Nick Khalabuzar (guitar/vocal) and Dan Eternal (guitar) have taken the time out to answer our Band of the Day questions, on behalf our first Kazakhstani act…
Nick: We are from Almaty – biggest city in Kazakhstan. It is located at the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau Mountains, the northernmost ridge of the Tien Shan. You can take a car and reach high mountains in 1 hour – like we did it when filmed our videos “The Grudge” at the shore of a mountain lake, and another video “Failed Apocalypse”.
Some travelers describe the city as modern with European flavor, which is true. Almaty is really outstanding not only among other cities in Kazakhstan but in whole Central Asia.
How did you meet?
Nick: For me and Ruslan Konon (drums) it was classic story. I put online advertise, he responded and after few conversations we found ourselves in a rehearsing room…
Dan Eternal: I met Nick for first time at Zarraza’s gig. For me it was the first band in Kazakhstan playing pure death/thrash metal. At the time I played with another bands. 2 years later Nick watched my live performances of Death’s “Crystal Mountain”, Sepultura’s “Desperate Cry”, “Dead Embryonic Cells” – I played guitar and sung on those… Nick offered me to go to audition for Zarraza. He sent me video lesson for song “Zombie Kids”. It was performed at 70% of speed of the song – a little bit slower than original. He said: “Try this one until the week ends!”. However, I did it in two days. Then we met, talked, he showed me not-released-yet album “Necroshiva” and invited me to worship metal with him and Ruslan in Zarraza. I felt we will feather in, so I agreed.
How long have you been playing as a band?
Nick: We decided to take the band and music seriously about 4 years ago. Then a three-piece band (me, Ruslan Konon on drums and Alex Filatoff on bass) composed full-length debut “Necroshiva”. The album was released on May 11, 2018. Alex left, Dan (guitar) and Eugene Hablack (bass) joined us, Eugene left, Adil Aliakpar came in… And here we are with second release “Rotten Remains”.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
Nick: – I wanted name a band with one word with some irony in it. Zaraza is an old Russian word with two meanings – “infection” and “unbearable but sometime funny person”. We added one more R… and discovered that more than two decades ago there were Russian metal magazine under the same name. It lasted only couple of years, just few editions were printed but it was very popular at the moment. My thought was it’s like we raised the flag thrown on battlefield and bring it on… Some people like it, some not but we are here not for a moment so take it as it is.
What are your influences?
Nick: Sirius, Saturn, NASA space shots, some alcohol and a lot of thrash-death-prog-classic rock and modern rock acts.
Dan: Death, Meshuggah, Vektor, Beyond Creation, etc. I also love aggression of Slayer, Sodom, Annihilator, Deicide. And I am one leg into Black Metal, especially depressive – such as Happy Days, Lifelover. This music really helps in certain moments of life.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
Nick: It’s a passion! Some said we are inspired by dead genres – but to me music has no age. If you do something with a passion – it becomes new and alive! Yes, we dig out some rotten remains and injected it with new viruses to make alive!
Funny thing we learned about our music from reviews – it’s a mix between 5 Finger Death Punch, DevilDriver, Deicide and Malevolent Creation… Crazy combination!
Dan: We are combining the power of aggression with magnificence of metal.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Nick: Science should replace religion so there is some anti-religious songs and songs about scientists who are real martyrs – not so-called saints from churches. Few tunes dedicated to a dirty art of politics and corruption. And of course we have couple of “fuck you – I’m gonna live my way!” songs.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Nick: Every show should be a riot so we try to raise some chaos – as you can see it in our video “Chaos”. Current line-up played about 10-15 shows which is not so many compared to signed European/American acts. But here in Central Asia we are most touring metal act – it’s a fact. And we are eager to play more!
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
Nick: As for me it was seeing bass guitar’s headstock headed into my face on high speed! I was lucky enough and dodged. Our bass player Adil is extremely active onstage. Bad side of it – he kicked me and my guitar so many times… Good side – he is like a bodyguard onstage. He beats (very gently, haha) people who invade and steal mic from me or jumping on pedals and plug out cables accidentally…
Dan: My story happened in Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Some guy got on onstage, jumped on my pedals, then got up on cabinet and dive. But at the moment cab rode away (it wasn’t fixed) so diver fell and squeezed into a gap between the stage and PA. The boy really doubled up. It was hard to watch it and keep playing without laugh!
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Nick: I love Jackson guitars! Mesa for rehearsals, Kemper for live shows and some pedals.
Dan: I use Indonesian B.C. Rich Stealth One guitar. Some time ago I bought AMT Bricks R/S Lead – guitar tube preamp, that melted everything in radius of 666 kilometers, opens the black hole and pulls out lost picks from it.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
What are your plans for 2020?
Nick: F-n COVID-19 turns everything upside down. Our plan for quarantine time is to make and release three videos. First is done – “Bulldozer” is out. Next on the list is live video (cause we all missed live gigs) and a lyric video. Of course we are working on new songs at the same time. As soon as it will be possible to play live – we will!
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
Nick: It’s easy to name big bands but… Our friends Kashgar (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) should open – their epic and freezing death-black mix sounds perfectly to summon the darkness! Our mates from Karaganda (another city in Kazakhstan) Savage Soul should close the show – they are great guys full of energy but their set is extremely long so I prefer to enjoy it with beer after my job is done, haha!