The following interview, done in January 2014, is done with Haiduk...

Haiduk is a name I wasn't familiar with until recently. I normally don't interview bands these days, unless something really peaks my interest, and Haiduk definitely did. But I know next to nothing about the band itself, so can you please shed some light on this darkness?

Haiduk is a solo project which started in 2010 with the release of the demo “Plagueswept”. It consisted of very old material I’d written a long time ago which I decided should see the light of day instead of being forgotten and never heard by anyone. A “hajduk”, in Serbian which is my background, is a resistance warrior who retreats into the forests and hills to continue to wage war against enemy invasion. In 2012 I released the full length “Spellbook”.

Your most recent release entitled 'Spellbook' is extremely good. These past years so much music is boring and so many bands sound the same, so honestly I wasn't expecting too much with Haiduk when I put the CD into my CD player. How very surprised I was, it is really a great release. Perhaps greatest of all is the guitar playing. You truly are very good. The melodies are interesting and complex, one can tell you really love what you're doing. So tell me about Spellbook and what went into its recording. How long have you been playing guitar?

Thanks, I’ve played guitar since 2000. My favorite part was always writing music. I never cared about being a good guitar player, I’m more interested in composing. That’s what kept me going and eventually I had the desire to release the material. For “Spellbook” I spent about a year trying to write the fastest and most aggressive album I could.

Spellbook has a theme of rituals and spells. But it seems more fantasy than typical 'occult'. The descriptions of spells remind me of Dungeons and Dragons, of which I was an avid player. The imagination is one of the greatest freedoms in this world. It is the key to art and music, it unlocks the mind and spirit and has no limits. So tell me about the themes of this album. Are you into role-playing games or any form of occultism?

I grew up devouring fantasy books and games and this is what inspired all the material on “Spellbook”. It’s not occult. Each song is a spell designed to alter your mind and give me a degree of control over you. The booklet texts detail how various spells work and what is required to cast them, with song lyrics embedded into these texts and music matching the incantation. Music can be a powerful force; the manipulation of which grants powers similar to that of sorcery conceived in fantasy books and video games which I draw inspiration from.

On the subject, Aleister Crowley is an occultist I'm fond of, despite quite a few negative things about his life, true or fiction. I especially like some of his poetry. Let me quote one of my favorites, from the 'Book of Lies', first published in 1913. It is called:


'Dreams are imperfections of sleep; even so is consciousness the imperfection of waking.
Dreams are impurities in the circulation of the blood; even so is consciousness a disorder of life.
Dreams are without proportion, without good sense, without truth; so also is consciousness.
Awake from dream, the truth is known: awake from waking, the Truth is-The Unknown.'

It’s interesting. Our subconsciousness plays a huge role in thinking, probably more so while we sleep.

The 'underground' music scene has grown pretty dull to me. So many unmemorable bands, labels, 'zines, distros and the like have come and gone in the last decade. Perhaps I am a bit jaded, but it seems like a lot of people I talk with agree with me. Metal in general has become very mainstream, with bands that used to be underground even appearing on Guitar Hero (At the Gates, etc.). Video games and movies galore these days use black and death metal songs in their soundtracks. Toyota even has a record label and sponsors various once underground bands like Enslaved. Even pentagrams and all the associated regalia are 'cool' now. But don't get me wrong, there are still incredible bands out there, but they are few and far between. What are your thoughts on this?

I have my own vision of what metal should be and a lot of the stuff out there today isn’t it. Too much of it has become soft and slow or overly happy-sounding for me in general. This is why my album is fast and aggressive the whole way through: it’s a statement against this soft side of metal. My inspiration comes from within, never from what anyone else is doing. Anything that any other band does will never affect what Haiduk does and I often ignore all of it. I lit a torch for the vision of metal I believe in and I’m walking to a part of the woods where I think no one else has gone. Those who follow will follow.

Spellbook Will you be seeking label support for future Haiduk releases or a possible re-release of Spellbook? Certainly one of the greatest benefits for artists having a label is they don't have to be bogged down with the technical aspects of releasing a record.

Playing guitar is enjoyable but it’s not something I wanna do constantly or exclusively. Doing the label side of things keeps my work diverse and keeps me sane. I don’t let anyone else touch or get involved with Haiduk in any way whatsoever. The more people you involve the more that pervasive general metal mind-set creeps in which, as you said you now often find unmemorable and mainstream and I find it too soft. I forge ahead independently.

What inspires you to create music? What sort of bands/music did you grow up listening to?

