ON THE WANE: Gothic Shoegaze rising from the ashes of war-torn Ukraine
Oscillating between dream gaze and power gaze fusion, On the Wane is Dari Maksimova (bass, vocals, synth), Eugene Glebov (drums), Eugene Voitov (guitar, synth), and Arthur Steshn (guitar,synth).
Together, the Ukraine-based four-piece have become a smooth cohesive force in the Shoegaze, neo-gothic and noise rock realm.
In the present article, you will find more about the band, through and interactive presentation and an interview they kindly gave us.
The following is courtesy of the band and Shameless Promotions PR.
In early 2017, the band recorded the 10 tracks that would become the full-length album 'Schism' under the direction of sound engineer Dima Afanasyev- Gladkykh (a.k.a. Sinoptik).
The band formed in early 2014, influenced by 1980s alternative rock icons such as Sonic Youth, The Cure, Joy Division, The Pixies and Bauhaus, as well as Shoegaze giants My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, and Ringo Deathstarr. They rented a garage, went into debt by buying guitar amplifiers, drums and a line, and settled comfortably in the garage until autumn.
In October of that year, they had enough material for their first album 'DRY', which was naive, honest and raw. Recorded during a continuous 27-hour session by well known Kiev drummer Artur Mikhailenko in his garage studio, it was then mixed and mastered by Sevastopol-based producer Alexander Chabanenko.
Released in December 2014, that album was immediately well received by Ukrainian media with moderate attention abroad in Britain, Ireland, Canada, South America, and the USA. This led to Brazil's The Blog That Celebrates Itself Records featuring the band in an interview and releasing their track 'Sweet Girl' on the 'Autumn Noises' compilation.
Following a series of shows in Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine, they recorded their second release, now with hard-core vibes inspired by Mudhoney, Fugazi and similar bands. They unleashed their anxious 6-track 'Sick' EP on the world, delivering an angst-filled unbalanced sound that led Britain's The Sound of Confusion to claim that "this band blows any out of the water for 2015 releases in terms of mixing power-driven genres like grunge, shoegaze and alternative rock", citing Sonic Youth-esque vocals and the energetic ferver of Gang of Four and The Damned.
After Eli Demyanenko joined the band, they added synthesizers, a drum machine and drum pad and toured more, allowing them to hone their current sound. With a partially electronic and cold sound, the atmosphere became darker, their trademark wall of guitar sound became more meaningful, and distinct vocals became more self-confident.
In early 2017, the band recorded the 10 tracks that would become the full-length album 'Schism' under the direction of sound engineer Dima Afanasyev-Gladkykh (a.k.a. Sinoptik).
Noise Artists (NA): What are your goals as a band, artistically/commercially ?
As musicians, we want to make music our life. Now all of us in the band have jobs but we dream that one day we can leave them and concentrate on making music only. As a band, we want to find our audience in Europe to get more ways and countries where to play shows.
NA: What is your music about?
Our music is about life. About the entire world’s life in general and our particular lives. A man is a kind of transformer. Everyone gets experience during their life and remakes it into something new. If you are a musician – you transform your life into music.
NA: How did the recording of the latest album work out?
Our last LP Schism became a pretty hard, cold and dramatic work. All of us had complicated changes in our private lives when we wrote the material for it. At the same time, we did experiments with the sound, trying new instruments and new roles.
Eugene got the very first synth in the band (now we have three), Ely got a drum machine. We went crazy on the rehearsals trying to surprise ourselves with a brand new sound.
Once we were in the studio until midnight trying to make absolutely untypical stuff for us – to play some kind of death metal (in order to get out of our comfort zone). When I went out to the backyard after, I met a woman who lives near the place. She accused me of calling Satan and promised to call the police next time.
We named the album Schism, released it and the band split up literally: Anna and Ely left the band. Every change can be for good if you want it to be. On the mini-tour supporting this album, we are joined by two new members: Artur on guitar and synth and Eugene on drums.
This schism was painful but necessary: now our sound is opening up and even the new songs will sound different in the live shows.
NA: What are you trying to avoid as a band?
First of all, we are trying to avoid making bad music :)
Also, we don’t want to repeat ourselves. On The Wane is changing all the time. If you listen to DRY, Sick and Schism one by one you’ll be surprised that all this stuff was made by the same band. It’s going naturally just because we are weird sound lovers.
By the way, the name of our first album DRY is an abbreviation from web development sphere which means Don’t Repeat Yourself.
NA: Explain your song writing process, who starts? How does it evolve, is it organic? Is it discussed?
Most of our songs appear in a jam. Sometimes it’s absolutely free, sometimes one of us has a sketch of the song and we jam on this theme.
