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Nicholas Leptos (Arryan Path)

Interview with Nicholas Leptos from Arryan Path
by Grigoris Chronis at 27 March 2010, 12:03 PM

This band from Cyprus delivered one of the most memorable albums of the year…already! “Terra Incognita” is the all-around Metal piece of art you need to show to the ones criticizing the absence of fresh and personal ideas in the ‘classic’ side of our music. Mainman Nicholas Leptos - a brilliant singer, too - is a killer on the loose when speaking for artistic freedom and his beliefs are not met every day even in experienced musicians. Let’s welcome ARRYAN PATH!

Hello Nicholas! It’s been enough time since we last heard from ARRYAN PATH but I think an album like “Terra Incognita” was surely worth the wait. What’s the band been up to prior to the release of the new CD and after the “Road To Macedonia” debut? Was ARRYAN PATH on hiatus, really?
ARRYAN PATH was put on ice for a while. We always thought that we will return and make a second album but I guess we didn’t feel that we had to rush it. Also I was working with my other band PRODIGAL EARTH with whom we released an album a year ago. But during this period, I was working on songs that could never be recorded with PRODIGAL EARTH because they were very different and more epic. So I kept them ‘on the side’ until it was time to make the big comeback!

Not to diminish the first CD’s value, I must confess “Terra Incognita” blew me away. Did not expect such a strong come back, so one natural question is where did all the inspiration come from?
Inspiration usually comes when you don’t expect it! Usually I record all the melodies on my mobile phone and using my musical ‘ear’ I find the right chords on a guitar or a piano. Of course I don’t play either one of those instruments but I can find the right chords so that later on, I can show it to my brother and he can direct me towards a more ‘musically’ correct result and shape the songs into what you are hearing on the CD. I’m glad you liked the CD. I’m getting great feedback from everybody, even from people who idolized “Road To Macedonia”!

Did you focus on your own in the songwriting for the new CD? Are all the melodies and lyrics yours or the whole band participated? Really, is ARRYAN PATH a full band or more of a solo project?
Even though I write about 80% of the music, the contribution of the musicians who are working with me is very valuable. I really couldn’t have done it without them. Yes, ARRYAN PATH is a solo project in the sense that I make all the decisions concerning the band and I write most of the music but I don’t have the musical training required to bring the song to the end result. I need the musical capabilities of my brother and George. The other members also compose great music. The biggest part of “Minas Tirith” was composed by Paris. George composed a great intro for “Cassiopeia” and my brother had a great part in connecting the parts together.

The mix of various elements from different Metal (or even not) sub-genres is awesome, to be honest. I even found regional (or oriental, call it whatever you want) pieces in some song parts. Of course, friends of classic or epic or even doom-y Metal shall find themselves pleased with an album like “Terra Incognita”. Was it risky enough to proceed to an album not that in-your-face? Where there any times you were anxious the result would become somehow confusing for the Metal fan?
Well, we used a lot of these ‘eastern melodies’ in our first album and even in the demos. “Osiris” and “Piri Reis” were filled with this kind of melodies. The thing about this album is that we do have songs that are in-your-face, songs like “Cassiopeia” and “Open Season”. On the other hand, we took the folk elements of the first album and raised them up a notch. We have no boundaries in our music. When I’m writing a song I will not say “oh, let’s take out this sitar because somebody might not like it”. If musicians start thinking like that, they are betraying their own personality. I think our CD has something for everybody. OK, I had some people tell me that for example the self-titled song “Terra Incognita” is too ‘Greek’ for their taste. That’s cool and I respect it. The same people also told me that they love songs like “Molon Lave” and “Cassiopeia” and “The Blood Remains On The Believer” so it’s all good man, it’s all good!

The album title itself is kinda unusual. What was the motive for choosing such a title?
I had this idea in my mind, of a parallel earth, that is inhabited by all mythological creatures that we talk about in our stories or that we see in our dreams. You read books and see movies based on books or even fairytales for children, who talk about dragons, or the boogie man, or a winged horse. You hear stories of alien-built pyramids. All these stories are in our subconscious for a reason. Is there a truth behind it all? Did the first man who wrote about dragons and drew them and told a story about them, really imagine them or did he see one? And where did it come from? Maybe a parallel world? So this idea was in my mind for a long time and I thought I should use it!

How easy do you think it is to capture the epic feeling without e.g. reaching sky notes or stick to galloping bass lines? Meaning: are there – nowadays – enough ways to make your own lyrical/theatric sound or it’s a dead end and possibly you’ll end up sounding like the 80s classic Metal idols? Your opinion counts, since – in my ears, at least – a band like ARRYAN PATH shows a unique personality in “Terra Incognita”.
Thanks for that! I think if you write songs using your personal touch and personality you can achieve a personal sound. It’s not about the screams. Any fool can do the falsetto. First you become a real singer, I mean singing correctly, staying on the note etc, and then when you’ve established yourself as a real singer, you spice it up with the screams or the grunts or whatever. Yes, there are many ways to achieve an epic sound without doing the clichés. I will talk about ARRYAN PATH more specifically. We are adding lots of eastern melodies, we have a specific type of songwriting, and we have catchier refrains and ‘easier-to-consume’ music. Now you might say that others have done these things in the past. And this is where the personal touch of each musician comes in, and this is what differentiates you from the others. The ‘color’ of my voice, the solos of our guitarist, the orchestration of George on the keys and the lyrics…It’s a symbiosis of all these elements together that makes up the character of the band. If another band records our song “Terra Incognita” they will do things differently. The voice will be different, the arrangement will be different, and they might add or subtract some specific instruments and put their own personal touch. It will sound like something else because the people participating this time are different.

