind of feel that we’re sucked into that, but we do it moderately because currently I don’t see a better way of promoting our music online, although I think the best way of promoting our music is to play it live. I don’t see a problem if someone is sharing some private stuff with people occasionally, but it tends to get really annoying when people get obsessed with baby or pet pictures and tons of selfies.
Question that went through my mind as I read the newspapers the other day. Does the situation in the world look line 1930s more and more? Does history repeat itself?
When faced with an inexplicable reality or certain geopolitical events or moves, people turn to historical examples or patterns to make them easier to explain what’s going on in the world, but every historic event has its own momentum and its own dynamic and cause, so I don’t think that this kind of parables explain adequately what’s going on in the world. If you tend to explain everything wrong in the world with Nazism/Fascism parables like some people do, that can lead to relativization of far-right ideologies.
What do you guys do for living? I almost wrote ‘ordinary lives’ but I thought one thing. When you are into hardcore for long time and it becomes indivisible part of you, this actually is ‘ordinary life’ or is it not?
I’m an electrical engineer and I work as a supervisor on construction sites. Blaža (drummer) is a freelance graphic designer, and he does print design, web, logo designs and illustrations. Tomi (bass player) is a freelance van driver; he usually drives touring bands through Europe. File (guitar player) is writing and finishing his college thesis but works as an electrical technician. I like to separate my work life from my private life but some of the positive and progressive attitudes which I picked up from hardcore punk are here to stay, and I would say that they can be implemented in every aspect of my life.
How much would Kriva Istina make compromises in possible situation: You are signed to a record label, I am not talking about major, but some, let´s say, bigger name in hardcore punk label and they tell you to do something this or that way, how far would you be ready to compromise in given situation?
It depends what kind of compromise are we talking about. I would never compromise our political viewpoints, music, and lyrics because these things define us as a band. I really don’t see us as a touring band signed to a bigger label because playing in a band is just a hobby that we enjoy doing in our spare time.
I have a feeling that sometimes punk hardcore tries to be so to say, more catholic than pope hehe. Do you sometimes think that there is too much of arguing, bitching, division between musical tastes, trying to undermine other people efforts and similar? Is there a centralization of the scene, so to say, bands from main cities get more gigs, more attention, more listeners? Is that reality or only a myth?
I don’t notice that kind of stuff because I’m not much into criticizing other people’s music taste. I really don’t care what kind of music someone listens to. As a band we prefer to share stages with musicians who are tolerant, open-minded and who share general viewpoints of punk community regardless of musical style they’re into. It’s easier to start a band when living in main regional cities because there are more venues and potential audience but also if you create good music, it’s easier than ever to put it online and share it with people and step by step create your own fan base. Most important thing in this process from my point of view is to be creative and persistent.
So, for the end classical zine boring question. Is there anything else you would like to add? Thank you so much for your music, your time and your friendship.
Thank you for the massive support during the years. Hope to see you on some of our upcoming gigs. Cheers!