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interview by: Roberto Martinelli

In the already cult world of underground metal, Root occupies a unique place. This Czech band that is often given the black metal tag has been around a long time - longer than most of the seminal Norwegian crop. Root's tracing its, well, roots back to 1987 is one main reason for its culthood. More importantly, though, it's because the band is so fascinatingly weird.

At the clear forefront of this strangeness is frontman Big Boss. Definitely an intriguing and enigmatic character. How could you think anything else of a guy in a sort of black metal band with that kind of stage name; who writes all the lyrics dealing with Satan and black magic; who sings in an invariably wacky but always excellent, powerful voice; and with the dumbest/coolest corpsepaint ever; and who wears monk's robes? He's the only guy in the band to ever have "acted out" in this way. I guess he's sort of like the fabulously goofy Czech equivalent of King Diamond.

Primarily, this interview was intended to be primarily with Big Boss and supplemented by another member of the band. However, it turned out Big Boss is the worst email interview ever, so consequently the really cool and insightful answers are provided by bassist Igor Hubik, with only the remotely interesting Big Boss answers used complementarily here and there. Hubik was good enough to answer my questions about Root's entirely brilliant new album, Black Seal, as well as other insightful tidbits about the band and its history.

MaelstroMaelstrom: Your new album, Black Seal, is clearly your best yet. You are definitely moving in a more melodic heavy metal direction, and seem to be more inspired and focused than on any other of your records. Please talk about your feelings on the new album.

Igor Hubik: Well, I guess that Root still develops with each new album. It's the same also this time. There are influences of classic kinds of Metal, it's concerned mainly with the guitar solos and some another parts. But there are also pretty hard thrashing riffs, fresh rhythms or screamed voices at the single songs. I think we put our feelings which rose from reading the lyrics and it can be heard from the songs. The feeling hasn't lost any percent from itself...

Big: Boss: My feelings is fantastic, as usually from every [one of] our albums. But I don't think it is influenced with heavy metal, as you think... or do you know some heavy metal band which play songs as "Liber Prohibitus" or "Theriak"? he he he

MaelstroMaelstrom: Root is more often than not classified as a black metal band, but clearly the new album is not musically black metal. Yet you still deal a great deal with Satan lyrically, but with that unique and quirky angle that all Root albums have. Please talk about the driving force and themes behind your lyrics.

Igor Hubik: Oh, the lyrics are so great because they're written by a "man" who is just the real artist concerning the lyrics writing - Big Boss. He wrote complete lyrics on all the albums of Root. What I know from him so he finds an inspiration from different spheres. He's fascinated by the Universe, mystic powers, interesting books and, of course, by own dreams. Big Boss is able to write the lyrics during one night for example. Members of Root write the music after the reading the lyrics as far and that's a reason why the music is connected with the lyrics as one synthesy. About Black Metal - some people call our style like that but for example our label uses usually description Dark Metal. We don't think about that.

Maelstrom: Please tell us about Root's singer, Big Boss. Is he really big? He sort of looks like a jolly black metal lumberjack in religious robes. Do you have any stories you could tell us about Big Boss or any other members of the band?

Igor Hubik: Man, you would have to travel together with us by one car and listen to his thoughts, jokes and philosophies to understand who is Big Boss. There are so many stories that your site could be created just from these cryptic tales, hahaha! Anyway, he's pretty great singer and artist in my eyes. When he enters the stage so Root fans are simply fascinated by his movements, snoots and image. They always welcome him with highly risen up hands and loud screaming. When you read the interviews with him so it's usually interesting and you can laugh too. Anyway, the personality that you can love or hate. There's nothing between! There are so many people who don't understand him and don't like him personally but who are also able to confess that Big Boss is really good singer and personality. If is Big Boss a big one? We call it "a little big man" in Czech language. He's not really tall - anyway, haha!!! But the greatest one thanx to his acts! Do appreciate he's fifty actually, sings alive the Metal songs, worked at the crematory some years, lives alone just with the PC, drinks vodka and has twenty five years younger friends... It's interesting, isn't it?

Maelstrom: How did you all meet originally?

Igor Hubik: It's the process of Root's long history. Big Boss and Blackie founded the band at the end of eighties and there circulated other musicians around them. Everybody says that this actual line-up is the strongest at Root's history, it seems to be true word. I helped with the bass parts on Blackie´s project Entrials some years ago and together with guitarist Ashok we helped Big Boss to feature his the second solo album "Belial´s Wind" alive - one gig only. Then Big Boss and Blackie offered us the participating at Root. It's gonna be three years already. It seems like this line-up will stand some time yet! The drummer Evil joined the band since the third album The Temple in the Underworld at ´92!

Maelstrom: (to Big Boss) Your main vocal approach on "Black Seal" reminds me quite often of a lower version of Candlemass' Messiah Marcolin. Were you at all influenced by him?

Big Boss: I know him, but I think that he doesn' influnce me. I am Big Boss and he is Marcolin.

