Name: Eugene Silin
Location: Moscow, Russia
Occupation: Promoter, Agent, Tour Manager, Advert Designer, Freelance Journalist
Tell us something about your history as a Judas Priest fan?
At the age of 10 I checked my older brother’s tape collection. In those days in Russia not too many people were lucky owners of original vinyls – most of us exchanged tapes and copied them from one to another. To find good tape for recordings wasn’t an easy task either, by the way. Usually, my brother didn’t like to copy the whole album – he selected the songs he considered the best (to save space on the tapes he had) and made own compilations. So I took a few tapes with such names as Scorpions, Krokus, Accept, Ozzy, W.A.S.P. written on the inlay and, along with those, there was Judas Priest. The first songs I heard were “Hell Bent For Leather”, “Evening Star” and “Beyond The Realms of Death” on one tape, and then on another tape there were 4 songs from “Defenders Of The faith” (“Jawbreaker”, “Love Bites”, “Eat Me Alive” and “The Sentinel”) – those songs blew my mind away, and, like 1000 people have told before me, changed my life. Funny thing: in those days I didn’t know English, and for a while I was sure that Judas Priest was the name of the lead singer.
Your career as a Judas Priest fan started in the 80s, when Russia was known as the USSR. Was it an easy task to keep an eye on what was happening in the western music culture?
It was a funny time without sources like the Internet or cable television, and the heaviest thing from the west you could get through the Russian radio and TV was Modern Talking or Italian pop singers. But heavy music has never been strictly forbidden in Russia as it was in some Muslim countries. It was, let’s say, not recommended by the official culture structures. Anyway, some mainstream newspapers and magazines wrote about foreign metal bands from time to time, mostly in a negative key, which raised even more interest among such bad kids as myself. And you also could get some self-made zines or just lists with printed translations from magazines like Metal Hammer and others. All information had a huge value – we exchanged articles and copied album track lists and lyrics by hand. I remember when I went to Holland with my parents in 1990, I spent hours in the local music stores with pen and paper to fix track lists of my favourite albums, which I had on copied tapes. If someone was lucky to get such mags as Metal hammer or Kerrang, he usually would cut them and save only the pages with his favourite bands. The other pages were sold or exchanged to other guys. It was a funny, but not easy, time – everyone was so enthusiastic about his favourite bands, and, I should say, we were educated enough about the line ups, discographies and other stuff.
How was the heavy metal scene in your country back in those days?
Much better than nowadays, I should say. When Perestroika happened in 1985, a lot of bands started their career. Somewhere between 1987 and 1991 Heavy Metal was very big, many Russian bands started to fill stadiums. You should hear about 2 historical events that happened in Moscow during those years: The Moscow Peace Festival in 1989 with Skid Row, Cinderella, Scorpions, Ozzy, Motley Crue, Gorky Park and Bon Jovi, and The Monsters Of Rock in 1991 with AC/DC, Metallica, Pantera, E.S.T. and Black Crowes. Unfortunately, the winds of fashion changed very quickly – somewhere around 1992 metal went into small clubs.
The Moscow Peace Festival was a remarkable event as it brought many big names into Russia for the first time. I guess you were in the audience?
Unfortunately not. I was in Italy at the time and, to my disappointment, missed this event. My brother went there – the lucky bastard! But I was in the Tushino airfield in 1991, in the middle of a crowd of more than 500 000 people. If you want to ask me about my impressions about that festival – I have such mixed feelings. On one hand, it was cool to witness such a great event, taking the fact that not too many foreign bands had played in Russia before. But, on the other hand, many people suffered a lot of violence from the police as well as from each other. The police beat the audience with sticks, and the audience threw bottles back, but some of those bottles hit the fans as well. I was in the middle of this chaos during the E.S.T. gig, but luckily didn’t get injured apart from a few small haematomas on my legs caused by the police. To be fair, I should say that there were a lot of drunken assholes in the audience, and not all of them were metal fans. It was a free-admission event, which tempted many idiots. Anyway, I’m proud enough to say that I was there and survived, haha. By the way, it was nothing like this at the Peace Festival that took place 2 years before – all my friends who were there told me that this event was organised much better.
