• Hello dear readers of my blog,

    2013 is not only the year of the (water) snake but also a year of big creative changes for me.

    A few weeks ago, I've written and posted my last review on The Metal Archives. After five hundred reviews, I feel that everything has been said and it's time to discover new shores instead of writing the same things over and over again.

    I'm still writing for The Metal Observer but for numerous reasons, I will also slow down my activities on this site.

    I also stopped writing for Prog Archives, Metal Music Archives and the Phantastik Couch right now.

    I'm also about to write my last articles for the universitarian newspaper "Le Griffonnier" - a new edition comes out tomorrow and I will still add some articles to the next two editions (and maybe one or two in autumn because there is a lack of new journalists and one probably still needs some sort of input from old and experienced members) but I will probably call it quits after four years after that.

    It's the same thing for the universitarian radio. I adored doing my "Culturama" and "Ô Canada" shows and I am proud to have been a big part of the "renaissance" of that radio that had been on hold for many years. Now, it's time to give a chance to the future generations.

    In addition to this, I will also write my last few articles for the universitarian blog this year. Recently, I had written two new articles about the Quebec Games and the Month of the Black People's History. I will probably write one more article for the next month (March or April) and try to write some stuff during summertime but then, I will probably also call it quits after three years and more than thirty diversified articles.

    I'm looking for new challenges and activities these days. I have stopped giving English lessons at CGI and I am giving German lessons at the university instead. I've reduced my working time as a door man due to an important training of thirteen weeks I'm doing right now but I will try to stay involved at my university. I'm still loving my job as doorman more than ever after three years. I will start writing occasional reviews, artist rewinds and reports for a new website called "Black Wind Metal". It's an American based website with international collaborators who are writing stuff about the metal universe. The founder of that website had contacted me two years ago but I was too busy with different things. Now, it was time for a few changes and I came back to his offer and accepted to be part of the team. I will post my new collaborations on this blog as soon as the first stuff will be released on the official site. I will try to participate in other projects and meet new people. As soon as there is anything concrete or official, I will let you know first on my blog.

    If you have any kind of interesting project and you would like me to collaborate with you, don't hesitate to write me a message. I have also a couple of ideas but I will write about it another time.

    The next months will be filled with many important decisions in my life. Stay tuned on my blog and follow all my recent activities!

    Thanks for your attention and take all good care!

    Sebastian

     

     

    PS:

    I've got another "Harlem Shake" for you. This one was done at the school where I'm doing my training as human sciences teacher right now. In order to proudly support my school and my pupils, I would like you to take a look at the final result:

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  • Les universités québécoises traversent une période très difficile. Après les manifestations étudiantes du printemps érable qui ont mené à de nouvelles élections provinciales et à une annulation de la hausse des frais de scolarité, bien des universités doivent maintenant faire face à des coupures budgétaires radicales. La direction de l’UQAC a annoncé des coupures de 5,8 millions de dollars sur un plan de cinq ans. Concrètement, on parle de la suppression de dix emplois et de la disparition de quarante postes. Les syndicats des professeurs et des chargés de cours ont autant dénoncé ces développements que le MAGE-UQAC.

    On refuse par exemple les congés sabbatiques et de perfectionnement de plusieurs professeurs. Les frais de déplacement pour les chargés de cours sont annulés. Plusieurs emplois à la vie étudiante sont coupés tels que les services d’aide à l’emploi, d’aide à la réussite des études, de consultation psychosociale, de la mobilité étudiante et les services de santé. Plusieurs étudiants qui avaient prévu de faire un stage ou une session à l’étranger doivent vivre avec l’annulation de différentes bourses qui leur avaient été accordées auparavant et voient leur projet longuement planifié mis en péril. Selon les commentaires de plusieurs étudiants, cela va même jusqu’à annuler les bourses de plusieurs étudiants qui se trouvent déjà à l’étranger et qui sont ainsi forcés de s’endetter ou de retourner chez eux.

    Ces coupures prévisibles n’avaient pas empêché l’université de mettre beaucoup d’argent dans des investissements dont peu de personnes de la vie étudiante profitent comme la construction de l’aréna qui est pratiquement toujours vide ou l’installation d’un pavillon sur la culture autochtone destiné avant tout à seulement trois cents étudiants. En tant qu’étudiant très inquiet des derniers développements, il est légitime de se poser de sérieuses questions sur la manière dont les budgets universitaires sont gérés et de demander plus de transparence.

    Malgré ces démarches regrettables, c’est avant tout le gouvernement péquiste qui avait provoqué cette dégénération avec des coupures majeures prévues pour les universités québécoises qui ont forcé les directions à réagir.

