Hello, I am Liliana and I welcome you to Metal Invader! Flames … a mythical complex of the Greek scene! Legend but some new guys who are now in the metal world will definitely want to learn your story. Talk to us about the ’84 which is your year of creation.
Hi Liliana (nice name) and thank you for the questions. 1984 is the beginning of our journey, which as you can see it still holds just fine. It was a year – a time when the history of thrash metal was written in real time and I am proud to have been part of it. These where some difficult times for metalheads, they were hunted, but there was a great deal of passion for our common love, METAL. If you were a band you had to be also your own manager, there were no infrastructures such as concert venues, studios with experience in metal, even related instruments, and other things that were normal for any other European metal band. Musically, though, now and then, the Greeks were always at a high level even from professional foreign bands. But there was no mechanism or “system” to promote you globally. We chose to make novelties and we avoided from the beginning the small venues. We went straight into the big guns and at ‘forbidden’ venues in the metal community, as were club 22 – Autokinisi and where they did not exist, we were creating them like at cinemas (for example Maxim, Hellespont at Thessaloniki). We are pleased that this effort has opened the path or made it easier in the years to come for other bands.
During that time, you also released the incredible “Made In Hell” album … Many might find enough negative elements, but that does not change the myth created around this album. Talk to us about the difficulties of the era, nowadays these difficulties would be limited to the minimal.
At the beginning of the first year we kind of recorded at the same studio two albums in rapid succession, “Made in Hell” and “Mercilles Slaughter” with a lot of difficulties. We were lacking the obvious such as the field experts, producers and sound engineers, appropriate studios, even technology and music instruments. But we did not lack of passion for our music and we managed to get things done.
In ’85, Merciless Slaughter was released, which was a great album as well, but singer Nigel Foxxe hurtles with the rest of the band members, which has led to his retirement. Looking back after all these years would you do something different?
This is about the beginning of the band in its first year. I have answered this question a lot of times and all that brings onto the surface is something that is over and doesn’t even exist in our minds or concerns the band anymore. I wouldn’t use the word rupture. It’s excessive! There was No rupture and No retirement. I would say it was Nigel’s choice to follow his own solo music career. His righteousness, and he did well for wanting this for himself. End of story. What would we have done differently? It doesn’t concern Flames, any choice made by anyone else. I really can’t find any mistake made by any part of this story, in order to answer “what we would have done differently?’.
From 1987 and onwards the band has a prominent thrash gradient, how did you decide to change your sound? From Last Prophecy let’s say and later your sound is very close to the teutonic thrash sound.
Yes, we played more aggressively, more technically and freely. Here the relationship between us takes a big part of that. We were in complete harmony with the whole band together. Me with my brother and founding member Andy, Alex and our late drummer George, we were core like brothers and fully focused on what we did. Musically I don’t like labels. They often use this label German thrash. This shows to me that they have not listened to the band very carefully. Because I’m the composer and I know what I’m playing, I can’t give any certain music identity to Flames. Melodic tracks (Legend) coexist with epic, (Avenger, Acid Rain), thrash, hardcore, slow ‘n’ heavy (Never Ending) even early black metal blast (“slaughter house.”). It’s Flames style, though inside the thrash scene we always tried to be pioneers. We made primitive, raw music beyond any genre and we gave “musical food” to those who listened to us carefully.
Several bands have suffered from record labels and, of course, Flames is one of these bands. The promo you recorded was stolen by a label and released it without your permission. What exactly happened?
Quite a bad experience. This happened once more later in our career but it’s an unknown story. That is the reason you should be careful to who you send your promos to. It concerns Nomen Illi Mors. One day we went to the studio (we were almost in the finishing touches on the remix) and we found the studio locked and our work missing. Eventually, a good album with gems was destroyed because of this incident as it was released by a company without a contract with the band (thankfully in few copies), a rip off from someone who came to make money out of the Greek metal scene. We didn’t react at the time and we tried to fix the situation with many concert. Fortunately this year Tom found the energy and re-recorded 2 songs of those ones (Jesus Christ and Sea of Blood), which he recently released via his own independent production (it’s a must to listen to) by Darkest Color. These songs are a part of our setlist and we will perform them in Trikala.
