Everything started with Homo Iratus and their cover of “Roots Bloody Roots” with the use of pontic lyra, then came Rotting Christ with AEALO and the vibes of Epirus, the phenomenon skyrocketed with VIC, followed by Stonebringer, Balothizer with their Cretan folk and now there’s Raw In Sect tearing the roof off with Psarantonis. Read below what we talked about with Kostas Diamantis (vocals/guitar) about KITRO, Japanese people and many more!
Greetings Kostas and welcome to Metal Invader! You’ve recently put out your -very good- 3rd new album called “KITRO”. Many argue that the 3rd album is the one that will define the course of a band… Are you happy with the result? What are people’s reactions so far?
Greetings Themistoklas and thank you for having us! We’re obviously satisfied with the result since we spend so much energy to make the sounds in your ears. I think people are torn considering the path we chose. There are those people that listen to the record day and night, there are also those that think the whole thing is ridiculous and it should never happen. As far as the band’s course, I have no idea where it will lead us, but all I can say is that we always want to try new stuff.
I’m on the first team! I literally am listening to the album 10 days straight. How did you come to the point of changing the style? Something was given away from “Ypatia” at the end of Blue Haze, but the change was really big!
The truth is that from the first record you could find small patterns that lead to that direction. How did the change come? We really didn’t understand so much about what we wanted to do ourselves. In general, we follow what draws our attention and that way songs are created that many times seem odd to us, too. The core idea is to represent what this band is about in an honest way.
Where did you draw the inspiration that lead to the creation of “KITRO” and what made you “sour”? I can spot Cretan folk music, rebetiko, the influence of Xylouris, Psarantonis, Aggelakas, Asimos, but also lyrics against reality and at times nostalgic.
Very good question! Everything you mentioned had their influence on us plus many more. Lots of Greek music spanning from all periods and waves that we like combined with influence from the vast genre of rock and even electronic music. From there on there was also classical music, byzantine music, etc. We became “sour” to the idea of playing the same things that other bands play over and over, this compulsion of having a specific sound that’s accepted by a big number of people. I don’t mean to say that we denounce our past, personally I listen to “Red Flows” even more than our new songs, but the idea of reliving it is no charm to any of us.
How important was Peter Dowsett’s, Matt Bayles’ and Pete Maher’s (look them up) contribution since they took over producing, mixing and mastering the album combining all those influences and sounds and still have that tight and heavy result? I guess it was something exotic for them, too!
Peter Dowsett played a key-role by being the producer of the record. We met in one of our tours in England and learned so much about the ways something can sound nice. Peter was the one that pushed us to incorporate whatever we knew from Greek influences, so that was weirdly the reason the Greek element came up to the surface. What everyone said was that we do something that they never heard before and that it was something exciting to work on. It was really interesting for them to spend time on Greek music than on another metal/rock band. Matt Bayles worked his miracle again as in “Blue Haze” that he also mixed and Peter Maher placed the cherry-on-top with the mastering. I can’t hide that there were numerous technical difficulties at every stage since there were no reference points on how the record should sound like and even we didn’t know what the end result would be till the last day. Whoever worked on it truly gave their best to please us and that’s a really difficult thing to do (haha)!
I’ve heard something similar from Electric Litany (a Greek post-rock band) that had Alan Parsons co-producing their last record. The Greek and Byzantine element is charming after all. Changing the topic, in the song “Argonautes” you’re singing “city after city, the prison is the same, we are Argonauts in the same cell”. Is this a reference on Greek reality, western civilization or shit is real everywhere?
That lyric is inspired by the many tours we did. Every day we changed cities and everything was the same. For example, there was nothing saying that Amsterdam had better infrastructure than Athens. All cities were prisons and all residents are Argonauts wanting to flee, but can’t. In general, the song has a negative vibe coming from the extreme situations you have to bear by being constantly on the road.
This is an interesting approach. Life on the road can be tough, but brings recognition and income to a band. For better or worse, income from record selling can’t sustain a band. It’s the road and merchandise that makes the difference. In talks with other bands I’ve heard the expression that releasing a record is just another motive for a band to tour. What to do you think on that?
This is definitely the case. The number don’t add up without playing gigs, but the day will come that even gigs won’t be enough and let’s see what is going to happen then. I believe that the financial future for musicians lies in placing music on commercials, video games, movies, etc. I’m saying that because one can see more gig spaces are closing than opening in every country.
For now, we’re not there yet and yes, besides from the ultimate band experience, gigs are the main income.
Sir, you are well-read. Till then, share with me your ideal line-up containing 5-6 bands. I know that you went on a European tour with Immolation after your debut came out (what more to ask for!!). With all your genre-defying, I am curious on what you consider an ideal tour package.
That’s a great question! It’s a real headache for the people in charge to promote our record. After much thought, bands like Mars Volt or System of a Down are closer to what we do. I think that more alternative types of music suit us better, but still I don’t think there’s an ideal tour package for us. Who knows!
We’ll know when someone knows! Now that you have Greek lyrics, if there’s any invitation on playing on a local music stage, would you view that positively?
Sure, why not? The whole point is playing for people willing to give a chance in what you’re doing. If something like that is the case, we’re definitely up for it. In combination with much touring, it would be a very good scenario to support the record. The music in “KITRO” is really able to be played everywhere in every possible way. We could do small acoustic gigs with fewer people till big concerts accompanied with orchestra. You could even perform it acapella. It’s so melodic that I can imagine us playing it anywhere! It’s composed in such way that doesn’t need huge amps to make a point.
What are your immediate plans, then? Where will we see you, when, etc?
That’s what we’re dealing with right now. At first, we want to start a European tour crossing many countries. We’ll probably announce it in a few months. It was supposed to happen in November, but we decided to do it later since the record hasn’t had enough time to be properly listened to in some countries yet. As soon as we’re over with Europe, our next already-in-discussion plan is to release the record in the US and to start touring there also. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll manage to go in South America and Japan. All that and we’ll surely have at least two music videos more coming at you. Everything will happen in 2019 as it seems!
We’re also looking forward! Are the Japanese so open minded in music terms? Who’s organizing all these?
Ourselves with the help of agents, managers, PRs, etc. It’s difficult to do everything by yourself; on the other hand it’s dangerous to let other do everything for you, so we met halfway. As far as the Japanese, of course they are, but the whole thing is about if it’s financially efficient to do it. In short, they’ll see how’re we going in Europe and America where the cycle of the album is going to be decided.
I wish everything goes according to plan! Personally, I have to say congratulations for taking chances, for your output and effectiveness and of course thank you for our chat. You can close the interview as you wish and add whatever I forgot to ask!
You’re so kind! Thank you as well for your interest and support. Cheers!