In this interview for Demon Reports magazine with a International rock star Žanil Tataj – Žak from Croatia known from his work in many bands and most known for his work with the bands Divlje Jagode and Slovenian rock band Mary Rose, I was talking with him about about his new EP “DA CAPO”, about this collaboration on the new album of the Croatian heavy metal/rock band Divlje Jagode “Jukebox”, about the new upcoming release of the Mary Rose, his experience with the bands Halloween and Gamma Ray on the project Gun Head in 1994, more exclusive details, below:
1.You released your new EP ” DA CAPO ”, can you tell me something about it , about the lyrics and generally the concept of the whole EP?
”Yes, the new solo project EP ”DA CAPO” was released on December 5th in 2019 for One Records from Belgrade. Everything in music style is balanced, both hard and heavy. The lyrics are different, because I always like for each of my song about what would I present and show with the lyrics and what I would like to say about the whole song, so each song has essentially different topics, from social to current climate issues and in general all aspects of all possible topics that are current and always up-to-date. There are also love themes through again my different view (style), because I do not like cheap words, I like it to be a little indefinitely. In essence, the whole concept is created to be divided into two parts. The whole EP, as I like to call it, because it is not a classic EP of 5 songs or 4 songs of about twenty minutes, but it is rich and filled with music of 46 or 47 minutes, so I did the first part of 6 singles and those are 5 vocal songs and one short intermezzo, that connects the two parts and then the second part, which are basically the same songs in instrumental version, plus the radio edit of my first single, ”Prosule se divlje jagode” so this was definitely a rich release and that’s why I like to call it an EP album.”
2.Since you are best known for being a Vocalist of the band Divlje Jagode, what is your relationship with that band, and do you plan to perform with this band anymore?
” I have a great relationship with the band Divlje Jagode. I suppose they are the ones that follow the music scene they have seen and heard a duet they I did with Livio Berak called ”Sama si” it’s another cover of popular cult song that I personally love very much. We perform it at concerts wherever possible, or wherever the audience and venue make the possibility that I can appear as a special guest there. Do I plan to perform with Divlje Jagode is not on me to decide. It depends on the intensity of their concerts and of course it depends if the schedule of my band Mary Rose and it depends from my current project under my name Žanil Tataj – Žak. I hope, I will have more concerts with Divlje Jagode. We did a concert this year in Sweden and we will definitely have more performances together, so the there will be more concerts, more than enough, so the audience will not miss them.”
3. You are also a member of the Slovenian rock band Mary Rose, what did it look like to move to a new band after the band Divlje Jagode, how were the experiences with the band?
”Yes, it’s my main band Mary Rose, that I have been working with for 28 years. It’s a band without which I can’t imagine life Itself, since I joined that band, regardless of all the turmoil and everything that happened in the meantime. Mary Rose is celebrating this year 30th anniversary of the band, so we have some surprises with this project, as well. What does it look like to move to another band after the band Divlje Jagode? Basically, very simple. Transitions from band to band are not problematic, because they are related genres. The point is just how much a singer can switch to another style. I had a bigger problem in the period that I spent in Germany, after working with the bands like Halloween and Gamma Ray to get into my band Mary Rose. Divlje Jagode in the meantime had fallen apart, so they no longer existed as a band. It was then a bigger problem to switch from one genre like heavy metal like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest to Mary Rose, which at the time fostered a slightly different approach to music, but I got over that problem quickly and I realized basically what I needed to do and here is it. About the experiences? There was a great experience with Divlje Jagode and Mary Rose in the same way. Every period in every band carries it’s own experience. It simply rewards and upgrades you as a musician, also as a professional that I decided to become and I am for almost 40 years ago.”
4. In your opinion what the rock scene looks like today, what would you personally change if you could and what are the main reasons that rock music is no longer that much in expansion in the Balkans, could you tell me from your perspective, what are the reasons for it?