During the past decade, you’ve been writing for a Russian metal magazine called ‘Alive’, tell us something about it?
Alive Magazine started in the late 90s. It was a 50-page colour mag devoted to Heavy Music of all genres; it was one of the few Metal magazines in Russia and, believe me, one of the best. We had a very strong team of writers and editors who did a great job. We interviewed a lot of bands, wrote a lot of reviews and articles and, with honour, I can say that Alive was the first Russian media to have an exclusive interview with Judas Priest in 2002. Unfortunately, we never got enough financial support and, then, the Internet started to grow. Alive ended 2 years ago.
For Alive you wrote a huge history of Judas Priest with 7 parts. Do you have any plans to finish the story?
I wrote about the classical Priest era from the beginning to Rob leaving the Priest in 1992. But I still hope to finish this story one day, and maybe release a book about Priest. This is a huge amount of work – when I wrote those texts I spent all my weekends surrounded by hundreds of articles and checked thousands of websites.
Are there currently any other metal magazines in your country, filling the gap the Alive magazine left?
Yes, some print mags still exist – the local “Dark City”, and the Russian editions of “Metal Hammer” and “Classic Rock”. I could also mention the “In Rock” magazine – it is mostly devoted to hard-rock/art rock of the 70s, but their editor in chief was part of the Alive team long ago, as well as the “Rock Oracle” which is mostly devoted to gothic/ebm/industrial stuff.
Your work in a concert booking agency includes organizing tours and concerts. For a music fan like you it must be a dream job?
Hmmm… In some way it may look like that. But if you think that it’s only about partying and fun, you are totally wrong. First of all, this is a very hard job full of routines and risks, and it requires good nerves. Moreover, not every time is your job rewarded adequately, sometimes you get nothing, sometimes you even lose money. You have to keep 1000 things in your mind all the time, you have to be ready for different kinds of jobs, especially when you lead a company like ours, which is not so big. Yes, I’ve been lucky to meet many great and famous people and be part of many great events. But we all have spent weeks and months to make everything possible. So, let’s say it’s 90% of tough work and 10% of fun. I also have to have a lot of other jobs on the side (writing, advert design etc.) to get enough money for living.
You’ve been on the road with many bands as a tour promoter and as freelance tour manager/assistant. Are the any ‘road stories’ you would like to share with us?
Everyone who has had the same experience would say that he has 1000 stories, and I am no exception, haha. Of course, I cannot tell all of them, because there is a lot of private stuff behind them. But here’s a few: in 2006, when I was on tour with the Swedish band Lake Of Tears, we all got a bad food poisoning somewhere in Ukraine. Everyone felt very sick – guys from the band were looking for places behind the stage where they could puke between the songs right during the show. I had a body temperature of 39 degrees and a bad diarrhoea – With one hand I showed the local crew where to place the equipment on the stage, and held the other hand on my ass fearing to shit my pants. The most valuable thing in the dressing room weren’t the drinks and the food, but toilet paper. ‘Shit happens’ is the most correct phrase to describe what happened to us, haha. But despite this, not a single show was cancelled. I also remember the tour with Amorphis in 2007 and our trip to eastern Russia. The night in the train between Khabarovsk and Vladivostok turned into an amazing party. We stopped somewhere in the middle of nowhere and met local people, who looked at the guys like aliens, because they had never seen foreign people over there. Tours with Mnemic, Pro-Pain, Napalm Death, Destruction (never try to drink with Schmier!!!), Waltari and Nachtmahr were always a lot of fun.
How popular is metal music in Russia nowadays?
Like in most European countries nowadays, metal music is not mainstream, but it has a strong fan base.
Are there any local bands you would like to recommend to our readers?
