Music in the Time of Corona
« A short history of the madness so far »
The life of an artist has always been an uncertain one. The life of a musician - quite so. The life of a musician playing any non-mainstream genre in Serbia - especially. The life of a metal band in Serbia during the Big 'Rona? You bet.
I like to say that this band has to do everything its own way - the HARD way. Some would say that's a part of the charm - it's the journey, not the destination, right? After all, I DID want a metal band. And a metal band I got. Here's our story, and you can see for yourself.
The first two people of Aurium I ever met were Sinisa - Founding Member No.1, the man, the myth, the legend, Maestro behind the synths, stealing the show on stage with his windmilling (what he lacks in hair length he makes up for in pure unadulterated passion - some would say, with a pinch of insanity; I call it: character) and Milica Founding Member No.2 - the imposing voice in a compact, cute package, the strength of a hurricane hidden behind the sweetest smile and soft-spoken (speaking) voice. Truly a force to be reckoned with. I was immediately intrigued, albeit, skeptical. It's obvious they are living their own story, their own truth, unabashedly, but... I'm way too basic to match their energy. Still, when they asked me to be a guest on one of their songs for a charity event, I gladly accepted. How could I not? After all, that's the energy I'd been missing in my own band at the time - I was way too self-aware to the point of being stiff. And so, the magic was born. Indeed, I felt that drive on stage that I hadn't felt in a long time, if ever. If only I could be a part of such vibe, I thought.
Months, years went by, both our bands' members changed, again and again, the will started waning, patience running out. My band eventually disbanded, and Aurium seemed to be in perpetual turmoil of ups and downs, members joining and quitting; all too familiar. I was happy to hear they started recording their second studio album (me and Demist never got past the first one). I had heard some of the ideas and I was already vibing with them, excited to hear the final result.
And then... it happened. Sinisa asked me to join the band due to creative differences with Milica, who went on to develop her own solo career (and let me tell ya... there will be some bangers there!! I've got the first scoop). But! Here's the tricky part: all the songs had already been recorded. There was no way (understandably) that they would just throw away everything Milica had done and have me re-record them all; so the agreement was made: half the songs would be mine, half hers, and there's the duet - Leaden Skies. I happily obliged.
So, there we are, album ready, some singles already published, and the album reviews start pouring in - a devastating number of fans did not figure out there were two of us singing. I started getting praise for Milica's songs on the album, and had to re-explain it all every time - I'd feel horrible not to! She did such an amazing job, and , in the end, I'm so glad it turned out the way it did. Side by side, an amicable end of an era and a beginning of a new one. Quite unorthodox, true, but as I said - we did it OUR way.
Rehearsals, preparations for video and photo shoots, gigs booked, everything was under way. Until... well, you all know this part. Serbia introduced some rather strict measures in the heat of the first wave, which seemed to have given results. But the band... Oh how we all missed playing. Even if it's just the rehearsals, even if it's just for us. Or meeting to make new songs together. Or just meeting. Talking. Making light of the horrible stuff as we always do. I realized that I not only missed the music, the songs, the energy - I missed them. My boys. The Awesome Foursome - the members in it for the long run. Julius, guitar player, growler, screamer, mixer, composer, driver, and overall just the sweetest dude you'll meet. Passionate in all the best ways, super dedicated. Talented above all, but, of course, that goes without saying for any one of them. Milos, bass player - never a frown on his face, definitely the band's force of positivity (next to Sinisa and me, Lord knows we need it). He can play the bass like nobody's business, whatever you throw his way; the only thing is, his bass has a strange condition of growing added strings with time. Truly peculiar. I wonder how many there will be next time I see them. And, of course, Aleksandar (Musha), the drummer - he needs no introduction, as he is well-known in metal circles in Belgrade, in Serbia, and beyond. With his immense experience, impeccable sense of rhythm, and absolute ability to play in any conditions, his sense of humor is the cherry on top of this striking fellow, always up for a good laugh and a cold beer. And Sinisa, of course, whose inane stories always leave me scratching my head, crying with laughter, and dying with jealousy of how strange things always seem to find him. I missed them all so, so much.
We stayed in touch, sure, many an attempt was made to use Zoom to its full potential (eventually, we got it). Sinisa's wheels already started turning with some new ideas, Musha was giving his special touches to our roster of songs ready for gigs, Milos was finding out new interesting lines that would make them sound even fuller and more massive, Julius, albeit busy with his studio, still had the time to also get started on new stuff, as well as spruce up the oldies. I... I was doing my best not to completely fall off track with practice. But each of us felt the heavy weight of our work being stopped in tracks (as for any other musician), the gigs cancelled/postponed, no rehearsal date in sight (due to the mandatory lockdown).
The situation worsened, and then, almost suddenly - things seemed to look up! The lockdown was gone, and we scrambled to have a rehearsal. So we did. We gathered, after so much time, all of us - nervous. We were convinced the first gathering would sound absolutely dreadful! And you know what? We killed it. The resolve, the excitement, the rush came back full force, and with a gig coming soon (in Dom Omladine Pancevo, July 25), we were more than eager and ready!
Happy end? Not quite yet. The 'Rona Situation suddenly started worsening again (after the elections), this time worse than the first. No lockdown still, but... the future of any gig is far from certain at this point. Again.
So here we are, July 3, none the wiser. The days seep away, and with each one we pray the situation would ease off. Still yet to be seen if our wishes come true.
Yeah, not the best time to start a new chapter in a band - right after recording everything, but we solved that; not the best time to have planned gigs/rehearsals - in the middle of COVID19, but we came back, better than ever. Not the best time to plan the first gig with the newest
lineup - in the middle of the worst wave yet, but... Well, we'll see.
OUR way or the highway.