You know the drill…I review stuff and if I like something very much (which, is basically everything I, or my good brother-in-arms J.R., review, because our resolution is not to write negative reviews, so we don’t review stuff we don’t like), I try to do an interview with the artist.
True, it doesn’t work everytime…sometimes I am simply overwhelmed with the stuff and I simply forget (I’m only human), and sometimes artists simply refuse being interviewed (no hard feelings, it’s like that).
So that’s how we roll, ladies and gentlemen. I do really like when I encounter material which simply clicks with me and if you’ve read my review of Shadow Warrior’s “Return Of The Shadow Warrior” EP, there is indeed no surprise I hadn’t hesitated and asked the group for an interview…
Well, hello from the Rubber Axe webzine and not to waste time, let’s deal with the first question…how did you all meet? From what I can find I see you all were active in various bands before, so you are certainly no newcomers to the scene, musically speaking…so, how was Shadow Warrior formed and who is responsible for the Japanese theme of the lyrics and design?
Marcin: Hi! How do I love this question, haha! Ok, so we have to go back to 2017 when I left the band named Black Velvet Band – it was a folk doom metal band, where I played the guitar and Zdzisław was the drummer. I was doing absolutely nothing for more than a year, but then Zdzisław called me and said that he also left BvB and he was looking for a new band. He was pretty good at calling me almost every day and saying that we should start a new band together, haha! Finally, I said „yes” and after that, the next week, we were in the rehearsal room together with Peter the Ripper, who also was looking for some activities beyond BvB, and wanted to play some new stuff. Anyway, we knew that we didn’t want to play with some random persons, so we started to think who would be most suitable for us and with whom we wanted to play the most. I recommended Karol, who has been my friend through many, many years, to be the bassist – together we started our first metal band, 18 years ago! Anna was a vocalist with whom I really wanted to work someday, but previously there weren’t any good opportunities to do that. I remember that when I heard her for the first time in a band named Highlow I felt – I knew! – that someday we would work together. And here we are! So that is basically the story of forming the band. Regarding the second part of your question, Japanese theme of the lyrics is completely my fault. Right after the first song we ever composed, we needed to add some serious lyrics into that, so I realized that I had always wanted to write some stories about Samurais, as I felt that this was really heavy metal theme and it would be good to follow this up. And here we go! „Return of the Shadow Warrior”, the story about return of samurai-swordmaster legend was ready. After that, I began writing lyrics about other inspirations which I had always wanted to write, Zero Pilots, the Ako Revenge, Hiroshima, The Pacific War, etc. It was quite obvious that if we had lyrics basing in Japanese culture and stories, designs and band look should go together with that. So we created our Shadow Samurai and used the rising sun as the main theme.
You had your first rehearsal on January 6 th , 2019, just a little over a year ago…how easy/hard was to come to a decision to play classic heavy metal (with a female on vocals), considering you coming from the bands which were into much heavier stuff?
Karol: Well, we all grew up listening to classical heavy metal stuff – Maiden, Priest, Motorhead, Sabbath etc. From my perspective, those bands have always been present in our lives, no matter what we were playing. When I was asked by Marcin to join Shadow Warrior I thought to myself – Damn, this gonna be cool! And it is, haha! There were no calculations. Decision was made to play music which we all love and don’t give a damn about what is popular now. We are huge fans of heavy metal and probably this is the reason why our music sounds this way.
Marcin: – Yes, I totally agree with Karol. In fact, throughout many years we were playing different music styles, but when we had opportunity to have a new start, there was no doubt that we wanted to play heavy metal, as it has always been so close to us.
That immediately brings up another question – who’s responsible for the music and lyrics? Is that a group effort or is there a main songwriter and lyricist?
Karol: Lyrics are Marcin’s domain, I would say. He is the main lyricist in the band for the EP and for upcoming LP. The music is more like group effort. Marcin and I like to prepare a sketch for the whole song and introduce it to the band. On the other hand –we often try to do something during the rehearsal. Someone is playing some riff or melody and if it’s good we play it and add some other parts.
Marcin: – Basically, there have always been three composers – Karol, the guitarists: Łukasz and his predecessor Peter, and me. Łukasz is still a newcomer in the band, but he wasn’t afraid to bring his songs to the rehearsals. As the result, we have very strong tracks for the new album where Łukasz is the main composer. A lot of ideas come from Karol, he has a talent for melodic, classic riffs.
In the beginning of June 2019 you released your first material in the form of 7” single, under the title “Wind of Gods” and that was almost immediately followed by your EP “Return of the Shadow Warrior”…what was the response to it? Considering the various editions, it has to be huge!!!!
Karol: When we were about to release it I knew it was good, but the response from heavy metal maniacs blew me away! 1st press was sold out like 2 weeks after release. EP was re-released and is still selling well. The last vinyl version was also sold out. We were an unknown band from Lublin, Poland so I think it was a big thing for us. Also our live shows were fun. The response was very good and we can’t wait for the upcoming shows.