    La situation pourrait par contre être encore pire. François Legault, chef de la Coalition avenir Québec, propose de créer deux sortes d’université: une gratuite et accessible pour le peuple ordinaire et une très coûteuse pour l’élite. Quand il parle des universités élitaires, il pense surtout aux universités les plus renommées des grands centres urbains et quand il mentionne les universités pour Monsieur et Madame Tout-le-monde, il fait allusion aux universités en régions périphériques comme l’UQAC. 

    Le directeur du Bureau des affaires publiques de l’UQAC a rapidement dénoncé cette attitude. Le MAGE-UQAC et la FEUQ ont soutenu ces propos et cette dernière a rajouté que Legault serait complètement déconnecté de la réalité.

    Il n’y a pas seulement les étudiants des régions éloignées, mais aussi les étudiants de partout au Québec qui ont choisi librement l'UQAC et non une université des grandes villes proche de leur ville natale et les étudiants étrangers qui enrichissent la diversité culturelle et l'ouverture d'esprit de la communauté étudiante. Vu que les classes sont souvent plus petites au sein de notre université, les étudiants bénéficient d'échanges précieux avec bien des professeurs et des chargés de cours et en fin de compte d'un enseignement qui est davantage adapté à leurs besoins personnels. De plus, on peut observer une diversification des cours et programmes uniques offerts ici.

    Ces jeunes universités devraient donc au contraire être soutenues financièrement et institutionnellement en comparaison avec les universités réputées pour poursuivre leur avancement. Les grandes universités disposent déjà de l'implication de plusieurs mécènes et organismes ainsi que de frais de scolarité excessivement élevés qui font en sorte que ces institutions ne sont accessibles que pour les mieux démunis dans notre société. On oublie de plus en plus de considérer les capacités intellectuelles et le talent malgré quelques bourses et prêts favorisant plutôt l'endettement qui est déjà très élevé au Canada en comparaison avec le reste du monde.

    Malgré la prise de position encourageante de l’université face aux propos de ce politicien qui cherche désespérément l’attention en fondant un tout nouveau parti parce qu’il ne faisait plus le poids dans son ancien, la façon radicale dont les coupures budgétaires ont été adaptées va à l’encontre de ce que la direction voulait atteindre auparavant. On commence à réduire les effectifs et ainsi aussi la qualité de l’enseignement et surtout de la vie étudiante en envoyant un message défaitiste. Les futurs étudiants seront donc plus attirés par les grandes universités qui coupent moins radicalement dans les différents emplois et postes. Ce ne sont que les étudiants démunis ou «ordinaires» qui resteront en région toute à l’image des idées de François Legault.

    Pour rééquilibrer le déficit, l’université risque de miser fortement sur l’arrivée de nouveaux étudiants étrangers qui n’ont pas profité de l’annulation de la hausse des frais de scolarité. Ils qui doivent au contraire payer plus que sept fois plus cher par trimestre qu’un étudiant québécois (7528,01$ canadiens pour quinze crédits au programme régulier pour les étudiants étrangers au baccalauréat versus 1083,90$ canadiens pour les étudiants canadiens résidant au Québec). Ces tendances pourraient mener à deux scénarios: soit que les étudiants étrangers aisés s’installeront massivement à Chicoutimi pour dépanner le déficit ou soit que les étudiants étrangers préféreront accéder à une université plus réputée en Amérique du Nord. Il ne sera plus justifiable de dire que les frais de scolarité sont plus élevés ailleurs en Amérique du Nord qu’au Québec car cela devient moins vrai pour les étudiants étrangers et on ne pourra plus comparer des universités amputées de nombreux services à celles qui augmentent leur qualité d’enseignement et de la vie universitaire. En tant que tel, ce sont les étudiants étrangers qui gardent les universités québécoises en vie et on ne peut pas juste compter sur eux face à la situation actuelle.

    En réglant le problème de la hausse des frais de scolarité, on a créé deux nouveaux tout aussi importants: les coupures budgétaires er l’avenir des universités. Dans une situation aussi instable et il faut que chaque parti – que ce soit la direction d’université, les syndicats des professeurs et des chargés de cours, le MAGE-UQAC, les différentes associations étudiantes et surtout aussi les différents politiciens - mette de côté ses différences d’opinion pour travailler de concert dans le but de résoudre sérieusement ces problèmes de plus en plus pressants. Ce n’est pas en contournant des votes démocratiques contre la grève étudiante en petites associations militantes, en boycottant ces sommets ou en prenant des décisions unilatérales que le dossier avancera. Allons voir si le sommet sur l’enseignement supérieur nous envoie des signaux positifs ou s’il va être un échec – comme le prédit François Legault.

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  • UNITED MIND CLUB is a quite intriguing band from the small town of Tver in Russia that mixes Industrial, Progressive and Thrash Metal with modern electronic influences. After a first EP from 2008 that is ironically entitled “The Last Performance”, the band released its full length debut record “World Blood History” in 2012. The band’s label Metal Scrap Records managed to get a deal with the famous German “Legacy” magazine that offered this release as a special gift in a cardboard sleeve that came with the 06-2012 issue or the magazine number 81.

