After a wait of far too long, the talented Alexey Markov has finally returned with a new Starsoup album – Castles of Sand. I’m a huge fan of the band’s first release Bazaar of Wonders, and I have to say that this new one is just as good, if not better. I wanted to know a bit more about Starsoup in 2017, so let’s delve right in…
Introduce us to Starsoup
Hey! We’re a studio project from Moscow, Russia. I’m a vocalist, guitarist, composer and producer and I invite different musicians to participate. We do all kinds of stuff: progressive rock, progressive metal, heavy metal, folk rock and even singer-songwriter or chill-out piano stuff. It’s very eclectic, but the two albums – each is meant to be played on its own, as one large composition. So you can’t listen to one song and get an impression of Starsoup.
What are your influences?
Queensrÿche, Savatage, Pain of Salvation, a little bit of old days’ Dream Theater and maybe Circle II Circle and Riverside. Maybe Faith No More even!
Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend
Well…Metallica “Hardwired”, Iron Savior “Titancraft”, Rage “Seasons of the Black”, Tantal “Ruin” (my colleagues).
I also re-listened to old Andre-Matos-era Angra last week and realised I still love it! In fact I don’t listen to a lot of new music.
Tell us about Castles of Sand
It’s our second full-length, long-awaited (4 years!) cause of my work in Distant Sun and other musical projects. I’m glad it’s finally out, cause it’s hard to be called a real band with only one album. And now we have two, and a few singles. It’s got a lot of melody and feeling, but it has some in-built aggression too. Quite a few different rock styles here!
What are some of the lyrical themes on the release about?
Emotions, mainly. But political intrigues too, and love, and nostalgia, and fantasy (the Dark Tower!).
How did you write the songs?
One by one 🙂 It took me two years. Most of the time I was playing my acoustic guitar and humming tunes, and then suddenly something would come out, so I’d record it on my phone. Then again, some day I would sit down and write some lyrics. Then I’d try to combine them together. Some day I call people and ask them to record my ideas, and see what turns out. It’s a never-ending process in fact.
What’s your favourite track on the album and why?
I’d say it’s “Your World Is Dead”. I knew that melody would haunt me, and it does. It’s epic, melodic, and heavy at the same time. I’m proud of it. The art is also super-cool and fits the song wonderfully.
How do you feel Castles of Sand turned out?
I don’t know! I have to listen to it a few dozen times! 🙂 But I feel it’s a nice accomplishment and a great addition to a possible show setlist.
If you had to do it over again, would you change anything?
I think I’ll try to focus more on the details. I’m a person that gets things done, and sometimes (more often than not) I have to make a compromise to produce or record a song. Cause I want it to be ready as soon as possible. Maybe if I had more time, I’d go through all the stages more thoroughly. But then again, who knows – maybe we wouldn’t have a single song out yet.
How would you compare it to Bazaar of Wonders?
I’d say it’s more melodic, more emotional, more eclectic, more professional from the musician’s point of view. I don’t know about the composing – I feel it’s on par, but others may feel different.
What lessons did you learn from Bazaar of Wonders that influenced Castles of Sand?
That good quality music doesn’t always come at a high price. Sometimes people do wonderful things and don’t even request money. There’s very little connection. Overall, I think this time I invested my money in a more intelligent way and I’m happy with it.
How do you think Starsoup fits in with the global metal scene in 2016?
I feel that the competition is stronger than ever. A lot of good bands, a lot of good music to climb through. It’s getting more difficult to get heard!
How do you creatively balance what you do in Starsoup with what you do in Distant Sun?
It balances itself out pretty well. When I write a ballad or a soft song, it’s probably gonna end up in Starsoup. If I’m boiling with energy and aggression, it’s time for Distant Sun. If only I could play a piano, there would be more Starsoup songs. Distant Sun is about guitars!
What does the future hold for Starsoup?
I guess we’ll concentrate on videos and promotion. I feel we have enough good songs, so it’s about time to get known and play them live!
Any final words?
Thank you for this interview, and see ya on tour!