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Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ)

Interview with Sakis Tolis from Rotting Christ
by Vasilis Odontidis at 22 May 2013, 12:04 PM

Counting 25 years of existence, 11 full length albums and more than 1000 lives around the globe, Greek Black Metal legends ROTTING CHRIST is one of the most respectable bands in their genre and one of the pioneers of extreme music. With their latest album, “Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy” via Seasons Of Mist, they have broaden even more their creative horizons making a difficult to digest album bathed in apocrypha and darkness yet much rewarding as the listener dives into it. Vasilis, on behalf of Metal Temple, had the honors to talk with their mastermind Sakis Tolis about their new record, tour and plans, BLACK SABBATH and the Greek Metal scene that Sakis has so much faith in it. In the end Sakis Tolis is one of the grandfathers of the Greek Metal scene but most of all a very friendly, talkative and down to earth person. 

Good evening I am Vasilis from Metal Temple and I am with Sakis Tolis of Greek extreme metallers ROTTING CHRIST.

Hi Vasilis!,

Hi Sakis !

It is my pleasure to talk with you!

Thank you. And so is mine! How are things going?

Things are going way better than we expected. Which “better” as a word is a bit forbidden nowadays but there are things that are going better and this makes us really happy. I see that people, despite the economic difficulties, are still coming to our concerts and have fun but obviously this must be combined with a good approach on our side on cheap tickets but I see that things keep going.

You are in the middle of your Greek tour at the moment if I am not mistaken.

Yes we are done with the first part and this relates to my previous answer. We saw that we had more people than on our previous concerts and we were actually impressed.

I am pretty sure that this is also because of your new album “Kata Ton Daimona Eaytoy.”

Yep that’s true.

What is the feedback you are receiving for the new album?

The album has got some really positive reviews, though it is a bit difficult for somebody to understand this (meaning the album) because it requires more listening. But those who managed to get into it are praising it.

I liked it also very much.
I am really happy about this and we are ROTTING CHRIST are happy and want to go on.

I want to start with the title of the album. You have chosen a Greek title, or a Greek phrase to be precise Kata ton Daimona Eaytoy. Why this one?

It is an ancient Greek saying that means “act according to your own will”, which is something that is following us for so many years, not to mention we have released records that their title means more or less the same thing and I am talking about “Non Serviam”.

I am asking because I have read on the Internet that you borrowed that from Jim Morisson’s grave (this phrase is engraved on Jim Morrison’s of THE DOORS fame, grave) …

You know what, I found about this later. This saying is actually written in Morrison’s grave, which in any case can’t say something more. I mean it’s not mine or Morrison’s. It’s nobody’s.

I have also read that your company in the promo said that it is inspired from Anton Lavey’s sayings “Do art thou wilt” and so on.

No, that happened because they wanted to have an English title because in the United States they would have troubles with that thing and so they did like that.

 If somebody takes a look at the album they can see the title in Greek or in English in the States…

Nope it’s actually only in Greek. (Damn he got me)

 … and there are also the two demons or gargoyles the song-titles are in various languages. This is not a very common approach.

We did that on purpose, as an anti conformist way of approaching things which doesn’t follow the western type, that you have lyrics in English say the word fuck etc We take a different approach in our music, which is not working always for our own good. Because in the States we got a problem, as it is a big market for us. On the other hand we do not care, because commercial success is not everything. We stand for something (our ideals) and I believe that we are doing our best to achieve this.

So you didn’t care about the risk of such a move.

It is not about risk, but after twelve albums my friend I do not care.

Did Season of Mist react on this?

Well they did. We argued a bit, but I wanted to go the unconventional way and the ethnic elements from the non-western culture.

Listening to the music direction of the record I would say that you have taken a more mystical and apocryphal direction compared to the other records.

I agree. This is what touches us and me personally as a composer.

Why are you using that many languages?

I wanted to create a multicultural trip with this record, I am a guy who thinks himself as a multicultural person, I like various civilizations around the world, I travel since I was a small kid and this is what touched me this time, it is my main influence. Aside from that I made a journey to the past, a journey to the ancient civilizations, something different from what is expected from a release. I think that the record is an escape to the past and its occultism and to the ancient mystagogia.

All right! Tell me a bit about the cooperation in the record with the Vougioukli sisters. How did this come? Were you watching them?