”Rock music, in my opinion, has never been present at our Balkan, as much it was presented globally in the worldwide scene. After all, rock music used to be mainstream, but unfortunately that is no longer the case in this times. After all, everything is mainstream today, just not rock music and unfortunately music is going more and more in one direction, that I don’t want to express it with ugly words, but it’s not going in the right direction. I’m talking mostly about mainstream music. Everything else still exists around the mainstream. There are a lot of styles coming out that are great and there are some really good musicians and great bands out there. I discover several new names every day. I think rock music is still strong, but unfortunately it’s not in the mainstream. We know the main and many reasons why rock is no longer strong as it used to be. The audience has changed over time and the record labels began to fear for their existence and they want to influence young brains and develop them to turn into the mash, with which that bad music reaches listeners. In order for the record labels to fill their pockets and take a lot of money, they just go for the option to reach young people with cheaper music and stupid lyrics, not ripped off in time, fall under the influence of that poor quality music, which is unfortunately the biggest problem . But, for those who want to discover music, there is still great music and it will never cease to exist, but it is increasingly being influenced by the environment and the media which constantly suggest to us that everything else is wrong. This is essentially the only problem that exists and of course money, because everything is done for the sake of money, not for the sake of art. Unfortunately, that period is over.”
Photo by Neon
5.How did you the join the project with the legendary power metal bands Halloween and Gamma Ray called Gun Head back then in 1994- what did that collaboration look like?
”That was the period when the damn war happened, that created chaos on the Balkans. The great team from Halloween and Gamma ray gathered and created Gun Head. We planned to do one great project and started working at full speed. I found myself in Germany by escaping all the troubles of the war. It’s just that I’m not a warrior, I’m a musician. Don’t get me wrong, but I don’t give a damn about anyone else’s ideals. The music just took me there and I worked there with Zoran Sherbedzija, who used to be the guitarist of Crvena Jabuka, Valentino and Bombaj Štampa, and many other famous names that I still associate with and collaborate with. Zoran I just released a new song called ”Ti Si R’N’R” …check it out ! In Germany we founded a top band called Madcap Laf. Then, by chance, we met some people who introduced us to many of our work colleagues, the Halloween team and Gamma-ray as well. We tried to work with them some side project Gun-head. We would welcome it to work, but because of all the commitments they had with their two parent bands, things couldn’t have been as we expected, so we just had to break off the collaboration. It took about a year and a half to continue, and we didn’t have time to wait because each of us had to manage somehow to survive. The experiences are great, the crew, the top musicians and the top people as such are great. I’m sorry it didn’t come to pass, but here, Zoran Sherbedzija and I are still working together and preparing a new treat soon.”
6. What does it look like to work with multiple bands, since you are a member of multiple bands, other than Mary Rose as Black Diamond and Eros Ramazzotti cover band, is it difficult to achieve all the obligations that go with being a member of multiple bands?
”Eros Ramazzotti a cover band that was mentioned there. That was one period when we did a great cover band and the soloist sing literally like Eros, when you closed your eyes it was almost like it was him. I was a Guitarist and back Vocalist (backing vocals) and entertainer on the other side. I think we will do it again. There is a lot of interest in such cover bands, because the other bands have their copyright work. Now it’s not just Mary Rose and Black Diamond anymore, now I’ve got into my project with my band. This will now be the third band, with Black Diamond not currently active. Mary Rose is much more active. Of course we have a new album and we are preparing a promotional tour which is already slowly getting bigger and bigger. In addition, I work as a Vocal mentor at Yamaha Music School, record stencils for all possible television projects, also I am active in recording guitars, backing vocals and basses . I work full-time 24 hours a day and I have no problem, because I cannot separate myself from music, me and music are one. For me, my job is not only a job, but also my life and therefore I enjoy my job and whatever I can do I will do it. I also worked on some other projects with other people, do songs for others and produce them. I’m really busy and that doesn’t cause me any problems. Luckily, I am enjoying it.”
7. Tell me about your collaboration with the band Divlje Jagode on the new album “Jukebox”, and about the process of making this album?
”Divlje Jagode just released the new album called ”Jukebox”. I collaborated with them on the song ”Sama Si” for a new album. The collaboration and making of the new songs on this album has been planned for the last two years,
but due to their commitments we couldn’t make more than one song.”
8. How did you decide to get into the solo work and why, what was crucial for you to start with?
”I wanted to get away from all my bands that I had, a little make something that came out of my head solely because I felt the need, like any musician who comes to period when he wants to make something of his own, of course stylistically related to everything I do. Of course I didn’t run into some, god forbid, awful waters. This is my third solo project. I did a Christmas compilation in 1999, and in the 2000s, I did an album that unfortunately didn’t come out, but could have been considered as an album, some of which I kept for myself, and some of it I sold. Basically, I wanted to see how things work when I come out under my own name and so far I am quite pleased. I have a lot of plans this year, even to embark on a promotional tour where I will promote my new EP ‘’Da Capo’’and 35 years of my career with concerts that will last for almost two hours, with lot of material from Jersey, Divlje Jagode also my material as well, so it will be fun.”
