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Sakis (Rotting Christ)

Interview with Sakis from Rotting Christ
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 19 October 2004, 11:25 PM

Rotting Christ is one of Greece's most successful Metal bands around (and has been around since the early 90s). Though Black Metal doesn't always appeal to everyone, this band has released albums which have been deeply appreciated by not only Greek metalheads but also by a large number of metalheads abroad (especially in South America). Their latest album, Sanctus Diavolos, is considered to be, probably, their finest work so far. We interviewed the band's frontman, Sakis and here's what he had to say.

Since we’re an online Magazine, my first question would be what’s your relationship with the Internet?

I started back in a more romantic era. I used to trade demos, wait for the postman and stuff like that. During the last years the Internet has become a very important thing in our everyday lives so I forced myself into learning about it and well, now I have become sort of an Internet addict. There’s no other way to express our music nowadays…

So, do you use the Internet a lot?

Yes I do but only for my job. I book shows, I keep in contact with my label and stuff like that which takes a lot of my time.

Do you read online magazines?

Yeah, of course, I do. I like online magazines a lot because if I want to find out about something – who’s touring, who’s playing, what are the opinions on my favorite bands – I can easily look it up through Yahoo etc…

Before I start asking you questions concerning your latest album, Sanctus Diavolos, there’s a band issue that’s been on the news recently and everybody sort of knows about it. It’s about the departure from the band of longtime guitarist Costas. So, how did this come to this point?

Actually you know what…to still be playing in a band and you’ve reached the age of 30, it’s not the most secure thing in life. Costas wanted to follow a more normal life, a more secure life and we respect that very much. Our ways parted in a really friendly way…

You are friends, right?

Of course, yeah. We didn’t have any fights.

I ask that because many people wouldn’t know what exactly had happened.

No, no, it’s not like this. See, if you’ve got an everyday job, you can’t ask your boss to take time off all the time; it’s impossible. So Costas chose that way…

He chose a normal job over music.

Yeah, he really likes his everyday job.

Do you know if he’ll ever continue playing Metal?

I don’t know, I have no idea.

So not with Rotting Christ?

Not with Rotting Christ right now but you never know. Maybe later on.

For some live shows maybe?

I don’t know. It could be that or whatever, I have no idea.

Ok. Sanctus Diavolos is your new album. How long did the recording procedure take? Were there any difficulties?

More than a month and it was the first time in ten years that we recorded back in Athens, which means that I took that risk…

But you mixed the album abroad right?

Yeah we did that abroad but just the mixing. I did the production all by myself because I felt that I had already worked too much with producers from around the world and I had gained some experience. I didn’t feel comfortable anymore with the idea of being somewhere abroad, without any friends to help me out, all alone in some village…So I thought why not do it back home, I mean after all we had some really good gear in Greece and I could go back and forth from my home.

Did it work for you? Was it a pleasant experience after all?

Yeah, it did. I rode my bicycle every night, I went to the studio in a really healthy way, I didn’t drink…I just wanted to be able to concentrate on the stuff I had to do. I could solve problems that way like for instance after finishing a solo…I felt it wasn’t good enough, so I called in Gus G. (Firewind) and he did it. I finished up the keyboard parts and I said I need a real choir, so I called Christos from Septic Flesh and he arranged a meeting for us and the choir…

Same choir Chaostar use?

Yeah. So, I wanted all this in order to have the album sound more demonic, more real. That’s why I recorded it here in Greece.

Would you like to comment on each song of Sanctus Diavolos?

Visions Of A Blind Order
It talks about  the fake visions of an eternal  calm and peace that are made to mislead the masses .They are so blind!

 Thy Wings Thy Hhorns Thy Sin
It talks about the good the bad and the fake impression we have for the word sin. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the horns!

 Athanatoi Este  (ÁÈÁÍÁÔÏÉ ÅÓÔÅ)
You are immortal. You that follow the left hand path are immortal. You that follow your sinful will that  sometimes is on the other side on what the pathetic society taught are immortals. Your freedom addicted soul will be delivered to immortality.

