BROTHERS IN BLOOD: The Bulgarian hardcore punk chronicles

BROTHERS IN BLOOD, one of the oldest Bulgarian hardcore bands are planning a short tour in Western Europe in April, and it’s my pleasure to present you my interview...

BROTHERS IN BLOOD, one of the oldest Bulgarian hardcore bands are planning a short tour in Western Europe in April, and it’s my pleasure to present you my interview with the band’s guitarist Sven Georgiev! Read their brief story below and scroll down to go back in time and find out some interesting facts about Bulgarian punk scene and a bunch of amazing insights into this oldschool NYHC-inspired outfit.

BROTHERS IN BLOOD was formed back in 1998 in Pleven, Bulgaria and is one of the oldest Bulgarian hardcore bands.  BROTHERS IN BLOOD was started after the members of the first ever Pleven hardcore band POOL PUNISHERS parted ways (some of them leaving Pleven and moving abroad to the Czech Republic). In the beginning, BIB members Shutta and Ceko, joined by the young syco drummer Joro (La Miseria), tried to play some raw ideas, inspired by hardcore bands like 25  TA LIFE (thats where the name BROTHERS IN BLOOD originally came from). Surprisingly, the things worked out attractively well, and after the returning of Sandy (POOL PUNISHERS) on bass, the band rapidly recorded an absolutely non-professional DIY demo, containing 10 tracks and called Pleven Hardcore Demo 1998. The Demo turned out to be a favorite of the growing Bulgarian hardcore audience. It was promoted with a bunch of local shows and a couple of appearances in Sofia and Varna in 98/99. Shortly after, the band temporarily stopped its activities. In the following years though, it could have been seen performing casually at summer festivals like Freemind, and at Christmas Hardcore. In those performances, the band showed up with some new(old) members like Sven (POOL PUNISHERS), Parj and various members of Pleven hardcore / metal society. In 2001, Shutta took the responsibility of the vocals in VENDETTA, and BROTHERS IN BLOOD stopped existing for a long time. They only gathered to play in 2003 on I-Rejects Balkan Tour. BROTHERS IN BLOOD performed a couple of classics together with their Dutch friends, who were invited by Sven and Shutta (both running the hardcore label Years Of Pain) for a short summer tour. After the split of VENDETTA in 2005, the idea of BROTHERS IN BLOOD reunion didn’t take long to come true. So, the band is active again with the new young members: Alexander (EMPTY FACE) on bass, Alexander (FIGHT TO WIN) on drums, Alexander (Shutta aka SDB) throat and Sven on guitars. In late 2007 BROTHERS IN BLOOD parted ways with their drummer Alexander Caxa and in early 2008, the band put out their next release “Take Your Life Back” – a solid, fast and energetic 8 songs, no slow Bollo but fast Tough guy hardcore with catchy breaks. Worth to mention are the guest appearances of many band’s friends among which is the impressive featuring of Zoli Teglas from IGNITE (“Don’t Say My Name”) After few years of occasional touring in early 2012 the band got together in Rotterdam, Holland to record its latest EP “As Time Goes By”. The release is produced by Joey Z who’s operating his NYC based “Method Of Groove” studio (Joey is also known as guitarist of LIFE OF AGONY and CARNIVORE). Promoted by several gigs the cd is collection uncompromising fast killing heaviness and powerful sing-alongs in veins of SICK OF IT ALL and BLOOD FOR BLOOD. Stay tuned for BROTHERS IN BLOOD and don’t miss them when they hit the town! The oldshochool party is guaranteed!

Hey Sven! Thanks for taking some time with me! What’s up? How are you down there? :)

Hey man! Well, not bad at all, thanks for asking. I am just back home from another crazy underground show tonight. The smallest “venue” I’ve ever played… so far. It can’t be smaller than this – just a room as big as my bedroom, around 50 folks and 5 bands on the bill, haha.

Actually it’s just me “down here” in Holland. The rest of the band are doing fine “over there” in Sofia. I am sure they also had wild Saturday night.Yes, that’s the current situation with BROTHERS IN BLOOD. We are living at the both sides of Europe but still managing to make some cool stuff and play shows once in a while. We’ve became totally global project :)

Nice! I love house shows. I used to go for a couple of gigs organized in a room of an old tenement house. MEN AS TREES, SINGLE STATE OF MAN and FURNACE were on 2 different bills and it was really mindblowing. They should bring these parties back to life! Do you get a lot of these in your area?

