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Loits
Shooting Wounds On The Streets...

One thing is for sure...Loits is with no doubt one of the most original bands in terms of visual approach!! Their previous album "Vere Kutse Kohustab" was a selling success not only by their original label Ledo Takas Records but also worldwide through several licensing deals! Nearly three years have passed and the Estonian heroes return for another dose of militant flak'n'roll under the name of "Must Album". Singer Lembetu takes off his nice man's suite and suspensories after a row of pertinent questions...

01. First of all let me start this interview questioning the whole past visual attack that Loits used. Many fans were misinterpreting your World War II visual look giving Loits a right wing connotation! Lets clear this once for all…

Okey, but I hope you don’t mind me being brief. The history of World War II is not as black and white as it tends to be presented these days. At the onset of the great war Soviet Union, using underhanded, below-the-belt-tactics, occupied Estonia, which was followed by wanton devastation, robbery, mass murder and mass deportations. Local freedom fighters, known as the Forest Brethren, initiated armed resistance. By the time the Germans marched in, half of Estonia was already cleared of the Reds. Centuries-old enmity against the Germans as oppressors swallowed for a time, they were greeted as liberators, and a number of men volunteered to serve in the German Army. To illustrate the point: if a rapist has forced his way into your house, you will not be too choosy about who hands you the cudgel — rather, you take the offered weapon and use it accordingly. That was what our ancestors did, and I don’t think it fair to judge their choices in retrospect. At the time, it was the only way to defend their freedom and to bring vengeance upon their greatest enemy. The guys in the German uniforms were Estonian patriots and freedom fighters, the connection between them and the national-socialist ideology, with its resulting crimes, was nonexistent.

02. Although on the new album “Must album” this visual has evolved/changed from a military outfit to common clothes giving a look that only old sepia photo’ can transmit. This series of “events” look in someway linked am I right?

Yes, the pictures accompanying “Must album” feature happy citizens enjoying the bounties of the Estonian Republic, recently liberated from centuries-old slavery. Just over ten years have passed since the Freedom War, resulting in absolute banishment of both the Russian as well as the German occupants from our native land, and the country is flourishing. They are not yet aware of the imminent horrors; but is of these horrors that “Must album” speaks of. This time, we’re not telling stories of soldiers’ bravery of love of the Fatherland, but instead, impart the tragedy of the fate of one small nation.

03. Obviously history itself is a huge source of inspiration on Loits. But did you had the opportunity for instance to talk with people who felt personally the World War events?

Loits speaks of the so-called palpable history. The people who got in the war’s way were our own grandparents. Their stories are something that we’ve grown up with, while being forced to witness how they silently bear the injustice done to them. Yet the end of the Soviet era brought no clarity or conclusion to these matters. The interpretation of history, manufactured and forced upon us by the winning side, is also prevalent in the Western World.

We have taken it upon ourselves to speak our minds on these matters, as well as to immerse ourselves in the whole subject. This is why members of Loits can sometimes be spotted at the meetings of WW2 veterans, and why our bassist M. Divine is a junior member of the Wiking-Narva veterans’ club.

Victims of success!
04. Your previous record “Vere Kuste Kohustab” was a huge success been and has been released in several countries worldwide. “Must Album” is already on the streets for some months; are you getting the same sort of fuzz?

In some ways, “Must album” may even be more successful, but it is still too early to draw any final conclusions, as the promotional work for “Must album” is still ongoing. Everything is constantly on hold, since belonging to the roster of such a small record label means that the band will have to do a considerable part of promotion on their own. Small companies simply don’t have the strength, and we don’t have a manager, either. It was the same under Ledo Takas, it’s the same with Nailboard Records.

05. This new record shows a slower highly influenced version of Loits. You follow the same path of “Vere Kuste Kohustab” but it’s more diverse, mature and you drank more influences this time. Do you agree?

I have to agree with you. “Must album” is the darker, heavier, more heart-rending side of Loits. All of the influences utilized serve one purpose only, which is the tragedy of the message. “Must album” is as colourful as the Northern autumn and as oppressive as the winter’s kaamos.

06. The translation to English of “Must Album” is “Black Album”. Why simply Black album?

The course of this interview might already have given you the appropriate answer. “Must album” is not unlike a picture album left behind by the grand-grandparents, documenting not only photographs, but also all the joy experienced, as well as the tragedy of one small nation. It would have been hard to find a more fitting title, really.

