Donald Trump, Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin may be powerful men in the political world, but it seems their talents have been underestimated by many, as the trio have come together to become one of the hottest instrumental Metal bands on the planet.
Under the moniker Nuclear Power Trio, the three leaders have unleashed their fantastic album ‘A Clear and Present Rager’ upon the world, through Metal Blade Records.
With the offer of Stolichnaya vodka, caviar, Borscht and Ukha soups and a fantastic Шашлык [Shashlik], MetalTalk could not refuse the offer to sit and chat with the Trio about all things Metal.
Trump brought burgers, but there was no way I would eat Jong Un’s 단고기국 [dangogiguk – main ingredient dog] even if it does increase virility.
Nuclear Power Trio – A Clear and Present Rager (Metal Blade Records)
Release Date: 20 October 2020
Interview: Steve Ritchie
‘A Clear and Present Rager’ is a surprisingly great listen. Containing five tracks of superbly crafted instrumental tracks, the trio who recorded this are certainly all masters of their craft.
Opener ‘A Clear and Present Rager’ immediately grabs you with a tight and heavy opening. With a really cool melodic chorus, the track builds to the middle eight where you get the first blast of flamenco style guitar.
This is one of those songs where there always seems to be something else to spot on repeated listens. A great example of this, for me, was when I picked out the bass mirroring the guitar melody for the last couple of bars, as the track drew to a close. This is also a sign of a great song.
‘Grab ‘Em by the Pyongyang’ is another standout track. Built around the opening flamenco riff, the heavy, chunky guitar and thundering bass drive through the track, all held together by intricate but not overpowering drums.
With ‘Ukraine in the Membrane’ one gets dragged along by the sheer pace of the piece and Vladimir certainly shines here with his solo opportunity. There is a great closing minute to this song, as the nylon strings ease you out of the track in a manner similar to a warm down after a good sprint session.
Completed by ‘The Fusion Collusion’ and ‘Mutually Assured Seduction’, the five tracks here compliment each other beautifully. This is sometimes maybe difficult to do with an instrumental album.
From high speed technical shredding paced by intense double bass drumming, to soft rhythmic fingerpicked flamenco, this is an intense but rewarding 20 minute musical listening experience.
MetalTalk: With the US Election seemingly over, apart from legal challenges from Trump, are Vladimir and Kim happy that Donald can now dedicate more time to the band? Was he distracted in the build up to recording the album at all?
Donny: “You know sometimes you look at the scorecard and you realise if you want to have Dominion over world peace, you really have to put the hammer down and focus on what matters. You can’t steal your way to certified double platinum in North Korea, just ask Kimmy”
Kimmy: “No you can not. It is a high crime for which one would pay with their life.”
Vlad: “Donny was burning the candle at both ends as you say, so there were talks of “helping” the man who sleeps win, so we could have our guitarist with a head clear of such distractions. But we didn’t help, we promise.”
With high profile musicians such as yourselves, was the choice of instrumental only so that the world would not have a chance to mis-read your lyrics, which could cause problems? Or is instrumental music your true calling?
Kimmy: “No one has really heard my singing voice, but I melt the hearts of those who have. Especially with my cover of ‘I Will Always Love You’, originally by Dolly Parton, but much more recognisable as performed by Whitney Houston for the movie ‘The Bodyguard’ with Kevin Costner, which became the biggest selling soundtrack of all time.
“That was the first CD I ever purchased and I listened to it so many times that I believe it created a bond between Whitney and I. This bond was so strong that the first night I went to sleep after learning of Whitney’s passing, she visited me as an angel in that dream and sang ‘I Will Always Love You’ in its entirety to me personally as she flew.
“It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. I love you Whitney!!”
Vlad: “My ‘Blueberry Hill’ is of equal emotional intensity, but I prefer bass to singing.’
Donny: “You know, the singer is a crook. Really, so many bands, great bands, have got great musicians when you listen to them, but they get robbed by the singer. They really do.
“We really liked the message of delivering peace through the universal language of music and melody, without the lyrics getting in the way, because then you have got all these other problems, and believe me, we would have problems.
“I mean you see the way the media twists all of our words up. So we did it perfectly, by letting the music be the lyrics, and those are the best lyrics. Ask anybody.”
The album is impressive. High powered and intense Metal, with some flamenco leanings too (such as in Grab ‘Em by the Pyongyang). The level of musicianship is very high. Can you each talk about your influences?
Donny: “Back in Queens New York, I would sneak out at night and go to the clubs around town. I was a huge fan of the Spencer Davis Group. That’s where it started. When I heard ‘I’m A Man’… that’s when I knew.
“You listen to ‘Primitive Love’ [Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine] and you listen to ‘Este Mundo’ by the Gypsy Kings and you love ‘Images And Words’ by Dream Theater, and then you get an idea of where I’m coming from on the eight string.”