    This stunning album immediately became one of my favourite releases of the year 2012 and was without a doubt one of the best debut records I had listened to in quite a while. In order to get some more information about this band, I decided to contact two members by e-mail. I’ve chatted with Dmitry “Train Freeman” Zimin as well as with Roman “Del Torro” Nazimov in early February 2013. We talked about the definition of “Mind Metal”, about hard and long ways to creative heights for modern artists and even about Pussy Riot and the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Sotschi.

    Here comes the full length version of this interview but before you get started, be sure to check out the following video at the band’s personal request to get a better idea of the kind of music they are playing:


    SEBASTIAN KLUTH: “Hello from Chicoutimi, Canada and thanks a lot for taking your precious time for this interview! How is life in Tver, Russia?”

    DMITRY ZIMIN / TRAIN FREEMAN: “Hi everyone! Russia is a big country. Tver is a small city about hundred miles away far from Moscow. People don’t work much around here, there are only guitarist around, haha! There is a lot of dirty snow these days! I can’t wait for the spring time to begin!”

    ROMAN NAZIMOV / DEL TORRO: “It's very cool around here and people in Yver are always positive. We are glad that we got some interest from fans coming as far as from Canada!”

    SEBASTIAN: “First of all, might you introduce yourselves? Who are you and what's the story behind UNITED MIND CLUB?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “My real name is Dmitry but my friends call me Train or Freeman. UNITED MIND CLUB is a mix of different metal genres and styles. Our story began in spring 2008 when we recorded our first EP “The Last Performance”.”

    DEL TORRO: “My name is Roman, but my artist name in the band is “Del Torro”. Being a part of UNITED MIND CLUB means to live a completely new way of life for me and to set new trends in music and in life as well.”

    SEBASTIAN: “What inspired you to call your band UNITED MIND CLUB? I think that's a quite intriguing name as it evokes many ideas but what is your initial meaning behind it?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “For me, the band name is just some sort of a mental emotion. In this band we can do whatever we want, without stereotypes, without borders.”

    DEL TORRO: “We just play “Mind Metal” and that is it.”

    SEBASTIAN: “That sounds interesting. What are you guys doing in your everyday life apart of being musicians? Do you get much support from your jobs and families or is it rather hard to conciliate those two worlds?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “Right now, all of us band members have other jobs apart of being musicians. We also have a booking agency in Russia that helps us to spread our name. In real life, my family supports me as well.”

    DEL TORRO: For me, being a musician is already a full time job. My music is my personal expression and is very important to me.”

    SEBASTIAN: “I somewhat like your band logo because it's different from the usual stuff. Is there any main idea or intention behind it?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “Concerning the concept behind our logo, I even have a slogan for it: Just beat it, this is my life - you have to decide about yours!”

    SEBASTIAN: “Not much is known about your first EP "The Last Performance" that came out in 2008. Tell us about the three songs on this release. Why did you call your first release "The Last Performance"? How comes it took almost four years for you to come along with a full length release? Why didn't you include these songs on your full length album?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “For me, it was the first step into music industry. We released our EP on BRM Records from United Kingdom. I didn’t want to include these songs on our full length debut album because they are very different in style. I don’t think it has been a long time between our two releases. I was just seeking my way and it has been a long road.”

    SEBASTIAN: “I have discovered your band because your first full length release "World Blood History" was included in some edition of the German "Legacy" magazine which is probably my favourite metal magazine. How comes that you got the opportunity to release your record via this magazine in German speaking countries?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “Our label Metal Scrap did this for us.”

    DEL TORRO: “When we received the proposal, it was the kind of offer we couldn’t refuse.”

    SEBASTIAN: “Is there any other possibility to purchase your record and your merchandise if one has missed the Legacy magazine?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “Yeah! Why not? You can order it at the Metal Scrap Store but also on i-tunes and in other digital shops.”

    SEBASTIAN: “Your record is one of my top three records of the year 2012. I have been surprised by the wild potpourri of diversified ideas from all kind of genres such as Industrial, Progressive or Thrash Metal. Which bands, which genres and which influences actually inspire you the most?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “Thank you! My favorite bands are METALLICA, JUDAS PRIEST, QUEEN, RAMMSTEIN and SYSTEM OF A DOWN. Nowadays, I even listen to French musicals. Honestly, I can listen to almost everything from FRANK SINATRA to KATY PERRY.”

    DEL TORRO: “Muchas gracias, amigos! My favourite bands are KORN, SLIPKNOT and SYSTEM OF A DOWN as well.”

