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Any Name Would Be Better Than Ours


Архив интервью | Русская версия

While other musicians are now in distress struggling to make ends meet or to simply survive the quarantine-inflicted boredom, Christos Antoniou, guitarist and songwriter of Greek sympho death metal mainstays SepticFlesh, refuses to surrender. It seems he has hardly noticed the dreads of worldwide lockdown at all, as he keeps working on various new releases. He didn’t give out too many details in our conversation, but everything suggests there is a lot of stuff to be excited about, and the upcoming orchestral DVD is only the beginning.

You have a new DVD called “Infernus Sinfonica MMXIX” on the way. We are really looking forward to it. Have you already watched it?

Yes, I have watched it because the director needed us to confirm that we like the result. We gave him some corrections and we are really happy with the final result.

What kind of corrections?

Normal ones, like, “take out this scene, put something else that would be more impressive”, or “here we need to hear the crowd more”. Things like that.

You’re not the first band to play a show with an orchestra but I’ve always been curious as to how bands actually decide which city should host such a unique, exclusive concert. I mean, why exactly did you chose Mexico City?

Well, you know, we have a strong fan-base there. And — although it sounds a bit strange — we had the best and most serious offer from the Mexicans. And after we had some discussions and saw that they were really responsible, we said yes. I checked the orchestra, I checked the choirs, we checked the theatre, and everything was great. And immediately after we announced the show, we saw that it would be a success. And it was.   

Did you have a chance to talk to anyone from the orchestra person to person? Was there any communication offstage?

Yes, there was, and there were also some fans and they really liked metal and SepticFlesh. Although their English isn’t the best. But they really appreciate the music and they were really really happy.

If one day — and I hope this day will come sooner rather than later — so, if one day you are to give another concert like this, will you do anything differently as compared to what you did in Mexico?

Yes, with every show, especially a big show like that, you always need to make something new, make it fresh. And we are in talks, we have some plans, but at the moment it’s very early to mention anything about it. But if we are going to do another show, it will be a special one. Not like the show from the upcoming DVD and stuff like that — we will find some other ideas to make it exciting for our fans.

The nearest future looks quite grim though. The music industry has already suffered greatly and it’s unclear when live shows can come back. Also, right now people are speculating about possible restrictions. One thing that is very likely to happen is that bands will be forced to play to a much smaller audience and maybe in poorer conditions. Would you agree to perform before just a handful of people, in a smaller club with probably less gear and worse lighting?

You know, at the moment there are a lot of speculations and rumors. We have to see what happens. If there is a therapy for the virus, we might come back to normality as it used to be. I don’t think it will make sense for bands to play for a smaller audience like 40%. I believe that shows will start in the summer of 2021. Of course, it’s a very very bad situation. We have to accept it because it’s not a joke, we are talking about people that can die. We shall see. I’m an optimist and I think scientists will find a way to cure this virus and hopefully next year things will return to normality. I heard things like you won’t be able to mosh pit. It’s a bit stupid for metal. People have energy, they want to have fun. I don’t think they will come with a tape and measure the distance between them, you know. Metal is metal.  

Some bands are streaming their shows while in quarantine. Have you received offers to do the same?

At the moment — no, we were lucky a bit  and we are 100% focused on our new album. Soon we will enter the studio and start the recording. We don’t have any plans for shows at the moment.

Are there any details about the new album that you are willing to share?

Soon we will announce some things — when we enter the studio. We had to overpass it the first time, we had so much time to compose the new material and I think it’ll be great. At the moment, we are nearly at the end of the music. Now we are in the final stage where we have to add the vocal lines and after that we will be able to enter the studio. I’ll start very soon also to orchestrate and at the moment, as I said, we are very busy with the new album.  

When do you think it can be released?

Maybe in the spring of 2021. We shall see with Nuclear Blast.

So, you don’t feel like being on vacation then.

