We‘ve brought you some great bands from Latvia, some cool names from Estonia and you must surely be wondering about the missing party in all this, namely the neighboring Lithuania. Once known for a virbant hardcore scene with bands like Bora, The Analfists, The Sold Outs en many more, it seems to be dead and buried for now. Though definitely diminished, it‘s alive and kicking down in LT. It took a bit of questing, but I managed to get in touch with ZLP GNR (thanks to The Sold Outs, who happen to share a band member here and there).
Like in the other Baltic states, if you have two guys, you probably have three bands. All the guys from ZLP GNR seem to be in 2 or 3 themselves. Some of these are projects, these happen to be pretty common down here. Since I was going to Lithuania for the Christmas days, I happened to be in Vilnius for a few days, before traveling up north , we met up in vegetarian restaurant Balti Drambliai on the 19th of December. Joining me are Sharas (bass), Linas (drums), Pijus (vocals) and Valdis (guitar). Second guitar player Andrius couldn’t make it, he’s playing with his other band Red Water in XI20 tonight.
ZLP GNR is definitely one of the funniest and most down to earth bands to talk to. Don’t get them wrong though, they’re very serious about their music nowadays and always look back with a critical eye to their endeavours, live and on recording. Since talking to four people makes making notes a bit tricky, I’ll show the answers from the band indicated as a whole, but where I can I’ll let you know who said what. The band is made up of different characters. Where one believes the world is a shitty place, the other still has a lot of hope and another fully believes in the DIY aesthetic, it’s all good, the music comes first.
GS: So tell me about your bandname? What does it mean?
Z: Well, there’s this word we used a lot at some time, it’s a Russian word ‘Zalupa’, it means something like Dickhead( the head of the dick ). So we were called ‘Dickhead Generation’ really, Zalupa Generation. Because people seem lost and don’t know what they’re doing, so they behave like dickheads. Now it’s an abbreviation with changing meaning, so it’s ‘Zalupa Gonnorrea’, ‘Zalupa Guns ‘n’ Roses’ etc….
GS: So the word ‘zalupnik’ doesn’t actually mean ‘post soviet youth’, like it says in some of your bio’s?
Z: Not literally, but it means basically for us ‘Fucked Up People’. We came up with this word when we were 16/17 years old and when we started this band. The word ‘Zalupnik’ is like the word ‘beatnik’, we just used it for everything. We were not very serious at the start, we met up with three of us, while BMX-ing and we all liked punkrock a lot (Sharas, Linas and Valdis). So we started a band with the main goal of having a place to drink… The first years the band was more about drinking actually. So we kind of ended up as a band in this form, when we became more serious. We switched roles a bit, acquired a new singer in Pijus, who was willing to try it out. (Pijus) I’m still trying really, I get better all the time.
Last year we also added a second guitar player, so we got a lot heavier, with a much fuller sound really.
GS: So what are your songs about mainly and how did you end up playing the style you play now?
Z: Our songs are about being a lost people, wondering what to do with our lives? People seem to not know where to go with their lives or how to make them better. We also have songs about history, feelings, society and such, but there’s also songs there about hope and change. We also wrote a love song once, but that was about alcohol. It was very loving.
Musically, the range of music we get inspired by is very wide. We started all listening to punk, just punk. If it was punk, it was good. Then we started to listen to other stuff, heavier stuff like Crass, hardcore and metal stuff. We all listen to different stuff though. (Valdis) I like death- and black metal, the Swedish sound, but also jazz music, reggae and dub. (Sharas) Well, I like black metal too, but also psy-ambient music. You guys listened to this as well, last weekend when we were drinking some beer. You didn’t like it. (Pijus) I like post-hiphop, crust and post-black metal, that kind of stuff. (Linas) I like a lot of stuff, but the crossover always is better, like death’n’roll for example.
GS: So, if you could name like three bands that represent what you guys sound like?
Z: Unanimously, Black Breath, we definitely dig that. Another band is Fall Of Efrafa, they definitely inspired us. But more directly, there were two bands rehearsing in the space next to us. Ironically it was the same guys playing in both bands, they were called Zageron and Žmogėdra, playing this heavy crustpunk.
