Jinjer – Speaking Words of WisdomTuesday, 27th November 2018
There is still something to be said for hard work and dedication when it comes to breaking a band. Jinjer have been absolutely skyrocketing in terms of generating a fan base since the release of 2016’s King of Everything, but it hasn’t been easy for the band. Bassist Eugene Abdiukhanov gave us the lowdown on this factor before the band’s gig in Poughkeepsie NY earlier this month as part of Devildriver’s most recent tour. A band built on giving it their all, there’s plenty to be abuzz about in the Jinjer world, such as the soon to be released Micro EP, tour plans, and even talk of a new full-length record. Something that you can bank on having all the characteristics of Jinjer, but not something that is going to repeat what they’ve already done.
Dead Rhetoric: It seems like you have really blown up here in the States since King of Everything. Are you surprised by the jump in popularity you’ve gained?
Eugene Abdiukhanov: I’m not surprised – none of us really are. It’s simply a result of dedicated hard work. All of the effort and energy that we have put into this, and all the things we’ve sacrificed to move forward. So I don’t think there’s any room for surprise. The more you work, the more you get [from it].
Dead Rhetoric: This is your third time in the US, do you think that’s helped in getting your name out there? Trying to gain an audience in the US is sometimes pretty hard for European bands.
Abdiukhanov: It helped – we did a spring tour with Cradle of Filth, then we did a few shows around the Heavy Montreal festival, and now we are back [with Devildriver]. All of these shows help us to get more and more fans, but on the other hand, the first time we came here we had quite a lot of fans in the US. I don’t know why it happened, but over the Internet we managed to build some sort of fan base here. Now it has expanded larger because we have come over and played.
Dead Rhetoric: In terms of the Micro EP, what is the direction that you are going with it? What is the challenge in taking a sound that you have established without pissing people off?
Abdiukhanov: I’m okay with pissing people off. Hopefully this band will never put the idea of pleasing fans above the idea of making things pleasant for ourselves. First of all, we make music for ourselves. The music finds followers and people who like it, outside of this Jinjer band circle, which is awesome. If we make something new and it pissed off someone who used to love our previous works, it’s their problem and not ours. We will not make a song that we don’t like. If we like it, we make it and use it. If someone doesn’t like it, it’s your problem and no one else’s.
In terms of the Micro EP, it was a challenge to make something new and overcome ourselves on the previous record. We cannot make something worse than we already did. At the same time, we need to be us. I’m okay with experimenting and making something new where some people may not like it, but at the same time, it is important to build up your own style and remain yourselves – as a band called Jinjer. We cannot be anybody else.
If we made a brutal death metal album that sounded like Cannibal Corpse, then we would be Cannibal Corpse and not Jinjer. It’s a tricky thing – you need to stay balanced all the time. It was a challenge but we managed to do it. I understand that “Ape” is way different than what we did before, but it is still Jinjer. I understand when people claim that the music is a bit more complex and complicated, and it’s a bit harder to understand. But it’s only a matter of a few listens. You listen to it a couple of times and you get into it.
Dead Rhetoric: Totally, sadly there is the whole ‘lack of patience’ that seems to be more prevalent lately.
Abdiukhanov: Yeah, I don’t want to make bubble gum music. Once you taste it, you like it. I want people to think and dig when they listen to something. I want them to go deeper when they hear it. Finally, I want people to catch the concept and the emotions and feelings of the music.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that “Ape” is representative of the songs on the EP?
Abdiukhanov: In some ways. The EP will be very diverse. Expect 5 tracks that will be very different from each other. If you look at a diamond, it has edges. “Ape” is just one of the edges. We will release another single that is different from “Ape.” It is the saddest, maybe not the most melancholic since “Pisces” was melancholic in a way, but this one will be sad yet aggressive. The story behind it is very depressive. It’s something new for us. We haven’t made much sad music before so this is something new we are bringing to the table.
We have two more tracks that will be much different than the previous two, and then there will be one instrumental. It will have a different touch. Like I was saying, these will be different edges of the same diamond, but with a concept that unites them all. Once you listen to it, you will understand what I mean with the common concept for the whole EP.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you see as the role of emotion in Jinjer’s music?
Abdiukhanov: It all comes from emotions. We all write music after having an emotional impact hit us. I can definitely say that most of the music I have written was after feeling something very strong and going through something very emotional. Then it comes very naturally. We just start playing and something comes into your mind. You come up with riffs, melodies, and songs sometimes. Same for the rest of the band.
