Eugene Abdukhanov of Jinjer details the reality of war, his responsibility to Ukraine, and the soundtrack of survival
Pressing forward with Knotfest's backstage interview series, our correspondent Sophie K. of the On Wednesdays We Wear Black podcast managed to catch up with bassist Abdukhanov of Ukrainian groove metal titans, Jinjer at Knotfest Germany.
The meeting held some added significance for Abdukhanov as this particular Knotfest was his first - not just as a participant but as a spectator and fan as well. The bassist praised the gathering as always being such a big deal and always nailing the line-ups. In particular with the Germany roster, Abdukhanov explained that many of the bands on the same bill he is on were among his favorites with Meshuggah being among his top 3 live bands of all-time.
Abdukhanov shared that he owes a healthy bot of gratitude to Meshuggah, explaining that the band's early 2008 epic ObZen is the album that first introduced him to the mastery of Swedes and really compelled him to further pursue music. Abdukhanov did have to clarify though that in order to find his absolute favorite Meshuggah album, 2002's Nothing is his number one all-time.
Impossible to ignore the situation, Sophie K. and Eugene would eventually touch upon the current war in their native Ukraine and how the band went from touring extensively throughout 2021, to coming to a complete halt for the first half of 2022 as they found their country under siege. Calling the impact fo war tremendous, Abdukhanov explained that the trauma of the Russian invasion has aged everyone in Jinjer 10 years in a matter of months. Detailing the timeline of the conflict, he added that it took weeks just to understand what was happening and months to come to realization that his life was now forever altered.
The musician confided that he lives with guilt in being away from Ukraine, but the reality of war is something that he carries all of the time. He shared that the only time that somber reality isn't at the forefront of his mind is the time he has onstage. Currently hard at work with ongoing humanitarian efforts, Eugene expressed how his guilt in being away is coupled with a responsibility to do what he can to not only bring awareness to the Ukrainian culture, but to offer aid to those still at home.
Among the silver linings, if there are any, was the kind of connection that Abdukhanov has further forged with the Jinjer fans. Stating that while the band has always had a very passionate, supportive base, the currently climate has taken that connection to the next level. He goes onto explain that the sympathy and outpouring of support from fans on a human level has been something special. He added that given the subject matter of the band's music, the social context that has always existed between the lines is now resonating more with fans and that gives added importance in their craft.
Looking back on the journey thus far, Abdukhanov explained how in the first years of Jinjer, when they began touring in 2013, the plan was non-existent and more about survival. The band was essentially exiled from their war-torn home and became nomads, touring incessantly and playing whatever show they could to earn what they could. From 2014 to 2016 before the band signed to Napalm Records, Jinjer took on everything from bar shows to punk rock shows all because, as Abdukhanov explains it, "we had no choice and we loved it".
Showing profound appreciation for his current lot in life, Abduhanov shared that being in his position as a touring musician with Jinjer supporting Slipknot and traveling the world performing their brand - it's a reality that has far exceeded any of his personal expectations. That frame of mind dictates that he doesn't really have any goals or benchmarks that he needs to meet - the plan moving forward is just to continue as he began, composing music and sharing it with as many people as he can. It's that pursuit of his passion that has gotten him here, so changing courses is not an option.
Enjoying the process, not the achievements.
Stream the complete interview with Eugene Abdukhanov of Jinjer below.
Catch Jinjer on tour with P.O.D., Vended, Malevolence, and Space of Variation starting next month. Cities and dates can be found below.
Jinjer USA Tour 2022 w/ P.O.D., Vended, Malevolence & Space of Variation
Oct 31 – San Diego, CA – House of Blues^
Nov 01 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades^
Nov 03 – Denver, CO – Fillmore^
Nov 05 – Minneapolis, MN – Fillmore Minneapolis^
Nov 07 – Chicago, IL – House of Blues^
Nov 09 – St Louis, MO – The Pageant^
Nov 10 – Grand Rapids, MI – 20 Monroe Live^
Nov 11 – Detroit, MI – St. Andrews Hall^
Nov 13 – Cleveland, OH – House of Blues^
Nov 14 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogart’s^
Nov 15 – Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom^
Nov 17 – Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore^
Nov 19 – Pittsburgh, PA – Roxian^
Nov 20 – Boston, MA – House of Blues^
Nov 21 – New York, NY – Hammerstein Ballroom^
Nov 23 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore^
Dec 07 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore*
Dec 08 – Greensboro, NC – Piedmont Hall*
Dec 10 – Atlanta, GA – Tabernacle*
Dec 11 – Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Hall*
Dec 13 – Tampa, FL – Jannus Live*
Dec 14 – Orlando, FL – House of Blues*
Dec 16 – San Antonio, TX – Aztec Theater*
Dec 17 – Austin, TX – Emo’s*
Dec 18 – Dallas, TX – House of Blues*
Dec 20 – Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren*
Dec 21 – Las Vegas, NV – House of Blues*
Dec 22 – Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern*