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Negru (NEGURA BUNGET): we have a complete line-up

Negru (NEGURA BUNGET): we have a complete line-up
BANDS : Din Brad, Negura Bunget

Negura Bunget recently went through a line-up change – radical changes, one might say, but not with dramatic consequences, in the end. We’ve recently had a chat with Negru (Gabriel Mafa by his real name) and we found out what exactly happened (in his view) that led to this impressive “reshuffle”; and also what is the new line-up, what will happen to the trilogy that includes the TAU material and the band’s future plans.

Metalfan: Hi, Negru, welcome to!
Negru: Hi! And good to hear from you again! It’s always a pleasure to answer your questions.

Metalfan: Negura Bunget has recently gone through a line-up change: Chakravartin (vocals), Fulmineos (guitar),  Urzit (guitar), Gadinet (bass) si Inia Dinia (keyboards) have left the band. What happened? Basically you’re the only one left from the old line-up…
Negru: I couldn’t exactly say what happened... it was exclusively their decision to leave the band and we had no prior discussion about it. Things went disappointingly wrong from my point of view, because the departure showed how little the ex-members got from the spirit of the band and how little they took advantage of the opportunity they had, putting petty interests and vanities before great artistic achivements and – in the end – making a modest contribution in the evolution of Negura Bunget.

It’s not the fact that they left, but the way they did it, with an obviously destructive purpose, was a rude gesture that makes any previous relationship we had a thing of the past. I’d say it was a threshold we had to step over, and the fact that I did it alongside fewer people doesn’t make it less significant; on the contrary [it makes it more significant – ed. note]. Nevertheless it was a painful change, because it came in the wrong moment and changed our plans so much, both in respect to recording the album and the live part. But finally it was a welcome change and I already got over it. Although when you have an outside view it may seem dramatic, it was actually unleashing and recharging. I choose to see any challenge as an opportunity, so I thoroughly embraced the change and mid to long term this thing will definitely give a push to the band’s activity. What the night swallows, they day won’t hide.

Metalfan: What will happen to the TAU record?
Negru: The whole audio-video trilogy concept to which TAU belongs was entirely developed by me, and so was the whole ideology of the band since the very beginning. Starting from this concept, on the musical side we were working on several songs with the previous line-up, mainly Fulmineos and I. Some of the stuff was partially recorded, but far from its final shape. We won’t use any of these recordings in the future – definitely. But we will for sure use the concept itself, both musically (with a new line-up and new approach) and visually. By now things have evolved very much in this respect and soon we’ll be able to come up with more details.

Metalfan: How many people were interested in joining the band lately? Were the applicants exclusively from Romania or you had requests from other countries as well?
Negru: We received many applications, both from Romania and abroad (Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece...), and we got many many support messages well. It was surprising for us to see so many people fully willing to join us, and we can only be grateful to everyone for the interest and the availability they’ve shown. I take this opportunity to thank all the people who have been and still are supporting us!

Metalfan: Have you taken any decision on the line-up? If yes, how does it look like now?
Negru: At this point we already have a full line-up and in this formula we started working on new materials and prepare live gigs. At the very core there are some musicians who will be involved in all the projects of the band. To this we’ll add another layer of musicians who will join us just for special events and studio projects. This more flexible approach will allow us to increase the use of authentic traditional instruments adding new elements and to explore new musical territories, both live and in studio. The line-up looks like this:

Gabriel Mafa / Negru - drums / percussions / cimbalom / xylophone
Tibor Kati - vocals / guitar / keyboards / programming
Adrian Neagoe / Oq - guitar / vocals / keyboards
Petrică Ionuţescu - pipe / panpipe / traditional instruments
Ovidiu Corodan - bass
Vartan Garabedian - percussions / vocals
Mihai Neagoe / Mtz- sound design
Daniel Dorobanţu – visual design

Metalfan: I cannot skip the opportunity to find out more about what happens with Din Brad project? What’s the current line-up? How was the Dor album received?
Negru: There are things going on for Din Brad as well. We are currently working on completing the line-up and I’m sure we’ll soon find the best formula to continue our work and to perform in the already scheduled concerts. Dor was very well received. It wasn’t a spectacular record, that wasn’t the idea, but many people got it and were touched by what we tried to do. The album had great reviews in Portugal, for instance. It’s probably about our compatibility with the local spirit. We had great reviews and many interviews in the Portuguese media... even offers for concerts and exclusive Din Brad tours. From my point of view the debut album entirely fulfilled its purpose. The hard part is yet to come, as the second album will be quite different from all points of view.

Metalfan: So you definitely intend to release a new record with this project... Maybe a DVD?
Negru: Definitely. We are already working for some time on a Din Brad album. For now things are in an incipient state – just concepts and musical exploration. But I think before the end of the year we’ll have something ready. We have plans for a visual dimension of Din Brad atmosphere. More details will be revealed at the right time. The important thing for us is that the project develops and makes its own path.

