Speaking with a very favorite artist of mine, Magnus Ekwall, the vocalist of The Quill from Mönsterås Sweden, is an opportunity which does not happen very often. This time, we had a chat about the band’s new album “Earthrise” and other topics as well. Personally, I consider Magnus one of the best hard rock singers from Sweden, and it’s really a pity that the band cannot play live right now, so that we can listen to their new material but also to their old classics. Magnus is speaking to you, the readers of Myth Of Rock from his house in Mönsterås. I hope you enjoy it!

by Antonis Mantzavinos


Hello Magnus! I would like to start by asking how you are doing and how this almost one year of the terrible pandemic has affected you both musically and personally.

At the moment I feel like shit, been hospitalized for a week but hopefully getting better. Of course, it has been a different year in many, many ways. Personally, I miss meeting my friends and relatives when I want to. Music wise it has been a different year too. Since we cannot rehearse like before we have tried to write over the computer so to say. The others are sending me riffs or part of songs and I try to figure out melodies and record them at home in my basement. This is not the way we usually write music but I kind of like it. I have a few songs ready for what hopefully will be the next The Quill album.


“Earthrise” is about to be released in a few days. How does it feel to be back in action with the band releasing a new album? It’s been four years since “Born from Fire”.
It feels fine that the album finally is released. It was first set to be out in July 2020, so it has been a long wait for us. Four years is a long time, and it was not our intention to wait that long for a follow up to “Born From Fire”. With no gigs or touring we decided to put some effort in doing videos for three of the songs instead.

Give us a bit of background from the writing process for “Earthrise”. When was it recorded, your contribution to the record and any characteristic moments when you were writing/recording it?

The songs on Earthrise were all written before the pandemic and we started the recording process around Christmas 2019 and finished it late spring last year. It took a while, but we had no reason to rush things. The studio we used is close to where we live so we did it in several sessions over a long period of time. I write all the melodies and all the lyrics; I have always done that in The Quill. We kind of jam parts of songs or riffs in our rehearsal room and suddenly we got a song. This process takes a bit of time but that´s the way we do it. All four of us are active during the writing process. We recorded a bunch of songs that never made the album. Among them a couple of covers and songs in Swedish, we have some plans for them, but we will see what happens.

Listening to the record, I have noticed influences and references from/to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and/or Uriah Heep. Could you give us your opinion about how you guys wanted to make it sound like? What was your intention or thoughts?
We wanted to get the feeling we had when writing and recording “Silver Haze” in the late 90s. Back then we just wrote without any intensions at all, just had a laugh. I don´t know if it ended up like we wanted. Since we recorded many songs, we decided to make an album with all kind of different songs, slow, fast, heavy and so on.

How did you first meet with the rest of the band and how was The Quill formed back in the 90s? Additionally, how does it feel to be the same band after so many years?

I have always known Christian; we grew up in the same neighborhood. They called themselves Quil back then and needed a singer back in 1989 and we started to write some songs. We wanted a more 70s sound and it took us a few years to find the right vibe. When Roger entered the band in 1993, we found the last piece of the puzzle and started to plan for what was to become our first album. As you know I left the band back in 2007, I have had enough, and it just was not fun anymore. One day back in like 2015 Christian asked me if I could sing when they were doing a KISS cover gig at a local pub. We rehearsed and of course we tried a few old Quill tunes and suddenly Christian had a riff and I had a melody and so it went on until we had five songs we recorded. It was never a planned come back for me, but the wheels just kept turning and here we are today. Of course, the band means a lot to me and is a huge part of my life.

 

Back to “Earthrise” now: in the press release for the album, you have noted that ‘the lyrics deal with different types of alienation which I see as a rising problem in the world today’. Would you like to elaborate more on that and what specific challenges you see taking place?
I really don´t like to talk about my lyrics but it seems that I always have to because people want to know. I don´t take my lyrics too seriously, I see it more like a painting, I paint the song with words. Mainly they are about the somewhat cold world we live in today but there is also lyrics about addiction like in “Keep On Moving” and “Left Brain Blues” touches the subject diagnoses like ADHD.

What is the story behind the futuristic cover of “Earthrise”? Whose idea was it and what are the symbolisms behind? Are earth and humanity already under attack? And what are the messages behind that, in association with the lyrics of course.
The cover is made by Sebastian Jerke who also did the “Born From Fire” cover. I send him my lyrics and he kind of comes up with a few ideas and we send them back and forth until we are all satisfied. There is no message or intentions with the cover, just a cool piece of art that reflects the songs on the album.

What is the first thing that you currently miss and would like to do as soon as the pandemic ends? I could guess but I wanted your opinion, ha, ha!
Of course playing live again, miss that. Otherwise just meeting friends and family again, the way it was before the pandemic. I am not a social person, I like to be by myself at home so that is not a problem for me, but I can understand people getting frustrated when forced to stay at home, it is not good for your mental health.

