After three decades on the scene and two albums released last year, the coastal rockers Zmelkoow are preparing two big farewell concerts. Frontman and guitarist Goga Sedmak answered us about their work, career and philosophy. So, can we be worried about Zmelkoow or is it another stunt of theirs?
Primorski banter Zmelkoow have been on the scene for three decades, the current lineup is Goga, Žare, Koščak, Anuša and maestro Zergoloff. They released two albums last year, namely 10/10which was released on vinyl and CD, and CD Drama luxurya concert album recorded at SNG Drama in Ljubljana.
But Zmelkoow wouldn’t be Zmelkoow if instead of celebrating a round anniversary, they didn’t come up with something different, remember that they didn’t celebrate their 20th birthday either, but their 21st birthday. So they imagined two “farewell” concerts, in Ljubljana and Maribor, when they will walk through their musical history and prepare a selection of their best, favorite and most bizarre compositions, of course with some exotic and neglected pearl, but of course they will not forget a new album crowned with superlatives and tens of thousands.
There are quite a few well-known songs on it, such as Hedgehog, What’s wrong with us, Ke Mona, We won, the most current is the new single and music video She dreams of a sledge, which they described themselves as “an action drama about the struggle between man and nature, in which, of course, man wins”. The core of the story is about Sonja’s screams as she runs wild with her sled through the porpoise forests, with which she breaks the winter sleep of the indigenous population, and the animal’s brave fight against an overpowering aggressor. In the end, Sonja wins, but this victory is Pirova’s, because hell awaits her at the bottom of the toboggan run, behind the finish line. The frontman and guitarist revealed more about the new album and much more in an interview Goga Sedmak.
The corona time was quite productive for you, who else releases two albums in one year?
Well, to be honest, we didn’t work that hard during the corona. The material for the concert album had already been recorded before and only had to be tweaked a bit, and we had been slowly recording the studio album for a couple of years, so it was only finished during the corona. However, we really did a couple of interesting campaigns during the time and because of the corona – we are especially proud of the concert on the ship, which the entire Koper bay, including the surrounding hills, listened to willy-nilly.
In what format were they released, is there any other format you haven’t released your songs on yet, I think you still hold the record for the group with the most different formats released?
This will probably hold true for the Slovenian market – in addition to all three dimensions of vinyl (one is even one-sided), cassettes, first recordings on a reel and CDs, we also released shape CDs, mini CDs (in a bun with attached ketchup); but I don’t know if something would still be found if we had an organized archive. This time we released the studio album on vinyl (in two color options) and CD, and the live album only on CD. Apparently, our bassist Žare is preparing an exclusive version of the key in the shape of a Zmelkoow bird, with which he intends to go down in history.
The album 10/10 (ten out of ten) seems to be quite positive and current (Happy December, We won!, Sonja se sledge), you obviously got through the tough times in a pretty creatively successful way, while not making things too difficult for people?
We thought that it was appropriate for the anniversary album that it is not exactly underground, so we steered the matter into ear-friendly rock, both with the choice of songs and the production. But now we’re planning more zig-zag brutal metal material (laughs).
Last year they said goodbye to Hungry Franz, Steam Roller also said goodbye for a long time, until death intervened. On a global scale, Kiss has been saying goodbye for almost a quarter of a century, and Bob Dylan is also on an endless farewell tour. Have you fallen into the trend of farewell concerts, or is this a simple trick to sell out a couple of concerts quickly?
Basically, we wanted to be ironic about doing this, because this saying goodbye and returning to the scene under different pretexts is really funny, predictable and transparent. That’s why we recorded the Farewell Concert honestly and meaningfully – for the first time. It is interesting, however, that a non-negligible part of the people took this farewell of ours seriously, so that we sold out the Šiška Cinema very quickly. Which means that we inadvertently somehow ended up in the same parish as the aforementioned. Well, with a bit of luck, maybe one of us will be picked up, and they won’t be able to accuse us of calculatingly misleading the audience…
Basically, you should be celebrating your 30th birthday, how do you intend to apologize to those who will feel “tight” but happy at the same time if it’s not your goodbye after all?
