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Abandoned Elysium
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Interview by Invidia Zine (Serbia)

Invidia: My best regards Lembetu! How's the situation in Loits nowadays? I've heard from Ledo Takas Records that they will release your new LP/CD under the name "Vere Kutse Kohustab". Is this new full-length album? I hope you can say lot more about it, so please.

First of all, I must apologize for delaying with the answering of this interview for inexcusably long, so if some questions sound somewhat out of date, let your poisonous arrows of critique fly in my direction.

The album "Vere Kutse Kohustab" has been released by now. We still have to wait a bit for the vinyl version, but a luxurious digibook and the usual jewel case CD were released on October 20, 2004.

It is the second full-length album of Loits and, naturally, the best material we've ever made. Finally we've reached a point where we can taste the first fruits of all this hard work. In Estonia this album has been greeted with quite a storm; we're topping the local record stores' sales lists and most of the radio stations around here play our music.

Interviews with and reviews of Loits have appeared in most major dailies and weeklies. The next step for us is to promote ourselves in television. Just last weekend we filmed a video for this purpose; now all that's left to do is to mix it together.

Invidia: Your name is still on the list of this Lithuanian label. How much are you satisfied with cooperation so far?

Tadas has become a good comrade to us and our cooperation is very fluent. There have been some problems with the realization of some technical issues for the new album, but Tadas is learning together with us. We haven't made his life exactly easy, and on occasion we demand the almost impossible, but so far he has accepted our ideas well and thanks to that our new album looks very stylish and beautiful. The success of "Vere Kutse Kohustab" here in Estonia will definitely inspire Tadas to account our ideas even more in the future. I hope our cooperation will last for a long time.

Invidia: Well, my friend, the latest release I've got from you was "Legion Estland" together with the material from 7" EP called "Raiugem Ruunideks". The music is so great and powerful and I must say that I haven't met the same kind of a European band lately. It's needless to say that these recordings possess unbelievable originality, but I think you'll have to say something to bring them a bit closer to Serbian readers!

It's a pity you haven't heard our 7" EP "Meeste Muusika". This material is even more blazing with originality, and the three 7" EP-s, "Legion Estland", "Raiugem Ruunideks" and "Meeste Muusika" are the introduction to our new album "Vere Kutse Kohustab", which will in turn offer some unexpected twists and pleasant surprises. If I were to explain to people what kind of a path we're on at the moment, I would find myself in a sort of a pitch, but I'll do my best.

The newer music of Loits is again based on pure Nordic BM. This time the traditional side has been mixed with the more modern (à la new Satyricon and Khold), and the dynamics for the whole load are created by riffs with strong rock and roll influences. Quaint synth parts and a few droplets of clean vocals here and there give the extra spice to the whole of the new material. On "Meeste Muusika" we also used accordion, which blended in ideally with our music. But you really have to listen to it to understand what we're about now. No longer can we be blamed for lacking in originality. The new material is pure flak'n'roll!

Invidia: What have mostly inspired you to start writing music like this? It's really in your own way and lack of enthusiasm is not notable here. Band pretty much follows the own chosen path, but I'd like to hear where do you take influences for your music (if there are some, anyway!).

We've been into metal music and music in general for a very long time, and we've been washed over by heavy, thrash, death and all other bigger and smaller trends in metal. We've also listened to a lot of different genres of music outside metal (like indie, synth pop, stoner, neo-folk etc), and the importance of the latter has grown year by year. All this has left an impression in our music. Lately I've started to see that mostly we are inspired by each other and, what's most important, we're always open to anything new and interesting. We like working on our songs and experimenting with them. I think this is where the one-of-a-kindness creeps into our works from.

Invidia: I must say that before your live performance here in Serbia (6th October, one day of European Goat Guts Tour) people had barely heard of your band, even though you've existed for quite many years now. So, I guess this question will come logically – speak a bit about the days Loits was formed in and a few lines about the persons who play inside and similar. Sorry, heh.

I must admit I was quite surprised when a few people among the audience in Serbia that we happened to talk to before the gig actually knew Loits and greeted us with warm words of welcome. Such instances are always very pleasant. But now a few words about the history.

