Hi it’s Stevie Janevski – one of the guitarists in Australian melodic power metal band Black Majesty.
Hi, first off all I want to congratulate you with your new album
“Tomorrowland”. Great album.
Are you satisfied with it?
Stevie - Thanks. This time around we got to take more time in pre production and we had a good idea of what we wanted to put down proper in the studio. We were confident in the songs and we’re as happy as we can be after recording the album. I guess there’s always things that we could have done differently but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for the better so yeah we’re pretty happy all up.
How has your new album been received by the media?
Stevie - We always like to read as many reviews we can and so far the early reviews have been very favourable. Most reviewers have accepted the fact that we stay true to our sound and are accepting the album for its songs rather than how much we have changed from the previous two albums. There’s always one or two that may not get what we do but generally we’re very happy with the initial reaction from the press!
Where do you see the main difference between “Silent Company” and “Tomorrowland”?
Stevie - I think that Tomorrowland is the natural progression from Silent Company. It was our next step forward. We built on what we had by writing some speedier tunes yet at the same time kept our melodic sound. I actually think Tomorrowland shares elements of some of the more straight ahead power metal stuff what’s on Silent Company and also has some slight progressive parts which were more apparent on the debut Sands of Time.
In what words would you describe the music and moods of Black Majesty for someone that has not heard you yet?
Stevie - I guess we play a style of melodic power metal with much owed to some of our favorite bands like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dio, Helloween, early Queensryche, Accept and early Dokken. We are proud to wear our influences on our sleeves. We’re into good songs and good sounding albums and we like to put things in our songs that at times surprise the listener – whether it be through voice effects or slight progressive bits. All of these things help set the mood and contribute to our overall sound. It’s important to have emotion in your music and I personally think our singer John does this very well when singing. He understands the importance of light and shade and the importance of melody – and to sing with lows, mids and highs.
To what subjects do the lyrics of Black Majesty refer to, and who writes them?
Who writes to music?
Stevie - We all write the music. Each member will often bring in a song or two to work on and we then tackle the music collectively as a band to work on preferred arrangements. Our singer John writes a lot of the lyrics but Hanny and myself have helped out with lyrics from time to time. We don’t have any rules about subjects we write about. It often comes down to whatever we feel is the way to go. We’ve touched on things all the way from fantasy through to reality. On Tomorrowland we wrote a few tracks about the ‘future to come’ and what can happen if we don’t take care of our planet/the world we live in.
Who has produced and mixed the album? Are you pleased with the result?
Stevie - We again worked with our producer Endel Rivers. I think he did a great job. This was our third time we’ve worked with him. He is a pretty open-minded guy and really listens to what sound we want to get. We pretty much worked together on the whole process.
What’s the song you consider most representative of the new album and why?
Stevie - Probably the album opener ‘Forever Damned’. This song sets the mood for the album. It was one of the songs we worked on most and I think you can really hear that. It has the harmony guitars throughout, flat out double bass drums, powerful vocals and unexpected progressive line just after the middle 8 that is kind of signature of what we do.
With “Soldier of Fortune” you have an excellent cover-version on “Tomorrowland”. How and why did you pick this Deep Purple classic?
Stevie - Thank you! We all love the song! Our singer John would sound check his voice with this tune for years since we started the band. When we started chatting about doing a cover for the album I brought up the idea and we all immediately said yes. But the main reason we chose this was because we thought it was such a ‘great’ song. It’s timeless. We didn’t want to change the song too much arrangement wise but rather give it more of an updated sound and feel. Having said that I still think we put our own stamp on it.
Do you feel that your sound will evolve in some different direction, in the future, or you will still follow the same path?
Stevie - Honestly, I think we’re all happy to evolve by writing better songs as we go along. With Tomorrowland we tried to stay true to ourselves and at the same time write the best songs we could whilst still pushing ourselves creatively. We weren’t about to turn our back on our fans and change styles to jump on a bandwagon of what is considered to be cool. We’re happy with all three albums we’ve put out. I’d like to think we’ve grown as songwriters and constantly put out good sounding albums. I can’t see us changing direction in a big way.
How long do you need to practice to feel comfortable with your songs before you record them?
Stevie - This time round we practiced a lot more mainly because we pushed ourselves by writing the quickest songs we’ve ever written before. It was important for us to be comfortable with the tempos so both Hanny and myself in particular jammed along to click tracks on a nightly basis a few weeks before recording our parts to get our fingers and picking into shape. It definitely gave us the edge to feel confident in our abilities – which is important when recording. There’s nothing worse than taking too long to record parts. It can only bring your confidence down. So yeah, we put in a lot more into our pre production this time round.
