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Interview: Atomic Sunset Band - Former Yugoslavia
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TOPIC: Interview: Atomic Sunset Band - Former Yugoslavia

Interview: Atomic Sunset Band - Former Yugoslavia 11 years, 3 months ago #349

Atomic Sunset is a rock'n'roll trio founded in 2003 in Belgrade and is indeed an unusual phenomenon on the local music scene.
Music that these guys write with the goal of creating a new, unique and energetic rock'n'roll sound is a unique combination, rockabilly, surf, punk and swing with a modern rock style.

The group has staged several performances in Serbia and Hungary.

Otherwise, Atomic Sunset is a band where Djordje Stijepovic, one of the world's best slap double-bass players, plays.
Djordje is known in Serbia as the leader of the band Havana Whisper and a member of groups dealing with the preservation of traditional Balkan expressions, such as Marsya, Shira Utfila, Kal, etc.

Over the past few years Stijepovic has been mostly playing on tours throughout the United States with groups Head Cat (Lemmy from the group Motorhead and Slim Jim Phantom from Stray Cats group), Deke Dickerson, and regularly performs with rockabilly legends like Scotty Moore Band (Elvis Presley's guitarist), DJ Fontana (Elvis Presley's drummer) and others.

Renowned American magazine Bass Player recently devoted an entire page to Djordje Stijepovic and Lemmy Kilimister.

Drazen Skaric is an old veteran of the Serbian rockabilly scene.

For many years, along with Đjordje, he led the group Havana Whisper, and together with him founded the band Atomic Sunset.

Atomic Alek (Soulfly, Bloodbath) is the newest member of the band and better known as the longtime drummer of group Eyesburn, one of the most popular Serbian rock bands.

What do you think are the reasons that caused this global financial crisis and how do you look at it?

I try not to think about it ... and for the most part, I am successful.
I do not want to preoccupy myself with things which I cannot affect, which is probably the biggest reason I do not own a television.
However, I try to be informed, but I am very picky when it comes to choosing the source of information.
My job isn't directly connected to politics and not very affected by the crisis, but it is known that the best music was created even during tough economic times. That's what I'm interested in.
It seems to me that the crisis was artificially created and that a big fuss arised for no reason. Unfortunately, the crisis is often cited as a justification for various manipulations.

And not so long ago, a few deserted islands on which one could escape still existed, but thanks to globalization, one can no longer hide anywhere.
All members of the human species today are slaves to money, no alternative exists, serve or starve.
All of us daily, directly or indirectly, run after money, and it really sounds unbelievable that up to now only few individuals have known about the simple facts of how all money is created, how it is distributed, where the banks get the money with which they offer loans, how public debt comes into being, ...
The global monetary system is basically a fraud of astronomical proportions.
If everything which surrounds us is growing like the leaves on the tree in a whole through the completely rotten roots, can our everyday life be something else other than a fraud which exists to camouflage the disease which are eating us apart?

Money, for me, was never a motive or an objective. I understand that it is necessary, but I'm trying to not give too much importance.
I was lucky enough in that I never had to deal with anything else besides music.
I'm sure I could earn more in another profession that would allow me to have a safer life. However, I wouldn't even think twice about giving up the freedom which I have as a musician for some apparent and short-term satisfactions.

In the past 3-4 years, I have toured over 40 U.S. states, half of Europe and played with many of my teenage heroes, whose posters I still have on the wall of my apartment in Belgrade. I don't know of any other profession which would allow something like that?!
Music is for me, still, that deserted island on which I can hide from the harsh everyday life.

Are we perhaps for these reasons bombarded with war films, news and messages, all pure crime and crimes, thieves, war video games, toys, guns, rifles, machine guns, bombs, ...
The feeling of depression, stress, helplessness and despair is conditioned in a man.
The only way out for anything is through war, both at the front, as well as in everyday life, the economy, whose main goal is profit, is based on competition and greed, everyone is basically each other's enemy.
The economy based on collaboration creates a community and unites, brings people together rather than dividing them, however, unified and united people are the greatest fear of every Elite in power, it has long been known that the easiest way to rule and get the greatest benefit is to "divide and conquer".
Conspiracy, conspiracy theory or just facts, reality and truth?

