"ODD CREW" - found pages of four grown boys

July, 2018

 

music

It all starts in the 1998 year. Four boys, at that time still children - Vasil Raykov (vocals), Vasil Parvanovski (guitar), Martin Stoyanov (bass and backing vocals) and Boyan "Bonsi" Georgiev (drums), formed their own group "Stuntmen". For the ten years that it has existed under this name, the band has released three solo albums with original tracks: "And It's Rock Again" - 2000, "On the Road" - 2005, "The River of Time" - 2006, from 2001 joins Podue Blues Band and Vasco Patch. Many concerts and tours with the great bluesman (and Bonsie's father) build and grind young musicians.

 

Gradually, the style and musical pursuits of the already grown boys changes and their more melodic rock sound gives way to heavier chords. Thus, in 2008, ten years after the creation of Stuntmen, the band changed its name and style. Odd Crew are born.

 

The same year, the musicians made a strong statement on the album "We Are What We Are" and gained many new fans with their alternative metalcore, groove and thrash metal sound. In the course of 2009, "Odd Crew" started their first European tour "11 Years of Brotherhood" and performed on stages in Hungary, Germany, Switzerland and England, as well as in all major cities in Bulgaria.

 

"X Bottle of Friends" appeared on 2010, an album produced and recorded by Odd Crew themselves in their own, new recording studio, Butcher House. As a bonus to the disc, the band also releases an acoustic live DVD with covers of their songs. Extremely productive, the musicians released their new album "Beyond the Shell" in 2012, and their subsequent tour in Bulgaria established them as one of the best and beloved bands on the underground scene.

 

With an unprecedented crowdfunding campaign in our country (product pre-sale and fundraising for its implementation on an online platform - shared financing, peer-to-peer, direct lender-to-borrower connection), in 2015, Odd Crew succeeded in record and produce their fourth full-length album, Mark These Words. In the same year, Mark These Words was promoted with a spectacular show in the overcrowded Hristo Botev Hall, and the band released a record of this concert on DVD.

 

After the success of their acoustic tour in 2016, which included covers of their already released tracks, at the end of March this year the new CD of "Odd Crew" - "The Lost Pages" appeared. Contemplative, mature and somehow more personal, the album is completely unplugged - without the broken vocals, screens and heavy guitars we're used to. But this "new" sound is actually a return to the roots, to soul, country, blues, grunge and even the gospel influences that built the band. I met "Odd Crew" after the tour-presentation of "The Lost Pages" in clubs all over the country. The success was phenomenal, the atmosphere of the lives - cozy, warm and intimate, like a long-awaited meeting with old, close friends. Fun, intelligent, full of energy and ideas, Odd Crew does not leave you indifferent. Their music and attitude are personal! Always!

For the courage to be honest, for the dream come true, for the underground scene, for the music and club culture in Bulgaria… Mainstream to step back - Odd Crew enters!

Let's start over ... You formed a group in 1998 when you were still a kid. How did it all start and what exactly pushed you to music?

Vassil Raykov: We, Vassil Parvanovsky, have known each other for three years, and already when we were on 10, because he played the guitar because of his father, at one point we decided to make a band. Moreover, we caught fire on bands like "Led Zeppelin", "Black Sabbath", "Kansas" and that got us into the whole scheme.

A strange, and perhaps funny, fact from Vasko Raykov's early biography is that he is not accepted into a music class while he is a student…

Vasil Raykov: No, not musical… I was not actually accepted into the people of the school. I think in third grade it was - they formed a vocal group from music lessons ... They didn't accept me because it mutated my voice. Yes, they said I didn't get up because their songs weren't like me.

You were originally a Stuntman, and in 2008 you were renamed Odd Crew, changing your style too ... What provoked you to such a change?

Vasil Raykov: They were a number of changes that provoked this thing. First, the fact that we were already grown up - in 18 years we were already. This coincided with the recording of the album "We Are What We Are", with the working title "Keep silence" - "Stuntmen". We realized, in fact, that music is the way to go for us in the future, and that we want to engage with it all our lives. Accordingly, we realized that this could not be called "Stuntmen", because it was a youth or even a children's band, because "Bonsi" was then only on 8 ... Then we decided that we wanted to write our texts, texts not only in Bulgaria but also in Europe and the world. The upcoming release of our new album also coincided with our 10 anniversary as a group, and we thought to ourselves that this would not be the right time ... This was actually the reason to rename the band "Odd Crew" and so " Stuntmen - Keep silence was released under the name We Are What We Are.

©Marin Banks

©AnitraM

©Ventsy Dyankova

And speaking of a change in style, we can't help but mention your new album "The Lost Pages" ... It, while completely different from the "Odd Crew" sound, also leaves you feeling a little more personal. This hardly comes as a surprise to the true "Zombie Odd Crew", since acoustic performances and covers have been a staple for you for many years. Did you take the risk with this album or did it appear completely logical, reflecting your change and growing up as a person and musician?

