Doomed Nation

Sounds For The Lost Generation

Iamdisease (Marko Rusjan & Ivo Lozej)

Iamdisease is a Slovenian band playing dark and angry hardcore with strong influences of metal, crust and sludge. Their music deals with the darker sides of human nature and the monstrosities of the information society. However, their message is not surrender and despair, but hope in changes for the better of everyone.

Marko and Ivo were so kind to answer my questions about their early days, musical influences, lyrics, political issues, future plans, Ivo’s solo project and more.

Band members:
Marko – Vocals
Tomaž – Drums
Ivo – Guitar
Tilen – Bass

You all played in many quite diverse bands like Man In The Shadow, Low Punch, The Hoax Program, Elodea, Lintver, Kennyball Smith,… over the years. Is your approach to music much different nowadays?
Marko: We still play with enthusiasm and only for the enjoyment that we get by playing. We are only in it for the music. On the other side there are some differences. We are not 20 years old any more, most of us started playing in the ‘90s. When we started playing music we were in high school or at the university, we had plenty of time, we could practice with our bands 3 times a week. Nowadays we have to be much more economical with our time. We practice once a week or even less. We have jobs, families and other activities. I think we are all very active in our everyday life, being in the band is just one of the many activities that we enjoy or we have to do.

How was Iamdisease actually born?
Marko: After the break up of my previous band Man In The Shadow in 2000 I was not in a band for a long time. I was very busy with my work at Mostovna so I didn’t have any plans for a new band. Around 2008 we were talking with Valter (ex-Entreat.), with whom we had also started Man In The Shadow back in the days, to start a new hardcore band. Talks involved also Ivo, who at the time played with The Hoax Program and Elodea, and Tomaž, whom we knew from local melodic punk band Kennyball Smith. The idea was to start a metallic hardcore in the vein of Integrity, the band we all listened and was highly influential in our local scene. We started practice in spring 2009, just before the first gig in November 2009 Valter left the band and Jan jumped in. He was younger but we knew each other from concerts and love for similar music. So in 2 weeks he was ready to go on stage with the band.

Do you consider yourselves as “the missing link” between hardcore punk and doom/sludge metal?
Marko: There are no missing links. People always listen to different music. If you take a look at the famous Washington DC hardcore scene, people also listened to Pentagram and The Obsessed. Black Flag started to play heavy, sludge music with Rollins. They were a huge punk and hardcore band, but they practically invented sludge sound. Just listen to their »My War« record. Black Flag toured all the time and in the van they played »Masters Of Reality« from Black Sabbath tape all the time. Then came Melvins, who also have punk roots. Hardcore veterans Integrity also integrated doom sound in their albums. I was a hardcore kid but I loved Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. I think we are just one of many bands that mix a lot of different musical styles. There is not only doom in our music, we have a lot of stoner, black and death metal elements.

What would be your most obvious influences? And some maybe not so obvious?
Ivo: I listen to a lot of new music and various music genres, however when it comes to songwriting for Iamdisease I usually look for inspiration in the ‘90s hardcore and metal scene which I find more raw, creative and passionate than most of today’s music. Bands like Integrity, Converge, His Hero Is Gone, Black Flag, Carcass, Cursed, Coalesce, etc. have been a constant source of inspiration not just for Iamdisease but also for my other bands. I will let others to decide which influences are more obvious.

I haven’t noticed that you played any covers. Are there any songs that you’d feel comfortable to cover?
Marko: I got an idea during COVID-19 to record some covers. But I think we have very different ideas what to cover, so we would have to choose 2 each one. It would be a nice project. Maybe we should do it in the future. If I have to choose 2: Die Kreuzen – In My Room, Crass – Do They Owe As A Living?.

How much has the band’s sound evolved from self-titled debut to »Praznina«? I think when Tilen joined the band on bass you have become much heavier.
Marko: »Praznina« was recorded with Jan and that record is already more complex and heavier than debut album. With Tilen we are probably heavier and also new songs are structured even more “progressive”. I think it helps that both Ivo and Tilen can play guitar and bass guitar.

What does your usual process of writing songs looks like?
Marko: Ivo comes to practice with riffs and rudimentary structure of the song that we finish together. In the end I add the lyrics.

You are releasing your music through Moonlee Records, an independent label run by your brother Miran. Are you satisfied with this cooperation?
Marko: Yes, they are the best independent label in Slovenia. They are professional, our band is not. 🙂 I hope the new record will be released on the same label. But we have to work hard to release a good record, so the label will be proud of us. 🙂

Considering you’re coming from a DIY scene, is promotion important for your band or just “necessary evil”?
Marko: As there are so many bands and music nowadays it’s difficult to get attention from people who never heard you before. We don’t focus much on promotion as we are not very ambitious. We want to play and record music. We believe we are strong on stage so we get new listeners with live concerts.

Do you pay much attention to reviews?
Marko: There were not many reviews of our music. We always like to read what other people think of our music. There is always room for improvement, so critical words can really help us. If people only write that you are the best, you can get the wrong impression that you have already done everything perfect. I think we have to improve every time. We also like to play new songs, the old ones only rarely.

Your lyrics still deliver engaged messages like you used to do in early days with Man In The Shadow. Do you write about similar topics?
Marko: There are some similarities but I write them from a different perspective. With MITS I had two kinds of lyrics, political and personal. Sometimes you could find both themes in one song. With Iamdisease I try to write about life, you can find personal and political issues in them. But it’s more abstract, I am trying to make people think. »Praznina« album was influenced by Nietzsches’s philosophy, also some Deleuze and Guattari. New album will be more focused on new journeys in space, new territories, new anxieties and dangers on long travels and on hopes for a better and equal world among the stars. Space socialism. 🙂

It seems that our godforsaken county is an inexhaustible source of inspiration. What makes you most angry lately?
Marko: That’s an easy question. Most of all our right wing government who is using the situation with COVID-19 to implement strategy of tension. You never know what will happen the next day. They do it systematically. We live in some kind of permanent revolution from the right wing side. Besides that we have no illusions about more liberal governments and this system. People are exploited at their workplace all the time.

