Interview With Planara

Planara 2014

We recently covered Planara’s upcoming EP Hostiles – read our review of it here. We caught up with the band to find out a little bit more about them and the EP.

Could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about the band?
Ivan: My name is Ivan. I’m the vocalist in Planara. Together with Tony and Eugene, we established the band less than a year ago, released a debut single, a music video for it, and now are going to release a debut EP called Hostiles. We have lots of plans and goals and I’m determined to do everything that is needed to reach them all.
Eugene: I’m Eugene, a guitarist in Planara. We are a band from St. Petersburg, Russia. It’s really hard to explain what genre of music exactly we play… I think it’s some kind of a mixture of post-hardcore, modern metal and modern progressive music.
Tony: Hi. My name is Anthony and I’m the other guitarist. From my point of view, Planara came out of the metamorphosis of the previous band me, Ivan and Eugene formed years ago. Planara emerged from the pressures of the world nowadays. Politics, society, entropy and other stronger influences forged our five characters into lads who occasionally found out that they could successfully cooperate!

Where did the band’s name come from?
Tony: From a long and painful brainstorming session! We threw each other’s ideas in a pool, and then explained why we’d like them as names. Names I’ve given to my mates were mostly romantic, preaching the courage of a man. Ivan’s was narrow and easy to unravel its meaning. Eugene’s nonetheless was quite romantic (less than mine though!) but at the same time pinpoint sharp. But…as he explained Planara means nothing. It is a blank sheet that the listener should fill in themself.
Ivan: Well, when we decided to start a new project the first thing to dispute was the name of the band. Everyone suggested more than a dozen names – we’ve discussed them all. I didn’t want it to sound too “post-hardcore” like many other faceless modern bands (We Are The Band With The Longest Name, or Bless-My-Horizon-for-A-Crown). I thought it should be something short, simple and pronounceable in other languages. I mentioned Planara in the list of Eugene’s names and liked it a lot. Google associated it with some kind of a mathematical concept, and there is a type of photographic lens which sounds similar. It sounds cool to me – open, simple. Gives me thoughts of space and universe.
Eugene: Well, I studied engineering at high school and I’ve found the word in CNC-programming. The word Planara always seemed very huge and meaningful to me. Generally it refers to the scale and linearity of processes. But no one really understands what it means so fuck it – it just sounds nice.

How did the band form?
Ivan: We’ve known each other for almost 4 years, and played together in a metal band called Asthenic. (We were really young and skinny and that’s why we called the band that). Tony was a drummer back then and I’ve just started to learn screaming after years of jazz and pop singing. We even released an EP called Despite Everything and had some really nice reviews on it but it sounded messy and quality was awful. So one day I woke up and understood that we need to do something different and mature. That’s how the story of Asthenic ended and the rise of Planara began.
Tony: What happens when three outstanding and confident idiots decide to play music together? In most cases – nothing, but we found enough gunpowder to make it to the record and still have some left.
Eugene: When I was 16 I wanted to have a band just like many others at this age. So it started in 2005 when we had girls on vocals and keys, and Tony as a drummer. We covered Evanescence, did not know much and did not understand a lot of stuff but we were full of enthusiasm. By the way the first demo of Rolling The Dice was written in those early years. When Ivan joined us we reformed the team and took Asthenic as a name of the band. Asthenic became a basement for everything we’ve embodied later in Planara.

Who would you say your biggest influence is?
Ivan: When I met Tony and Eugene we were all fans of Chevelle and 10 years. We’ve even played lots of covers on them. Later they introduced me to music of Thrice and I think it influenced us a lot. Our first demos sounded mostly like Sevendust or Crossfade, but some songs were definitely inspired by the Thrice tunes. Speaking of me personally – I was raised on Queen’s heritage. Alternative rock and metal came much later to my life. I still truly admire the voice of Freddie Mercury, his attention to details, his energy, his devotion to make every song sound like a piece of art and to perform every concert as real show.
Tony: I’d say my father is a pain in the very same part of the body you usually sit on. But he is the one who taught me to use my ears in a right way. But when I became a man of my own doings, I realized that the cities of western Europe that I love so much and some parts of my own city has its own ambience, that is the influence I love to use when I write songs. And computer games.
Eugene: First – my apartment. It’s full of sounds. Poor soundproofing and neighbors constantly listening to different music from all sides. Sound is distorted and I often hear interesting things. All together it creates a very inspiring atmosphere for songwriting. Second – music. I’ve started my diving into rock music with bands from 60-s and 70-s: The Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson. Later came Rage Against The Machine, Limp Bizkit and Thrice. Those bands show me the darker side of rock music. And finally – my cats. They know how to make some good chords from piano. And I think they do not mind if I’m using their musical ideas.