Yeah, once in a while, there are some “mini” DIY shows like this. If you’re lucky enough to hear about the event, you can go and have some good fun. In the beginning when I moved in NL, I was amazed about the creativity of the underground people here. I’ve seen shows at unbelievably strange locations which is great! In my case, yesterday, we were invited to play on a release party of local sXe band named CLEARxPATH. It was in their rehearsal room which is not more that 20 square meters. It was great fun… too bad I had to drive this evening as I had to stay sober like a real sXe kid :) … and I can still smell the nice scent in the room at the end of the evening :)

Cool! Alright Sven, let’s go back in time and discuss the roots of your global project, shall we? :) “One of the oldest Bulgarian hardcore bands”, they say. Please tell me about the ancient times when all Bulgarian punks were rookies! How do you remember the old days?

Aw yeah, man! These were great times, honestly. I am getting really sentimental remembering this.

So, in the early “post-communist” 90’s I was introduced in the underground culture by the older guys in my neighborhood. I remember we even had some international paypals by 92-93. It was so funny, we were sending bottles of cheap poisonous Bulgarian vodka to Sweden and they were sending back some cool vinyls, cds and shirts. It was so rare! Somewhere in ’94 me and friend of mine started a project in our home town Pleven. We were very much inspired by the growing alternative underground scene of 90’s. Back then the local scene was really great. There were dozens of talented bands, no separation between metal, grind, punk, wave & etc;. It is so amazing how we’ve managed to create something cool out of nothing. By the way, some of these bands still do exist by today. A very good example are the grind-core veterans CORPSE with whom we’ll be playing soon in Sofia. Fifteen years later, man! I am sure it’s gonna be a blast. Anyways, like I said, it was completely different universe in mid 90’s. There was no equipment, no recording studios…things were just primitive. We used to share the same gear and rehearsal rooms with several other bands but more importantly the spirit was there and I must admit that was the key thing! We were driven by pure enthusiasm and raw energy. Of course, being teenagers, we had all the time in the world and we enjoyed it a lot..quite often under the influence of few or more strong drinks :). Soon the American skate-punk culture “invaded” us and that was it! We formed our first hardcore project with Shutta in ’96. It was named POOL PUNISHERS. Soon we got in touch with more hardcore soul-mates from the other cities, especially Varna & Sofia. We started an intense communication, exchange of tapes, zines, clothing & other cool trading stuff, I am sure it sounds familiar to you. Should I mention that back then there was NO internet? Everything was trough the old fashioned snail mail and phone calls (my parents were not happy at all with the phone bills, haha). In no time the first small shows organized by us were fact. These were insanely cool DIY events. Most of them were in the old fashioned youth centers, school halls & of course, some basements. Huh, I still remember a show when in the middle of our “performance” a torch flashed in my face and the next thing I experienced was a cop hitting straight through my hands and guitar cable unplugged the next moment , big fun it was :) Yeah, sweet & sweaty times, these were. Actually, there’s a song on our last EP which is called “We Go On/Hometown Hardcore”. It was written in these old times but we never recorded it in the past so in 2012 I decided it was the time. We just re-wrote the lyrics and I’d say it captures very well the atmosphere of these crazy days. It just tells who we are and why we still love to do this….we’re just getting older (and fatter) retards but besides that we still carry this itchy passion. As he sings:

Careless days in many ways / Home town, youth’s gone / Seasons have changed / Steps we have made felt so insane / Some folks are gone, we still keep it strong / Hometown hardcore / Playing our shit, that’s what we need / We just go on…

Nice one! Besides POOL PUNISHERS, what other bands have you played in?

Okay, with POOL PUNISHERS we just dived into the punk-hardcore culture but over the years I’ve also taken part in few other projects. Some of them were short lived, some just less productive in some I just filled in temporarily, but overall I am keeping such great memories from those (32, OFF, STRIDE FORWARD, TURN DOWN and few more).

Nowadays I am still having fun with few more projects.

Besides BIB, I am playing with my dutch fellas GETSOME! (hardcore) and S.I.M.B. (stoner metal-sludge-doom)

How would you compare Pleven’s scene to the activities in other cities at that time?

As I said earlier, the scene in Pleven in 90’s was quite rich and active. We had strong death metal bands like MORTAL REMAINS and MORTUARY, grind-core pioneers CORPSE, number of classical hard rock and metal bands. Last but not least, a bunch of good crazy friends who formed so called Ministry crew. They were doing a lot of experimental groovy shit, delivering alternative, industrial, wave and metal stuff (i.e. Beisky Baire, U-Boat, Second Delta & more fun projects). Today I realize even better how good it was, may be a bit ahead of its time and place.

