Hark! And listen well, for here goes the unmatched story of glory and hardships, inspiration and disillusion, friendship and enmity. Errr... to tell the truth - it is all just about Distant Light history as we see it…
I. Embryonal period
The roots of the band can be traced back to the year of 1999, when band Legion consisting of Vlad Mihalitcheko (guitar), Sergey Nazarov (bass), Slava Slushny (vocals) and Gustav (drums) was formed. At this point young band, with just a several half-baked songs behind their belts and no any serious ideas about their intentions were looking for the second guitarist. There were several candidates, including Evgeny Shkenev, who is more known nowadays as Furious, member of black-metal band Nightwing. Since Legion was more or less just a hard-rock band, Evgeny's death and black metal tastes didn't find any resonance within a band, thus making creative collaboration impossible. So, Evgeny quit, but this belongs more to the history of Nightwing. Shortly after this boys in the band found out, that there, actually, already exists a band called Legion in Russia, so another name for the band had to be found. And, as you, smart reader, might guess the new name offered was DISTANT LIGHT.
II. Arrival of Alex
Later, in the beginning of year 2000, young band was offered to perform in some bar called Brigita, and the band decided to hire Alex Volpert as the second guitarist just for this show. The only thing about all this was the fact, that there were lots of rumors about how great Alex plays, which was making the whole idea to look rather dodgy. Distant Light at this point had no chance to compare their skills to other bands, since the guys were attending gigs rarely and did not know any of musicians but really few in the other bands. Thus, Slava, holding his breath and pretending to be very-very self assured called Alex and offered to play the gig. The Alex himself, great player or otherwise, was doing nothing at this point, since he left band Ilium around 4 months before the Distant Light invitation due to his complete disappointed with the chaotic and undisciplined way the band was around to take. Ilium, kind of prog-rock band was formed on the base of similar band Cate's Cradle. Both bands gave several shows, but without any success and recognition whatsoever. Thus, to Slava's great amusement, Alex agreed to play with Distant Light. And from the first glance he liked the way the rehearsals were done - it was working-man approach, not just bunch of guys hanging around with their instruments. It was all about music, not just having a good time. However, the show we were talking about (do you still follow this story?) never took place for the reasons beyond our knowledge. But, nevertheless, Alex became the integral part of the band and Distant Light's lyricist, and it was him, who insisted on changing the style from hard-rock to power-metal, which much later started to adsorb more and more from the prog-metal music.
III. The First Steps and The First Changes
In the spring of the same year drummer Gustav quit the band - this kind of music was not up to his grunge-punk leanings and he was not good enough technically for this kind of music anyway. He was really nice and quiet guy, he is still playing his instrument, and even was mentioned in the rather famous latvian punk band Innokentijs Marpls. Cheers to you Gustav, thanks for being with us! Until next drummer has been found, Slava was doing stick-and-skin duties. Surprisingly, he was not that bad at it and much later even performed as a drummer onstage with the hard-rock band called Armadillo. Shortly after Gustav's departure Alex left for Germany for the whole summer. At this point band continued to play in the following lineup - Vlad (guitar), Sergey Nazarov (bass), Slava (vocals, drums), and even manages to play several jam-like shows in Saksofons and Nautilus clubs. Mind you - music they played then was absolutely nothing like music Distant Light play nowadays.
In the autumn Alex returns to the band and rehearsals slowly begun to become more and more scheduled. At this point the band formed the core of Slava, Vlad and Alex and composition of the first real songs has started. In the January of year 2001 the new drummer, Leha The Cat was found. However, after six months mr. Cat decided to call his quits - he was not a bad drummer, but his nu-metal tastes and not too serious attitude were not what has been needed exactly, and Leha himself was searching for something else, after all. So, he left the band, but still is our good friend and helps us when we need it. Somewhere in this days Rustam (from the heavy-metal band Fatum), who will be the hero of this band a later, was for the first time introduced to the band. He jammed a little with us, but did not accept the invitation to join band at this point for the unknown reason. Shortly after all that Sregey Nazarov, who never been really interested in the music as much as other guys and never have been as good player decides to leave the band. He is a great personality and our real friend, he comes to our shows as often as he can and is a big Distant Light fan. Good luck to you, Sergey!
IV. Gaining The Power
… And then there were three - Alex, Slava and Vlad, still relentlessly rehearsing, practicing, composing new songs and accumulating experience, playing with different drummers and bassists. This period was really hectic, people came and went, some were good, some - really horrible, most notable drummer (supposingly very good) from rather popular local band, who could not play sixteen bars of really simple song without making it complete mess even for the sake of his life. After two hours of playing these sixteen bars massacre guys were almost desperate. The search went on.