Tell us a bit about your music upbringing since you were a child. Who were your music idols, bands and also who have influenced you more as a singer and artist all those years?
My mother loved music! She was a great piano- and accordion player, she always played and inspired me a lot. My dad was into big band jazz and had a great stereo set-up which I used a lot. I have recordings of me singing “Hot Love” by T-REX must have been around five years old. The first real vinyl record I bought was Nazareth – “Hair of the Dog” and I still have it in my collection. Also had Sweet – “Desolation Boulevard” and Aerosmith – “Get Your Wings” on cassette. Started to play guitar in a local band when I was around twelve, but I never had the patient to practice enough so later I became a singer. When I was a teenager, I loved Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio and I still do.

Speaking about your influences, do you have any specific Swedish artists, bands that you admire mostly and consider them as your influences while growing up?
Not really, but I grew up with ABBA. You just couldn´t escape them, they were everywhere. I like them better today than I did back then. I was really into Ebba Grön for a while, bought their first singles, played in a punk band called Suicide. I had a friend who had older brothers and we used to listen to their Nationalteatern and Motvind albums.

Do you currently listen to music and if yes, any particular artists, old or new? And also, do you prefer listening to albums through the vinyl player or you are a fan of Spotify etc?
I love vinyl, think I was the last person in this town to buy a CD player. I never got rid of my vinyl records which many of my friends did. I use Spotify mostly in my car but if I hear something, I like I buy the vinyl. I listen to old seventies rock mainly, Sabbath, Zeppelin, Humble Pie, Faces and that kind of bands. I listen to some stoner rock; I like the latest Psychlona album for instance and Freedom Hawk and Orchid. But I am quite broad in my taste of music and can listen to Emmylou Harris and Bob Dylan as well.

Any special message to your fans?

I wish that The Quill someday will be able to play Greece, never done that. Thanks for the support!


 

 

Leaving Tomorrow is a Greek band, which is merging different musical elements (rock, folk, jazz, classical) and comes with an outstanding mixture, so intriguing for every fan of good music. Myth of Rock, excited with the band’s latest album (“Morningdom”), interviewed Alexandros Doutsis (guitar, vocals), who spoke in behalf of the band. Read Alexandros’ answers and you will understand how serious Leaving Tomorrow is.

by Dimitris Zacharopoulos


Give us a short biography of Leaving Tomorrow.

The band was formed in late 2002 and soon after we played our first gig. After a few more gigs and breaks, we rehearsed and recorded our debut, self-titled album, which came out in 2009.  A few gigs later we went through some personnel changes and finally in 2015 the current line-up got together and began rehearsing for the new album, which was recorded two years later.

You released your latest album in December 2020. Which are your feelings for this release?

We’re happy it’s out and hope people will enjoy the music and find something useful in terms of music and life philosophy in it.

Where would you trace the differences between “Morningdom” and your previous albums?

Although the instrumentation and approach is similar, there are elements in the music, which are either new or emphasized. The playing is a little different as well as the overall sound. Also, the first one was a concept album that was more like a story with twelve different chapters, whereas this one has more thematic sections under a general concept.

Why did you name the new album “Morningdom”? Which is the lyrical concept of the new songs?

It’s a symbolic “place”, where enlightenment occurs. The words describe the struggle of overcoming one’s misconceptions and acquiring a healthier philosophy of life.

How is a Leaving Tomorrow song composed?

Traditionally, more or less. You get a good idea or two and expand on them. You then fit the instruments and words to the music and strive for the best.

How would you describe the music of Leaving Tomorrow? Do you agree with the definition “progressive heavy rock”?

Progressive as a way of thinking yes, but not as a style. Sometimes it does get heavy but it’s not heavy by definition. I bet that if you listened to a performance of this music with different instrumentation/orchestration, you might not even classify it as “rock”.

Which are your musical influences? Apart from heavy rock, do you also like folk, jazz and classical music?

Lots of stuff. From folk to classical, jazz, rock, metal, electronic, ambient and everything in between.

You have both songs with lyrics and instrumental songs. Which is more fun for you?

They’re both equally satisfying. The lyrics add an extra dimension to the pieces, because you can read and hear them and, thus, they affect your impression of the music quite dramatically, while the instrumental pieces keep the focus on the instruments and sounds all of the time. 

There is a vintage feeling in your songs. Is this on purpose or accidentally?

I’m not sure what vintage means in terms of music, it is ever going. Our music is coming from the past, naturally, but is not purposefully attached to it. There’s not much merit in just repeating what has already been said, many times before, without adding something new to it.

There is also something bittersweet, a joyful sadness in your music. Do you agree with me? Why does this happen?

That would be a feeling best described in Greek as “χαρμολύπη”. However, it is hard to put into words, so we try to communicate it through music. It’s a quite natural feeling and you know it as soon as it’s there.

“Morningdom” was self-released. Why don't you cooperate with a record label?

We tried, but the ones we were in contact with didn’t give us a good deal, so we decided to go on and release it ourselves. Furthermore, record labels are not what they used to be and their importance in the remains of this industry has been greatly diminished. We, finally, believe in DIY processes and healthy music utopias.

Apart from melodies and feelings, your music has a great technique. How difficult is it for you to balance between technique and feelings?

