SkyEye – No Obstacles, Only ChallengesThursday, 17th January 2019
We often wonder where we will get our fix of traditional, classic heavy metal when the veterans retire. It’s no secret that acts like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Accept, Saxon, Anvil, and Raven for instance are not getting any younger – leaving room for a younger generation of bands taking that influence and putting their own creative stamp of approval on things. Take Slovenian act SkyEye as an example for the future – together since 2014 and crafting their brand of heavy metal with powerful melodies and twin guitar action just like the heroes of their past. Their latest album Digital God possesses high caliber production and musicianship – plus a vocalist who rears back and reaches the heavens when he wants to.
This talk features four of the five members of the band taking on the questions – only bassist Primoz Lovsin is not represented. Learn more about the inception of the group, the wild circumstances regarding Bandcamp site cloning and the measures taken to circumvent this, a peak into the Slovenian metal scene, and a little talk about air pollution and plant-based lifestyles.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about your earliest memories surrounding music growing up? At what point did you start listening to heavy metal and eventually pick up an instrument and want to perform in bands?
Jan Leščanec: I have been listening to classical music since I was 10 years old. At the age of 18 I started to discover other genres of music including metal. I have found that classical music and metal music have many similarities and most importantly, they both are deeply emotional, moving and powerful. I started playing guitar when I was 23 years old and I started singing when I was 29 years old. I am completely self-taught and all I can say is that you are never too old to start making and performing music as long as you have desire for it. I have joined my first band DreamOn as a guitarist in 2010 and I formed SkyEye in 2014 alongside with Primož and Grega.
Jurij Nograšek: I started listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, then The Doors, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, then Iron Maiden… I actually started playing guitar at 10-11 years old when I found a broken old acoustic guitar from my grandma. I tried playing drums at around 19. I bought my first kit for 150 Euros and it was a blast! Had bands where I played guitar and was a singer and later bands where I was drumming. Just in mid-2016 I started to learn double bass pedal playing. Everything I know about playing an instrument came from listening and watching YouTube videos…
Dead Rhetoric: SkyEye started in 2014 – what can you tell us about the formation of the group and did you know straight away the qualities you wanted in your style of heavy metal or was it a feeling out, push and pull process to decide in what direction you wanted to go?
Jan Leščanec: SkyEye is a Slovenian heavy metal band formed in 2014 with Grega and Uroš on guitars, Primož on bass guitar, Jan on vocals and Sandi on drums. Current lineup is active since 2016 and it consist of Mare and Grega on guitars, Primož on bass guitar, Jurij on drums and Jan on vocals. At the beginning nobody really knows in what direction the band is going to go but as soon as I started to sing, there was only one way to go – heavy metal, because of my distinctive high pitch, clean and powerful style of singing. It is interesting that I did not sing before I joined SkyEye.
Dead Rhetoric: Your first EP release Run For Your Life came out in 2017. How do you believe the songwriting and recording sessions went for this effort – are you pleased with the final product and response that you received for this?
Mare Kavčnik: At some point in the progress of the band, you know that you need to start gaining stage experiences. We all had previous experiences with bands and live performances in the past, but you still need to acquaint a bond in the band. If we wanted to start with live performances, we needed to record something, something that best represents you and gives you an opportunity to start to participate in local music scene. We were very pleased that EP Run For Your Life was accepted not only by the local music scene, but also by the foreign heavy metal music scene. The EP somehow opened our doors to the world and we had a chance to start playing live performances. We were very pleased that we could do the recording session with our friend Grega Smola Crnković from the band Bad Notion, who is a very good sound engineer and also left a great remark on our Digital God album as well.
Dead Rhetoric: Your latest full-length is Digital God – which consists of all the EP tracks and seven fresh songs. Any specific reason why you included the old material again on the new release- and what major differences do you believe are present on this release compared to the previous one?
Mare Kavčnik: Let’s presume that Digital God is a logic continuation from the previously released EP Run For Your Life. Digital God, in it’s core is remastered for better sound quality and this goes with all thanks to Grega Smola Crnković.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you explain the situation that happened on Bandcamp with someone pirating the music and selling it under a different name – and the measures that you have taken to rectify it by offering the album up for free? Do you believe this will help you in the long run in gaining more of a stable following, even if you don’t make as much money back because of the upfront studio/production costs?
