Born in Belarus and living in Germany, the exceptional guitarist Victor Smolski is one of veterans within the cordial family. Two and a half years before he founded the successful band Almanac – in fall of 2012 - he met Cordial in his hometown Minsk.
All his life he has been fascinated with racing cars. Victor Smolski started as a Kart driver, went to a rally school, obtained a professional racing license and competes in NASCAR races in the USA, Formula Ford in England and also in long distance events and rallies around the globe. “To me, car racing has become a kind of second job,” Smolski smiles. “Man, this brutal adrenaline kick, full throttle fun, just like being on stage.”
His main occupation, of course, is playing rock music. Victor Smolski, born in the Belarus capital Minsk in 1969, is one of the best rock guitarists in the world, his trio “RAGE” is one of the most sought-after power metal acts ever, plays all big festivals and fills huge stadiums. He and his first band “Pesniary” sell more than ten million records in Russia but when Gorbachev´s “perestroika” arrives, Victor Smolski goes west because he wants to play his music to people all over the world. In 1988 he fi nds good friends in Germany whose “mentality is rather similar to the Belarus way of thinking”, Smolski states. He and his band sign a contract with Ariola records in Munich, far away from home but that gets things rolling, really kick-starts his career, a musical career whose foundation was laid long ago.
Victor Smolski was born into a musical family. In his childhood and youth he is virtually surrounded by, mainly classical, music because his father is one of the most important and prolific Russian composers. But also Jazz and sometimes even rock music fill the Smolskis´ flat in a large apartment block. Young Victor really benefits from an intensive musical training and turning six he gets 4 hours of private music lessons every day. He starts out practicing the piano and the cello, the string instrument that the “Paganini of Metal” still loves to play today, and he even integrates cello passages into his stage shows.
At eleven, a fateful encounter takes place: Victor Smolski discovers the guitar as ´his´ instrument. “First, I just mucked about, just for fun”, he remembers. Then his 5 year older brother brings home some records, among others Led Zeppelin´s ‘Physical Graffiti’. “I was so absolutely fascinated with the sound of these rock guitars that I started copying the songs”, Smolski says, “this music just blew me away.” In addition to going to a traditional music school, studying classical guitar there, he went to a college where they taught jazz and rock guitar, as well.
One of his friends collects records, those you couldn´t get in the regular music stores in the former Soviet Union. So Smolski discovers other musicians in addition to his beloved Led Zeppelin guys, complex artists like guitarists Frank Zappa and Shawn Lane, the pianist Chick Corea. Smolski gathers and utilizes all this musical information, absorbs all these styles, adds his own ideas, thus successively developing his own unmistakable Smolski sound."
His real musical role model, however, has always been his father, more than any guitar hero. His father´s openness to all kinds of styles and variations of music has always impressed Victor. “Though my father is a classical composer he´s never been conformist or unadventurous, he has always supported my musical ambitions, whether I turned to jazz or rock ´n roll, he´s always advised me wonderfully.” In the end, this has probably led Victor to often incorporate classical elements into his rock and metal music, no matter whether he works as a solo artist or with his bands ‘Mind Odyssey’ and ‘Rage’. ‘Rage’ is the fi rst metal band worldwide that cooperates with an orchestra.
Early on, Victor Smolski understood how important choosing the appropriate equipment is. He, as a guy who´s always looking for the best arrangements and new ideas wants, of course, to utilize his cable equipment to the max to obtain the optimum performance. “When you´re on tour for half a year, without any real breaks, give daily concerts, pack and unpack constantly you´ll have equipment stress because touring put means the acid test for any kind of hardware. Since I´ve been using CORDIAL cables, these problems have vanished.”
Smolski and CORDIAL have been cooperating for a long time now, performed many tests together with regard to various levels of hardness and diverse connector types. “Eventually we found one combination that really suited my sound preferences,” he says, the Victor Smolski ‘Signature Cable’. Smolski says that he doesn´t like a cable to manipulate the pure sound. “It´s not supposed to make the sound but to pass my exact guitar sound on to the amp. My ‘Signature Cable’ does precisely that, and I´m really proud of our joint achievement. I feel that this is the well-deserved result of many years of combined efforts and our long-standing friendship.”
The Band ‘Rage’ is really doing well. Since Smolski joined the power metal band in 1999 they have released ten albums, the most recent named “21” in 2012. Smolski: “Thank God that we had the good luck and instinct to sign the right contracts that allow us to work at our own discretion, we can do exactly what we like, what we´ve always craved for.”
Smolski still finds enough time to do solo projects, blending jazz and classical music. He also often sits in with other bands, thus sometimes coming into contact with totally different styles and working methods. In the coming year Victor Smolski will celebrate his 30th anniversary in the music business and some people may ask themselves why his passion has never ceased after all these years. His answer: “I have never been afraid to try something new, something innovative, I still want to discover new spheres and will never stop learning.”
What thrills you more: car racing or a gig with your band ‘Rage‘? ”The kick is very similar”, Victor Smolski says. ”In both cases you put the pedal to the metal, just groovy.” The family sofa in the Smolski flat, the place where Dmitry and Victor Smolski used to sit, listening to music intensively for hours, discussing characteristic properties. It was his father that sparked Victor´s interest in all kinds of musical styles.
Father and son Smolski watch musicians in the orchestra pit of the Minsk opera house during the final rehearsal for Dmitry´s grand opera premiere.