I don't view life in such a dark way and I don't think that war is a way out in any aspect of life. The fact is that many things around us promote depression. However, there is that positive side which unfortunately often disappears amid the darkness.

As I mentioned earlier, I don't own a TV and do not buy any daily newspapers for a reason. I do not want to allow anyone to put information in my head and use it as a means of controlling me. Whoever possesses an informative tool, places the information which serves in his best personal interest. At best, he chooses the method of presenting the information which does not suit him and that way turns the information into his use.
Fortunately, there are many opportunities to inform oneself about any given topic on the planet by means of internet. It only takes will and a desire for knowledge.

Greetings to Atomic Sunset, rockabilly, surf, punk band, Belgrade, Serbia, welcome to Crom Alternative News, this interview we will seek to get to know you a little more.
Atom and Atomic, what a coincidence, I grew up about one hundred meters from a hole which represents an atomic shelter, while at the same distance away but only to the left of me, a rock group, carrying the same name, rehearsed their stuff for years. Let's start with the very name of the band, Atomic sunset or tomorrow's dawn, in fact, let's start with, whence this name, who made it up, when and where, why and what should this band's name represent?

The name of the band is kind of a contradiction - a destructive atomic energy and a romantic sunset.
The music group is based on rockabilly that has emerged in the fifties in America. At that time, the Cold War was in full swing in the population and there was a great fear of the atomic bomb and of the end of the world. This was also the period after World War II when there was an enormous positive energy and hope for a better future. This is all reflected in the music, so very extremely aggressive, and with a reason called punks roots, notions exist which are inspired by the songs of atomic energy, flying saucers, rockets, etc.
On the other hand there are very romantic, almost banal and illusory, but often beautiful songs inspired by sunsets and love.
The music group Atomic Sunset is exactly this - energetic and uncompromising, but romantic and positive.

We here are proud of the fact that we are an international project, so the borders dissolve in front of us by themselves alone.
Many people, many characters, but they all impatiently await the story about the guys from the Serbian band Atomic Sunset.
Biography, discography, and a little more than that, of course, don't worry about wasting too much ink...

Atomic Sunset was created somewhere in the early 2003 and in some ways it is a continuation of my neo-swing band Havana Whisper.
Guitarist Drazen Skaric and I founded the band in 1999 at the height of the popularity of this style in the world.
But after those 4-5 years, however much the band functioned; it became extremely difficult to hold together seven musicians with quite different musical aspirations. That's when we returned to our first love, which was rockabilly for both of us and founded the trio Atomic Sunset.
From day one we insisted on copyrighted songs, which today represent 90% of our repertoire.
I wrote a lot of the songs while we played in Havana Whisper, some we have even played in a swing arrangement, but we have never recorded them.
In that year of 2003, we appeared everywhere in Serbia and Hungary as Atomic Sunset and in January of the following year recorded the album "Hot Rods & Pin-Ups".
We recorded it in just three days. Without too much thinking, we entered the studio and went straight to business recording 15 songs. The album was announced for the former Yugoslav market by the Automatik Records (Warner Bros. representative for our region), and is available worldwide through Ceklin Music, sites like iTunes, Amazon, CDBaby, and of course
Just a few days after the recording, I moved to California, where I still live.
Every time I fly to Europe, we organize gigs, TV appearances and recording, so we're quite active. Often more active than some bands that are permanently based in Serbia.

The scandal about climate change, the so-called ClimateGate, is currently one of the most popular themes worldwide.
Are you familiar with that and how do you like the song "Hide The Decline"?

It is interesting that this was not even talked about in the media.
Fortunately, whoever wished to inform themselves, could relatively easily come upon the alternative media which regularly writes about this topic.
Climategate is the evidence of how manipulated our lives are for someone's profit.
How terrible is it that one cannot even believe the scientists. However, like all the other scandals this one will probably die out soon and become completely forgotten. When you look at it, it's not event talked about anymore.

