Latvia has home grown heavy metal? Who knew?

Latvia's own Relicseed is a marriage of seeming opposites. The heavy metal frontman's parents are a violinist and clarinetist. He's obsessed with Pantera and Itzhak Perlman. Edgars Rakovskis is definitely all over the place!

Sometimes something groovy will come my way and I'll be totally gobsmacked. Luckily in the music world, that happens pretty often. Scouring the globe for some wicked cool music, I came across a Latvian band called Relicseed. Most of the music was in the native Latvian tongue, but the sound was pure metal! I wondered, how did they come up with the name  Relicseed? Was it some jazzy English translation from something in Latvian? Lead singer and rhythm guitaris Edgars Rakovskis explains it thus. "Back in 2004 I was invited to play the guitar in a band where all the other three members had been playing together already. At that point the new team didn't have a name yet and we started wondering how to capture the essence, this kind of 'old' thing - these three guys - and something new like a seed, which was meant to personify me as a new member. So Relicseed was born".

The band's Latvian music is hard and heavy and sometimes quite melodic. The English language covers are quite diverse from Seal to Slipknot. I wondered what inspires them. "Firstly and definitely Metallica was the main reason why I actually started playing the guitar. Although my career was moving aside from art and music, it still kept the feeling of this therapy brought in my veins by notes and emotions flowing right into your face during the performance. I learned every single note from Kill 'em All up to S&M at that time and this was my ABC of playing guitar and playing music. I Come from a musical family. I have to represent. My mother is a violinist, my father a clarinetist, my grandmother and grandfather are choir conductors. I have listened to classical music every day of my life since 1985 and step by step this education led me further than obsession with Metallica, Machine Head, Rammstein, Pantera, Queen and the classics like Itzhak Perlman, Yehudi Menuhin, and Astor Piazzolla. I like an enormous amount of artists and bands because of one reason - I like music as a feeling!"


Zowie! So the scene in Latvia must be wicked cool, I thought. Edgars concurs, "We have an unlimited amount of bands which represent practically all kinds of metal genres you can probably imagine. Why? I don't know." 


I did a little research into this as I'd never heard of any bands from Latvia. The only thing I knew about Riga is that Metallica played a show there. Relicseed are one of the first Latvian bands to play in the UK, doing a tour there last September and the first Latvian band to book in the United States. That's a great accomplishment. So I thought.  Edgars sees it from a different perspective. "Probably like everywhere Latvia has a trademark. Everybody needs something from you when you are something. People are stuck in a feeling "fight for yourself, killing everybody else". What doubles the cries that consist of "I am nothing, I can't do anything, nobody needs me." As for the biggest  part of so called Latvian music critics, they view us as nothing more than another Metallica. Nothing special there. The fact that musically and technically we're able to do and manage everything ourselves doesn't affect the process of noticing us as a band or musicians. After we posted the first European dates it is like "What the hell is happening? This is not serious. They'll fail, certainly!" 


I wondered how the band plans on making their mark in the face of local obstacles.  According to press releases, they were very well received in the midlands and in Germany where you were the only band on the bill asked to come back.

Edgars Rakovskis tells me, "In my opinion the industry is filled with all kinds of music, trends, styles, and what not. My aim and I believe our goal has always been defined by playing music. We love to listen to music. We love to play our instruments and we love the feeling we have when we play together. We want to keep music in the best level possible. Everything depends on how you face it and I personally do not have any great challenge to deal with it in this context. I've been living with this success feeling for the last seven years and my biggest challenge is make everybody else not care about the snobs, weak and stuck in an image, people affecting our dreaming and thinking and action." 


Getting unstuck in an image involves being the first Latvian band to travel over 9000 Kilometers to tour in a new and foreign place. Edgars is taking Relicseed to the United States in December to tour around California. The tour will be heavy with tracks from their debut album, 60 Minutes of a Dream. Edgars tells me about that album and plans for the next album. "In our debut album, 60 Minutes of a Dream, 95% of the songs were my and Andrejs's collaboration. The song Algebra was a total different approach to what we've been doing and this was the new bass player, Janis, who came in with this riff. Till that point everythign was very simple. I had a riff, Andrejs had a feel of rhythm. The song was done in a couple of hours. Now we've become a situation that all four souls and hearts are put together in one piece and I tell you, the new material is more than a step forward in musical, creative and every other way. We're lucky to be able to share and create music together in a common way. At least, so far. The new album we plan on recording in Burbank, CA at Tranzformer studios. This is why we do the Kickstarter project.  It represents a start of a new era in the band's life. The band has a very brief vision about the next year. If we're keeping it the way it has started, we have no idea where, when, and whom it is meant to play with on one stage." 


A unique way the band is bringing their vision is with a Kickstarter project. Edgars says that the band has something to say. They have the music and great joy in everything they do. He's looking forward to bringing the Latvian attitude to heavy metal outside his home country - the wider the better! He says the Kickstarter fundraising will help them do that. "It will help us manage things and make our dreams come true."