Friday, July 20, 2018

Agregator Interview

1.Can you give us an update on what has been going on with the band since the recording and release of the newer album?

Hi, sure – thanks for asking! We have joined the Hungarian tour of Dalriada – who are old friends of ours and it was a really nice experience to play and drink with them again for weeks. Since the economic crisis came in the last decade, we have not visited the countryside with a few exception, so we were glad to have the opportunity to meet those guys locally who are usually see us only on the open air festivals. We have spent most time for the concerts and the creation of new merchandise – like t-shirts – and currently we are in the phase of producing the vinyl version of the album, in a kick-ass premium form to make sure every fan and collector will be pleased with that who are supporting us nowadays.

2.What are some of the things you feel you have done different musically with the newer release that you where not able to do on previous albums?

Ahh, just the usual – nothing and everything. The truth is that the studio has been closed where we have produced our previous albums – I do not know if that is related to us or to the scene, but these sound engineers we are working with - after the second album we made with them - usually sell everything to buy a peasant hut somewhere in the middle Hungarian plains and leave their former life behind :) Technically speaking we had to find the new crew from scratch, which is always a challenge – to find some cool metalheads, who are professional enough to make a badass sound, will walk the extra mile for you and your music and you can spend time with them as a person. I will not bore you with all the technical details, the point is that we have been quite lucky with the new team – Leander, Miki Czifra and Matyi Botlik – who has helped us with recording and the mix. As from the music point of view – the main change is that the main songwriter was Májki (Miklós Csóra – guitarist) what given a bit more melodic taste to the songs, he came from hard rock scene years before and I am really glad he channeled his background into the new stuff. Our new guitarist, Rajmi (Rajmund Katona) arrived in the last stage of the process, but added major atmospheric melodies here and there, so we are waiting for the song he will bring in in the future as he can definitely can bring some fresh air into the band.
 And there is one more major difference, we have not done before – and most likely we will never do again – that is the Sinner Choir for the song “Az egésztől innen, mindenen túl” It’s title means something like “At this side of the whole, and beyond everything” and it is about the underground life and friends we have lost during the journey. At first we was thinking to invite a few guests for the chorus part, but it was hard to keep it on a small scale as it was hard to pick who to be left out. Then we have decided, ok, so let’s invite everyone who would like to participate – which usually leads to total chaos :) In the song’s bridge we have involved 6-7 of our vocalist friends from different bands who have been close to our former bass player, Roland who passed away due to a terrible incident years back – and the rest of the participants was recorded the song’s chorus part one-by-one. Everyone was quite happy, using this mic for recording and the headphones and everything, it was like in a studio – most of them was frightened a bit when they heard their own voice, but soon calmed down and completed the session and they was quite proud of the participation afterwards. About a hundred metalheads whispered, shouted, sung or growled the main chorus – we keep the collection of their pictures on Facebook and printed on an official poster too – and we have given the name Sinner Choir to this group as our fans usually call themselves sinners. This whole operation has given us a lot of work, with the recording, the editing and the mix, etc. – but it was worth it completely, they was really happy with this, but I am sure there will be no such initiative again, I guess it would not be that big hit on the second round.

3.This is your first full length since 2009, can you tell us a little bit more about what has been going on during that time frame?

Well, we have gone through our own hell – back and forth a few times. We have recorded a few videos, the last album – Emberség, means something like ‘being a human’ – was widely distributed throughout the country, it was quite popular. The economic crisis made a very negative impact on the country, especially on the concerts – quite a few festivals have been closed in Hungary. Instead of releasing full length albums in three years periods, we have planned to release one EP every year – this new approach led to Eredendő EP in 2012. Then we had the tragedy – we have lost our bass player, Roland Liviczki a week after the recording of our new video for Romok között – and that event driven us to stop, sit down and think through our relations to life, the band, the music and everything. It took a few months until we have pulled ourselves together – found the only appropriate man to be on the bass position in the band, Lackó – who was our former guitarist, but left to be with his family after the birth of his daughter. In this critical time he told us that he would join to help us to continue this gloomy rock and roll. In the next few years we had to make a few changes here and there in the lineup, but in 2017 we been able to start the recordings at last and completed the album. Until that time we have re-released our first albums – some 15th anniversary, remixed/remastered versions – practically speaking each year we have given something new-ish, but naturally everyone was waiting for the new songs.

4.What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the newer release and also how would you describe your progress as songwriters over the years?

