Interview with Sakis Tolis (vocals, guitar)
Interview conducted by Michel Renaud
Date online: March 11, 2010
Michel: I just finished reviewing Aealo and I must say it's a very impressive album. Why did you decide to make a concept album this time around, and could you explain the overall theme of Aealo?
Sakis: Really? Did our new output talk to your soul? If yes that make my day because this is my goal as a composer. And yes, Aealo is a concept album about the feelings of a warrior during a battle. Weird feelings, strange feelings, feelings like the feeling of anger, the feeling of fear. the feeling of grief and so many other vibrations that a warrior can experience during a battle. Listening to the album you will feel that you are in the middle of a battlefield and you are fighting against your feelings. No it is not a war-like album...I think the opposite. When you end up listening to it, you feel relieved, you will feel like you escaped from the trials that only a war can create!
Michel: You used a traditional Greek choir on the album. Was it difficult to bring these people on board your project, Rotting Christ being a black metal band and all...?
Sakis: Yes quite difficult. I really searched a lot in order to find out choirs that are specialized in those lament songs that have their roots back in ancient Greece history, and when I did find them I made the proposal. The ladies were shocked at the beginning because they had nothing to do with extreme music and satanic music in general. They were shocked with our name at the beginning but after explaining my ideas things changed and we came up with a really productive cooperation, singing the melodies I had written for them.
Michel: You have guest appearances by members of Necromantia, Primordial and also Diamanda Galas on the album. Was this planned right from the start, or did you write the songs and told yourself "hey, it would be great to have such and such on this song"?
Sakis: We had several appearances on this album, and not only two. Specifically, experimental artists that are friends of mine and who I have personal connection with. When I was finishing up a song I was thinking which artist could lift up each song and I came up with the above. I really want to thank them, their appearance they made Aealo even more interesting.
We had the following participations on the following songs: Diamanda Galas on "Orders from the Dead", Alan Nemtheanga (Primordial) on "Thou Art Lord", Magus Wampyr Daoloth (Necromantia) on "Nekron Iahes", Stavros (Dirty Grandy Tales) on "Thou Art Lord" and "Fire Death and Fear", Spiros and Efi (Daemoneia Nymphe) on "Demonon Vrosis", Pleiades (Greek traditional choir specialized in lament songs) on "Aealon", "dub-sag-ta-ke", "Fire Death and Fear", "Santa Muerte" and "Orders from the Dead."
Alan is a Metal Brother of mine and when I was composing the song "Thou Art Lord", I said to myself that his voice would fit very well with the atmosphere of the song. So I asked him and he accepted. Working with Alan is a pleasure...And yes...it is the first time that you can hear the English accent in Rotting Christ music!!!!!!!!!
As for Diamanda It was a great honor for me that mistress of darkness Diamanda Galas aproved on covering her song " Orders from the Dead" and especially that agreed to let me write music for this that of course belongs to her. It was one of my highlights as a composer! Check it out. It is one of the most soulful songs!
Michel: "Nekron Iahes..." and "Orders From the Dead" really stand out as different on Aealo, and by coincidence are also the shortest and longest tracks. They are the two that I found myself skipping on occasion (sorry!), yet when you take the album as a whole, they somehow fit – it's a feeling I'm having a hard time explaining. What exactly is the "role" of these tracks on the album?
Sakis: Yes the reason was to connect the whole album's concept and even if the song "Nekron Iahes..." doesn't stand alone it definitely connect the album's concept. The song "Orders from the Dead" I won't agree with you. Please do me a favor: Turn off the lights and listen to this song, get into it and you will realize that it is maybe one of the most soulful songs you have ever heard.
Michel: Theogonia already had a bit of the Greek/folk aspect, and Aealo takes that a few steps further. Even though one can still here some black-ish guitar work, the album doesn't feel like a black metal album. Are you steering away from the... "lyrical idea" of black metal, or is that something you'll get back to in the future?
Sakis: Aealo is the child of Theogonia. Thegonia put Rotting Christ in a new era and Aealo continued it. Yes maybe Rotting Christ doesn't sound that satanic anymore but they sound more aggressive and more METAL than ever. Still you can feel this dark atmosphere and even if we do not sound exactly like in the past we keep our occult roots – Something that I find logical for a band that have been around since the late 80's and have released 11 albums! Who knows about the future? Maybe we will be back more satanic than ever. You know being the only composer of the band I can say that I am this anxious person that always find new horizons for my band. I am really anxious so maybe I can come up with something like this in the future...Who knows?
Michel: Aealo sounds like a fine-tuned, very mature and complex piece of work. How long was it in the making (songwriting-wise)?
Sakis: It is common knowledge that every good album can hardly be surpassed...So that filled me with stress and I will not hide also a little touch of insecurity! As an artist I had to surpass my abilities. So I took the composition process really seriously and I isolated myself for more than a year in order to find a way to unexplored paths of my soul. I worked differently this time. I was focused more on the thoughts and less on playing guitar. I philosophized a lot, I didn't sleep much and I finally came up with Aealo. An album that I want to believe will bring the band a step up and based on the first feedback we've had, I think that we did manage to create our most mature album
Michel: What are the touring plans for the album? Are you going to avoid playing the songs that require the choirs, or will you use samplings during the shows? Or maybe you'd like to bring the choir on a road trip. ;)
Sakis: Rotting Christ cannot exist if they do not tour, so right after its release we start up our worldwide tour performing in every corner of this planet that a metal hearts beats and we will definitely include songs from our new album and especially those songs with the choirs.
Michel: A little "local" question: I saw you guys in Ottawa (Canada) back in 2007. Any chance of stopping by again on the tour? Should I start harassing the local promoter? :)
Sakis: Fuck...we did two American tours after Ottawa and nobody booked for us Ottawa again even though we had packed the venue. Really I do not know why. Yes, go ahead with the harassment my friend. We should pass through your town soon because the show there ruled! Even if we froze our asses from the terrible cold! Too much cold for us!
Michel: Are you guys still having a hard time because of the name Rotting Christ? I seem to recall one story where you had to back out of a festival because Dave Mustaine wouldn't play on the same bill, and there were other stories in the past as well.
Sakis: Yes we are still facing problem with our name; canceling some shows, receiving threats etc... but we keep on going in the name of freedom...In the name that everyone has the right to believe what he wants and to express it through art (the only safe shelter for any kind of ideas). Rotting Christ should be a punch to any conservative idea like this and if Dave doesn't believe it, we will not care. We will keep on walking on the left hand path.
Michel: What's next for the band? Already at work on the next album, or will you first do a bit of touring before thinking about the next opus?
Sakis: Noooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!! No more compositions please... I have to refresh my mind, I have to search myself and if I have something new to say I will come up with a new album. Meanwhile I will be concentrating on the shows. I have to trip together with all metal fans around.
Michel: That's all I have for now, thanks for your time! The last words are yours...
Sakis: Keep the spirit alive, brothers and sisters! See you soon in your town. 'Till then... Keep the horns rising.
Sakis on behalf of Rotting Christ.
|Other information about Rotting Christ on this site|
|Review: Passage to Arcturo|
|Review: The Heretics|
|Review: Thy Mighty Contract|
|Review: Duality of the Unholy Existence|
|Interview with Sakis Tolis on January 20, 2013 (Interviewed by D "Chris" Carter)|
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