How political would you go with this band? Do you have any limitations?
Marko: I would not say that we are political “in stricto sensu”. We are not dealing with everyday politics. Our lyrics are mostly dealing with anxiety of common people. But this anxiety and fears don’t come from inside our mind but are necessary products of highly accelerating life in capitalist society. With lyrics we are trying to deal with this personal situation in a critical way. Me and Tilen are active members of the political party Levica (“The Left”), we are working on projects dealing with workers’ rights and ecological issues, our goal is overcoming capitalist society and to build a more just society. But we don’t transfer our personal engagement in Iamdisease. I think all band members are more left oriented but we separate our work in party politics and work in the band. I think that’s only fair.

As a singer you always reminded me a bit of Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin, because of similar social and political issues, but also your kinda “academic approach”. How wrong or right was I? 🙂
Marko: If you read a lot you have larger vocabulary and you can use it in your lyrics. But I think this is the only similarity. Graffin’s lyrics are different. Mine are darker. 🙂

Have you ever thought to release a collection of poems or something similar?
Marko: Not really. I don’t think my songs are really that great poems. Maybe I should do some short collections with lyrics from Man In The Shadow and Iamdisease. But I would prefer to write a horror book in the style of Poe and Lovecraft. That would be much more interesting than my poems.

Your latest release »Praznina« is already five years old. Is there any new music on the start?
Marko: Yes, we have enough material to record a new album. I hope we can record it this autumn.

How did COVID-19 lockdown affect you as a band?
Marko: We were forced to pause for 2 months. Then we slowly started to practice again. Before COVID-19 we had plans to record a new album. Now it is on to us to make the plans happen.

Ivo, you recently released the second album of your solo project Trinajst. Can you tell something more about the project?
Ivo: Trinajst was an idea that’s been on my mind for a long time and was finally realised with the occurrence of Coronavirus, self-isolation and consequently more spare time. What I’m doing can be described as experimental, jazzy-oriented electronic project, but in truth it does not have any specific direction except for the sole purpose of exploring new musical possibilities. Iamdisease is a collective and a live unit, while Trinajst is a lot more personal, a bedroom project mostly done with a computer. Trinajst came to life in April 2020 and since then it delivered two releases »Culture of Ongoing Violence, Insecurity and Distress« and »Twentytwenty«. At the moment I’m working hard on the next output, which will hopefully be finished sometime this spring.

You already played numerous shows, festivals, and supported legends like EyeHateGod and Poison Idea. What was your biggest crowd so far?
Marko: We usually play small venues. Our audience is very specific and not very huge. The biggest crowd was probably on some festival. Maybe Yell Fest in France.

What would be the most unusual place that you have played?
Marko: Probably in Črenšovci, but mostly because of the name of the venue. We also like to play in room sized venues, like Pumpa (Postojna), Kontejnr (Postojna), Čuza (Pivka) and Argo squat (Izola).

How important is for you that you can really connect to your listeners at some point?
Marko: I prefer small venues because I can feel looks of listeners on me. It’s really important that you have focus of listeners on you for the whole set.

As a member of various bands and also a concert organizer, how much do you think the alternative scene in Slovenia has changed in between?
Marko: Few weeks ago we played at Mostovna. I noticed that there were not many young people in the audience. Most of the crowd I knew were from the times when I worked at Mostovna, 15 years ago. And this is happening everywhere. On the other side you have big festivals with bands who were very popular 20, 30 years ago. At least in the punk, hardcore, metal circuits it looks like nothing new happens or these new things are only marginal. I don’t like nostalgia. When I was a kid I hated people who listened only to old rock like Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, all that pre-punk music. Old glory is boring. It seems like NOFX, SOIA and similar are just the new dinosaurs. I like new music, experiments. So support new artists, new music.

Marko, you also played an important role by establishment of a youth cultural centre Mostovna in Nova Gorica. How do you look back at those times?
Marko: We were younger and full of enthusiasm. But I don’t want to be nostalgic. We started a great project that is still going on. I think that this is the most important thing. In the last 20 years many youth clubs closed down, there are not many places to play concerts. But then you have a place that is still going on for 20 years.

Do you still remember the first concert you attended?
Marko: Sure. The first concert was at an elementary school dance. There was a local punk band Schotter playing. Today the band is unknown, but it featured future members of Zaklonišče Prepeva and Scuffy Dogs. The first “real” concert was Sonic Youth with Babes In Toyland in Križanke, Ljubljana in 1990.

What is currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Marko: Uff, really lots of different music. I listen to music all the time. New album from The Lawrence Arms, ‘90s Hip Hop, Bajaga i Istruktori, Zabranjeno Pušenje, Vader, Mimi Mercedez, The Mission, Bob Mould, Rome, Current 93, The Stranglers, Banda Bassotti, Trouble, Marissa Nadler, Die Goldenen Zitronen, New Model Army, Unleashed etc.

What are your plans for the future?
Marko: New album, hopefully play some shows. The situation in the world is too unpredictable so it’s hard to make any plans. Except for the new album, that’s an obligation.

What would be your advice to newcomer kids with full measure of enthusiasm and lack of experience?
Marko: Simple. Never give up. Use your energy and listen to more experienced. 🙂

Thanks for the interview! Do you have any last words?
Marko: Be patient. Sometimes it takes more time but the results are better. Rome was not built in one day. 🙂

Bojan Bidovc // music enthusiast, promoter, misanthrop and sometimes a journalist as well

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