They are very talented and I was impressed with the Romanian version of the song and I asked them to cover it in the style of ROTTING CHRIST. And they said yes and that made me really happy. Look ROTTING CHRIST is a band, which despite the classic influences that we have, always look to different genres of music. When I am talking about different genres of music, I do not talk about something happy or commercial I am talking about things that create some atmosphere.

Based on that I would like to ask you one more thing. In the previous record, “Aealo”, besides the traditional instruments there was the marriage with traditional Greek music and I believe that this helped the cooperation with “Pleiades” (a group of Greek women that sings traditional Greek music known as “Dimotika”) Was it easy to persuade them to participate?

No.. Well relatively yes. But there were some things in the beginning… There is always this phobia, you know ROTTING CHRIST well those are Satanists or whatever (the hell) people may call us but as time passed our art met a common line and this is how it should be.

I have also noticed that there was a collection (of BLACK SABBATH covers) and you have covered the BLACK SABBATH song. Why that song?

I mean why not? We wanted to do a SABBATH cover. We did a jam we did something simple and life goes on.

I mean what attracted you most? Is it that it emanates this malice?

Well yes it has that darkness.

Well I believe that suited you well as a cover.

So do I.

No matter if some waited to hear Ozzy in the song or whatever.

Look when you cover BLACK SABBATH you do not do it to become smarter or you got some standards. You just cover it because they are the biggest band on the planet. You add a small stone and say guys this is my view of the song. Obviously you can’t touch them. Some people want to compare things and expect me to become Ozzy - but I am not.

Are you eager to listen to their new record?

Well I might be eager but I stick to the past of those big bands. Unfortunately I am not that satisfied with the latest releases of the big bands.

I understand what you mean. What are the next steps for the band? What is your program?

We keep going on. We want to be ourselves and to fight and give our fights in all the places of the world. We are always in the frontlines. We wish to stay healthy to keep going because we have the fire, no matter the difficulties. We have just started our worldwide tour. We came back from South America, now we are in Greece, we went to Turkey and we continue our worldwide journey. We hold the flag of the Greek scene high and I wish to keep touring the next year.

I suppose after the end of the tour you will prepare the twelfth one?

Well I will take my time on the next one. I need to be inspired. After so many years of releasing albums I wouldn’t let any record company tell me release a record then because we need to sell. We might have done those things at the 90s. Now I am not reconciling. If I feel that there is something moving inside me then I will write something. Else I am not gonna do this. Maybe never. There must be a good record or else forget it.

Speaking of the Greek scene, I do not know if you are following things but both NIGHTFALL and SEPTICFLESH have released very good records do you think that a live with these sacred bands of the extreme sound would be reality?

We have done that in the past and obviously that would be something different. Do not forget though that there is the new generation, which can show us how things are done, related to playing. Surely those bands have created something, but it’s not just that. There is the new generation and I hope that all the bands could play together in a concert, though we have done that already in the past.

I was saying that because the other bands have made a strong comeback but you also with the records in the Season of Mist.

I see that a lot of Greek bands are going on tour. I have been impressed in the last five years about the Greek scene and the great steps it is making. The new generation might have not released their best albums though they are tremendous as players and they have understood how things are working in the scene. They might lack a bit in personality but that can be found in the process. But I see a lot of bands playing on festivals abroad and tours and I have been really impressed. The Greek scene is existing and strong and I hope in the future to live the glorious moments of the past.

I hope that too, one last question to close this interview. When you play “Non Serviam” there is a lot of fans that get on the stage. Has anything weird happened that you want to share? (I thought “Non Serviam” is the last song in the live set list - but that has changed)

Look people are getting on stage because we feel like doing this and we let it happen as eventually we are also fans. I can’t think of something. Sometimes there are a lot of people on stage and I am afraid if there is too much vibration that something bad might happen. I remember that when we played in Thessaloniki there were about 100 people on stage and it started vibrating and that I started to worry should the things go ugly. But other than that I am proud and happy to share the stage with my fans on some of our songs, because that means a lot to us.

Great! These were my questions and I want to thank you very much for your time. You are free to close this interview as you see fit.

I want to say that in these dark times that we live we have to keep the flag high, to survive and I am sure that Greek metal scene will give a new meaning to what we are going through as a country. Until the next time we meet at a concert. Non Serviam!


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