  We are mostly focusing on the human life and feelings in our lyrics – expressing extreme situations and wandering in the shadowy depths of one’s traumas and fights. We preach that life ain’t kind, life ain’t just, love is dark and painful, but you can have your moments so enjoy what you can - while you can! We experience that if you shout such words – I mean as a part of the crowd – it helps you to get rid of all negative everyday tensions and you get better. We are really proud of our audience – after the shows they are happy, badass, drunk and decadent crowd – we cannot wish any better group of metalheads.
  As for the progress, from lyrics point of view, my main aim is to paint complex and feeling-filled situations with simple, everyday expressions. The best feedback I get is if someone tells me that yeah, he or she knows that feeling, that songs describes his/her situation completely, but would never been able to say it with such an accuracy like the lyrics does, and happy to know that someone had the same experience and now can talk about it. Also, many guys told me that there was time when they were down, and our lyrics give them strength to continue – some outsider would say that these words only encourage bad mood or even suicide, but the truth is just the opposite. If I had bad moments, I have listened to Moonspell, Paradise Lost or Sentenced and their songs always helped me to get rid of the negative feelings and driven me to stand up again and again. I think this is what we would like to give to our fans, good moments and help them through their life with our songs.

5.What is the meaning and inspiration behind the name ;Agregator'?

 Back in 1997, we needed a name for the band from scratch. We came from quite different backgrounds – death metal, black metal, dark/goth stuff and even glam metal and hard rock. The only common thing was between us that we was drinking in the same bar, we were friends and wanted to play some badass stuff. So this formation was our ‘aggregator’ – you put in lot of different influences, feelings and musical background and this is what you get. Also, it ends with ‘tor’ which sounds cruel and metal, and start with ‘A’ which takes us to the first place of most alphabetical order :) We have decided to spell it with only one ‘g’ as it looks even better. In those times there was a lot of other bands like Dark Stuff, or Black Blabla or named after horrific ancient greek illnesses and we have wanted something different. Since then we have not found any band with the same title throughout the world – although a few years back I have almost suffered a heart attack when I have seen ‘Agretator’ in a Darkane interview, but fortunately after the tenth re-reading of the word I have found the difference  :)

6.Can you tell us a little bit more about the artwork that is presented on the new album cover?

This was the third time in our history where we was working with Niklas Sundin from Dark Tranquillity on the front cover. All has started in 2003, I am a great fan of their music and Niklas’ artworks. I was thinking in those times that “ok we have this band, but it would be good to fulfill my dreams like working together with other talented people I respect” – on one hand because of the predictably cool results and on the other hand for the journey itself. It was started with the cover of “A semmi ágán” – I have written to Niklas, that the main concept is based on the work of a Hungarian poet’s works – and he was asking back if that is Attila József as he knows some of his poems, and yeah, he was – so I knew in that point that things will work out very well :)
Usually the way we work is that I send him a high level description of the album title, the feelings we would like to express with the songs and he sends me a few mostly completed designs and we choose if there is any fits to our expectations. It had happened with album ‘Szürkület’ too and now we had the same journey with the “Semmiből – a semmin át” album. We are just in the phase when the vinyl versions are completed, on the main cover I had not added anything other than the original cover artwork – no logo, no album title, those are moved to the back cover – as this picture looks really cool in the vinyl’s 12 inch format.

7.What are some of the best shows that the band has played over the years and also how would you describe your stage performance?

I think the largest audience we had was back in the middle of 2000’s, on Székelyföldi Rockmaraton a few hundred km’s from our hometown for 1000+ metalheads. On the other hand, I like the clubs more as you are closer and more connected to the people during the show and you can harvest the energy better, can react to their shouts and that is somewhat better. We had a concert in June in one of Budapest’s venues – Kék Yuk – about a month ago and it was like the show of the year, everyone went crazy – goths, death/thrash metal-heads and punks – when we have left the stage, Dagatt (our drummer) who rarely says anything about actual experience, said that “okay guys, this was some kickass madness - I want to have all our next gigs something like that”.
Apart from these, I really like when we are in new venues, outside Hungary. In the songs we are using Hungarian lyrics and I talk in between in English. It is a challenge to convince the guys there, mostly by our music and our performance as they do not understand a damn word from the lyrics – well, that is growling vocals anyway, so even Hungarians do not have any clue if they does not know it already :) When you see that a local guy tries to sing the chorus with you – well, that is priceless :)
Back to your question, about our live performance – that is mostly about the presentation of the feelings. I guess if we are using our native language, we can express our feelings stronger and that is what catches the attention of the audience. If someone see that you are feeling good and you are ready to crash and burn on stage and express that accordingly, there is a very good chance that one will join you on this. The best live performance feedback we have ever received is happened in Graz, in Club Explosiv. There was this Austrian guy who was in a busy discussion with the event organizer, then turned to me and said: “Hey – I do not know what you sing about, I do not have a fucking clue. But you know what? I have quit smoking about a year ago and after your show, well… I had to smoke and drink again as it was that badass I just can’t get rid of the feeling.” I would not be able to give a better description of our live shows :)

8.Do you have any touring or show plans for the future?