Yes, the 30-year-old was also in the running to headline the concert (in addition to presenting two new albums); but we have a similar attitude to the celebrations of these round anniversaries as to saying goodbye. This somehow fits more into the folk-entertainment scene. The last time we had one such joke was at the jubilee concert – Golden 21st. Well, we found the silliest anniversary possible and pompously promoted it as a round anniversary. Of course, despite the round figure, it was packed; which may indicate a low level of mathematics knowledge in Slovenia – at least in the area of rounding numbers.
You sold out Ljubljana in a few weeks, how is the sale going on the Styrian end, where you will say goodbye in Maribor on March 4?
I think they really went out in a week or two, already in December. Our manager Primitivc is more concerned with sales, but as I hear, tickets for Štuk from Maribor are sold as well as for honey. I think people will immediately grab them when they read this brilliant interview.
Where, in your opinion, are you most popular in Slovenia, if we exclude Primorska, where you come from, where have you been adopted the most, are you the most liked by the student audience, or is this a mistaken opinion?
It is true that in the southwest of our mother hens, and not only figuratively, we are somehow most at home. Otherwise, it would be almost easier to find those areas where we play less often – maybe the south-east, the far east… In fact, a lot depends on the other scene in the individual area. If there are rock venues, clubs and organizers operating in a certain environment, the band somehow ends up there too. If this is not learned, it is more difficult, less common… But generationally, we have been covering a very wide spectrum for some time – students go to student parties, to some fine places like SNG Drama, refined gentlemen, to mularia matinees, to retirement homes for the elderly, and the prisoners to the prisons… Well, and the guards.
What can we expect at the farewell concert, your “best of” or will you show everyone the middle ground, play the new album and maybe some unheard songs, thus avoiding the cliché that you have to play what the audience wants the most?
It will be some combination of the above. We will definitely play someone that 98 percent of the audience doesn’t know… So it won’t be a middle act, more like a ring act.
Zmelkoow you are still capable of writing great anthemic-optimistic songs like that What are we missing?how do you do it?
Because we like each other so much! Haha, just kidding. It is rather one, in my opinion, of course, fairly realistic assessment that despite all the problems, we as a society (especially the narrower one) lack relatively little when compared to other historical periods and other places in the world. Of course, not everything is great with us and now, but most of us go to bed in the evening satisfied, without fear of an explosion… This is also something.
Is a good stunt, sarcasm and black humor more important to you in your songs, or just critical barbs that can be discerned between the lines?
Several factors are important and, as usual, the weakest of them is critical. If I try to quickly rank them, I would say that the order of importance goes something like this: sincerity, i.e. that the author actually has a desire or need to say something, then creativity or at least the absence of clichés, sparkle or at least non-babyishness, likability – not necessarily on the first try … come on, let that be enough. Humor, sarcasm, romance, … everything is ok if a person feels that way and says it in a good way. Basically, the most disgusting thing to me is the fake positive, which is quite a lot on the scene.
You’re probably not really burdened by the fact that you’re not constantly in the yellow press, because, in addition to the musical freshness of the lyrics and quite unique concert appearances, you’ve always emphasized banter in your characteristic, Zmelko style, rather than gossip?
I don’t know who and why he likes to be in the yellow media. I would say people who lack substance and confidence. We wouldn’t feel good in that company. If they are yellow there, we are blue on the color wheel – at least like the ancient Greek philosophers.
Zmelkoow is not possible, what did you learn, how did you manage to last thirty years in the business, on the scene?
It’s hard for this to be a recipe for anyone else, but we especially don’t have a clear goal or purpose. they change all the time, so we can’t meaningfully finish the project and it’s still going on… But we’re pretty consistent about it – twenty years ago we sang: As long as we don’t know where we wanted to go, we’re not lost. We work slowly, divergently and unsystematically, so there is always something to correct, arrange and supplement. And when we may feel like we’ve caught the red thread, it’s a clear sign that we’ve had too much to drink.
Who does Zmelkoow rate 10/10 and why?
Besides our new record, you mean? (laughs) It’s hard for me to think of anything or anyone within the folk life, so I’ll say Mother Nature, because she’s so patient with us, even though we don’t deserve it. Come on, our manager Primitivec, because under the weight of chanting from the back seats, he almost always stops at the pump when we go to a concert.