Technique is just the tool, which helps you express what you want to express. If you acquire it just for the sake of it, it limits your intentions and actions. If you use it to get something through, then it is essential.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected you personally and musically?

It actually influenced, not affected, us (cause we believe that no coronavirus pandemic can regulate our personal emotions; we are responsible for them, at the individual level). So, we had to postpone some of our plans and some of our activities became rather difficult to maintain.  At the same time it is a good opportunity for our societies to reflect and begin to reorganize, mentally first of all, but structurally too.

Are you going to tour in support of the new album? How important are live gigs for Leaving Tomorrow?

We’d love to, but the current situation does not favor long-term planning. We’d like to start playing gigs as soon as it is made possible, because it is very important for us to be able to perform in front of an audience and interact with it. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.

With great pleasure, we heard the news that Lake of Tears return with a new album, ten years after the release of “Illwill”. That was a warm feeling for us, the fans: a feeling that occurs when a good old friend, whom we haven’t met for ages, appears again. We’re happy that Daniel Brennare, the band’s composer and only remaining founding member, is active again. Daniel released an introspective and personal album, narrating his own journey, the difficult path he had to follow through darkness. Myth of Rock interviewed Daniel, who sincerely shared with us what “Ominous” means for him. However, our conversation expanded to other territories, even Schopenhauer and ancient Greek philosophers, since Daniel was openhearted indeed! Myth of Rock wishes the best of luck to this polite and strong man.

by Alex Nikolaidis


Lake of Tears release a new album after ten years. How would you describe the music of “Ominous”? 

I would like to describe it from what I have heard from other people. It’s very varied and dark, but still metal / rock in the base. I already heard that some people cannot listen to it because it’s too dark for them. There’s a sad story in there, so it’s definitely a kind of sad and dark record. What’s most important for me is that those who listen to it, should listen from the beginning to the end, because it’s a whole adventure. You cannot listen to just separate songs; every song depends on the others.

So, is “Ominous” somehow a concept album, a story that unfolds from the first to the last track?

Yes, it’s a kind of concept. I’d rather call it a story, but you can call it a concept as well.

Lake of Tears were always a band that made experimentations with their music. All the albums differ: some of them are heavier and explicitly doom, while others have a more progressive/psychedelic orientation. Is “Ominous” an experimental album as well?

Yes. I think you can say that in every song I have written (maybe not the first ones in the beginning of the 90s) I experiment with new things. I never wanted to write the same song again and again. I always try to find something new at least.

There’s an evident dark and gothic atmosphere in the album. At the same time, some melodies remind me of “Forever Autumn”, while the doom orientation of “Headstones” is also lurking somewhere. How difficult is it to find balance between these different elements?

Usually, I don’t think so much about balance. I just write what I feel like writing. It’s about what comes in life. Every day is a different day. Finding balance is one aspect only and in this record, I must say it was quite difficult. I’ve been working on this for many years and actually I spent quite a lot of time on many small details, much more time than any record before.

What does “Ominous” mean for you? Is it in a way special or unique compared to previous albums of Lake of Tears?

This record is very special for me. Every record I have composed is unique, but this one was “extra special”. It comes from my own story, some really heavy moments in my life. Everything started when I was diagnosed with chronical leukemia. After some years, with all the treatment and pharmaceutical stuff I received, I got really depressed. I was feeling quite down for a very long time. I wanted to find something, some light in the darkness. So, this record was exactly that path for me: to write music, tell a story, try to fit all the pieces together. It was a very therapeutical work. In this way, it’s my most special record so far.

Therefore, did the making of “Ominous” comfort you? Was it a way of overcoming your problems?

In some way, yes. There was something to think about. I’m really grateful for having something like that to hold onto, because I think other people who are in the same situation don’t have that choice probably. They go nuts or kill themselves. It was very good for me to have a goal.

Is “Ominous” a message to people who struggle that they should leave their problems behind through creativity?

This is a nice way to think about it. It was good for me. Of course, if it can be useful to other people as well, I would be very happy. It would mean even more for me.

Actually, this I my personal perception of the album. It’s a story of a man who wants to feel better and survive. That is how I see your music.

That’s nice. Not everybody sees it that way. It’s quite difficult for some people to understand this.

Let’s return to the music now. Are there any evident influences in “Ominous”?

I think there are. Most of my musical influences are in here. But I haven’t really thought so much about them. I’m more used to exploring what’s in the back of my head. I don’t really listen to something and then make my music sound like that. Of course, I use all the available tools because I play for thirty years now. I have composed many songs and riffs. Some bands can be heard in the album and AFM Records refers to them in the press release, like Sisters of Mercy, Pink Floyd and even David Bowie (I’m not really a Bowie fan). I have used musical influences, but not in a very concrete way; they have been mainly in the back of my head. Also, influences that appealed to me for this record are ancient Greeks, like Pythagoras, Plato and Socrates. I found their thoughts very interesting to use them in the record. Even Nikola Tesla, a person of modern times who is quite popular nowadays, has some great ideas about sounds and frequencies that I’ve used. I also must say that Schopenhauer is my greatest inspiration. He’s not a musician, but he has written a lot about musical stuff and I really like his ideas.

