Interview: Nekrogoblikon's Tim Lyakhovetskiy and Alex Alereza

Back in September, California's Nekrogoblikon made virtual waves with the release of a music video for their song "No One Survives."

Within a couple of weeks, the video — which chronicles a hectic day in the life of a nine-to-five-working goblin — had racked up more than a million views.

But beyond the humor in a lovesick goblin just trying to get his girl, the video was a perfect vehicle to spotlight the band's ultra-tight brand of progressive metal (appropriately dubbed "goblin metal") that blends modern metal seamlessly with electronic elements and a bit of an old-school flare.

On "No One Survives," and indeed the entirety of their latest album, Stench, guitarists Tim Lyakohvetskiy and Alex Alereza provide more than enough fodder for even the most discerning of guitar nerds, proving there's more than just a great gimmick to Nekrogoblikon.

With big things on the horizon, we recently caught up with Lyakohvetskiy and Alereza to talk guitars, the music business and, of course, goblins.

GUITAR WORLD: You just released your second album, Stench, via your BandCamp page. How has your experience been with self-releasing your music?

TIM LYAKHOVETSKIY: I think the industry has been changing for a while now, and the concepts of "self-release" vs "commercial release" are really blending together. I mean, yes, we use bandcamp and tunecore and other such services, but so do many commercial bands ... and we press our albums the same way. The experience has taught us a lot about what it takes to put out music on a bigger scale and how important it is to be on top of things when there's buzz.

You’ve managed to draw a lot of attention for the new video, “No One Survives.” Judging by the video (and the extensive credits list), a lot of work went into that. How did that come together?

ALEX ALEREZA: Our director, Brandon Dermer, happened to be a good friend and neighbor of one of my co-workers who was leaving to go see one of our shows, and he decided to join on a whim. He was already an accomplished video director, but was looking into doing more work in music. Upon seeing us he fell in love with the band and insisted on doing a video for us. A few weeks later we had a meeting with him in which he explained his vision for the video and we were immediately sold. From there everything seemed to fit into place perfectly in terms of crew, logistics and budget.

Since everyone who took part in the making of the video all believed so strongly in Brandon's vision and the band, many of them agreed to do it for free or at reduced rates, which helped us tremendously. The video was shot in just three days, and watching how rigorously and efficiently Brandon and his crew worked was truly humbling for us as a band.

How involved were you all in the story line? The video syncs up incredibly well with the song. Was the story pieced together to match the song?

TL: The story line was all Brandon, and he was very meticulous about planning out the shots, down to the second. Even still, we have a ton of footage that didn't get used that also looks amazing and hilarious.

Were you surprised at the sudden, massive success of the video? Has it opened up any new doors for you as a band?

AA: We knew it would definitely help spread the word, but we had no idea it would have this kind of impact. I won't get into too much detail, but so far it has led to many new opportunities for the band.

I’m told you guys have some “Golbin-esque” custom guitars from Halo. Can you give me some more details on these?

AA: My first guitar through Halo was a custom green 7-string "Squid," which is V-shaped and has intricately carved tentacles on the front of the body. It's quite a beast.

TL: I got a custom 8-string GVK, hand-carved and black with green airbrushed accents. It has EMG808s, a Kahler floating bridge and Sperzel locking tuners, and I designed the fretboard inlays myself. It definitely turns heads! Halo is a very small company, Jeff and Alvin are nice guys and easy to work with. They have always supported us ever since we first signed with them back in 2007.

How did the electronic music elements get introduced into your music? They feel very organic compared to a lot of bands who’ve tried a similar approach.

TL: Yeah, I think the fact that Nicky wrote far more electronic music than metal in the early days was a big factor. Even the metal stuff he writes comes from an electronic music background, so I think it all fits together pretty well.

With an over-saturated music market, do you think it’s enough for bands to just make really great music, or do you feel there’s a lot of pressure on bands to come up with a great video or gimmick, etc.?

AA: That's a great question. There's an excess of bands in every genre and sub-genre flooding the market, and our attention spans seem to be dwindling over time, so being truly unique and exceptional has never been more important in actually leaving an impression on an audience. For the most part, writing good songs still is one of the most important factors, but with that must come an attitude and execution that stands out and resonates with people. And that could be a trait that has nothing to do with the music itself at all, but it tends to compliment it. We were lucky to have met someone who not only understood our mindset and sense of humor to a T, but was also able to brilliantly convey that visually to a large audience in a way we never could on our own.

On the whole, I don't feel that bands should feel they should come up with a gimmick or video specifically, but just have a unique identity as an artist. Obviously a great deal of experience in songwriting is a must and should come before any of that, but more often than not it takes more than just good music to get noticed.

What’s on the horizon for 2013 for Nekrogoblikon?

TL: Space and time!

You can check out more from Nekrogoblikon at BandCamp and Facebook.

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Josh Hart

Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.