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Mystic Prophecy's Roberto Dimitri Liapakis: "Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll...those times are over. Nowadays being a touring band is hard work. It’s getting harder and harder to get people of the couch and into the concert venue."

Interview with Roberto Dimitri Liapakis from Mystic Prophecy
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 04 March 2020, 10:22 PM

Sometimes it is beyond devotion, it is clearly a running spirit going forward on merely motivation, no octane, no breathing machine or life support. You might call it angelic, yet it is simply a lot of heart and force of will. Maintaining their form, and putting everything on the line, the Greek / German Mystic Prophecy seems on the rise. Changing label, trying to find leeways in their methods of writing songs, but still to be relevant, they marched on and released "Metal Division". Steinmetal had a pleasure to talk to Roberto Dimitri Liapakis, the band's vocalist and founder, sinking teeth into the new album, a little of the past and the future.

Hello Lia, it is a pleasure having you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir? I guess you are about to be busy, are you?

Thank you for having me. We just came back home from our release tour and are very satisfied with what is happening with the album. All of the shows were well-attended and we loved having the chance to meet our fans and rock out with them. And now we’re planning future gigs, festivals etc.

It would appear that nothing is to stop the Mystic Prophecy Metal machine, which I noticed was upgraded from a Brigade to a Division. Are you running on Military grade now, converging with an even more powerful force in the coming future, until reaching beyond Corps level? What can you tell of the excitement levels right before landing another barrage into the worldwide Metal scene?

No, we are not really following a military theme with this. We just had the idea that, after the success of the song "Metal Brigade", we needed to upgrade from that. And we wanted to give our fans the chance to be part of the new album. That’s why we invited them to sing with us on the title track "Metal Division".

It is always exciting when you release new material. We spent a lot of time and energy working on the new record and the release is the final step. Of course it is always interesting to see how the fans and press will react to the new songs.

The event of “Metal Division”, dragged with it a few changes, which the foremost of them is Mystic Prophecy leaving Massacre Records, which had been a home for many years, in favour of the Greek Rock Of Angels Records. What made you turn down Massacre Records after all this time? Was it a much needed change for the band?

First I´d like to say that we had a good time and cooperation all over the years with our former label Massacre Records. But the reason for the change after 12 years was, that we found exactly what we were looking for in ROAR Rock of Angels Records. The ROAR! structure fits perfectly to Mystic Prophecy. All people there, from the label boss to the employees are believers, devoted to the pure heavy metal spirit. They might look in the awareness of some people probably as a smaller label because they are not an “old” one. But I can tell you that they are very strong in what they do and that they deliver top quality services for all the bands on their roster. There are no big or small labels anymore but only the quality of the provided services is relevant. ROAR! has the know-how and the power a label needs in order to push and promote a band. And above all, they love what they are doing. Anyway most of the labels nowadays use the same few bigger distribution networks. Just have a look on the promo campaign they have prepared for us and you will understand what I mean.

What is your impression of the work done by Rock Of Angles Records to promote the upcoming assault of “Metal Division”? Do you believe that you are provided with an even extensive exposure to the new album in comparison to the past?

ROAR is still hungry and on fire. For them, putting out records is not this 9 to 5 job routine thing. They work very closely with their bands, side by side, and have lots of great ideas. And they feature many great bands on their roster, Ashes Of Ares or Monument, to name a few. And they work hard for each of them. It feels good knowing you’re not just „band number x“, they let you feel their energy and enthusiasm. They want to push ahead, and that’s exactly what we needed for this album. And I think the success of the album so far proves them right.

Though usually Mystic Prophecy albums are everywhere when it comes to their philosophical perspective, what would you say are the leading theme characteristics? Perhaps mention a lyrical topic that is impactful, provides a message for others to heed?