Vasil Parvanovski: In my opinion, it appeared in a very natural way. One that it was done in the most natural way possible, recorded ... We always made albums the way we felt, without any delays, ie. our albums are a reflection of something we experienced and needed, we wanted to create. It was another album that, frankly, we didn't even care that it was so different ... It's not the first one so different ... It was great to work together on this album and the result would be just that.

 

Vassil Raykov: The truth is that we have never maintained a style and things come up depending on how we feel and where we are drawn musically at the moment. "The Lost Pages" is something that has been sitting in our heads for years, and we even joked that if we didn't do it together, one of us would have to release it as a solo album. There were no songs yet, of course, but the idea for an acoustic album is old. And, as Vasco said, it was an experiment not only musically but also technically. It was also the first album we recorded together, literally together - without having to record drums separately, then guitars, then vocals. This was literally about pushing the Record button, as the bands once did.

Now, a few months after The Lost Pages were released, were these new pages lost or found?

Vassil Parvanovski: They were found because they were already issued.

 

Vassil Raykov: This is such a story for us ... the unspoken story for our personalities. These are the lost pages found!

©AnitraM

After your acoustic tour of 2016, in which we heard light versions of your MTV Unplugged songs, is the option the reverse process now - "hardening" songs from "The Lost Pages"?

Vasil Raykov: We are also very joking about this fact here. We are constantly being asked, and the most brilliant move for us would be to do this thing. We said at the outset that there would be no solid variants of these pieces, but as you can see, nothing is known yet… We have not decided - we have not done it!

©AnitraM

©AnitraM

For heavier and alternative music in Bulgaria it has always been difficult to find a place. Why does it remain somehow in the background, in the periphery, and happens mainly at the club level?

Vasil Parvanovski: We have a weak musical culture! And a culture that, to my mind, is not built ... We've never had quality performers, good performers to build that culture. We also have a weak festival culture, which is typical of the Balkans, but let me mention that Romanians are already ahead of us in this regard. But this is the main point, we just don't have enough musicians who have taken care to leave a good product that is really worth it. In which to feel that love, emotion, time, health, money and everything else is embedded.

 

Vasil Raykov: Creating such a musical culture also requires a certain infrastructure in which to develop it. clubs that are technically competent and technically competent… Because, understand that when you are trying to play music that is initially noisy and incapable of playing in a less-than-square space, with equipment that barely manages to has taken an acoustic concert, it's hard to give people the pleasure they need to feel from this music. This even gets to the point where there is just a noise, and despite the fact that, for example, the band tries to play the songs, it cannot technically reach the audience, which becomes a problem.

In fact, many musicians, including from the underground scene, are quite reserved about the club scene outside Sofia… Your tour with The Lost Pages included cities in Bulgaria, which I think you are playing for the first time. Are there really good music venues outside the capital? Both in sound and in capacity and level…?

Vasil Parvanovski: Melon (music club in Veliko Turnovo - BA), in this respect, is a pretty good example of such a club… It may be small, but….

 

Vasil Raykov: Yes! Outside the capital there are clubs, good clubs, but not many… And they are in the big cities - Sofia, Varna, Veliko Turnovo, Burgas, Plovdiv… As for the rest of the places, how can I say… the lighting itself, the stage is not " formatted "appropriately. That is why it was difficult for us to present the acoustic album in smaller scenes, purely technical, because of the specific sound…

 

Vassil Parvanovski: The cool thing is that there are a lot of people who want to play, regardless of the conditions… And so everything we talk about actually may not make sense at one point… If there are people who want , in fact, to listen to this music.

 

Vasil Raykov: As they say: Is there a desire, there is a way!

You have five completed albums for the 10 years that Odd Crew has been making. Mark These Words was presented with a spectacular show in the Hristo Botev Hall, while The Lost Pages was presented in the coziness of the club atmosphere, amid dim lights and candles. What is more exciting for a musician - to control the energy and charge of a multi-thousand audience or the lack of barriers and total intimacy and merging with the crowd?

Vassil Raykov: The idea behind the presentation of "The Lost Pages" was to be in small clubs in order to preserve the intimacy of the album as much as possible. As for which is cooler, whether you're playing to more audiences or less, it doesn't really matter.

 

Vassil Parvanovski: It is absolutely the same.

 

Vasil Raykov: Always the excitement and thrill of people who come to a concert to enjoy your performance is much greater than whether you play in front of 50 person or in front of 500… Of course, the feelings are different… I personally, from my own experience, I would say that I had cooler emotions at smaller concerts than at bigger ones.

 

Vassil Parvanovski: Which, probably because you are closer to the people, has a warmer connection between the band and the audience.

 

Vasil Raykov: Yes! And you can see everyone's reaction. How can I tell? Talking to him during the concert is something really romantic in this format. But that doesn't mean we don't like to play big concerts.