Marcin: Without a doubt it was something we didn’t expect, we couldn’t even imagine it before! To be honest, I thought that after the release of the EP, we would sell around 30 copies and then we would be wandering with the rest of the CDs around the live shows through the years. But the response was insane and we couldn’t believe it when the full first issue of EP and the single was sold out, especially that the purchases came from all over the world! Not only various countries, but from a various continents also! In the meantime we began receiving various inquires from all over the world about cooperation and reissuing our stuff, which was pretty unreal for us. Seriously, I had never thought that I would be forced to reject a label offers, but I had to, because there were way more offers than there should be, haha!
Talking about the various editions, I’ve got the info about the band from Nicholas from Heathen Tribes, but you are also represented by Spiritual Beast from Japan and Burning Leather from Mexico…how would you describe the co-operation with these labels and the support they give the band so far? Especially, as you deal with Japanese history, what response did you get from the Land of the Rising Sun?
Marcin: I will tell you a story. When we were releasing the first, self-made issue of EP, Ryo Asai from S.A. Music shop from Osaka contacted us. He asked about 30 pieces of EP. We made special, additional issue with OBI and sent it to him. After a few days, I contacted Ryo and asked if he could send me a photo of our CDs in his shop – just to put it on social media and show to people that we entered the music shops in Japan. But Ryo said: „I can’t do it mate, cause all of cd’s sold out within 4 hours”. I was shocked. Apart from that, there was a lot of individual purchases from Japan and after signing with Spiritual Beast, we received the information that this reissue was also selling very well in the shops of Japan. So yes, we’veve definitely hit the target.
Regarding the first part of the question, Nicho, Yuhmi and David from the labels with whom we cooperate helped us a lot and we’re really thankful for their amazing work. Thanks to them, our band is visible in various parts of the world, which is really amazing! Also I need to mention that many good things were done for us by the guy named Anderson Thiago, who has the NWOTHM Full Albums YouTube channel. Thanks to him, many people heard about us and our music, reached our social media, and became Shadow Warrior fans. I guess that without his channel, our way could have been more ‚rocky’. We also received big help from Filip, the owner of a small label named vinylove.me who helped us release our stuff on vinyl – the first single and 10’’ EP. So, it’s very nice to have all these great people close and to know that we can count on them in every situation!
Records and studio work are OK, but we all agree the heavy metal is best experienced live. I can see you did play some great local gigs in Poland, along with bands like Destroyers or Axe Crazy…how do you recall playing with Blaze Bailey in your home town of Lublin? Any interesting gigs in 2020 you might want to mention to our readers? How about playing abroad, outside Poland…any offers?
Karol: – Playing with Blaze was a test for us in my opinion. The venue was packed and everyone was about to verify who we are and what this band is all about. I think we did a good job and this gig was very good. Good vibe on stage, good vibe from the crowd – do you need anything else? Also Blaze and his gang were super cool dudes. For me it was a flawless gig!
Marcin: – Regarding the upcoming gigs, we have some shows scheduled this spring – we will tour with sensational Australian band Sabire – 2 gigs in Poland and one in Czech Republic. It will be our first trip abroad, we will play at „Heavy Metal Thunder” festival in Pisek, with such a good company, along with Stallion and one of my favorite bands of the last year, Atlantean Kodex!
Anyway, we are still talking with the promoters in various cities and countries, so definitely there's a high opportunity to reach some interesting destinations in the future. We still have to remember that currently we are a band with just a 5-track EP on our account, so it’s not pretty easy to force our way to the promoters, but we hope the situation will change soon.
As for new material, do you have anything ready for the fans? When can we expect some new CD?
Karol: This question has been coming back since our EP was released haha! The new material is almost finished. Some of the new song were introduced at our live shows. We are slowly moving to the pre-production phase and some other boring recording stuff, haha! Probably the new LP will be out Summer or Autumn 2020.
Marcin: To be more precise, we will enter the studio in March. We’re not in a hurry, but definitely we don’t want to wait too much, as we know that many people are expecting from us a full-length after a well-received EP. Also we know that we have to move forward and we can’t base only on a 5-track EP. Except that, we have a lot ideas for the songs, and you know, there is always that feeling that you want to record your new stuff as soon as possible when you feel it’s pretty good and can’t let it lay for too long. So yes, the new album will come very soon and you should keep track of our social media as there will be some news regarding that in the nearest future!
For those interested not only to listen to Shadow Warrior, but also to show the allegiance…any merchandise to offer – like t-shirts and the like? Where can they be bought?
Marcin: – From the very beginning, our basic platform with goodies has been bandcamp – just go to shadowwarrior.bandcamp.com and choose something you like the most. We have various versions of our EP, some t-shirts and patches. We definitely need to think about black t-shirts, as there are many people still asking about that color haha!
Coming to the end of this short interview…any final message to our readers????
Karol: – Thank You for Your support and see You on the road. Can’t wait to share some new songs with You. If You liked “Return of the Shadow Warrior” EP – the new stuff will blow Your minds!