So, does your music depict, in a sense, some of Schopenhauer’s logic and ideas?

Maybe not directly. I remember when I read Schopenhauer for the first time. He has written quite a lot about how music, a noble art, can get the human brain to a certain place directly, while science cannot do this. You can learn a lot of things from science, but with music you can cross over into another dimension. These feelings have been very important for me, helping me to find something more inside the music. They were a big comfort, when I was feeling sad: trying to find music, vibrations or frequencies that somehow glowed into my brain with certain waves. Someone may think they’re absurd and not real, but they’ve been very real for me and I really liked that. All this is an interesting territory; it’s on the edge of something normal and something magical or mythical.

Let’s talk about “Ominous” again. Are there other musicians who helped you with the recording process?

Yes. Vesa, a good friend of mine for many years, played the bass. Christian Silver, who works in the studio, played the drums. He’s a very good drummer indeed. Lars played upright bass in the bonus track. The four of us did the recording. There were also Manne and Christian’s son in the studio who were helping, mainly with the recording and other stuff.

The music of Lake of Tears has evolved over the years. The band always gave me a sense of freedom, a sense of defying genres and labels. Was it difficult for you to break the boundaries of a specific genre and make something that probably wouldn’t be appealing to a wider mass audience?

No, it was always very easy for me. I realized this after one or two years I started playing. Of course, everybody wants to be famous, but it was breaking my heart to try writing music that didn’t come from the soul. There are bigger bands who earn enough money, and they can live from it, but I think they had to sell themselves somehow. At least that’s what I hear. Sometimes, I tried to write “hit” songs, but when I go in that direction, I feel there’s something inside myself that breaks a little. For me, it was always easier to write what I really wanted to write. Of course, the most difficult part is always talking with journalists and fans about the record. The music is easy to do, but it’s much harder to explain it to people.

Do you think that some record companies put pressure on artists to sell off and make something more commercial?

For sure! I don’t know if the pressure comes directly from the record company. I would say it’s from the market. Of course, the record company is part of the market. Today, things go so fast. Your name has to be known all the time. When you sign a contract, maybe it says that you have to make a record every second year. As an artist, you have to comply, make touring and other stuff. Maybe it’s good for people who have a lot of ideas to write music. But if people like me would be under such conditions all the time, they wouldn’t know what to write about. They would find stuff just to write something: stuff that isn’t really important for them. In the beginning of the 90s, when we started, things went quite fast. I had so much input, so many ideas! But after a while, I noticed that it was hard to have new ideas for a new record. It was hard to just tell the universe or the world outside “Please, today you have to give me ideas for a new record”! I had to take some time to find exactly what I wanted.

I assume you had absolute freedom from the record company to compose “Ominous”?

Yes, absolute freedom. Of course, there was a budget and I couldn’t record whenever I wanted. But they didn’t say anything about the music. They didn’t intervene in my ideas.

You have said in other interviews, that the bonus track, “In Gloom”, is somehow a separate part. What makes it different compared to the other tracklist?

The main difference is that it’s not part of the story. It didn’t have a place within the story, which ends in the eighth song. I also wanted to sound a bit more different with the stand-up bass and the soundscape of it. When I wrote that song, I felt it was too good to be left out. The guys in the studio agreed that I had to release it. So, I decided to include it as a bonus track.

I think you took the right decision. It’s like a gift for the fans who want to hear something different.

I hope so. But I must tell you that I’ve already heard people sending me messages asking me why it’s not in the LP. It’s very difficult to explain some things because some people always think in another direction. But I think it’s better to have it in the record. I’d feel terrible if I hadn’t released it.

You mentioned the LP version of the album. Are you a fan of vinyls? Do you like the fact that vinyls tend to return to sales of past years?

I grew up with vinyl. There’s something special looking at big things. In that sense, I’m a fan. But I’m a fan of new technology as well. I like music spreading on the internet. This is the future. Sadly, in these modern times, people forget about records. It’s more about songs, new songs and hit songs. Today, for the most music I hear, I don’t even know the songs’ titles and the musicians who play in the band. In the past, I was looking at the LPs and I knew everything. In that way, I really like LPs. But I’m not a collector.

I agree. Somehow, we have lost this originality as fans. We tend to download and forget about the artists.

I understand it totally. I download things too. I think it’s good because music is supposed to be spread. But if we go back to people like Pythagoras, who made the musical system into what it is today, he wouldn’t be happy about the kind of music that’s being spread. He was doing calculations of frequencies and today there’s not much left of this in the music. Today, music is mainly a quick experience, money and image. Of course, there are many bands out there who write different music and may even encompass magical, religious, or deeper thoughts in it. But in many other bands, that way of thinking is very restricted.

Are there future plans for the band (assuming of course that societies will return to normal conditions)?

Right now, I don’t think so much about it. I think it will take quite some time. I just heard a calculation that if vaccination goes on in this tempo, it will take 6 or 7 years until everybody is vaccinated. It would take up to 7 years until things become normal again. So, I’d rather not think about it, because it becomes problematic in my head. I prefer to take time writing music instead.