As for the song, I think that its greatest value is that it indicates that no one is untouchable and that everyone can express their opinion and make it available on YouTube and various blogs. This way, we can all little by little influence the public opinion.

The music scene in Serbia has always been strong, what is the current situation now, with Belgrade as the center of events?
Express your opinions and views, such as news, are there any new kids and how many, what are the general conditions, is there enough music?
How much money is being taken out in Belgrade for the culture of these alternative types?

The music scene is still strong.
There are plenty high-quality bands throughout Serbia, not only in Belgrade. What I have noticed in recent years is that the audience is becoming quite divided. Those who follow metal concerts do not go to punk, rockabilly, and vice versa. It reminds me of the ways in America.
Fortunately, I have no such problem with the audiences of Atomic Sunset because the styles are not "pure". In general, we are a Rockabilly band, but under the influence of all possible genres that influenced us within time. For example, our drummer Alek was in the group Eyesburn for many years so he brings something new with him which the general public will have an opportunity to hear on the new album which we are working on very hard. That is also Alek's studio debut with us.
What I like is that at our concerts one can see an equally proportionate number of fans with long hair, crests and Motorhead, Clash or Eddie Cochran T-Shirts.

The conditions are not the best because the market is small. Almost none of the authoric bands have no opportunity to have more of 30-40 concerts a year.
Music industry in Europe generally functions dramatically different than in America, the system I am accustomed to.
In the Balkans, musicians who are involved in various organizations, political parties, and so on are the most successful. This is the method by which one reaches money which is rovided by the city or some independent company that allows bands to perform at various events, squares, etc. This is partially good because it helps culture.
However, in this way the media, parties and organizations which have nothing to do with music, influence the taste of the masses. Thus we get a pile of bands that are apparently popular, but cannot sell one hundred cards, or even more frequently, do not hold concerts.

In America, the rules are different. If you bring five people to a concert, you get paid for five. If you bring five thousand, you get paid for those five thousand. I think this method is much more correct, but also more difficult.

We would very much like to hear more about the song "Lost Generation".
Otherwise, what does your text generally speaking of, where do you find the inspiration for them, what inspires you in particular?
Do your songs represent your perspectives?

I wrote the song Lost Generation a few years before my departure to America and it reflects how I felt at that time. It speaks about the problem of feeling of belonging and raises questions to which there is no final answer to.

The texts that I write mainly carry my views, as well as a variety of situations in which I found myself over time.
Of course there are those texts which are full of imaginary characters who exist in my head, but could very easily exist somewhere in reality.
I find the inspiration literally everywhere. I am living quite a dynamic life and I come in contact with many people, many stories, many interesting situations, so that the songs are, themselves, waiting to be written. Special inspiration for me is life itself.

The musical genre by which you abide by, why specifically that and not, for example, disco?
Are there, in general, any political messages in that musical genre as a movement?

I have listened to and live rockabilly and in general rock and roll since I was 10. That is reason enough for me. Anything else would not be the exact truth. Disco has never attracted and I cannot identify with it, as well as with many other musical genres. I'm trying to constantly hold my ears open to new sounds, so it's not impossible that some characteristics of a style which are not familiar to me occur in some of the songs that I write.
I never bothered myself with flattering the tastes of the audience. I create music which I'd listen to in private, and not music which I think the crowd would like and would suit the current trends.
I like rock'n'roll exactly because it is independent, provides an opportunity for the individual and doesn't impose political views.
There are bands that are painted one way or another, but generally there is no one opinion that represents the final truth.

Atomic Sunset, why have people all over the world suddenly begun spending money on water from plastic bottles when all governments in the world are guaranteeing the safety of tap water?

Water in different countries definitely has different tastes. For this there are natural reasons, but also chemical. Somewhere one can feel more chlorine, somewhere less, so I assume that there are different regulations and methods of its purification. I try to be natural resources and energy is spent conscientiously, so I'm generally against buying bottled water, but it is unfortunately often the only alternative to the contaminated tap water.