Tatiana [Shmailyuk] writes lyrics with a different approach. Some lyrics were written independently from the music, and some where written after listening to the musical composition. Very often, those that were written independently were born after some sort of serious emotional problem or something really good happened – moments of joy or moments of grief. I know she wrote lyrics for those songs being in that emotional condition, and they were very strong lyrics. If we are talking about the role of emotions in our music, the role is very, very big.
Dead Rhetoric: At this point, you are gaining and gaining fans but what were some of the challenges at the start of the band that you had to overcome?
Abdiukhanov: There were a lot. Now, when people ask me about this, or I start thinking about it, I don’t understand how we managed to stay together and keep going. I’m sure that most of the other bands would simply break up or give up. We come from a region where there is war – our parents still live there; we had to move out. With members, some left because of different reasons. Either personal, or they couldn’t catch up with the rest of the band musically, for example, or they had different interests. Some lost interest in music in general.
Yevhen Mantulin, a former drummer for us, fell out of a window and broke his spine. He is still half-paralyzed. He can’t play drums anymore. But he hasn’t given up. He still plays and writes music. I give him a lot of respect because of that. I wonder how it would effect a different band if something bad happened like that. What would that band do? We didn’t give up. We struggled to help Yevhen and move forward without him. He was an essential part of the band. He had a huge contribution to the Cloud Factory album. But we lost him. We didn’t give up though, and we found a new drummer, Dmitriy, and played with him for a while.
We have had other problems, like no money. Sometimes we had to borrow money before we went on tour, because we couldn’t even afford to buy gas or fix a broken van. We had to borrow money to fix the van, and then set off on tour. We took all those risks despite everything – we were not afraid. I can enumerate these types of things endlessly, and they still happen but now it’s easier. We have some strong support from managers, label, and the fans. It helps us a lot. But those days 6-7 years ago, no one knew us and we only depended on ourselves.
Dead Rhetoric: In terms of your work on the bass, what do you see as the role of the instrument within the band?
Abdiukhanov: Basically, my opinion is that every single instrument has the same role in the band. Ideally, I should say. It’s just a matter of a moment, when this or that instrument goes up and goes back. That is what makes a musical composition good – when each member has their own line and way through the whole song from the beginning to the end. Unfortunately, I understand that bass has been underestimated in rock music for a long time. But with such outstanding musicians, such as Ryan Martinie of Mudvayne – he really boosted the role of bass in a metal/nu metal band so much. Or other bands like Rush. Even Nirvana – listen to Krist Novoselic’s basslines. They were always upfront and made the foundation for the song. At this time, bass has started to lose its bad reputation and has been gaining the recognition it deserves.
In my own approach, and in how I write bass lines – I tend to be a bit more melodic than rhythmic. I really love melodic bass licks and like making them sound almost like vocals. Sometimes it happens that my bass lines and Tatiana’s vocal lines play some sort of a game. They cross over, and I really like to do that in my bass lines and our music. That’s one of the approaches to my bass guitar playing.
Dead Rhetoric: You have been touring the whole world over the last few years. What do you see as some of the differences as you play in different locations?
Abdiukhanov: Honestly, I do not differentiate. There is no difference; I like being everywhere. I like being here in the US and Canada. I like playing in Europe. There’s some small differences but when you are playing to dedicated fans it’s almost the same. Yeah, some people in some countries may be more active and some might be more passive in the mosh pit, but those who are more passive pay attention to what you are playing more. That’s a bit of an inner conflict for me.
On the one hand, we play progressive music full of sophisticated musical techniques, but on the other hand, we play hard and heavy music, and it should move people [laughs]. I can’t decide what I want more – people listening to me or people going crazy listening to me. Even inside one country, people are different. Some parts of the US people are crazy and in others, not so much. But I like to play everywhere.
Dead Rhetoric: So you are doing this tour, the Micro EP is going to release soon. What comes next for Jinjer?
Abdiukhanov: We will tour with Amorphis and Soilwork in Europe. That is going to be really fun. As soon as we finish the tour with them, we will start working on the next album. We are aiming at doing that next year. It will be perfect if we can do that. We’ve already announced a short, mini-tour with Obscura in Japan. We will probably do something else in Japan too. We have only played in that region once, and I would love to go back and play. Then there are summer festivals. We want to be done recording before the summer festivals, so probably June is the studio and by the end of June we are doing festivals everywhere in Europe. I don’t think we will be back in the US next summer but we will do a lot of European festivals. Then next autumn or fall, new album and new tours. Let’s stay tuned.