My HeadBangers, this week I am beyond excited to bring you the Polish Black Metal Band, BATUSHKA, also an interview with guitar player Monk Tarlachan (Rafael). I told you all I was working on something special and this band is just that, trust me, you’ll hear and see it…
Let’s jump into the interview. First a big thank you to Monk Tarlachan, they were on tour during this time and I really appreciate him fitting this in, I told him to just be himself and so he was. As always me in blue and Monk in black.
Here’s a great pic of Monk Tarlachan
When did you start with Batushka? I know you play the guitar but I couldn’t find when you joined them.
I was asked to be one of the session guitarists back in March 2018 as a fill-in for one of the session guitarists already in the band who had other bands that he played in and it was getting more and more difficult for him to make it work. Funny thing, I thought he asked if he remembers correctly that I have an 8 string guitar because he wanted to practice the set on mine . I wasn’t aware how wrong I was and I couldn’t believe he really asked me to be his fill-in, at that time it seemed unreal . After all the split things happened some session musicians decided they don’t want to risk being pulled into the internet drama and were slowly playing less and less shows. That way I became a full time member, around the time of the release of a full length album. At that point there were 3 guitarists in the band but two of them were dividing the shows between themselves. I was the one able to play all the shows in 2019. When the entire world slowed down for a while (we all know why ), we decided we don’t want to rely on session musicians that much and have the full time members of the band with very rare occasions of fill-ins if one of us really can’t play the show.
I agree with you on that, I wouldn’t want to rely on a session guy, if possible I would always want a full time member. What made you want to join this band?
The moment I heard Batushka’s debut album I was mesmerized by how dark the choirs sounded and how bold it was to use 8 strings in black metal and make it work that well. That plus the dirty sacral image worked in favor of music really well in my opinion. I remember the moment I really fell in love with the band 100%, it was after seeing the live show for the first time , they played with Behemoth near my hometown. It was my first time seeing Behemoth live as well, crazy lineup for a show. To be honest though I was not expecting to be part of the band when I first heard them or when I was at the show… I was not that much into black metal at that time, I listened to some songs by free bands but it was minority of my usual playlist. But I totally felt like that’s something different. I still have the shirt I bought on that show and at this point I consider it being a very special piece of Batushka merch I own, which I obviously have a lot of at this point .
I bet you do lol. When I first heard the band I stopped dead in my tracks. Holy shit what is that sound. It took me back to the 2 years I went to Catholic school, yeah I was one of those girls, but only for 2 years lmao, we had to go to Mass everyday it took me back to that time, the incense burner, just the whole sound, except for the growl vocals lol.
Why does the band wear religious habits and Eastern Orthodox schemas during live performances? They are very striking, I love them. I’ve done another band from Minsk, Belarus. Their name is CIEMRA. They also don’t show their faces. What is the reason why Batushka doesn’t show theirs?
The reason we wear schema monk habits is they were the ones that fit the music and the atmosphere the most with very little changes to how they look. There were some changes done to the outfits along the way, we used Orthodox priest habits as well for a short period to fit the vibe of the music better. We probably will make some changes in the future as well but that’s all I can say for now, as things develop more we’ll let our fans know for sure . The reason we don’t show our faces is to keep the show more theatrical and not distract the attention from what matters the most. Listeners should focus on the music and the show more than our faces . The entire thing seems more mysterious that way and that makes you wonder more about what he reason we don’t show our faces is to keep the show more theatrical and not distract the attention from what matters the most. The entire thing seems more mysterious that way and that makes you wonder more about what you see. At the beginning of the band it was also meant to keep the identities hidden so people don’t know who the founders are (and that also helped with having some session musicians changing obviously , which wasn’t the goal but helped). At this point it became impossible for some of us to stay anonymous, especially that we meet our fans on festivals, changeover or even soundchecks, we don’t hide that much anymore, it is more important that during a show our individual personalities matter much less then the overall feeling of the liturgy. You’re meant to see a monk, not Tarlachan, though same as with actors some of my personality will blend into the character that you see on stage. That’s unavoidable but not at all bad in my opinion .
No I agree with you 100 %. I really think it adds so much to the music and what is happening on stage. There is so much going on up there with you guys. It really is like a show and a concert at the same time.
In 2019 Drabikowski said the court decided the Krysiuk could not tour under the name Batushka or release any new music. I’m sure that was a huge relief. 2019 is where it seems Batushka really came on to its own. A lot of music was released during this time. It seems that the band was ready to get out there. Batushka has toured the US twice, opened for Behemoth, did a for European Tour. And at this writing you are in Mexico. What else is coming up for you guys? I don’t know how you fit it all in.
