Bulgarian Heavy Metal band Rampart has a silent force that has not been very quiet since 2006, the year Rampart became active. Maria is the founder of the band and the vocalist. Four albums released and a new album is on its way.
Hi Maria, recently you’ve been on the road with Anvil. How was that? Any funny quotes to share?
Hi, Stefan! We are happy and proud to be again on the road with Anvil. In 2016 we had the pleasure to be a part of Udo Dirkschneider’s tour with Anvil in Scandinavia. Now, it’s an honor for us to share the stage again with the Canadian metal veterans. In February we’ve played four shows in the Netherlands, and we will be continuing the metal craziness on the road in March in Switzerland and Germany. It is always fun to meet and talk with such experienced musicians as Lips, Robb and Chris are. You can always learn something new or find a crazy moment. In 2016 Lips defined us as a German band. Now, he calls us “a German band from Memphis”. I see this as a compliment having in mind that Johny Cash and Elvis had recorded in Memphis. Ha ha ha…
I got to know Rampart as I’ve seen you live with Anvil. Do you think that touring is a good way to present the band to a new audience? What does Rampart do more for promoting the band?
Touring definitely is a good way to present the music to a new audience. I definitely like to be on the road. This is the only way to meet new metalheads and new friends face to face. This is the musician’s chance to address his/her message directly. We are constantly working on planning new gigs and on promoting our songs. We use conventional approaches – album releases, touring, videos, and social media. A great part of the promotional activities is in the hands of the label we are signed to. We used to work with a French label for our early releases. Since 2016 we are working with the Berlin-based label Iron Shield Records. For the promotion of our latest release was done by the German label Pure Steel Records. I believe that the labels have a wider audience than any band itself and they have more effective tools and channels for band promotion. In the contemporary environment of infotainment (information + entertainment) it is hard to reach the metal stakeholders but we are doing our maximum to reach our audience and to have fun with the activity we like most – making metal music.
Can you explain to us what’s the deeper meaning behind the artwork for Codex Metalum?
In this album, I tried to refer heavy metal to an ancient system of values. Each of our songs tells a part of a moral codex which we defend through our music. With the title of our new album “Codex Metalum,” we express our feeling for the anthropological eternity of the main values. That is why when we were searching for the artist for the artwork of the album we explained to him the idea with the direct parallel between knighthood (The Knights Code) and the metal culture (The Metal Codex). It was not possible for me not to touch topics from our contemporary times in the lyrics. This made me think that we express ourselves by the means of the contemporary universal language and by contra-pointing the topics of nowadays for the title of our album, I decided to use Latin – the universal language of the antiquity. This philosophy reflected also on the graphic design of the CD made by the Bulgarian artist Stefan Valkanov. The main concept of “Codex Metalum” is that the metal attitude comes from the ancient times and it could be represented by venerable symbols as the Knights’ codex of honor.
Codex Metalum dates from 2016. Are there plans for a new album?
Actually, we are almost ready with the recordings of a brand new album called „WWII: Memories for the Future”. The main topic line of all its lyrics is a concept and features less known historical facts about World War II. The album features 11 tracks and is planned for release in the second half of 2018. In „WWII: Memories for the Future” our sound is a bit heavier and in my opinion, this is our album where classic heavy metal meets thrash.
Which song from Rampart is your favorite when playing live?
Actually I have several favorite songs for the live shows. In fact this is the whole short play set of the band. From our first album “Voice of the Wilderness” (2009) I have chosen songs “The Flood” and “Desert of Time”. From our second album “War Behest” (2012) the songs are: “Ghost of Freedom” and “Give Nothing Back”. From our third album “Conspiracy” (2014) in our native language the song is “The City” (a song of ER MALUK/ERA). From “Codex Metalum” (2016) my favorite songs we are playing live are “Apocalypse or Theater” and “Crown-Land”. From our upcoming album the songs chosen are: “June 22nd” and “Now We Are One”.
What’s been going on for the band during the time between releases?
In the time between our releases we usually make concerts. No rest at all. We also compose and seek inspiration from the world around us and from our vision for the ways we can change it. We are a socially engaged band and we express our positions with music and lyrics appropriate for each different idea or song. Just like every band, every artist or even every human we are like a mirror of the world reflecting it by our inner light. The rest could be explained only be the means of your ears.
You started in 2006 with the band, are you happy with the way things are going for the band or is there something that could be better?
Lots of things could happen in a better way but a band is a real band when all of its members aim and strive for the achieving of common goals. The fact itself that we are developing as musicians in Bulgaria had already created so many obstacles and barriers. If I try to discuss them here, there is a risk to occupy a great part of the memory of your server.
When did you start singing and why did you want to sing?
I started with singing in 1998 and it was not planned. An all-female band was searching for a singer and somehow they found me and engaged me with their activities. Afterwards, I decided to take lessons and to make things a bit more professional. I worked on widening my vocal range and on using different techniques. After singing for two years I was convinced that I like to do this because of the metal music itself and because of the positive attitude of all the metalheads I know. I see the rehearsals at the same time as an entertainment, as a therapy and as a development, the stages – as the proper way to address my messages. At the moment I just cannot imagine life without singing.
Do you have any practices to keep your voice in good condition?
Of course, I have – beers, beers, and beers. It is a joke. Ha ha ha… To keep my voice in good condition I need a good dose of sleeping. Before going on the stage I usually take a small quantity of whiskey and honey, and I practice in the backstage to open my voice. I also try to keep my good mood up and the rest is a show.
Who influenced you the most at the beginning of your career and who are your current favorites? Is there another type of music you would like to sing?
No doubt, Kai Hansen influenced me the most all the time. In my early years of singing, I can add Bruce Dickinson and Chuck Billy to the bill. My current favorites… I have always been a big admirer of the thrash stage. In the last years, I listen to KREATOR, SODOM, DESTRUCTION, TESTAMENT, ANTHRAX, LAAZ ROCKIT and many more. In my opinion, I already achieved to sing in the proper for me style – something between heavy metal and thrash.
What is the highlight of your career so far? And the funniest moment?
No doubt the highlight of our career till this moment was our participation in Wacken Open Air 2017. There are so many emotions around this event that could not be expressed with words. Indeed this is the biggest cup of metal in Europe. We are almost ready with a DVD from Wacken filmed and edited by Belgian team (Jan Vervaeke, Tjalle Groen and Frederik Bliesk).
Our funny moments are so many that we collect them in a book. If I have to share a story I’ll go back in 2012 to the German festival Taunus Metal Open Air. I wanted to say thanks from the stage to the French band Lonewolf for their help for technical issues but when I did it – the German audience just froze in silence. It was like a stopped sequence in a movie. The fans thought that I am expressing my gratitude to the French audience in Germany. And when I immediately said “Danke!” the picture quickly became alive and the audience starts moving again.
Last one, any last words?
Wait for our new album “WWII: Memories for the Future”. It is a very diverse work as songs and approaches. We hope this year also to be released the book for our adventures all over Europe entitled “Apocalypse over Europe”. This is an apocalyptic brunch of funny tour stories and it contains a bonus CD – early live in London. We promise to be ourselves to the end! Be yourselves to the end and support the metal music!