07. There is a special limited edition of the new album which has a bonus EP in it. Unfortunately we don’t had access to this version but from what I’ve heard they feature 4 songs that are totally different from the ones in the album itself…

Yes, the limited version of “Must albumn” includes a four-track bonus disc “Mustad laulud” (Black Songs). Both musically as well as lyrically, these tracks constitute the “missing link” between “Vere kutse kohustab” and “Must album” — like a record that could have been released prior to “Must album”. In addition, the disc contains a short movie about the recording and photo sessions for “Must album”, as well as a short movie that you will have to discover and categorize by yourselves. The limited edition comes in a nice cardboard box, together with six commemoratory cards and a Loits sticker.

08. The three full lengths took more or less the same period to be put together, around three years. There are bands that can keep a fast pace and usually release in which year a new album, so does Loits need this extra time to compose new songs or have you been confronted with setbacks in each album?

This simply seems to be the right working pace for us. In terms of creativity, it would be possible to release records much more frequently (several times a year, even), but all of us have many other responsibilities, promotional work for our own releases included, which all accounts to a fact that we would neither want nor be able to tighten our release schedule. We want all work with the record done properly, and we won’t start anything new before all of the old business has been taken care of.

Rock'n'Roll vs. Black Metal
09. The band started as a pagan black metal band with folk influences and has progressed during the years… If you had to describe the current sonority and influences of the new album to someone who have never heard it how would you do it?

That would be an unspeakably difficult task. At this point in time, I’m tempted to say that Loits plays slow, melodic and modern black metal with rock’n’roll influences, but one can’t overlook the nostalgic, even gothic atmosphere tying the whole record together. It is a peculiar mixture of cold, raw, black metal and soul-rending sadness.

10. Between the release of the new album, you had the opportunity of putting two home made DVDR out entitled “Vere Kutse” and “Leegion laval 12.01.07”. What can you tell us about these two releases and why not simply put them together in one big professional made DVD?

“Vere kutse” is a short documentary about the birth of flak’n’roll, meaning stuff that Loits did before the “Vere kutse kohustab” album. It was put together as part of the presentation for the aforementioned album, but as the people’s interest in the material was unrelenting, we decided to make a small present to our fans and release it on a DVD-R.

“Leegion laval 12.01.07” features our last live gig in Tallinn before we began recording “Must album”. The performance, filmed with only one camera, was actually converted into DVD-format for the company called MlackMetalDVD’s. We had owed them a DVD-s worth of video material already for some time, but as things turned out, we ended up releasing it ourselves.

We have no intentions of turning either of these features into a professional DVD. On the contrary, when the latest pressings of these DVD-R-s sell out, we won’t be making any more copies. We have, indeed, considered compiling a rather more professional new DVD, and I’m sure this will happen someday, but it will definitely take some fresh ideas, resources and a lot of time, as a usual live-DVD would not be appropriate for Loits.

11. Besides Obtest and Skyforger probably the metal fans do not know much more bands coming from Estonia. Loits is at the moment considered by many the best and more recognized Estonian metal band. Do you feel the weight of leading the Estonian scene overseas?

I assume that “Estonia” in the end of the first sentence was a typo, and you really meant to speak of the Baltic scene, right? I hope that people actually know that Obtest is a Lithuaninad and Skyforger a Latvian band. Loits might be less known than these two, but we might actually be growing faster.

Regarding the yoke of fame — this is something that Loits does not suffer from. It’s just that there’s nothing to suffer. I believe that our greatest achievements lie ahead, and that we will have to engage in tight competition with other great local bands. Metsatöll, for example, are practically mainstream here in Estonia, and their popularity elsewhere grows with the speed of an avalanche. Tharaphita and Must Missa are also on the rise, as well as many others. I can’ possibly write to you about everything, but if you sprouted a deeper interest in our small scene, please visit http://www.estonianmetal.com

12. One of the things that impressed me on the two last full lengths was the intense and powerful production. Have you returned to the same place with the same producer where the previous album was recorded, mixed and so on?