Vlad: “A lot of people can hear my influences, I see them in the comments on YouTube. There is heavy influence from L.D. 50, there is thumping from W00-10, and there is some Claypool and some Cliff Burton in there as well. In my heart I have a deep love for so many bassists out there.”
Kimmy: “I love David James Abbruzzese. He is the greatest drummer of Pearl Jam, not to take anything away from Matt Cameron, but I prefer him in Soundgarden. I also am very big into Igor Cavalera, Vinnie Paul, Danny Carey, and Joey from Slipknot. Also The Moranbong Band, whom I personally chose and procured the development of, has become an influence to me. So in a way, I am an influence to myself.”
With very high powered jobs, how did you find the time to collaborate, especially in these COVID-19 times?
Donny: “We’ve been working on this for a few years now, really more like three and half years? Right, Vlad?”
Vlad: “Da. Almost four years now. It is literally building an empire. Every piece we complete takes us closer to World Peace, so the work must be done no matter how exhausted we are from our day jobs.”
What does Kim think of the US election problems in the US? Its obviously easier when there is only one candidate?
Kimmy: “Vlad and I do not have such problems.”
Can you imagine completing a “One Weekend Tour” where you played a live gig in each three countries? Much like Phil Collins attempted at Live Aid? Gig>Airport>Gig>Airport>Gig….. I’m sure that would be a massive world fundraising event… do you think that would be possible?
Donny: “We’ve talked of doing that, of doing a show at the White House, then flying straight to Pyongyang, and then straight to Moscow.
“It could be really great, but it could also be one of those really very cheesy entitled stunts like Paris Hilton would do…you know, doing New Year’s in a hundred time zones just because you can.
“If you know the three of us, we are not into doing things just to do them, even though they don’t make sense. Huge Phil Collins fan though, but that was just so sad what happened to Phil. You know what Orion did to him going off and marrying that other man.
“Not an easy lover. I hope he doesn’t care anymore!
“But that was J-Lo’s old place, you know? The Mansion? Nice place…and most the time, cause it’s Miami… no jacket required.
“I might have to get Phil to sell it to me, for the right price though of course. You pay too much and then you’re in too deep.”
Kimmy: “Phil Collins wrote the most iconic drum fill in the history of drums. I respect him immensely for his slow walk out to ‘In the Air Tonight’, where it is as if his drum kit is magnetised like a majestic white horse heart. Each beat of the heart and pace in his stride taking him one step closer to the inevitability of that moment he has been waiting for, for all his life.
“That moment, when it comes, is that drum fill and there is hardly a more emotional experience you could witness as a listener of music.”
Are there any other plans to tour with this?
Vlad: “We are definitely going to tour. Despite the fact that we are very busy, we have had many amazing offers to play the big festivals and it is something that must be done.”
The rhythm section together are astonishing. The tight playing on ‘Ukraine In The Membrane’ is stunning, and the bass solo fits in really well. Is it hard work, or just a great understanding that you have?
Vlad: “I try to be the glue between the rhythm and the melody and with someone whose hands and feet are as talented as Kimmy’s, it is as challenging as it is fun.
“We also have a strong understanding of teamwork, and of conversational eloquence and respect. You see, each song is a conversation and it is almost as if we have a говорящая палка [talking stick], so that each person, when they are holding this stick, have the floor, but…this floor is not without it’s movement, because in a good conversation the floor becomes lava, so that the meal is not stale.”
Electrifying guitar riffs and solos. It is not just shredding though, there are some wonderful melodic parts there too. Is that a natural talent, or the results of many years studying with, or working with the greats?
Donny: “I’ve spent time studying, but as an autodidact (I love that word by the way, it is one of the best words,) I really have a great respect for the the greats.
“I’ve learned from Vai, I’ve gotten some tips from Satriani and even Yngwie, even though I think it is really sad the way he treats his guitar tech. I said to myself when I was watching him at Generation Axe – I said, “Jeez he’s treating that guitar tech so horribly.” I mean you could tell when he was tossing his guitars so randomly in the air at him, that he was hoping the tech would just drop it or not be able to catch it so he could belittle him or, who knows, maybe even something worse backstage.
“I don’t know what he does, maybe he beats him, but it was just very sad, because you could tell it’s an abusive relationship.
“But I do have natural talent, so thank you very much, I appreciate it.”
Finally, It is great that you are trying to unite the World with Heavy Metal. Do you have any message for our MetalTalk readers?
Kimmy: “There are 28 state-approved haircuts in North Korea.”
Vlad: “I believe in a thing called love, just listen to the rhythm of my heart… there is a chance we could make it now….We will be Rocking until the sun goes down.”
Donny: “To all our fans all over the world, we thank you for your support and we are going to win so big when we come play for you! Standby for peace!”