Maelstrom: Why did you originally choose the name Root?

Igor Hubik: There's written an interesting sentence at Root's history about it. It should be something easily memorable, strong, mysterious... There's the band Torr already (Czech old Metal band) so let's say it oppositely - ROOT. Guys told me that by this way too so may be it's not just a narrative...

Maelstrom: Root has always had one of the most solid and enjoyable rhythm sections as far as I'm concerned. On Black Seal, it seems that the guitarists have really upped their level of musicianship in their riffs and solos. Is Root's new direction allowing all members of the band to fully demonstrate their talents?

Igor Hubik: It's each artist, isn't it? Of course, we try to do our best and I guess you can hear it - you wouldn't ask that if you would not. For example Ashok trains fast fingers for many years already. You can't hear Slayer's or Metallica's rhythm guitars from him, mainly Malmsteen, Vai, Moore and another electric guitar stars. He practices this kind of art and it resuscitated Root's songs pretty much I think. The drummer Evil is very good musician, he can play also the guitar well. Blackie is able still create new and new riffs and 99 percents of them are applicable for the albums. A real talent man - that's why he has project Cales, Entrials. And Big Boss' voice? We're all just proud we can attend him with our instruments! And you must hear I speak the truth!!!

Maelstrom: What are your reactions to having your song "Pisen Pro Satana" included on Nargaroth's Black Metal ist Krieg - A Dedication Monument. Have you heard the album? What do you think of the cover of your song?

Igor Hubik: I have found it just today at your web site! That's great! I hope we'll get this album somewhere. Pisen Pro Satana is a real Czech Metal hymn. Not only Czech as we can see. When we played this song at Sweden last year so Rootans below the stage transfigured in dancing devils! Hell On Earth! I wanna hear the Nargaroth version, it can be cool job. If they sing it in English so... We have to contact them for the CD, definitely!

Maelstrom: If you were to make a covers album, which songs from which bands would you cover?

Igor Hubik: This album will never be released by Root 'cause we have to concentrate on our own stuff. Guys recorded only Metallica´s "Fade To Black" once for a local Tribute To Cliff Burton CD. There's also cool curiosity beneath the disc. The letter from Cliff´s parents from ´87 addressed to Big Boss! He had the club together with Metal friends (fans) which was called Total Metal and they corresponded with other Metal maniax worldwide then. So he got also the answer from Cliff's parents after Total Metal's commiseration of Cliff's death.

Maelstrom: The last song on Black Seal totals about 20 minutes. However, the last 10 minutes is the unaccompanied chorus of the song, looped over and over again. Why did you decide to do this?

Igor Hubik: Big Boss´ reaction is simple - UUUUUUAAAAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!! It was his idea: Let's do something shocking, original! So many people asked about that already and he is pleased by that so much - really crazy. Nobody of us didn't want do something like that. But the result is cool. Big Boss´ another argumentation: Fans give so many money for the album so they should get full minute CD! Haha, is it normal? It's not I guess but it's released already, hahahaha!

Maelstrom: The song "Liber Prohibitus" speaks of the Necronomicon. There has been much debate on whether this is a real book from ancient times. What do you think?

Igor Hubik: When we recorded the guitars, bass, drums, keys for this song, Boss was sitting at his apartment, relaxing and watching the TV. We cursed him - it's his composition, you know. We didn't know if to laugh or cry but during the listening to this song we always laugh now! It's so primitive, stupid and childish riff! But then He sang the lyrics and it turned of 180 points. The song transfigured to the real hymn and I personally love it very much now. The force of Boss´ voice is definitely heard just at "Liber Prohibitus"!

Maelstrom: Looking back on Root's discography, the album that sticks out the most from the rest stylistically is Kargeras. That album to me sounded like a mix of grunge rock, hard rock and heavy metal. Looking back on the time you made that album, could you please comment on the band's mindset?

Igor Hubik: The worst season of Root's career. Boss stopped the communication with Blackie, they were fighting between each other, drinking many alco bottles. Nevertheless they recorded great CD. I love these lyrics the most - like the set, you know. Also the music is a little bit fresher than on other CDs because the music was written along with the lyrics. It corresponds very well I think.

Big Boss: This was very bad times for Root... We have been on the edge of breakdown and our relationships was on the freezing-point....I don't like memories on this time of our existence...sorry.

Maelstrom: Thanks for the interview, guys. Anything else you'd like to tell us about?

Igor Hubik: Thanx for interview, don't forget to visit our web pages www.redblack.cz/root. If anybody wants something from us, let me know on igorhubik@hotmail.com to get all the important infos. Metal Maniax, get in touch!

Big Boss: Thanx too and STAY PROUD!

 

ISSUE 8
INTERVIEWS


IMMORTAL
 
BOLT THROWER
 
NECROPHAGIST
 
ROOT
 
KALMAH
 
LAMB OF GOD
 
ARCH ENEMY
 
BRODEQUIN
 
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