I generally do not want to hear what the government guarantees and what not, and I try to follow common sense, because often in history we have seen that the governments manipulate information for its own gains.
I try not to be a victim of their desire for power, although I sometimes inevitably am, as most people.
The fact is that the various tests of tap water showed several elements which very adversely affected health.
Chlorine is used in order to destroy bacteria, but in greater quantities it is extremely bad. In some studies, traces of drugs were found in medicine, because the filters used were not able to completely filter the water that comes from the tap.
In addition to chlorine, fluoride presents a big problem as well. I suppose that its use is affected by the fact that specific industries spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get rid of it properly, and today, on this same element, profit from it.

All this seems quite depressing, but there are always other options. People often use various additional filters or otherwise acquire spring water. One solution is to distill the water, and then add essential minerals, because even pure H2O is not good because it takes the minerals from the body.

I try not to trouble myself with that too much. I always choose to know and to be informed, because I do not want to have someone pull me by the nose.
Buying bottled water is still one of the absurdities of the world in which we live. In my opinion, water should be free and accessible to everyone, not private business.

When we talk about you and your music, are there some kind of role models that you look up to, someone who has given you a special inspiration?
Do you listen to some of the music that comes out of the same genre as your own music?

Absolutely! When I started getting interested in music, my greatest role models were Elvis Presley and the band Stray Cats. That's something that in general led me to choose music as my profession and the life I lead.
Over time, these conditions changed in the sense that I began to listen to many other performers and genres, but somehow I never felt the need to deduct what I once loved, instead I always added on to what I had. It is interesting to look at all that from the position I am in now because I think I have realized many of my dreams when I played with Elvis' drummer DJ Fontana along his group's guitarist Scotty Moore in Memphis. Besides that, I now have a band in which Slim Jim Phantom, Stray Cats drummer, plays. I am glad that my teenage heroes did not remain only characters on plaques and posters, but have become real people with whom I remain in friendly contact.

I listen to many different music genres besides rock and roll. If I had to cite the artists who most influenced me, it would probably be Joe Strummer, Brian Setzer, Charlie Mingus, Tom Waits and Willie Dixon. However, I listen to traditional jazz, blues, bluegrass, surf, punk, metal, Psychobilly, baroque, classical, and traditional music of different cultures, particularly of the Balkans and the Middle East.
I completed a music academy for classical bass and jazz department for arranging and bass, which also influenced the creation of my musical taste.

Succinctly, "Take good care of what makes you special because if it leaves you, you'll become a deadly bore."
Atomic Sunset, what makes you special?

This question would be easier to answer for a music critic, because when we play and write songs we do not try to be special, instead we try to convey in a sincere sound what we are going through in life and how we feel. I think that this is exactly what distinguishes us; uncompromising style of writing songs, and the fact that we are unable to fully rank ourselves in any musical genre. I suppose this may disappoint the hard-line rockabilly fan who expects to hear the traditional approach to this style, but also attracts a different audience.
This modern approach also opens the door to many who are not interested in the music which was formed in the middle of the last century.

The way audiences and critics generally distinguish Atomic Sunset is a very high level of musicians in the band and a blistering concert performance.
I write songs that require knowledge of a wide range of musical styles and people who are not imprisoned in one genre.
The base is of course, rockabilly, because it is something that I am and something that I cannot and do not want to run away from.
However, there is a lot of upgrading over styles such as punk, surf, swing, metal, and some new songs and even dub, which is likely to impact my long-time listening of group Clash, and the fact that Alek comes from the reggae core group Eyesburn.

Guys from the Belgrade Atomic Sunset, everyone including you:
If the banks are, indeed, the institutions which create money, and not the state, can the politics which rely fully on the promises based on the goodwill of the banks, which are seldom truthful and in a good mood both in theory and in practice, be anything but an ordinary prostitute always hungry for money?

No, they can't.

Atomic Sunset, we would gladly like to get to know you as people and not just rock stars.
Who are you and what of lads are you, what you are doing and what do you occupy yourself with, are you employed, life interests, how much do you still depend on mom and dad, has anyone already started a family?

