Dragana: Since the lyrics of your songs are fascinating, can you tell me
whether the texts already exist or you write them after you create an
Kozeljnik: No, music comes first, and then the process of writing lyrics takes its place.
Of course, the lyric itself follows the line of a pre-made concept. Sometimes the final versions of the texts are brought to an end on the recording itself, so during the process of work on songs and arrangements, lyrics are subjected to changes until the vocals are recorded as the final versions.
Dragana: What determines a song to carry the album title?
Kozeljnik: There is no specific system by which we determine names of the songs and which song will carry the album name itself, we leave it exclusively to our intuition to guide and direct us to the final selection. Usually it is a time-consuming process, but on the other hand, it often happens that we know right away that the idea that came first is the right one. We are talking about the idea that spontaneously and directly describes what we have to say with our lyrics.
Dragana: Who writes the lyrics and how do you find ideas?
Kozeljnik: Nefas is the creator of the most of the band’s lyrics. His style of writing is characterized by a specific poetic expression, very dark and unscrupulous. He greatly reflects his life philosophy, which is strictly pessimistic toward the world that surrounds us, observing the existence of man through the extremely sarcastic chain of thoughts that make his poetry timeless.
Dragana: Is there a specific song which means to you more than others and why?
Kozeljnik: It's hard to look through the whole of our opus and list your favorites among numerous songs which are equally important and dear to us in a certain way. According to the unwritten rule, the songs we perform live have some kind of advantage, but that does not mean that the others have less importance for us as authors.
Dragana: Since you are playing for over 20 years and every
album of yours carries a lot of energy, and there is no doubt on their quality,
because as I said, you are going to the ascending line, how do you function
as a band? Did anything change among yourselves?
Kozeljnik: Since I am the only remaining original member of the band, it is clear that the changes were inevitable through all these years of the band's existence. People are coming and going, but what remains is the essence that follows this band from the very beginning, such as an uncompromising attitude towards the art we call Black Metal. Of course, the band’s style matured from album to album, and at the same time we became aware of the existence of our own style, which is more than evident today. We have succeeded in building the recognizability of the expression itself, both musical and textual, which gives us a great advantage to always feel comfortable in our own skin and to stand with both feet on the ground whenever we start new creative pursuits.
Dragana: For all these years, I am sure you have established cooperation,
as well as friendships with many bands and musicians, are there any
certain people you would like to name as important for your success or have
you helped someone to achieve success?
Kozeljnik: Yes, a great number of acquaintances are behind us, and certainly they have grown into dear and firm friendships during all these years. I would not specifically mention the bands and the people with whom we had cooperation, because there really are a lot of them and I would surely forget to mention someone.
Dragana: Which are the most important and most successful concerts / festivals
you performed at?
Kozeljnik: A lot of concerts are behind us and it's hard to count and remember them all, but what personally always makes me particularly motivated are concerts in our home city, Belgrade. We rarely play here and every new show feels like we are performing for the first time in front of our audience.
I would like to point out the previous Belgrade performance as one of the most successful, which was also a promotional concert for our new album release, and in the end, it coincided with the fact that this was the last concert of our now former singer Nefas in front of the Serbian audience. I would also point out to a number of important festival concerts such as the appearance at the legendary Open Hell festival in the Czech Republic in 2003, and our debut appearance at the now cult festival Under the Black Sun 2005, we later played this festival several times, but this first performance remains carved in our memory as a very inspiring and special. From recent days I would point out on the Slovenian Metal Days festival in 2016 as well as last year's Eindhoven Metal Meeting Warm-up concert which, despite the weaker visit, was very intense.
Dragana: Concert or tour with which bands is your most impressive and most
Kozeljnik: If my memory does not deceive me so far, we have made seven big tours and quite a number of so-called mini tours. It is very difficult to separate the most impressive and most important ones. In 2010, we set off on the road to Europe with the Romanian band Negura Bunget, we played for the first time in Norway where we had four dates in Oslo, Bergen, Arendal and Fredrikstad, which certainly was a very interesting experience for us. Later, we returned to Oslo in 2013 while playing a tour with Swedish Nifelheim and Brazilian Vulcano. Also, we were very fond of tour with our friends from the Portuguese band Corpus Christii as well as with always dear people from the Norwegian bands Isvind and Sarkom. I will mention just completed tour that we played together with brothers from the Czech Inferno and the Swedish IXXI where we had a row of ten excellent concerts in Europe where we promoted the new "Theater Apsurda" and got great reactions from the fans.
Dragana: I heard that you will perform at the Exit Festival in 2018, after a
long time. What are your expectations and how much does it mean to
Kozeljnik: Yes, after several years we are returning to Exit festival and Explosive Stage, where we will promote the new album for the first time to audience in Novi Sad. The expectations are great because it is a festival with a huge reputation and rich history and we are anxiously waiting for this performance.