You’ve been playing with some other bands in Cyprus. Are you a singer on demand or bands like DIPTHERIA or PRODIGAL EARTH are also full acts centered around your voice? Can you keep it up with all of them, really? What’s the main reason for having more than one band in our days, you think? In e.g. the 80s the usual case was each member dedicated in one band.
I will speak about PRODIGAL EARTH because DIPHTHERIA are no longer active. PRODIGAL EARTH is a totally different scenario. All musicians are equally sharing decisions and songwriting. It’s a more democratic band if you know what I mean! So, the answer is no, the band is not centered on my voice. Musicians can now participate in many projects because simply, it’s easier to record CDs with today’s technology. If your song ideas don’t fit the band you’re playing with, you record on your personal computer, you send them to mix and…voila!! A record! Apart from that, and speaking about me personally, I have many sides as far as music composition is concerned. I write mostly epic songs but not all my ideas fit with ARRYAN PATH. I want to explore new types of music. I want to try myself in Power Metal too, I want to try to sing Hard Rock etc. Some attempts might be successful and some might be disastrous. But musicians owe it to themselves to try new things.

The duration of the new album could have been a handicap for some other band, but “Terra Incognita” has the ability to step on the listener with its diversity and clear production. I can recall many Metal fans claiming short – in duration – songs are for radio airplay and true Heavy/Power/Epic Metal numbers should exceed e.g. 5-6 to cover all of the composer’s inspiration and ideas. Your opinion?
It is true that for some songs you just can’t ‘tell the story’ in 3 minutes. That’s why we have songs like “Osiris” and “Cassiopeia” and “Epic Of The Sorrowful Argonaut”. So I agree with the fans there. I am not very interested about making a song with the sole purpose of being played on the radio. We have shorter songs that could get more airplay of course but that was definitely not planned from the beginning! I sometimes feel like I want to make a record of 13-14 epic Metal dynamites that last 3 minutes each, and sometimes I want to make record of 7 or 8 long epic adventures with duration of 8 minutes each. For the time being we are making records combining the 2!

Any feedback on ARRYAN PATH performing live? In the next days we’ll have the chance to watch the band at Greece’s 'Up The Hammers' festival in Athens (March 5th - 6th). Are there any other touring plans or it’s quite difficult to play live outside Cyprus?
We have a couple of shows planned but that’s about it for the moment. We are not really a live band, and some of the members in ARRYAN PATH have their own bands so, we’ll see! As for 'UTH', I’m looking forward to it! We will try to give it our best on the stage! A promise written in blood!

Will it be easy enough to re-create the music parts and total atmosphere of the new album onstage?
The live approach of the songs will be more guitar-oriented so we’re not worrying about that. But the keyboard player who is with us is quite capable of re-creating any part exactly as on the CD.

The land of each musician/band – you believe – can have a key role in its musical philosophy? I can think of many examples, from JETHRO TULL and SOCRATES to SKYCLAD to SEPULTURA, where “folk” (not a solid word…) roots filtered in the band’s music can create a unique profile. To cut a long story short, is there a limit up to which a Metal artist should draw influence/inspiration? To expand, many outfits have been accused of being non-Metal ambassadors anymore due to far-from-Metal ingredients poured in their music.
Accused by whom? I didn’t know there is a court or rules that someone has to follow in music! Is it like: law 12.3.4 chapter 2- Do not make Death Metal grunts over epic Metal music, or law 11.2.3 chapter 1- Do not add any instrument (other than guitar) that would insultthe legacy of our Metal forefathers? Something like that you mean? I think we have proved with the music in our CDs that whatever we want to play, we play it! And that’s what the people who are into ARRYAN PATH like about the band. I did not swear any oath or signed that I will play a specific kind of music. The people who like ARRYAN PATH for what they are, are the people who will support us till the end. The ones who don’t like our music, or they don’t want to listen to us because we are using something in our music that is ‘wrong’ for them…well those people can freely listen to something else.

Nicholas, thanx a lot for your time to answer our questions. Really hope such a remarkable album like “Terra Incognita” will find its way into as many metalheads’ hearts as possible.
Thank you so much! I am confident about this album. I think it’s a great CD and it will not be easily surpassed. We hope to be around for much longer and hopefully make more albums like “Terra Incognita” in the future!!


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Edited 28 September 2022

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