Music for me is not just a part of my life, rather my whole life.
I've been professionally active with music for more than ten years and it is the only "job" that I have.
Parents have always been my great support and I became financially independent from them several years before I moved to California.
I am interested in many things besides music. I love to spend time in nature, spend time with dear friends, watch good movies, read Dylan Dog and Marti Mystery...

What takes away most of my time from music is the project "Art of the Slap Bass" with which I am trying to popularize the technique of slap and introduce it to a wider audience. The whole package consists of a website which in which I present the best of the world's slap double-bass; video school whose first part is supposed to appear around the end of 2010 and two books of which one would be the school and the other a historical review of the development of slap techniques.

Alek and Drazen are also completely independent.
Music has always been a big part of Drazen's life, however, he never dealt with it exclusively.
Alek already has more than ten years of professional experience as a musician in our country and people from our region know him from the bands Bloodbath and Eyesburn.

Rehearsal rooms and rehearsals are an indispensable part of the story of every band.
Are all problems solved, or are there more and more each day, how many times a week do you come together and rehearse?
Musical instruments and other musical equipment which is a part of you, how much does it all cost and how accessible is it?

In Belgrade's Student Cultural Center there are 3-4 rooms that are assigned to bands for rehearsal.
Atomic Sunset exercises in a room with bands Eyesburn and Magma. Beside us is Rambo Amadeus, next to him Lira Vega and Jarboli.
Since I spend most of the year on tour in America, we don't have the opportunity to meet and rehearse so often.
However, whenever I come to Europe, we meet a couple of times to reinforce the old repertoire and then we start with the gigs.
During this period, we work on new songs. After a few weeks of intensive playing, we enter the studio and record things for a new album. I am trying to record the drums and the guitar at the very least, so that I can work on vocals and record the bass in a studio in New York where we are producing the new album.

In the past, the purchase of high-quality instruments, amplifiers and so on was a big thing.
For some time already, I have been fortunate enough to be sponsored for muscial equipment by several companies, so I don't have to worry too much about their prices.
I've been using Thomastik Infeld strings for almost twenty years and already some 3-4 years I've been the only slap Bass player which they sponsor.
Planet are great pics that a firm from Denmark produces which I also exclusively use.
The company King Double Bass from Los Angeles announced that they will begin with the sale of my "signature" model of the double-bass this year.
Other band members are also quite active so they have different sponsorships, too.

Why did America abandon the gold standard in the seventies of last century?
What are alternative currencies and why is nobody in the Balkans mentioning them?

This is yet another issue on which I am not sufficiently informed.
Money is always linked to power and domination, so it wouldn't surprise me if that was the main reason.
Given that America is one of the most powerful countries in the world, it allows her to have a system that is not tied to gold because the dollar is still one of the most common currencies. This approach certainly opens up an opportunity for various manipulations. That can very clearly be seen from the fact that many countries have abandoned the gold standard during the difficult economic conditions when they were in great debts.

Alternate currencies are an interesting option, but the problem is that they aren't sufficiently widespread and it seems to me that they won't be adopted in the near future.

We would like to know the place at which you held your last concert?
Atomic Sunset, do you perform throughout the former Yugoslavia, share your experiences, are there new friendships, do you maintain contacts with musicians outside of Serbia?

The last concert was held in Novi Sad in December of 2009.
We like coming to Novi Sad because the audience there is always willing to hear us, which gives us extra motivation to perform the gig.
We have not had a chance to perform throughout former Yugoslavia, although we would very much love to.
I have established contacts with several promoters in Slovenia and Croatia, so I hope that some performances will come up soon.
We all have friends among musicians outside of Serbia. Since most of us have no support of large production houses, these friendships are extremely helpful for promotion and the scheduling of tours.

Atomic Sunset Belgrade, you are carrying a one way travel ticket in your pocket, permanent residence, no return, where would you fly?

I always carry at least one travel ticket in my pocket and it's always a different destination.
I've been living in San Francisco for six years, but because of the numerous and long tours, I have stayed there for no more than two weeks in the last six months.
I began responding to this interview during my plane ride to Portland, Maine, after 4 planes which I have changed on the way from Belgrade.
At this moment, I'm in a car with the band on our way to Seattle.