Nevertheless, punk-hardcore was not present before we got into it. First we started with PP, later Shutta formed BiB followed by STRIDE FORWARD, OFF and NO WAY OUT. To answer your question, the biggest cities in the country Varna (Pizza Crew!) and Sofia already had their established punk hardcore society and small local scenes. Bands as the early ABORT & CONFRONT, followed by INDIGNITY, OUTRAGE, LAST HOPE, FACE UP, B.F.H. and many more to mention already had their annual summer happening in Varna. It was called Athmosfear (later renamed to Freemind). Very soon we were all in touch and started supporting each other. At the same time we already had very good connection with our drinking alco-core friends from the other big sea city – Bourgas. These were the guys from bands as ARTERY, KARTZER, ALCOPHILIA, etc;. Slowly everything started to get bigger and better…..

So, getting back to BROTHERS IN BLOOD, how did you get started?

Actually in late ’98 we had a breaking point. The summer was really great. We played the last ever PP gig on the crazy Svoge Open Air festival. Then some of us moved to Sofia “pursuing academic career:)”, some left the country and someone was about to be locked in the army for at least an year …so we were not able to play together anymore and that sucked! BROTHERS IN BLOOD was founded by Shutta who remained in Pleven, waiting to be “jailed” in the army which took longer than expected. He however did not stay passive at all. He brought together few other local guys who were also “infected” by hardcore culture. People who know Shutta since then, will certainly tell you how he was in these times. His passion & presence were just furious. This young skinny guy was totally obsessed and dedicated (also less intoxicated) back then. By the way, you can see his energy every time when he is on the stage by today! He loves to be there and gives his best, ha-ha :) So, at some point, he found himself fueled with hardcore energy, striving for a new project and he didn’t waste his time. I guess now you’d ask me how we got together in the new band, wouldn’ t you?

Precisely, how has your lineup evolved?

Hmhh, that’s also long funny story! As mentioned earlier, the band was founded in October 1998 in Pleven, Bulgaria. At that moment I was in Prague together with our former PP bass player Sandy Horozov. If I remember correct they started quite spontaneously as a three piece project even without a bass player. Shutta brought together one very talented young drummer called Joro (aka Mizeriata) and another good friend of ours, Tzeko who took the guitar for first time in his life. Really pure DIY concept but great vibe and healthy raw energy. A month later me and Sandy were back home for a short holiday. At that moment they already had some material and wanted to record a demo which later would become “Pleven Hardcore Demo 1998”. I think eight songs at least! Note, this is less 2 months after the band’s foundation :)

Sandy learnt the songs in few days so the bass was filled in too. Perhaps a week later they recorded everything for few hours on a “luxury” 4 track tape machine in the rehearsal. Few more weeks passed and Sandy broke his hand while stage diving in the crowd at a big rave party. Well, actually he tried to jump on me but I escaped the attack, hahaha. The next week, I and Deckstarr (the other PP guitar player) learnt the songs so the party went on. On and off we’d be playing shows, constantly rotating, depending who’d be available. By 2000 at least 5-6 dudes have taken part in this mayhem. I remember that even Tarlitto, our former PP drummer (nowadays famous tattoo artist) played bass at some of the first shows. In late ’99 Shutta finally went to serve in the army, the rest of us were off again to Sofia and abroad…. so it was quiet for a while. In early 2000’s there were some occasional shows with different members, some temp /new projects such as STRIDE FORWARD still rocked…. I spent an year in USA. In summer 2003 there was a small summer Balkan tour organized by us for our Dutch friends I-Reject. We did few short appearances together with them. Somewhere at this period Shutta also joined Face Up – VENDETTA so the time was rolling…..until late 2005 when we decided to bring something new and more structured once again. Shutta, Parj (another old time guitar beast), Alex on bass, me and a drummer called Caxata got together in Sofia. We started jamming and writing new material and felt quite okay! In 2007 Caxata left just before the scheduled recording session and another cool drummer named Falio joined us. We did finish the record “Take Your Life Back” in October 2007 and played some promotional events in the meantime. At that time I was already moving to Holland…it was meant to be a temporary job related stay ….I am still here. Nevertheless we kept rehearsing and doing gigs as much as possible at both sides of EU in the next 4 years with this line up. We’ve played many cool gigs with bands as IGNITE, BANE, BIOHAZARD, H2O and many more. At some point Falio quit the band driven by other priorities and then Danni (aka Mad Drummer) joined behind the kit. So here we are today, the current line-up is: Shutta (aka SDB) – screams / Alex – bass / Sven (me) – guitar / Danni – drums

Nice story Sven! Thanks for sharing! Can you sum up your discography? There was that demo you mentioned, “Take Your Life Back” (2008) and “As Time Goes By” (2012). Is that it?