In the October of year 2001 the new guy, drummer Sergey Simonov, former drummer of relatively famous alternative band Naked Flame became member of Distant Light. At this point he was the best drummer the band ever had, no doubt, and the shape of things to come was formed. But still, the bassist place was vacant, and some people were tried. The most notable persons in this department were one really young boy with very expensive instrument, which he, to our great pity, couldn't even tune properly, and Sergey-Foma, very good player, but too much a nu-metal person, who plays in the Korn-like band Free Level these days.
In the January of year 2002 Alex was informed, that some guy called Jan wanted to come to rehearsal and try to play a little bass in the band. "He is really bad musician, as we heard, we just couldn't say him no, you see", said Slava and Vlad. Shrug. However, after dozen of minutes it became apparent, that Jan is far from being bad, in fact, he was really good, to some guys amazement. Of course, he was accepted immediately. Besides, Jan Kurpnieks appeared to be very nice dude with good sense of humor and right attitude to work. Before Distant Light Jan was member of death-metal band Sanctuary (not german one) and he played in nu-metal band Blast as well (again - not american one).
V. Uncovering The Faces
Now, the band at last was complete. Rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals… more rehearsals. Did I mention rehearsals? And of course several rehearsals more. The first real show was set on the beginning of August, at the Undine club, Jurmala. But actually the first real performance was given in the middle of June of the same year in the Saksofons club. The other two bands there were heavy-metal Terra and death-metal ZX Spectrum. The first Distant Light gig was total success, which was really inspiring. Nevertheless, Sergey Simonov was never happy with Distant Light music, he was much more into nu-metal and alternative rock. Also, he was not progressing technically as fast as other guys, so he said "I want to quit the band right after show in Undine, I am not the right man for job, I am dragging you down. Sorry - I am leaving". And so he did, leaving Distant Light without a drummer again.
VI. The Last Piece of Puzzle
Well, dear reader, we are opening the next chapter in the Distant Light history. The guy, who we all really needed at last agreed to play drums in the band and still is doing strong with us. Rustam Guseinov, after seeing Distant Light live at Saksofons club realized, that band much improved since his visit to the rehearsal. At those days he played (and still does) in the premiere latvian nu-metal band AIM and also in black-metal Nightwing (which he left), who were mentioned in the beginning of this story. In the October of year 2002 he joined Distant Light.
VII. Breakthrough, At Last!
The first real Distant Light show was performed on the 3rd of January of the year 2003. And the line of shows has begun! At the moment of writing of this essay band played live more than 25 times, with shows ranging from small clubs like Saksofons, to bigger venues like Depo, Zero Zone and Roxy clubs, and also on the huge stages behind the eyes and ears of hundreds of listeners, as big biker shows on Krastmala, Nemo Park and Zvejniekciems, and also with almost all of more or less respectable metal bands in Riga. In the half of a year band established its name and gained recognition. In the May of year 2003 band took part in the April Theses competition and got The Third Prize, and also won in the best drummer and best guitarist nominations.
In the August of year 2003 Distant Light performed at "Mes un Livi" fest (Pope) with total success - we got The First Prize,and again won in the best drummer and the best guitarist nominations.
IIX. The year to remember
Year 2004 brought several very important things. Firstly, Distant Light recorded the debut five song demo "Prison of Dreams". The record was really well received despite the fact that we didn't get in studio the sound and mix which we really wanted. Second, apart from other great shows, Distant Light performed as opening band for none else but legendary band Whitesnake! The response from public was amazing, and also Whitesnake musicians gave great reviews regarding our set. Of course, there were about dozen or more good gigs, but this one was the most memorable for sure!
IX. Crucial step
Unfortunately, everything can't work just perfectly. This year also brought widening gap between our former frontmen and vocalist Slava and the rest of the band. Both sides were unsatisfied with each others musical direction and attitude, and on the 23-rd of December Distant Light (without realizing it yet) headlined the last show with Slava. Several months afterwards the band received an offering from well-know in the local circles experienced vocalist Sasha Redko (ex-Trendkill Method/Gust of Anger, Moral Free, Wild Colony, etc). After one song played together we already knew that he is destined to be our new voice.
Life goes on, and you always have a chance to catch us live. And of course you are always the most welcome to show! Keep the spirit, and remember - the story is not over yet, it is just a beginning!