Less than two years passed since the day when Greek metallers Rotting Christ played their only concert in Ukraine, and now they are back at the vast spaces of the CIS, supporting their new album “Sanctus Diavolos”. It was natural that we couldn’t lose the chance to speak with the band, so picked up a day off, Sunday (the holy day for all believers) and made our way to the hotel, where the musicians were having a rest after the long tour. The Greeks met us as if we all were old friends and before setting off to a stroll around the city their frontman Sakis Tolis agreed to communicate with us...
You performed for the Ukrainian fans for the second time the day before yesterday. How do you feel about it?
Very nice. We’re very proud to play here for the second time. It is not so easy for a band to play in the Eastern Europe. It was also symbolic that it was the last show of a really long tour. It was the 61st show, the last show of the tour. It’s really nice to play here, to see some more friends…
That was your first mini-tour of Russia. What impression of Russia and its fans have you got?
Yes, the fans are crazy. We thought that such enthusiastic people live only in South America, but there are many nice and enthusiastic people here, in Russia. The impression is very good, very positive. The people know all our songs. We never thought about playing in places like Siberia. It was really, really positive, the most things.
Did you like the bands supporting you on this tour?
The bands were really OK. Many bands play very well, but sometimes there is no connection for them to get to the West European market. But the bands play very well.
You’ve found the substitute for Costas, would you be so kind to present your new guitaris?
His name is George, he also plays in Nightfall. And this was his first tour. It was really positive, the reaction was very positive.
Is he your permanent member or just a session one for concerts?
This is his first session tour, so it’s a kind of session. Maybe if he goes on well he’ll be a permanent one.
Do you know what your former members - keyboardist George and guitarist Costas - do nowadays? Do they play in any band?
Costas - no, he doesn’t perform with any band. And George, the keyboard player, he has a kind of industrial band called Sigma Six. That’s all I know about the guys. Of course we are still friends, but they are not involved anymore with playing with any other band, especially Costas.
You used a real choir to make your latest record. Are you going to do something similar in the future?
I think it’s going to be something symphonic or something like that, but any sound we’re going to work with will be a real one, because it doesn’t make any sense just to play keyboards. Keyboards are OK, but sometimes there are things that give you something more – a real choir. Of course we use some choirs in the background, be we want something else. It’s difficult, but it is different.
You may agree that it has become a kind of trend nowadays – nearly every second metal band uses choirs, I think that no examples are needed here…
Yes, that’s a kind of trend, that’s true. All the bands use these choirs, but for Rotting Christ it’s not a trend because, you know, when it comes to using a couple of them, we use them not like a fair real thing but more like part of the band, like on “Sanctus Diavolos”.
And what is your opinion of bands using female vocals?
Yes, the bands that have female vocals play something like Nightwish… That’s the trend, the nowadays trend. All the bands have a woman to sing. Of course some of them are OK, but it’s a kind of a trend.
One may hear elements of industrial on “Sanctus Diavolos”. Some people in black metal scene claim that black metal should sound sordid, dirty, raw, without any female vocals or keyboards, and techno elements in particular. What do you think about it?
Not exactly, not exactly… (smiles) So anyway, it’s your opinion, I respect it. I prefer more old school things. But I don’t like that many things in black metal. As for Rotting Christ, we’ll never have any female vocals. You know, you categorize us like this (smiles), but I think that to be alive, black metal should have some elements, you know, some, but really little… if you want…
And how do you feel about other styles?
I like some other styles of music, of course. I’m a composer, I like music, so I should have an opinion about everything related to music.
By the way, Holy Blood, a band playing Christian black metal, performed with you the day before yesterday. What do you think about such a style on the metal-scene?
We didn’t know that… (smiles) To be honest, I don’t like this kind of things, but on the other side, I don’t want to be like Dave Mustaine. You know, I really didn’t like what Megadeth did to us. So even if I had known that, I would have never said: “Don’t play with us”. If they are metalheads - it’s OK.
If you remember, last time we talked about Rotting Christ not having an official live album yet. Are you going to release it?
A live album… Maybe not. Because it is a problem. Maybe no, because it is a problem if you change labels, it’s very difficult, not all the labels agree to let us use their songs on a live album. So it’s a kind of difficulty for us to have an album that will include all material, because we have worked with three different labels. And it is very difficult to do all the paperwork to have this live album.
Getting rights for this material?
Yes, it’s very difficult, very difficult… Especially with the old labels that have disappeared - they ask some really big money just for the rights.
