One of the most fun but not joking around and ‘true'(pardon me for using the term) bands in Greece are certainly Mortal Torment. Frontman/singer and family man, Giannis Nakos talked to Metal Invader and Elpida Chokmetidou for what is going on, on their shows, where someone can find from lifejackets and plastic pools to cooked meat and whatever else your imagination can think of… and all of their future plans. One thing is for sure if you missed them…don’t ever do that again to youselves!!!! And to save you from such a tragic mistake on Sunday, February 18, Mortal Torment will be performing at Eightball … go go go!!
Good evening, Giannis, and welcome to Metal Invader! It’s our first official chit chat so, I’m pretty glad we’re doing this! What’s the deal these days? Are you getting prepared for your upcoming show in Thessaloniki?
It’s nice being here, pleasure’s all mine! The truth is that right now we are in the process of gathering ideas for our next, third album. Things are flowing at our own pace, nothing hectic! At the same time, we are getting prepared for the 8ball gig so we are in a state of relative alertness. There is plenty of appetite and excitement for this specific show while at simultaneously this gig will mark some time off from our day-working lives, so that’s good. As always, I think we will have some fun again.
Mortal Torment is one of the most beloved bands of the Greek (extreme) crowd and this is evident by its support especially towards your shows. How do you feel about it? Are Mortal Torment compensated for their effort?
You make me blush! Seriously however, what makes us mostly happy are definitely the live concerts. The energy, the interaction, the paradoxes that often happen are the best things a band can come across. From torn eyebrows to roasted meat on stage (either coming from us or from the crowd) and all kinds of violence in the pit. All of the above make the whole experience worthy. Compensation reaches 100% when after the endless hours of rehearsals, having paid for equipment, for gas and for 1000 other things you go up on stage for that half hour / 40 minute chaos and those smiles. In terms of support I don’t really have anything to complaint about.
Even though as far as I know you joined the band after the original lineup was formed, did you ever anticipate the crowd’s loud embrace? What’s that feature that makes the crowd love you?
I believe that has to do with the shows. Our smiles and good vibes. Maybe the fact that we do what we do to have some fun? The fact that we’re not that much engaged to the idea that you have to be ‘mean’ to play Death Metal? By joining M.T. I wanted to simply play Death Metal. Nothing more. I had neither certain goals in my mind nor weird ‘dreams’. I’m not even sure whether this response from the crowd is real. What I see is people coming to our shows to have fun and maybe that’s the feature that makes our pulse kicking. I hope for the latter part of the question to be real and for having some people out there who real enjoy our music.
By being a member of such a band, you must have witnessed changes on both a general and an individual level. Which is the most striking difference between then and now as far as music in general is concerned and which on you as individuals?
Generally speaking, quality is pretty high, to tell the truth. One can notice this by keeping in touch with the bands that play shows outside Greece. On the positive side, I can see that the bands elaborate more on essential issues, such as sound, performance, artworks, settings and arrangements on stage etc nowadays. They study and keep doing better as time passes. Of course, that’s something that makes me happy.
On the negative side, however, you see many bands ‘quitting’ after their first efforts (either that’s translated into Single / EP / album releases). No shows, no rehearsals… It’s as if they were waiting for an immense rise in popularity by some generous God. Vanity has a big share in all this. Likes, views, etc., things that have no place in artistic expression. I don’t know, perhaps the younger generation has learned that it can have things as fast / easy as downloading a movie but it’s not the thing.
In MT I definitely see some improvement in the musical part. We / I did a lot of mistakes, we / I learned from them and we try to make up for that. From there on, heads should be kept down to work.
Your musical basis is a rawer edition of Death Metal, if I can call that, but the humorous mood is evident in some of your tracks but also in your live performances. Where do these two Mortal Torment personalities merge?
The musical and aesthetic parts of MT are two different things in our own book. Clearly, we play death metal. It has bdm, more groovy stuff, some darker and some more Slayer-ish stuff. Generally, we try to add variety in what we do; we don’t want to give out a monotonous output. So yes, we play music, sometimes simpler, sometimes more demanding. On shows, however, we want people who paid an admission to see us to think “shit, man, I want to see that again!”. So the humorous part of our music is an actual part of ourselves, who we are as a band, but under no circumstance does it mean to leave the music aspect behind.
From time to time MT have gone through changes in the lineup. I won’t ask why this happened, but what is that quality that makes M.T. now stronger than ever?
It is a fact that many have joined the band, either for help (during times like military service) or for other reasons, and we thank them for that. The last addition brings George to the bass, who happens to be a friend and has known the band for years. So, he came and became one with us almost instantly. There wasn’t any stress because of that first contact, whether we would go along as people, etc. Everything went well. I can say that we are in a super phase, we have already made 2 shows together, one in Sweden and one in Athens and we had lots of fun.
