Good bands don’t always come from where you’d think they would. ALLEY SIN is the living proof of that. Vicious Bastard (guitar) and Nikki Riot (vocals/guitar) tell us about the band and their country, Bulgaria…
So, when did you start the band? Was it easy to find a line-up?
Vicious Bastard: I met Nikki through Myspace, haha. I’ve been looking for people to start a new band for a while and when I read that the band he played in were looking for a drummer, I called them. So that’s how we got in a band together and not long after that, we wrote music together, but we had some differences with the third person in the band, which made the work hard and so, in August last year we parted from the bass played, I took up the second guitar and we got the name Alley Sin.
A friend of ours – Bob, took up temporarily the bass, and behind the drums sat people from other bands for several gigs. We also made a series of electroacoustic shows, just me and Nikki. After that, Bobby replaced Bob for a couple of shows. Now we have a permanent line-up. Stefan is the bass player, and Alexy is behind the drums, and we feel sure.
Nikki: We met purely by chance. I was looking for a drummer for my band, when from three people we turn out to be two, I had to take up the role of the vocalist, beside that of a guitar player. I had put up an advertisment in the rehearsal studio, where V.B. went with his other band, and there was also an advertisment in our Myspace. V.B. wrote to me and we met to do a rehearsal together.
From the first song I knew that this was the person I’ve been looking for…
Tell us a bit about your 3 song EP “Rock’n’Roll Sluts”.
V.B.: That were the first three songs we wrote together with Nikki. We recorded them the very first month after we started Alley Sin. We wanted to show, that we’re a new band, something different than the previous band we were in together and the new recording was a good decision.
The cover art is done by LongEvil from Go Citizen! The EP had to be out even as early as September, but we delayed it because of the promises of some people to publish and promote the CD. And so on till February, when we decided to get the things in our own hands and we released it ourselves.
Nikki: That were the first songs we wrote together with V.B. We had to record something, so that we know where we’re on and find the needed line-up. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Sluts” matches the titles of our songs – “Sweet Candy”, “Bastards in My Way”and “Crazy Baby”.
All of them involve chicks, party, sex, porn stars – in short – rock ‘n’ roll, I don’t think you need further explanation, haha.
You seem to play quite a lot there in Bulgaria. How is the rock scene there? is it a good place for a band to play? It seems like there’s more than a few rock’n’roll fans there.
V.B.: Yes, we surely play here a lot. We even refuse gigs, because we’ve played a lot through the last few months and we don’t want to bore people.
Nevertheless, Bulgaria is a quite small country. There are fans here and they’re hungry for rock ‘n’ roll, but the scene isn’t developed yet. Practically, we have no equivalent here.
There are more metal bands or bands with Seattle influences here. It’s hard for the bands. I’m not speaking of money, this is not the only place where you can’t make a living just by this. There’s no one to release rock ‘n’ roll here, and no decent rock at all. The labels mainly release some pop, pop rock or alternative bands.
The clubs still tolerate cover bands and I’m not talking about tribute bands, but about bands that play all sorts of rock songs with not the least bit of attitude, not to mention that there’s nothing on the stage – nor image, nor any show. So a band like us can hardly play in some clubs during the weekend, when there are more people gathering.
Maybe it’s just the hardcore scene that got developed and has it’s own pattern, but I think that’s because of their philosophy to stick together.
Nikki: With other words – things aren’t looking good at all. In fact, there are rock ‘n’ roll fans, and they like what we do…
Unfortunately, the scene is built mostly of cover bands or just bands that lack certain orientation of style, that don’t know what or why they’re playing.
I remember you mentionned trouble with some skinheads or something at one of your shows. Does it often happen there?
V.B.: Yes, that happened on the promotion of our EP in club Fans. It’s a common thing here, that monkeys of that kind are being hired as security guards and there are cases when they exceed their authority.
There are alredy two clubs that are in hot water.The one is already gone and there are hardly any people going to other for similar reasons. Yes, it seems that after the change of the regime here, the nazi shinhead movement is growing.
It’s some sort of a twisted nationalism, although the ones, that are hurt by poeple like that, are just the different ones, not the foreigners or people with different color of their skin. I personally was beaten up almost to death few years ago on the street and I suppose that was just because of my appearance and because I play in a punk band.
I guess it’s a trend for dunderheads with mental problems to cover their aggression behind words like skin, punk, metal and others.
I’m sure a lot of people actually don’t know much about Sofia and Bulgaria. Can you tell us a bit about it? What are the good and bad points of living there?
V.B.: OK, Bulgaria is a small, with about 8,000,000 people population, ex-communist country in the Balkans. It’s bordered by Serbia, Greece, Romania and Turkey. Believe me, that’s a very beautiful spot and if it wasn’t for the regime and the nowadays politics, it would have been a great place for living. We have a rich cultural legasy, wonderful nature, sea, haha.
