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lunedì 30 aprile 2012
Translation: Dope Fiend
Yiannis Poussios - Vocals
Dennis Kostopoulos - Guitars
Chris Kissadjekian - Bass
Manos Giakoumakis - Drums
In 2011 the Greek underground scene gave us the return of the doom metal band Infidel with "King Of Cynical Control" which we reviewed. Let's know them better.
Hi guys and welcome on Aristocrazia Webzine, am I wrong or the doom/stoner scene is really florid in Greece in these years?
Yiannis: Hello Gabriele! I’m Yiannis, the singer of the band. You’re right about Greece, but not 100%... You see, stoner rock is really popular here, and there are a lot of people going to gigs of Greek stoner bands, older or newer ones. Stoner rock has become quite a trend in my country over the last 10 years, especially among people who don’t necessarily define themselves as "metalheads". However, this is not the case with doom metal. There are not that many doom bands in Greece, and the majority of the metal fans are not really interested in this kind of music.
You have been active for more than a decade, how did you start? Who are Infidel today and how did you arrive to what you are today?
The idea to form a band came to me and Manos (our drummer) one night at a bar, under the influence of serious amounts of Havana Club rum. The first person we approached was Chris (our bass player) who was a long time friend of ours. The first rehearsal we ever did took place on September 2000, and for some time we had a problem finding a permanent guitar player until 2002, when we found Dennis. Since then the line-up of the band remains the same.
I didn't have the pleasure of listening to your debut "I, Oathbreaker" but reading something about it and listening to "King Of Cynical Control", can we define the latter as an evolution of the first?
"King Of Cynical Control" is definitely an evolution of our debut album. I mean, “I, Oathbreaker” sounds more like a standard doom/stoner record with a few different elements here and there, whereas "King Of Cynical Control" features a more complex songwriting and a more unique music style. I believe that in "King Of Cynical Control" we managed to combine our influences more effectively than we did in "I, Oathbreaker". However, if one listens to both albums, he can surely understand that they were done by the same band.
Your sound is heavily inspired by Candlemass and the masters of the genre (Black Sabbath). How do you approach to this "retrò" but still relevant sound? How do you avoid the problem of sounding too much "standard"?
The answer to these questions, according to my personal opinion, lies in the fact that Infidel is not an 100% doom metal band. I call our style "all things heavy", and of course there are a lot of doom influences in our music, but you can also hear some death metal, prog metal, heavy rock, in addition to some elements that have no relation to metal music whatsoever. I know that my voice reminds of Messiah Marcolin and Ozzy (I would never try to hide this fact), but on the other hand, our guitar player, Dennis, is not a doom fan. He’s more into bands like Meshuggah, Voivod, Celtic Frost, Death, Pantera, Paradise Lost etc. (he’s also a member of the Greek prog/death band Acid Death), he likes fusion and flamenco music, so even when he plays a slow, heavy doomy riff, he sounds quite different than the guitarist of a "standard" doom/stoner metal band. Generally, all members of Infidel have different music influences from one another, that’s why we don’t sound too much "standard".
You built your songs basing them on the ambience and melodies. How do you write your songs? And how do you write the lyrics for them?
We write all our songs during our rehearsals. One of us (it’s usually Dennis, he-heh!) may bring an idea, a certain riff or a melody, and then we start jamming based on this idea until we end up with a satisfying result. Of course, this process takes a lot of time; there are songs that took us almost 2 years to write (I mean, their final version). However, in this way the songwriting process is really enjoyable for us, and that’s the reason why we formed Infidel in the first place: to have a good time playing music! Now, about the lyrics, I write all of them since I’m the best English speaking member of the band, ha-hah! During rehearsals I find the vocal melodies that fit in with the rest of the music, together with some “strong” phrases that burst into my mind while I sing. When a song is finished in terms of music, then I try to find the words that match best with the vocal melodies and make some kind of sense at the same time.
Did you made any jam session during the recordings? Is it right to say that there are parts in which we can feel very much freedom like if only instinct led you?
Since our songs are the products of jamming in our rehearsals, we didn’t need to jam any more during the recordings. By the time we entered the recording studio in the summer of 2009, we had done writing all our songs and the only thing that we changed a bit was one or two guitar solos.
The cover of Eurythmics' "Here Comes The Rain Again" is really unpredictable, no one expects this interesting experiment. Who had the idea? And how did you decide this song?
Well, the idea for this cover was mine. When I listened to a slow, kind of trip-hop remix of that song, I thought that it would be interesting for Infidel to do a cover version and "adjust" it in doom metal terms. I believe that we did a good job, it’s quite different and longer than the original song.
In your opinion, why is the doom scene still coherent and less influenced by trends like in death and black metal?
I believe that this is happening because doom is a metal genre which depends more on the "right feeling" than technique. No matter how technically competent is one musician, he won’t play good doom metal if he or she can’t bring out this special "vibe", this feeling that cannot really be described with words, but makes the listener feel stunned, in awe. Maybe it’s what Al Cisneros (Sleep, Om, Shrinebuilder) described as "Iommic and Wagneric". It’s not just playing slow, delivering crushingly heavy riffs combined with melancholic melodies or a tripped-out mood... It’s not just about low-tuned guitars, power chords and vibratos, massive bass and pounding drums... or just singing about sad/dark themes, the occult or horror movies. It’s all these together, but even more it’s about loving what you do, playing from your heart and soul and not just using your mind. And when you do that, you’re less likely to be influenced by trends.
Does the "pay to play" phenomenon exists in your nation too or is it just a fucking Italian habit?