Currently not sure – we had a countrywide tour during the winter/spring period of this year, now we are attending the summer open air festivals in Hungary. There a few discussions about to continue the touring with other Hungarian bands, but nothing is confirmed yet – and there are a few pending invitations from Austria (Wien and Graz) we hope that we will be able to visit those cities during the year. Because of our workplaces and family life we are not really the band who leaves for weeks of continuous touring, rather just visiting places during weekends. We’ll see.

9.Currently you are unsigned, are you looking for a label or have received any interest?

In Hungary, nothing is that straightforward :) Our albums mostly self-financed, but we are always connected to local labels with mixed conditions. The new album was released with the help of GarageLive Records – the guys helped us a lot with the pre-order and the merchandise and always helping and supporting us with thousands of things, so we are really grateful to them, but yes, I would not say we are actually signed. We are always looking for opportunities, to play outside of our ‘comfort zone’, visit new places and meet metalheads of the world :) Locally – within the country – we are quite ok, I guess the next step would be something international, for that I think we will need to have more shows in the neighborhood first.

10.On a worldwide level how has the reaction been to your music by fans of melodic, dark and extreme metal?

It is hard to know, during these years we have received many positive reviews from the ‘zines we have contacted, we pushed to be represented on stream media to have worldwide distribution. Sometimes we are receiving messages from the outside world, our first two cassette demo has been released in Russia in 2006 on CD under the title of Túlontúl by MagikArt Entertainment. So here and there, occasionally we have made an international round, but mostly focused on Hungary and the neighboring countries.

11.Where do you see the band heading into musically during the future?

Unfortunately there are periodic changes within the band’s lineup in every 5-10 years, and it impacts the songwriting – so the change is always part of the picture, but I cannot say it is something we plan :) The current album has been written mostly by Májki, our guitarist – who was the new guy during our last EP, where the main songwriter was our former guitarist, Dávid. Now these roles has been changed, and our newest guitarist, Rajmi has supported Májki during the creative process, but he already brought in a few melodies which shown that he is approaching the songwriting from a different angle, so we can expect new stuff from him during the next album. I guess we will return to be a bit more melody-centric, more atmospheric form of metal in the future. The vocals will stay growling as I want to keep this powerful character of Agregator, but the rest will be kept on an agregator-ish basis, as we are constantly changing – and I would not say evolving, as our first songs are as good as they are, I would not say that the current ones are any better – apart from the technical aspects of course, which are definitely more professional, educated, polished, etc. now, but the songs are about the feelings they produce in someone, in which I think all songs are very successful.

12.What are some of the bands or musical styles that have had an influence on your newer music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

As for myself, I really love the latest Moonspell album 1755 – and waiting to hear their new live release, Lisboa under the Spell in August. Just attended Tiamat’s Clouds & Wildhoney show last Saturday on Rockmaraton Festival, which was awesome, I haven’t even dreamed of it that I will ever hear those songs live. Apart from these, I like different stuff, like Monster Magnet, Dark Tranquillity and visited Manowar’s farewell tour on Munich, as I really enjoy their metal-brotherhood-centric atmosphere – well, it turns out that I do not really listening to bands which are not at least 20 years old, so I guess our new influences are coming from the others :)  I know they like Slayer, In Flames, Pantera and Death for sure, Killswitch Engage is often mentioned too. Other Hungarian bands we are listening in the car are Leander Kills, Christian Epidemic, Dalriada, Vesztegzár, Vale of Tears and Ørdøg, they are cool guys with some really badass metal of different genres.

13.What are some of your non musical interests?

I guess Dagatt, our drummer has the coolest pastime activity which is dealing with the art of making pálinka – the Hungarian spirits made of fruits – on a home-made level and volume and he is quite good in it. Movies, books, concerts – the usual stuff. We like hiking – walking along the Hungarian National Blue Trail and getting to know interesting people and villages – and eat & drink a lot during the journey :) The last book I have read was the Captivity by György Spiró which is a historical story in the Roman Empire and so detailed and awesome, I have not even imagined such writing can exists. Apart from these, getting tattooed and painting Warhammer 40k miniatures as I just love its grim, dark atmosphere – and coloring those small statues can really calm the mind.

14.Before we wrap up this interview, do you have any final words or thoughts?

We would like to thank you for the interview and wish all the best to you and your readers – we hope we will meet in person somewhere in the dark depths of the metal underground! Take care!

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