Today we’re interviewing Nikos Papakostas, the frontman of Convixion(Athens), that will be playing at the“6th Rock Music Festival” (Larisa). We’re discussing Convixion’s past, present and future, their album “Days of Rage, Nights of Wrath” and we’re chatting about the Greek Metal scene, in general.
Welcome to Metal Invader, Niko. Even though we have published plenty of articles regarding “Convixion”, this is our first official interview, so we’d like to hear a few words about the band.
Good to be here Sophia and thank you for the opportunity! In few words, this band started as an idea back in 2002, with a promo and few shows, when it came to officially releasing something, we begun in 2007 with our first EP “Metal Drinkin’ Conspiracy”. Since then we released our first self-titled album on 2010, a 7-inchcalled “Black Magic Night” on 2011, a split with Wrathblade called “Alive Aftershock” in 2013, we were a part of many tribute and compilation CD’s, and then we released our second full-length album in 2016, called “Days of Rage, Nights of Wrath”. All this time, we played live shows countless times in Greece but abroad as well, to promote our work, and we appeared on the same stage with some amazing bands, such as “Angel Witch”, “Tankard” and “Testament”, played twice in “Up the Hammers” festival and many more.
I’ve been following you since the beginning and its crystal clear that you guys made huge progress compared to your early days, but also, your style became way more serious. I’ve been wondering, is that something that comes along with aging, or is there a different reason behind this decision?
I would say it’s a combination of both, without the latter being a pretentious move. The huge progress you noticed has to do with the tons of work we put into this, our bond and advancement together as musicians, instrumentalists and composers. The more serious turn definitely has to do with growing up, we matured and naturally we’re interested in more serious matters, rather than beers and having fun. Any time that we get asked this question though, we always point out, that even in our first steps, we had tracks that the lyrics were about serious matters, but became known and loved for our fun and party songs, such as “Drink Metal”, “I Come Alive” and “Heavy Metal Re Mounia”.
It’s been 10 years since your first release, the “Metal Drinkin’ Conspiracy” EP. Where do you see Convixion 10 years from now?
Time flies, indeed. We see some old videos and photos from our first live shows and we look so…young! 10 years from now we hope to be as bonded and as creative as now, and to be able to have-if not the same then- even more powerful moments as a band, like we had in these 1o years.
You’ve been a musician for many years now, played many live shows and you also filmed and directed a documentary about Metal in Greece. What’s your opinion on Metal generally speaking in Greece right now, especially the Underground scene?
I believe that the Metal scene in Greece right now, it’s at its best quantity-wise but I can’t be that certain for the quality. We have countless of releases with good production, presentation and professionalism, but because they are so many, I can’t really say much about the quality, because in all honesty, I didn’t have enough time to follow every single one of them as much as I wanted. Seriously, theamountofinformationissomassive, thatI’ve missed on plenty of great releases that I discover later on, 1-2 years after, simply because when they were released I didn’t have time for me to pay enough attention to them. Same goes for Metal outside Greece, but I’m CERTAIN for one thing; with the Retro movement being on the high, there were plenty of mediocre bands and mediocre releases (my own personal opinion) that made success, only because they wore leggings and tight jeans, had afro hair and were posing the 80s way, while in fact they had no originality or depth in their music.
Anyone that knows you the slightest bit, knows that apart from being a musician and audio engineer, you’re also a HUGE metal fanatic. Do you think that this mentality is what most Greeks are lacking, which results in the scene being held back with acts of jealousy, drama and general saltiness?
It’s like a circle. Ups and downs. I remember periods of time where our own small live shows had so many people and we were happy and satisfied and other periods that were too quiet and we were wondering where all the people went. When it comes to fighting each other though, I believe this has been reduced significantly and I see many attempts to get together in many underground scenes. Many self-organized live shows that some of them now became a thing, such as “Thrashers United” for example. While I was answering this though, a typical phrase of Greg came to mind “If only the musicians of the bands were to support the small live shows, then each show would at least have 100 people”! So, I believe we have a long road ahead to establish the idea of a “scene” to fans and musicians as well. Regardless, I don’t want you to think that we’re that far back compared to outside of Greece. The way we’re “living” the Underground scene here, is something I haven’t yet seen abroad, or at least in such a way.
Labeling is pointless, but if we had to, we’d say that you belong to the Retro movement, which we all know that it tends to be kinda quaint and peculiar(I personally enjoy that) Is that style something necessary in this scene or is it just a trendy thing to do, according to your opinion?
I somewhat answered that earlier, but I’m going to express my thoughts in this question. I do not think we belong to the Retro movement. If there’s something I love about the Greek scene and I feel it applies to Convixion too, is that up until now, we have some bands that have a completely unique sound and character. Their influences are clear, they tend towards a certain style but the result in the end, doesn’t resemble any other band. For example, I don’t think that anyone can name a band like Wrathblade, and if they can, please let me know which one it is, so I can go ahead and buy all their albums. We never tried to promote our work by dressing a certain way and sell that 80’s vibe. Who we are in our everyday lives, is who we are when we are on stage too. SameasIsaidbefore, selling that Retro vibe buys you more followers for your -perhaps- mediocre and swallow work, a good label and bookings in big Underground festivals. Me saying that some releases are less worthy is my 100% personal opinion but it’s based on the fact that if someone pays enough attention to some Greek but not well known bands, will realize that those bands have worked hard and managed to compose music way beyond copying Mercyful Fate’s or Diamond Head’s music.