Unfortunately, some things here have different names, but they remain almost the same like back in the time of the communism. Maybe it’s because of the closeness and the influene of Russia at that time that we were so hurt by the regime.
Many countries of the ex-socalist block weren’t so affected and are a lot better now. I’m not speaking just about their economy, but also about the music… the scene there has developed, they have more traditions in it, so to say.
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and at the moment the main things are concentrated here. Many people move here and now it’s getting overpopulated. There’s more work and better salaries and everyone tries to move. That affects everything. The bands also have more chance here.
How is everyday life for a rock musician there?
V.B.: To be a musician here isn’t a privilege at all. Most musicians here go to work to provide for themselves and their families.
It’s hard to make a living out of music. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why the music niche isn’t of a good quality. The creative process requires more time and when you don’t have enough, it affects it.
Some people have part-time jobs or such with flexible working hours, so they have time to play. Or their work is connected with their music. This is how it is with Alley Sin, for example. Alexy is a sound engineer at concerts, Nikki is a translator… that’s how we have time for everything concerning the band. Well, most people who prefer that option, deprive of certain stuff, because they don’t make a lot of money that way, but there’s no other way… If you want something to happen, you’ll have to sacrifice certain things.
Have you played in other countries yet?
Everyone of us has played abroad. Me and Nikki have lived and played outside of the country before, but as a band for now we’ve been just once to Thessaloniki, Greece.
But on the 15th May we’re playing in Novi Sad, Serbia. It’s hard for Bulgarian bands to play abroad, just because the world isn’t familiar with the bands here and I suppose that the risk for inviting musicians from here is bigger, and it’s finantially hard fot us to arrange a tour ourselves. To be honest, there are many people outside of Bulgaria, who ask us when are we going to play here or there, but for how that’s hard. We’re trying to make contacts which can help us in that matter.
Your bio says “ROCK N ROLL IS AN ATTITUDE, NOT A TREND!”. Are you sick of seeing rock bought and sold by mainstream media just to sell clothes? Rock has been more popular again these last few years. Don’t you think that even if kids don’t always listen to the best kind of rock’n’roll, it’s still better for them to listen to guitar oriented music rather than techno or whatever?
V.B.: For us, it’s important to have an attitude when you’re doing something, whatever it may be. Everything that’s done with no attitude, but with the single goal to obtain money or fame, is temporary and people sense it sooner or later. Lately, there have popped out lots of rock messiahs, who’re saving the rock ‘n’ roll, because that’s the trend. Rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t need to be saved.
It’s always been here and it will be here. Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t just about those bands that play on stadiums, but also about bands like the Adjusters, for instance. Now, more that any other time, there’s a boom of all that stuff. All sorts of people sell rock ‘n’ roll clothes. There are stores where you can get yourself everything. You want to be a ’77 punk – there they are, the clothes you need. You want to be an ’82 anarcho-punk – you can get everything from the shop and that prepared jacket with all needed accessories, for instance. It’s a bit like a factory, everything is like by conveyor. That’s not rock ‘n’ roll.
For me, rock ‘n’ roll has always been an attitude, a conception of the world, a way to express yourself. And for the people like me, who have grown up in totalitarian times, rock ‘n’ roll has always been a synonym for freedom. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the money and the fame, but I’d never do anything just for their sake. If money is the goal, I’d get myself another job. Otherwise – yes, I agree that it’s better for the kids to listen to guitar-oriented music, than to scrape on some techno parties, stuffed with all sorts of shit.
Nikki: Yes, definitely it’s better fot the kids to listen to rock ‘n’ roll than to get zombified by techno and stuff like that. However mainstream rock ‘n’ roll may be, it’s still rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s, on the first place – JUST FOR FUN. But I personally get pretty annoyed by T-shirts with Sid Vicious, the English flag and “punk” or “glam” as caption, which are sold in the stores of Terranova or New Yorker. It’s quite hilarious, concidering the fact, that the people who shop there have never heard of the Sex Pistols.
“Bastards In My Way”… Who are they?
Nikki: “Bastards in My Way” is more like a collective image of everyone who, in one way or another, gets in your way. Those who yell at you on the street, just because your wearing tight jeans, the bastard that tries to steal your chick, those who seek confrontation just for the sports. They are everywhere…
Here’s a difficult one, which one do you prefer and why?:
Yes, that’s a really difficult one and to be honest, the answer will be quite relative.
SEX PISTOLS or The CLASH?:
V.B.: Maybe I attach greater importance to the Pistols. Maybe it’s more because of sentimentality. I remember hearing them for the first time when I was a student. From then on nothing was the same, although I can’t disregard the Clash. But speaking of punk, Ramones are my heroes.