Metalfan: Back to Negura Bunget. In a press release issued some time ago you were talking about changing the musical and visual atmosphere of your concerts. Can you give us more details? What should your fans expect?
Negru: It is a normal process that any change within the band would influence any aspect of our activity, including the look&feel ones. As the latest change was ample, I thought it’s a good opportunity to change some other elements, like the ones regarding live performances, for instance. We are talking here technical elements, visual elements and musical elements. For the technical part the changes come from using dedicated equipment enabling us to better re-create the album atmosphere in live concerts. And also a better coordination with the visuals, which in time will benefit from a fundamental development. The visual part concerns the stage setting and some artistic elements which we’ll enrich. The musical changes have to do with new instruments being added for live shows, but also a new balance between atmospheric and aggressive parts. The latter thing is an element which we’ll explore on our next albums as well. As you can see, it’s a very complex transformation which starts now but will also evolve later on.

Metalfan: In the same press release you said that the band will launch a new 7” EP: Gind-a-prins. [approx. translation Caught-a-thought – ed. note]. Can you tell us something about the title?

Negru: I should start by saying that the EP is an introduction to the visual and musical trilogy that we’re working on. The first step of the action - be it positive or negative - is the thought. Then there’s the spoken word and finally the deed. The title is obviously referring to the first step, establishing a bridge with the real world, beginning a not so easy journey, but a journey that deserved to be started. It also has to do with the intensity and the strength required to push things towards the path you chose.

Metalfan: The two songs: Taul fara fund and Curgerea muntelui are complete, is this their final shape? When were they composed and recorded? With what line-up?
Negru: The two songs are not final yet. Taking into account that we work in our own studio, composing and recording the parts is a complex process... and we have the opportunity to experiment a lot before finalizing, a thing that we try and take advantage of as much as we can. Both of the songs are composed and recorded exclusively with the new line-up.

Metalfan: To support this record, Negura Bunget will go on a European tour this spring. Do you have any details? What are the dates and the countries you’ll play in?
Negru: The route is not final yet, but we’ll have several gigs in Italy, the neighbouring countries, plus big festival in Germany. There will be around 15 concerts. So far the plan is:
03/05/2013 - Milan (IT)
04/05/2013 - Florenta (IT)
05/05/2013 - Roma (IT)
07/05/2013 - Pescara (IT)
08/05/2013 - Bologna (IT)
09/05/2013 - Parma (IT)
10/05/2013 - Ljublijana (SL)
11/05/2013 - Maribor (SL)
12/05/2013 - Graz (AT)
16/05/2013 - Budapesta (HU)
17/05/2013 - Banská Bystrica (SK)
18/05/2013 - Bielsko-Biala (PL)
19/05/2013 - Leipzig (DE)
20/05/2013 - Leipzig (DE)

Metalfan: What Romanian bands got your attention in the past year? Would you pick one to go on tour with you?
Negru: There were lots of bands who released good albums in 2012. Quite few in the black metal genre, unfortunately. I closely followed the recent evolution of Thy Veils, because we had worked with them on several projects. It would definitely be a pleasure to play along them in a tour, although I think this won’t happen. The Egocentrics is another band which I kept an eye on since their very beginnings. We’d go on tour with them anytime.

Metalfan: How do you see the state of the underground metal scene in Romania right now? What has changed in the last 10 years? How would you like to see it in another 10?
Negru: I think the Romanian scene has evolved a lot, especially when it comes to bands. Unfortunately the rest of the infrastructure didn’t keep up, so there are still way too few record labels, magazines, festivals which promote bands and provide them with opportunities for real development. A band that doesn’t regularly launch albums grows on a much slower rate. For an act to significantly evolve you need an action plan spanning across many years. This plan should include, among other things, constant studio activity, constant live concerts, building a visual identity, audio/video/media promotion, social media presence as well... Of course all these aspects are external to music and are just there to complete the music. But although the music is the key element, it develops at a slower pace without the other stuff. A manager and a promoter are normal collaborators for many underground bands, but sadly for us we have very few of them, precisely because they would have nobody to collaborate with and why to collaborate for. Finally, for things to go well there should be a symbiotic relationship in aforementioned aspects – each with its own importance and role. In 10 years things will evolve a lot. There would be by then bands that would have reached an international status, but probably not very many. I would very much like that at least some of the bands to try and succeed promoting an identity based on local original elements and not just by complying to the latest trends.

Metalfan: If you could release a Negura Bunget concept album based on a Romanian book, what book would it be? Why?

Negru: The closest writer to the Negura Bunget concepts would definitely be Lucian Blaga [ note]. Elements from his Cultural Trilogy were already exploited on our albums and we’ll keep on referring to them in the future. I was always into the Romanian classics, so I have an affinity for Sadoveanu, Rebreanu, Slavici [influential Romanian novelists of the 20th century – ed. note]... affinity which I already explored at various levels with Negura Bunget and which I will continue to explore in a different context.

Metalfan: Thanks, Negru, for your time and your answers! In the end you’d like to add something or send a message for the readers?
Negru: Thanks for the opportunity and for your support. All the best!
Autor: H.
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Negura Bunget,

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