Dude, your music is like entering a crack house!
“Dude, your music is like entering a crack house,” said my friend when he sat down on the couch in the same room where Georgi Velinoff and I had spent the last two weeks summoning chords and ideas from each other’s imagination.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I never know what I’ll find. Whatever it is, I know I’ll like it, though. Definitely makes me feel better.”
Тhe name stuck. It felt right, it suited what we were aiming for and though we knew it might get us into some peculiar conversations, we decided it was well-worth all the explanations we were bound to give.
I met Georgi when he was still working as a concierge at the National Theater back in 2014. I’d go and we’d talk about artists and bands that inspired us both, through singers and guitarists of the 60s and 70s all the way to classical composers of the early 20th century. We’d rattle on until they called him back in. It wasn’t long before he said he had a piano at his place and would I want to stop by for a jam. He’d play me all of his ideas, I’d join him on my guitar and soon we were writing songs. It was a strange feeling of instant connection that we embraced and in the following weeks we met every day until I found myself sleeping more on his couch than in my own bed. I had always dreamt of having a band. And here was this guy with his crazy hair, drinking coffee in pots, his voice ripping through the walls all the way to the street outside, who talked of Beckett and Shakespeare, Bukowski and Kerouac, Stravinsky and Schoenberg, played Chopin and sang Deep Purple. He wrote poetry and sang poetry. It was ridiculous. I played him some of my ideas that were close to classical guitar. I’d learned to play guitar with classical compositions and I still felt I could use that technique to my advantage. Sure enough, he was quick to answer my finger-picked arpeggios with melodies that bore memories of the string themes of famous concertos that somehow sounded like a lyrical ballad from the 60s with the rock’n’roll ring of his voice. It sounded like something out of a Krekhaus.
But we still needed more people for what we imagined. A bassist and a drummer. We wanted that power rock sound we had grown up with. We would use it and combine it with Velinoff’s poetry, add some piano so we could play longer pieces in the classical three part form of concertos. It was a bold idea. We didn’t want to sound like all the other rock’n’roll bands from Sofia who, in turn, sounded a lot like each other, still trying to emulate that Western rock scene sound and still not getting it right. They looked the look, walked the walk, but sounded like something one had already heard a thousand times. Radio-friendly chatter. The deeply embedded syndrome of the ex-Soviet ex-promise. We weren’t interested in that. We wanted badass riff breathing funk with slow choruses and guitar solos that could be sung. Whatever it was, you had to be able to sing it. If it felt right, then we would play it, no matter the genre.
Yavor Milchev was next to join the band. I found him playing guitar in a local pub with a friend of his. She sang and he strummed her pain with his fingers. They sounded good, he was good. I asked him if he was interested in joining a band and sent him one of our first recorded demos with Velinoff. He called me a couple of days later and said he couldn’t stop listening to it and yes, I’d like to play with you guys, sounds freaking awesome, where do you play? I told him we were just using Velinoff’s rented room in the city center.
“Is it the one with the big window on the ground floor, just opposite the bakery?”
“Dude, I’ve been wondering for ages who’s playing there. I mean, I’ve seen a guy on a piano and I’ve heard him sing and I’ve always wanted to take a peek. Damn, that’s so cool.”
We’d wait for him to finish school, he was 16-years-old then, but years ahead when it came to musical abilities. It all came from those piano lessons he used to take when he was even younger. He came to Velinoff’s place straight from school, forgetting all about homework and exams. He’d listen to our ideas, jam with us and very, very soon the three of us were on the way of compiling a pretty solid number of songs. We tried them out in a string of small acoustic concerts and with each one the audience grew. First, it was friends, then friends of friends, and then we got to meet all the new people coming to our small pub gigs. The now-familiar faces of new fans popped up here and there. We needed a drummer. We badly needed a drummer by then.
Yavor Milchev said he knew a drummer he used to play with. Cool guy, he said, plays all kinds of styles, used to be in a hardcore group but studied percussions too, and he’s got a solid ear. I can tell you, it’s one weird feeling to have your drummer telling you, the guitarist, that your guitar is slightly out of tune and it’s the G string. It’s always the G string.
When we met Matey Hristoskov, I suddenly recognized him. We’d already played with him in various jam sessions. There was a tune we had played, a kind of funky groove which left us both impressed with each other. I remember the way it all clicked into place then. We didn’t send him any songs, we just went to the studio and jammed on a few ideas. Yavor Milchev had made his mind up that what the band needed wasn’t another guitarist, but rather a bassist, and he was already transitioning. Matey was spot on. He had a tight groove, he played subtly and it was all too easy to forget about him until the frantic chorus or when he went into a melodic solo. That’s right, he made the drums a melodic instrument.
Now, a couple of years down the line, we have an EP recorded, dozens of songs still to be recorded in our upcoming 2020 album, dozens more awaiting their prime time and a band that feels strong together. We played major festivals in front of hundreds of people (After Fest 2016, Kapana Fest 2016, Sofia Breathes 2017, GuitArt 2018), and in front of thousands (Radio Park Fest 2019, Hills of Rock 2019, Mindya 2019). We recorded and uploaded our promo concert for the EP Odd One Out. That night we played in front of 500 strong and live-streamed it to hundreds more. But the best is yet to come. It feels good to know the best is yet to come.