Yes, that’s all…known to people. Small but remarkable, ha-ha! I think I gave you pretty good idea in my previous answer how and why it is like that. The last EP “As Time Goes By” was even recorded here in Holland together with some cool international people.

There’s been a lot of reviews praising your poor quality demo. Aren’t you tempted to re-issue those tracks?

Yes, we are but at the same time prefer to do new stuff when possible so we’re trying to keep good balance. We actually re-recorded an old song “Control” in 2007. We also have some demos that never saw daylight but lately I’ve been listening to them and most likely some tracks will be re-recorded. I don’t think we would re-record all the old tracks at once but I am quite sure we will release some more oldies in near future. We should be careful not to sweep away their old time primitive charm thou. Nowadays everything sounds different… so that’s not an easy task :)

Yeah man, but there is a lot of people kind of stuck in the past, if you know what I mean.

Absolutely, same here ha-ha!:)

Ok Sven, so how do you think your local scenes evolved over the years? Have you seen a progression of how people operate? What’s your judgment of current punk scene in Bulgaria?

Well, apparently things have evolved somehow. The times have changed so did the scene. Some things are way better and some stuff suxxx big time according to me. More importantly however is that the underground is still kicking hard. A lot of noise is being generated and it is quite cool. Internet and technologies changed the picture drastically for good or bad……
Unfortunately there is not strong scene in our hometown anymore which is pity. It has to do with the economical situation in the area. Majority of the young people are moving abroad or in the bigger cities looking for better opportunities. The youth culture has changed in general but that’s another contradictive topic. Don’t wanna go into political and social analysis as it is rather painful to me:)

Anyways, generally speaking, the punk/hardcore scene in Bulgaria has walked long long way over the past 20 years. It has certainly grown and matured. I personally think that it had its total peak in mid 2000′s when the first big/strong shows  with international bands started to happen. Wow, it was unbelievably insane, really! There was so much energy and enthusiasm. Quite naturally, over the years the things got a bit spoiled. The focus has moved and perhaps it’s getting more on fashion side than always. Nowadays is way easier to record and eventually book shows but still quite hard to reach the vibe and energy 80 -90’s (just few days ago I was at M.O.D. show…wow, man!!!). Yeah, the new kids are not as overexcited as we were about the upcoming weekend show… simply because there are several more gigs and they have to choose which one to go. That’s also a positive sign as it indicates that there’s a lot of activity. 

There’s quite cool punk scene lately in BG. Here’s the place to mention again Shutta who runs his punk rock fantasy project called PIRANHA in parallel with the other dozen bands he is part of. They are doing pretty cool, check them when are in your town! The hardcore scene is traditionally strong in Sofia and Varna, there is this new wave of trash bands, there is also modern post hardcore, beat down, extreme death grind, you name it. Some sub-genres which were not known and present in the past are there now. Some will never be as people are not interested and there are not traditions thou….overall it is colorful and very active which is great!

How would you compare it to the other cities you’ve visited and inhabited?

Compared to West Europe where I do live now, the shows in the eastern part are still stronger, more crazy and emotional according to me. The scene in west Europe has changed over the years too but hey, this is a living environment and it is changing constantly. It is just like a breathing animal which has its periods but it is built to last. What I really value high about Holland and Belgium are strong cultural traditions and practices (also funds ;)). The underground music in here has long long remarkable history which helps a lot to the new generations and bands. Some things on our eastern part had to be improvised “on the fly” once the “curtain” failed. Obviously there were some gaps and misconceptions over the generations but that’s okay and makes it more charming and unique. Now I just remembered a funny thing: the father of our Dutch bass player and singer (hi, van Rhijn broers) listens EXPLOITED and COCK SPARRER at age of 60+, how cool is that? :))

Haha, not bad :)

Yeah, my great father is at the same age but never went further than BEATLES and FLOYD :))

Alright bro. Let’s talk about BROTHERS IN BLOOD teaming up for a tour this May. What’s the status of the booking process?