©AnitraM

©AnitraM

©AnitraM

The nice thing about you is that the border of "celebrities" - "fans" does not exist. You are extremely friendly - no starrying, no unnecessary pretensions and distance… Probably this is what your big Odd Crew Zombies group is following, which follow you everywhere… How do you manage to get so firmly on earth and not be accepted too seriously, not to get dizzy?

Vasil Raykov: Yes! If there are people who call themselves "rock stars" does that mean they are full asses ?!

 

Vasil Parvanovski:… or “legends”… In Bulgaria, without offending anyone, it sounds dangerous to me.

 

Vassil Raykov: The right word is dangerous! Yes!

You are undoubtedly an inspiration and idol for many, but what are your "heroes" in music?

Vasil Parvanovski: Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. I think these are the foundations on which we have built ourselves, and of course, all the derivative gangs that claim to be also influenced by Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin

In May, you joined the final part of a tour of Swiss thrash metal, hardcore, punk band Hellvetica, including Bulgaria, Romania and Greece. You also have a number of solo tours in Europe. What is your attitude there? Is there any underestimation or negativity as to a group coming from the gloomy and suspicious Balkans?

Vasil Raykov: No! Absolutely no one cares where you come from and that's how to say cool! People have come to listen to you and they do not care at all whether you come from Bulgaria or from anywhere in the world…

 

Vasil Parvanovski: There are no barriers for the music fan. This is the coolest thing about music, it's a universal language. In this case, there really are no barriers if you are a fan.

 

Vassil Raykov: Still, rock music is extremely inspired by the division of the world, and it is in fact fighting against it. And we all know that since the 60 years music has been the primary goal of uniting rather than splitting, ie. everyone playing together.

With a crowdfunding campaign (product pre-sale and fundraising for its online platform - BA), in 2014 you were able to launch your fourth Mark These Words album in Sweden with Daniel Bergstrand himself, produced such stars as "Dimmu Borgir", "In Flames", "Meshuggah" and "Behemoth". What was it like to work with a foreign label with a professional like that?

Vassil Raykov: This is actually the album that made us go through a hell of a lot until we got to the realization. This is our campaign in the world-famous Indiegogo platform - a crazy endeavor across our latitudes. All the while, we were communicating with several producers in parallel, and eventually settled on Jason Suecof (producing Chimaira, Trivium, Whitechapel, Six Feet Under). We were supposed to leave for the States, but one of us was denied a visa at the last minute and we decided to choose plan B and work with Daniel Bergstrand. However, we retained Jason Suecof as our mix engineer, and our team was joined by Alan Douches (who worked with bands like Drowning Pool and Motorhead) who did the mastering. In fact, this whole thing has brought us, among other things, an attempt to understand how things at a higher level are happening in the music industry. Of course, working with them was an example of a tremendous challenge for all of us, no matter how banal it may sound. They are exceptional professionals, terribly demanding and in their quest to achieve the perfect end result, they also put us in a position to give the maximum we are capable of. I can really say for myself that Daniel managed to squeeze me to the limit of my strength - both emotionally and physically. But what we did realize was something that was only there and thus possible to achieve.

 

Vassil Parvanovski: We have a dream come true!

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On 1 August you will celebrate your 20 anniversary. Have you had a difficult time or hesitation in what you do? Wanted to give up music?

Vassil Raykov: We have had two hundred moments so far, but we never thought of giving up. There is also a fairy tale that says that when one goes to give up music, it is too late…

In your first interview, when you are still a kid, you say that you want to become a famous group and you hope that you like the audience ... That, you clearly achieved it. What do you dream about now?

Vassil Raykov: At least, what I dream about most is that we can fruitfully turn music into our only profession. Because we do all sorts of things around the group. But really, our goal is to make it a single activity, to have more time to write music, record, record and grow in that regard. This is our biggest dream. And, of course, every new album will be better than the previous one.

Are you planning any surprises for your fans on your anniversary on August 1?

Vassil Parvanovski: Let's say that we will play songs from every period of the band, from each album, and what else will happen, we will see in time… It will be a cool show and we intend to record it as well…

 

Vasil Raykov: The only thing that is certain is that it will not be on 1 on August, that is. we planned to do it right on the 20 anniversary, but organizationally it is quite difficult to happen at this point, so we will celebrate it at the end of September. But one of the details, and one that is going to be a huge surprise for ourselves, is to go back beyond the threshold of our tenth anniversary and play pieces that we haven't played in literally 10 years.

Something for the finale?

Vassil Raykov: Be more smiling, listen to more music and most of all, don't be idiots, because we saw that our dear country is filled with all kinds of people! Let us be a more ethical society! Let's get rid of this modern mainstream idiocy!

 

You can hear "Odd Crew" on 21 July, as part of "Hills Of Rock" in Plovdiv, along with Iron Maiden, Crematory, Sabaton, Judas Priest.

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