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Savvas Betinis (Kinetic)

Interview with Savvas Betinis from Kinetic
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 31 October 2004, 8:39 PM

What do you get when you mix: former members of Greek bands Brainfade, Acid Death and Wisdom together with extra-technical Death Metal and Thrash? You get one of the most promising Greek acts around, you get Kinetic! On a late August afternoon Thodoris and I met with the band's frontman, Savvas Betinis (ex-vocals & bass of Acid Death) and sat at an Athenian cafeteria somewhere downtown for a quite detailed and interesting interview. Here's what Savvas had to say after being severely interrogated by us over coffee.

Orpheus: First of all I’d like you to self-introduce Kinetic to the people who’ll be reading this Interview.

The band was formed two years ago. The band consists of band members who all played in other bands before Kinetic. For example, I used to play the bass and be the singer of Acid Death. Manolis Mamas and Stavros Bonikos both were the guitarists of Brainfade and Costas Alexakis used to be the drummer of Wisdom.

Orpheus: These were all Greek bands, right?

Yes. I want to point out that this is not a project, like some may think it is, because we all come from other former bands but we’re a normal band.

In the beginning we started working on some previously unprocessed songs of Brainfade - which band was a solid Power Metal band – and these songs were more in the vein of Thrash/Death, thus they weren’t intending on releasing this material. So we started working on these songs and as time went by lots of ideas came up resulting in a total of 10-12 tracks which will consist our debut full length album. The album’s going to be released in October 2004 and is entitled The Chains That Bind Us.

Orpheus: Does the name Kinetic come from the homonymous Arcturus song on their Sham Mirrors (2002) album? Because that’s what I’ve heard…

Not totally. First of all, the band name issue tired us a lot. The first name we had in mind was Zero because we’re four musicians starting from…zero right now! We didn’t like that idea after all and then we came up with another band name but it was already taken by another band; then another band name we didn’t like etc. So one day while we were rehearsing in the studio, Costas Alexakis comes up with the name Kinetic, meaning something that doesn’t remain stagnant but keeps evolving. We did some research and when we found out there’s no other band with that name we finally got to come through with this issue.

Orpheus: You’ve signed to SleazyRider Records (Greek record label). How easy was it to get a deal with a Record Label. How fast did it happen?

Well, compared to other times, it happened really fast. Of course that has to do with the fact that we also acted fast. In September 2003 we self-released a Demo CD which we sent out to almost every possible place we could send it to. Apart from SleazyRider we were approached by other smaller record companies too. Tolis \[Palatzas] (label owner) was the first person to get the Demo and he really liked what we played and our entire attitude as a band. His deal was the best offered from the ones we had so we decided to join SleazyRider.

Orpheus: Are you satisfied with SleazyRider so far?

Oh everything’s just fine! You know, what usually ruins a label-band relationship is bad communication, bad organizing… and SleazyRuder has given us permission to do anything we want to. From their part, they’ve stated that they’ll support us anyhow in any way wherever that’s possible and so far both sides have been loyal to their agreement. We’ve never come to the point with them where things couldn’t move on and I’d like to believe that that’s how it’s always going to be.

Orpheus: Considering that all of you in the band come from bands playing different kinds of Metal, I wanted to ask you how you guys decided that you’d play Death Metal?

This is a question we’ve been asked by all the people who knew us in the past and saw us all together in Kinetic. They all had the same question: the bass guitar player used to play Death Metal, the two guitar players used to play Power Metal, the drummer used to play Heavy Metal…what the fuck was Kinetic going to play? \[laughs] It’s very simple. We all brought in our influences, mixed them up and what came out was what we’re playing right now, what you’ve heard us play. Manolis and Stavros had already thought about changing their Brainfade songs’ structure into a more Thrash kind of thing so it was actually quite easier to do it. Objectively, we had not problem adapting our influences into the band’s style and this is the most important thing. There was strong will in all of us. If there’s will to do something you eventually find a positive solution!

Orpheus: And of course there has to be good chemistry bonding the band members together. There is good chemistry in the band, right?

Of course!

Orpheus: And from what I know you’re all good friends and have a lot of fun working together, hanging out together etc.

You can’t have a band going if the band members aren’t like that. You wouldn’t be able to have the whole thing working if it were the other way. We’re not employees, nobody owns us. No one should ever think he’s the employee of some boss, because that’s simply very bad. If there’s no friendly feeling, no chemistry between band members then it won’t work out well.

Orpheus: I think Thodoris over here can confirm that you guys surely have chemistry.
Thodoris: Yeah, I remember seeing you live (Sadus / Kinetic / Dream Devoid – An Club, Athens – 03/04/2004), you seemed to be a very tight band. It was as if you had been playing together for a lot of years already.

In our case, there also was another factor that helped in that, the desire to be musically active, to be creative…a feeling that was held back all this time. That’s what happened to me – with my previous band – that’s what happened to all of us. The feeling of I wanna do something really good came out in every one of us in the band. This bonded us even more. We all started working together trying to reach the same goal we all shared, the same dream.

