BERRY | 2007-03-31 >>>
"Talking about vinyls before their big tour"
a n i n t e r v i e w w i t h J i ø í
V a l t e r
about vinyls with the leader of Root was not easy at all. Formerly he
owned all Root vinyls but today he does not even have the first three
LPs of his band... However he did not leave vinyls, heīs got all the
new Root vinyl releases and that is why he commented them more than
the older ones. But our interview is not purely about vinyls. We
touched also the communist police, black markets with music, their
first label Zeras, mascot Rootan and not last Big Bossīs feelings
before their big tour.
Do you remember your very first LP record? What was it and do you
still listen to it?
My first LP was Beatles "Please, Please Me" from 1963.
Occasionally I still listen to it. But not from vinyl, I do not have
It sounds as if you replaced vinyls for CDs, is that right?
Yes, I did. But anyway I still own many vinyls... unfortunately I
cannot listen to them as my record played does not work...
Have you ever been a vinyl collector? And when?
Well, I was obsessed by buying LPs, I realy had a big collection,
over a thousand... I was a completist, some bands I had complete, for
example complete Queen discography on vinyls etc.
Do you think that LP records are still actual today?
I think that today itīs just a rarity for collectors... due to the
space needed, due to the records player demands, service, you have to
look for new stylus sometimes and I donīt know what else... I think
that todayīs generation does not care.
It is connected to the consumerism of today. The vinyl is a kind of
alternative... today you just download whatever you want directly to
your PC while playing real records is a little ritual.
But I think that many people have different attitude than you. For
me, for example, it is no ritual to care for records, to clean them
and so on. He, he, he. Sure, there is some nostalgia, but I am not a
nostalgic person. So I dont care.
Was it difficult to find a record in those times when you collected
them? How the marked worked at that time? (a comment for foreing
readers - under the communist regime it was not possible to buy
legally stuff from not-communist countries, including music).
For me it was not that difficult as my sister went often to Vienna, so
I was the lucky one... and if she could not find something, the black
flee markets were the solution. There you could find nearly whatever.
Well, sometimes we were dispersed by the police, but they were not too
active in this as they looked for records as well. He, he. For example
you could order an LP there and within two weeks you got it (of course
illegally). It costed arounf 300 - 400 Kčs while today some of them
cost many times more. But it is not interesting for me, moreover
without the record player... Ha, ha.
Really, the delivery time was shorter than today. Ha, ha. On the other
hand it was the only medium for music, regardless the commies. And
honesly, you have to be pleased with the newly released Root vinyls,
donīt you? The last one was the box set "Dema", how do you like it?
Sure I like it. The American release is very nice, moreover there
are two versions. The ordinary and cheaper on black vinyls and die
hard version which is more expensive. I like it very much, of course.
How did you get in touch with Nuclear War Now! Productions?
This is not a question to me. Our bass player Igor cares about all
these matters. He negotiates everything and then he informs me about
the results or asks for my approval. I have no clue what, when, where,
how... I am sorry, but I really cannot tell anything more.
go to the vinyl beginnings of Root. The first vinyl release was an 7"
EP "7 černých jezdcų" / "666". To release an EP, was it your idea or
an idea of your label Zeras to check the interest? In those days, who
cared about all those matter which are today managed by Igor?
It was my idea and Zeras agreed. By the way, it was very
successful, as well the debut LP. Today the Golden record award is
given for 10.000 copies sold, so we would easily reached for it. Ha
ha. It was also me who managed all the negotiations in the past. I was
the band manager until it was taken over by Jaromír Tichý. And after
he left it was me again... and as late as when Igor joined the band I
slowly passed all these obligations to him. Heīs a very powerful guy
and moreover he enjoys it. The only thing I still do is negotiation
with our label, our contracts and CD and DVD layout propositions which
are then painted by Roman Kýbus.
How did you get in touch with Zeras? Whose label it was and what are
they doing today? Have it been the only offer you got or did you have
more offers to choose from?
Zeras was the first and only label releasing metal. Their first
release was Törr. I got the contact to the label owner Zelenka from
Vlasta Henych and I called him. He came to Brno and the negotiation
started. It went all quite quickly and we signed. In fact, we became
the first professional metal band here, as we got a regular salary (aside
from money for live shows and records). But later the label had some
financial difficulties and so our cooperation had to stop.
Törr released by them?
