INTERVIEW WITH TOMCAT BASSIST AND FOUNDER ŠUJO
Date: October 25, 2016
IT SEEMS THAT EVERY COUNTRY HAS AT LEAST ONE AMAZING BAND THAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT. THE COUNTRY OF SLOVENIA HAS TOMCAT, WHICH SLEAZE ROXX HAS UNOFFICIALLY NAMED AS THE ‘MOST IMPROVED BAND’ WHEN COMPARING THE GROUP’S DEBUT ALBUM ‘BITS ‘N’ PIECES’ TO ITS NEW UPCOMING RECORD ‘SOMETHING’S COMING ON WRONG’ WHICH WILL BE RELEASED ON JANUARY 20, 2017. SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH TOMCAT’S BASSIST AND FOUNDING MEMBER ŠUJO TO DISCUSS TOMCAT’S NEW LINE-UP AND UPCOMING NEW ALBUM!
Sleaze Roxx: Tomcat underwent a major member overhaul in or about January 2015. What happened to leave you as the lone man standing in the band?
Šujo: Well, the story about the break up is simple. It stopped moving forward. The band had been together for quite some time, but we’d stopped making new music, the relationships between certain members were strained and in the end, it was obvious that we do not share the same goals anymore. Denis, our ex-singer, wanted out and the rest of the band decided that they were gonna stick with him. We did this in a civilised way and remain friends. Since I started the band and named it, it was considered my band and I was left with the name and rehearsal space, while they took some of the unfinished material.
Sleaze Roxx: Why did you end up choosing to continue under the Tomcat name rather than start a new band?
Šujo: Tomcat was the name I came up with after my last band Cyclöne folded. Tomcat had had some successful gigs and we have a bit of a fanbase, so I’ve decided it’s best I keep the name and just set up a respectable line-up to keep the band moving. I’ve been involved in the Slovenian rock/metal scene for about 15 years now and I know most of musicians on the scene that would fit the gig. I took some time to reflect if I wanted to keep the band going and afterwards, it all fell into place quickly. The fact is that we’ve already had gigs with Lordi and on a huge Metaldays Festival lined up so it made no sense to throw those away and start all over again.
Sleaze Roxx: How did the recruiting process go to find the new Tomcat members?
Šujo: As I said before, I’ve known all the members beforehand, so there were really no auditions. I’ve met Žiga and Izzy when they were playing in Black Dynamite, a band that folded shortly before Tomcat, so I called them and asked if they wanted the gig, and they were in. I’ve seen Žbun around town some years ago and just by his looks, I knew he had to be a musician. He had been a candidate to join Tomcat part-time when ex-guitar player Rok first left the band to study abroad for a year, but it didn’t work out that time. Now, he was ready. Bizi and I had also known each other for a number of years and I knew him as a capable drummer, so when I contacted him and he said yes, the line-up was completed. After a few bumps in the very beginning, the line-up clicked and it’s been a joy to work with ever since.
Sleaze Roxx: I was shocked by how good Tomcat sounded with the release of your video “Carnium.” It really feels like a different band that has found its own sound. How would you describe Tomcat’s current line-up to the one that played on the band’s debut album ‘Bits N’ Pieces’?
Šujo: Well, it comes down to this — all for one and one for all. We really have the same goal in mind, and that is to produce the best music possible. Even though we live in different cities, we keep in touch every day via phones, emails and Facebook. We’re constantly sharing musical ideas with each other. In the end, it’s much more of a brotherhood than it was before. We have parties in our rehearsal space a couple times a year where we barbecue, drink and goof around basically and it has bonded us to the point where we know what the others are thinking when we write songs and it also reflects in our live shows as they are getting better and better.
Tomcat‘s “Carnium” video:
First video of Tomcat’s second album Something’s coming on wrong. The video was directed and written by Jure Gorjanec. Listen to the song here: https://soundcloud.com/user-729272468/tomcat-carnium official Tomcat FB: https://www.facebook.com/tomcatroxx/ Cast & Crew: Katja Romšek – Kerry Nika Erjavec, Tadej Florjančič, Nejc B.
Sleaze Roxx: When were the songs on ‘Something’s Coming On Wrong’ written and by whom?