I have various subjects that I use for the lyrics, the topics range from issues about history, war, environment, personal situations and of course about metal issues that are a must in our genre. “Metal Division” is a song about our community and about our loyal fans, which are supporting us now for 20 years. They deserve more than a big “Thank you” for all the years standing by us. “Eye to Eye” is a song about future wars, the battles for water, there will come a time where wars will be fought for water and water will be more precious than everything else. “Hail to the King” is a song about the immortal Hellenic King of Kings, Alexander the Great, the conqueror of the known world back then and the founder of the first world empire. “Here comes the Winter” is a personal song about a related person of mine that committed suicide after an endless fight against their depressions. “Dracula” is more funny and shows a different side of the band. “Mirror of broken Heart” is a very personal song about my mother. “Victory of Mine” is a song about our band and especially about our label. “Curse of the Slayer” deals about the Apocalypse …. I suppose that the church will doom me definitely after this song…. Hahahaha…. I don´t believe in re-incarnation… we have only one life. Paradise and hell, this all is here and now on our planet, life is what you make of it. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

Mystic Prophecy, since day one, has been all about the song, like some kind of worship, living for the climax, the punch, and for the sake of heaviness. From where I am sitting, nothing really changed in overall on “Metal Division”, when it comes to your approach towards songwriting. However, it would be great to know what is your opinion on the matter? Do you believe that this formula is bound to forever to work, with perhaps a few tweaks here and there?

The formula for our songs is quite similar, I grant you that. However, it’s a well proven formula, which has been around for decades. Just look at great hits in popular music. They usually follow the same formula.

Of course, there is the danger of repeating ourselves. However, I try to avoid that by writing half of the songs with Evan, the other half with Markus. That way, everything stays fresh. But of course we won’t reinvent Heavy Metal. In the end it doesn’t matter, as long as the result is good, catchy songs.

Though being a veteran band, coming to its second decade, Mystic Prophecy is a part of a large Metal market. Therefore, what do you think makes “Metal Division” outstanding in comparison to the large variety of albums, treading the same fields?

First of all, with this album we go back to the roots. We recorded the whole tracks on an old ADAT TASCAM band machine. Of course this took more time, but the result is totally worth the effort. You can hear it living and breathing, no over compressing, just in your face. And obviously it pays off, the album is well received by everyone, media and fans. We get many great reviews, fans tell us how much they love it and the charts show it in cold print: Metal Division entered the official German charts at #20, and #73 in Switzerland, and worldwide it reached high positions in every available streaming charts. Even #2 in the Greek iTunes charts! THANK YOU FOR THIS!!!

Inside looking in, deeper within the songs, there is a continued effort to explore musical efforts and elements of classic Heavy Metal and Power Metal, right into the doorstep of Thrash Metal, pushing to the limits and sometimes even beyond. What is your appreciation of Mystic Prophecy’s musical and instrumental development?

The members of Mystic Prophecy have always been great musicians. And it isn’t always easy when there is a change in the line-up. But every change also brings new ideas and characteristics to the band. "Metal Division" is our best and heaviest album so far, fast power-tracks, melodic songs, epic hymns, in short: the album includes tracks for every metal heart and taste. The chemistry between all of us Markus, Evan, Joey, Hanno, is incredible and I think that you can hear that on this album quite well.

Continuing the manner of the previous question, “Metal Division” surely had journeying through various areas vocally. How did it feel to push it to the limit? What is your take on what seemed to me like a challenging quest for living up to your potential throughout “Metal Division”?

I just enjoy doing something a little different now and then. My influences are not only in metal but in all genres of music, as long as it’s passionate. If someone gives the fullest heart, music has got no limits. So no matter what, I do it 100% or not at all. If I decide to do something, there’s only this one way.

Have you ever thought of stepping out of the comfort zone of traditional Metal and maybe perhaps complex things up, turning your attention to other directions within Metal music?

What? Heavy Metal is the law…hahaha. But to give you an honest answer: people expect a certain kind of metal when they listen to Mystic Prophecy. And we always try something new, like in the song “Dracula”, but without losing sight of the bigger picture. We want to give our fans what they like about us, and what they support us for!

While writing the material for “Metal Division”, which events, personal experiences or others, inspired you and filled you with motivation to continue forging the steel?

Like I already said, I have various subjects that I use for the lyrics. Everything that happens to you or in your surroundings can be an inspiration.

