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We Always Enjoyed Experimenting


Архив интервью | Русская версия

As it was and so it is - Septicflesh are doubtlessly influential and authentic, respected and awe-inspiring, unreachable and majestic. Therefore there was no way we could pass on the opportunity to interview this cult Greek band, especially as we could never reach them while they were promoting their latest studio offering, “The Great Mass” (2011). Now when the band is re-releasing its back catalogue which was originally out on Holy Records, it is a good chance to try and get some info from guitarist and vocalist Sotiris Vayenas about all the things which are of interest from the band’s past, present and future. As expected, the somber Greek gentlemen did not turn out too talkative, but he did provide enough interesting facts and insights… Take heed!

It was announced in late 2012 that your first five albums would be reissued via Season Of Mist, and the reissue of “Mystic Places of Dawn” (1994) is already in stores. Who came up with the idea of reissues, was it the band or the record label? How much will they be interesting for those who already have the originals?

Since a long time it was our intention to make our complete back catalogue available, as there were many complaints from fans that they could only find our material from “Sumerian Daemons” (2003) and after. It was a matter of convincing Holy Records to give the rights of those releases. Eventually, Season of Mist will make sure that all our albums will be easily available for our fans, and we are very glad about it as we felt that an important chapter of the band’s history was hidden.

If you had recorded “Mystic Places of Dawn” in the year 2013 with Peter Tägtgren at the helm, how much would it have been different, except for a better sound quality, of course?

We never allow someone outside the band to interfere with our compositions, so in this hypothetical scenario you mentioned, the only change would be on the sound.

In light of these re-releases, can your fans be hoping to hear songs from the early albums at your upcoming shows?

Yes, we want to have on the setlist some favorite songs from our earlier days, although the main set is always focused on the most recent releases.

Apart from CD and digital downloads, your albums have also been released on vinyl. What's your attitude towards this format? Do you think that it has any advantages over CDs?

I love vinyl. It has a more sentimental value, rather than a technical advantage.

We have a few questions about your latest album. In your opinion, what’s the biggest difference between “The Great Mass” and “Communion” (2008)? These albums have much in common and listeners sometimes need bandmembers’ comments to see the music in the right way…

“The Great Mass” is something more complex, as there are more musical layers, especially concerning the use of the orchestra, than on “Communion” that is a more straightforward album in comparison. “The Great Mass” is an album that the more you listen to it, the more little details are coming to the surface, revealing a great range of emotional variations.

There's only one song on “The Great Mass” that has a distinct melodic line, “Five-Pointed Star”. Was it your intention to make this song so catchy, or did it happen by chance?

We don’t say, “Let’s make a catchy song”, it is simply a matter of inspiration. In general, we build our songs upon the musical ideas that have more intense emotional impact on us, hoping that eventually they will have the same impact on our audience.

You have released a symphonic version of “The Great Mass” (“The Great Symphonic Mass”) as a bonus-CD for the artbook edition of the album. Are there any plans to release a non-orchestral (only guitar-drums-bass) version of “The Great Mass” in any format (i.e. as digital download or as a bonus CD for some later album)?

There are no such plans. Right now we are focusing on the creation of new songs for our next album.

Did you ever have any problems with orthodox activists or similar organizations because of the explicit non-Christian concept that the band had in the past – or because of the recent song “Vampire from Nazareth”? This problem is rather urgent in Russia’s present-day realities…

Of course there are some Christians that hate our material because of the lyrics, but we didn’t have extreme and dangerous reactions from fanatics, yet.

Why did you decide to re-record “Persepolis” of “Communion” for “The Great Symphonic Mass”? Where does the French text in it come from, and who’s the narrator?

We felt that it would be a good idea to experiment with the specific song and make an orchestral version of it. So we included this experimentation in the bonus CD along with the symphonic versions of the songs of “The Great Mass”. Androniki Skoula is doing the narration and as a matter of fact she has contributed some very characteristic vocal lines on “The Great Mass”. By the way, she has taken the position of the main singer in Chaostar (the project band of Christos Antoniou).

Your discography includes eight studio releases, but no live CDs or DVDs. Do you have any plans to record a live show for a release? Of course, you have three live songs on the “Forgotten Path” compilation, but that’s not a full album. By the way, can you reveal the place and year when these songs were recorded?

Well, these songs were recorded in Athens in 1990 and they are taken from a very early appearance of the band. We are thinking to insert some other live songs from an appearance of the band in France in 1999 as bonus tracks to one of our reissued albums. But, for the moment a complete live CD or DVD is not a priority in our plans.

Do you accept all the gigs you are offered, or are there any restrictions? For instance, if Septicflesh are invited to play in Turkey, will you agree?

There are no such restrictions. Wherever there are fans that want us to come and play, we are more than happy to be there.

How do you work on the lyrics? Do you write in Greek first and then translate it, or do you write the English text from the beginning?

Mainly, I am writing using the English language, as in that way I am also aware about the final acoustic impact of my thoughts.

What was the origin of the idea to incorporate your clean voice into the band’s music? We all remember that at first there were only grunts and growls…

At first, I had a small contribution of clean vocals, in songs as “Crescent Moon”, “Narcissism”, or “Woman of the Rings”, for example. Gradually I felt more confident and added more stuff in that area. Actually, we never aimed to become a typical death metal band following strict lines. We always enjoyed experimenting and kept what sounded right to our ears.

You were the main songwriter in Septicflesh from the second album (“Esoptron”, 1995) until the band’s break-up, but on your later records the music is credited to the entire band. Who comes up with the basis of the songs before orchestrations are added?

Indeed. Now, the creation of the songs is more the product of teamwork than ever. A basic idea for a song can start from anyone in the band and then the other members are contributing in one way or another, until the song is finalized and ready to be recorded.

Are you still working with a bank? Do you have any plans of joining the band’s live line-up on a permanent basis?

For the time being I am continuing having also a day job, simply to put food on the table. However, considering the negative economic situation in Greece that is going from bad to worse, I don’t know if I will continue having that job in the future.

How did military service influence you as a composer and guitar/keyboard player? In Russia military service is obligatory and it usually has a very negative effect musicians’ will to create more music, as well as on their playing skills. It would be very interesting to find out how the situation is in Greece…

It is the same here. So, some time in the past I did my army service (for 18 months) and surely that had a negative effect on the plans of the band at that period. 

As long as “The Great Mass” was released already about two years ago, we cannot but ask you about your plans for a new record. Have you written/recorded anything for it? What kind of musical direction will you pursue on the next Septicflesh CD? And when can we expect it to be in stores?

We have started writing material and there are already some very exciting ideas that we are working on. It is soon to tell the general direction, but the first impression is that our next album will be darker that “The Great Mass”. There is a lot of work ahead and probably will be ready to enter studio after this summer. So if everything goes according to plan, you can expect a new album in 2014.

Thank you very much in advance for answering these questions! Can you also say a few final words and wishes to the Russian fans of Septicflesh?

Thank you for everything. Stay strong!

Septicflesh on the Internet: http://www.septicflesh.com/

Special thanks to Alias for arranging this interview

Kostolom, Mikhail “IronMike” Shatalin
March 10, 2013
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