In March, Russian thrash metallers Pokerface released their new album Game On. DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen recently interviewed them, read it below!
Hey, how are you?
LadyOwl (vocal): Hey, everyone! We are good, preparing for a new tour with Nervosa!
What made you decide Pokerface was the right name for your band?
Doctor (drums): Well. I’m not sure if this name is very original, but I’m pretty sure that it’s better than thousands unrememberable names of metal bands. You know, you are reading metal webzines and thinking like “what the f*cking medical encyclopedia is that?”. I’ll tell you the truth – first our tracks were covers on Slayer, Venom and Motorhead. We are playing Ace Of Spades every show, you know. And “Pokerface” as a name is Motorhead’s Ace Of Spades spin-off. All of us were influenced by Lemmy. He is a Legend.
You play thrash metal. What is it that makes Pokerface unique within the style of thrash metal?
Ritter (guitar): Pokerface is “all-kinds-of-thrash-metal”, depends on album. The band collects best of the best from thrash (and some other genres) and makes its own sound. The main feature is extreme female vocals, which add some craziness to the band’s sound. It’s growl, scream sometimes, and in some songs even clean. Also the band’s visit card is bright killer riffs, fast machine-gun drums and the absence of unnecessary complexity in songs. Pure, simple, juicy thrash metal.
In March, you released your latest album, called Game On, how are the responses so far?
mrGeneSimmons (bass): Responses were pretty good, both from critics and fans. And I’m glad that critics, who reviewed our previous album Divide and Rule, give the new album higher marks in general. So, I can say, that this is a step in the right direction.
When you compare Game On with your earlier releases, Divide And Rule (2015) and Terror Is The Law (2014), what do you notice?
Doctor: Unbelievable, you’re asking me, who was the biggest critic of a new release! Ok, challenge accepted! Game On has more commercial sound, riffs are more melodic, there are more grooves in rhytm section and various vocals. It sounds different. I really recommend Game On for wide community. But what about me – I love so much Terror… and Divide…. Harder and stronger.
What is the story behind Game On and the lyrics?
LadyOwl: Game On is not an ordinary album consisted of separated songs, but has its own deep sense and concept. All songs have kind of certain line and different games of chance, casino theme, inner monsters and fears of people who seek for simple ways to solve difficult self-problems inspired their conception. Everyone knows that the most simple way as usual is not the right one, but being under the social pressure force the hero of this album to make aggressive and cruel decisions. His own behavior puts him into a trap of greed, fear and betrayal. His inner problems appear in images of monsters like Bone Reaper and Fatal Scythe, which hunt him and lead to the deeper layer of his own subconscious. The games that demons make him to play are in general the ways to solve these personal problems. The hero tries this different ways each of which leads to loss of all he earned during his entire life. The labyrinth with no beginning, no end no exit. But the diamonds are formed only under the great pressure and temperature, and the hero of this album is not the exception. In the end of his struggle, he understands, that the main treasure he owns is himself as a person, and until he remembers who he is, he is winner in all dreadful demons’ games and the one who won his own life and right to live as a strong-willed person.
The artwork of Game On is done by Jobert Mello. How did you met him and what made him the right person for this job?
mrGeneSimmons: He contacted me by e-mail when we were searching for a designer. I checked his works and decided to try to work with him. After several attempts we got the artwork that was cool enough to go to production.
You formed in 2013, but already played with some great bands. What is the most memorable moment you have while touring?
Doctor: My favourite moment – Sodom support in 2014. It was a first gig with slam, stage diving and circle pits. The first time when we’ve caught proud and faith in our music. I’m always recalling moments in backstage with Sodom’s guys, lighting talks with Mille Petrozza from Kreator, unforgetable minutes.
LadyOwl: Ugh, hard to say now really, all big-name tours and shows were without me, I joined the band in 2016 only hahah, but if we are talking about touring generally, I would notice last tour that we had at all. It was pretty hard, but awesome at the same time, we were travelling with 4 nice bands and felt like a family 🙂 a lot of fun.
Ritter: I don’t have such a big touring experience as my colleagues, but I can remember our party-van was climbing over the Slovakia mountains. Apparently, we entered the country through some sort of back entrance. It was April, but suddenly we saw the snow over there. It was a really nice trip – forests, mountains, small rivers, old castles and serpentine. Although we had to stop a couple of times because of the engine overheating, our colleague in another van (with our support band) even needed to repair a car that day.
Speaking about touring, can we expect some new Pokerface shows soon? How about The Netherlands for example?
mrGeneSimmons: Yes, we are thinking about the new EU tour and the Netherlands will be there for sure 🙂 Also if things become bigger, we can manage the USA tour. Follow our FB page for the latest news!
You are from Moscow, Russia, how is the Russian metalscene?
Ritter: We have some metal bands with big names. Almost all of them are trying to make business outside – mostly in EU and USA, because Russian fans are not used to see good and professional bands from Russia and they are sure that any Russian band is a piece of sh*t in advance. It’s not their fault – our scene was formed after Slayer and Metallica have come here. So now there are also many perfect local bands with no chance to be famous due to different reasons and tons of metal fans that will never come to a local band show.
Also, in Russia it’s all about vicious circle. Lack of music culture: nobody think that music can be a serious business, except pop-music, of course. No professionalism, only fun and beer, no hardworking, and, as a result, lots of low-grade music bands that turn away people from going to gigs and supporting underground metal. No support, no money. The circle is closed.
Any bands you would recommend from Russia?
Ritter: Grond, Arkona, Katalepsy, Autumn Aurora – strongly recommend!
Any future plans for Pokerface you can already tell us about?
mrGeneSimmons: As I said, we will start planning the next EU tour shortly. And will meanwhile announce a new band line-up.
Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?
Doctor: If to rephrase George Carlin’s speech – I don’t care about metal without fans, but without metal we’ll be f*cked. Listen to true music and stay metal!
I’m Tim van Velthuysen and I started DutchMetalManiac back in 2014. I’m 27 years old and I live in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Of course, I like metal, but I can also appreciate other musical styles. However, metal is what I mostly listen to. I also like going to concerts, meeting with friends and watching movies (especially arthouse).