You’re currently getting ready to release your EP Hostiles – could you tell us about the writing and recording process for it?
Ivan: Eugene and Tony wrote the instrumental demos and my job was to create vocal parts for them. Almost every demo that became a song on Hostiles was remade 3-4 times. Personally, I’ve made 4 versions of vocals for What I Will Never Say, 2 versions of Hostiles vocals, etc. The hard thing was to gather money for the studio and production. I had to leave St. Petersburg and travel to Moscow to earn something for the recording sessions. So when we were preparing for the recording it looked like this – guys sent me the demo, I wrote lyrics and recorded vocal demos late at night after job and sent the complete demo back to them so we could discuss it. When it came to actual recording I traveled back to St.Petersburg on a night train every weekend to record another part of vocals. The 14-hour job, sleepless nights and long night trips finally broke me down and one day I was even forced to call an ambulance. I was so glad that recording sessions had finished and I could get home!
Tony: I only realized that we were recording an EP in the middle of recording the guitars for What I Will Never Say, right in the middle of the process. It was like we were hanging out at our friends place and playing some stuff…but occasionally the realisation that we were laying down guitar parts for an album hit!
Eugene: Before going to the studio we had a lot of material to work with. It was not that simple to choose what 5 songs should go to the EP. We remade every demo for so many times that some of them started to sound absolutely different from the original idea. It was an endless process for me. I was shaking from the fact that something in the song does not sound as good as needed. It was a battle of time, money and quality. Our friend Roman Kharukov recorded and mixed all the stuff. He is a very talented guy, I think he has big future as a sound engineer.

What went well about it?
Ivan: The quality of sound and production – thanks to Roman. I’m very satisfied with almost every song that took its place in EP.
Tony: Mostly everything went just as planned. I do not agree with names of some of the songs but that does not matter. I’m proud of them.

If you could go back and change anything, would you?
Ivan: Of course if we had our knowledge about sound producing that we have now it would probably went better and faster. But without this experience we would not learn our lessons so I think everything went as it should.
Tony: Ivan’s face, it’s too sweet.
Eugene: When the work is hard and nervous, when you stake everything on the result – you start to understand – it is very important to have proper persons around you, the ones you can trust. The useless and unreliable are gone now, but probably we could do better if we understood who is who earlier.

I particularly loved Enslaved – could you tell me a little more about that?
Tony: Enslaved came out of the demo track I wrote 4 years ago. Only verse remained unchanged from that track.
Eugene: The idea for the song come from Anthony’s head. But he didn’t love it at all. Me and Ivan insisted on using it. And remade most of the parts.
Ivan: I loved the electronic part of the song when I’d listened the demo for the first time. It took a couple of times to write the proper lyrics that could describe and show my feelings about things that happen in Russia and other countries these days: corrupted politicians, police lawlessness, human rights violations, ecological and financial crimes that wound my homeland everyday but are still unpunished and concealed by the local media. I tried to express these thoughts in lyrics and I hope it turned out well.

Do you have any interesting stories from the studio?
Tony: Yeah. Once I came to the recording session where I was to lay guitars. I did not sleep that day and that very morning I had a terrible hangover, we were laying down Hostiles that day. And because of the fact that I composed a song and never played it again, I forgot some parts of is. So in a result we were sitting in the studio trying to pick a chord out of shitty homemade record of Hostiles and debating about one single note for an hour straight.
Ivan: When we were recording vocals for All The Right Wrongs and On The Run I understood that vocal parts I’d created were too high pitched for me in some places – naturally I’m a baritone, so I’m better in lower pitch than most of modern metal and post-hardcore vocalists. That time we were almost finishing our recording sessions so we had no additional time to change the arrangements. The decision was simple – we’ve pitched the compositions a semitone down – to Drop G#. And it worked great. Now we’re playing most of our songs in Drop G# and it sounds so low and powerful!

If you could collaborate with any artist or band, who would you choose?
Tony: Thrice, in 2008. I guess then, I loved them the most.
Eugene: Definitely with Jared Leto and Fred Durst. Don’t ask why.
Ivan: I want to collaborate with guys from Hacktivist – we like their music and style, and I hope we can suggest something that will be interesting for them. Also I’d like to work with Skrillex and NOISIA – I like their sound. And I want to make a duet with one of the modern screamers – Caleb Shomo or Austine Carlile.

If you could choose any band to cover a song of yours, what would it be?
Tony: Miley Cyrus.
Eugene: Nirvana!
Ivan: Imagine Dragons.

And finally my last question – if Planara could put their name to a product, what would you choose and why?
Tony: Toothpaste is good…. you see it on a constant basis and the name would fit on the pack. And the meaning might correlate cuz’ as Eugene told it’s up for the user to fill the blankness of the meaning. I can imagine some special editions of the toothpaste. Planara BLANC, Planara Cleansing Fire, etc!
Eugene: I have 2 options. Make of car or a sniper rifle. Can’t decide which fits better!
Ivan: Maybe a fashion brand or something like that…not sure.

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About Natalie Humphries 1839 Articles

Soundscape’s editor, who is particularly fond of doom, black metal and folk (but will give anything a chance). Likes to travel to see bands abroad when she can. Contact: nathumphries@soundscapemagazine.com or @acidnat on twitter.

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