MOTLEY CRUE or GUNS N ROSES?:
V.B.: Everyone from the band stands behind Motley Crue. They were the main catalyst for me. I first saw them in a magazine in ’84 and I was really impressed. After that, someone gave me “Shout of the Devil” and everything started. And after I managed to see them live in ’89 in Moscow… I now wanted to be in a band… Thanks to them I discovered most of my favorite bands. They’ve influenced Nikki in a similar way later. We like Guns ‘n’ Roses, especially their early stuff, but something is missing in “Illusion”. And today, we can say that they’re already gone, as for Crue – they’re still here and they can still kick our asses.
AC/DC or KISS?:
V.B.: Here it surely get’s really hard. Both bands have given us a lot. Maybe we’ll give a slight preponderence of AC/DC. Nikki is really influenced by them. Alexy, Stefan and I – too, but on the other hand – the ’70s albums of KISS are amasing.
ROLLING STONES or BEATLES?:
V.B.: Here, the choice is clear – Stones. I was raised with them. My parents were fans. The Rolling Stones are an institution.After all this years they’re much more alive than many other bands. Their presence on stage, just everything! I have nothing against the Beatles, but I somehow remained aside from them. And I’ll repeat, that the answers are relative. All these bands have played their role in our growth as musicians, as people.
Name 5 of your favourite albums ever and tell us a few words about them, why are they so special?
V.B.: That’s a hard one, too. I’m already 38 and I’ve layed my hands on lots of records and it would be difficult for me to pick out just 5 albums, but I’ll shoot it spontaneously.
New York Dolls – “New York Dolls” – Somewhere there the punk is starting to gain it’s appearance. Just with two albums they managed to change the whole musical history. They’re one of my favorite bands.
Dogs D’Amour – “In the Dynamite Jet Saloon” – I adore this band! At that time the Dolls were already gone. In L.A. heavy bands with teased hair tried to convince the world that they were glam. And Dogs D’Amour just play rock ‘n’ roll in the spirit of the Stones – vintage sound just the way we love it. Unfortunately, maybe this wasn’t their time.
Motley Crue – “Shout at the Devil” – The album that changed everything for me. It uncovered a whole world for me.And made me find the bands that I love today.
Dead Boys – “Young,Loud and Snotty” – Awesome album! Because of it’s energy, the riffs and Stiv Bators, of course. When I put it in my player, I just can’t hear it just once. It just grabs you.
Motorcycle Boy – “Popsicle”…Whatever I say about this album, it won’t be enough, you just gotta hear it.
Nikki: For me “Too Fast For Love” by Motley Crue, because it was they who made me discover the glam rock ‘n’ roll, to get further to New York Dolls,Hanoi Rocks and others.
Followed by “Stiff Upper Lipp” by AC/DC, the last but one album of AC/DC, a very special one for. I remember getting it even on audio tape, I was 13-14. It showedme real rock ‘n’ roll, good that I got my hands on it – good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.
“KISS”, the album by KISS from1974, my craze for KISS, Strutter is my favourite song. In general – all ’70 albums of KISS, they’re just KISS!
“New York Dolls” – New York Dolls, the band with two albums, that changed so much in the music.
“Faster Pussycat” 1988, the first Faster Pussycat album, I think I have a great influence by Taime Down in the vocals. Many people tell me that. At one time, I was really addicted to that same glam from the ’80s and especially to the first Faster Pussycat album and “Appetite for Destruction” by Guns ‘n’ Roses, the more-rock ‘n’ roll bands, not the glam metal wave.
If you ever had to move with the band and could choose between England and America, where would you go?
V.B.:Here we often have the argument between England and America. And for all sorts of reasons. And of course, the big fight about where the better music is made, haha. I’m not one of those people. I feel like a citizen of the world. If we have to move, I suppose that many other aspects will be deliberative. One thing is certain, we’ll go where it’s better for the band, ourselves and our families. To be honest, it would be great for us to play around the world, but to live here in Bulgaria.
What are your projects now? Any album or tour?
V.B.: New EP. It’s titled “All I Want” and we hope it’s out by June. Those days we finished the recordings.It’ll include 3 songs – “All I Want”, “Playing in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band” and the acoustic version of “Down on the Road”, that is put in our profile. We think what came out is better than the first CD. But don’t expect huge surprises:) The same old trashy glam rock ‘n’ roll. We wanted to record an album, but we don’t think we’ll manage its finantial part at the moment. From May we start playing live again, one of the dates is in Novi Sad, Serbia. We’d like to make a tour and we’re trying to find someone who can help us with that. We can’t arrange and fund it ourselves. We’d be happy to play around in Europe. Through Myspace we connected with many bands with which we’d like to share a stage. One thing is sure, we’re moving on and having fun. That’s the most important thing, after all.