Well, I’m not really sure what do you mean with "pay to play"... If you mean that local bands have to pay the venue in order to play live, yes, this is often the case with Greece too. And it really sucks!!! However, due to the economic crisis, the whole thing has started to change a bit, especially with smaller venues. If 2 or 3 Greek underground bands want to put on a gig together with free entrance, then it’s not that difficult for them anymore to find a small club and play there. The owner will provide the place for free, and even pay for the backline in some cases, if he feels that there will be enough people in the gig to make him profit from the drinks and beers. However, if we’re talking about bigger, more "professional" venues with a capacity around 1000 people, then "pay to play" is the fucking rule.
How did you get in touch with metal? Which are the albums, live shows and personalities of this world that changed your life?
Fuck, this is a pain in the ass! I’m 42 years old and I’ve been listening to metal since I was 10, so it’s really difficult to choose. I listen to all kinds of metal except for all that power/symphonic shit which sounds like Eurovision-pop music with "heavy" guitars; this is not real metal to me. Anyway, the first album I ever bought was "Led Zeppelin IV" and it really changed my life for ever! I’m also a huge Black Sabbath fan, and their first six albums are something like the soundtrack of my life. As for live shows, the first one that I ever went to was Saxon back in 1986, and it was a mind blowing-experience! However, I still listen to a lot of music and every good band or album that I listen, changes my life a little bit for the better. Recently I listened to "Sorrow And Extinction", the first album of Pallbearer, and I was astonished. Amazing doom metal from USA! There are also two great Greek doom bands that you can check out: Universe217 & Agnes Vein.
Does the economic and politic situation of your nation is influencing the organization of events and the spreading of physical releases? Will these recession times give advantage to digital music which someone better?
Well, the economic crisis in Greece has surely affected music. When people don’t have enough money to support themselves and their families, they are not going to buy CDs or go to live shows; it’s a luxury they can’t afford. That’s why they download music from the internet, even though free downloading is supposed to be illegal. However this was happening to a large extent even before the economic crisis. Personally, I’m not against free downloading. For example, I prefer someone to download "King Of Cynical Control" than not to listen to it at all. On the other hand, we have reached a point where people download more music than they can actually listen to. Do we really need this?
If you could send a message to the European Parliament, what would you tell to the politics which are killing our nations?
I would tell them that real life is not the market economy, and people’s lives are not numerical figures. I guess they already know that, but they don’t give a shit; they only care about money.
Let's talk about live shows. In the past you played together with Alabama Thunderpussy, Orange Goblin and Grand Magus, tell us your memories of these shows. Also, would you like to tell us some anecdotes of those times?
We have also played with Cathedral (2 times) and Trouble. Supporting all these bands was a great honour for us, and we really had a great time doing so. Unfortunately, I don’t really have any funny stories to tell you, except from the fact that Ben Ward of Orange Goblin is a heavy drinking bastard, ha-hah! Lee Dorrian (Cathedral) is also a really cool guy, a dedicated music fan and a real gentleman, but I knew him before I started playing with Infidel...
How did you support the release of "King Of Cynical Control"? Did you make a mini-tour? Will you make any other show, both in and outside Greece?
Up to now we’ve played 3 live shows in Athens since the release of the album. We’re going for sure to play in some other Greek cities as well throughout the year, but outside Greece... I really don’t know. I mean, we would love to go and play live in any other country, but in order to do so someone has to invite us, right? I know for sure that it would be extremely difficult for us to do even a small European tour, because it requires expenses that we can’t really afford, but if a promoter would like to invite us for a small number of shows in a certain country, we would really think about it. I think that this is the case with any other underground band, isn’t it?
How would it be your perfect live show?
Headlining Roadburn Festival would be the ideal Infidel live show. I know that this is too much to ask, but dreams are for free, right?
If you could organize a festival which bands would you choose? You can say splitted-up bands too.
Well, take a deep breath... Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Ozzy, Slayer, Celtic Frost, Death, Morbid Angel, Bolt Thrower, Entombed, Voivod, Coroner, Paradise Lost, Carcass, Soundgarden, Napalm Death, Candlemass, Cathedral, The Obsessed, My Dying Bride, Shrinebuilder, Om, Goatsnake, Neurosis, Opeth, Hooded Menace, Dodheimsgard, Mercyful Fate, Mastodon, The Mars Volta, System Of A Down, The Tea Party, Trouble, Blue Oyster Cult, Faith No More, Dillinger Escape Plan, Isis, Clutch, The Devil’s Blood, Oranssi Pazuzu, Pallbearer, Deathspell Omega (even if they don’t play live)... and Infidel of course, ha-hah!!!! This would be the ultimate festival of all times! The fest to end all fests!!!
Are you already writing new stuff? Any news about a future album?
Well, we are constantly writing new stuff. When we don’t have to practice for a certain live show, we enter the rehearsal room at least once a week and jam on new ideas for about 3-4 hours. This is the essence of Infidel’s existence: the joy of creation, four friends combining their needs for expression into one creative path. That’s why we always working on new ideas; we enjoy ourselves by doing so. There are no news about a third album yet, because right now we have to focus on supporting "King of Cynical Control", but you can say that we have already started working on new material and we will continue to do so, even if there’s not going to be a third album at all, ha-hah!
What would you wish for your future?
Just to be able to continue playing music with Infidel and record another album, sometime in the near future. That’s all.
Thanks for the time spent with us, the last message for our readers is up to you.
Thank you very much for this interview. If you want to check "King Of Cynical Control", you can visit our Bandcamp page: infidelgr.bandcamp.com, and there you can listen to the entire album streaming and read the lyrics as well. Our website is www.infidel.gr and if you’re interested to contact Infidel, send us a message to the following address: infidel_band[at]yahoo.gr.
Cheers, and... DOOM OR BE DOOMED!
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