9. As a singer, what is most important thing to you, when expressing yourself as a singer and as an artist, are those lyrics or voice skills-or both?
”I never considered myself just a singer. I’m a musician, since I am multi-instrumentalist and everything i do is part of the whole kit which is very important to me. So if I express myself through the text, I have to feel it exactly the way I think it should be presented and then with my voice skills, I will perform it to the best of my ability, how I feel. In some songs, maybe in some interesting vocal motifs more than text, everything depends on what the lyrics are. If I accept other texts with someone I work with, then I still try to get that voice to follow that text. Somehow both segments must be represented, otherwise the song will never be successful.”
Photo by Neon
10. What did your career looked like in the beginning, with your first Jersey band, why was the band reformed?
”My first band was not Jersey. My first band was Krypton, which is originated in 1983 and later the Laufer and Jersey were born. This was my beginning. I wasn’t into hard and heavy music at the time, I was more into some other segments, because I was simply entering that world and was given the opportunity to get into that band, that was already created, but they didn’t have a singer. The band was called Krypton and was a great band, back then so-called
power pop like Duran Duran and Simple Minds, with saxophone and keyboards. Here, I almost found some demos and I could say that these were genius things for that time. It was a bit non- specific, but very interesting band and critics immediately rated it as a top band. And those are actually mine first beginnings and Jersey came later, and it is not my first band, it is my third band. Other band was called Jalakala and it came out from Jersey, other people came from Jersey, and I came from that band in Jersey. That was the band that was the beginning of Jersey. Jersey stopped with working, because we were having problems with an album that has already been recorded. Croatia Records, back that Jugoton paid for the release of the album, that was released 30 years later in 2018. After taking the album to Jugoton then, they suddenly decided that the album was not the way they expected, even though they knew all the demo versions and we simply did cut off cooperation. After that we went to Zajecar and won there. After that PGP (Radio Television Record Production of Belgrade Television) wanted to release an album, but we told them that we have recorded album and didn’t want to record it again, so the things got complicated and the album was never released until 2018, at 30 anniversary of his recording. There is, of course, a CD. I have been so much already disappointed that I decided to either stop working in the band or look for a new option. This option came in the form of Divlje Jagode. I auditioned and I got into band, into one great professionalism and that’s why Jersey actually quit with the work, because they couldn’t find the right singer after me.”
11. Is there a chance for you to record a new album or EP with Mary Rose in 2020 or later- if so, what will the album look like in a conceptual way?
”There is no way I can record a new album with Mary Rose in 2020 year because Mary Rose has a new album that was released 6 months ago ‘’Resničen Svet’’ and we are just now in the promotion phase of that album, but since we have our own studio, we are already working on new songs at each rehearsal. That album won’t be out in 2020, but maybe we can expect it in 2022. No one knows what the album will look like after the ‘’Resničen Svet’’ album, not even ourselves, because all our albums are different. We have no concept, we will simply see where it will take us when we start to do new songs. Because we work as a team and things always lead us in the best possible way and if there is health there will be top quality.”
Photo by Neon
12. Do you have a message for the fans?
I tell fans for the end of the interview. People, love yourself, appreciate yourself, respect yourself. Be honest with each other. If you do music, be honest in music. Don’t sell yourself for money. Don’t reach out to anyone. Follow your path and just love for what you do and if you are honest about what you do, it will be the only thing that you can say in the future, I was doing something, but I am not ashamed of anything I was doing in this interview and we will stay in touch. I send a lot of love to everyone.
Facebook of One Records: https://www.facebook.com/onerecords.rs/
Check out the music video for the “Ispočetka” take from EP “DA CAPO”, here:
Check out the music video for the “Na Putu Za Raj” taken from EP “DA CAPO”, here:
Check out the music video from the band Divlje Jagode feat Žanil Tataj – Žak for the ”Sama si”, here:
Check out the music video for the “Ti si R’n’R” from Zoran Serbedzija & Žanil Tataj – Žak, here: