Nightrage - Interview
Marios Iliopoulos has to be one hell of a determined guy... After a not so pleasant break up of his original band Exhumation, he packs his bags, and with middle finger stuck outside the window he leaves Greece to find a better life in Sweden. There he forms a band comprised of some of the masterminds of the music world and with them creates a fantastic debut album "Sweet Vengeance." With Gus G. (Dream Evil, Mystic Prophecy) ripping the strings like there's no tomorrow, complimenting this rabid guitar assault he hires Per M Jensen (The Haunted) and Brice Laclercq on drums and bass respectively and with Tomas Lindberg (ex-At The Gates, now in The Great Deceiver & Lock Up) handling the screams he adds the clean vocals of Tom S. Englund (Evergrey) to inject some diversity into the mix. Regardless of Marios reassurance, will this be a real band or just a project we'll have to wait and see but in the mid-time enjoy the album and read what Marios has to say about band's status, its line up and future plans.
First of all can you tell me why did Exhumation split and what where you up to since then... Were you involved in any projects before starting Nightrage?
Exhumation split because of the totally unprofessional attitude of the other guys in the band. They saw the whole thing as a hobby and nothing else. A lot of times we were struggling to communicate, and I think I was the only serious guy in the band trying all the time to kick their asses. It was my idea to go and record our album in Sweden in order to have a professional sound, and it was again my idea to sign with labels from abroad just to have better promotion for the band. I felt pretty disappointed with the split of the band, but I realized that it was better for me in the end, because now I have the chance to play and work with professional and dedicated musicians. Nightrage is the only band I've been in after Exhumation split up.
Why did you leave Greece and move to Sweden? Was the music a deciding factor in your decision or did you have personal reasons?
The music was the most basic reason for me to leave my country and move to Sweden because I can tell you it's pretty limited to play metal in Greece. After all this experience I had with Exhumation, playing music for ten years, I realized that it was a dead end for me if I wanted to continue playing music. I don't think you can find serious and professional musicians in Greece. Most of them are more into other things, their personal lives as an example, and music doesn't count for them. I felt - as I told you before - tired and sad from all this negativity, so in order to build a new and powerful band with pros, I made the hard decision to leave everything behind me and move to Sweden.
How difficult was to form Nightrage and how did you persuade all those individuals to join your new project?
It was very difficult to find musicians here as well, because everybody already played with other bands. I approached a lot of guys here, but in the end, nothing really happened. I started to feel that Nightrage is a real band when I met my bass player, Brice. He is from France and he came here for the same reason: to play music, like me. We share the same vision and we have the same dreams. With Gus, he contributed leads to the album. We started this band together in the summer of 2000 in Greece. He helped all this time with the arranging of ideas. I approached Tomas Lindberg personally a lot of times before the recordings with the Nightrage demos, because I just felt that his voice fits with Nightrage a lot. With Per Möller Jensen and Tom S. Englund, Fredrik Nordström from Studio Fredman convinced them to play on the album.
Who was the hardest member to convince to join the band?
Nobody. Maybe Tomas Lindberg because I never got a reply from him during the demo days of Nightrage. Afterwards, it was just a simple phone call and all the guys were into it and ready to roll. Here things going really fast, [laughs]. There's no time for thinking.
I'm sure you are aware of it but with such "all-star" line up and with intense musical activities by each member how do you plan on keeping this crew alive and consequently not making a Nightrage a one album project?
Honestly, I never believed that I would work with all those great musicians on the album, but it just happened and I think it was a great beginning for Nightrage. The only stable guys in the band right now are me and Brice. Per and Tom were only sessions musicians for the album, and they are not going to play live gigs. As far as the schedules of Tomas and Gus allow them to play live shows and festivals, they will be there for us. Hopefully Tomas will be on the next Nightrage album. I can tell you that I consider Nightrage as real band and not a fucking project. So the only thing that we have to worry about now is to find a good drummer for the next album. I can take care of the clean vocals in the live shows and future recordings of Nightrage.
I've already read that Per M. Jensen will not be involved with the next album. Can you tell me why he's out of the band and who will replace him?
That was the deal we had with him from the beginning - to play a session only for the recording of our first album. He is so into his band, The Haunted. Something that we totally respect.
That brings another tough question about live performances and tours. How do you plan on taking Nightrage on a tour since more than half of the band members are heavily involved with their original bands' activities... and we all know no tours no success in this business?
Good question pal. We really like to share this music on stage with metal fans. This is one of our plans, to have more stable guys in the band and to be able to tour and play all the time. It's all about good scheduling. Tomas, he really liked our music and we have a cool friendship with him. We respect the fact that his main band is The Great Deceiver and we really get along together, so I have a good feeling that we will play together and we will have a blast together. As for the drummer spot, we tried a lot of guys recently and we are still looking for a good drummer. Something awesome is that I spoke with Nicholas Barker recently, and he told me he really liked our stuff and there's a chance that he could help us playing the drums live. We still keep contact, and we are looking forward to sharing the stage one day with him having a blast together.
Why "Sweet Vengeance"? Is this album a slap in a face to all the people that didn't believe in you and tried to make your life a living hell? I have this feeling that this album is very personal for you, how far am I from the truth?
I want to take this revenge, this goddamned vengeance, for some people that I used to call friends. I want to scream to their evil and miserable faces about how wrong and mean they were with me. They should look at themselves once and realize their own big faults. Shit, I don't believe how stupid and what assholes even your friends can be. I really wanted to say some things to certain people that I never have the chance to say. This is the truth man, and my vengeance will put their egos and their stupidity down.
Are the lyrics also very personal? What are the main topics you try to convey to the listener?
Yes, our lyrics are very personal and deep. We are dealing with the emptiness of the human existence. I'm talking about some things that hurt me in the past and made me feel desperate. It is a long and lonely trip to the inner and bitter emotions of a man when he is hurt by his past, when he is alone and he is searching for any light at the end of the tunnel. I want to show that if you really believe in your dreams and in yourself, you can do whatever you want. You guys out there: be careful. Life is hard. Always believe in your dreams and don't let anybody put you down. I think a lot of people can relate to situations like that. Nightrage is the light at the end of the tunnel. Is there any light at the end? You have to search it for yourself.
With guitar attack lead by Greeks how did you end up sounding so Swedish? Is it an effect of long time musical influences or was it planned from the beginning?
My influences are coming from a lot of different metal styles. I grew up listening to all those great '80s metal bands like Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate. I liked the Bay Area thrash metal and Florida death metal a lot. So what we are doing in Nightrage is trying to combine all those elements in our music in order to make them sound in perfect harmony. I also like hard rock and melodic rock music, and sometimes I like to add those cool sounds in our music. I dig also some cool Swedish bands At The Gates and Edge Of Sanity. You can hear all those influences in our album.
Melodic death metal was almost over-exploited by many bands for the last few years. What made you dive into this very competitive genre and what do you think makes Nightrage stand out over the rest of the competition?
The fact that we are honest in what we are doing. We don't want to imitate the sound of other well-known bands. We play music from the heart. I don't consider Nightrage the most original band in the world, but we try to be ourselves and we want to give the best feelings we could. I think we have a pretty cool guitar style with Gus, and we also want to be as metal as we can. We are fans of the music first, and we don't give a shit to sound cool and trendy, like other bands. We are worshipping '80s metal, and we are going to stay metal and play metal!
Very nice addition to your music is clean voice of Tom S. Englund from Evergrey. Whose idea was to add this type of vocals and why did you chose someone from progressive scene?
This was Fredrik's Nordström's idea to use Tom's voice. I was the singer in the demo days of Nightrage, and since my voice had the same sort of feelings, we tried him out, and the results were awesome. I think you can understand that Tom is singing because he has very unique voice, and he complements Tomas' aggressive vocals.
Your very first album is released by metal giant Century Media. How did you land this deal and are you satisfied with the work they've done for you so far?
I can tell you that the key for Nightrage to enter the studio was Fredrik again. This guy - whom I knew from the Exhumation days - liked our songs and our attitude a lot, and he let us record the album in his studio. Then he took care to find the right label for us. We sent the finished material to some well-known labels and immediately Century Media wanted to sign the band. They really liked the songs and the production. They showed this huge interest in the band from the first time they heard Nightrage. So far, everything is going extremely well with them. They are totally professional and they promote the band the right way. I'm very happy to work with such a professional label. This was the plan I had from the beginning.
Did you set any goals that you want to achieve with Nightrage in the future or is it simply a matter of having good time and doing what you love?
It's both, I guess. I want to be able to make some more killer albums in the future, and to have the chance to work with cool guys in the band. I want to have a good time, and to enjoy playing music altogether. We are not going to disappear. We will return with a second and better Nightrage album.
What are the near-time plans for Nightrage? Do you already write material for the new album? If so, please tell us about the musical direction.
It's very early right now and we don't have a single note written for the next album, [laughs]. I have to feel inspired to start to write music and lyrics again. I don't want to force it, it will come. Maybe something has to kick my ass to start to do something, and I hope the lyrics this time will have some more light in there.
Thank you for your time and answering my questions. The last word belongs to you...
Thank you very much for the support. We are looking forward to meeting you and playing in your country. I hope your readers will like our album. Keep on with the metal and always follow your dreams.
Wolf To Man
Wearing A Martyr's Crown
A New Disease Is Born
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