Naturalness is the best word to characterize the birth and later career of Loits. One day I just felt like doing something by myself. Thus was Loits born and I started to recruit my best friends and kindred spirits to this project. By 1999 the band was together and that's exactly when things started happening. We went to the studio for the first time and then hit the road on the small Baltic Thunder tour together with Manatark, Dissimulation and Heresiarh. The year 2000 brought along a tragic event and a change in the line-up. A. Kalm died in a tragic accident and was replaced by comrade Gates. By the end of the year the drummer Atso joined. The next year we recorded our firs full-length album "Ei Kahetse Midagi", which has by now been released in several different formats by various record companies. The year 2002 was rather eventless. Three members of the band broke some bones. It wasn't until the end of the year until we finally got to go in the studio again, where we recorded our first 7" EP "Legion Estland", released by Ledo Takas in the autumn of 2003. Right after the release of the 7" EP we recorded the next one, entitled "Raiugem Ruunideks", and after that Tadas sent us off on the European tour. In the beginning of 2004 we recorded the third milestone in our 7" EP trilogy called "Meeste Muusika" and after a small pause entered the NBS studio in order to record the "Vere Kutse Kohustab" material.

Invidia: Lyrics were inspired by historical happenings and especially by the great World War II. Why did you decide to move on this way at first? How did you come up on idea to start writing inspired by these topics? Also, who's the main songwriter in this group?

The last album by Loits (as well as the trilogy of 7" EPs) is dedicated to those brave men for whom no sacrifice was too big when fighting for free Estonia! We are talking about the men who joined the German forces during WWII in order to drive the Red Beast out of the country and restore Estonia's independence. Neither have we forgotten the Finnboys or the Forest Brethren. The goal of all those men was free Estonia. I won't get into details describing the heroic deeds of these men, because then you'd have to drop the magazine format and publish a book, but those who are more interested in all this I encourage to buy our record or check out the following web page:

The themes Loits writes about come to us by themselves. Half of our lives we've spent under the Soviet reign and the other half in free Estonia. The subject matter of our songs is something that was deeply resented by the Soviet regime. In school nothing was told to us about it, only that there were evil Germans and good citizens of Soviet Russia who "liberated" our homeland from the beastly evil of fascism. We only knew that some Estonians fought in the Red Army, but very little was told about the Estonians fighting on the other side. In time the iron grasp of communism began to wane and new information reached our ears. We learned of the reasons in the name of which young Estonian men put on German uniforms and went to war, and – most importantly – of the fact that these people used to live and are still living among us. We were disturbed by the tendency to not talk about these things, and by the fact that if these matters were publicly discussed at all, then usually with dark undertones and incorporating outright lies. Thus we took it upon ourselves to keep alive the memory of these brave men, and this is what we proudly keep doing until this day.

Mostly the lyrics of Loits are written by our bassist M. Divine, but we also use a lot of lyrics written by the veterans themselves, because what would be the point of attempting to rephrase their experience, right?

Invidia: I know that you have one video behind, too. I presumed it was taken on one of your live performances… is it? And did you ever think about an idea of shooting the real video for some of your songs, how would you make it? Did you have any plans about it in the past and shall that ever reveal?

I know what you're talking about. "Reval 15.02.2003" was recorded by one of our friends with a hand-held camera. The occasion was a usual live gig at the small Bar of Von Krahl Theatre in Tallinn. Juris, the head of Beverina Productions liked this material and that's how "Reval 15.02.2003" ended up as an MPEG file on a video CD-R. I still consider this quite viewable material with nice enough quality considering the recording technique.

By now we've amassed quite a bit of better quality video material and the US company Black Metal DVDs is very interested in releasing our DVD. This means that the very first moment we find any spare time we'll make a small selection of better concert recordings and add a few TV interviews with Loits as well as some additional interesting tidbits and send this material to the US of A. Today I learned that Black Metal DVDs released a compilation DVD "Death To Mental Slaves" featuring a Loits song called "Furor Aesticus", taken from the previously mentioned video CD-R.

As I already said, there is yet more video material about us. On October 8, 2004 we presented the "Vere Kutse Kohustab" record here in Estonia, and a short biographical movie called "Vere kutse" was also made especially for that event and shown on a big screen, so now we're trying to figure out how to make it all available to everyone. I suppose we'll translate the movie to English, subtitle it and release it all on a DVD. This movie also speaks about our European tour and features some takes filmed in Beograd.

As you may gather from the answer to the first question, we have the first professional song video in the making, made for the song "Kodu" from the "Vere Kutse Kohustab" album. The video will have a deeply national-romantic feel to it, and it is made by professionals in the field of video-making, so we're waiting for final results with great anticipation.

Invidia: How many changes have been made inside the band from the early days? I've noticed that each one of you was here from the start and further on, except for A. Kalm… if it's not hard to you, can you tell what happened with him?

One of the biggest strengths of Loits lies in the fact that all band members are long-time acquaintances and friends. This keeps the band together and provides an excellent climate for creative undertakings. We march in step and develop as a whole, both musically as well as ideologically.

The first severe change in the line-up took place when A. Kalm unsuspectingly stepped onto the road on one spring evening while talking on the mobile phone and received a fatal blow from a car. Not long after this tragic event our comrade Gates joined the band, followed shortly by Atso. After that Loits has had no changes in the cadre and I sincerely hope there will be none in the immediate future.

