The wrong country for a rocker

After about a week of regular “vacation” in Split, Croatia, I was saved from super-boredom by a visitor. Visiting me was young singer Vili Kovac who I got to know last year, and enjoyed yapping music with. This year he had a bit of more time on his hands to spend in Split. It’s been enjoyable and informative for sure.

[Haven’t got any pics of my guest, so I just stole one; This is from his video-shoot]

It’s been fun and interesting. I learned a lot about rock in Croatia, sides of the music business here and we also met up with one of his friend here, guitarist from the band StimulanS who told me a little bit more about the reality for bands – especially metal bands – trying to survive in this country.
It was pretty oppressive hearing about how things are here, cause eventhough it’s tough for musicians everywhere, it’s on different levels in different countries.

– There is nowhere to play around here. No rock clubs, venues, nothing. Promoters will only book you if you’re already a “name” and rather book the same artist ten times in a row, than take a shot at something new. And rockers are lazy asses too – they’ll rather just hang outdoors somewhere with their beers than support the bands that actually manage to get a gig. And then they will stand at the door and argue about the price and want it a few bucks cheaper. It’s a pain in the ass, you don’t get gigs here and you can barely get a record deal playing this kind of music.

Then I wondered howcome artists don’t try recording anything in English, to make it easier exporting and reaching a wider audience. The guys explained it with record labels being interested in fast buck, period. The faster and easier, the better. They are only interested in what will get airplay on Croatian radio. That’s the main problem – in short.

Like I said last year when I was here and learned about how things were, it’s really sad to hear, because there is great music here, talented musicians with the same fire and will to make it as anywhere else in the world, but it’s ten times harder to make it – especially if you’re playing metal.

This, for instance, is one of the bands Vili turned my attention to: Manntra. A mix between folklore and metal, members from a band that has had some success out in Europe, Omega Lithium, and a damn cool video – check it out:

I’ve watched a whole bunch of great videos the past two days from Croatian bands, and there’s true potential there for many of them to have a great career outside the country if they only got the opportunity. Somebody has to get the ball rolling, somebody needs to be brave and look outside the box and just take a chance to release and distribute music from here out to a wider audience.

I hope that will happen, maybe it might help when Croatia enters the European Union, who knows.

Either way, had two great, half-lazy, music-nerdy days in the company of a talented young musician who I really wish all the success he deserves. I love his voice and hope to hear a lot more of it in the future:

He sure as hell has the drive and the will to go places, while still maintaining an integrity that is rare in new, aspiring musicians – especially considering the circumstances mentioned above.
You would think that with the difficulties musicians already need to deal with here, that he would be willing to do anything people tell him in order to get an album out. But dispite his young age, he has a very clear vision of what he wants to do and what he will absolutely not do. Respect to that.

[His power-ballad single “Kraj” – which means “The end”. A compromise between what the label wanted and what he was willing to do]

Interesting days in the name of music-nerding, I just wish that my ability to speak Croatian was a lot better, as the language was the main barrier and the reason why I couldn’t get into any extended discussions. After two days of searching for the right words I was exhausted and I still hadn’t brought up half of the stuff I would have wanted to know. Maybe I’ll need to go and get evening classes in music-Croatian for next year. :-)

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