J.W. Pozoj Discusses Their New Album "Escape Of Pozoj"
Croatian black metallers J.W. Pozoj are currently working their way through a concept trilogy dealing with birth, death, and renewal. The band recently released "Escape of Pozoj," the second phase in the cycle. Samples from the album can be heard at the band's MySpace page. J.W. Pozoj guitarist Filip Fabek and vocalist Ivan Borcic spend some time explaining to me the theme of their planned trilogy, the story behind their distinctive name, and what the world can expect in the future from this ambitious Croatian outfit.
xFiruath: When did your personally get started in music and who are your biggest musical influences?
Filip: We started playing in high school and our influences then were Amebix, Doom, Extinction of Mankind, Disorder, Crass, Scatha and Sedition, mostly bands we still love, but the list of influences has grown immensely. Nowadays, we spend a lot of time listening to Ved Buens Ende, Code, Enslaved, early Ulver, Black Sabbath, Gong, Hawkwind, Neurosis, Satyricon, Immortal, Laibach, Kraftwerk, Bethoven, Bach, Death, Pentagram, Witchcraft, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Amon Duul II etc. The list would really be too long.
xFiruath: Are any of the J.W. Pozoj members currently involved in any other bands?
Filip: I play guitar in a death metal/crust band called True that also features a national Croatian instrument, the tambura. Luka and Balki, Pozoj’s drummer and guitar player, play in True also. Besides that, I have my own techno/trance project called Musica-Ex-Machina.
xFiruath: How did J.W. Pozoj originally come together and what is the meaning behind the name?
Filip: We came to existence by merging of two former crust/punk bands that rehearsed together in the same room. Seeing how we shared our living space quite often, our thoughts on and tastes in music matched as well. It just happened, through this natural flow, that we decided that we’ll play together and that we’ll get the best from both bands and merge them in one whole, without limitations to a particular style or direction. Seeing as both bands had pretty interesting ideas, they came to expression even more, and what we now have as our first release, Birth of Pozoj, came out of it.
As for the name, well, from an etymological point of view, “pozoj” means “dragon.” Every dragon, in fact, is a symbol of a pre-mythical serpent in a (pre) Indo-European myth about the beginning of the world, whose position is marked as “down” or “on the bottom,” and is in connection with water, “wet,” standing in opposition with the high father (deus pater) whose position on the World Tree (Der Weltbaum, Svjetsko stablo) is marked as “up” or “on the top” and is connected with “dry,” with the primary cause to secure balance (mostly by using thunderbolts) by watching upon and fighting against that snake, which of course, is constantly ruining the concept of his balance. Besides being a symbol of chaos and end, the snake is also a symbol of cycling of life’s energy.
Following the myth, god’s son, which was taken as a symbol by catholic iconography /eng. st. George/, mostly putting him in a scene in which he slays the dragon, is in one way a son of that serpent also. In the myth, there is a divine trinity consisted of the high father, the serpent, and the high father’s wife who is in fact a link between the two gods. She, as a lover spends half of the year with the high father, and the other half with the serpent-god. High father's son, for whom we may say is a son of the both opposing gods, is kidnapped sometime after his birth, by the god of lower men and taken to the water to his “other” father, where he grows up and returns at spring as the symbol of life (rebirth). During that return, he is being accompanied by wolves sent as escort from the other world, and he becomes, in some languages, Wolfgang. In Croatian mythology, he gets named Ivan -- Johann in the moment of marriage with his divine sister (who also symbolizes death).
The coincidence of choosing contextually related words in the name “Johann Wolfgang Pozoj” can indeed be seen as coincidental. “Johann” and “Wolfgang,” and their possible contextual relation we perceived later by introducing ourselves more with the field which concerns these subjects, and were added later into “Pozoj,” which was the initial name decided as the name of the project. This initial name, Pozoj, was a local joke about some demonic rooster who goes about villages stealing animals and collecting victims, and nobody’s ever seen it. However, as we became more familiar with the theme of Pozoj, and started collecting all the material we could find on Pozoj, with time that term started including everything above and more.
xFiruath: “Escape of Pozoj” is the second album in a trilogy. What made you want to release three linked albums and what is the general theme behind the trilogy?
Filip: The idea of a trilogy was something I’ve been thinking about ever since college, where I was, while reading philosophical writers, acquainted with the dialectics of the growth of human thought that goes through three phases, and with that, enriches itself and ascends to a higher level – “thesis – antithesis – synthesis”. Out of this, an idea of a trilogy as a full cycle of our expression was born. Those three phases represent the spirit becoming real through art:
I. Phase – Birth of Pozoj: symbolic – the idea hasn’t yet found its complete form; it has its figure outside of itself in a natural, sensible matter; a feeling of incompleteness and of missing.
II. Phase – Escape of Pozoj: classical – the idea is in compliance with its form, it represents the real and fulfilled ideal.
III. Phase – Return of Pozoj: romantic – again the abolition of unity of the idea and its reality.
Simply put, the Trilogy represents birth, growth, evolution and the death of the eternal. Birth of Pozoj – the birth of the dragon (Pozoj) as a symbolic beginning of time flow, the start of life and of the year as the cyclical circling of nature’s phenomena. Escape of Pozoj – Pozoj leaving its mother nature, the peak of fertility and growth, maturity and completely becoming real, fulfilling its purpose (for example, the blooming of a flower, reproduction, producing fruit etc.) Return of Pozoj – Pozoj returning from the dead so he could again sow the seeds for the coming of a new cycle.
xFiruath: Who writes the lyrics and what do the lyrics on “Escape of Pozoj” specifically deal with?
Boro: All lyrics on Escape of Pozoj were written by me, except “Song of Pozoj,” which was written by Filip. I think the only right experience of a song, is when every person realizes what the lyrics mean to him or her.
Filip: Well, what I read from all the texts is that it’s about love towards eternal nature. Not towards one specific thing or person, but towards everything.
xFiruath: Where did you record “Escape of Pozoj” and how were the recording sessions? The album has great sound quality, so I was wondering if you guys worked with a producer or did you do all the producing and mixing yourselves?
Filip: Everything was recorded in the same room we rehearse at. We did a lot of work on both of our albums, and lots of changes were made. Since we had no time limit as in a studio, we could allow ourselves to experiment with parts and arrangements. We didn’t work with any producers, we recorded and mixed everything ourselves, and the mastering was done by a friend of ours, Sasha Miocic, who had the equipment. We have nothing against working in a studio and with producers, but we love to learn and work ourselves. We haven’t yet had the opportunity to work with a producer.
xFiruath: What is different about the sound of “Escape of Pozoj” from the first album “Birth of Pozoj?”
Filip: I would say that Escape was done with a lot more precision, and we also learned a few new things recording and producing wise. Of course, we acquired some better equipment, so the result was that much better. Of course, you can’t see an end in these things, so one shouldn’t be bothered by it so much. Every album for itself is an expression of the atmosphere of the time it was made in.
xFiruath: Any idea when we will be seeing the release of the third album in the trilogy, “Return of Pozoj?”
Filip: I think we will first produce an album that isn’t related with the Trilogy, because we started doing new things in the new line-up. The idea for the Return is already recorded as a demo, but should be remade, and some more work should be put into it. I mostly think we could start talking about realizing the Return within a year, but, like I said, it all depends on how much we’ll be working on other things.
xFiruath: What is your local metal scene like and how is metal generally received in Croatia?
Filip: Local scene is practically non-existent because we come from a very small town in which a few bands reside, but Zagreb (the capital) is very close and there are concerts there all the time and new bands, but I somehow get the feeling that none of them stick around too long. Personally, I see most of it as plain showing off and “vanity fair,” but every now and again you can find worthy and sincere people or things. The audience will mostly come to hear some famous bands, but I don’t think anyone’s really doing anything for the metal scene. There are a few people, but they’re our old friends and it’s more of a punk thing than it is a metal thing.
xFiruath: Does J.W. Pozoj have any upcoming tour dates or festival appearances?
Filip: Unfortunately not, but we would like to take this opportunity to say that we’re open for cooperation. Every now and again we have a concert in our town or in the neighboring Slovenia or in the hills and woods surrounding the town.
xFiruath: How do you feel about the state of black and death metal today? Do you guys prefer the older stuff or do you like the many changes that have been occurring in the last decade to the genre?
Boro: I prefer the old school and avant-garde stuff.
Filip: I have a feeling we’re experiencing oversaturation, but it’s not just with black metal, it’s with the world in general. You can find good things both in old and new, it’s all a chain connected with links and they just add up. From Bach onwards, the form is more or less given, it’s just the way the content will be put together and expressed that’s the thing now. So, I don’t have any prejudice or sharp boundaries between the old and the new, it’s just that every era adds its link in the chain.
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