Behind the scenes of Mind Over Metal fest VII, we had the opportunity to talk with Theo Vogiatzi, bassist and founding member of Strikelight. Our aim was a short interview, but the whole thing ended in a debate in all matters, the band, the Greek scene, concerts … Theodore delectable and torrential could not be limited to 5-6 questions. Of course, neither could I…

Hi Theo!
Hello and happy, healthy holidays!

I think it’s not the first time you give an interview to Metal Invader and possibly the last time was on paper form.
Probably, indeed (Papakostas enters with his known cheerful mood for teasing).

So you, Theo, are the oldest member of the band with Papakostas coming next.
Yes. I founded the band circa ’99-’00 and theoretically, George Stavropoulos is the second oldest while Papakostas comes third. As a triad, we are essentially the band’s foundations.

So, George performed with you in the past, left for a little while and then came back?
Stavropoulos was with us from 2003 until today with a very short break, during which John Britsias of Crimson Fire sang with us, but this line-up did not merge. It was a somewhat strange season with many changes in members, so we tried to rush George’s return, along with Nick, who returned to the band as well and our drummer George Sotiropoulos. We wanted this return and that way it’s much better…

Yes, I think that George’s voice suits better the style you want to convey …
… And I think the last four to five years that we are together, especially the trio Nick, George and I, the chemistry between us is amazing, because apart from the band we are very good friends and all this comes out. Apart from that, the last change of line-up is Gerasimos – Jerry Cobra, who is very good and very strong and gave new air in the band. Unfortunately, we could not continue with our previous drummer, George Sotiropoulos, due to financial and other obligations. We could not see this move badly as we are still very good pals, but we had to somehow continue because the band had already speeded up…

I see there is already sufficient production of new material…
… There are 8-9 songs ready, we go full speed for the new record and Jerry was the kiss of life for the group this year.

You actually caught my next question. You released a full – length album in 2003 and the next one came in 2011, so we’re talking about a quite long time. I wanted to ask you if you have plans for something new. As I saw on the internet, you perform new pieces and you released a demo (“Night’s Gone”, 2012)
And you will listen to many new songs today (Mind Over Metal Fest 27-12-2014). We perform oftenly these tracks, we promote fairly our new material and I would say that is something completely different from what we’ve done so far. The music, of course, is pure heavy metal, i.e. catchy tracks with their double solos etc. and influenced by the NWOBHM – this genre is our life as well – but there are other tracks that give a whole new personality to the band. We have darker songs, slower and some more in a commercial heavy metal phase, I would say. All pieces are completely different from each other and I think that completes us.

We got a glimpse of “The Night’s Gone”. Will these pieces be on the new album?
They surely will be, will be!

As for now, the live performances. I saw that this year you went to Cyprus festival (Power of the Night IX) …
Yes, we played in Cyprus and was AMAZING, without a doubt! Cyprus reminded me of Greece in ’04 -’05, even ’06, that hellish three years, when heavy metal stood up from the underground again. There, the children are all fanatics; you see young ages having mad skills on the underground.

Did people support this act?
We had a great audience. It was a crazy response, which I did not expect and I think we made one of the best live performances our lives. On that gig we performed with the drummer of Erase, Kostas Christodoulou, who helped us and played very well and on his part he helped our appearance to go well. Honestly, I did not expect such a response, the kids were amazing.

I also read the relevant reportage and I thought you had a perfect night…
Yeah, it was really great! Bad – ass at full speed.

What other places abroad have you visited? – Cyprus doesn’t count as “abroad”.
We have travelled abroad earlier, during the promotion of our first album. We played in Germany … and Keep it True; we have also played in Milan 1.5 to 2 years ago… We have some experience.

Are there any plans following the new album?
At this time, after our next gig, which will be a milestone for us, we want to give our best, because we owe it to Trikala. Unfortunately last year, even though we came, we had an accident with our drummer and we were unable to present a regular live show, so now we want to give it all like there’s no tomorrow. Beyond that, however, we would like to get down to new ideas, as we need to work on them all over again, as we have a new drummer and it’s urgent for us to release our third album.
We scheduled gig, of course, for March. We’re the opening act for Swedish Wolf in Kyttaro – which I, incidentally, think is the best live scene, in Greece. Perhaps along with 8ball in Thessaloniki.

I agree too. Very good sound and nice atmosphere…
Yes, people are amazing…

Moving on, then, in last year’s concert (en Mind Over Metal V). Although you had the problem you mentioned, even with four pieces performed, mayhem reigned… The world did not let you get off the stage.
Yes, it was hell. Wait to see what will happen this time.

You raise our expectations. I do not think I should worry.
Not at all! We are always relaxed.

I will now open a section on Papakosta’s field. Metal from Hellas, which I watched when it was released. I found it very worthwhile effort.
It is an amazing work for the documentary standards of that time; it’s everything we could wish for. For a student work, it is fully – realized. Sure, of course, some things could be done otherwise.

Personally in discussions online and irl, I heard much grumbling as to where and to who the importance was raised… unjustifiably in my opinion.
Within the time period this work was rolling, Nick really did wonders. Undeniably. I think it is a milestone for the data of Greek Metal scene. Hopefully at some point God will help him, (because I think it’s amazing what he does, everything he does, either with the bands, either as a producer) to continue to create. He has the ability and the desire to make the best metal productions in Greece right now. This person’s passion is unimaginable… he lives for heavy metal.

Generally, I think this applies to you, as well. I just want to personally ask you for your opinion on why there is this jealousy by many. That is, I would expect everybody to support all such efforts.
I think there was grumbling for the doc because I think that, as Nick himself had admitted, it had shortcomings, in honor of course, because it shows a man modest and humble in what he does. Apart form that, there were definitely some elements missing mainly from the extreme phase, which is very well developed in our country…

But certainly it wasn’t something aiming in making money, as it was a part of a thesis…
… Twenty minutes before we came here, in the area, we hang out at home for a beer, to eat and relax and we put the film to make our mood

Well, that’s all from me. You may send any message you want to magazine readers. Some omission maybe.
No, everything was super, certainly. Beyond that, we wish you every success. All i want is to know that what you do, you choose to do it with real love. Stubbornly. Do not hesitate on anything and keep it loud. In Greece there is a need to promote heavy metal, especially classic heavy metal – as other bands are promoted abroad. I see there is a foreign-fobia, on anything Swedish or German.

Okay, we are talking about full support there …
And yet it is our mistake, since the Greek scene consists of amazing bands, with great variety. Each band is different, has a personal style, and it is a unique element to the scene. In contrast, of course, many of the aforementioned, which are extremely promoted and some are lead into exaggeration. For example, in the Swedish scene, many things look alike or in the German one, you will find countless mediocrities and I won’t count my words. Why shouldn’t we be united to support our scene and what is to come out, it will come out. It will stand.

Thank you, Theo, for your time. I wish you a good performance!
I should thank the magazine. It’s our honor!