In the early days it was all thrash metal: Megadeth, Slayer, Testament, Sepultura. “Arise” is one of my favorite albums. Dave Mustaine was a huge influence. One album that later kicked my ass and inspired the speed is Carnal Forge – “Firedemon”. Guys like Jon Nodtveidt (RIP), Galder, Satyr, and Burzum I’d say are also inspirational. I used to write reviews for a webzine but was constantly criticizing albums and complaining how much everything sucks and how things should be done different. So instead of bitching about everything I decided to just do my own project and do everything my way!

A question we've always asked the many people we've interviewed since 1995 is regarding the state of the world, and more specifically, its decline. It's no surprise to me that the vast majority of people, and we've talked to people from all over the world of many different races, religions, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, believe the world is getting worse and worse. The devil's advocate could say, we mostly interview people in 'extreme' music, and that their outlooks aren't exactly rosy to begin with, but I would have to say they were wrong. I'd say many of the people I've met in this music genre are dreamers at heart-- not to mention artists, and historically artists have always had unfashionable, but often true, perspectives. Perspectives based on their own realizations of life, not implanted in them by the system media machine. So then, what is your view of the state of the world and its future? Do you see the world slipping further and further into darkness?

In terms of science and knowledge we are in the greatest age the world has ever seen. Technology is advancing at an exponential rate as we unlock more secrets of the universe, the human body, etc... and I hunger for this kind of knowledge so for that reason alone I wouldn’t say the world is in decline. The dark side is the overwhelming rising greed and use of technology in ways that’s destroying the environment, the middle-class, and centuries even millennia of human tradition. Mother nature hates us and we increasingly hate each other.

To go a little deeper than this though, if we peel back the jaded centuries of mankind, we find a belief that ages of light and dark come in cycles. For instance, the Hindu scriptures say that there are various ages of light and dark, and the dark age called 'Kali Yuga', is what we are in now. It is an age of darkness, where mankind is furthest from god. An age of vice. Adversity and wrath will be common. Humans will openly display animosity toward each other. People will become addicted to intoxicating drinks and drugs. People take vows and break them soon after. Kali, a divine being, or demon, who will set the world straight, and 'Yuga' being the age of darkness. These aspects described sound very familiar to anyone looking out their grimy world window and into our modern age.

It is an age where man has become a dark god, enslaving even the atom. An age where our master's have convinced us that vice is indeed virtue. Where we kill each other for the slightest provocation.

In the USA half of all marriages end in divorce and this is on the rise. Drug addiction and abuse... According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 23.5 million persons age 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009. Now imagine the real numbers of addiction, like the people not in their statistics. Imagine if legal narcotics like sleeping pills and antidepressants and other mental health drugs were included. 2.6 people in 2006 abused prescription drugs for the first time according to One in ten people aged twelve or older take antidepressant medications in the USA. From 1988-1994 through 2005-2008, the rate of antidepressant use in the USA among all ages rose nearly 400%! They are the most common prescription drugs taken by Americans of all ages and the MOST frequently used by persons 18-44. Furthermore, 23% of women aged 40-59 take antidepressants. (

Regarding murder, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America, nearly 13,000 people were murdered in 2010. Of that number over 1,700 were murdered with knives or cutting instruments, a very personal way to kill, a psychologist would say. The graveyards are filled with people who have been killed for their tennis shoes, or driving down the wrong street, or wearing the wrong sports jersey, or even less, sometimes just for the 'thrill of it'. As I write this a five year old was killed this morning just miles from where I sit. She was killed by a stray bullet as she ate breakfast at 9:45 in the morning!

I remember some years back meeting a guy who was from the notoriously crime and murder infested area of South Central Los Angeles. Although he was born and raised until his mid?teens in that rotten garden, it hadn't affected his character one bit. In fact, his mother had taken him from that dark place of Californian sunshine to the Midwest USA, where I live, to save him from becoming 'one of them.'

He told me his story and how taking the bus home everyday kids would harass him and eventually began to beat him because he wouldn't join their local gang. He carried a book bag and got good grades--which they ridiculed him for. Day after day it began to get more brutal for him, so he got himself a handgun to protect himself. He told me he was lucky because his mother found the gun in his book bag before he could use it. She immediately picked up everything and moved here. The reason I started talking to him about his past was because of the mention of a notorious incident in American crime (although an internet search shows this has become much more commonplace than at that time). The incident was a man killed his brother who had eaten the last piece of fried chicken. He knew the two brothers and told me nothing shocked him about the violence and lunacy of his old neighborhood. I shook my head and said "To die over a piece of chicken..." and he told me "But you know, it wasn't over the chicken. It was over respect." Apparently that last piece of avian may have been earmarked for his brother! Insanity, right? Well, here in the Land of Dreams people are beaten to a pulp or worse more often for disrespect or even looking at a person wrong than perhaps anything. Except perhaps money.

