We had a moment to talk with Luka Petrovic of Old Night and Ashes You Leave about his inspiration, his work and metal music in Croatia.
MP: Please introduce yourself and what you do in the band?
Luka Petrovic: My name is Luka Petrovic and I’m the bassist and back vocalist for Croatian bands Old Night and Ashes You Leave.
MP: How did Old Night come to be?
Luka Petrovic: I guess it all started in 2015 after the 20th anniversary touring cycle for Ashes You Leave. When we finished all the scheduled shows we decided to take a break with the band. The decision was mostly motivated by the fact that three members of AYL moved from Croatia for work. It was something that came as a surprise for me since it wasn’t something that we either discussed or planned but unfortunately the bad economic situation in Croatia made it impossible for them to continue living here. Although I was one of the main songwriters and lyricist in Ashes You Leave on the last two albums I felt that I would like to try something a little bit different. There are some things that don’t necessarily fit AYL’s style of songwriting, and I wanted to write music unencumbered by people’s expectations, with the legacy of AYL intact. With AYL on a break, I thought to myself that that is the perfect time for me to focus on my project which in the end turned out to be called Old Night.
MP: You were one of the founding members of Ashes You Leave correct?
Luka Petrovic: How did that come to be? No, I joined AYL back in 2003. They just released their fourth record “Fire” at the end of 2002 and came home from a tour in support of the release. I guess after the promotions and everything one of the members decided to leave so their drummer called me up and asked me if I wanted to come over for a jam. He said that they might have a spot to fill. Since at the time I already stopped playing with Gorthaur’s Wrath I was completely free to dedicate myself to a single band so I came over to their rehearsal place and we went through a few song and that was it.. At the end of the rehearsal they just asked me if I was free the next day and I was like: Am I in or what?? 😀 We’ve known each other basically since we were kids so it was a lot easier to fit in such a band than I thought it would be. They have a big legacy, not only in Croatia but to certain degree in the whole doom metal scene, so I must admit it was a little bit intimidating at first.
MP: What got you into doom metal?
Luka Petrovic: I guess I got into metal with the usual suspects.. Being from Europe those were Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Kreator, Sodom etc. Unfortunately, as I was getting into the music the war started in Croatia as Serbia invaded our country. That also meant no music shops etc. Fortunately, my brother and I had a friend with a cousin in Germany that sent new cassettes on a regular basis. He wasn’t really into doom but he sent us these bands that had a dark feel to them. Some weird bands like Nocturnus, Pestilence (which are really big now) but with them also the first Amorphis, Tiamat, My Dying Bride. So not exactly doom bands but more death/doom. That’s what got me into the whole genre especially the Peaceville Three – My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Anathema.
MP: What is the inspiration behind “Pale Cold Irrelevance?”
Luka Petrovic: The world we live in. The alienation and isolation that people too often feel. War, loss, those are topics that are unfortunately still relevant today no matter how advanced, we assure ourselves, the society is. The name has a somewhat double meaning.. It represents how people feel about themselves in today’s world, but it also raises the question of what music means to people today. I’m aware that we recorded an album that’s just below sixty minutes in a world where the majority of people don’t buy music anymore and listen to radio hits that are not even three minutes long.
MP: What inspires your music?
Luka Petrovic: As I stated before everyday life is the main inspiration. Watching the news is probably one of the most depressing things one can do.
MP: How is the metal scene in Croatia?
Luka Petrovic: The scene in Croatia is small, but it’s growing. We have several metal festivals including Dark Circle fest, Goathell, Balkan Metal Meeting, Oluja, Valhala etc.. There are some great metal bands from Croatia, but they are unfortunately not that known outside our country. Some of my favourites are: Black Cult, Cold Snap, Infernal Tenebra, Monox, Castrum, Speedclaw, Chaos Addict etc
MP: Any plans for new Ashes You Leave?
Luka Petrovic: The main problem is that our members live in four different countries so it’s not that easy to get us in the same room. Or in the same time zone for that matter. There are talks about a new record but for now we have no definite plan or time schedule. We’ll see how it goes.
MP: How did the band meet?
Luka Petrovic: The first one to join the fold so to speak was our drummer Nikola Jovanovic. We’ve been friends for years but we never played together since we were always busy with other projects. This time around he was free and willing, that was the easiest part of putting the band together. One of the first persons we asked to join and our first choice as a guitar player was Bojan Frlan, in the end he was the last one to join. Bojan is well known in the Croatian underground metal scene and he played in a number of cult bands such as Castrum and GRČ but also Gorthaur’s Wrath where we played together for a few years. The hardest part was to find the lead guitarist and the lead singer. For years both Nikola and I have been judges on one of the oldest demo festivals in Europe, RiRock in Rijeka, and there we heard a band that had an amazing guitarist. This was a few years before Old Night so we did a bit of Facebook stalking and found the guy. I basically saw him a few times later but seeing him perform that time made such a great impression on me that I just sent him a text and asked him to come and jam with us. So, we found Ivan, our lead guitarist and singer. It was much harder to find a lead singer, especially for a band like this one. We basically asked everybody we thought could fit the bill. In the end Ivan said that his brother sings but never fronted a band. He was actually the backing vocalist in that band Nikola and I saw perform on the demo fest.
MP: What metal bands or albums inspire you most?
Luka Petrovic: I’ve been in bands, and wrote music for them, since mid-nineties and I think that I managed to form my own writing style, both as a lyricist and songwriter, so I don’t think that albums inspire me to write music anymore. I have my favourite albums but the majority of them don’t have a lot in common with the music of Old Night. I’m more inspired with bands that have a strong message or convey strong feelings with their music these days. A new Primordial, Orphaned Land or even Devin Townsend will have a better chance of inspiring me to write than, for instance, Black Sabbath. That being said, I still follow the doom scene and collect CD-s fervidly.
MP: Any plans of new music?
Luka Petrovic: The pre-production for the second Old Night record is almost done. We have a few more weeks of polishing the details and finishing some ideas. So if everything goes as planned we should hit the studio in June/July. We have to go over all the details with our label but a late 2018 or early 2019 release is planned.
MP: Any plans of touring for either band?
Luka Petrovic: There are not that many opportunities to tour with a doom band, especially one from Croatia. This is not the easiest country to break out from. We do have plans to play live with Old Night as much as possible but for now it’s only off shows and festivals. We’re actually playing a really great festival in Belgium this weekend. It’s a doom fest that’s held in a 14th century castle!
MP: Any advice for upcoming metal bands?
Luka Petrovic: Don’t emulate – try to innovate! Find something that is close to your heart and something that you really feel personally and stick to it. Making metal music, or any kind of music for that matter, with the scope of making money or getting girls in today’s music market just doesn’t make any sense. Play music that you love and make music for the love of making it! In the end somebody will notice the sincerity of your message and until that time at least you’ll feel good about yourself.
MP: Any last words?
Luka Petrovic: Thank you Neil for your kind words and for this interview. The chance to present our band to your readers truly means a lot! I would also like to invite your readers to visit our facebook page and check our first record “Pale Cold Irrelevance”.
Take care and keep the doom flame alive!
On behalf of Old Night,
Interview by Neil Andersen