Thodoris: What do you think Kinetic have right now that could drive you to success and didn’t have in all your previous bands?

A lot of things have changed compared to our previous bands. First of all, we are all in a strong mood for work. Because, let’s not fool ourselves, a band that’s just been formed has to run, do a lot of things on its own and this is something that the majority of Greek Metal bands seems to ignore or…they won’t even think about it. Greek bands always expect others to do what they should be doing (in the beginning) and that’s totally wrong!

Orpheus: Do you think that this is the main reason why only a few Greek acts finally make it and get to be known outside Greece too?

Well, yes, this plays an important role in that too. Most of the Greek bands think that if they just try a little bit and have some decent stuff to present that they’ll reach success. I’m afraid that things aren’t like that; things are completely different. There’s a strong competition out there, especially abroad. That means that in order to make your presence at least notable, you’ve got to run!

Thodoris: Isn’t it also because of the sloppy way things are generally organized in Greece when it comes to Heavy Metal?

No, I wouldn’t agree with that, not at this point. I believe that the bands are the ones who have to do stuff for themselves rather than anyone else. The means to do things exist, especially during the last five years…you’ve got the Internet and that’s more than enough! Nowadays a band with some cash and an honest musical effort can accomplish very satisfying results by using technological means like the Internet. Some time ago it didn’t used to be this easy…

So what helps us as a band is that we are aware that we’re not contracted to EMI or Polygram, we’re not Iron Maiden and we’ll all have to run for our band. Time will tell…

Orpheus: Let’s be a bit hypothetical now. If one day a major record label signed you guys and added you to their roster, do you think that then you’d be owned by someone else? Would this have any influence on you?

Oh even if that happened, I think we’d still be running! \[laughs] You know Orpheus, some things simply are a must do. If you learn to function in a certain way then that’s way you’ll usually function later on too. It’s always for our own benefit, for our own good. Therefore I don’t think I’d really change if that ever happened. Of course I’m sure we’d have less freedom than what we’re given right now, we’d be treated quite differently etc. We’d probably have a better promotion too but that doesn’t mean we’d change, we’d still try and see what’s best for us first, then all the rest.

Thodoris: Could you describe Kinetic’s playing style, in your own words, for our readers?
Orpheus: Yeah, Thodoris had written that your sound’s close to that of Sadus and Testament…
Thodoris: Exactly. It’s like a thin line separating Thrash Metal from Death Metal and you’re somewhere on that thin line.

Our sound is something between American and Swedish Death Metal with a lot of Thrash Metal and Power Metal influences. I want to believe that this sound is going to remain the same in the future too because we’re completely satisfied with it. I don’t think there’s a reason to change it.

Thodoris: It’s just that it’s a bit difficult to comprehend such a complex blending of styles because there aren’t many bands playing like you right now. And this requires a good balance of all styles involved in the one resulting…

For sure you need good balance and I think that we’ve got that right now. I hope we don’t loose that balance somewhere down the road! \[laughs]

Orpheus: Are you afraid you might change too much in the future, music-wise speaking, since music always tends to evolve?

I don’t know about that and I think none of us is able to know what lies ahead…

Orpheus: Yes, surely but you have changed compared to your musical abilities in the past, right?

Yes I have but I don’t know about the future though. What I can say though is that based on our present status, which is the fact that we really like what we’re doing right now, is that our music is evolvable within the specific boundaries of bandwidth we possess right now. Later on, well we’ll just wait and see what may occur in our path…Anyway let’s not forget that we’re a new band.

Orpheus: I’ve heard you’ve recorded a video clip for your debut album. Which song did you shoot?

Yes, it’s a video clip for Never Ending Winter.

Orpheus: Tell us a few things about it.

We did this video clip on our own with the help of a very good friend of ours, Yannis Tsikounakis, who was in charge of the cameras and later on did the montage of the video too. The scenario was very simple. Never Ending Winter is about someone who’s isolated himself from the entire world and finally one day tells his story to someone else.

Orpheus: Who plays in this video clip?

There are two people staring in this video clip. A guy called Vassilis Nikolaou and a woman who’s an old friend of our guitarist (Manolis) called Alexandra Kara. The video clip will be included in our debut CD as bonus material.

Orpheus: Oh, so it’s going to be a multimedia CD…

Yes. First impression it has given us is that it looks decent.

Orpheus: Your first big concert as a band was the one where you played as support for Sadus. How did it feel to be playing on the same bill with a band like Sadus which has a bass player like Di Giorgio?

It was simply a great experience. And I want to mention that Sadus were extremely friendly guys and very good people to get to meet despite the fact that they had arrived completely exhausted. And from what I heard they got even more exhausted after Athens because the guitarist had some serious family problems, something with his daughter’s health. I hope it’s all ok by now.

Anyway, this live was a good promotion for us because we at least got to be heard by some people, for starters. In our previous shows, which we set up on our own, the attendance wasn’t really good.

Thodoris: Are there any other future concerts you’ll be on the bill, like what happened with Sadus?