(Sharas) What is a cool story about this, is how we would always listen to them in between the songs we were rehearsing. They were so fucking loud man, when they played the room would shake. We definitely got in touch with harder music through these guys and what they played.
Another band worth mentioning is Dr. Green, they were like the first to put ska in their music over here. The soundengineer at XI20, who helps us out a lot, played in that band. His name is Ve, let’s just call him that.
GS: Your sound has been described with terms like Z-Beat and dark punk. I’m pretty sure you invented the first, but how did you get to the term dark punk?
Z: Well, yeah. Z-beat was like D-beat, but then for Zalupa. We liked the sound of bands like Discharge back then so that was the reason why.
(Linas) We came to the term dark punk , because you’ve got this style that is called dark hardcore, with bands like Alpinist. So we liked that sound, we feel that is what we make too. The difference though, is that we are less hard, so not hardcore, but punk. Hence the term dark punk.
GS: Is that the sound on your EP ‘Tyliesiems Prabilus’, which was recorded a year ago right?
Z: Yeah, but we’re heavier now. We have an extra guitar player and that really has changed our sound. He’s not on there, so it’s not what we sound like anymore. We don’t play songs from it at all anymore.
(Sharas) We forgot to tell the guitar player that we were recording it…
(Pijus) That’s not entirely true. I feel a bit embarrassed about that EP now, the stuff that’s on there, it’s not very good. We developed so much since then. The guitar player, he had just done two rehearsals with us, so it would be strange to invite him to record the record with us.
(Sharas) Yes, but we mainly just forgot to tell him, that’s the funny thing about it.
So we plan to record a full length this winter, we play much faster, heavier and technical music now. It’s much more complex we think. We always want to move ahead, be critical of our shows. Last one was even a good one.
GS: Ok, let’s move on with that, what about the Lithuanian scene? Is it that small and where are it’s centers? Can you get gigs easily?
Z: Well yeah, for us it’s easy to get gigs. Shame that it’s all in the same place, so that is a bit boring. We play every two months at the XI20. We played their six times this year and two shows at other places. The scene is very small, and has maybe around 50 people that take active part in the scene and make it work. The rest of the people coming to shows and all are casuals. It’s very small and liberal, it’s too small to be straight edge, I mean there are like six people so you can hardly exclude the others. In our band two members are vegetarian, one is vegan and the other two aren’t.
(Valdis) I eat everything really..
We can’t permit ourselves to be narrow-minded, there’s not enough people for that.
(The band talks about the live shows a bit and comes up with a great example of ‘other shows’ they play, outside the hub of the scene)
Z: We got to play at this festival, it was the Physics Day Fest. It was a terrible show, but we got it thanks to Valdis.
(Valdis) Yeah, I study physics…
It was horrible, it was 10 degrees below zero, 11 a clock in the morning and we were hung-over. We had to play outside for ten people, that were passing by. We just wished it would be over, that’s how bad that was. We did get some beer and moonshine afterwards though, so that was kind of good… Afterwards this media portal Delfi had this announcement of this fest on their site and some guy commented: “What the fuck, why are those zalupa’s playing?” That made it all worth it for us.
GS: So what kind of place is XI20? Are there other places to go see a show or where a local scene exists?
Z: Well, it’s called the Rotten hole or the Hook, it’s a DIY community. We do a lot of stuff there, like cinema, concerts, making patches and all sorts of stuff. We run it ourselves and it’s pretty much the last underground place in Lithuania. People hang out here, there’s always a crowd, it’s basically a group of friends really. In Vilnius you also have Pogo Baras, Bix Bar and Metro Bar, they put up some shows now and then, but they’re all commercial places. We don’t do it for the money, though we need it. Tonight we are drinking beer to buy a new video projector for example.
Kaunas had a club, but it closed down. It was called Pabrik and it’s a kind of funny story really. There was some Antifa Oi!(Toro Bravo) band playing there, like these Antifa skins, so there was a lot of uproar about this show. The police first went there and picked up the biggest skinheads, and took them down to the office. Twenty minutes later or so, the nazi’s showed up to beat everyone up. It was a great gig, but after that the owner of the building closed it down. The scene took quite a dive after that and diminished greatly. There’s still a great band from Kaunas, named Kang, playing hardcore. They played one gig last year, eight people showed up or so…
For the other towns in Lithuania, Siauliai had a club called ‘Third Floor’, but there’s not much happening there anymore. In Alytus, there was Zoo Underground, but there’s nothing happening there. We hear that a new place opened there though. Panevezys had a bar with some gigs and The Sold Outs are from there, but not much going on. In Klaipeda there were a lot of punks and skins in the past, but no real clubs as far as we know. The scene is very violent there, extreme in both drinking and fighting. We don’t really know why it’s like that. It’s a different kind of people for some reason.