By the way, how about releasing the live recording made in Kiev in 2003? (laughs) I know you liked that one…
Yes, it’s OK. Of course it’s OK. I don’t care if this is a bootleg or something, you know. To be honest, we don’t get any money; don’t get anything from our record-selling. So I don’t care if some people who don’t have enough money just get a bootleg. I really like that recording and, I don’t know what to say… Do you know something about that recording?
That recording is not yet available for people… Only a few fans have it…
You also have a new one from the day before yesterday?
Yes, we have it, but only half of the show. We have problems with the sound…
Anyway, if you release it, just let me know, alright?
Yes, of course… What about the second DVD? Are you going to release it?
We’ve got something on a plan. We already have one DVD, but I don’t know, because right now we have a deal with a new label, we’re out of Century Media...
Yeah, 10 years - that’s enough. And we have just signed for two albums with Season of Mist. They have bands like Mayhem, CARPATHIAN FOREST...
Yes, I know, a French label...
A French label, yes… and we have to see how labels may work something with us.
So why did you decide to leave Century Media?
It's because 10 years have passed, and a new experience is needed for us now. We would like to be on a smaller label, with smaller bands, but with fellow bands like Mayhem.
You’ve certainly heard the story of Samael, they left Century Media because they believed the label hadn’t fulfill contract specifications, and there was a lot of mud-slinging…
I don’t know their personal reasons for leaving Century Media, but we were satisfied with Century Media. But I think it’s time for changing something. Time is passing by, we have released six albums with those guys, it was 10 years of corporation.
And what negative aspects, connected with being at such big labels, can you single out?
Of course, there are also negative aspects. You know, they don’t pay much attention to your band; you have the neighbors with whom co-existence is too hard. For bands it’s kind of difficult to fulfill your expectations. Sometimes you call there and no one is answering or they’re fucking busy over other releases, because they pick up big bands. That’s the only negative thing, but I can understand it.
Which young Greek bands would you recommend to your fans?
Greek bands? Nowadays, I think you all know such bands as Nightfall, Necromantia, Varathron, Septic Flesh … As to the new generation of Greek bands, it’s difficult to say right now, because I need time, you know, to see them. You know, bands like Negative Creeps play good music. But I need more time to see if they are active on the scene, you know. It’s OK, if you play good music, but it doesn’t make any sense - you must go on tour, you must go…
Make shows… Otherwise… I liked these Russian bands I have seen. There are many good Russian bands, as I see, but it’s not enough. You need more things, if you want to have a band that is famous all over the world.
Some of our fans still look forward to the Septic Flesh comeback. Do you know if they are going to return?
No, they aren’t, as far as I know. Maybe with another band under a different name, but as of now I know they aren’t.
Do they play with any other band?
Yes, as I know they have a new band called Devilworx, but I don’t know if they have any official releases, so I cannot tell you more…
Have you tried to get the rights for the first albums released by your former labels Osmose and Unisound?
I have done that. I did that one month ago. I gave a lot of money for it, but I think it’s a good investment. The albums will be re-released in January, all of our material again. And even in Russia, and here in Ukraine it will be licensed. All our old material.
What album by Rotting Christ you consider to be the best, except the latest CD?
It depends on the mood you are. If you love an old school black metal, you might prefer “Thy Mighty Contract”, if you’re more into heavy metal, you will prefer “A Dead Poem”. If you prefer atmospheric black metal, I think the last one would be the best one.
Have you had any problems because of the band’s name in the recent years?
Yes, it’s our problem. Of course, yes.
Of course, yes. For instance, we cancelled one show here in Russia because of our name. We could make more shows happen, but some promoters find our name offensive and they don’t take a risk of having a show with a band called Rotting Christ, here in Russia for instance. We always have problems, but it’s black metal. It should be like this.
What is the most annoying thing for you in our life?
It’s a very difficult question. Ah…yes, bad roads in Russia. We covered very long distances with a band. It was like we were in a “Nescafe” machine. (laughs) That was the worst thing in my life (smiles) – to drive for 20 hours with colds like this. But we like to go to the places we play, we like to play. That’s OK.
Well, OK… Your last words for the fans in Ukraine and CIS-countries....
HORNS UP BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN UKRAINE...
I heard these words last time. (laughs)
Yeah, again the same…(smiles) See you soon, keep the flame burning…
Interview by Costas Silent, Natakhes
Live photos by Dmitry “Ward” Kulikov
November 6, 2005
16 ìàð 2006
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