Oh, yes, one more thing – there is a member who's made an appearance from time to time. Draconic (Manatark) has saved us from difficult situations more than once. When we had no drummer, he programmed drum tracks for Loits. When my arm was broken, he played the guitar and when Karje was in the hospital with her son, he also took care of the keyboards for us. He was with us on the "Goat Guts..." tour as a sound engineer and we'll probably need his help in the future as well. He's the fairy godmother of our band ;).

Invidia: The pictures of Loits have the special character. You were dressed in uniforms and also, when you performed here in Belgrade you were wearing exactly the same. Do you take it as an ode to fallen soldiers of WWII? And how did you get these uniforms, anyway?

Loits has always tried to keep the music, the message and the image side balanced. Thus making uniforms for the members of Loits was a necessary, nay, a mandatory step.

The paramilitary uniforms we wear onstage, the ones you can see on the old promo pictures of Loits we had specially tailored for ourselves. The designs were based on modern military clothing. These are not copies of any actual uniforms of any existing country or any certain period. The symbols featured on the uniforms, though, are copies of the insignia of the Estonian legionnaires who fought in the Second World War. I'm talking about the collar patches featuring the letter E and a hand with a sword, and the coat of arms in the colours of the Estonian national flag on the left sleeve. The first one has become the symbol of all Estonian freedom-fighting.

I hope you've also seen our new promo pictures. On these we wear the pretty much exact replicas of the uniforms worn by the Estonian Legion. We borrowed these from our friends. Some accessories, though, came from our personal collections.

Invidia: How exactly did you get an idea to put this picture for cover-artwork of your debut album? It was very effective and caught much attraction from my side, so can you please discover a story behind it?

Gates and M. Divine found the picture of the nurse on the Net while gathering material for the cover design of our first "Ei Kahetse Midagi" MC release. The design made by the comrades was never used, but the picture remained and stays with us until this very day. The picture fits perfectly with the Loits mentality and has become a sort of a symbol for the band. You will see her on all Loits releases.

Invidia: And about these other images? There are lots of them showing warriors running for war, tanks, there are war trucks and other similar things. These are really an impressive work so I can't miss to ask how did you get them? Sorry on bothering, but I'm curious…

Each picture has come to us via a different route. We take great interest in history and frequent several regular as well as second hand bookshops. Also the Internet has been a great help, but the majority of the pictures have been scanned from different books and old magazines, like the WWII-time "Signal".

Invidia: Well, did you meet some old person that survived this war and did you sometimes talk on this topic with him? I believe you had some contacts of this nature before, so were you fascinated by his words?

The Second World War touched each and every Estonian, and the memory of the event lives quite definitively on to this day.

We've had contacts with the Legionnaires, the Forest Brethren and the Finnboys since our very childhood, but in that tender age we hardly knew what massive boulders life had dropped onto the paths of these men. Thus it was that when first I started taking interest in these matters, I discovered that one of my neighbours was in the Red Army, the other a Legionnaire and the third associated with the Forest Brethren. Unfortunately time has not been kind, and I never had the chance to discuss war with them. It was too late that I developed an interest in such things.

Fortunately, there are still a lot of dignified old gentlemen who managed to survive these trying times and are more than willing to share their experiences and calvaries with the younger generations. The members of Loits have visited such people several times and we have continuing contacts with quite a few of them. Whenever we have the time, we take part in veterans' reunions or the openings of some more important monuments.

What these old men tell us is extremely interesting, because there are still many white spots in our history. Their speech is as if gold to our ears and balm to our hearts. Whenever after a meeting with one of them it is time to say goodbye, a weird sense of happiness overwhelms me. Knowing that we are fighting for the right cause gives us power to go on!

Invidia: Back to the main subject… I've already mentioned Goat Guts Tour you were playing together with Horna, Salacious Gods and Behexen. Evening in Belgrade was really successful, regarding the people's words. Can I ask for your opinion? How did the further tour pass, excluding my homeland? Were there any interesting things that happened during the same?

The whole "Goat Guts..." tour was a great success for Loits in all respects, and the Beograd gig was no exception. I'm very glad to hear the concert-goers agree with us. Flak'n'Roll!

The Eastern European audiences are quite different from the Western ones. People in Western Europe are not that eager to welcome new bands with open arms. People just stand around and watch the performance. If they like a song, some may clap. The scene in Serbia was very different. Everywhere in Eastern Europe the crowds were much more energetic, and there was a lot of them in Beograd.

