With the, maybe now classic, Seven Thunders Roar, in which we can encounter "I'm The Mountain", and the most recent The Harvest, Stoned Jesus appears nowadays as one of the most appealing Psych Stoner bands in Europe. After the explosive debute in Portugal last summer in Reverence Valada, Ukrainian trio returns next week to perform on Sonic Blast Moledo, along with names like Truckfighters, Uncle Acid & The Dead Beats or All Them Witches, among others. We took this opportunity and got in touch with Igor Sidorenko, Stoned Jesus frontman's, who answered some questions. All to discover next.
It was in February last year that you released your most recent work, The Harvest. How do you feel the fans have taken to the album and the tour?
Hello there! You’re absolutely right, The Harvest turns 1.5 yrs old this August, and it has grown on many people since then. Released with a little-to-no promotion whatsoever, it has surprisingly become one of the most namedropped albums among stoner/psychedelic/doom/prog fans last year. And playing 60+ shows in support of it in 2015 alone sure helped spreading the good word about how awesome it is, hah!
Did you feel some kind of pressure while working on The Haverst since it follows your most acclaimed album so far, Seven Thunders Roar?
You know what’s funny? We never felt any pressure until like...this year? Out there hundreds of people were digging our tunes while we were still touring for gas money, accommodation and catering. “Acclaim” hardly helps pay your bills, you know? Also you’ve kinda moved on, musically and personally, but people still digging what you’ve created five years ago, and that’s weird. I’m all for it, we love these songs, we love to play them live too, but you know, it’s far too early to proclaim STR the best thing we ever did.
In the last album we can see Stoned Jesus taking their lyrics in a new direction, one which feels, to me, more politically-charged. This is best expressed in your song “YFS”. Can you tell us a bit more on this new approach to your lyrical themes?
It’s not really new, is it? “Indian” can be seen as a political song in the US (especially now), “Occult” touches on religious taboos, “Bright Like the Morning” is an anti-abuse one… We’d got more literal in “YFS”, that’s it. The Message had always been out there, it’s up to you to interpret it though.
It has been mentioned in previous interviews that all of you have very diverse musical tastes/inclinations. As a fan I can definitely see that in your work. Do you yourselves recognize that discrepancy, or is it only noticeable to an outsider?
Even though I’m the principal songwriter, it’s up to the guys to add their vision to the final result. Sometimes it’s never final, hah! So yeah, without Sergii’s love for vintage synths and Viktor’s sick grooves (the guy use to play in a ska band for Christ sake!) it would’ve been quite another band, quite different music.
I feel you have a very unique sound that belongs only to you, but at the same time there are several textures in your songs that immediately remind us of other artists and even other music styles. Can you tell us any artists who you take inspiration from?
It’s very nice of you to notice that! Yep, we try to keep it fresh and challenging to ourselves, but being creative doesn’t mean throwing everything in the kettle. I love some experimental and avantgarde stuff, Viktor is into electronic music, Sergii likes hip-hop, but you won’t find these genres in our songs, for better or worse. But being open-minded sure helps see things differently, it makes you ready for the whole new world of musical opportunities, and this is so exciting! So we’re comfortable with anything from Kendrick Lamar to King Crimson playing in our van...except for ska of course. No fucking ska in our van, never, hahaha!
Would you say you take inspiration from other forms of art besides music? (Such as literature, cinema, painting, etc...)
Of course, this is so natural! You can be moved by a book’s title alone, even before reading it! Everything is art, dare I say, so it’s really cool to try to translate the emotion from one form to another, the very experience really makes you feel better.
You were in Portugal for the first time last year to perform at Reverence Valada. What were your thoughts on Portugal and how was your experience at the festival?
Oh, it was so well-organized, it’s always a pleasure to work with professionals! I wish we could hang out more, of course… We haven’t seen the country unfortunately, and our pals from Somali Yacht Club (they played Sonic Blast Moledo last year) say it’s beautiful.
I had the pleasure to attend that gig and I have to say I felt an incredible energy coming not only from the stage, but also from the audience. Stoned Jesus was one of the most awaited acts of the festival, which was visible by the way the audience gathered and cheered when you took over the stage. What do you have to say about the Portuguese audience and your first experience in our country?
I still remember the welcome we got from all those people. it was amazing! I really love playing to “southerns” - Greece, South America, France, etc - they’re so emotional. sometimes a little crazy! I heard we had the biggest crowd that day, except for Alcest and Sleep of course, is it true? At least it was hella packed from where we were standing, hah!
Stoned Jesus at Reverence Valada 2015
It has been almost a year since your last time in Portugal and you already have your second gig scheduled, this time in Sonic Blast Moledo. What do you think it will be like being back and performing on this festival in particular? Have you seen the final lineup?
Really tasty, isn’t it? I like when promoters give it to a lesser-known young bands, reminds me of us playing Freak Valley and Desertfest when not so many people cared about Stoned Jesus at all! I’m looking forward to check Uncle Acid and Truckfighters, too, the Swedes are so cool live!
To conclude, and as it has been over a year since The Harvest was released: can you reveal us what Stoned Jesus have in store for us in the near future? Are you working on new stuff?
I wish we would...To cut a long story short, too many touring. We don’t have enough time to get back to this creative zone and start working on the new ideas - and there are many of those already! Well, there’ll be less shows in Autumn, maybe then we would finish a song or two...we’ll see!
And our typical question. Which 2016 albums are you liking the most?
Oh, there are so many of those. Every year we’re like “ok, the previous one was fire, new releases suck!”, but then around summer you realize you’ve already got dozens of good albums to chill to! From 2016 we liked mainly psychedelic stuff like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Stonerider, Tales of Murder and Dust, Heron Oblivion, Oranssi Pazuzu, Mars Red Sky, Hexvessel, etc, but there’s also some respect for the old goons like Deftones, Radiohead and Massive Attack (new LP expected?). But our top pick is, of course, the late great David Bowie with his “Blackstar” - nothing will beat this in 2016!