Actually we’re very busy with the booking of this small BNL tour in late April. The idea is to have a short week of gigs around Holland, Belgium and possibly Germany. At the moment I am playing here with our Dutch hardcore project and we are planning to do it together. So far we only have three dates booked and I am working really hard to find some more opportunities. If you are interested or know somebody who would book a last minute show for us, we will do our best to be there and kick your ass. Promise!!! Besides that we are “brothers in blood”, we are also “brothers in booze” and we like to party goddamn a lot! :) The guys will fly over on April, the 17-th and we hope to play every possible evening in the next 5-6 days! As I said, it is gonna be funny and hopefully very loud! :)

Splendid. Send me over some videos when you get a chance :)

Is it hard to book hardcore gigs for such dinosaurs as yourself? Did it pay off to make so many friends over the years?

Haha, nice joke, dude. I guess you mean “dinosaurs” in pure physical aspect or perhaps just old retards, don’t you? I must admit we’ve grown significantly over the years … roughly 30 kilos per piece… at least two of us are :) Alex and Danny still have long way to go. Other than our dimensions, not much has changed and we’re still the same immature silly imbeciles, even worse…. jf you ask our parents, haha :)

Well, it certainly helps when you have established some connections over the years but it is still challenging to book gigs or good tour outside of our area. I am currently facing this while organizing our tour in Holland although I am living here since six years already . We’re not an US band and that immediately means lower interest :) But yeah, it is fair to get some cool support from our fellow friends from abroad. I can tell you that over the last 15 years we’ve helped countless number of foreign bands to play in Bulgaria. All of them have had great fucking time with us! I would not exaggerate if I say that hundreds of people on tour have been hosted in our houses, especially in Shutta’s luxury underground mansion! It is five stars category, haha. Everyone has always been welcome at his place and enjoyed great stay unless he asked for sauna which is still not in place. Improvised massage is quite possible thou, haha!

Ok Sven. To avoid being too positive, tell me about something that really pisses you off in the modern hardcore punk scene :)

Positive? As a diehard TYPE O NEGATIVE fan, I am not known as super positive person. We are who we are….”too late to change me, just deal with it…”:)

“Pisses me off” is a bit too strong but there’re some “things” indeed. I guess for you too….In the recent years some people are just overplaying and acting way too fashionably, “tough & bad” which is a bit ridiculous to me.

Apparently we do not take ourselves too seriously but just trying to deliver something valuable. In other words, I’d personally focus on the actual music so to have our own identity, sound and vibe. Of course, we are neither re-inventing the wheel, nor making a musical revolution, whatsoever but cloning brainlessly the latest trends is not something I am fan of… Okay, if you listen to the demo from ’98 you’d probably notice something… something in this “low resolution record” reminds the listener to our friend Rick Healey (aka Rick Ta Life) I think it’s the singing, haha! Nowadays it is more SOIA oriented sound but I think the identity is in place and we love it.

What I also dislike nowadays is this weird separation between “crews”, local scenes, small communities & etc;. It just makes no sense to me. Completely pointless. Although this can be seen within the other scenes too, it is quite present in the punk-hardcore universe. It is such a small world and it suxx to play games and compete. I am not preaching “unity” or so but these things harm and impact everyone at the end of the day. Sure, everyone has own taste, beliefs and preferences but we should already know that everything is about the good music and friendly fun regardless of the origin and age of the people .The mutual support is so important for this culture, without it, it will not survive. Yeah, that’s my humble opinion although ….just today I listened to the SLAPSHOT’s song called “The Last Laugh” and I fuckin love it, haha!

Alright man. I guess that’s it, right? Thank you so much for your time and feel free to finish up with any type of dessert you want :) Cheers!

Yeah Karol, I think we had quite cool extensive chat. Thank you very much for showing interest and giving us this opportunity. Hopefully now few more people abroad will hear about our old dirty project. I am really looking forward to play at any possible place, to meet new friends and again to have real good fun. That’s it! Don’t miss to join us if it happens that we play in some stinky club in your area. I guarantee you real nice time. Umhh, by the way as I mentioned before that we’ll be playing in Sofia together with our good friends from Pleven, the grind-core veterans CORPSE on 05 March. Everyone, join us and enjoy the chaos!!!

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/p

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via www.idioteq.com@gmail.com

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