Šujo: It’s a group effort. Žiga, Izzy, Žbun and I each wrote some songs and lyrics and we then arranged them with Bizi — kinda like Guns [N’ Roses] did it back in the ‘Appetite [For Destruction’] days. Sometimes, I’d have a riff that Izzy would complete with a great chorus, like was the case with “Come Down.” Sometimes, Žiga would come in with the entire song finished. That was the case on “Time To Rise” or we’d just make the song on the spot as was the case with “Smell The Funk.” That one came together in about 15 minutes, lyrics and all. And after we complete a song, Bizi will pitch in with a drum lick or a slight rhythm change and it’s usually exactly what the song needs.
Sleaze Roxx: The songs on ‘Something’s Coming On Wrong’ cover a wide spectrum of musical influences yet sound like one cohesive album. Who brought the various musical influences into the band?
Šujo: The various influences come from all of us. The band that is in all of our collections is Guns N’ Roses and with the sole exception of Bizi, they are or used to be the favorite band of every member. And I think you can hear that on this record. But the mix of styles came spontaneously. It wasn’t intended. It just sort of happened. I can imagine it was the same with Guns while recording the ‘Illusions’ albums. Those are also packed with a bunch of different musical styles, but they have a core that binds them, and I feel it’s the same with ‘Something’s Coming On Wrong.’ The fact is that our musical tastes are very broad. We listen to everything from post rock to Pink Floyd, from Alice in Chains and Pantera, from various black and death metal and Gojira and Mastodon. But at the core of it, there’s Guns, the Ramones, Motörhead and Thin Lizzy. Basically, we all like quality music, regardless of the genre.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s the idea behind the title ‘Something’s Coming On Wrong’?
Šujo: That’s Žbun’s idea. At first, the record was supposed to be called ‘Faces’ as each song is a different face and the cover was supposed to be our faces morphed into one. But then we were playing a gig in a local club and there is a great surreal psychedelic hand painted mural on the wall of the club and we started thinking we’d like something like that for the album cover. And right there, we started talking about what should be featured on the cover and as ideas started flowing, Žbun said something like, “Dude, that’s just wrong, that’s just coming on wrong.” And that just sounded like a great album title for us, so ‘Faces’ was dropped right then and there. Bizi then drew the outline of the cover and our friend Ivana Škvorčevič from Croatia finished it.
Sleaze Roxx: Tomcat have started a fundraising campaign for the release of ‘Something’s Coming On Wrong’. What made Tomcat decide to do that and can you tell us about it?
Šujo: Well, to break it down for y’all. There’s no money to be made from this kind of music in Slovenia. And by no money, I mean NO money. And the small record labels that are there, it’s no picnic for them either. And since only two of us have regular jobs and we broke the band bank recording, producing and mastering the album, we started considering where to get the funds to release it and came across the Adrifund platform, so we decided to give it a try. At first, we were gonna release it on a CD and LP and a very limited edition hand made iron box set. Bizi also has a lot of blacksmith skills but when we sat down and did the math — figuring out the production costs — we decided to set a lower goal to start with and only start with the CD edition and build from there. The campaign is still running, you can check it here: https://www.adrifund.com/project/view/94.
Sleaze Roxx: Although all of the Tomcat members from the debut album ended up departing the band, drummer Žiga ended up being the assistant producer on the new Tomcat album. How did that happen and have you spoken to Žiga about his thoughts on the differences in Tomcat this time around? If so, what did he have to say?
Šujo: As stated before, we remained friends after the split, especially me and Žiga, as we lived almost next door at the time. And he started getting into production along with his friend Alex Volasko. They offered us a very good price for the whole recording and mixing of the album. It was to be their first hard rock project as they’ve only worked on various commercial pop projects beforehand. And as I trust Žiga and I knew he gets me and gets us, we’ve decided to give it a go, and it worked out great. The album was very raw when we first came into the studio, but Alex really put some great touches on the material and I couldn’t be happier the way it turned out. ‘Bits ‘N’ Pieces’ was Žiga’s first studio experience. It was for all of us basically and we might not have been ready for it, but this time around, I knew we had a strong album on our hands and so did Žiga. He was as excited as we were and although we bumped heads on occasions during the recording process — a lot of it is my fault as I’m more of a Nikki Sixx than Billy Sheean when it comes to technical ability — we both love the final result. I must stress that the album is “organic.” There are no drum triggers used or stuff like that.
Sleaze Roxx: What’s the hard rock / heavy metal scene like in Slovenia?
