Denis Pauna is a musician from Croatia who spends a lot of time playing cover songs in the style of a completely different band than the one that originally released the song. For example, he has recorded a version of Metallica’s Master of Puppets in the style of Type O negative and “What If Motorhead had written Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus”. As you can imagine, this amounts to many hours of fun listening to these mash-ups and deciding how close he came to nailing them. My opinion is that he’s usually spot on and, failing that, pretty damn close. He also has his other project, Planleft, which is a metal band featuring his original songs. Denis is an extremely gifted musician who spends many hours honing his craft. Let’s learn more about Denis Pauna.
Interview by Jim Dodge
MM: How old were you when you started playing music?
Denis Pauna: I was ten years old, in 2006.
MM: What instrument did you learn to play first?
Denis: Guitar was my first instrument, the classical one. I have attended some lessons for a year and after I got saturated of that I kept working on practicing when I got an electric guitar. Samick, a copy of Les Paul. Still having it, but it’s rarely used, it stands like a memorial.
MM: When did you become interested in heavy metal music?
Denis: I remember when I was maybe two to three years old, my half-brother listened to a lot of bands such like The Doors, Iron Maiden, Metallica… The real period of my interest to heavy metal music started when I was around ten years old. My half brother also introduced me into many metal bands and showed me a lot of guitar tricks and techniques. I’m so grateful for that.
MM: Who are your favorite bands?
Denis: Metallica, Motorhead Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Death, Megadeth, Down, Type O Negative, Godsmack and Testament are also on this list.
MM: What inspired you to try to play the songs of one band in the style of another?
Denis: I remember it was June 2018 and that day I listened to a lot of Alice In Chains. After that, I was wondering of how would Metallica sound like if it were written by AiC, so that’s basically the whole thing. These ‘What If’ series became my main topic.
MM: Which versions do you consider your best?
Denis: I would like to mention ‘What If Death and Rammstein wrote Blackened‘, ‘What If Type O Negative wrote Rooster and Master of Puppets’, my recent one ‘What If Metallica was a Southern Metal band’, ‘What If Alice In Chains wrote Symphony Of Destruction‘ and a few more.
MM: Besides the cover versions of other musicians’ work you also have an original project called Planleft. How did this come about?
Denis: I have started writing and recording my songs in 2016 and I made around ten songs. After several band failures, I decided to not keep my songs under the stone anymore so my first step was making the project name and ‘Planleft’ was the perfect choice. With the band or without, I have still planned to start my solo project.
MM:What does the band name mean?
Denis: Oh, that’s a long one…
Well. It’s all about our dreams and wishes. We tend to live like ‘normal’ people, which means that we dress, eat, work and try to live following some fictional ‘standards’. The problem is that we think our goals and dreams are none of the actual part of life, because we fear of the other people thinkings. I don’t say that everyone is living by that way, but the 95% of the people does, and that’s a big problem. We tend to gossip, stick out nose into the others life, dealing with things which aren’t the part of our lives, instead to take action and work on ourselves. To summarize, we all have some plans and dreams which we’d like to achieve, but we fear to work on them because we will deal with unsuccess, people laughing and gossip about us and because of some standards. Everyone is dealing with bad things in life, but if you battle, you’ll accomplish everything and if you stop to care about other people opinions, distraction and demotivation from them, you’ll be free.
Planleft – an occasion of fear of your dreams, when you struggle to be yourself because of other factors and social impacts. Just be yourself and feel free to have a dream, no matter what it is, because most of the people forgot what’s that.
Another definition of Planleft – having a lot of dreams and plans which are left somewhere under the gravel. If you want something in life, you have to dig into the ground, find what’s your thing and what makes you happy and stick to it. One day, you’ll succeed. You just have to believe in yourself
MM: Will you record a full-length album of Planleft tunes?
Denis: Absolutely. I’m working on it right now. It could be out in about two months, maybe earlier. I can’t promise anything. I’m no rushing with that unless the songs sound good to me. Too much self-criticism, of course, that’s why it takes some time. Every artist has that. :))
MM: Do you expect to be able to take your music on tour once Covid-19 settles?
Denis: Yes, I do. That’s one of my great wishes and many people commented and showed interest of attending my concert, so I’ll do that for sure. Since I can’t clone myself in real life (maybe with projectors lol), I’ll find some members.
MM: Is there a heavy metal scene in Croatia?
Denis: Unfortunately, we don’t have such a big metal scene here, but there are really good bands who are working hard to maintain the scene. Here are some examples: Acid Hags, Sufosia, Kryn, Cold Snap, Sedativ, Gilmea, Inciter, Keops and many more.
MM: In your videos you play guitar, bass, and sing. Who plays drums?
Denis: The drummer is my PC, that’s why there isn’t one on the video. I’m programming them with Steven Slate Drums, which are doing the perfect job!
MM: Is it difficult to find other musicians to play in a band?
Denis: In the most cases, it’s hard, but it’s possible to find good friends who are willing to make music and have fun. Besides my YouTube channel and Planleft, I have a heavy/thrash metal band named Clean Petrol. We don’t have released our songs for now, two covers only, but we have ‘clicked’ together and we jam/compose together.
MM: Your videos make it seem as if you prefer Dean guitars and basses. Are they your favorite or are they just easier to find in your local music stores?
Denis: That blue Dean is in my hand for more than nine years. It’s my favorite guitar for sure. I adore that shape and I like that tone. The bass is almost three years with me and it’s the same thing like with the guitar. I’m also planning to buy another ML shaped Dean with seven strings. I’ll see about that.
MM: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
Denis: First of all, I would like to say hello to everyone who’s supporting me and for your interview calling.
2020 was a pretty solid year and 2021 is already even better and I have a lot of plans.
There will be a lot of ‘What If’ videos, experiments, full Planleft debut album and maybe an EP, music videos and many more things.