Why did you name the band “Lake of Tears”? Is there a story/inspiration behind the band’s name?

Not much actually. If I chose a name today, that wouldn’t be “Lake of Tears”! If I found a band of that name, I don’t think I would listen to their records! I still remember the day. We had started getting into that gothic music genre and we wanted to have a name in that direction. We had some ideas and just decided on “Lake of tears”. So, there’s not really a story!

So, it was a matter of choice and nothing more.

It was something with the right vibe. There’s some connection between the name and the band. But as I said, if I did it again today, I would choose something else.

Daniel, thank you about our conversation. It was good to talk about “Ominous”, music in general and your personal perception towards music. It was very insightful. I wish you all the best. Remain strong and I hope that sometime more music will come from you.

I am sure it will! Thank you very much!

 

Myth of Rock and Antonis Mantzavinos had the opportunity to talk with Robert Säll (keyboards, guitars) from W.E.T. and Work of Art, two very well distinguished bands from Sweden, on their sound and genre. W.E.T. has recently released a great album, "Retransmission", so we started our conversation with this release, then we referred to lots of other interesting topics!

First of all, how are you doing, in regard to Covid-19? Health and personal wise. Has all this situation since last year affected you in writing music, playing music and rehearsing?

Yeah, it has pretty much prevented me for doing any of that. Just recently I’ve started to write a little bit again, but to be honest, I didn’t realize I’ve missed it until I started doing it again. But it feels great to be writing again.  I very much need that creative outlet, to feel content.

Having liked a lot the latest W.E.T album “Retransmission”, I would like to focus on that one. Give us some information, how and when it was recorded, about the writing process, any challenges or interesting trivia you would like to share, your personal involvement on this album, etc.

Most of the music was recorded in Erik Mårtensson’s studio, while Jeff Scott Soto recorded his vocals at his home studio in Los Angeles. I did my parts in my home studio. I played the guitar solos for “What About Love” and “One Final Kiss”. As for writing any music for this album, the only thing I wrote was the chorus for “One Final Kiss”, the rest was all Erik’s writing. Erik is the master chef, when it comes to W.E.T., so he deserves all the credits. I was more involved with the first two albums, but, over the years, it has become harder and harder for me to find time to work on the W.E.T. albums. Also, W.E.T. has become synonymous with Erik’s style of writing and no one does it better than Erik himself, so I haven’t really felt the need to contribute to the writing process on the latter two albums. The more I stay out of it, the better, haha!

This band has been created from other three different bands, of which I am a fan as well. How did this idea started from the beginning to form W.E.T. and what was your first memories forming W.E.T.? I would be really interested to know a bit of history, and how also the great Marcel Jacob was involved, few months before leaving us. How difficult is it to get connected between all you in Sweden and Jeff in the US?

Both Erik and I were approached separately by Frontiers Records about writing five-six songs for a new project featuring Jeff Scott Soto on vocals. Then, when Erik was asked to produce the album, we ditched the idea of writing separately and wrote seven songs together instead. Songs that were more in the style of the songs Erik already had written for the project. When Jeff Scott Soto heard the songs, he realized we were on to something good and we all agreed that we wanted to turn this project into a real band.  Marcel Jacob, may he rest in peace, was the guy that felt like the natural choice for the bass position, once we decided W.E.T. could become a real band. Now this was, after the record was completed and we started to think of a possible line-up for live gigs. Unfortunately, Marcel choose another destiny.  But I will always cherish the memory of hanging out with Jeff and Marcel during the time we shot the videos. Remember that we were massive fans of theirs and we got to spend time listening to their old “war stories” from days gone by. We were like kids on Christmas Eve! As far as being on different continents, it’s not a problem really. I mean, Erik has moved away from Stockholm so it’s not much different communicating with Jeff than it is with Erik, it’s emails and phone calls but that works just fine for us. However, it unfortunately means that I can’t really be involved in the writing process like I used to, because that works absolutely best when you are together in the same room. The two first records were really about me and Erik getting together in his studio with two acoustic guitars and flesh out the songs for the albums.

 

Back to the new album, it kicks off with the majestic ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’, but the whole album is my favorite of the band, only behind the first self-titled. It seems that you guys are full of such wonderful ideas and on every album, you surpass yourselves, keep on evolving, keep on having always a fresh eye on the music you create. I would like your comment on that.

Again, all credit should go to Erik as he basically wrote this album himself!

Jeff has done a fantastic job in all choruses and overall vocals, the rhythm section is solid as ever, the guitar solos and leads are incredible, the whole bonding of W.E.T. shows a full-time band, a band playing for maybe 20-25 years, and not a group which gathers up every 2-3 years to record and play a few live shows. What’s your take on this one, and how you all manage to be so consistent, so well bonded with each other?