Šujo: Weird [laughs]! I mean, there are lots and lost of bands of all kind of genres, lots of high quality bands, but concert attendance is dropping. Basically, everyone is in a band and hence don’t feel like they need to attend gigs anymore, but on the other hand they’re disappointed that they can’t pack clubs themselves. It’s a vicious circle. And I feel there’s a generation change going on. I feel like the classic rockers and metalheads are dying out and young fans have quite a different taste in music. Ten years ago, there was a big boom with glam metal and I’m fortunate that my band Cyclöne was a part of that. We had a club tour with two other bands and packed all the clubs, and afterwards, there was a tide of glam bands or glam influenced hard ‘n’ heavy bands, but every single one of those bands had died out by today.
And almost every year since 2007, I have organised a festival called “Lipstikk N’ Leathür” with young bands and some more experienced guests, but I have no idea what to do with the festival this year as there are no more bands of that sort in existence here. We do have great bands that get some recognition throughout Europe like Metalsteel, Eruption, Canyon Observer, Dekadent, Noctiferia, BattleX and Within Destruction, but all those bands have reached out beyond the borders of our homeland. That’s the goal for us right now, as the mainstream market does not support local scene. There’s no way of getting Tomcat songs even onto our local rock radio stations. They prefer playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” over and over again.
Sleaze Roxx: What are Tomcat’s plans once ‘Something’s Coming On Wrong’ is released?
Šujo: There isn’t one [laughs]. As I said, we’re trying to get out, reach beyond Slovenia and just try to reach as many people as possible. We’re more than open to booking agents and any kind of band to band collaborations, so any suggestions are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Besides, we’re holding the gigs until after the official release, which is to happen on the 20th of January 2017. At the moment, we’re just rehearsing the material and writing songs like crazy. We’ve already written a good portion of the material for the next album and will be testing it live next to the ‘Something’s’ songs on our future gigs.
Sleaze Roxx: Is there anything that I haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?
Šujo: Not really. I’d just like to say that it’s important to support your local scene. Support your local bands. Go to the shows, buy a ticket, have a beer and enjoy. Buy the CD, even if your cousin is ‘best friends forever’ with the drummer, support the band so it can continue to grow. Bands have to do all of the musical stuff and all of the promotional stuff themselves these days, so if you like them, if you like their music, show it by supporting them whenever you can. I’d also like to thank Sleaze Roxx and all of its readers. It is websites like these and people like you that give me hope that this music has a future.
Sleaze Roxx: Thank you. Last question for you, what are your top three albums of all-time and why?
Šujo: Oh, hell no! I can’t just do three, there’s way too much good music for just three [laughs].
[Interviewer’s note: Šujo refused to limit himself and went on to provide a whopping ten of his favorite albums!]
1. ‘Appetite For Destruction’ by Guns N’ Roses. I don’t need to explain this one. It’s a monster. I was a little kid when Guns first came out, but I became obsessed and it never really went away.
2. W.A.S.P.’s ‘The Crimson Idol.’ Killer lyrics, killer drums, killer album. So much emotion! I bought this one in high school without knowing the band, just the cover looked so cool. Timeless.
3. Queensrÿche’s ‘Operation: Mindcrime.’ Same with W.A.S.P. — I’m a sucker for good concept albums. DeGarmo’s hooks and the awesome vocals of Geoff Tate!
4. Savatage’s ‘Streets.’ Again, I love the lyrics, the killer melodies provided by Criss Oliva and the thunder that is Jon Oliva. Went to see the ‘Tage last year at Wacken — simply amazing.
5. Queen’s ‘Innuendo.’ It’s hard to choose just one album from probably the best rock band of all time, but to think Freddie was recording this masterpiece almost on his death bed, that is just crazy.
6. Crashdïet’s ‘Rest In Sleaze.’ ‘Appetite’ Part Two for me. When this came out, I was blown away. I had the demos beforehand, but this just rips. Perfect kick ass album for the new millenium.
7. Pink Floyd’s ‘Animals.’ I love Pink Floyd. I could have chosen any album from ‘Dark Side’ to ‘Division Bell.’ I really like ’em all, but this one is just a tad better.
8. Dire Straits’ ‘Love Over Gold.’ Why? “Private Investigations” and “Telegraph Road” — that’s why. Can’t beat those two.
9. H.E.A.T’s ‘Address The Nation’ and ‘Tearing Down The Walls.’ Those guys just nail that Bon Jovi bubblegum fun hard rock moment, but they do it in style and these last two albums are beyond perfect in terms of melody meets energy.
I could ramble on and on about great albums, but this is the basic core. Thank you for reading, check out Tomcat on social media and keep the hard rock spirit alive! Special thanks to you, Olivier, for supporting us and plugging all our shit!