No, no, no. Even when we had quarantine here, I was working extensively. I have other projects. I’m also going to release the first album of Chaostar, — I revised it and made some improvements. I’m always very very busy and it’s good, I’m happy about it because I do what I like — music. And beside music I do some sports, I do boxing. I try to relax, too, but I’m busy the majority of time.

Your tour schedule is usually very busy, too. After visiting in so many places, do you still care to go and look around the city I play?

Every city that I visit I try to sightsee. It’s important for me to check all the countries, to check their culture, food, whatever. I always try to find time for that. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not.

When you do have time to do some sightseeing, do you and the guys stick together or does everyone spend time on his own?

When we go to new countries, we go mainly together but when we visit, for example, the U.S. or Europe where we have already been many times, we sometimes go alone. And sometimes we stay at the backstage or on the bus. But when we visit new countries, we always go as a team to explore the country. Each country has its own beauty. I’ve seen great things in Moscow, I’ve seen great things in Tokyo, I’ve seen great things in Dubai. We have been nearly everywhere, to be honest. We have been to Australia, Japan… although we haven’t been in China, India, New Zealand or Thailand. These countries I would like to visit with the band.

Have you ever been there as a tourist?    

The majority of time I spend my holidays in Greece because I have seen so many things outside of Greece. Sometimes in Prague with the orchestra I stay some more days there because I like Prague.

There were times when everything was new to you, though. If I remember correctly, the first time you went abroad to study at university. What is your most vivid memory from your student years?

Well, you know, I recall some moments. I studied in London. It’s a big city and it gave me a lot of new experiences. I had moments that I really liked in music and outside of music. Some lessons were in favor of my taste, some not. You appreciate things after they finish, you know. And sometimes when I was there I was bored, sometimes not, and the weather in England… but now I feel different. In general, I have good memories of my university years.

Why did you decide to study in England and not in Greece?  

Because we didn’t have a university that gave composition degrees in Greece. They give diplomas from conservatories or degrees in musicology, bet there are no university degrees in composition yet. And I never was a fan of conservatories.  

Was it difficult to study abroad?

Of course, especially the first month was very very difficult because you have to adapt to a new life there, the mentality of the people that live there and other things. But England is a big and a well-developed country, so it made things much easier for me.

I remember you saying several times that lyrics are important to SepticFlesh. But you don’t write words for the songs, you compose. Were there times when Sotiris came up to you with some lyrics and you just felt it didn’t fit the song you’d just written, like it’s not your vision at all?

Of course. SepticFlesh is a teamwork, you know. We are three composers. I’m responsible for orchestration, my brother is responsible for the visual aspect, Sotiris is responsible for the lyrics. And many times we … even when I send orchestrations to the guys, they can sometimes tell me that we should change something. Same for the cover art, songs, lyrics, titles. It’s teamwork and we have democracy to decide what is best for SepticFlesh.

You still have fights over musical issues. What was the very worst fight you had?

Well, we have many fights. There is always a fight between me and my brother how we sound the orchestra in the mixing because I do the orchestra stuff and I prefer the orchestra to be a bit louder. It’s kind of this issue we have to face. But OK, I also have to compromise. At the end of the day, we play metal and I have to take my ego down and see what’s best for the band.  

I’m not mistaken, the name SepticFlesh was suggested a long time ago by a friend of yours and you don’t really like it now. What would be the perfect name for the band, in your opinion?  

I haven’t thought about it, you know. Since I don’t like the name, many names could fit. At the moment I can’t think of any… we aren’t happy with the name because it doesn’t reflect the music that we play at all. It’s more from the grindcore field than the symphonic genre we play. Yeah, any name would be better than SepticFlesh but it’s the way it is, you know, we can’t change it. Actually in 1998 we were going to change the name and make it Chaostar but our label, Holy Records, didn’t like the idea.  

SepticFlesh on the Internet: https://www.septicflesh.com/

Special thanks to Jessica Otten (Season Of Mist) for arranging this interview

Interview by Elena Pashko
Photos by Stella Mouzi (courtesy of Season Of Mist)
June 2, 2020
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