I really don’t know, but I’m glad you feel this way. Of course, it has to do with the fact that  Erik, Magnus Henriksson (guitar) and Robban Bäck (drums) have played together in Eclipse, so they know each other very well. And I think Jeff felt right at home as the style of W.E.T. is very much inspired by bands like Talisman etc., in other words, very familiar territory for Jeff. For me it wasn’t difficult to bond with the other guys as me, Magnus and Erik went to school together for a year in 1998 and have been friends ever since. So, when the W.E.T. project came about, it just felt like the perfect opportunity to finally do something together, which was something Erik and I had talked about for years.

You play keyboards, you play guitar in Work of Art, you are a person with lots of music talent of course and many influences. Which instrument you enjoy playing more and why?

No, I don’t really play keyboards. For me it’s more about pressing down the right keys at the right time.  Again, the original idea behind W.E.T. was for me to be involved mainly as a songwriter. It was only, when we started to talk about live shows that I got the role as the “keyboard player”. Out of the three guitar players in W.E.T., I was the one who at least knew how to turn on a keyboard, haha! And the irony of this is that I represent the W in W.E.T., in other words “Work of Art”, but I am by far the least skilled keyboard player in Work of Art. So those guys are having a good laugh at the fact that I’ve become the keyboard player for W.E.T. But having said all this, the keyboard parts for W.E.T. are not more difficult than that I can pull them off live.

 

Work of Art has already released four great albums, the first one being my personal favorite, but all of them hold fantastic quality and musicianship. It was formed in the ‘90s if I am not mistaken, tell us a bit of the history of the band, how did you create it, its origins and trip through the years and what is the vision you have with that.

I met Herman Furin (drums) in high school in 1992. We realized that we both shared the love for AOR and started to record demos together. He had a little studio at home and we both had lot of songs already written when we met, so we had a lot of material to work on right away. Herman knew Lars Säfsund, as they had grown up in the same area and invited him to play keyboards. Long story short, a couple of years later, Lars switched from playing keyboard to singing, which was perfect for us, as we couldn’t find a singer who could sing this type of music. However, the style of the early Work of Art material was more in a Bon Jovi, Europe, Whitesnake style and Lars wasn’t really into that, so by 1996 we laid the band on ice. Then a couple of years later I presented a couple of new songs to Lars and Herman that was more in the direction Lars liked, so we decided to give it another go. Then some ten years passed before we stopped talking about doing something with those songs and actually went ahead and recorded them. Those recordings found their way to Frontiers Records, which signed us right away.

 

I must say that I would not strictly characterize Work of Art as a purely AOR band, in a ‘sterile’ way, as I recognize many different influences and filters in all albums. Actually, I never liked those strict ‘labels’ for bands. Which bands, artists have been your influences, since you were growing up? And also, apart from foreign influences, I would be interested to ask who are the Swedish artists that you have listened to the most, since you were a kid/teenager and you would like to share with us.

I’ve always been “all over the place” when it comes to influences and styles, but if I had to boil it down to bands that has influenced me the most for the Work of Art style, it’s Toto, Chicago and Saga. And a Swedish band that has had a huge influence on our sound, in particular on Lars vocals and his arrangement ideas for backing vocals, is a Swedish duo called Big Money. The love for their debut record was one of the first things we realized we had in common, when we first met in the early nineties. It was produced by Michael B. Tretow, who was ABBA’s producer and kind of like “the fifth” ABBA member.

 

It should be exciting to know, if there is a new Work of Art album to be released soon, even though “Exhibits” came a couple of years ago. Are you currently working or rehearsing on new material?

No, there are no Work of Art plans at the moment. I notice that the interest in the band has become less and less with every new album, so the idea of making another Work of Art album is not on my horizon, to be honest. We have reached a point where I feel it’s just not worth the effort anymore.

 

If you had to choose one highlight moment for each one of your bands so far, what would you choose?
With Work of art, the highlight was, when we got to support Toto on the Swedish dates in 2012. That’s something I will always remember with a big smile on my face. With W.E.T., it is probably the first live show we did at Firefest. One of the headliners of the festival pulled out and we got asked with a very short notice, but somehow, and with only like one rehearsal, we pulled it off and it was a great feeling being on stage together and meeting all the fans.

 

If I am not mistaken, you work as a music teacher in a culture school. What are the challenges a music teacher is facing and how has that helped you with being a musician? And also, how easy is it to combine a full-time job with touring, rehearsing, etc.?
The greatest challenge being a guitar teacher these days is that the guitar as an instrument has become very much out of fashion. There will always be some rock guys around, but those students are becoming more and more rare. It’s sad really. But the really good thing about my job is that it’s very flexible, if something comes up, I can always move around the lessons so I can free time, when I need. And as long as it stays that way, it’s perfect.

 

Last but not least, what do currently listen to? Any new band/album? Do you prefer listening to music through your stereo, or do you prefer the more digital platforms more (e.g. Spotify).
I don’t really listen to new stuff. The older I get, the more I tend to go back and listen to older music. I mostly listen to 70s stuff these days. I have a Brennan B2 CD player. It is a CD player with a hard drive, wi-fi and Bluetooth connections etc. And I’ve ripped my whole CD collection, some 2500+ CDs, to its hard drive, so now I can browse through my entire collection via my computer or iPhone, very convenient.