Since 1996, when your last release was In Agony Rise, the band is in peace. And back in 2010 you go back to the stage to celebrate your 25 years. But 2012 is really the year of reunion, and the Horns Up Festival comes in 2018 to great joy and surprise, and it brings you back on stage! How did Christ reach you and what did you do to accept?
But not in aphasia. We always wrote music but we decided not to perform in concerts, It was also the time we lived in Germany and it was difficult to travel. After the 25-year anniversary concerts (Gagarin 205 and Club 8) we played in Fuzz with Sepultura in 2012. But I must point out something. Because I see it everywhere. It does NOT mean every time we decide to perform at a concert that have a reunion and that Titanic’s engines started to plow the Atlantic, FLAMES never stopped and will last forever as I and Andy are writing music. Even an older member of ours, Thomas (Tom) joined us and the team has become stronger. It was our choice to abstain from time to time when we had nothing to say. Our concerts will be a few and selective for those who come and want to see us. We want to play in Trikala because we like it and we want to support efforts and events like the Horns up Festival that are being made to spread the metal even outside of Athens. Decentralization even in metal.
For Trikala the approach was made by the organizer Chris Tyger and we accepted with joy as the timing favored us and we were able to re-gather the whole band literally from the 4 corners of the world.
How do you see modern music? Do you keep track of it and if so do you tell us what the Greek bands you see stand out for?
I generally don’t follow modern music scene. Surely there is not much metal music in the worldwidely, this doesn’t happen only in Greece. Now the stages are filled with rap, hip hop, R’n’ B and other not so cool music. Greeks love their bouzoukia and oriental dissonance.
In the metal scen, however, efforts are being made. Nowadays we have many Greek bands known outside the borders. I will not go into a list of names, (I will definitely do injustice if I forget a few) are well known to all of us. Generally, I have a love for those who are musicians. I consider musicians a special group (elite) of people with internal code of communication that automatically throws out those who do not stick to the scene. That’s why I like those who work seriously, no matter if they are small, big or old band. The persistence of love for metal music and creation will surely be fruitful for success and inner – mental satisfaction. This is also the food of the artist since the economic benefits are generally non-existent.
Generally, there has been a tendency for nostalgia at all levels through the years. What do you think has brought this nostalgia musically and many reunions happened such as yours but also why the world wants them?
Again I must mark that we did not reunite. We were always here. Not showing ourselves it’s a choice, our choice. It happens when we really have something to say or do. As for nostalgia in the old days, the 80’s were an authentic era. People miss that. The world understands it and wants to feel that again, wants to feel the old days when all this metal heritage was created. I believe this nostalgia moves the situations. I would add that it is now easier to produce, with new technologies in sound and recording. It is a power to know that you are walking in a space, such as that of musical production, knowing you step. This solves the hands of many musicians and figures who see the opportunity that they can easily communicate their creations to the world.
What are the future plans of Flames? Is there any material for a new album?
We are already in the studio. We old gang gathered around the console with our instruments again. I on the guitars, Andreas on the bass, Tom guitars (from the old days -1990) and vocals (Nomen illi mors) and the new member in the family is Nick Samios and we are writing the new songs. We are in the programming phase. The tracks are being accumulated. We are not in a hurry, we go slowly and steadily about how the songs will be and with what sound – production will come out. We have decided and focused on releasing the new material (it has been gathered in the depths of time) and we are focused. Once finished and released, we will promote it with concerts. We must focus firstly on the ultimate production because the new songs and not only the new songs but also Flames worth it.
The epilogue is yours and what to expect from your appearance on Horns Up?
I cannot tell you what to expect to see from us. This is something that only whomever is going to be there at the concert is going to experience and this is something that we are going to accomplish together, the fans and the Flames from the stage.