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Interview with Exarsis

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Last Updated on 02:39 PM by Lilliana Tseka

Congratulations on the new album and welcome to Metal Invader. So far what’s the fans’ and press’s reaction for the new album?

Thank you very much! The record goes too well. You know, it was first released somewhat “informally” in Greece by us; in this case, the orders of the first batch were distributed quickly. Shortly after, the record came out in Japan by Spiritual Beast with two exclusive bonus tracks and now as we speak it circulates officially in the remaining countries, so now we wait for reviews by the foreign media. Regarding the domestic territory, the record has made good impressions to anyone who listened to it (reviewers or not). They recognized the band’s improvement and the fact that we worked very hard to reach the new chapter of Exarsis; that of Mk. III, who made our first European tour and wrote the new album. Of course, we are grateful to Michael Karpathiou of D Studio who was in charge of everything (production, mixing, mastering. If it wasn’t for him, many things on the album would have been very different.

You changed the lineup of the group just before beginning a major tour. What urged the former members to leave the band?

It was very difficult for them to follow the heavy schedule of the band on the tour (it was a period when we rehearsed every day) and obviously they weighed the situation and figured that not only it’s not easy for them to miss a whole month abroad but also be present in respective obligations of the band in the future. Of course, the departures took place in a friendly atmosphere and we still maintain good relationships with their guys. If you can imagine, all our old members (Alexis, Chris, George) participated in the first track of the new album – “Arrivals” – and the first two went up on stage during our release show to perform this and the older track, “Surveillance Society”.

What did the new members add to the band? Did they contribute to the new record?

Being one of the new members, I can safely say that we all added our personal touch to the band, along with our influences and listenings. Personally, I deal with the vocals in Exarsis in a totally different way than their former frontman, Aleksis. I have a much more heavy metal background and I added to the band those mid vocals that make a successful –as we think-swapping with the high-pitched ones, which is something we never thought we could do, especially during the first recording sessions. Nonetheless, the band has some features that can never change, i.e. the lyrics, having conspiracy theories theme. This time I was in charge of the lyrics as frontman. But didn’t drift away from what Aleksis used to write about.

What did you musically change in the new album? Where did you pay closer attention to and what’s the difference between this and “Brutal State”?

Exarsis in “The Human Project” established the musical identity they gained with “The Brutal State”. Some things changed, but some never will. We still play old-school Bay Area thrash metal, with gang vocals, mosh parts; all the beautiful stuff. We focused on a neat songwriting, even on small parts that were unnecessary and hollowed the pieces. We wanted only the absolutely necessary sections to stay, because thrash is above all spontaneous and non-chatty. For example, just before the last pre- chorus and chorus in “Abnormal Generation” there was another verse, but during the recording period we considered that this part makes the song somewhat excessive. Even from this detail, “Abnormal Generation” managed to make me like it even more, and is one of the tracks that I enjoy performing live, because there is room for the crowd’s participation.

Why did you chose to mix your record in Mana Studios were you almost had destructive results and not to trust it with some European studios, where one of you could be present?

Not “almost”. WE HAD destructive results. As we all know, Mana Studios belong to Eric Rutan of Hate Eternal, who was formerly in Morbid Angel and the incredible Ripping Corpse. It is a studio known for plenty great death metal albums, and had this raw death metal sound we wanted for “The Human Project”. We came in contact, we had an agreement. Rutan wouldn’t be involved with mixing and mastering, but an employee of the studio would, who has done a few records so far and deals mainly with live PA. There is no need to mention his name. Anyway, the man despite all the e-mails we sent with comments and corrections, he had a very amateurish behavior; in some mails he didn’t respond at all and generally looked like he thought he was working with suckers just to gain some bucks. Let alone the fact that he was continuously missing for long periods to work in concerts, something that kept the record back. The studios are in Florida, so it was impossible for us to meet there and oversee the process. When we received the final result, we were disappointed. And this, of course, financially ruined us. There were some serious mistakes in the mix and there was no way to let this record circulate. So we sat and worked in record time with Michael Carpathiou of D Studio, ie the man who did our recording, who wanted to help and devoted body and soul to the (human) project. The result vindicated us and this is a triumph for all major studios in the country. I mean, with much less money than you would spend in famous studios abroad, you can do equal or much better job in a Greek studio that will not deal with you as “a small band from Greece”. At least Rutan realized that his guy ruined his reputation and offered to send some money back…

Is there a concept regarding the lyrics and you refer oftenly to illuminati etc?

Exarsis is primarily a concept band. Our records – the latter two, at least – are dealing with various conspiracy stories without being lyrically possessed from a common story. Yes, illuminati and the “new world order” is one of our basic impulses, because they are a real risk that no one does something about out of fear or convenience. The main single from our new album is the “Skull and Bones”, which talks about the namesake secret brotherhood of Yale, which is the hotbed of all the mighty men and families of the American elite for 200 years. The methods and rituals are now well known and documented. We put a big mirror in front of it and Athena Tousia helped us a lot directing the video- clip for this song, giving the first stimuli to someone who doesn’t know about what “Skull and Bones” is.