After the CD is released in October we’re practically going to launch our attack. We are already making plans for a Greek tour. We want to play in as many Greek cities as we can. Besides that, we want and we have to book us some shows abroad. We’ve already got some contacts abroad and I hope that soon we’ll manage to come up with something. Of course I know it’s also going to be extremely difficult for us because of the cost of doing something like that and because…we’re a new band! At least we’re going to try and I hope that we’ll make it.

Orpheus: When we’re talking about abroad, you mean like big Metal festivals?

Not only festivals but concerts in 5-6 countries that are close to Greece, like Italy, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania and a few more. I don’t know if we’ll finally manage to make this because it’s really difficult but as I said, we’ll try.

Orpheus: What’s your point of view on Metal nowadays? For example, a lot of Metal bands have been reuniting the last couple of years. On the other hand, you’ve got Nu Metal.

To me there’s generally a blur in Metal nowadays. Nu Metal mixed with Death Metal, Hardcore mixed with Heavy Metal, Power Metal mixed with Death…All these mixings never existed in Metal. Nevertheless, from within this blur a lot of good bands manage to stand out and have created a very respectful name right now. In Flames for example or Arch Enemy are among these bands that as I said stand out. I think that Sweden’s a place where things are musically more clarified and positive.

Orpheus: When you say ‘blur’ do you mean that there’s no quality anymore?

Not necessarily that. First of all, we’re talking about a time that has three times more bands than there used to be before…Where there’s quantity there’s no quality. That’s how it always was. But I can’t say though that there aren’t any good bands out there nowadays. It’s just that the scene isn’t that clear. The genres and sub-genres are slowly, slowly starting to not be any different from each other and I’m afraid that this will not stop. Now, as far as reunions are concerned, I personally find them to be a bit pointless. That comes from a fan’s perspective who’s only concern is to go get the product and thus it should be a decent product. From the musicians’ point of view, it’s not pointless, not at all. I don’t think this is going to last long though. It’s a circle and it’s going to end someday like it has in the past.

Orpheus: When one day all the really major Heavy Metal bands call it quits and there are no more reunions, what do you think is going to be Heavy Metal’s future?

In my opinion this has to do strictly with the record labels, as to whom they’ll promote more, how they’re going to promote him…who’s going to be placed on the stand. I also think that bands that have been playing for 20 or 30 years practically have nothing new to offer in their remaining years in the scene. It also depends on who’s going to fall and who’ll be the one chosen by the companies to replace the one who’s fallen.

Thodoris: What’s more important after all? To preserve something you’ve created or to constantly be adding new elements?

Both! One does rule out the other one. By constantly adding something new you simply confuse your listener. By only keeping on doing the same stuff you’ve always been playing, your listener eventually gets bored.

Thodoris: I ask that because for example Judas Priest is a band that doesn’t have much space left to evolve anymore, after their reunion. That means that they’ll probably release something quite familiar in sound to all of us.

Surely. The point is to be somewhere in the middle. You can neither remain the same nor constantly bomb everyone with new things all the time. The best solution lies somewhere in the middle.

Orpheus: Before this interview comes to an end, I’d like to ask you which bands were your main influences all the way, from a kid to right now.

I grew up listening to Thrash-Death…not Death-Thrash. I’m quite glad I was there when Thrash was born and same thing goes for Death Metal too. I’ll also never forget that when I was 15 years old I used to listen to Kreator and ten years later I would be their supporting act (with Acid Death). Some of my favorites almbums/musicians/bands are Cronos of Venom, Possesed’s Seven Churches (1985) and especially Larry LaLonde (guitar) since I’m referring to this band, because hos evolution as a musician was outstanding! Of course it’s all because of the man who taught LaLonde so many things…Joe Satriani. And from Heavy Metal I’ll say Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris as a bass player. Harris is the definition of Heavy Metal bassist.

Thodoris: How about entire bands?

Death is my all time favorite band. Then Venom, Possessed, W.A.S.P, Dream Theater (only on the Images And Words album), Onslaught, Agent Steel, Morbid Angel (on the Altars Of Madness album) and Rush.

Orpheus: Ok, now it’s time for our typical Internet-related question. What’s your relationship with the Internet? Do you read online magazines for example?

First I’d like to say something concerning all those who know what the situation was here in Greece before the Internet showed up. They should consider e-mail and the Internet in general to be an eulogy! The Internet’s the most accessible mean for someone to promote his band.

Our drummer, Costas - who’s our webmaster too – and I use the Internet a lot. At least we do that whenever we’ve got free time. Oh and yes we do read a lot of online magazines. The weak point though is that it could be better. On the other hand I know that most online magazines are mostly done  as part time activities, only a few make actual money out of that. That means that some things aren’t easy. But I believe that there’s a lot evolution to be done in the future.

Metal Temple Magazine in my opinion is among the few online magazines around the world that updates on a daily basis providing us lots of information. It’s good to know that whatever you’re reading on Metal Temple is not ten years old…\[laughs]

Orpheus: Savva, the last words belong to you. Send out a message to all our readers.

As a band we’d like to thank all those who’ve spent time on us during this small period of our existence. The help was unimaginably great! So I consider the first thing to be in response is a big thank you to all of them!


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