SBS (SPICY BITS OF SCANDAL)
A talk with
VITALIS KAIRIUKSTIS (Vocals)
(Questionnaire by Patrick De Sloover)
I guess that I know only 2 bands from Lithuania, and that’s Thundertale and SBS. Last mentioned band is already +30 years in rock, so isn’t it about time to have a chat with the vocalist and mastermind Vitalis Kairiukstis!
Q: Hello Vitalis, glad to have a chat with you after all those years. Tell us how is it going?
A: Thank you, Patrick. Everything is going better and better. This year is very important for SBS – we’ve released our new album “Heaven can wait…” and signed contract with DEFOX RECORDS. Now we are ready to rock the world!!!
Q: At this moment there are no founding members left in the band SBS, but I guess I can say that you are one of the most important members in SBS since 1991? What made you join SBS, and what did you do before musical wise?
A: No Patrick, not exactly. You can (not can, you should!-laughs) say that I’m the leading member of SBS,J !!! Joke !!! How did we start? I knew guys from SBS by sight, our paths had crossed in festivals and shows and once when I was going back home with 3 litre of home made wine (SBS rehearsed near my flat) they invited back me to the rehearsal and I got home as member of SBS…
Before SBS I sang in two Lithuanian bands – Roko Laboratorija (Laboratory of Rock) and by myself founded band Plackartas (Plackart wagon). With Plackartas I released vinyl LP “Nueitas Kelias” – first official rock music LP in Lithuanian music history (1989). And this is quite understandable: until year 1990 Lithuania was occupated by USSR.
Q: How comes that the founding line up, never recorded an album or demo. They started in 1979, and besides a few shows and appearances on festivals like Rock Saeits and Junewalija, they didn’t record anything. How comes?
A: I don’t know exactly. They had 3 songs without vocal and I recorded my vocal for these three songs. Full album was released only in 1996 as MC.
Q: Is the musical direction different since you joined. Can I say that the SBS Mark II line up evolved into a more Hard Rock style instead of a Rock’n Roll band?
A: Yes, you are right, the direction has changed. Our music style at the moment I can describe as melodic/progressive metal. Now SBS has Mark III line-up. We have new keyboard player Ramunas Jasutis.
Q: What was the initial idea when you became member of SBS. Having fun in first place and (international) success in second place, or did you have the intention to bring the band to a much higher level?
A: If you do something without fun, then stop doing it (laughs). I involved my mind, my soul, my power and feelings in SBS and I think that it must give for the band international success and raise the band to the much higher level.
Q: I really don’t know anything about Lithuanian Rock scene. Can you describe how it looks like now, and if there is a big difference between now and the early years? Do you have a lot of clubs and places where Rock bands are able to play, or is it really hard, because most of the people are into a more commercial direction?
A: Your latest phrase about commercial direction is super sharp and precisely describes the situation of hard music scene in Lithuania. We have very few clubs where we could perform with comfort and get the worthy fee.
Q: How would like to describe the music of SBS? What are the major influences?
A: For me or for rest of the band? If for me – my God and my Teacher always was Ronnie James Dio (R.I.P.) However I’m listening to different kind of music, in my CD and vinyl collection you can find oldschoolers like Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and new bands like Nocturnal Rites, Stratovarius, Rhapsody of Fire, also Yes, King Crimson, Jethro Tull and many more – you see, I’m listening to divers styles of the music. At first place for me there always must be good melody and good singer.
The rest of the band have such priorities: bass player Martynas – Metallica, Sepultura, Tool, guitarist Kostas – Dream Theater, Steve Vai, Alter Bridge, drummer Vaidotas - Vital Informatio, Porcupine Tree, Dean Brown, Keyboarder Ramūnas – Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, Black Country Communion, Led Zeppelin, SBS. Keeping such differences in mind I could describe the music of SBS as the mix of old and new, hard and progressive (from musical side) and as the search of truth between good and evil, white and black from lyrical side.
Q: In my review I mentioned bands like Alice Cooper and The Scorpions. Do you agree, is there any similarity between the SBS rock and the just mentioned bands?
A: Not exactly. Scorpions – yes, great band, great singer, I know him personally, he is old rocker, but guys from Scorpions play another music, they play guitar rock (without keyboards). Alice Cooper is one of my teachers if you have the show in mind – when I saw his show “Welcome to my nightmare” for the first time, I was shocked! We as well pay attention to costumes and show on stage, from my point of view this is the inseparable part of the gig.
Q: Through the years, you recorded several albums, but the lineup still had a lot of problems to become stable. What is the main reason for that?
A: I wouldn’t agree. With bass player Martynas we play together since 2005, drummer Vaidotas joined SBS in 2007, guitarist Kostas - in 2009, we have only one newcomer – keyboardist Ramunas, he is playing with us since 2013.
Q: Was it hard to find suitable members for the band, or there a lot of metal bands in Lithuania?
A: Very hard. There are very few keyboard players, suitable for the music style of SBS. We tried to play with several but we didn’t find chemistry between us.
Q: Is SBS a well-known Lithuanian metal band, or is it rather underground style?
A: Good question (laughs). I’m not from rating agency but our last show was crowded with people. So I think – yes!!!