I know that Zelenka was their manager and that I got in touch with
him thanks to Törr. I think he released them something, but you have
to ask them.
turn our attention now to "Zjevení", your debut and your only album in
Czech language. When it was released its price was 80 Kčs and thus it
was the most expensive Czech record. I really was not sure if I want
to invest those money... Today its price is many times higher, as you
said. I think that for you it must be a satisfaction and longstanding
evaluation of your past work, isnīt it? The question if you are
pleased by this is useless, however I will ask if you would, from
todayīs point of view, change anything on this LP and why?
I have sold my last next to that last copy of "Zjevení" for 100
euro and the guy came for it from Vienna! There is nothing I would
change. What should it be? It is done exactly as we wished and there
is nothing what I would change today. I really hate bands which say
about their older records that now they would record it differently
etc... If the record is mine, then it is mine forever, am I right?
Sure. The cover was designed by Franta torm. I suppose that he also
designed the inlay. It must be very difficult work, to paint all the
Franta is a genius! After all, he is a graphic designer and an
autor of many fonts with an international reputation. What more to add?
Youīre right. This is pretty known fact. But when speaking about your
inlays, the one of "Hell Symphony" seems to be qualitatively far from
the first one. Was it a purpose? And who was the author?
Qualitatively far? I like it, all the album is about Hell and the
front cover perfectly fits. But I alredy have no clue who was the
author and how the inlay looks like.
Thatīs what I was speaking about... the inlay.
I donīt have it. I donīt have any Root vinyls so the discussion is
meaningless. I only have those Root vinyls released today. But not the
first three albums.
was a big pentagram on the LP and you started to use English language
instead the Czech one. Iīd like to ask - where Rootan had disappeared?
His name is today used on your web domain and he was the centre of
most of your older lyrics.
You have not understood who was Rootan?
I think I have, but it was never explained explicitly.
It was a nick name of Satan. The commie police suppressed using of
this word, so Rootan was a trick. Thatīs all. As soon as it was
possible again, I returned to Satan again. But I think that on our
debut we still left Rootan... I am not really sure and in fact, there
is no difference. Rootan and Satan are the same. Sometimes even today
on our shows I sing Satan, sometimes Rootan...
In my opinion the second albums did not have such a strong promotion
as it would need. Did it sell worse, if you compare it with "Zjevení"?
Zeras was already in financial difficulties, am I right?
Yes, the were early at the end.... What more to say?
third album "The Temple In The Underworld" is in my opinion the top of
Root discography (without challenging the quality of all the preceding
and all the following albums). The album was released by Monitor. Have
you been satisfied with their promotion? Can you compare their
attitude with the one of Zeras?
I think it was on the same level. Monitor was not such a big label
as today (its name was not Monitor/EMI yet). But not even today
Monitor promotes anything too actively. So I think that they are still
the same, in the past and today.
Do you know how many copies of the second and the third album were
sold? I think that the vinyl "The Temple In The Underworld" must be
released in very limited edition. I have not seen it even those days
and I got it very recently... In fact I have seen only that copy that
I think there was 5000 copies made, with no reedition. The
cooperation was over anyway so we did not care and they did not
neither. The funny thing happended later when we released the CD
reedition of it. Monitor contacted us that they still have the
copyright and that they did not allowed us to make the CD... I
answered them roughly to read the old contract and its expiration date.
The did not answered then... they just tried their luck...
11 years without vinyl release you appeared on a 7" split EP with
Atomizer. Your track was entitled "Ancient Mysteries". It is not the
most typical Root song? How was it created? Have you composed it
exclusively for this 7 inch?
Yes, it was written for this. It was in the contract between us
and the label. It had to be a brand new song. Morever we have not
recorded it with our drummer Evi but some guest... I already do not
know who was it. He, he...
Then you got an offer from Monster Nation and your sixth album "Black
Seal" (only "Kärgeräs" and "The Book" do not exist on vinyl) was
released as a doubleLP. Today it is sold out. We can already talk
about the covers, right?
About the covers? Yes, we can as I have them at home. Ha ha.
cover of "Black Seal" was painted by an American painter Seth Haymon.
Have you chosen somethign from his catalogue or did he work for your
order? I know you got in touch via internet. Who was the first to
contact the other?
Seth ICQed me as a Root fan. I had no clue heīs a painter and he
plays in some band... nothing. After a month or so he wrote me to
looked at some of his pictures. I like them very much and so I asked
him to paint something for Root. Then we emailed very frequently and
dicussed the details and the result you can see on the "Black Seal"...
The body should have been little bigger, but who cares. Itīs perfect
as it is.
On the CD cover it is too small, yes. But on the LP it is OK. He, he.
The interesting thing is - since that time I have never spoke to
him again and I even donīt know in what band he plays. Shame as I
liked what he did and I would like to know what heīs doing today.
Unfortunately I donīt have his ICQ, shame...