The start of a new song is beautiful but often the finalizing is painful and causes disagreement. When the sketch is done we can sink in the discussions and experiments for a month. It’s the price of musical democracy in our band and we have to pay it.
NA: In 2017 there is no new or old music to a 17 years old with internet access. Discuss.
I think old or new music is not about the time when a person finds it or not about the time when the music was created, it’s more about relevance in sound and atmosphere in the current time. So even now, in 2018, with the global internet connection, there is modern music, which sounds like today’s life. It does not mean that ‘old’ music is bad or it's getting worse with the time. But the soul of the days is reflected in the music. Except for those band who are successfully copying the idols of past times.
NA: Why do you make the music you make? Is it in you? Is it a choice?
The truth is always in between, as always. On the one hand, every one of us collects impressions from the music we love and then this music influences our new music. On the other hand, we are trying to do music which we want to listen in the future. So the choice of music to play has roots in the past and green leaves in the future.
NA: Describe your palette of sound.
It’s changing from time to time, but the following description will be relevant for On The Wane 2018 I guess.
We have noisy and wild crying guitars. Pretty weird but very emotional sound which you can’t ignore. We have old-school analogue synthesizer waves which are keeping the balance between past and future in the band.
Melancholic bass is walking through the songs. Although, in the new songs, there is a second bass synth which appears. An electronic vibe in connection with analogue guitar sound gives it a modern soul.
Techno and Coldwave electronic beats live together with acoustic drum sound during almost all new album. Now with the new drummer in the band, we get also distorted bass beat and more jazz elements at the same time.
The vocal lines are changing from album to album. Now they've become more confident and loud on the records.
NA: You’re from Ukraine is it an advantage or an inconvenient? Why?
It’s rather inconvenient. First of all, the music industry and culture of live shows is just starting in the country now. So it’s harder to get an audience. The average person here is less interested in music right now.
But if a venue in Ukraine invites an artist to play a show, they don’t need to carry all the backline stuff, because everything is already in place. It’s a plus :)
NA: Does being Ukrainian have an influence on your music? Or lyrics?
We don’t have ethnic elements in our music. But we have war theme in our lyrics, because it touches us (Drop Bombs from Schism, Phoenix from DRY). One of the very first rehearsals for On The Wane (It was even proto- On The Wane, not full first team) was canceled because we decided to go to the Maidan instead, when the revolution started.
NA: Have the troubles in Ukraine affected you? The music scene?
Dramatic events always affect art and culture in any country. The first few years after 2014 Ukraine wasn’t an attractive place to play shows, so we had a big decline in foreign artists. It was a sad time for music lovers, but it opened new horizons for local bands. Besides, a lot of musicians were forced to change location because of war and their music needed new ways for developing. For example, Sinoptik were a local band in an eastern Ukrainian town. In 2014 they moved to Kyiv and in 2016 they won the main prize on GBOB in Berlin. The scene started having an active life and that was the positive side.
On the other hand, the rise of patriotism caused kind of speculations on an ethnic theme. Now we have a lot of bad folk bands. But we have only one real worldwide known Ukrainian folk band – Dakha Brakha. Listen to them if you don't know them, it is brilliant.
Today the situation gets more stable and the world musicians come to Ukraine again and now the local scene gets good support too.
NA: Who has helped On The Wane along the way?
We have worked with two excellent sound engineers. Alex Chabanenko has worked with our first album DRY and with EP Sick. He was the first sound engineer in Ukraine who understood our Shoegaze sound and was able to save it on records.
The second LP Schism we recorded at the studio of our friendly band Sinoptik. Dima Sinoptik is a great soundman. He worked with us as the sound producer for this album and mixing and mastering. He surprised us on the very first day of recording. When we came to the studio Dima ran around the room with the mic and tom, trying sounds and looking for the right place for the mic. That moment we understood – our music was in the right hands.
Our graphic sign was made by the brilliant talented graphic designer Dmitro Ver'ovkin. I'm the huge fan of his posters and typography work. By the way, he is a guitarist of one the best Ukrainian underground bands – Prince Albert. Just watch their video, I love it.
The main part of our live photos was taken by talented reportage photographer Roman Shalamov We met at our very first show in the 2014, and since then we are friends.
Mykhailo Yefimenko for our official video for Sultry Song
Dima Ver’ovkin for perfect graphic sign
All Sinoptik band for sincere involving into the Schism release.
Roman Shalamov for perfect photos.
Alex Chabanenko for work with the first album
Alexander Yarosevich, Anna Lyashok and Ely Demianenko for being a huge part of the band in the past.
Shauna McLarnon from the excellent Ummagma for believing in us and the strong support.