GS: So, to what foreign scene do you guys feel connected to? The Baltic broader scene or the nearby Polish one, that seems to be pretty big and vibrant?
Z: It might be the Latvian scene, some Latvian bands come to play here now and then. Also there was this band called the Analfists, with a Latvian singer. Žiurkės was another with a Latvian guy on vocals. The guys from Tesa come to play here too, also Soundarcade but we think those are the same guys really.
(Sharas) That singer from the Analfists or žiurkės was a crazy guy, he was like a bum I believe and he didn’t have a phone. So they’d have a gig and it was not known if he was going to show up. So one time he came down from Latvia by bike to play, suddenly he was there.
We also get a lot of good bands from Poland to play here though, like The Fight, Belzebong and Catch The Fire, but some Russian bands too. We’re booking two Russian bands for spring right now.
(Sharas) Yeah, we usually send bands the same offer for shows, we can offer a place to sleep, food and a door deal. Russian bands really like to play here actually. I received this email in return to our offer like: “Wow, that is a great deal! In Moscow we usually have to pay to play a gig!”
GS: What kinda bands did you get to play here in the past? Any big names?
(Valdis) Well, Converge didn’t want to play for a door deal. They ended up playing in Riga…
We had bands like Tragedy, La Casa Fantom, Downfall Of Gaia, Jungbluth, Burning Hell and Iskra. Those were such great guys, they were like handing out t-shirts, they wanted to just sleep on the floor, they loved everything we had to offer. That’s always great to experience. Juicifer was another good band to have, they’re a band that’s been touring for ages, just touring all the time. We generally have two gigs a week, but that can be any style. We have jazz gigs just as well, recently we even had a rave. We still need to make some money to pay the rent.
GS: What bands from Lithuania do you think are worth checking out right now?
Z: Well, Red Water, which is playing tonight, is pretty cool. They play black scream or post maūdytė as we call all these post-almost-barely-maybe styles. SGPS is opening up for them, we’re excited to hear what they are about. Phrenetix is a great thrash metal band and Confession plays this cool death/thrash style. There’s also a band named La Chudra, they play death punk. Avarinis Įėjimas is also very good, they used to be a crappy punk band but now they do some experimental stuff too. NetvarkOi! is a fine punk’n’roll band, worth checking out and we have Lucky Strike, that plays skapunk or trumpetcore. Devlsy is also worth mentioning, they just released an album.
Apart from that there’s tons of interesting projects, we’re a part of some of those as well.
GS: Is there a general idea, political or non-political, that you want to convey as a band?
Z: We’re not a political band, nor do we want to force any ideas. Do what you feel is best, would be the idea we have. We have our opinions, but it doesn’t go into the music in an obvious manner, more in metaphors and such. Now what the general idea is about the band…
(from one side of the table) Life is bad, it’s about dark feelings.
(Pijus) But not just that, because there is hope, you have to get the most out of life that you can. You can make some of it.
(Sharas) Life is too long…
Well, we agree that it’s about making change yourself to the lost, shitty place the world is. There’s a glitter of hope somewhere.
(Linas) That’s like Lord Of The Rings really…
GS: Any last things you want to say?
Z: Yeah, funny story. After recording our EP we received an e-mail from an Australian label, they were interested in us. We were so baffled, we didn’t respond for 2 months and after that they didn’t seem to find us interesting anymore.
(Linas) Next time we’ll try to respond in two weeks…
They wanted to make sure we had enough of a fanbase and then get is down south for a tour. Big in Australia, imagine that.
GS: Well, it’s pretty close to New Zealand, where they recorded Lord Of The Rings… You just need a bearded guy to tell you what to do.
Z: Well, we have our soundengineer Ve, so we should send him there. Who knows?
Photo: Justina Lukosiute