Q: Since a few years you mail packages around the world to promote the band and new releases. Can I say that SBS is aiming for recognition from abroad instead of focusing on your local area?
A: Yes, sure. We are aiming for recognition from abroad because music market in Lithuania is too small for the band if the band wants full-fletged musical life – tours, recordings, etc.
Q: How is the receipt from the foreign press so far on SBS in general?
A: When we in 2008 presented our 3rd album “The Gambler” this album was highly rated by the international media. “Metal To Infinity” gave 84 out of 100, “HardHarderHeavy” – 6,5 out of 7 and hailed the band with the phrase “SBS, Europe awaits you !!!”.., “Metal Express Radio” – 8,5 out of 10, “Metal Observer” - 8,5 out of 10 points. Not bad ? (laughs)
Q: I guess that one of the milestones in the career of the band so far, is the new album. This one is called ‘Heaven Can Wait’, and we would like to know what the story is behind this album title?
A: One of the songs from “Heaven Can Wait…” is Fallen Angel which we composed with Maestro Mistheria. This song is the story about Lucem Ferre, one, who was thrown from the clouds, do you remember? Looking at the cover of this album it is obvious that Fallen Angel decides that on Earth it is much more interesting than in Heaven.
Q: Can I say that ‘Heaven Can Wait’ is a kind of concept album?
A: When we began to create new songs for this album with Kostas (it was in summer in the forest on the bank of the lake) we didn‘t think about lyrics and conseptualisation. Later I thought about it... In my opinion - all these songs have something in common but in this CD they are separate. But we‘ll create in the future concept album, I have new ideas...
Q: I like the way the whole product is presented. It contains a nice booklet with lots of pictures, lyrics of the songs etc.. I guess that releasing an album is a financial risk, especially when you can’t rely on a record label for support. How do you manage?
A: Yes, you are right. But I had a dream to release this album. A very strong and deep dream. If something is seriously stuck in mind and soul, a person somehow manages to make the dream come true. Despite all obstacles. The same thing had happened to me. I’m a sorcerer…
Q: A lot of guest musicians teamed up like Dainius Pulauskas, Mistheria and Ferdy Doernberg. How did you get in touch with them, how do you approach?
A: When we couldn’t manage to find a keyboards player in Lithuania, I began thinking about musicians abroad. I am really impressed by Maestro Mistheria as the keyboardist, composer and arranger. Also, I’m the big fun of Axel Rudi Pell, his music and his keyboardist. I wrote letters to Mistheria and Ferdy and they decided to work with SBS. I knew Dainius for a long time, when I participated in rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” as Pontius Pilate (laughs). He is great jazz musician and I offereded him to work together for some songs.
Q: Did these musicians also contributed during the writing process, or was everything worked out well already?
A: Dainius did arrangement for the song – Kiss of Judas – it was great!!! (Recently he said to me (when he heard this song) that experience of working with SBS was very interesting to him). One song – Fallen angel I’ve created with Misteria together. In all another songs these guys arranged and played keyboards parties. I’m very satisfied of their work.
Q: How comes that SBS didn’t sign a record deal so far? Is it because of the hard times in music industry, or is it really difficult to get signed when you live in Lithuania?
A: I think that we all know situation in music market these days. Only strongly promoted bands can sign deals with labels and Lithuania is too small country for kind of music that SBS plays.
Q: How is the reaction of the press on the new album so far?
A: “Metal to Infinity” gave us rating 83/100 for “Heaven can wait…”. Thanx guys!!!
Q: The beginning of the track ‘Religion Of Rock’ starts exactly like Burn from Deep Purple. Was this a kind of ‘inside joke’, a kind of wink to the original?
A: No, no, no!!! Not original!!! It’s only joke (laughs).
Q: I guess that you read my review as well. Do you agree what I wrote, is it neutrally correct?
A: I answered this question above, one more time thanx!
Q: What are the plans for the upcoming months, what is the next goal to achieve?
A: We plan to introduce our new album for our fans in the beginning of March in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania and to perform in other Lithuania’s cities during March-April.
Q: Is there any chance that SBS will be playing in our area as well (Western Europe)?
A: We negotiated with two booking agencies and if we’ll settle on the suitable conditions for both sides I think that in nearest future I’ll invite you to our show.
Q: Vitalis, what is meant with your moniker ‘Don Vito’?
A: I like the movie “Godfather” and image of Sicilian mafia very much (laughs).
Q: I you could make one wish concerning SBS, what would it be? What is the ultimate goal in your life?
A: Next album and concerts at Madison Square Garden and Budokan. Two wishes (laughs).
Q: SBS stands for ‘Spicy Bits Of Scandal’, can you tell us a little more about that description?
A: The band name was when I joined SBS already. In my opinion – hard, energetic, strong, sexy, spicy music!!!
Q: We know much more about the band and future plans. I do hope that once we will be able to meet and have a drink together. I wish you all the best with the band and new album ‘Heaven Can Wait’, and perhaps there is one last message that you want to spread, so go ahead!
A: Thank you Patrick. I hope we’ll have a drink in the nearest future!
Last message: Beware,World, SBS is coming - see you on tour !!! In Rock we trust!..