That was court’s decision before looking into the details who legally owns the name at the moment of a start of the lawsuit. What Krzysztof didn’t post is the other part, decided later, that until the case is closed nothing changes, because that would imply it was already decided who should win the case and who’s guilty. The entire thing takes years but is so complicated that it might last years more . As I said at the beginning nothing’s just black and white and people on the internet tend to forget about that a lot. Seems like some people believed one side of the story without considering it’s not the entire truth… We’re working really hard to get the band growing and coming close to where it was stopped when the entire live music industry came to a stop and all the shows and tours had to be canceled or postponed. I think we’re back on the right track, last two tours – North America and Europe went a lot better than the previous ones, we had a blast on both tours, people at the shows assured us that our work is seen and doesn’t come unnoticed and that’s amazing for an artist to see . Our plans for nearest future are Mexico and South America, then one more short tour in December that I can’t say more about until it’s announced and then we’re going back to finishing new album to release it next year. As for 2024 there are some shows in Europe booked, a lot in Poland in fact and I have my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to play a show in the city that I saw Batushka live for the first time before joining.
Would you say your music is rooted in the Orthodox religion or do you guys want it just to seem that way?
For sure our music is rooted in Orthodox culture a lot, I would even say that the more music we write the more it is apparent. The band originates from a region of Poland that is very influenced by Orthodox religion and we want to show that to wider audience via our music with our musical influences sprinkled on top. It is not purely accidental, the entire show, our stage props, outfits, merchandise and graphics are Orthodox in our way. Some of the members of our band were either raised Orthodox, lived very close to it or even took part in its life and liturgies. Orthodox culture has a lot to offer and was not exploited by mainstream media and artists yet, which gives us opportunity to show fresh perspective on it and influence other artists with it. I can already see a lot of artists looking deeper into Orthodox symbolism, icons and aesthetic. I hope that influence will be growing, that’s a sign that as an artist you’re doing the good work .
I believe you are, trust me, I’ve been doing this blog since 2018, seen a lot of bands. Each one has a little something different to bring to their fans. Batushka has something really different, that’s why I kept texting and emailing you, sorry if I was a pain lol. I really wanted people who have never seen the band to really look at what you offer. It’s like a different kind of life then you add in some Black Metal, what is not to love really!!!
What is the process of making new songs for the band? Is it one person with an idea, then everyone gets involved?
We are still trying out different ways we work on songs. Sometimes the entire song is written by one person from the riffs and drums to vocals. Other times we throw ideas at each other and make a song together. And sometimes we also do things in between like a draft written by one person and then rearranged by one or few of us or choirs and vocals done on a complete song. What is important for us is to not become stagnant, cause it can kill the drive. Whatever will do the trick works, writing music has to be fun and satisfying in the end . Let me give you some examples, Raskol was written in such a way that few of us did drafts of the songs, we ended up with 13-14 in the end and then we picked the ones which had the vibe that we were aiming towards. 3 songs stayed almost the same instrumentally as the drafts but then we worked a lot on choirs and vocals together and rearranged 2 of the remaining ones completely. Heavenly King on the other hand was mostly written together, we met with only some ideas, melodies and riffs and built up on that and spent the entire time in the studio just writing and recording demos/preproduction until it made sense as a whole. We’re trying to make use of the strengths we all have individually. For the next album we have around 15-18 song drafts written by various methods and still some more work to be done for them to be ready .
Is there anything you would like to add? Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
I’d like to thank our fans for making it possible for us to improve the quality of our music and live performances by supporting us and attending the masses . Thank you pilgrims . We hope everyone can find something that touches them in our art, whether it’s music they enjoy, just a visually nice performance to see or a religious experiences – pro or anti, it’s up to the listener to decide how they interpret what we do, we are neither satanic or religious, we are but a vessel to experience everything Orthodox. Last thing is – if you are in any way interested in our band, come and see the show. It is the only way to get the full Batushka experience with all the elements by all of your senses, the smell of the incense, the Orthodox church props, the warmth of fire, the candles, the view of the monks during a liturgy combined with a metal show and as some fans say the spiritual experience. As someone who also saw that from in front of the stage, it is something different and touching.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my view on these things Sandy , I’m really grateful for this interview!
Trust me it was all my pleasure. Your enthusiasm for the band and your music is so positive. I’m sure there are a lot of bands out there that feel the same way, but a lot can’t say it like you did tonight. I want to thank you and the rest of the band for the environment you produce on stage and the music they bring to us. I truly have loved every minute of finding out more about the band. I wish you guys all the success in the world and I know you guys will have it all. Trust in yourselves and you will never go wrong. I’m listing all your social media sites below. If there’s anything you ever want blasted out just let me know. Seriously, this has been one of my favorite Interviews.
Monk Tarlachan, is the one on the right end.
My HeadBangers here are all of Batushka’s social media sites. Trust me you will love them. Check them out, it’s so worth the time…
Guitarist, Music Producer, Composer and Tech Mastermind of Batushka
All my HeadBangers let me know what you think of this band. I know what I think. That’s it for this week. Join me next Wednesday for Hump Day and next Friday for the weekly band. It’s going to be another surprise for you with interview. You know I work my ass off for you guys. Just to know you enjoy it is all I need. Stay warm, stay safe the world is getting crazier by the day, and most off all KEEP HEADBANGING…..