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Ukranian metal powerhouse Jinjer had just completed their sold out Australian tour when their world, like everyone else’s, came to a shuddering halt.
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“Everything was so positive, on such a positive level, and then the COVID came in and broke everything,” says bassist Eugene Abduikhanov, who politely insists we do the interview even though he’s just returned from taking his wife to hospital, “all the hopes for the better. We had just released the album, we were touring in support of it, Macro, and everything was going very well. All the shows in Australia had sold out, most of the shows we were meant to play after that had sold out. Then, Boom! Everything got shut down.”
The inventive quartet were booked to tour through the Americas after their fire-breathing shows in Australia. COVID stopped them in their tracks, forcing them off the road for the longest time they’ve ever been idle. Fortunately, they had an ace up their sleeve that even they weren’t expecting to play: a live recording from their performance in Melbourne.
“We were planning on making a live DVD in Argentina, just a few weeks after,” Abduikhanov explains. “Going to Australia for the first time, we maybe didn’t feel confident enough to record it, but while we were doing the soundcheck, they told us they were going to film the whole show! And we’re ready to do audio recording at any show, any night.”
We’re very demanding on ourselves as performers. We do believe that playing live is one of the cornerstones of our band.
[ Eugene Abduikhanov ]
As a rule, recording a live album takes considerable planning and preparation. A lot of dots have to be made to line up. It’s not generally a decision that’s made on the fly, and yet that is exactly what Jinjer did. While Alive in Melbourne is the band’s first live album, it’s not the first time they have made live recordings and, as Abduikhanov makes clear, Jinjer is a band that places high importance on their stage performance.
“We have a lot of experience recording live shows. We’ve never done a live album, but we have put a lot of shows online and they are all of very good quality. We’re very demanding on ourselves as performers. We do believe that playing live is one of the cornerstones of our band.
Over the years we have played thousands of shows, and we have a wonderful sound engineer who does incredible things and makes us sound well everywhere. He has been with us eight years now. We’ve never had anyone else working with us.”
The response they got from the audience that night is part of what makes Alive in Melbourne particularly special for Jinjer.
“What’s worth mentioning is that the crowd was fantastic,” Abduikhanov says enthusiastically. “It’s something to remember for the rest of my life. It’s always cool to come to an English speaking country, because people understand your lyrics very well, and Australia seemed to know all the songs from the beginning to the very end. Every verse, every chorus, they were singing with Tatiana. Sometimes when you are at festivals, I can hear the crowd singing so loudly, even through my in-ears, that I can barely hear me playing. That’s what happened in Australia! They were extremely loud, singing with us.”
Macro and the worldwide tour Jinjer was undertaking was touted as their big breakout, but the world had other ideas. At the very least, however, they were able to still come away with something very positive, something that shows how very good they are in the live arena for those who didn’t get to see them this time, and keep them in sight until they can finally take to international stages once more.
“This is the longest gap we’ve ever had, over seven years,” Eugene Abduikhanov says. “We’ve never stayed home for so long. We’ve been playing shows everywhere. Last year, we played 153 shows. The tour we did in Australia this year was something extraordinary. We couldn’t believe it was happening. So to get something out of it there was something very special.”