 

Thank you very much Robert for your time, I really appreciate this! Cheers, till next time!

Thank you as well, take care!

Their music is mesmerizing. Their live shows are mystifying. Their occult heavy metal, singular and consummate, will take your breath away. It is Serpent Lord (GR), a Greek occult heavy metal band, which, having released the single “The Gospel of Judas” and working on its upcoming studio album, is ready to conquer the world of metal. After listening to the band’s music, Myth of Rock was thrilled and soon came in contact with the members of Serpent Lord (GR) for an interview. Below you can read all the interesting stuff that we talked about!

by Dimitris Zacharopoulos


To start this interview, we would like you to tell us, when, by whom and other which circumstances Serpent Lord (GR) was formed.

Konstantinos:  Firstly, we would like to thank you for this interview. Serpent Lord (GR) was formed by Giorgos Savvidis and Konstantinos Sotirelis in 2016. It was an idea of Giorgos (our ex – singer) and it was immediately decided that also Giorgos Terzitanos should enter the band – he of course remains in the band as an integral and composing member. After some line-up changes, the band took its current shape with Marios Arikas taking over the vocals and Lazarus Bouroutzoglou sharing the rhythm/lead guitar duties with Giorgos. I think that the circumstances under which the band was formed were, more or less, the usual. We wanted to create our own music, inspired by bands like Ghost, Iced Earth, Mercyful Fate and Candlemass. Later on, of course, some other influences were added, for example from more extreme bands (Behemoth, Death, Immortal, Rotting Christ), however, we didn’t change our first concept. From the beginning we agreed that we wouldn’t like to be a covers band, that’s why from day one we had our own songs and we presented them to an audience.

 

Which are the official releases of Serpent Lord (GR) until now? Can you give us some information about each one of them?

Konstantinos: Our debut release was the “Serpent Lord” demo (2017), with the first line-up and Vasilis Katsikas on drums, as a session member. It included our first two songs, “Sacrilegium” and “Blood Offering”, and was recorded with our permanent since then producer, Giorgos Stournaras (Mass Infection). It was our initial effort to create something of our own, that period had a lot of ups and downs and some mistakes, which made us stronger and more experienced for the future. “Towards the Damned”, our first full-length album, followed in September 2019. Although we had gained a very small fan base thanks to our demo and our live shows, essentially, that album gave us the ideal boost in order to make a European and a Greek tour. One year later, in November 2020, came “Horned God”, together with a cover of Death’s “Sacred Serenity”, which introduces a new chapter for Serpent Lord (GR). We get even darker musically and lyrically, we have a stronger black metal vibe and add some more extreme metal influences. Our latest release, which comes just before the new album, is “The Gospel of Judas”, a song which summarizes our releases until now and indicates what will follow in our upcoming full-length album.

 

You get in the spotlight again with the release of your new single, “The Gospel of Judas”. How did it come and you decided to release such a single?

Giorgos: We know that due to the current situation, the period we all live in in very difficult for everybody. We wanted to create a song, which would narrate the life and times of a person misunderstood by history. Such interpretation of things is really food for thought, is something we wanted to render though music in the best way, making the listener wonder about the concept of good and evil and their role in the course of life until its end. “The Gospel of Judas” is the last omen for our upcoming album. It betokens the dark side of Serpent Lord (GR), it is a sample of what is to follow.

 

How would you describe the music and lyrics of the “The Gospel of Judas” single? Is this single indicative of the direction of your next studio album? Can you give us some information about this next album of yours?

 Kontantinos: We think that it is pretty much indicative, that’s why we chose it. Essentially, it is a connection of “Towards the Damned” with “Horned God” and it presents something new. First of all, it is much more mature musical wise and more impeccable technical wise. What is more, we handle our influences more efficiently and gradually we give our own character to our music. Lyrically, “The Gospel of Judas” is the album’s forerunner – it’s much more mature than “Towards the Damned” and it’s lyrical style is very close to that of “Horned God”, although now it is clearer.

The single talks about Jesus Christ’s betrayal by Judas, through which God fulfilled his Divine Plan, which was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to the Apocryphal Gospel, Judas, Christ’s favorite student, was ordered by Christ himself to betray him, for the salvation of humanity. However, God didn’t keep his promise, which was Judas’ ascension to Paradise, but left him wandering in remorse, having lost Paradise, due to his suicide. So, the song talks about the fact that God betrayed man, about the vanity of prayers, and in general, it refers to everyone’s betrayal by his/her beloved persons, in some moments of life.   

Although we won’t reveal the album title, we can say that it is based on the Apocryphal Gospels, giving a different concept. Lyrically, we refer to topics like betrayal, death, love and faith, This time our direction is more personal, more philosophical too. Musically, this album will be a step forward compared to “The Gospel of Judas”, being more extreme and melodic at the same time, with many heavy/thrash and black metal influences, all through the occult character. You will find some progressive elements too.

 

Who are the main composers and lyricists in the band? How is a common Serpent Lord (GR) song composed?