Many old bands turn to the sound that culminated in the 80s. Is this a temporary “fashion” or will it have a beneficial effect for the music?

You mean old bands returning to the classic sound? If you mean that, some never left it. Most of the bands move stubbornly – and rightfully for them, it’s their music – and try to make something more fresh and modern, within certain limits, of course. Returning to classic thrash of the mid ’00s, for example, helped the classic forces to return and many of them did very good, but unfortunately many of these great bands – I don’t want to mention any names – have been degenerated into the same plastic sound in their records, thereby distinguishing them only by voice. I don’t know whether it can have a beneficial effect on music in the future, but it certainly worked out to be beneficial for the music industry.

Despite the crisis we have experienced and continue to experience in the metal scene, we have many new bands and many good releases, more concerts even. What do you think about this?

First, to analyze such a seemingly paradoxical development, we have to look beyond the crisis. Greece is a country that loves heavy metal music since the middle of the ’80s and has never stopped. Greece was present even in the “difficult” (for many) season of the’ 90s, and continued supporting heavy metal. This would inevitably lead to improvements in the domestic scene, although we were always producing great bands and releases that have an impact on a global scale. We were simply late to show such a good, comprehensive picture. This happened because quite simply the Greek crowd realized by the mid ’00s that Greek bands can operate in international professional level, and we owe that to exclusively four bands: Firewind / Gus G and Suicidal Angels, and of course the older Rotting Christ and Septicflesh, which even then started to be really appreciated by their countrymen. This affected a number of groups, which affected a number of other groups, and so on. The Greek metal scene can still go higher, and I already believe that 2015 is one of the best years in terms of releases. We would be stupid if we dared to think that the internet did not help. Nowadays, the Greek crowd has the information, sees what’s really going out and maybe that’s why it took long to get forward. To better understand the size of the information that has been soaked in our conscience, let’s think that 10 years ago it was impossible to talk about a complete Greek scene in terms of variety in genres. Now, we have bands LITERALLY for everyone. Everything is linked… As for the crisis, I think it brought us together because we realized that the only way to survive this is to find the best way to escape, keeping our people and things we love closer. Those still standing financially, or something like this, continue to be engaged with their bands or support other bands. These, if we ever see a better day in Greece and discuss the crisis into an indefinite tense and not the present tense would be the brightest medals. The concerts of foreign and Greek groups keep being booked and multiply, because there is still interest. We love this music so much that we make sure, not to lose contact with it.

Does “follow your heart and your dreams to succeed” apply to the current era? Where are the traps nowadays and why it is worth continuing to hunt something that is not guaranteed and secure?

That, basically, is heavy metal. Doing what you want, keep doing it despite the adverse conditions, even if you chase a seemingly impossible dream. A metal band in Greece in 2015 which seeks to realize in every way its dream, is worthy of applause and our practical support. No, I don’t beg for “charity” for Exarsis; I’m talking about tons of rock / metal bands that the country right has and produce music that foreigners with better conditions cannot write. This means something. The traps sadly are everywhere. People or decisions of the artist himself serve as traps. Do you know which traps we fail to take into consideration? Our natural introversion. Look, I’m not talking about over-exposure and self-promotion, but for the fact that a band goes through all the trouble to compose, write and complete a job, they have paid so much money and then the only ones to discover and appreciate this effort are only some friends and acquaintances. That’s because the artist thinks that once the record came out, his work is finished and… just sits like a duckling. No, the real running course is now. Advertise it as you can, without busting balls, make a good video or two, book a good release show, after the release show try to book other gigs, be a part of the network without asslicking everybody, GO TO OTHERS’ CONCERTS, send your work to as many mags and webzines you can. In short, treat your job the way you think it deserves to be treated and then the crowd will do the same, since you’ve worked your ass off and spent craploads of money. It is too much trouble and in relation to other obligations, it’s in no way easy; those who do it, they’re not steps ahead by mistake. Nothing is random, everything happens for a reason at a time when the economic crisis has built a cynical reality. Good will not remain unnoticed.

Any plans on promoting the album with live shows and touring?

Indeed! Initially we performed as guests in the first Astarte fest in Kyttaro, on 20th June, which is was charity gig and all of the earnings were given to “Child’s Smile” organization. Two weeks later we have the great honor of opening the Vibe Stage in Rockwave, on 4th July, before Maplerun, Rotting Christ and Judas Priest. Do you understand? JUDAS FUCKIN ‘PRIEST! I personally never dared to dream of this. Onwards September / October we plan some concerts in Thessaloniki and province, while our immediate plans and the organization of our next European tour.

Something for the end?

We thank Metal Invader for its interest and hospitality! Check “The Human Project” album, like the video- clip for “Skull and Bones”, and we hope to touch their message. We hope to see you all soon on stage! Support the underground.

Giorgos Athanasiou
Giorgos Athanasiou
I love you, I love you more than Jesus!

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