Dragana: The new album was released in December 2017 and it is evident that
it gathered fantastic critics. How long have you been working on
it and what songs from the new album mean to you?
Kozeljnik: Yes, the album received fantastic critics and amazing audience reception which makes us very pleased. The work on the album itself lasted a year from the moment the first song was composed up until the album's official release. The process itself differed from our previous work, especially when it comes to recording, because for the first time we recorded the album in three different studios. We have recorded the drums in the well-known Hellsound Studio in the Czech Republic where we have already recorded our sixth album "Golet". In Citadela Studio in Belgrade where "Nekroza" was recorded, we did the vocals and at the Womb Wrath Chamber, our home studio, we recorded guitars and bass. Honza Kapak, apart from playing drums, was also in charge of producing, mixing and mastering of the record, and has done a great job at his Hellsound studio as well. I think that this album went a few steps further, especially when it comes to the arrangement of the songs as well as the sound which completely follows the atmosphere of the album from the first to the last second. We always wanted to make an album that exudes coldness and deadness at the same time, and with the fiery dynamics surrounded with aggression. I think that the "Teatar Apsurda" is completely synonymous with everything I stated and we are very proud of the end results.
Dragana: Did you have any collaboration with other bands or musicians on
making the albums?
Kozeljnik: No, apart from Honza playing in bands like Master's Hammer and Avenger, we had no cooperation with other musicians on this record.
Dragana: Prospects for the future and the forthcoming concerts and festivals?
Kozeljnik: In the coming months we will enter the studio in order to record two new songs for the upcoming EP whose release is planned by the end of this year. Of course, we continue to focus on the concert promotion of the new album so besides a few scheduled summer festivals we are planning more concert activities for the fall so the plans will mostly be focused in that direction.
Dragana: I overheard that you were planning to publish a book with lyrics. Are you
working on that?
Kozeljnik: There was an idea to publish a new album in the form of a limited edition book, but we nevertheless decided to postpone that idea for some other time. Regarding the option of publishing a book with all our lyrics, we think it would be pointless given the fact that words interact strongly with the music, and we consider that their presentation on existing albums is quite enough to obtain the magic.
Dragana: Misantropeon rec. How did you come to the idea? What are your
Kozeljnik: After many years of cooperation with the German label Folter Records, we wanted to have things into our own hands and take over the responsibility of publishing. Today's occasions do not go much in favor of bands or publishers, because the sale of albums is reducing every day and it is very difficult to survive in such conditions. It's hard to make long-term plans because the rules of the game change from month to month. There are more and more new bands coming and on the other side there are less and less people who are willing to buy the music and support the art, so it is very difficult to close the circle nowadays. We are witnessing that there is a huge number of bands who stopped working or simply retreated to their own shells from where they are trying to function and spread their message. We will see where all this will go and in what direction the current scene will develop at the end.
Dragana: You do not often have concerts in Serbia, people are interested
when concert in Belgrade or Novi Sad will be?
Kozeljnik: We play at Exit early this July, and the next Belgrade concert is perhaps possible to be scheduled by the end of this year. In any case, plans to play more often in Serbia definitely exist.
Dragana: I heard that there was a change in line up before the recent tour.
How much will that affect for the band?
Kozeljnik: Yes, Nefas decided to end his journey with the band. The reasons are mostly personal, and the band fully respects his decision. In any case, his authorial seal is enormous and ubiquitous.
His lyrics always inspire, but almost every artist sooner or later feels the need to finish his journey and begin a new one. I believe that Nefas will continue to write and that his poetry will doubtless find a way, but on a different level from what The Stone's fans have used to so far. Certainly the band continues on its own stage, with new power and towards a new goal.
Dragana: Can you tell me something about a new vocalist and what are you
planning for the close future?
Kozeljnik: A new or so to speak old vocalist is Glad, also known to a wider audience as the singer of May Result and Murder. During the period from 2006 to 2011 he was in the band as a session vocal, and now he returns as a permanent member and the new man behind the microphone and the quill. Anyone who is familiar with his work in May Result knows that he is a very unique and dedicated artist who, with his aggressive and very intense vocal abilities fits perfectly with all that The Stone carries through its music and message. His presence surely represents the beginning of a new epoch for the band, and his textual contribution will bring a new dimension when it comes to the lyrics matter.
Dragana: How much and if at all this affected the band's plans?
Kozeljnik: No, it doesn’t affect the future work of the band and the plans we have. As I already mentioned very soon we will begin the process of composing new songs for the upcoming new 7" EP which is planned to be released later this year.
Interview by Dragana