The music scene really changed between the 70's, 80's and 90's. What would you say has been your strongest influence?
Stevie - We’re all very much influenced my traditional hard rock and metal from the 70’s and 80’s. Bands that come to mind include Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, The Scorpions, Black Sabbath – particularly Dio era, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, early Queensryche, Dokken and Fates Warning.
From a guitarists point of view guys like Blackmore, Tipton and Downing, Smith & Murray, Degarmo & Wilton, John Sykes, George Lynch, Ronnie LeTekro, Warren Demartini, John Norum and Zakk Wylde are my personal faves. I know Hanny is a huge fan of Randy Rhoads also.
Any plans to go on tour? If so, when and where?
Stevie - Yes we will be launching the album in Europe throughout July and August 2007. We’ll be supporting Masterplan and Blind Guardian at Metal Universe in Slovakia and playo many great bands. It’s going to be really cool to watch bands like Iced Earth, Stratovarius, Rage, Saxon, etc. All of these bands have never toured Australia.
Upcoming Black Majesty live dates include:
14/7/2007 - Masters of Rock Open Air Festival CZECH REPUBLIC
21/7/2007 - Metal Universe Black Sun Fest. SLOVAKIA
27/7/2007 - Benatska Noc Festival CZECH REPUBLIC
1/8/2007 - Kain (Headline Show) CZECH REPUBLIC
3/8/2007 - Wacken Open Air Festival GERMANY
13/10/2007 – Central Club, Richmond, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Who designs your CD artwork and who has the final word on what actually goes on the album cover?
Stevie - Artist Dirk Illing who lives in Germany has done all the artwork for our covers. Dirk has continually come up with the goods and has outdone himself on each alb
In the beginning all of the band talked about having an old school approach to our album covers - we like the idea of having the ongoing theme on all of our albums – kind of Iron Maiden’s Eddie or all of the Dio covers. It’s pretty old school but that’s what we’re into! We have our ’Black Majesty’ who appears on all our covers and majestic lion.
In terms of who gets the final say I guess it’s our artist as he’s the creator. Our label boss and us as band members obviously approve the art but we’ve always been happy!
Let's speculate - you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice - who would be your ideal touring partners?
Stevie - I think the obvious choice would be to say a classic band such as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. We grew up with these bands and they’re very much the reason why we got into metal and started playing in bands in the first place. Supporting bands of such a high calibre would be mind blowing!
How do you see the future of the Australian metal scene and generally of the worldwide scene?
Stevie - The scene in Australia is a lot more underground. Heavy Metal doesn’t get a fair go here. There is a small group of really loyal fans who love their metal but with a country with a pretty small population compared to countries in Europe it’s often not big enough to generate enough of a voice. Unfortunately a lot of people downunder follow trends and that’s not what we’re about. We do what we do and play the style of music we like to play. Having said that there’s been some great bands come out of Australia. I’d like to think we’re part of the new wave of Australian metal! Ha ha! Black Majesty, Vanishing Point, Pegazus, Eyefear – we’re all from Melbourne, Australia.
It’s great to see bands such as Dio era Black Sabbath and Judas Priest sell out concerts worldwide. It’s really cool to see a resurgence of traditional classic metal!
What are you doing besides Black Majesty, job wise as well as hobbies?
Stevie - We all workday jobs but we are very committed to the music we play. I’m a casual relief Primary/Elementry School teacher, John our singer works in the labouring industry, Pavel our drummer works for Vodaphone Phone Company and Hanny the other guitarist works within the bakery/food industry. We all have to live so we do our jobs to be able to play the music we enjoy – although we’d love to be playing Metal full time!
Personal hobbies of mine include watching Australian Rules Football – Go Lions! And drawing. I’ve always been into Art so I really like doing stuff like that when I get the time. We’re also all big movie fanatics. Mafia movies are always of interest!
What albums or bands do you believe have had the greatest impact on the history of metal?
Deep Purple – Stormbringer is my favourite.
Rainbow – Rising. Dio and Blackmore were a great combination!
Judas Priest – Point of Entry. Halford, Tipton & Downing. Respect!
Whitesnake – 1987. Coverdale and Sykes! – These guys really need to work together again…but I doubt it will happen.
Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime. The greatest concept album of all time!
Thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you…
Stevie - Thanks for the opportunity to promote the band. We always welcome people to give our stuff a listen. People can check us out at our website or myspace page. Drop us a message! We hope to see you on tour!
Cheers from downunder, Australia.
Stevie & Black Majesty