Slovenia is a stunning country. For such a small nation it is impressively packed with a shit-ton of mountains, some beautiful lakes, enchanting caves and a great capital city.
There is also a thriving punk scene, with plenty of bands to check out. One such band is Real Life Version, a melodic punk rock quartet who have recently released their second album, The Sound Of Progress.
It’s an aptly titled record – the band have really honed their sound since their last album and TSOP is a testament to their hard work.
Guitarist Aljosa recently answered some questions for us, covering the Slovenian scene, the band’s history and touring around Europe.
How did the band start up?
We started the band in late 2005, playing a kind of melodic hardcore/metal, under the name Evelyn. Previously, Jani P and I played in Cloudland and The Love Typewriter – our first bands which got us into the punk/hardcore subculture. Those bands didn’t last very long so I started looking for people to form a new band with and luckily I found Jani J and Nejc (guitarist and drummer). My lifelong friend Jani P joined the band soon after and we started playing local shows and eventually recorded Resistance From Within, our debut album. Shortly after the album release, our singer Jernej quit because he didn’t have enough time to dedicate to the band, so we all came to the conclusion to carry on as a four-piece. At the beginning we mostly played shows in Slovenia and we were part of the Got Punk Tour, playing most of the venues and youth clubs in the country, which was a great opportunity to make an impact on the Slovenian punk scene. Following the Slovenian tour we booked several European tours, playing Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Benelux, UK, Italy, Poland, France etc. We met many lovely people and heard some amazing bands. In October 2013 we released our second album The Sound of Progress on Fond of Life and Giljotina Records and so far the feedback has been great.
You’ve been together over eight years – how has the band progressed over this time?
A lot has changed since we started the band, although it doesn’t feel like it has been eight years since it all began. Of course the biggest change came when our singer left, but we took that as an opportunity to take the band to another level and not as something negative. It was hard at the beginning because we had to learn to play and sing simultaneously, but we worked hard and dedicated all our free time to the band. We are having more fun than ever right now.
What is the Slovenian punk scene like?
The Slovenian punk scene used to be bigger 10-15 years ago. We are lucky to have lived in a town where the underground punk/hardcore scene was really thriving when we were growing up, so we got to be a part of this movement at an early age. It might had been bigger a decade ago, but there are some new (and some older) bands in Slovenia that are as good as any other European or US bands in the genre, but they don’t get the recognition they deserve. Most people know In-sane and Golliwog, but we also have some other great bands like Start at Zero, Harry, Pigs Parlament and all the bands on the Giljotina Records (Mental Strike, Mo(r)rons, Strike a Fire…). Giljotina has been a great factor in the revival of punk and hardcore in Slovenia – they’ve put out some great releases and they’ve also been putting on shows for the touring bands.
Do you think, coming from Slovenia, it’s harder to gain new fans than if you came from a country further west?
Maybe to some extent, but it’s not that big of a factor anymore. I mean, there is still some sort of stigma about Eastern European countries; for example many album reviews of bands from this area start with some sort of commentary about the scene and how unexpected it is to hear a band that plays the music that we do, when in reality the scene is just as alive and fresh as it is anywhere in Europe. Where you come from shouldn’t be the factor; if the music is good, it’s good.
Who are your main influences?
We all listen to a variety of different genres. Jani J and Nejc have been listening to a lot of metal and stoner bands lately, while Jani P has been into jazz, because he wanted to go to Rotterdam to study the bass guitar. I think the biggest influences are bands from No Idea as well as 90s emo punk bands like Texas is the Reason, Samiam etc.
Why do you sing in English?
We grew up listening to US and UK bands and we feel more comfortable singing in English. Moreover, we find it easier to convey our thoughts to a wider audience by singing in English. Slovenia is a really small country and if you want to play more than 15 shows a year you have to tour other countries and that’s one of the reasons why we don’t sing in Slovenian.
What topics do you like to explore with your lyrics?
Our lyrics are about a variety of issues which we come across in our daily individual experiences. Some have political connotations and a broader perspective, while others include issues like gender inequalities, degradation of punk subculture, family problems and so on. Sometimes we prefer not just talk about serious issues and problems, but rather choose to talk about something positive and less serious, which I think can be done in a way that is not trivial and shouldn’t be regarded as less worthy.
What is the best country to tour in?
We have never had any bad experience anywhere, so it’s hard to say which countries are best to tour in. We have fond memories of Poland where we went on our first tour and shows there were mental. We really love UK, Austria, Belgium and France because we have lots of friends there and it’s always nice to see them.
What is the UK like to tour in?
We have been to the UK once so far and the experience was very positive. We played London, Bristol, Peterborough, Portsmouth and Bolton and each show has stuck in my memory. London was one of the craziest shows ever – it was a last-minute house show, and having 100 people in a living room going crazy was fun and a bit scary! We really look forward to coming back again in February.
What are the band’s future plans?
Right now we have three tours planned out for the next year – a 16-day tour in February in mid-west Europe, a 10-day tour in the Balkans in April and May and a tour in Scandinavia in the Summer. We are already working on some new songs, so if we have enough time we will record the new album next year.
Real Life Version are touring the UK in February 2014. Check out http://reallifeversion.bandcamp.com