Welcome Kamille Sharapodinov, the mastermind of Russian psychedelic doom rock project The Grand Astoria. He’s only constant member of this outfit and it doesn’t stop him from doing month-longs tours with new line-ups or do two records per year with different sound and conception. The core of his ever changing work is deep love to psych, prog and doom rock traditions of the past, but it would be boring when you have nothing to add to legacy of Old Ones. About two months ago Kamille has released a new child of his experiments - epic doom thing “The Mighty Few”, let’s try to understand what kind of force did drive his hands this time to work in this direction and compose this soundtrack to story of Doom, Death and Damnation.

Hi Kamille! Man, I see that The Grand Astoria new album "The Mighty Few" already has a damned lot of positive reviews, how have you gained such result? How much do you pay to all these people?

Hello Alex! It’s very easy; I just totally controlled everything this time and have made all the promotion myself. I’ve sent a shitload of packages with CDs for reviews and have plans to send at least 20 more in the near future, it just the question of money. We worked really hard recording these songs so I just don’t want them to sink into the black hole. I know that this music deserves a good attention and just needs to be heard.

What’s about album’s distribution in this case? I remember that usually you work with German label Setalight Records; do you work this time on your own?

Setalight are good friends of ours and they are selling this new album via iTunes and other electronic stores. American distro Laser CD got some copies for their shop so all the US citizen can easily get it there. Swedish Ozium Records also ordered something so the things are moving and we are selling this album more than the all previous ones.

Okay, "The Mighty Few" shows us "doom" side of The Grand Astoria. It reminds me your old EP "Caesar Enters the Palace of Doom" with that bunch of heavy rocking riffs. What are your main musical influences consider doom rock scene?

I am not really very much into doom but there is a person in the scene whom I admire enormously - Scott Wino. I love all his projects, past current and future - The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, The Hidden Hand, Premonition 13 etc. The only one that I really don’t dig is St.Vitus. Some songs are okay but in general I found it very boring for my taste. I prefer Wino to play guitar and sing his own songs. What else..I love the first Cathedral, some Earth stuff, not sure if it’s doom. Place of Skulls are also amazing. Elder, Doctor Cyclops and Mars Red Sky from the modern ones. Probably there are few more that I can’t remember right now.

First song of the album "Curse of the Ninth" starts as if you play in some Italian retro band, yet there are a lot of different instruments, uncommon to this genre in this song. How did you gather them all in this one massive track?

I always have a clear vision of how the song should sound in the end because I write them. So when we play or record I tell the guys something like - don’t worry if this sounds too long or too strange, there will be a clarinet here and keyboards there. So I usually have the whole picture in my head. I have a looper pedal at home that I use a lot to experiment with second guitar parts and bass line as well. Then when all the basic parts are recorded we invite our friends to help us with all these «uncommon» instruments like saxes, trumpet, piano etc.

The Grand Astoria “Curse of the Ninth”

This song tells a story of doom, death and damnation; can you shed some light onto it?

There is a superstition that after completing the ninth symphony the composer dies. We‘ve already recorded six massive albums which are quite symphonic in a way. So we still have three to go and then we’ll see if it works

By the way, you did record this album with new line-up, is it difficult to work every time with different people?

It’s very hard indeed. We can’t progress as a band, I grow up as a songwriter maybe but not a band. That’s sad but I just keep on doing my thing and I hope one day there will be a permanent lineup.

You told that The Grand Astoria plan to hit the road for another big tour. Do you already have certain schedule?

There will be no big tours during this year unfortunately. I was busy with the new music and didn’t dedicate enough time to booking. I am still doing booking myself cos we don’t have any agency or management. And I really hate it. We will just have a short three-week tour in October and then I will concentrate on 2016 and will try to book something serious for the next spring-summer.

"The Mighty Few" consists only of two long tracks and second one has absorbed too much of different rock influences from my point of view. Don't you see it as challenge for yourself, for listeners?

I actually don’t care, I just write songs to please myself.

So… have you finally pleased yourself with this work?

I pleased myself already with the first album. I don’t record the songs that I don’t like. It a cliché but they are really my babies and I can’t choose the one I love the most. For me all our albums it’s one big song

I have a problem with “The Mighty Few” – it’s difficult for me to accept this surfing between genres in this album. How did you compose this parts when song’s theme move from doom to prog or funk spheres?

I have no idea, these are just my influences and it all comes out naturally, I never suffered or felt the pain composing anything. I am just fooling around with guitar and the songs appear. Part after part. For example I have few incomplete songs for the next album but don’t push myself to finish them. I know that it will come in the end, I just keep on playing then and then the idea comes. Very easy process

Kamille, what's about next full length album? Will you try something new or do you plan to move in direction you took on "The Mighty Few"?

Yeah, it’s already almost written in my head and we even rehearsed and recorded some drum parts for the following record. It’s going to be more old school heavy metal and quite doomy again. I mean in a good way. Think Pagan Altar, Budgie, The Obsessed, Maiden or even Sepultura. Of cos with hints of prog and psychedelia as usual. There will be 8 tracks. Seven songs and a short intro instrumental. But it’s all just plans and I have no idea how it will turn our in the end.

And you also have recorded acoustic Ep, what’s it?

Just another self-indulgent experiment that I felt I need to try. Like it or not but it’s also part of The Grand Astoria. I love the result very much and totally happy with everything. Right now I am searching for the label or money to print the CDs or LPs.

Last works of The Grand Astoria "La Belle Epoque" and double album "Punkadelia Supreme" were also released on vinyl. Is there a chance that "The Mighty Few" will be fitted somehow to this format too?

Yes! Our italian friend Davide from Vincebus Eruptum label/magazine will print 300 LPs of «The Mighty Few» very soon. I am also negotiating with one American label about different version for the US market.

Then I wish you all the best with getting this contract for vinyl version of “The Mighty Few”. Talk soon man, good luck! 

Thank you! All the best for you as well.


Interview by Aleks Evdokimov

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