Lithuania has a small but dedicated metal scene, which can mostly be found in the south around Vilnius and generally in the bigger cities. I found a band from Telsiai, which happens to be where my partner originates from.
I’ve passed by the sole tattoo shop in town a bunch of times and it turned out that the owner is Žydrius “Hidra” Augulis, also frontman of the war metal band Meressin. We unfortunately didn’t succeed in planning a meeting and decided to conduct the interview over e-mail. This took a very long time and a second list of questions was not answered.
The Lithuanian metal scene appears to be rather introvert, turned into itself in a way and not really understanding or open to outside interest. I think this interview gives an interesting view into that scene and specially the region where Meressin comes from.
Samogitia is the north-west part of Lithuania, it was the last pagan region to be conquered in Europe and rituals have remained largely the same as they were before the conversion. On the west it’s bordered by what is known as Minor-Lithuania, which has a clear German influence due to its original Prussian and later German inhabitants, to the north is Latvia. Samogitians tend to identify not as Lithuanians, but as Samogitian. None as much as Zydrus Augulis, one would think.
Can you guys introduce yourselves? Who is in the band and did you guys play or still play in some other bands too?
Hi, we’re a Samogitian War Metal band, named Meressin. Current members are:
Zydrunas Augulis – vocals / guitar
Endrius Brickus – guitar
Vitalijus “Sovinys” Praspaliauskas – bass guitar
Vainius Cesnauskas – drums (also playing`in the bands Anomaly, Silhouette, Apricity)
Meressin has been around for ages. How did you guys start as a band?
The band was started back in 1993 by 2 brothers. It was Darius “Zhaltys” Augulis (bass guitar) and myself that started the band (Zydrunas Augulis). Over the years we’ve had many different members in this band, composing it in various forms. What we wanted in the very start is to play extreme music, like the old school black metal stuff, so we started doing exactly that.
Meressin was inspired by the music of Venom, Celtic Frost, Bulldozer and other original black metal bands and black’n’roll acts. We also wanted to find our own sound, so some songs on the albums are more experimental.
What was it like to start playing metal in a recently independent country?
We liked metal music already long time and independence gave us chance to play metal without any stress and fear. In the CCCP time we were not able to perform metal music, because that’s would have meant jail time for us.
On your website visitors can chose between English or Samogitian, do you identify as Samogitian?
Yes, of course. Samogitia is my country, this is my nationality and I love my country. I think that says it all.
You chose to sing both in English and in Lithuanian. What is the reason for that?
The last album I sang in the Samogitian language actually. We started in English and later went for Lithuanian and Samogitian. All albums are different in a way and created with long intervals, so the ideas we had with our band changed in the meantime. I guess that is the main reason for the differences in our choices.
Meressin faced quite some short breaks and problems as a band throughout its history. What do you think caused that?
We come from a small town and people move away from time to time for various reasons. We have some problems with musicians, it is hard to find people that are willing to play metal music. They also have to be good of course. Many good metal heads and musicians have left Telsiai town, because it’s a small town that offers little to the young people as a future perspective.
You’ve reformed the band, and released an album. What can you tell about the new record and how was it written and recorded?
The new album is called “Tik kars yr teisybi” (Only the war is the truth). In way, the album was born before the band reformed with new members, so I wrote the album by myself. I created the music and the words. I wrote the guitar pars as well. I recorded the whole album in my own studio. It did take me forever to do everything myself, about 4 to 5 years but maybe longer. I can’t even remember really. This is the first album in 13 years, the previous one titled ‘Alkis’ came out in 2001. It has 13 songs and is written in the Samogitian tongue. I think it creates a different and unique sound.
What is the story you try to tell on this album?
In 2013, it’s been 600 years since the Teutonic Order conquered the last pagans in Europe in the name of Christianity. Those last pagans were the Samogitians. It took the crusaders 300 years to subdue the Samogitian nation and force them to convert to Christianity.
This album is dedicated to that struggle of the Samogitian people. It talks about the blooded and cursed moment when they took away our identity. Christianity was forced upon us and it should be rooted out. This album is about the Samogitians and who they really are. You can still see it, even in our religious rituals that our nature is still there. It’s in the blood.
You are the only ‘original’ member still in the band. How do you retain your identity as Meressin?
Currently I’m the only, original member of Meressin. I guess I’m a little bit of a despot, which is mainly because I write all the music and lyrics. I believe that this band should not be too democratic, because then Meressin will lose its face and sound. That is just my opinion.
You played Kilkim Zaibu this year, an important festival in the region. Can you tell a bit about the festival and its significance and how you guys enjoyed it there?
Oh yes, this is most important metal festival in Lithuania. We played the festival six times already and we remember the times when the festival started out. We have seen it grow to be the biggest of its kind in Lithuania. Hail to “Kilkim Zaibu” and raise your horns for a long life!
You also run a tattoo shop. Are tattoos in your opinion related to making metal music?
It’s my job, I’m a tattoo artist and so is drummer Vainius. I don’t think it has much to do with my music, its two different areas in my life. I suppose there is some influence to be found in the cover art for albums.
Can you tell a bit about the Lithuanian metal scene and its history and maybe also what it is like to be the only metal band from Telsiai?
Yes, we are the only metal band in Telsiai, we are veterans of the Lithuanian metal scene and I don’t really know what’s happening with young bands around here. It seems like people don’t like to play real metal music anymore and new alternatives are on their way. Good luck to them i suppose, there are still some bands making good music that have been around for a long time.
Some of these are Obtest, Nahash, Dissimulation, Luctus, Katedra, Zalvirinis and Dark Side, they’ve all been around for ever, so hail to them.
What future plans does Meressin have at this moment?
In the future I hope to record some new material, that’s in the plans. We also want to release the album on vinyl and make one or two good videos for the new songs. I lack the time to do everything I plan to do, but I think we’ll do some good stuff.
Anything you’d like to tell us?
Ok people, listen to true metal music and stay rockin’!