"Good question, although I consider myself an old boy, I just found out I am not that old to reach back all the way to the beginnings. Let's say it started in late ‘70s, but I’ll let the historians correct me," says Rajko, guitarist of Serbian hardcore band, Bronze, when I ask him about his country's punk music history. "Serbia, at the time a part of Yugoslavia, was among the first socialist countries that adopted punk subculture. Yugoslavia was never part of the Eastern Block, it was leaning towards West rather than full-flare communist regimes, which had a huge influence on underground culture. As said, I am not that old, none of us is, as a matter of fact. Bands I had listened to as a kid formed sometime mid-'80s and onwards. Unfortunately, although hardcore does tell a long story in Serbia, it was violently interrupted sometime in the early '90s by the civil war and carnage between Yugoslav nations."
Like any civil unrest, the turmoil in their country served as potent fuel for the influence behind Bronze's heavy-as-a-heart attack Ticking Bomb EP. While I know No Echo readers are savvy enough to make their own minds up, I ask Rajko to desribe Bronze’s sound, and find out about some of the band’s shared musical influences. "Modern hardcore with some ‘90s twists. At least that’s how I feel it.
"Influences are individual with us. I am an old school NYHC and Boston type guy, others in the band are more turned towards the melodic California sound, also some metalcore and street punk. It's really different influences for all of us. In this specific case, we wanted to make it a little darker and dirtier, though."
Since most of you probably haven't heard Bronze yet, I've picked "Torches," the bludgeoning closing track om the Ticking Bomb EP, to whet your appetite. The song's social injustice-inspired lyrics aren't surprising when you know about the group's situation back home. "It’s hard to believe that it can get wore then this, but the culture has been sinking further down the drain as long as I remember. You folks in the States have Trump for the last couple of years, and we've had Trumps, and worse, the for last 25 or so.
You read about many other countries outside of the United States supporting the arts with grants from their governments. I wondered if the arts were backed by the people in power in Serbia in any meaningful way. "Art lives in pockets, which are kind of difficult to find if you don't know where to look. Yes, you can get to hear a djent show in Serbia, or attend a vegan-inspired exhibition or street art meet up, but none of the people queuing in the supermarket next to the (small) venue where such an event would typically take place will have the slightest idea about the subject of said happening. It's simply too microscopic. Either you embrace mainstream media or you live like cultural rats. Though, I believe same applies around of the world, in smaller or bigger scale.
"But I don't wish to complain. We create music for a handful of people that genuinely respect and support what we do and that's it. So, I really think when it comes down to underground art, it will never be recognized in proper way, but in a way that's it's destiny."
So, what's the plan for Bronze now that the EP is going to be reaching a wider audience? "Playing shows, and then playing some more shows. The plan is to hit neighboring countries in the near future, and then to try and book a proper Euro tour. We already have booked couple of local shows, and I would just mention that we will open for Gorilla Biscuits in October in Novi Sad, Serbia. Meanwhile, we’ll be working on new songs, and perhaps our first full length.
By the way, I just want to share a fact. Gorilla Biscuits were supposed to play here in 1991, and they had to cancel a sold-out show because the civil war broke out. It took them 28 years to come back. So, we're more than excited to be opening for them."