Despite the fact that in Greece the crowd of the extreme sound is enough and especially in recent years terrific albums from Greek bands have been released, I think it’s quite clear to all of us that we have “fallen out” in terms of concerts. The concerts of local Death Metal bands are now counted on the fingers of one hand compared to the previous years. What do you think is to blame and what could be the panacea?
Look, 4-5 years ago there was a small explosion in the number of Greek bands that belonged to the local extreme. The Facebook group called Greek Death / Grind Scene helped a lot for this. Collections were made, gigs were made, a bit of hype was created around this phase (a key word in our case), and you saw in every possible angle that there was some kind of activity… Something that changed as time passed. Financial crisis? Perhaps, because the truth is that music is an expensive hobby that requires sacrifices in this area. Surely there are many factors and it’s big in scope (bigger than your available space I guess) so I can just say that anyone who toughened a little bit more or saw things in a more loving way, they’re still here playing music.
Albums have and will keep coming out; listen to the new Abnormal Inhumane and Aceptic Goitre and you will see that ‘serious ball is played’.
Having played in many foreign festivals, what do you think are the differences between Greece and Europe. I ask due to the fact that you have actively participated in such festival, you were not just spectators.
Shortly before, I would tell you that the addressing of the musicians out there is far superior as far as organizational issues are concerned (and remains still this way), but there is a lot of improvement and mood to do things better in the last years around here. New venues, people willing to set up a right event. Of course, there are also many let-downs, but OK, we choose to overlook them. Perhaps the most important difference is that the crowd abroad is much more liberated and “more easily” carried away in a show. They drink, dance, go to have fun.
It has been almost three years since the release of your last album, an album which indeed had received very good reviews. If I remember correctly, you said you’ve been working on new stuff recently. Is that the case? Should we expect a new release soon?
‘Cleaver’ was a well-worked-on album, that’s the truth and we are very happy with the result, even now we dig it, we wouldn’t change lots of elements. At this phase we are gathering ideas yet so it’s too early to say something for sure. I don’t think it will come out in 2018, however we’ll try for the best. Reviews and responses are not so important to us… yes, we read them – of course – however, we are simply going to do our work either way, unaffected.
I think with “Cleaver Redemption” you went one step further. Heavier sound, some more groovy parts, a little more paranoia, but all at very high levels. What is the next step? Will you walk on the same path as your upcoming tracks?
Yes, the changes in relation to the debut material were at least huge. More concentrated and crafted material in all respects. We haven’t specified the tracks for the next one but we definitely want to have variety and not a flat-lined result. Slowly, quickly, more rhythmically, but also sliiiiiiighty more experimental elements will exist – for the present state of the art. The final form is far from done, so whatever I say, I don’t you should take it for granted. At the same time, a new path is always within the framework of necrometal. Oops, I said “necro”, that sounded a bit too ‘true’ for us, didn’t it?
What are your plans for the future? Do you have some concerts in mind, maybe a new clip?
Clip not yet; that’ll happen with the new album and if our empty pockets allows it. We have booked some gigs, in Thessaloniki (duh) in a few days, Switzerland in May, we’re setting one up in Germany in September. Generally something is happening here and there, we just have to launch the new album amongst all that. Yes, you will also see us in Karditsa if everything goes well in July.
And some more personal questions. First of all, I know very well that you are always aware of the events of all kinds of sounds, so I would like you to mention some of the albums that made an impression on you in the year that passed, as well as if there is any record that you are waiting to be released.
Oops, tough question, I can talk for hours on the topic! An album that I kept listening to, over and over again is the debut of Brutus (Burst), the new Decrepit Birth, Analepsy, Spectral Voice, Cradle Of Filth’s new album was a surprise, Abnormal Inhumane, Aetherian, Antropofagus, Origin, Dyscarnate and Dying Fetus. Only to name a few.
For this year I’m looking forward to the new Misery Index, I really liked Harakiri For The Sky and of course the new Oceans Of Slumber. It’s still early, however, there will be some surprises.
Secondly, you are a busy man, since along with MT, you have CODEDECODED, Procrate and Remedy Art Design, while on the other hand family responsibilities are now increased. How do you share your time and what news can you bring us from your other musical camps?
I can’t understand how this happens either. I guess I’ll sleep when I die, ha ha! Time is now permanently limited and shared unequally many times. However, I like to be active and creative as long as possible. Surely my basic activity is my sweet daughter and my family and then everything else, so there is certainly some basic principle.
As for the music, Procreate is on ice, and Sotiris, who is the band’s composer / soul, has moved to Norway. I don’t know if there will be anything in the future. With CodeDecoded, we released an album digitally and we are looking for a label while with the Remedy Art projects I am permanently busy 24/7. On the latter there will be a sweet announcement pretty soon actually.
Perfect! Thanks for your time! The rest of it, when we meet in Thessaloniki! The ending is yours!
Thank you very much for this interview, at last some questions worth answering and no more bullcrap, like “tell us a few things about your band”, haha! Expect good things in the near future from MT! Beware!