Mare Kavčnik: The situation was surprising for us, considering someone took our album and is selling it, not under a different name, but under a different username. The album is still Digital God by SkyEye. Basically someone just copied our Bandcamp account and linked his or hers PayPal account with it. Nowadays we live in modern (times) where you can access music in very different ways, and we don’t have a problem with that. As we are all sure, an artist should earn money with concerts and related performances, digital copies and compact discs of an album are more like promotion for us, more than solid profit. Because we think and know that there are many channels where you can download music on the internet for free, and because people are still willing to support what they like and suprising for us, people still have a hunger for compact disc editions, therefore we decided to offer an album for free and let people know about that. Currently we are still working on communication with Bandcamp and hopefully we will achieve our goal of Bandcamp banning that controversial account.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the state of the Slovenian metal scene at this point? Do you believe you have proper support for strong local shows as well as international touring opportunities for the scene to grow?
Mare Kavčnik: The Slovenian metal scene consists of a lot of great, strong bands that are present on the scene for quite some time now as well as of new forces that are right now penetrating the international metal scene. If we can have this honour, we would like to mention a few great bands who supported us in the beginning and actually, we are still very much new to the scene, so we still count ourselves as local noobs. A big thanks for their support goes to Metalsteel, Eruption, Big Bad Wolf, Challenger, Jegulja, Hangar 55,… and many more. Please check out our metal scene, you won’t regret it! International touring opportunities are only a question of time, regarding how much support we enjoy from the local bands.
Dead Rhetoric: What obstacles or challenges does the band face that you are working on to hopefully help SkyEye move up the ranks in terms of a proper career with a stronger following?
Mare Kavčnik: The way we see it, there are no obstacles, there are only challenges. Right now we are happy that we successfully launched our debut album and this is the ticket to get opportunitues to play bigger and bigger shows. But we must not forget, that marketing takes a big part of achieving music related goals, how to plan a promotion, how to manage a PR, how to (engage) large masses of listeners.
Dead Rhetoric: What worries or concerns do you have about the world that we live in today? If you had unlimited time, energy, and resources to solve an issue or two, what would you work on and why?
Jurij Nograšek: I would certainly promote a plant-based lifestyle, try to close the commercial meat, egg and dairy factories, stop abusing animals in all laboratories designed to test the compounds used in cosmetics, food and other industries, stop so-called puppy mills (factories for creating pets like puppies, kittens, which are often sick and without veterinary care)… stop fur factories which is absolute horror, stop whale, shark hunting and in general ocean ecosystems destruction. People invented wars, people should fight them. Killing and torturing millions of innocent creatures every day just for the sake of taste buds and money is absolute madness!
The second thing would be to hold industries accountable for pollution in general. To tax every product with real cost to the environment, to have resources for protecting basic commodities like air, water, land and to protect the diversity of life which makes our planet unique in the universe.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you believe it’s important to share common interests and friendships outside of the music with the other band members of SkyEye? What types of hobbies, interests, and activities do you have away from music to be able to recharge your batteries so to speak?
Mare Kavčnik: Definitely! Common interests and friendships are mandatory parts of good band relationship. After all, three of us also work together in the same company, so there we somehow redirect energy in different places and every time we have good time and a lot of laughs.
Dead Rhetoric: If you had the opportunity to put together a dream, one day metal festival with the bands of your choosing (any lineup past or present), who would you choose to play with? And what have been some of your best memories concerning live shows, purely from a fan perspective?
Jan Leščanec: That’s an easy one. Let’s put together the legends. Maiden, Priest, Dio, Motorhead and Megadeth. Then just add some great bands like Annihilator, Grave Digger, Primal Fear, Agent Steel, Blind Guardian, Blaze Bayley, Alestorm, Brainstorm and us of course. As far as the concert experiences go, the above bands have always been killer live. The best experience live was definitely Maiden shows, each and every one I’ve been to. The only thing I regret, is that I never got to see Dio live, before he sadly passed away.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the horizon as far as SkyEye activities over the next twelve months? Has work already begun for songwriting and pre-production on the next release, and are you content to stay independent/DIY or would you like to seek out record deals and bigger opportunities if things look appropriate for the band?
Jurij Nograšek: We are already working on new material and it looks like we are going to step up technical and arrangement abilities even further. We are all evolving our skills as we write new songs. Writing new material is really an uplifting experience for all of us. Regarding promotion, we are going to make videos and invest in social media recognition to bring our music to the right listeners. We did find out, that promotional aspect in the beginning is actually more important than music itself, hence the words “music industry”. These days, because you have to be “everywhere”, it is actually very time and money consuming work, just to try to stand out from sea of thousands great bands, which are all doing the same thing promotion wise. So yes, slowly we are considering agencies/labels, which deal with promotions and to help us find new opportunities and to have time to actually make and enjoy music.