It talks about two lives (a good one and a bad one) that have met somewhere in the strange territories of life and their will of the superiority against the other is so tyrannical.

 You My Cross
Too much has happened for the cross, for any kind of cross…too much promises have been given for the cross, for any kind of cross. This is one of the greatest cheats of the contemporary human history.

An instrumental a diabolical break of the album.

 Serve In Heaven
You have to change…or serve in heaven or rule in hell!

 Shades Of Evil
God desired to reign in the flame of human fear. Humans on the other side have waken up and they want to burn out this flame  With any shade of evil. Evil is the freedom and not the ticket to hell.

It talks about the revolutions to search and to not believe blindly all the religious stereotypes.

 Sanctus Diavolos
The devil could be a saint. The devil’s work could be the agent to eternity and freedom if we raise up our punch to all fearful powers.

Atnanatoi Este makes me think that Greece has a rich history as a country and well…many bands have used their native languages in their songs so I thought why not use some ancient Greek in this album?. Of course in the beginning I was a bit worried as to how people would react if they heard lyrics in ancient Greek but then again if you use the language carefully, it eventually fits in.

Some other songs on Sanctus Diavolos also contain ancient Greek too.

Yes. We liked that idea after all these years without of course wanting to be cheesy or anything.

Does all this have anything to do with the Olympics that took place here in Greece this summer? \[laughs]

No, no, I had recorded all the songs long before the Olympics! \[laughs] Well it surely was a Greek year this year…with the European Championship in football and the Olympics! \[laughs]

Was your latest album’s sound the result of a natural progress containing new experimentations in your opinion?

Yes, it’s a progress. There’s no other way. A natural progress of course, as you said. We’re getting older, more mature…

Well you’re not an old man…\[laughs]

Oh yes but you know, we’re getting to know life in a better way, we’re getting to know ourselves better and we express ourselves in a more mature way. So there’s no reason for the band to exist if we keep repeating ourselves. In my opinion it was a step forward for the band otherwise it wouldn’t make any sense…this is our 9th album. I wouldn’t want people saying come on Rotting Christ, call it quits because our album sounded like our 5 previous albums; it would be a disaster for us. So we put all out concentration on this album.

I think one can notice a distinctive change in your sound if you go back to albums like Non Serviam and move forward to albums like A Dead Poem. But would you ever attempt recording an album in the same vein, the same style as let’s say Non Serviam?

It’s impossible because everything was very spontaneous back then. Of course we always try to preserve our roots in our sound so that someone could hear our new album and say oh yeah, that’s Rotting Christ!

Do you think Sanctus Diavolos carries your personal ’trademark’ sound in it, as a band?

A little bit, yeah.

Who designed the cover artwork?

Seth. Do you think he did a good job?

Oh certainly though it reminds me of…

Yeah I know…

…of Septic Flesh. Yeah, a lot of people have told me that.

Yes, he did the cover.

Very nice artwork. Did he just come up with the idea or did you give him exact instructions of what you wanted?

I told him I wanted something really dark to fit the lyrics, the atmosphere and everything so…I trust him and he did it.

So he came to you with this artwork or did he bring up something else first?

No, I liked this straight away. I’m not a big fan of negotiations! \[laughs]

Is the reaction abroad Greece better than it was or is it worse, in your opinion?

As a band?

As a band, concerning what you hear about your new album and also the feeling you get every time you play abroad nowadays.

It’s a mixed feeling because it depends on the place you play.

For example in Brazil…

Oh Brazil, yeah, well generally in South America we always get great feedback and every time we play there it’s much different than when we play in Germany for example. Because in South America people have a different mentality, they like our music more, they listen to a lot of Black Metal. So it really depends on where we’re playing. Of course we try to be ourselves in every single show, anywhere. Even if one person comes to our show, he’s paid a ticket to hear us and we respect that.