I would like to recommend several bands. Check out Manic Depression (http://www.manic-depression.ru/) – a very cool thrash metal band, every fan of Slayer, Testament or Exodus should like them. Check out Valkiriya (http://www.mazzar.ru/2008/02/val-kiriya_popolni-ryady_-_2008.html) – good math-core modern metal. Check out TARAKANY (www.tarakany.ru) – they are a famous Russian punk rock band who went on several tours as part of the Marky Ramone (ex-RAMONES) band. Also, I would like to mention E.S.T. who played with Metallica and AC/DC in 1991. I would describe their music as Motorhead with Russian roots. Unfortunately, their lead singer and the main guy, who was a friend of mine, died 2 years ago.
How many times have you seen Priest live, and of those, what was the best experience?
Here is my history:
19 March 2002 – Prague
16 June 2004 – Budapest
08 April 2005 – Vienna
27 November 2005 – Moscow
29 November 2005 – St. Petersburg
5 June 2008 – Sweden Rock Festival
I think all of them were unforgettable experiences. In 2002 I met the band the first time, and made an exclusive interview with Ian Hill and Ripper Owens. It was also the first time I met Jayne Andrews, who organised this interview for me, and she also introduced me to the rest of the members. I think she was a bit impressed when she heard that I spent more than 40 hours in the train to come there. Since that she was very attentive to me and to our Alive magazine. In 2004 I came to Budapest and was one of the very few people, who got exclusive interviews with Rob, K.K. and Glenn, making a cover story. When Priest came to Russia, ALIVE was the only magazine that got to go to the meet’n’greet with the band. So I am very thankful to Jayne for her kind help and attention to me and our magazine.
Are there any other special Priest-related moments that you remember?
A lot of them. I was happy to meet Tim Owens last year, when he came to Russia with Hail, along with my friend Andreas Kisser from Sepultura in the band – the band I was lucky to work with. I met Bobby Jarzombek in 2009 when he came with the Sebastian Bach band, and I met Mike Chlasciack in 2004 in Budapest the next day after seeing Priest, when he played with Testament. There are a lot of relations I got through Priest. In Prague, when I came to see Priest the first time, I met a guy who also interviewed Ripper – his name was Carlos, and he was one of the biggest music journalists from Austria. Since that we became very good friends, and 3 years later he invited me to his house in Vienna, and also organized passes to the Judas Priest show. I have met a lot of nice people because they’re Priest fans just like me.
What does the music of Judas Priest mean to you?
I think everyone can find something personal in his favourite music. All feelings like happiness, sadness, melancholy or euphoria I can get through Judas Priest songs. I listen to a lot of different stuff -and not only metal- but Priest along with Accept, which is also a huge love from my childhood, will always be on the top for me.
Speaking about Accept, what do you think about their new reincarnation without Udo?
Well, let’s ACCEPT the facts how they are. From the very beginning it was clear to me that Udo will not come back to Accept, because he invested years of hard work to put his band U.D.O. on such professional and successful level as they are now. But on the other hand, it’s great to see that Wolf Hoffmann, Peter Baltes and the rest of the guys are back on the big stage. They made a great album “Blood Of The Nations”, and I think their new lead singer Mark was the right choice for this reincarnation of Accept. At least the fans have got 2 great bands now. Last year I visited U.D.O. and Accept shows close to another, and both bands were in perfect condition!
What is your favourite album and song?
It’s impossible to answer, please give me at least 3 choices for albums and 5 choices for songs, OK?
Albums: “Sad Wings Of Destiny”, “Defenders Of The Faith”, “Painkiller”
Songs: “Run Of The Mill”, “Beyond The Realms Of Death”, “Jawbreaker”, “Hot For Love”, “One Shot At Glory”
Your message to K.K. and the Millworkers?
I would like to thank K.K. and all Priest members for what they’ve done for more than 35 years. It’s really touching to see how much time K.K. invests for this site posting greetings and answering all fan questions. K.K. is a very open, friendly and communicative person – I’ve noticed this every time I’ve been lucky to meet K.K. in person. And, of course, I want to thank Millworkers for such a cool and informative website. You guys have done an amazing and not easy job making every Priest fan happy. I also love your idea to publish interviews of other famous musicians – there’s always a lot of interesting stuff here, and I’m looking forward to the next update! I really hope to meet you all in person one day and shake your hands.