Does exist something like a Root chronicle? Recently I have seen the
one of Asmodeus and it contains really everything...
Man, you guess right. Of course we have a chronicle. Itīs a huge
book, including old photos from the beginnings, letters from other
bands from all over the world, from GunsīnīRoses, King Diamond... But
after we released our first album, we stopped writting it and since
than noone of us wished to continue.
"Black Seal" there was the "Madness Of The Graves" and the cover
artwork is painted by Deather. It is his second artwork you used. The
first one appeared in "The Book". Did you tell him your ideas or have
you chosen from pictures already done? How is it to cooperate with him?
All the covers follow my ideas which I create according to my
lyrics. So I told to Deather how it should look like and he just
started. The cooperation? Few times I visited him at home to check
some of his paintings... and we got drunk a lot. Ha ha ha. But the
cover of "Madness Of The Graves" is not the best one. It did not come
right. It is little inexpressive. The colour is terrible and itīs bad
in general. But there were certain circumstances around the band so we
have left it as it was. I would not like to speak about the details...
I am lucky itīs over. This is perhaps the only thing in Root history
which I am not satisfied with. But as I said, itīs over.
the most actual vinyl is the DLP "Capturing Sweeden - Live In
Falkenberg". The cover contains (after a long time) again the old
bloody logo. Why did you leave it after your third album? And who is
the author of the old and of the new Root logo?
The author of the very first logo is Blackie. Then it was slightly
adjusted by Franta torm, then again by Blackie... So we have three
official logos and we use all of them, depending on the total
appearance of the records cover. I donīt think that the logo is that
important to remains all the time the same. On the other hand, the
important is to maintain the original form and the idea of the logo. I
have to say that most of todays band I am not able to recognize
according to their logos. Itīs a shame, because many times you even
donīt know what band it is playing... if itīs a new band.
Did you know it before that Swedish gig that it will be recorded? Or
was it a chance and the quality of the recording was such high that
you wished to release it as a live album? And what was your strongest
experience in Sweden?
No, we played it as any other show. I had no clue that it will be
recorded. And I can tell you, when the tape with that show appeared, I
donīt know who recorded it... Moreover, I have never heard it, as I
donīt have a record player, as you already know. In Sweden we feel to
be as at home. But what I was amazed was the cleanness. Cleanness of
the streets and of everything around. When I smoked a cigarette I
could not throw off the but. I would feel very painful to throw it off
just on the floor. At the end I throwed it to the river... The fans
there are amazing and they know our music very well so the shows are
always perfect... I like that country.
This title is not included in Root discography on your web. Why? Is it
due to the lack of time or do you assume it to be a kind of a rarity?
The same question can be asked also about the box set "Dema".
I donīt know. Maybe itīs sold out. But these matters are managed
by Igor, so I am not the person to answer that question...
letīs talk about you latest vinyl release - the luxurious box set
"Dema": 2 x double LP, t-shirt, history, briefly - excellent effort!
Which version do you have at home: the die hard one or the one for
common deadly people? Do you like it or is there anything you would
prefere to be done better?
Of course I have the die hard... And I like it very much!
As far as I know, you prepare for your first really big European tour.
What are you trying to improve most?
Well, to be honest, I am very scared of it. You know, my health is
not the best already and if I imagine some 15 nights in the bus (well,
a luxurious one, but still in the bus) I am not sure if I survive it.
I think the No Mercy tour is (aside from the new vinyls) for you
another satisfaction, as you have been very underrated for a certain
period. And I still your career is far from being over... Am I right
or you donīt care about these problems?
You are right... I donīt care. Ha ha. Of course itīs a dream which
was fulfilled. Now itīs up to us what we decide to do on. In a way,
this is a ticket to the top and we are alredy contacted by gig
organizators from all the world. Maybe I am the one who brakes the
band - because of my health. You know, I am 55 and I donīt withstand
what I was used to. I have drunk all my life and now it seems I am
getting the bill. Well, letīs try it and weīll see. Maybe everything
wil turn in a different way. Ha, ha.
This interview will be called "Talking about vinyls before their big
tour". Do you want to close it somehow? For example by the same words
as The Temple LP ends?
Oh, I have no clue what is at the end of that LP. But in principle,
I never close anything. It would be a grave. So letīs leave everything
open and I wish to all your readers a lot of good music and pleasant
reading. And thank you for the interview.
Thanks to you, too. And I wish you at least twenty more years of
active music, big boss of Czech black metal.
Photography : Rootan.NET, BigBoss.Mysteria.CZ
Note: The interview was
done via emails during February and March 2007.