    SEBASTIAN: “My favourite song on the record is probably "Jaguar". Tell us a little bit more about this track? What are the lyrics about, how did you compose the riffs and how did you make the transitions between the different parts? What would be your favourite band song?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “For me, songs are like Lego blocks. Our lyrics are about our social life in Russia and some kind of shit from all around the world. It’s about men who try to find themselves. My favorite songs would be “B.B.B.P.”, “Dreams of Luther” and “Interview with the Beast” as well.”

    DEL TORRO: “Our song “Jaguar” was born spontaneously and quickly fired. Our song is now one of the soundtracks of Jaguar motorcycles, if you want to see it that way. We wrote the track rather quickly and easily.”

    SEBASTIAN: “Just by looking at the artwork or cover of your first full length record, I see many different associations and intriguing ideas. What's the story behind this cover and who has done it?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “The cover design had been done by MoonRing studio. I wanted that each one of our songs was represented visually with a very own image on the cover. The concept works like some sort of a history book of stories.”

    United Mind Club - World Blood of History (2012)

     

    A look at the cover and booklet artwork made by Moon Ring Design

    SEBASTIAN: “As your music is quite complex, I ask myself how your song writing process is actually working? Are you jamming all together or does every musician work on his own parts? Is there a creative force in the band or rather a collective effort? How do you put the different pieces of your musical puzzle together?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “I write songs in my head and then each party does its work. Some people are adding their ideas to the best songs I came up with. Sometimes, we are also just sitting on the couch and jamming all together.”

    DEL TORRO: “The point is this: TRAIN FREEMAN comes in and says that he has a new hit in mind and we immediately start to play.”

    SEBASTIAN: “I guess it's rather hard if not impossible for you to exactly reproduce your progressive tracks in concert. How do your live versions actually differ from the studio songs?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “Well, I think you need to assist to some of our concerts. I really can’t explain this.”

    DEL TORRO: “I prefer the concerts because I have much more fun there than in the studio and there are also more nuances in our music.”

    SEBASTIAN: “Let's get a little bit more into detail concerning your concerts. In which countries did you already play? Where would you still like to play? Do you have any stunning tour anecdotes? What has been your best and what has been your worst concert experience?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “We played a lot in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland. My best concert was at the Rock Line Festival. My worst concert was in Poland, in Kalych City. We have loads of anecdotes. If someone asks us how we are going to play tonight, I always answer that we would play as we did in Kalych but of course it’s a joke.”

    DEL TORRO: “We played everywhere in Russia and Europe. We really want to come to another continent. So just invite us and we will come!”

    SEBASTIAN: “Tell us a little bit more about Tver. Is there a big rock and metal scene or is the whole scene rather concentrated on Moscow? Please tell us also about your favourite Russian artists and bands!”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “In Tver we have great bands such as FUNERAL SPEECH, the astral brothers of Chuck Schuldiner of DEATH fame but there are also others. My favourite Russian artists are KIPELOV of ARIA fame and MICHAIL KRUG.”

    DEL TORRO: “My favourite Russian bands are KORROZIA METALLA and LENINGRAD. In Tver, my favourite band would of course be FUNERAL SPEECH. These guys are also our friends.”

    SEBASTIAN: “What are your plans for the year 2013? Do you play any concerts or do you have already a few ideas for a second record?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “This year marks the twentieth anniversary of our label Metal Scrap Records. We are going to make a song for a compilation that honours this event.”

    DEL TORRO: “We will soon write some new material. There’s more rock and roll to come!”

    SEBASTIAN: “Pussy Riot, the Olympic Winter Games in Sotschi and loads of demonstrations in the streets - there are a lot of things going on in Russia in times like these. Do some of these things have an impact on your personal life and what do you think about these trends?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “I think Pussy Riot is just a political project. The Olympic Winter Games are going to be cool, I’m waiting for it to come!”

    DEL TORRO: “As for this Pussy Riot group, it’s indeed a quite difficult question that traced Putin's policies. In general, music has nothing to do with all of this. I think that music and politics can’t be together. Apart of that, Sotschi is going to be a great event. I don’t really get your point about the demonstrations. What demonstrations do you mean?”

    SEBASTIAN: “Well, my question was about the rising number of demonstrations against the government these last years but you kind of answered in form of commenting this famous Pussy Riot incident. Now, the last words are always yours. Is there anything you would like to tell the international rock and metal community?”

    TRAIN FREEMAN: “Thanks a lot for your questions, stay metal and stay with UNITED MIND CLUB!”

    DEL TORRO: “UNITED MIND CLUB here, we are TRAIN FREEMAN and DEL TORRO. We love you and don’t be cruel!”

    United Mind Club 2012

     

    The band as of 2012

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  • That's my university!

    I'm not in the video but I just wanted to share with you the Harlem shake version of the University of Quebec in Chicoutimi that was filmed on Valentine's Day 2013 at the library.

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  • Chinese New Year 2013

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