Facing an interrupted international tour, Ukrainian groove metal titans Jinjer changed course and continued their domination despite a dismal 2020 and carrying that momentum well into the new year.
For all of the bad news the world was bombarded with in 2020, there were some instances of success that really underscored what true perseverance looks like. Among the best examples of the ability to adapt and press forward was presented by Ukrainian groove metal phenoms, Jinjer.
Though the band’s international trek in support of their massive 2019 LP Macro was cut short, the band quickly figured out an alternative path to ensure they continued with their domination.
Completing a succession of music videos for the remaining tracks on Macro, frequently producing visual content that kept fans engaged, and eventually releasing their last show prior to the global lockdown as an incendiary live record, ‘Alive In Melbourne,’ Jinjer saw the opportunity to change the narrative of 2020 and draft their own version.
Assessing the strides the band has made despite such inopportune circumstances, the band’s bassist and songwriter Eugene Abdukhanov reflects on just how far Jinjer has come, while projecting how far they still have to go. While the last year might have did all it could to obstruct the band’s trajectory, Abdukhanov remains adamant that his band’s grind is different and much like their brand of bone-crunching heft, their creative pace and work ethic are just as relentless.
Jinjer was actually able travel and play some shows in September. What were those shows like in Germany and Switzerland and what kind of emotion was the band playing with after being away from the stage for so long?
Abdukhanov – Well, it was amazing, strange and very emotional, I would say. When we decided if there were to be any shows in 2020, that it would have to be in summer and it would be a one-time thing- meaning we would not move the shows to another date if Covid cancelled them. The shows were limited capacity and the fans, even though they were seated most of the shows, were so thankful and excited to see us, it was just an incredible feeling to be back on the road in some way.
Alive In Melbourne seems extra significant because the album documents some of the last big metal shows on the planet prior to the lockdown. Do you feel like that makes this more than just a live record?
Abdukhanov – Yes, I do. It captured a moment in time that we will all not forget. Covid-19 has changed all our lives forever and this album was meant to be a reminder of better days and that hopefully very soon, those times will be back again.
How does being Ukrainian work into the identity of the band? Did Jinjer come from an environment where metal music thrived or was the band kind of an anomaly?
Abdukhanov – It is very relative. If you compare Ukraine to countries like Germany or the US, of course we are an anomaly. Extreme music is very underground in our country. Even though there were other bands active besides Jinjer, this is very far from the amount you have in other countries. To put it briefly, you can have a few metal gigs in various venues in an American city on the same night, every day of the week, but where we come from there are only a few gigs throughout the whole year. Our music was and is considered to be something socially unacceptable. In many ways what we play reflects who we are and where we come from. The poverty we grew up in, the social stratification, the industrial pollution and catastrophic ecology, the absence of opportunities and there just being no future for all of us has left a big imprint on us as people and thus on our music.
Tati has really become a central figure in the world of metal music. Did Jinjer ever encounter roadblocks being a female-fronted band? If so, what were they and how did that make the band stronger?
Abdukhanov – No, we have never really had problems with that. The only real issue we’ve had is the press calling us a female metal band [laughs]. In the end we are a BAND. There are four of us and we all pull this machine equally.
The band committed to creating a unique visual for the remaining songs on Macro to close out 2020 – Meaning every song on the album will have its own music video. What was the thinking behind such an ambitious plan?
Abdukhanov – We actually came up with the idea even before releasing Macro album. The real reason behind it is that we believe every single song on this record is worth getting a video and same level of exposure. Giving some songs a video and not giving it to the others would be a loss. There are no fillers on that record.
Jinjer toured, put out a live record, produced music videos and are working on new music while most other bands are just waiting for the pandemic to be over so they can tour again. What fuels the band’s perseverance despite what has been arguably the shittiest time in the history of live music?
Abdukhanov – [Laughs] Yes, this is the shittiest time ever. I often think about why some people just give up so quickly and not try to fight through this. To be honest we are just doing what we have always done – grind as hard as we can to take Jinjer to another level. Sure, this has not been easy, but we simply just reacted and kept the same pace we’ve always had. Luckily, we have a like-minded partners who also grind as hard as we do, so it all just happened. I believe a lot of fans notice this as well and are grateful that we keep hitting them with new things. I am definitely grateful for them. If shows AND our supporters disappeared overnight, oh man…
In deciding to release ‘Alive In Melbourne’ as a live record, the band has discussed how these shows were very important in that this was the first trip to Australia. What does that kind of global reach do you for you as a musician, and artist? How inspiring is it to know that what you make can travel that far and reach so many people all at once?
Abdukhanov – It is overwhelming and surreal sometimes, but it makes all of the hard work and belief we have in this band worth it. People see us playing bigger shows NOW but there were so many shows we played in front of 50 people. There is nothing better than playing somewhere for the first time. The little differences in cultures, geography, we are just running out of new and unexplored places to play!
Has Jinjer spent any time working on new material?
Abdukhanov –Yes! We are already pretty far with songwriting now and Tatiana will start writing lyrics soon. We have a Summer/Fall release date in mind.
Given how turbulent 2020 in particular has been, do you feel like this is a good time for aggressive music?
Abdukhanov – The world is not over. Yeah, this last year sucked, yeah, there are industries who suffer a lot like the music and entertainment industry in general, But people still need heavy and extreme music in their lives, because most of the people still go to work, gym, still study, and they need their way of getting rid of negative emotions – which is extreme music, I believe.
The stage still feels very far away given the ongoing pandemic. Can fans expect streaming to be an option?
Abdukhanov – We already streamed a few live shows from our tour in September for free, but we have contemplated doing an official live stream a few times. Have not made a final decision yet but if we do one, it will have to be something special!
You will know when we figure it out (laughs).
Alive In Melbourne from Jinjer is currently available in various formats via Napalm Records and can be purchased – HERE