Metal hails Big Boss thank you for taking
the time to do the interview with us. Please
introduce yourself and your band to the readers.
ROOT is one of the original
pre-second wave Black Metal bands, following Venom and Bathory. Today they
are one of the most well known Metal acts from Czech Republic. In their
early days, ROOT played live shows and had a great friendship with another
legend of Black Metal, Master's Hammer (R.I.P).
ROOT has released 8 full-length
studio albums, four video clips, a live album and two DVD's thus far. Jiri
"Big Boss" Valter is one of the oldest and most respected vocalists in Black
Metal. He is considered to be a controversial celebrity in Czech Republic
and is also the founder of the Church of Satan in Czechoslovakia. He has
made guest appearances on albums by Moonspell, Helheim and Behemoth.
ROOT has played hundreds of live
gigs mainly in their homeland of Czech Republic, but also Norway, Sweden,
Finland, Denmark, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Serbia,
Poland, France, England, Switzerland, Canada. ROOT has shared the stage
with such great bands as: Moonspell, Anathema, Cradle of Filth, Apocalyptica,
Mercyful Fate, King Diamond, Nifelheim, Pungent Stench, Behemoth, Master,
Destroyer 666, Enslaved, Testament, Napalm Death, Master's Hammer, Krabathor,
Hypnos and many more ...
When did you first
get into metal? Who were some of the first bands you listened to? Who are
some of your "current" favorite bands?
Around 1970 I started listening
to Black Sabbath and so it happened. The first bands I've been listening to
were Possessed, Exciter, Slayer, etc. Now I am mainly listening to classical
music like Beethoven or Wagner ... regarding metal music there are bands
like A Skylit Drive, Our Last Night ..., etc.
During your early days your country was
still under communist rule and it was illegal to own many of the albums
correct? How hard was it for you back then to collect vinyls and was there a
black market for this stuff in those days? You used the name Rootan instead
of Satan in the beginning to trick the Communist police, is that true?
It was quite easy because I had
family in Austria so they brought me those records of my favorite bands.
Aside from it there were "black exchange markets" where the records imported
from abroad were changed, so it was not as difficult as you may think.
Instead of Satan we had to use different name Rootan because I did not want
the other band members to be persecuted like me. I've been used to it but I
did not want to pull the others into that shit.
I know the band
has been in the UG metal scene since the mid-80's when you first started
the band did you ever think you would still be going strong over 20 years
later? How do you feel the bands music has changed over the years?
Yes, from the next year 2012 Root
will be on scene for 25 years. I think that the basis of our music are
essentially the same but thanks to continual musical growth we are playing
around with different styles. We are trying to put things together that
nobody else did and that is why we still have our original sound and image.
I ordered the original vinyl version of
“Zjeveni” LP in the early 90s released by Zeras records. It is one of the
prized possessions in my vinyl collection and one of my fave albums of all
time. It is a special album for me and a classic. Could you please tell me
anything you can remember about recording and releasing this album? Where
did you take the photo on the album cover?
It's 25 years already hahaha ....
I really do not remember how it went over that period of our career (Yes I
guess that was a lot of bottles of beer ago! Haha - Dale), but we were
novices in the studio so it had to be a lot about fun. That photo was made
somewhere in Prague but I do
not know where. The cover was made by Franta Storm (Masters Hammer).
Is it true that Monitor records who
released the vinyl of “Temple Of The Underworld” tried to stop you from
releasing the CD with another label later on? Root has had a number of
different labels, do you find labels difficult to deal with and any thoughts
of signing a longer term deal with a label?
Monitor / EMI wanted to make
trouble to us with the cover so I have to explain them very vigorously that
their rights to that cover have expired so I am the only owner of this
cover. After that they quietly vacated the province. We sign a contract for
the only album with each company and then they have the rights to this
medium from 3 to 5 years according to the agreement. I think it is
favourable for both sides.
I believe your father was a professor of
music and he appeared playing piano on the Root album “The Book”. Have your
parents always supported your band and are they proud of your music? This
must have been a special moment to have your father appear on a Root album.
Yes, my father plays on the album
"The Book". My parents have always supported me. My mother heard some demos
of Root before she died and enjoyed them pretty much. Unfortunately she did
not live to the age our first record was released. And you are right, it's
very nice and wonderful impression to have my father playing on the album.