“Vere kutse kohustab” was recorded, mixed and mastered in its entirety in the No-Big-Silence Studio. “Must album”, on the other hand, was recorded in the rehearsal room that Metsatöll is kind enough to share with us, which may actually have better equipment than many of the local official studios. The new material was later assembled at the studio called Zorg Sound Laboratories, and mastered again at No-Big-Silence.

We are quite happy with our decision to switch studios. In the rehearsal room we were free to spend time finding right sounds and recording everything in mellow, stress-free surroundings. Thus the initial atmosphere of the songs was preserved, as well as the originality of Loits, and we got as good and raw sounds as we really wanted. Most of the rest of the production process meant trying to keep the preliminary material untainted.

Shooting Wounds On The Streets...
13. The previous album had two video clips to promote it. Are you planning something for the new album also?

I hope that by the time this interview is published, we’ll have the video for the song “Haavad uulitsal” (Wounds on the Street) up and ready. At the moment, final adjustments are being made. This time we really took things seriously; the result may very well be the most professional music video ever made in the history of Estonian hard rock music. That’s something to watch for! We might get to making at least one more video for “Must album”; we’ll see, if and when we amass enough resources and time.

14. Do you know if they were broadcasted in foreign TVs? Did you got any feedback about this?

I haven’t heard of our videos making it to any foreign channels, but here in Estonia they have been broadcasts many times. We will try to make a stronger promotional campaign for the new video, and send out some of the older videos in the process — maybe some will make it to television networks of other countries. Anyone interested and willing to help us out in this matter is welcome to get in touch.

15. You have been quite an active band with a few dates in foreign countries. Don’t you fell that Loits it’s reaching a point that needs a proper European tour to expand its dimension and who knows a record deal in a bigger label?

Yes, Loits desperately needs both a European tour as well as, let’s face it, the support of a bigger record company. I can’t predict how long we’ll be able to manage everything by ourselves.

In the beginning of the year, we shook hands with the Portuguese agency Icon Music. Alas, our cooperation thus far has not resulted in an actual tour. I really hope things will get better in the future.

We’ve also held talks with record labels somewhat greater in girth than Nailboard Records or Ledo Takas, but nothing tangible has come of any of this. Still, I’m really seeing a bright future in this regard as well. All things come in their own time. We might even be able to take Nailboard Records to the next level — this is a goal I’m working for pretty much from morning till night. Then it would not be necessary to change the label.

16. Your cooperation with Nailboard Records passes the mere point of been the label where your band is signed in to a deeper relation. If I’m not mistaken you work also in Nailboard records correct? What do you do?

You’re not mistaken, I do indeed work as a manager for Nailboard Records. I’ve been active in the metal scene for over 20 years, so when hyper.records decided to found a small metal label, it came as no big surprise when they asked for my help in dealing with these things. I had lead a number of similar projects in the past, so I utilized the contacts and know-how thus accumulated into this new task. This meant a great deal to the local scene. Nailboard Records has taken most of the noteworthy local bands that have toiled in the field for over a decade and given them a chance to develop further, which they have indeed taken. Today, I would not hesitate to take any of them abroad.

After the release of “Vere kutse kohustab”, Loits received many offers from small-time labels. Still, joining our fate with Nailboard Records, at least for a time, seemed the most reasonable thing to do.

17. Do you think that this gives you a better vision of the business itself and more control of your band?

On the one hand, it’s easier to be under a label that you know practically everything about. This makes all the contracts become so much more flexible. On the other hand, sometimes it really is a shame to see how much of what the band needs remains undone simply because the label is too small and young. I must admit that Loits and Nailboard are very strongly interconnected through my person. Indeed, it was mainly the contacts of Loits that were transferred to Nailboard, and until this very day a big portion of Nailboard’s contacts from abroad are established thanks to Loits.

18. Well Lembetu thanks a lot for this interesting talk. Is there any last minute news regarding Loits?

By the time this issue goes to print, Loits will be playing the Green Christmas festival together with such greats as Paradise Lost, Liquido, Caliban, Dagoba, U.D.O., Samael, Hatesphere, Mustasch, Neaera, etc. Keep your fingers crossed and hope that we can tour Europe next year, and see you at your local venue then! Flak’n’roll!

Author: Nuno Santos
Zine: Ancient Ceremonies Magazine
www.ancientceremonies.com

Check also:
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06-04-2011 Sorts - Interview with Sorts
22-09-2009 Bestia - Interview with Bestia
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