Which leads me to another facet in the dark decline and descent of this world. According to the United Nations there are 870 million undernourished people in the world, or one in eight! Poor nutrition plays a role in 10.9 million children's deaths each year.

Plagueswept Perhaps most sickening of all is government sanctioned 'legal' murder and genocide. Let's use Iraq as an example. From 1990 to 2000 five hundred thousand Iraqi children under five years of age died because of malnutrition due to U.N. sanctions. When the sanctions didn't break the Iraqi people's resolve, a coalition of countries led by the United States of America invaded Iraq. Official estimates range from 174,000 to over one million Iraqi deaths resulted, most of them civilian. To this day the country is in utter turmoil and the civilian infrastructure is shattered. And for what reason? Because Iraq had something to do with 9/11? There isn't a shred of evidence of that. Weapons of mass destruction? There were none. Because Al Qaeda was based in Iraq? It was the opposite, Saddam Hussein was very hostile to Al Qaeda. Because President George W. Bush wanted to bring the Iraqi people freedom? What a joke.

But all of this mass murder and untold destruction and ruining of lives does not matter one iota to the majority of people whose governments signed these one million five hundred thousand people's death warrants. The tax-payers bought the bombs that rained down on civilians. If I bought a gun for someone today and they went out and murdered someone I would be an accessory. In court they might even say that I might as well of been the person who pulled the trigger.

But the common man is very detached. Very callous and self-important. It's all such a shame. Is this the soul of mankind? Beyond his base, selfish desires, is it even possible for him to care for someone outside of his own little sphere? One million five hundred thousand. Five hundred thousand children who died in agony. The number is unfathomable. Ours brains cannot grasp that many lives. All these human beings who had likes and dislikes, loves and hates, dreams and desires, favorite foods, colors, and all the many things--good and bad, that make up what we call the 'human being'.

I guess, according to the powers-that-be, there is nothing more therapeutic and liberating than a bomb.

Yet, all the while these same 'democratic' Western countries like to say they are champions of freedom and human rights. They throw elderly people in prison for years merely for speaking an unpopular opinion or even questioning history.

You know, I could go on and on with dreadful statistics and ironic, violent and stupid stories of this sort, but I'm sure we all have grown tired by now. I sure have. It's wearing on the soul and the answers are evident and unpleasant. So tell me, what are your thoughts and impressions of it all?

Starting with the Hindu reference, I don’t believe in a god and don’t put much value on the stories of ancient religions, but the shifting of human attitudes from one extreme to another might well be cyclical as population mentalities shift. Whether “we” are in a time of darkness or light is often a personal point of view based on who you are and where you live. I grew up in Bosnia during the bloody civil war in the 1990’s and lived in a very chaotic time. Western countries have many bad aspects but most of the rest of the world is an even worse place to be due to internal problems. The stats and wars you mentioned are almost all US-related but summarized as problems of the world. [I disagree, I think these are world problems. I quoted American statistics out of availability, but I'm sure if I took the time I could find statistics to any country showing a rise in all of the negative things mentioned for the USA. While the USA may be a leader in many of these dark things, the reasons are complicated, one has to take into account the countries population, racial make-up, etc. -ed] The US is a superpower arrogantly pursuing its policies through bloodshed like many have through history, where it’s often been far worse. As a species it seems we’re not yet above these types of conflicts.... In terms of the US population stats, I think people can’t have it both ways, as everyone wants total freedom but that same freedom is what entitles them to freely divorce, or kill someone. For many, personal discipline crumbles with increased freedom.

What would you say are the worse aspects of humanity? Since he seems to be diseased with a colorful tapestry of ailments like greed, selfishness, vanity and the like it might be a hard question!

The biggest problem with humanity is a lack of focus on real education and the persistence of religions which hinder humanity’s progress as a whole. Religions are based on myths and lies, and thus all the different religions arising from different lands will naturally disagree and can never possibly agree on what is right since all of their beliefs are rooted in myth to begin with, and this will endlessly cause conflict between humans. Abolish all religions for the one true knowledge which can never be disputed because it can actually be proven which is science.

1000 dinara from Yugoslavia, circa 1991 showing Nikola Tesla In mankind's defense, there have been a few golden souls on this planet earth. People who have fought to their death selflessly. Who do you find worthy? Anyone who inspires you?

