Interview with Viktor from the Ukrainian band Risin Sabotage

A talk about war, music and hope

Ukraine was invaded by Russia over a month ago and as many of you know, more and more horrors are revealed as time marches on. About a week before the Bucha mass grave was discovered, we had a talk with Viktor from Risin Sabotage, a band from Kyiv that played in Romania before.


Viktor, how are you and how is your family making it through this inferno?

Since my house is in a hot spot, we have not lived in it for more than a month, but we really hope that we can return home as soon as everything is over. We try not to lose heart and stay together as a family. And, in order not to go head over heels somehow, everyone has their own duties: cooking, collecting water, bringing food, medicines, etc. We have our own part of the watch, which we keep at night to prevent saboteurs from getting into our camp. It was thanks to it that we managed to find out and liquidate the marauders and armed saboteurs who entered the house. We believe that all this will end and we will win!


How is day to day life at this point? We’ve been reading about Russian drone attacks in Kyiv.

For the first 9 days of war, we lived in the parking lot of one of the residential complexes, due to the chaotic bombardment of Kyiv. It was the same area where the house of my parents came under shelling. Our house outside of Kiev, in Irpin, where to this day battles go on, was also completely destroyed. The Russian army, in agony, fires randomly at houses, just to hit at least something. Also quite often there are targeted offensive actions against hospitals, shelters, maternity hospitals and architectural landmarks of our country. A column of cars, more than 60 km long, with civilians who tried to leave the combat zone, was shot. Elderly people who refused shelter to Russian soldiers were brutally killed. This war is very unequal, vile and inhumane.

Many of our close acquaintances and friends have disappeared since the first days of the war. Some were captured, but miraculously managed to get out. Someone did not get in touch for more than 2 weeks during the very heart of hell, but, fortunately, they are alive and were able to evacuate. Unfortunately, there are those who still do not get in touch and we pray and wait for at least some kind of news.


How is the morale of the people around you?

Here we can talk for a long time. I would say that people are divided and experience what is happening in very different ways. There are those who, even after a month of war, do not understand what is happening and persistently live in their usual comfort zone, mentally isolating themselves from the world. There are those who completely gave all their resources and strength for the good of the country, and, frankly, these appeared to be people from whom you would not expect such actions. They opened themselves to a completely other positive side and that deserves admiration. Well, and there’s a separate group of people who behaved quite the opposite.

I would say that this war revealed who is who, took off absolutely all the masks. Further on, life will become easier when you already know who is standing in front of you.

I cannot fail to single out the mood of the Ukrainian people entirely. The spirit of the nation has taken off with incredible force, the strength of patriotism is felt as a separate, impenetrable shield. Undoubtedly, this happened thanks to the team of leaders of our country. President Volodymyr Zelensky and his close associates keep the faith in victory in the hearts of people, this is an invaluable and unprecedented event in the history of all peoples, I am sure of this.


Let’s talk about your band Risin Sabotage. What were your plans before the war started?

At the beginning of 2020, at the peak of the pandemic, our vocalist left us, and for the last two years we have been recording an album and filming videos as a trio. On February 23, the day before the start of the war, we finished the compilation of the new album, but did not have time to do the final mastering. The album will include 9 tracks, and a couple of clips for them are already ready, but we can finish everything only after our victory. Now only the release of a single is planned, which conveys the spirit of what is happening in our country and with us.


How are the other band members, are they safe? Are you able to keep in touch with them?

We constantly keep in touch with the guys, all are in safe places, as much as it is possible under these conditions. We have crew groups and we are always in touch with everyone, no one has left his hometown. We are at home in our own land. Igor (drummer) with his girlfriend and their dog late in a shelter since the first days.  Unfortunately, they faced the unpleasant side of human cynicism and somewhere even meanness.  But they are holding on with dignity and strength. Valera (bassist) and his girlfriend are at home, and when they are threatened with attacks, they go down to the shelter. The guys continue to work, which undoubtedly helps to distract them from everything that is happening and also helps the state by keeping the country’s economy rolling in such a difficult time.

Kyiv is under the reliable defense of our troops, we feel safe and every day the situation is changing for the better.


We saw a lot of artists and some of the labels getting involved in raising money. For example, Jinjer sold a lot of t-shirts and donated all the money, several labels are putting out special LP editions of extreme metal bands and so on. What do you think about this?

It’s good if this is not done for PR reasons but really for the people. Because PR on someone else’s grief is the worst thing you can do. And thanks to everyone who supports our country and helps refugees outside the country.


Are there other ways in which people can help?

Now there is a very strong information war on the part of Russia, and we need to talk a lot about the situation in Ukraine, go to rallies so that big politicians can see the mood of the people and do at least something to speed up the transfer of weapons and the supply of humanitarian aid to the victims. The longer it takes for help to come to us, the more likely it is that the war in Ukraine will drag on or even spread to European countries.


Are you planning something similar with your band Risin Sabotage?

We collect money to help the country through our instagram, and now our instagram is like a foreign field of news, not music. Many people abroad believe in Putin’s propaganda, and we are trying to sober up their minds clogged with false propaganda. Now we are preparing a video for the song “Macabre” from the upcoming album.  And the clip will consist of the events that we are going through right now, we will run advertising to raise funds directly for the army and for people who have lost their homes.


You played in Moscow 4 years ago. Would you play there again in the future, if given the chance?

We’ve been touring with our friends from Electric Lords and Pressor in Russia, but that was a different time…

Giving the current situation, we will never return there with a concert, I think many Russian bands will leave Russia themselves, there is no future there.


For those unfamiliar with your band, where should they start? How would you introduce the band?

It’s better to come and hear it once than listen to it on a record for 10 times.  For me, music is a part of my soul and we try to pass on our energy. In any concert hall, even if it would be only one person in that hall, but for him we will play as for a stadium.


What about shows? Which were your favorite ones and what do you consider to be the special live ingredient in Risin Sabotage shows?

The most memorable is the tour in support of the Planet Dies record in 2017, when we played 68 shows in a year and participated in Soundart Fest.  All shows are good in their own way, on tours you sometimes get lost in the cities, but you always remember people whose eyes burn after concerts. The main feature is in the melody and mood swings, you can’t always guess if we finished the song or started a new one haha.


Going back to the current situation, what do you and/or people in Kyiv think will happen next? Is there hope for the negotiations to at least lead to a ceasefire?

Now the second army in the world has clearly lost to the 22 army in the world with great disgrace, even farmers on tractors confiscate their equipment. Putin will try to crank out the Korean scenario, but no one will go for it, and as a result, Russia will be torn apart by those whom it has been attacking for the past 30 years. I think we are witnessing the complete collapse of the gangster Kremlin machine.


The last part of this interview belongs to you, send any message you want.

Separately and laconic, I want to say about those who lost their families and loved ones.  It doesn’t lend itself to words. People were left without husbands, children (and even unborn children), without wives and mothers. The lives of those who should have had a wonderful future were cut short. School, university, first love, family… and instead, their bodies are removed from the ruins. It hurts and it is beyond words. I would like to believe that this war will give a lesson to many dark souls. Good always wins, even if it takes decades and several generations to win.

– An interview by Octav Medis


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