What is it that has kept you and the
band so motivated to keep going after all these years? When the day does
come that Root decides to stop the band how would you like the UG maniacs to
remember the band?
It is great enthusiasm and love
for music which keeps us going on and on. Ashok, Igorr, Paul Dred and Hanz
are great musicians who will sacrifice everything for our music. I do not
think we want to stop. And when we will finally decide to stop our horde of
fans will certainly remember Root as their favorite band which gave a lot to
Is it true you founded the Czech Republic
chapter of the Church of Satan? Is the CoS still
an important part of your life?
Yes, I founded Czech Church of
Satan but I passed all its leading to younger members a few years ago. I
don´t know how it is going so far. Back
was the basis
for my further life and it
is important part of my life until today.
The band recently released its newest
release "Heritage Of Satan" how long did it take you and the band to write
and record the music for this release? Are you all happy with how it turned
out? How has response been from press and fans?
It is too is early for the
responses :-). Of course we're always happy with our work. We never used any
well known producer or famous studio as thousands of bands usually do. We
try to develop by ourselves and still teach new things during recording
process. That´s why any ROOT record is not the same or similar to the
others. We want to be original both with music and sound. The new album
“Heritage Of Satan” was recorded at three different studios. It´s been
different kind of work compared to previous albums. The new experience
again, you know.
Can you tell us what the lyrics on
“Heritage To Satan” are about or does the title of the album tell us all we
need to know about the lyrics? The Kargeras album was mostly a conceptual
album, did you find it harder or easier to write a concept album?
The theme of this album is
transfer of Satan's power to his Son. Usually I have the lyrics ready in
advance for at least two years prior to the recording so the band has better
chance to get used to the essence of lyrics. It's not hard, at least not for
me. Check out our second band called Equirhodont we have together with Ashok
and Igorr and you'd just read the stories ...
Recently Root played in my homeland of
Canada. How did this trip go and did you like our country? How was the
crowd? Did you try any good food? Plans to return soon to North America? Do
the many years of metal and drinking catch up to you and make it hard to do
a lot of live shows?
We fell in love with Canada. The
Proof of this love is that I was recited the first stanza of the Canadian
anthem during the entire show which I've never did in any country. Fans were
fantastic and promoters (our hosts) have been amazing. We got absolutely
perfect service. Big thanks to Teresa Flaming and all the people from her
large staff. I did not find any of your national meal during our trip. Maybe
the guys from the band but not me. But that's okay, we did not come just to
eat but rather play :-) We are looking to come to the Canada again but it is
organizer’s business and it is very expensive for them. Alcohol is a part of
metal music but we do not drink before the concert. But the situation
changes after the show of course, hahaha .... (I think he missed what I
meant on this question but I loved the answer anyway! - Dale)
As we mentioned earlier Root has been
making music for over twenty years. But I was wondering is there a certain
Root song and release you feel that sticks out as your favorite?
Every band always says about its latest
album that it is the best thing they made. I say it different way - all of
our albums are the best things we recorded otherwise we would not recorded
them. Therefore I do not have any favorite one :-) sorry :-)
The music of Root has progressed and
morphed over the years and so has your vocals. Did you consciously try to
develop your great, charismatic voice or did it happen naturally? Do you
protect your voice for recording sessions or live shows?
My voice is naturally developing together
with our music. But I take it as a gift from Nature. I do not particularly
neither care about nor practice my voice even before or after the show. I
just treat it as best as I can.
I unfortunately have not gotten my hands on
any of your Big Boss solo albums. Can you tell me and the readers what the
music is like and general lyrical concept. I assume it is quite different
They are three completely different albums
- the first one "BigBoss - Q7 'is musical medley exclusively made by using
the computers and the keyboards,. The second
one - "BigBoss - Belial's Wind" is pure Black Metal recorded with help from
my friends from different bands. Third cut - "BigBoss - Doomy Ballads" is an
album of ballads where you can also find my mates from Root (Ashok-guitars
and bass Igorr) playing with me and they were so kind to composed some of
the songs. There are a number of significant guests from other bands.
We want to thank you for doing this
interview and for all the great music over the years brother! Please give us
some future plans, last words?
There are lot of opened concerts
supporting new album and we will also start to work on third Equirhodont
album so there is so much to look forward. Thanks for the interview.
HAIL CANADA – STAY PROUD !