About a forthcoming tour you'll have to ask from Tadas. The only thing I know for sure is that this time we'll embark upon our journey in spring. Everything else is yet do be confirmed. I truly hope we'll play in Serbia this time as well, so you and all your readers will have a chance to see how far we've managed to develop.

Invidia: These two men that helped you on stage in the past, Massacra and Draconic, are you still in contact with them? I know there may have been years passed since they were musical support of Loits, but do you hear from them on times?

Massacra never actually played live with Loits. He was the first drummer of Loits at the time when there was no-one else in the band but us and Loits never gave concerts. I talked about Draconic a few questions back. We are counting on his help in the future.

Both of the guys are really good friends of ours. We don't see Massacra that often anymore, but still at least a couple of times a year. We mostly hang around in the capital Tallinn and he lives in Rakvere – a city we don't visit that often (although I personally live about ten kilometres from Rakvere). But Draconic is someone we meet very often, practically every weekend. Draconic is a very active chap and does a lot of work for the local metal scene. He's the boss of the probably biggest hard rock oriented club here in Estonia, not surprisingly called Hard Rock Club. The last time we raised glasses together was last weekend, and I have an eerie feeling there's no escaping him on the next one as well. :))))

Invidia: Band which song you've covered on "Legion Estland" 7" is named Tharaphita. Can you tell me why exactly did you chose to do their song covered, perhaps this is one of your favorite bands?

This question ties in with the last one, because both Massacra and Draconic are long-time members of Tharaphita and even I played there for a couple of years before Loits got its sea legs.

We decided to cover "Demon's Night" when we were invited to play at the presentation gig of Tharaphita's new album. We thought it would be fun to make one of their songs sound according to our vision, and "Demon's Night", which is quite an untypical song for Tharaphita, seemed to fit perfectly.

Since our studio session started practically immediately after the aforementioned album presentation gig, and since the cover was truly a success, we decided to play it in the studio as well. Thus "Demon's Night" ended up on our first 7" EP. We've played the song later on concerts as well, and on these occasions we've had both Ank, the singer of Tharaphita, as well as maestro Draconic on vocals.

Tharaphita is in essence the first pagan BM band in Estonia, and they're still alive and kicking. The band is very well known in Estonia as well as throughout the Baltic states, but unfortunately they haven't managed to make themselves heard much elsewhere. I believe their time will soon come, though, and I sincerely hope our cover of their song will help in some small way. At least you now know what kind of a band they are. :)

Invidia: How's the metal scene there, are there some worthy bands you would like to mention here? Thanks to you, I found about some groups, but I don't know what's the situation like considering concerts organizing, zines and similar things… also, what's with labels?

There is still no proper metal magazine here in Estonia, although there have been some attempts and for a short while one was even published. In the same way, there is no serious record company or distributor in the field of metal. But I hope these things will change soon.

Regarding bands and concerts, the situation is much better. Hard Rock Club with Draconic on the lead have taken upon themselves the task of reanimating the local metal scene, and their efforts have been more than successful. When in the middle of the 90s Estonian metal scene was ready to be declared an endangered species, then now it's bustling with activity. The bands finally have true motivation.

Now that we're talking bands, I recommend you visit the fantastic site! The portal still has room to grow and develop, but even now one should get a pretty good overview of the history and the present day of Estonian metal.

If you'd ask me to name a few bands worth keeping an ear out for, then besides the aforementioned band Tharaphita I would recommend the black metal band Manatark, who opened for Mayhem on their European tour in 2004 and Horricane, who recently signed a deal with Black Mark Records. Some other more interesting bands are Echosilence, Forgotten Sunrise, Herald, Human Ground and Must Missa.

Invidia: Suppose there was a war going on right now, similar to WWII (be it NEVER!) and your land is in a very bad situation and there's army calling for war, would you respond a call at that moment?!

All assumptions are worth about as much as a couple of dingleberries, but I'm sure that if Estonia needs help, I'll grab a gun and protect her with my life.

Invidia: Have you been in the army so far? I know lots of people here that never wish to come close to it, neither to think about it. Here, we don't have fine conditions and it's totally understandable, but what's the situation like in Estland?

I am the only male member of Loits who has never been in active service. All other band members have fulfilled that duty to their country.

Also in Estonia young people are not too eager to join the Army, but lately there is less and less grumbling and the obligation is perceived as more and more natural. At the time I was supposed to join, it was customary to do anything possible to wriggle out of it.

Invidia: All right, then nothing more to ask you at this moment. I think we can close this interview now. Thanks for your time and patience, hope I'll see you around here some time again in the future! Cheers!

If we really manage to visit Serbia again, we'll raise glasses together. In the meantime, listen to our new album and prepare yourselves for a truly shattering storm of steel! Flak'n'Roll!

Author: Luka Govednik
Zine: Invidia

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