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Bob Katsionis (Firewind)

Interview with Bob Katsionis from Firewind
by Fede "Federock" Taich at 11 June 2012, 1:44 PM

It didn’t happen in a day but since the beginning of the fourth decade and near the end of the third of Metal music, the Greek Metal scene began unleashing a serious firepower of Power Metal bands, one of them was FIREWIND. Over the years the band have kept on progressing and here they are today with their seventh album, “Few Against Many”, via Century Media. FedeRock talked with the band’s keyboardist / guitarist Bob Katsionis about the new album, himself and his ventures and others projects.

Hi Bob, how are you? Can you tell us a little about what is going on with FIREWIND these days?

Hello! A lot of good stuff is happening! We get tons of great reviews about “Few Against Many”, good reactions from fans too and we are getting ready to storm the stages in Europe!

You are one of Europe's major keyboard players winning the Metal Hammer annual readers’ Poll 5 years in a row as “best keyboard player”. Do you still practice, try to learn new things and progress?

It’s great when people vote for you, but even better when people really believe it. You know keyboards are a very misunderstood or let’s say underrated keyboards in Metal music. It’s funny that even at the most non-keyboards Metal bands like JUDAS PRIEST, BLACK SABBATH, OZZY, IRON MAIDEN, YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, among their biggest ever hits are the songs they are using keyboards, like “A Touch Of Evil”, “Anno Mundi”, “Mr. Crowley”, “7th Son of a 7th Son” “You Don’t Remember…” etc. To answer your question…I don’t really practice every day, maybe ever, but I play music every day. In my sessions with other bands, or recording new stuff or by teaching other musicians, I learn myself. I think that every day I play music I learn something new. A small detail that is “sponged” by my mind better as time passes by, than trying to really learn a new technique.

It would be interesting to know how do you deal the double duty as keyboard and guitar player in FIREWIND?

It’s really great that I can do both! It really helps the band achieve the maximum of arranging when we go on stage. Back in the first days when I was only playing keyboards, there were a lot of parts where I would just sit and play a low E on the keys, or maybe duplicate the lead guitar with keys. By playing guitar as well, we don’t sacrifice the guitarist character of FIREWIND as we would do if there was a player who would only play keys. And there's the funny part too, when I do the simultaneous soloing on keys and guitar! It’s fun to see the people's faces! They go “WTF????”hahahha!

How has FIREWIND been dealing with you and Gus both working on other stuff, Gus with OZZY and you with OUTLOUD and your video company?

We all have FIREWIND as our top priority, except for Gus whose schedule is so fragile and changeable. He never knows what the next day will bring! But the good thing is that he is the one organizing the schedule of the band, so there's no problem. Everything goes along with Ozzy's schedule and we just follow. We would never step on his way, it’s a big thing happening with him playing for Oz! And on the other hand, I have some extra free time to run and play with OUTLOUD!

What can you tell us about the new material? After hearing the album I got the feeling this time you went for a more old school Heavy Metal sound and less aggressive. Was that something you had in mind when you started working on the album or it just was a part of the production and the way the music turned out? Can you tell us a little about the pre-production, production and making of “Few Against Many”?

On this album, the majority of the music was written by Gus. He had so much free time while touring with Ozzy and of course he was all day with his guitar on the hotel room jamming on new songs! So, when he found a gap after Oz's tour he came back to Greece and told us guys, these are the songs I wrote, these are the ideas, let’s work on them”. It was different from the past 3 albums where all stuff was written by Gus and me in my home studio. But it’s always good to do something different. That’s why the album sounds different. Then the band recorded the album in Thessaloniki, while me and Apollo did our parts from our studios Ad sent them over. The mixing process this time took place in US at Audio Hammer Studios and you can tell that they changed the way FIREWIND sound now by mixing the album in a more modern way, still without changing anything on our character. We are a diverse Metal band and I think this is something that people like in FIREWIND. It’s not one kind of Metal…we can play a lot of styles from classic Hard Rock to ballads to Power Metal to modern stuff, to instrumentals and yet..Sounding as FIREWIND, I think is our biggest achievement.

This time around I got the feeling the keyboard were left apart in some of the songs, did you take more guitar roles this time because I hear a lot of dynamics and interesting double guitar parts? Or was it all Gus?

Gusis always recording all the guitars, it would be stupid if there was a guitarist like him in a band and having the keyboardist record guitars, hahaha! As I told you, the songs were written by Gus that’s why they are not keyboard oriented like we had in the past. Still, the keys are present through the album giving us a 3rd dimension we would achieve without them. To me, keyboards are the color on the final canvas, if let’s say that the guitars are the actual drawing ;-)

Let's talk a little bit about your other projects. What is going on with OUTLOUD?

OUTLOUDare doing great! We just released an EP through our label AOR Heaven which is doing well. Strangely enough, our albums are selling and we have a steadily growing fan base through the whole world! We are a band who likes to make easy and simple music to make people happy. Nothing else. And it works. Now we are writing material for our 3rdfull length album which is going to be different. More technical but still with great choruses and yet more guitar work and solos and melodies! Can’t wait to actually do it!

Can you tell us a little about “Progressive Vision Group”?

This is something which started for fun. Just me ,my sister, my cousin and a friend started this team to make a couple of videos for my projects. Then we did videos for some friends, then for some other bands and now PVG is the most active and experienced video clip making company in Greece having over 72 (!!!) videos on our book! And it all started before YouTube revolution. Back when no one even knew what the .mov format was and there was only DV and DVD's. Now it’s true that I don’t have time to do so many videos, as I am busy with my studio and bands but I always like to do it.

Back to FIREWIND. Are there any plans for a new DVD?

As far as I know..no. But it’s always challenging to shoot a DVD! I think we are a pretty interesting band to watch live!

The last question is something I always ask, what are your thoughts about social networking and the way the internet has become a crucial part of the music industry?

Haha…I don’t know. Nobody knows. I just thank God I grew up in a world without internet and Facebook. That’s how I achieved and became what I did. It takes So Much Fucking Time. Time is priceless. Time is money. And they steal it from us, while we think that it’s given “for free”.

I try to use it as a tool. I do my daily updates but they are not only about my music. I try to socialize and letting people get to know me as a person too. I don’t think that it’s interesting to read the same promotional stuff everyday from the same people. It gets boring and insulting at some point. I try to combine it. But I don’t have an answer about the music industry. If there's such anymore. People have taken control. Thus the “Music Industry” is turning to a “Mind Control” industry.

Is there something else that you would like to share with our readers?

No.hahahahahaha! I hope we get to play in your country someday. I really mean it. We know so much stuff about you and your culture, and I hope we can meet you all someday!

Thanks a lot for this interview Bob, BTW loved the album and hope to see you on the road \\m/



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