In a few days will be the 10 years’ anniversary of the “Days of Rage, Nights of Wrath” release. We’d like to hear more about this release. You recorded the album at your own studio “Entasis”, was that something that made this process easier?
We worked hard on this album and we’re very pleased with the result and the composition. It took us a while because in the meantime we did many live shows, also our drummer, Manos had to serve in the Army. One more reason was that we wanted to be 100% sure and ready about for each and every song on the album, we didn’t want to produce something hasty, only to release it fast. We had all the fore mentioned releases though, so we weren’t at a loss. There’s a funny story behind the release that connects with your question. We indeed recorded in my own studio, “Entasis Studio” at Kallithea Athens, and I seriously wanted this production to be the “flagship” of the studio. So, after we were done with the recordings, I worked so much on the mixing that we were never satisfied with the results. Half a year went by, until Manos said something that solved this situation for us; “Most of all, I prefer the unmixed version”…So we went back to the point after we first recorded and we left it at that, raw unedited sound and mixing, in order to have a more alive feel to it. And that’s where we ended up and in 2 days only, we were done. Our beloved label “Eat Metal Records” released it for us.
I must admit that the cover of “Days of Rage, Nights of Wrath” was a love at first sight for me. Who did the cover?
We brainstormed a lot, thinking about the cover, and not going to lie, many of the ideas we had were prints with plenty of elements that Retro bands are over-using and because of that, we weren’t satisfied with anything, so we had to turn all those ideas down. Manos, once more, gave the idea; he had in mind album covers of some bands that depict the members without letting their facial features show, such as Dead Moon and Motorhead. The idea is to depict the band “live” to get the feel of the production. We assigned this task to our good friend Stefanos from Ravencult and Uncanny Graphics, who created the cover and the whole layout for our release. It only shows 3 of us, because during 2014 our guitarist and brother Stelios Makris left the band due to personal reasons and is currently only involved with Nightbreed, that we’re close friends with and consider our brothers. Our good friend Marios Petropoulos from Sacral Rage, came and filled that gap for quite a long time as an assisting member, up until our beloved guitarist Christos became a permanent member. We vulgarly grabbed him from Malicious Silence, Released Anger and Abyssus. We also switched our logo for the third time, since it was better suited to our style.
Which are your main influences and what inspires you when writing music? Are you writing musically together? If not, who’s writing the music?
We’re different people with similar taste from the whole Rock, Metal and Punk spectrum and that is reflected on our music. We often bring complete ideas that we then work and evolve together until their final form, but plenty of our songs came naturally, we simply composed them while we were jamming in the studio, songs like “Drink Metal”, “Convicted” or “Black Magic Night”. I must say this again, we will NEVER write anything that resembles SOMETHING, unless we are trying to steal someone a bit on purpose like Exciter, Anvil, Angel Witch or even Coroner! The biggest part of composing our last album was during August 2014 at the hot-like-hell Entasis studio, BUT in the chilling air-conditioned room, since we didn’t get to go on vacation that year, so we were constantly working on music.
Who writes the lyrics? Each and every one of us will interpret a bands lyric depending on his own experiences, in many of your tracks I sense disappointment and rage regarding the current social situation. Do you really feel this way?
We’ve all contributed to the lyrics, possibly I had the biggest contribution since I am the “singer”. I will always send the lyrics to the guys for suggestions or grammar corrections. What you mentioned, is the actual magic of the music we all love. Being able to express your own feelings and experiences through music and finding a way to let steam off and speak out. Disappointmentand rage are feelings that most of us have, regarding the situation in our country and the world. The difficulty of dreaming or even surviving. I a sense, that’s why “I Come Alive” wasn’t included in the album. When we wrote that song we were carefree, living in our own world. Lyrically this album is mostly about the inner battle we all have and the power we must draw from the things we most love, in order to become better human beings. We consider “Terrorize the Terrorists” to be one of our most powerful lyrical moments, is a song written in the memory of our friend Pavlos Fissas, dedicated to his killers.
Do you have any new material ready? Are there any plans for a new release in the immediate future?
We’re trying out few new ideas but not anything completed. After we’re done with the live shows for the promotion of our latest album, we’re going to work on new ideas. We’re not going to rush to release anything, but we’re not going to rest assured, either. As a general direction though, I should say that the new ideas are once more very different than those that Convixion are known for.
You play live quite often, what should someone that has never seen you live except from a live Convixion show?
Well, one of the reasons we picked our cover, is because in a way, we feel like the band shows its true self and teeth during live shows! We always play as hard as we can and our experience so far has been that everywhere we play we get great feedback and always make new friends!
Thank you for your time, Nikos. The closing is yours!
I would like to thank you too, personally but in regards of the band as well and I’m sorry for the long answers. Our next attack is at your city Larisa, Saturday April 8 with some hot Heavy Metal, plenty of amazing bands and an amazing festival! Metal Above All.