Interview with Drago, Pantommind (May 26, 2005)

Hi, first off I just want to congratulate you on your new album. To new fans could your please fill us in on the history behind it all?
Drago - Thanks! Hope you like our new album!
PANTOMMIND has existed for over 10 years now; we’ve had the same line-up since
2000. The band was originally started under the name of “LAVENDER HAZE” in the early 1990s in Gabrovo , Bulgaria . In 95 we changed the name to PANTOMMIND.

We have done 2 demos - “Unreality” EP’96 and “Farewell”CD’99. Unfortunately, none of them has been released so far. Yet, the US edition of “Shade of Fate includes 2 “Farewell” bonus tracks.

How has your new album been received by the media?
Drago - I think the media are treating us in a very special way right now. Through them we are able to reach our fans quickly. We would like to thank you too – we really appreciate your interest. The album was received even more warmly than we expected. To be honest, when I read some positive review, I feel as if it’s some other band they have written about … Incredible!!! I know that these opinions are pretty personal but it’s really exciting to see 10 out of 10 points or 89/100 … below a review!

This is our reward after all those long years in the deeper underground. A reward for all the love and effort we’ve put into these 11 tracks.

I know artists are not happy to categorize their music, but how would you describe your music to an outsider?
Drago - As progressive …. ! As something this is difficult to categorize in terms of music and style. Our music combines hard riffs and melody and incredible keyboard layers and solos. Rhythm and mood change often and abruptly, starting with the vigorous guitar and drum session in the title track through the fast-moving tempo of the instrumental “Spectastral” and the melancholic “Knocking On My Door” to the very end of the album, which sounds like a fantasy movie soundtrack.This is surely our best piece of work so far.

Where does your inspiration come from, both musically and lyrically?
Drago - Our songs are so diverse because of the freedom we have while writing both the music and lyrics. What’s more, we are not restricted by a concept, where everything has to follow a particular line. Our main composer is Pete Christ, an incredibly talented musician and artist – he’s just full of ideas and motifs; sometimes he hasn’t got enough time to record a riff or a melody and forgets them ... So we lose great hits irretrievably ... hahaha

What topics do you deal with in your lyrics and why?
Drago - About everything around us and in us …. About the mind that keeps looking for something different… about the mystic and the inexplicable ... Somewhere between fantasy and reality. A person doesn’t just sit down on a Friday afternoon with a clean sheet of paper to write a great song. This happens spontaneously, sometimes even after you’ve heard a piece of news on the radio ... Inspiration is everywhere. Tony has told me that he sometimes wakes up with some words in his mind and jots them down immediately. Perhaps a dream of his could be the beginning of some new lyrics?! Yet, our lyrics are not gloomy; they are a little romantic, optimistic even.

Who has produced and mixed the album, and are you pleased with the end result?
Drago - We produced “Shade…” ourselves; guitar player Pete Christ and Scaldor did the mixing and mastering. Thanks to Scaldor we have the atmospheric analog keyboard sessions in “Orpheus Whisper” and some other songs.

This has both good and bad sides. If we had a producer, he could give us fresh ideas  we may never come up with … or ones we may not like  In both cases the results would be different. I think in “Shade” the result is positive rather than negative; of course, there are things we don’t like but we are perfectionists and we’ll never be completely happy with the product, no matter what.

Who has done the artwork? And how important do you feel it is to have a great cover?
Drago - Our friends Alex Sokerov and Kosta “Jovi” Atanasov did the artwork – we are all very thankful to them indeed! We believe this cover best reflects the title of the album. I think sometimes a good cover can sell a mediocre album; when both the album and the cover are good, that makes a bestseller!

Do you have any touring plans?
Drago - We would like to boost the sales of “Shade” by performing live but it’s not entirely up to us … I sincerely hope we attend some festival this summer – this seems a more realistic option.

How do you feel about the co-operation with your label, and are you satisfied?
Drago - Of course, we are so proud of the fact that thanks to “Shade Of Fate” our label LUCRETIA RECORDS makes the release of a little known band from Eastern Europe throughout the world. We appear from nowhere, having been underground for so many years and now the whole world knows about us ... Sounds nice, right? Every musician’s dream, hahah, isn’t it?! We owe this to our partners from INTROMENTAL and our overseas partners from Sensory Rec. The stakes are really high this time but they trusted us and so did we ...

The internet is a very important source for many music fans - how do you use the internet and how important is it for you and other bands?
Drago - We use the Internet every day – it’s our main way of keeping in touch with the media and our fans all over the world. Our contacts on the Internet are so precious! On the other hand, new bands appear every day, the fans are offered too much music and they don’t want to “buy blind” a random CD. For that reason they download some stuff, listen to it and if they really care for quality, buy the original CD.
But it’s rather nasty when someone you’ve sent a promo CD plays your album 2 months before the official release … in the form of a bad compressed MP3.
Thus no fan will be able to feel the spirit of the album and later buy it.

To sum up, via the Internet fans throughout the world can hear about us. In this aspect the global network is invaluable!

How do you see the progressive rock/progressive metal scene at the moment?
Drago - I think that for years there have been no fresh ideas. Some people even say :“After Rush and Dream Theater there is no place left for anything new … don’t even try to surpass them ” Damn it! That’s not true! Styles do developa lot of musicians experiment and take risks, they do not just walk along the well trodden path. Isn’t good progressive one that tries to use new means of expression within the set framework?!

To finish things off - could you pls. make an all-time Top 5 or sort of the 5 most important albums in your opinion?
Drago -
Hmmm ... This has always been a tough question for me – choosing “the best” or the “top 10”, “top 5”, etc….  Prog bands from the mid ‘80s had the greatest influence on us. So we all got together over a nice drink or two, and each of us suggested his favorites. Because there are 6 of us, we decided to choose the top 6 albums that collected the greatest number of votes. Here they are… finally:

  • Queensr˙che - Rage For Order

  • Fates Warning - Parallels

  • Psychotic Waltz - Into The Everflow

  • Savatage - Streets

  • Dream Theater - Images And Words

  • Symphony X - Rhe Divine Wings Of Tragedy

Drago/ drums and percussion

Pantommind - Shade Of Fate

Album out on Lucretia Records.

Click on the album cover to see more info on Pantommind.