As for the band Atomic Sunset, I would like to have the opportunity to bring them on a tour in America. It would be interesting to play with Drazen and Alek in many places where I have already had the opportunity to perform - from Memphis, Vegas to Chicago and New York.

It's hard for me to imagine one place where I would want to go and stay without the possibility of traveling anymore. I have already moved once to the end of the world and haven't stayed in a same place for long ever since.

Here is an interesting question, how do you see that better tomorrow, if you could, and I am saying you could, what kind of a better world today, now, not tomorrow, would you create for us?

Considering the life I live, I have already been concentrated for a long time on exactly the present moment and the current situation I am in.
My life is made up of moments and there is no time to regret something that I didn't do when I had the opportunity because there are often no second chances.
Through music, I try to beautify life as much as possible and that way have an influence on the better tomorrow.
I don't have ambitions for correcting big injustices, which I cannot influence anyway, nor to change the world.

It seems to me that I am an optimist by nature, but I am also quite realistic.
Even though, at this point, it doesn't look like there is much hope for that better tomorrow, I believe that the earth will fight out for itself and that the world will revive.

For Poland, the swine flu is similar to the feline cough.
Did you get a vaccine against the swine flu, and what about all other new viral catastrophes that threaten us more frequently than menstruation?
When will the vaccines against mass media be delivered to the world markets, and when will the police, besides testing for alcohol and drugs, begin testing for shallowness?

I did not get a vaccine nor do I plan on doing anything similar. In general, I don't like to inject myself with things.

Shallowness suits the police, so I don't think anything similar will be happening in the near future...

Atomic Sunset, plans for the immediate and distant future of the band?

I am currently completing work on new songs in order to have everything ready for the other album.
Alek has played drums for almost all of the songs, the rhythm guitars are there, so I should have finished the recording of vocals and double bass prior to my next departure to New York.
In the fall, when I plan to come again to Serbia, we will finish the album and organize concerts.
I hope that there will be opportunities to perform in the surrounding countries as well.

Fellows, what do you eat, how and with what do you feed yourselves, do you know how to cook or do they cook for you, wash or wash for you?
Vegetarianism and various diets?
Plastic Tomato, plastic apples without taste, genetically modified foods?

Nobody in the band is a vegetarian nor requires special diets. I think that all of us know how to cook.

I, unfortunately, do not have much time for cooking because I'm constantly on the road, with the possibility of cooking up some food.
I try as much as I can to eat healthy and pay quite enough attention to staying away from fast food as much as possible, and I stay away from modified food in totality. In California, that's not such a big problem, especially not in San Francisco where people are extremely conscious about this issue.
However, in the middle parts of the United States, it is extremely difficult to find something that isn't Burger King, Jack in the Box or McDonalds. The best option in these areas is usually Subway.

How healthy is the life that you live, do you participate in any sports activities, and how much do you care about your environment...

It is very hard to say that life on tour can be healthy, but let's just say I try to be less unhealthy.
I try to be physically active every day, which is very important after a long sitting in a van.
Unfortunately this is not always possible.
I care about the environment as much as I can, I try to recycle, I try not to unnecessarily consume energy...

Football and fans, you and cheering, clubs and national team...


We have approached the end of this pleasant gathering, is there anything you would like to add, do you have any advice, you can also curse if you wish to...

There is no need for profanity. If it was necessary, I would have sworn in the first response.
I think that after such a thorough interview, my position in relation to the world, nature and other things that surround us is quite clear.
I would love if the audience would be more supporting of live music. This is something that has always existed and it will never disappear.
Music is something that was able to raise spirits in difficult situations. So do not miss good gigs!

Atomic Sunset, Crom Alternative News thanks you for this interview and the expressed willingness to cooperate and offer support.
In the framework of this
project of alternative currency there exists the Crom Marketplace, as well, will we have a chance to see anything from the band Atomic Sunset among the offers?

Thank you for the invitation for the interview and for the very unique questions.
We would be happy to have our first album "Hot Rods & Pin-Ups" be available for purchase using croms.

Last Edit: 11 years, 3 months ago by administrator.
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