Generally the people who have inspired me the most have been some of the musicians I mentioned earlier like Dave Mustaine, more from a music-based, younger perspective. Aside from musicians, I have a lot of admiration for Nikola Tesla and am a close descendant of the same Serbian family as him. An eccentric wizard inventor who gave so much to the world that we use every day that he rarely gets credit for. He wanted to improve the world for everyone and cared nothing for money while other well-known bastard inventors continuously stole his ideas and tried to sabotage him. [I couldn't agree more. Tesla was a star of the human race, a true genius. The politics and greed that kept him from achieving his dreams are despicable. Among his inventions are: alternating current (AC/DC), radio, fluorescent lights, the logic circuit which forms the basis of all computers, wireless remote control, radar, hydro-power generators, the electric motor and most phenomenal of all--the Tesla Coil. It's for good reason he was called 'The Inventor of the 20th Century.'-ed]

Do you believe in other sentient life in the universe? It seems very unlikely that we are the only ones. Astronomers from the University of Auckland estimate there are 100 billion habitable Earth-like planets in our galaxy of the Milky Way. Far more extraordinary though, it is further estimated that there are 50 sextillion habitable Earth?like planets in the universe. Fifty sextillion. That's 50,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. Unfathomable. The real question would be are there any human?like sentient species and have they ever visited planet Earth? The whole 'Ancient Aliens' theory made famous by Swiss author and researcher Erich Von Daniken's 1968 book 'Chariots of the Gods?' is quite an interesting one. What are your thoughts?

Considering the number of Earth-like environments out there, it’s impossible that life happened in only one place in an eternal universe. I believe there’s a vast number of alien species out there but probably not many human-like, as life seems to appear in infinite forms and even we ourselves evolved from something else and are in the process of evolving into something else again. That another species visited Earth is extremely unlikely and largely irrelevant due to the distances required for travel and different stages and scales of size, evolution, and communication. The window of time humans have existed on Earth is too short for an alien race to first perceive us in the form of light traveling to them, and then to themselves travel here. Science fiction has taken the simple idea of the possibility of alien life so far that many people today actually expect to see a green man or something so fucking stupid on another planet. Chariots of the Gods?

When the curtain falls on this life, do you believe that the show is over? Humans have believed in some form of an afterlife since time immemorial, but is this wishful thinking? Also, there is a quote which holds an interesting concept:

'Immortality is not a gift, immortality is an achievement; and only those who strive mightily shall possess it.'

If this were true, what would you say would be the ways of achieving immortality?

Humans have always feared what they don’t understand and often come up with bizarre explanations for these unknowns. Without extensive knowledge of the brain and body, ancient humans invented spirits which apparently exist in us and persist after death. The fact that this utdated and superstitious idea still persists to this day in the face of so much contrary knowledge is to me insane. We need a steady stream of blood bringing oxygen and nutrients to our brain and workings of all the organs, etc., in order for consciousness to happen and when you die the combination of senses for perception is no longer possible. There’s no more you except for the memory of you in others’ minds. Great deeds are simply remembered longer.

I've heard a lot of interesting, colorful and some downright disturbing stories of haunted houses and ghosts in my day. Some even from people I respect or family members. It seems just about everybody has a ghost in the family. But I've always been the skeptic. And even after I've experienced some very strange, nearly convincing things first?hand, I still remain uncertain. Here's a few interesting statistics: 45% of Americans believe in ghosts (Huffington Post), while 22% believe that they have actually felt or seen a ghost (CBS News). However, I'm not so easily convinced, and I know that the imaginations of my fellow man can be rather fanciful, to say the least. But I have to admit, things in my own life have made me wonder a bit more deeply. Ironically one of the strangest instances that has happened to me involved a friend's visit from your home country of Canada.

Long story short a group of friends and I took a road trip together to the mountains and stayed in a small motel. After being on the road for over ten hours, not to mention fatigued from the previous night's partying, we arrived at the nondescript motel exhausted. The four of us had a sleep we would not?soon forget. One that left us baffled and a bit shaken for the rest of the trip... let's just say something was there with us that night.

So then, have you had any personal experiences you could share with us? What do you believe? Any interesting stories you've heard?

Our brain is extremely good at sometimes tricking us, ignoring things that are right in front of us, or creating something visually that’s not there. The imagining of ghosts or other threatening shapes is likely a primitive subconscious survival tactic: a mental pain warning you to leave a bad environment or situation. Survival-wise, being alone is more risky than being in a group. Alone in an unknown dark place with limited visibility is even more physically risky and dangerous. If your consciousness doesn’t perceive the danger, the subconscious causes a stimulus of scary images to prompt you to action, similar to physical pain. [I think I'm going to have to take you on my next trip to that small hotel in the mountains! Hehe...-ed]

And to end with a music question... what are your plans for Haiduk? Are you working on new material? And if so, how will it be different from Spellbook?

I don’t have a label. I don’t have any pressure from anyone to do anything. I’ve started writing some new riffs and working on new ideas, but there’s no time-line. Haiduk forges ahead and the flames will rise and burn bright again!

Your last thoughts and words of wisdom to this tired world?

Haiduk - “Spellbook” CD available at: Haiduk Website

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