I know it is going to be a tough one to crack, but here goes. Which of the album’s songs is your definitive winner, yet also the track that made an impact on you to the course where you just can’t leave it be? Please elaborate on your pick

To me, all the songs are great, otherwise I wouldn’t have picked them for the album. At the moment, I can’t say yet which is my favourite, it’s too new. Maybe after a bit of time I might like one or two more than the others, but for now, all songs matter the same to me.

Mystic Prophecy is soon coming to its 20th year. Looking back through your legacy, which has provided some amazing moments of pure heaviness and catchy Metallic totems, do you believe that Mystic Prophecy should have been one of the bigger players in the Metal market? Have you ever felt that you were stomping ground, seeing yourself moving forward, yet nothing really happens and you are still in the same position?

I think we have done quite well. How many bands are there, that rise up quickly but fall just as fast? We have managed to stay at a very good level over the past 20 years. And I believe that is even harder than becoming a bigger player.

With ROAR!, I feel like we can climb a little higher because they are very motivated to go this way with us. And we won’t say no to that. But we are also quite happy and proud of what we have accomplished in our career so far.

What do you think are the upcoming challenges for Mystic Prophecy, and not necessarily regarding a support for “Metal Division”?

Like every other band we need to stay focused. Sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll…those times are over. Nowadays being a touring band is hard work. It’s getting harder and harder to get people of the couch and into the concert venue. We are very lucky because we have very loyal and supportive fans and we are very grateful for that. But we all need to keep the metal scene alive. That only works if bands, promoter and fans all work together and not against each other. So many great clubs and venues are closing nowadays. It’s really sad to see. We hope we can play our part in keeping heavy metal alive.

 “Die By The Hammer” might be one of Mystic Prophecy’s violent tunes, gazing high on Thrash Metal, American made mostly. Was the need natural to toughen things up or you simply tried to take on a different approach? What is your take on this song?

It came out of a “metal way of life and feeling” that has become second nature to me. I don´t plan something like “this album needs more up or mid-tempo tracks” etc. We start with the ideas that every band member bears in mind and the tracks arise and develop spontaneously. Of course the material must be characteristic in line with the Mystic Prophecy philosophy and sound. So you could say the song just happened.

Did you have a chance to play some of the new material live? If so, how were the reactions of your fans?

Yes, during our release tour we played half the album live. And all of them were received greatly by our fans. We used “Metal Division”, the title track, as our new opener for the concerts and both the fans and we ourselves love it. It catches everybody in the audience right away. Also “Here Comes The Winter” and “Eye To Eye” are very well received by the audiences. They sing along with both tracks as if we had played the for years already.

Let’s go general for a bit. Metal music has been known for it being more than merely music, but rather a way of life, a religion to worship, a kind of a domain that saves lives in a way. Being a way of life, for some parties seemed like a cliché’. What is your opinion about it? Does Metal music have such a strong effect on the average daily life or it is overrated?

For me metal is indeed a way of life. It’s not just a trend. It becomes a part of you and you will take it to your grave. I sure will, haha.

What I love about the metal scene is the loyalty and support they give each other. If you go to a metal concert it doesn’t matter if your man or woman, rich of poor, young or old. Everybody is accepted, the way they are. That’s how it always should be. And it’s even more important these days, with certain politicians doing everything to divide us all rather than unite us.

And regarding clichés: Heavy Metal has always been full of clichés. Leather, long hair, the devil, dragons, knights, swords…Alice Cooper and Kiss, the kings of clichés, showed us how it’s done. They are part of the music and the scene and I like it. For me, there cannot be enough clichés, haha.

What are your plans to support “Metal Division” in 2020? I already noticed that you had a cooperation with Mob Rules, that is pretty good.

We played a release tour in January together with Mob Rules and we had a great time doing so. They are incredibly nice people and we will surely play more concerts together in the future.

Apart from that we have some festivals coming up this summer, and some concerts in Greece in fall. Unfortunately, many of the bigger festivals are already booked completely, but we are working on playing those next years. Maybe there will be a support tour in fall as well, but there’s nothing definite I could tell you yet.

Lia, I wish you nothing but the best and many thanks for this interview. Once again you landed another punch of fierce Metal without looking sideways. Well done. Cheers.

Thank you!


 



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