Death Pill: “Even in all the darkness… our troubles disappear when we are onstage”

Ukrainian punk trio Death Pill have been turning heads and attracting international attention since the war in their home country pulled their lives apart. And with their debut album, they’re raging against the machine harder than ever…

Death Pill: “Even in all the darkness… our troubles disappear when we are onstage”
Alistair Lawrence
Haiane Dzhahinian

“My home has no electricity, no internet, only dark…” begins Death Pill guitarist and lead vocalist Mariana Navrotskaya with a world-weary smile that acknowledges that she doesn’t really have ‘typical’ days since Russian forces invaded her home country of Ukraine last year.

Speaking to Kerrang! via Zoom, she might’ve had to travel to a friend’s bar in Kyiv to secure a stable internet connection, but Mariana is making the most of an opportunity to join a call with her bandmates, drummer Anastasiya Khomenko and bassist Natalya Seryakova, who have relocated to Barcelona and Adelaide, respectively.

Through the chaos currently engulfing their lives, they’re also looking forward to unleashing their ferocious self-titled debut album, which was written before the war but has finally gotten a release in 2023.

“I tried to write something like the Circle Jerks or Black Flag,” explains Mariana, “but I ended up with something different. Maybe it’s because I’m an emo punk (laughs). It’s always about me, about us and that’s much better.”

The results – a heady mix of hardcore punk, thrash and riot grrrl smarts – have created enough of a buzz to cut through the noise, leading to international news outlets taking an interest in Death Pill, which has resulted in some unusual takes at home.

“Ukrainian news about bands [normally] forgets about us,” says Natalya. “Now they’re publishing their own stories that are full of mistakes, and some of my Instagram followers thought we paid to get on our label!”

Despite the gap since the writing and recording of their album, Mariana admits that new ideas and creativity haven’t been flowing smoothly. “All my feelings are frozen because of the hurt. I need to be in a safe place, where I can open up all my emotions and then write something, but right now I can’t do this,” she says.

“People need to understand that we are fighting for peace for the whole world, not just our independence,” adds Anastasia, whose lengthy Spotify playlist of underground Ukrainian bands offers a deep dive into their native scene.

The possibility of a European tour in 2023 is another positive, though, and the trio’s spirit remains as unbreakable as their music.

“I feel something like happiness about it,” Anastasiya continues. “Even in all the darkness. We are dreaming of playing together – it was our life and it was a perfect life. Our troubles and problems and difficulties disappear when we are onstage, playing and sharing with our fans.”

Death Pill’s self-titled debut album is out now via New Heavy Sounds. This article originally appeared in the spring issue of the magazine.

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