In view of the concert of the Athenian pagan blackmetallers, Kawir, in Thessaloniki (on February 26, 2017 at ‘8Ball’), Kostas Koutsiaridas had a conversation on behalf of Metal Invader with Therthonax, the mastermind of the band, in an interview that… goes beyond the boundaries of the usual.
Hello, Therthonax. Nearly 25 years since the born of Kawir and now everyone knows what the band is, so I’ll try not to spend our time in saturated and standard questions. First of all, I would like to tell me about that moment you decided to create a band that deals with the Greek paganism. What were you thinking and which limits did you believe they could reach?
Hello, Kostas. Kawir were founded in 1993. Influenced by the Kavirian Mysteries, I decided to create a band that get involved in Greek paganism, as there was not something else at that time, and even today only a very few bands are going into it. Now, about the limits that can be reached, as long as we are healthy we play and will continue to play our music.
So, if I ask you to compare your thoughts of back then with what has happened so far, are Kawir what you were dreaming in ’93?
Yes, after so many years, maybe we outreached what I had in my mind in ’93. Having already played in nearly 20 countries, when I was forming this band I had in my mind only one thing, go into the studio and record my ideas.
In the early 90’s that you began, the usual in black metal was lyrics written in English. You did not choose English, you did not even choose the New Greek, but a ‘dead’ language, as the ancient Greek is considered, and you have explained the reasons many times. I just want to ask you if you think this element is something that gave Kawir an extra boost, because since then it was unusual to hear lyrics in Ancient Greek.
At that time it was unusual – and still is – to listen to a black metal band with lyrics in Ancient Greek. I chose that because it is a powerful language and gives a special feature to the music, grandstands and now you can understand that this what you listen to is Kawir.
In Greece there is a tendency to criticize those who draw issues from Greek paganism, while at the same time are worshiped bands with similar topics of other countries’ folks. What do you think that is the fault about this prejudice?
I will go back in the 80’s, where at that time the whole world was crazy about the foreign music and everything Greek was avoided. Perhaps it is the same thing but now in that way. I don’t know, I can’t give another explanation.
I will be honest. With ‘Isotheos’ I felt that Kawir have reached their peak, but with ‘Father Sun Mother Moon’ you solemnly disenchanted me. I think you are one of the very few bands whose any album is better than the previous one (except the – best of all – ‘To Cavirs’). It is something difficult to achieve and it shows that you are absolutely there every time you compose new material. May I assume that it is the main reason for the only 6 full albums in 25 years?
First of all, thank you for your kind words about the new album. We now know what we want and every new release is prepared much more than before, because now we are able to do pre-recording, to listen, to add and remove things we want.
Due to a variety of personal problems we got left behind, and as you say, we released only 6 full albums in 25 years. But this may be something good, as we have not been barren yet and there are many new ideas. I also have to say that every album is empirical, is the experiences that you have lived and these are reflected in the riffs and in the whole music. Yes, they are experiences.
You have experience from different black metal scenes (besides the domestic, of course). You have played in Finland, in Canada, in Latin America… Which place of the world is the next one you would like to visit for a live performance?
Yes, indeed, having played, as I said earlier, in almost 20 countries in Europe and America, the place I would love to visit and play is on the other side of the map. Japan would be the most ideal one.
Supposing that tomorrow you get a chance to organize a gig just like the way you want, what would be the ideal live performance for you? Where would it take place and what bands would you like to accompany Kawir?
So, supposing that I win the lottery and want to organize a gig, in which Kawir would play of course. I would like to organize an ideal Pagan Fest in Mount Olympus, with various bands from around the world, including Kampfar, Melechesh, Arkona, Primordial and others, which presupposes a very large budget and unfortunately here in Greece we will never see anything like this.
In a concert like this we are playing this summer in France, in ‘Ragnard Fest’, with some of the bands I mentioned, so if there is will and money, anything can be done, something that unfortunately still doesn’t exist in Greece.
Through the passage of years, we see that Kawir have made many changes to their lineup. Is there any particular reason for that? Do you think that the Kawir is only you and the other musicians are simply replaceable?
Yes, indeed, there were too many changes in the line-up, but of course the other musicians are not just replaceable. If I remember correctly, we exceeded the twenty members as a whole. There was a time when in every live we had a different line-up.
The problems in Greece are acknowledged. One problem is the army, which unfortunately holds you back, another is that someone would want to leave to make a family or because of another work.
For example, a musician could not follow us on a tour, because he was expecting an approval for his application to get a job. The problems are acknowledged, from 1990 until today unfortunately nothing has changed.
Although you are the founder and the mastermind of the band, do you think that Kawir could exist without Therthonax?
No, I don’t believe that it could be done. It would be a little strange.
Have you ever reached a decision to say ‘enough is enough, I cannot stand anymore, I will give up’?
Even though it seems strange, I have reached the decision of ‘enough is enough’ and actually, I did it, I gave up after the recordings of ‘Epoptia’, in 1998. Of course I was listening to the music at home, but I was not involved anymore, I was not playing, I didn’t want to have any relation with the scene at the time. But everything changed and started again. The bug never leaves.
When Dimitris from Zemial proposed me to play with them in ‘An Club’, back in 2003, and after that we released the 7” split ‘Daemon’, were actually the reasons why I started again, after he told me ‘don’t give up now, we have a lot to offer’, so I returned.
Concluding, I would like to ask if there is something new for the near future. Either a new release, or maybe a tour.
On February 26, we will perform at ‘8Ball’ in Thessaloniki, after 10 years. In 1997 we played for the first time in Thessaloniki and I think we were the first black metal band ever played in the city, except those of the local scene, of course.
Later, as I told you, we will play at the ‘Ragnard Fest’ in France, in July, where for the first time we will present the new album on European soil, and I want to thank the French that give us the chance to go there with a full lineup, with bagpipes, flutes, keyboards.
At the same time, we are working on new songs, we have already begun to compose the new album. As for a tour, maybe at the end of the year we will have a European one. We will see about that.
Therthonax, thank you very much for your time. I will leave the last words to thee.
Thank you too for this interview. Those who can, come in Thessaloniki on February 26, we are preparing something good and will be a night to remember for those who attend. Hail!