 Konstantinos: The main composers of our music until now are Giorgos Terzitanos and Konstantinos Sotirelis. Sometimes we write together, sometimes we present one another some riffs and we make songs based on them, sometimes we present one another a complete song and we work on some details. Nevertheless, all the members of the band have a say in the composition process, we don’t restrict anyone. Marios has composed a song and Lazarus has contributed on the new album, with his exceptional ideas in some points, adding his own touch.

As far as the lyrics are concerned, Konstantinos has the main role, having written the majority of the lyrics, but also Giorgos has contributed on several tracks. Here things work a little different. Usually we write the lyrics, we present them to the other members of the band and then we make some minor changes, in case there are objections. In general terms we pay a lot of attention to the song lyrics, that’s why we work equally focused on this sector.

 

You call yourself an occult heavy metal band. Can you explain this definition please?

 Konstantinos: Firstly, let’s make a clarification about the term “occult”. There are two concepts. The first one has to do with pseudo-sciences, like astrology, alchemy and spiritualism, whereas the second one has to do with Paganism, Christian Cults and some more personalized concepts of the metaphysical. Although we greatly focus on the second concept of the occult, since we mainly deal with it, there are songs, like “The Lesser Key”, which refer to alchemy topics, making a mix of the two concepts. That’s why we put this “occult” label to the band. Namely it has to do with the lyrical and stylistic side of the band.

As far as the term heavy metal is concerned, although none of the band members thinks we play in a classic heavy metal style, since we have influences and obvious elements from subgenres like black, thrash and doom metal, we like to adopt Chuck Schuldiner’s saying, that everything is heavy metal. So, as we combine different heavy metal genres in our music, we believe that the term heavy metal, together with the term occult, describes Serpent Lord (GR) better.   

 

Why did you baptize the band Serpent Lord (GR)?

Konstantinos: The name of the band came out after a lot of effort. Although we were still in the beginning, we had two songs already composed and we knew what our direction would be. Therefore we moved a bit towards that direction, so that our band name reflects the lyrical, musical and stylistic character of the band. A lot of name proposals were made, we finally agreed on Serpent Lord, since serpents are a personalization of evil - both evil and the Bible have an important role in our lyrics and image.

 

Do you still cooperate with Alcyone Records? If not, are you in negotiations with other record labels or are you planning to make a self-release?

Giorgos: In our last two releases we have not collaborated with Alcyone Records, we chose that both of them would be self-released. Regarding our next album release, we are in search of a record label, however, we haven’t decided yet if we will choose to cooperate with a label or if we will publish it ourselves.

 

What do live shows mean to Serpent Lord (GR)? Can you describe a Serpent Lord (GR) live show? Your sound and image?

Marios: Live shows are a part of own self. This connection with the audience, the atmosphere, all these keep us going. You can’t tell about a band only from its studio sound, but also from its live shows … mainly from the live shows. Every live performance of Serpent Lord (GR) is a unique chapter for us. Theatricality and its combination with music is significant for us. That’s why we use banners and various other occult objects, which have become an integral part of our live shows. The bottom line is that anyone can go up to a stage and play ten songs perfectly without making any mistakes, but what will make the viewer want to see you and see you again is the interaction you have with him for as long as you are on stage. You have to give a good show. Your own show. That is when you will be rewarded.

 

You have opened as a support band for many well-known bands. With which band did you enjoy it the most? With which band would you like to tour together in the future?

Marios: I think that we can’t select a certain band. Fortunately, all our collaborations for one or more live shows were flawless. We surely gained valuable experience from all these live shows and we met people of the music business outside the stage lights in some more relaxed moments and conversations with some nice and funny highlights (maybe we share some details another time). As far as a future tour is concerned, we would like to cooperate with Rotting Christ, Candlemass, Behemoth and many other bands, who have influenced us a lot. It would be ideal if we could play together with such bands.

 

How much were you affected as individuals, as musicians and as a band by the COVID-19 pandemic? How do you imagine the time after the lockdowns, the restriction measures, etc.?

Konstantinos: Fortunately, it did not hurt us as much as other bands, since we didn’t have scheduled tours. Of course, it delays us in some of our plans, nevertheless, we didn’t have many financial losses. On the contrary, the pandemic helped us in some matters, for example in focusing on the completing of the composition and the recording of our second album. I think that the biggest impact was on a personal level, regarding the jobs and the psychology of everyone of us. As we don’t want to stand still, we tried to take advantage of this time as best we could and to improve both on a personal level as musicians and on a band level.

As for the post-lockdown season, it is difficult for us to think about what will happen and when or if we will return to normalcy.  If we talk about the band, whether there will be concerts again, when and with what criteria, will determine much about the future of each band and about the evolution of the music industry. However, it will be a major blow to any musician. We already have a year without live shows and apart from the revenue, the mood and motivation for improvement are lost. We try to remain optimistic, to do whatever we can and work as hard as we can to take advantage of even these times.

 

Your message to the metal fans!

Serpent Lord (GR) Be prepared. Apocrypha is coming. The truth will shine. Get ready to be baptized to the eerie sound of the Serpent. Are you ready to be damned?