By Nicholas Jason Lopez
What happens when you turn the Rock ‘N’ Roll knob all the way up to 11?
Meet Mr. Woland.
The Italy-based outfit recently dropped their sophomore effort; a symphony of loud drums, sharp riffs and ferocious vocals. If you ever wanted a punch in the face that stands in the form of a record, look no further than ‘Burn The Streets Again’ to accomplish the mission.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with band singer Simov about the record and more.
Music Bugle – Your album was released this year. Are you happy with the response? What seems to be the thing that people like the most about it?
Simov – We’re quite happy, first of all, because we’ve started playing live again after a two-year break because of the pandemic and all the restrictions, which were quite harsh in Italy, especially for live music and live events in general. The response to the songs and the sound of the album has been gratifying, especially at the concerts when some of the new songs got a very warm welcoming and even some singalongs. A lot of fans noticed a more mature approach and a richer songwriting and also friends and people who are not very punk-hard-rock oriented, but musically open-minded, gave us a very comforting feedback.
Music Bugle – What’s new compared to your previous album? Was the songwriting process any different?
Simov – For this second album, we had much more time for production, because our live activity was on a standby, so it came up more refined and ripe and more balanced than the previous one, which was a debut album, thus much more urgent and savage. We wanted more darkness, both in music and in lyrics and to dig into more emotional territories, choosing some strong themes like love and feelings, need for freedom and justice, rage and revolution, war and nightmares, identity and self-analysis. The songwriting process was pretty much the same as the previous album, on the other hand. It’s based mainly on riffs, intense rehearsal work and the search for the right vocal mood and for words that resonated with our music, before starting to write down some proper lyrics.
Music Bugle – What are the most common mistakes you think people make when it comes to writing music? What do you do to avoid them?
Simov – We think that the biggest mistake for a rock band is forgetting about the songs. We don’t play instrumental, experimental or any sort of open-form music, so in a way, we feel bound to keep on trying and writing good songs, spicing them up with faster, louder rock ‘n’ roll. Another common mistake is writing music to please an audience or to follow a trend or just to show off. It should be something more spontaneous, original or at least reflecting your style, your way to create a real connection with other people, with their feelings, through your own sound and the stories you tell.
Music Bugle – Why is your band called Mr Woland? And why is your album titled ‘Burn The Streets Again’?
Simov – Mr. Woland is a fictional character and we call him “our boss.” The name is inspired by Professor Woland from the novel “Master And Margarita,” the masterpiece of Mikhail Bulgakov. Woland is the devil in disguise and with his crew, created havoc in 1930’s Soviet Moscow, determining the fate of the people and giving a new chance to the two main characters of the story. He’s evil, but also compassionate and full of understanding of human nature. From this perspective, “Burn The Streets Again” may represent Mr. Woland’s will, a strong message for us to face hard times like those we’re living, full of contradictions. In fact, the title track was written when the streets of many cities around the world were really burning, especially in the USA, because of mass revolts against police violence, all the BLM demonstrations and the extreme – and also violent – polarization of people for the latest presidential elections, with democracy put at serious risks and shocking assaults to institutions.
Music Bugle – What classic rock elements define your sound? What do you think is something new you’re bringing in rock music as a contemporary band?
Simov – In Mr. Woland’s music, you can spot a lot of classic rock elements, if not all of them. They’re basically well-structured rock ‘n’ roll songs, with plenty of riffs, fast rhythms, solos, powerful vocals and even singalong choruses. Sometimes, we like to make it a little more adventurous, but our main focus is on the attitude towards the music we wanna play. We want to sound personal and that’s probably the only way to get away from clichés and also to bring something new in rock music as a contemporary band. We’re open to experimentation, but also aware that in order to be rock ‘n’ roll, it’s important to keep it simple and give it all your passion. After all, we just want to write and play good rock songs and at the moment, there’s a big need for them.
Music Bugle – There’s a good amount of punk and metal sounds in your music. Are punk rockers your main audience? Or is it metalheads? What punk and metal bands influenced you the most in the writing of your album?
Simov – Honestly, we’ve had good response from both punk rockers and metalheads and that’s the most important thing for us. Punk and metal clearly influence our sound and songwriting, as well as hardcore or glam, to name a few others, but we don’t belong to any of these genres, so being appreciated by different audiences and also by people with a very specific musical taste is great satisfaction. It’s kind of our mission. Speaking of influences from punk and metal bands for this album, for sure, we would point to Turbonegro, Glucifer, Danzig and Motorhead, but you can also feel some Thin Lizzy and Judas Priest vibes in it. Both are bands we love very much because of their unique style.
Music Bugle – What is it like for an Italian band to sing in English? Do Italians appreciate this or they prefer bands who sing in their native language?
Simov – There will always be a big debate around which language you’re supposed to sing to be successful in Italy. (Laughs) For us, it was just a natural outcome of our music. We think that English suits our songs better. When it comes to writing and singing, as a foreigner, you can be more detached from lyrics. You feel less emotionally involved compared to your mother language. This does not mean you don’t feel the power of the words you’re singing, especially on stage. It’s not an obstacle for anyone, but Italians clearly prefer bands who sing in Italian, especially if their lyrics are good. That’s not a rule, though. We opted for a more international approach. Maybe some Italians can’t fully appreciate us, but on the other hand, many more people around the world can do it.
Music Bugle – Are you making any plans to tour abroad?
Simov – We’re planning a small tour in Spain in the first months of 2023. We played in Barcelona three years ago and it was a cool and refreshing experience, with a great response from the audience. We made new friends and connected with local labels and booking agencies. Plus, the new album is getting very good reviews in the Spanish underground rock scene, so we’re really looking forward to it.