It’s mutual, right?

It’s mutual, yeah.

What’s the reaction been so far for Sanctus Diavolos?

Until now everybody’s saying that this is our best album or maybe it is our best album. Of course you know, I’m not the one to judge that, that’s up to you guys, the journalists to judge. But if everyone’s saying it’s our best album, well, I’ll have to agree.

Any negative feedback from the press?

Not until now but sooner or later I’m sure we’ll hear the negative feedbacks; it’s normal.

Saki, are you the kind of person a fan would approach and go hey you know what, I didn’t like that part on ’Non Serviam’  and would agree and say yes, I could have done that better?

I could have done many things better in my life, no doubt about that but that’s the meaning of life; no one could ever be perfect. Everyone does mistakes and especially in music when you record something…it might sound a bit primitive after some years but it has its spot. Every album has its message…even the mistakes in an album play their role, they make the album more unique.

Are you going to do any side-projects right now?

Maybe with Thou Art Lord, the project I have, because I really enjoy playing with that band. I feel great, really free, not stressed and I don’t have too much paperwork to do! \[laughs]

That’s the only thing I might be doing except for touring with Rotting Christ all over the world.

Which concert do you remember the most? Which concert had the biggest impact on you? Which concert made you go wow, look at the crowd!

Oh, Turkey for instance! We’ve played four times there and every time the crowd was more enthusiastic even from Greece! Or in South America as I mentioned before or in Ukraine…

Is there any musician in particular that you’d like to work with?

Well I never work with people who consider themselves to be the best. I’d rather pick 3-4 persons from my neighborhood, from my own town, from Greece.

What I meant was wouldn’t you like to work with Fenriz for example?

Oh, I would like that, sure.

That’s my question actually, someone from Black Metal generally.

Oh yeah, why not, we’d surely love playing with Fenriz for example or with the singer of Dissection. We’d also like to do something with Mayhem because we grew up with bands like Mayhem…

Have you ever spoken to any of these guys about this or have they ever approached you?

It was a great pleasure for us to play in the Inferno festival in Norway this year along with a lot of glorious Black Metal bands. It was a great thing for us. So I think we could cooperate with a lot of people we’ve met but what I care about most is the personality of a musician because I don’t want to have anything to do with heroes…they don’t have anything to offer when it comes to composing music. I’m more into rock ‘n roll kind of people like for instance I’d like Lemmy (Motorhead) to sing some of my songs because I’m sure that if we ever supported Motorhead on tour, we’d live the rock ‘n roll way of life and that’s the main idea for all of us in the band.

Rock ‘n roll is the main idea behind everything, isn’t it?

Exactly. For example I’d like to play with Sepultura or Soulfly because they might not be the best musicians in the world but what they do they do it with passion and they love it…and that’s how I feel too.

What’s your opinion on Black Metal nowadays?

It ain’t like it used to be back in the early 90s or late 80s but on the other hand as a band we’re somewhere in the middle. Meaning that we’re not too much into fundamentalistic Black Metal and we’re not too much into electronically driven Black Metal. I think we stand somewhere in the middle.

Do you like what other Black Metal bands are doing?

Yeah of course, I do like other bands from the Black Metal scene but you know, there’s no romanticism and there’s not a real way in Black Metal nowadays, there’s no unity. It’s not like it used to be back in the old days. Because Black Metal is a statement, an expression of life, it’s the most extreme form of music and it should always be dark and a pain in the ass of all conservative thinkers. Nowadays bands only think of how to make more money and sell… That’s not what Black Metal was all about.

What are the band’s future plans?

We’re going to play in Greece first and then in as many shows as we can all around the world! This is the most important thing for the band, to keep in contact with their fans.

Are you going to be in any summer Festivals next year?

Nothing yet but we are in negotiations with a few festivals…

Finally, send out a message to all your fans and our readers.

Horns up brothers and I hope we’ll see you in your hometown for a real Black Metal show!


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