Article: What is "Oleess"?
POSTED ON 20th May 2016 12:54:11 IN ARTICLE
It seems like everyone who is familiar with this band asks this question. What is Oleess anyway? Somehow it sounds familiar, already listened. Is it a name of a country or maybe some technology?

When I asked the bandleader Ruben Papian, his answer surprised me. “Oleess” is the word I heard (or rather saw) in a dream. I remembered it and I liked it. It’s easy, nice, elegant and mystic.

To be honest – I couldn’t believe that this letter combination wasn’t taken (and not used so far) from such a rich vocabulary of other languages. I checked all vocabularies. The word “Oleess” wasn’t anywhere.

But now, let’s talk about the band. It was formed in 1979 from the band “Urmin”. “Oleess” searched for its creative image really long time, and it was hard. They changed their style, played different music. It was a rough period in the beginning. They were one of the first bands to transfer to a new trend. Then, the band settled, trying their forces in jazz-rock. Now they are going to (or back to) “intellectual” rock. Anyway, in the last six-seven years, “Oleess” biography is not so full of events. They played on student parties (most of the band members were students at the time), they played at Tart, on student festival “Days of friendship and peace”, on recently opened Soviet jazz-rock festival “Litvanica” in Vilnius, where they gather amateur and professional bands. It’s your choice.

Main activities in the band were hidden from the eyes of those not interested in them. It was tense. For example, leader guitar player Yuriy Mailayan (the only professional player in “Oleess”) plays 8-10 hours a day, besides the other everyday rehearsals.

A year ago, changes happened – two of the members left the band. Their places replaced Levon Parsamyan (bass guitar player; main occupation: programmer), and sculptor Samiel Manvelyan, that plays drums.

On my question, why such reorganization in the band happened, Ruben Papian answered simple and severe: “The one who left didn’t take our music seriously, we played for a short time”.

Every member of this band has his own taste – one enjoys hard rock, the other one heavy metal – and this is where a unique “fusion” and mixed style is coming from, as musicians would say. Ruben, a member who writes music for the band (besides that he sings and plays piano) and makes music arrangements, takes all this in consideration. However, he only makes a base for the arrangement, a rough sound, and the finishing touches are up to all of them, each for himself.

What’s interesting is that the band has its own manager, named Grachya Mushegyan. I’ve never heard that such a thing exists in an amateur band. Of course, it happens that someone is willing to help voluntarily, but a legal director, a manager, who struggles to take care of all the administration…? What is that, a life challenge or and an anomaly?

I was excited to hear about the traditional other side of the story – problems, difficulties and hidden intentions. Since nothing came up, I asked the question. The answer was shocking: “We rarely have any problems”. You won’t be hearing something like this very often – an amateur band with no problems.

Probably they don’t have problems because members themselves think they don’t have any…

"A year ago I would probably talk a lot about them, says Ruben – but today it’s irrelevant. There are many other topics to talk about".

It’s been more than a year since we performed. We prepared a new program for Cultural Center in March, and right after that we got a couple of flattering proposals for a professional concert. Soon our songs will be broadcast on “Youth” – it’s Armenian television where we will have half an hour program. After all, it’s all up to us.

About their upcoming plans, they don’t reveal too much: we have a goal – to become a professional band. Time will tell everything else.

Yes, they are right – time will tell if this uncommon name “Oleess” will become common or it will end, like that dream.

What is “Oleess”? Like-minded, friends, but above all musicians!

Originally published:Yerevan, Kazakhstan, 1986

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