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Shok Paris' Vic Hix: "It's just about a bullet that is known as a Full Metal Jacket, the FMJ Rules the Battlefield! That being said, the artwork represents, a Full Metal Jacket, filled with something else, a play on words so to speak!!"

Interview with Vic Hix from Shok Paris
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 17 May 2020, 9:59 PM

It is just like riding a bike, it is nearly impossible to forget how do it. It is possible that being a musician never leaves the person even after a long hiatus, it is a quality, a talent, that remains dormant until suddenly, out of nowhere, it is awakened, seeking and hungry. That quality could be referred to any artist out there. But let's face it people, in Metal you have more passion. The comeback Shok Paris, which recently announced their return, are in their element with a new album, "Full Metal Jacket", letting everyone know that their old school spirit has never really dimmed but rather flourished. Steinmetal had the opportunity to talk to long time vocalist Vic Hix about what happened earlier on, the comeback, signing in Greece, new album and more…

Hello Vic, I am glad to have the chance to interview you for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing? How have you been coping with this Covid-19 pandemic?

Thank you for asking, doing just fine, hope you and all of our fans are doing great as well! I am sure the new Shok Paris material is going to make you all feel much better, at least you will have something new to listen too!!

The last time that your band Shok Paris had a new studio album, it was back in 1989 with “Concrete Killers”, which I remember quite fondly. The band made a comeback in 2009, yet only a single, “Those Eyes”, was released three years later. What kept you from turning up with new material up until this year?

Thanks for your support of "Concrete Killers", but I think you are really going to love "Full Metal Jacket". That being stated, after doing Headbangers Open Air Festival in 2010, we decided to start writing and recording, the idea was to do an EP called "Decharge Electricque" with 5 or 6 songs, we had them recorded, but the response from our fans when playing them out was great and we then decided to put the EP on hold and do a full length Album. We started recording in 2011, then we were invited to Up The Hammers Festival 2012 and decided to release "Those Eyes" as a single for promotional use for our fans in Greece. We also recorded "Full Metal Jacket" but didn't release it, we did play both songs at that show and got a great response for both new songs. After recording both songs we were not happy with the sound, it sounded to modern and was looking for more of an old school sound but without any label support, we knew the only way we could afford to do this is to record it on our own, so we started buying equipment, one piece at a time, to do our own recordings and that process took money and time!!

What can you tell of what the band has been doing in this last decade? Were you able to cover grounds that were left off your touring schedule in your early days?

The band has been working on new material more than anything else, in between doing European Metal Festivals and some shows here and there in the States. We are not a touring band, we all have day jobs and only do select shows! The music business is so much different today than it was in the past, in the old days, the label would set you up on a tour, and pay for your recordings, so you really didn't need a day job, but in today's world you must pay for your recording, artwork and the like, and submit it to a label to see if they are interested in your product!! So to survive, you better have a day job or do a lot of touring to pay the bills!!

Prior to the release of your comeback album, “Full Metal Jacket”, came in the Covid-19 pandemic and with it a lockdown was issued on nearly everything we hold dear. What can you tell of how Shok Paris has been maintaining the promotion of its material? Were there thoughts of live streams, perhaps q&a and sorts?

The virus hit just as we are about to release the new Album on No Remorse Records, we are all set up for digital downloads and Streaming. No Remorse Records is handling the CD and Album sales along with distribution, yes, it will hurt us when it comes to doing any live shows, but it may also help us, people can't wait to hear something new as people are bored right now being kept at home, so that may just help the release!!

Signing with the No Remorse Records, the mighty old school Greek label, seemed like more than a smart move. These guys over there know quality old school Metal and serve as a find home for seasoned bands of the classic Metal years. How did these relations come to be? What are your expectations from your mutual work together to promote “Full Metal Jacket”?

To us, it's a Match Made in Heaven hooking up with No Remorse Records, when we played at Up The Hammers Festival in Greece in 2012, we were with our old label, Auburn Records. Bill Peters of Auburn had always stated that Chris of No Remorse Records was always interested in us and was a big fan of the band! We even met Chris in Athens and visited his record store and we all went out to dinner and talked about one day coming to his label! When we finished recording "Full Metal Jacket", Bill started he would like to shop us around and contacted Chris about the band, we sent him the new material to listen to and after that, it was a done deal. We couldn't ask for a better deal with Chris at the helm and No Remorse Records backing Shok Paris up!! We love it!!

The moment I saw the title “Full Metal Jacket”, I thought of Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 classic movie, sharing the same name. However, judging from the artwork, I guess that you took, at least in graphics, to a rather sleazier direction. I presume that your main focuses, when it comes to lyrics, didn’t really change from the 80s or did they?

The title song is called "Full Metal Jacket". The song is about that magic bullet on the battlefield, that soldiers say has your name on it, the one that gets you!! It's just about a bullet that is known as a Full Metal Jacket, the FMJ Rules the Battlefield! That being said, the artwork represents, a Full Metal Jacket, filled with something else, a play on words so to speak!! We use now, like we did back then, many different lyrical ideas for songs and I like to use lyrics that are roughly related to the idea of the songs, so that people can use their own imagination on what the song is about, I always love to hear from fans when they tell me what a song to them is about! Imagination is everything!!

With largely most of the comeback bands, especially the ones from the 80s, are resurfacing with albums that sound and look modern, Shok Paris didn’t take note and maintained an old sound pattern, which sounds amazing by the way. Weren’t any thoughts or deliberations to go modern in sound at least?

Being Shok Paris, it's all we know, it's what we do, we only know how to be Shok Paris, we only know how to be Old School and that means writing the way we have always wrote and as a fan of music myself, I am sure that is exactly what our fans would expect, nothing more, nothing less!! It may have taken 31 years but we are true to ourselves and to our Fans of Metal!!

Looking back at your first three efforts, it would appear that Shok Paris is a kind of band that is determined to maintain its musical approach, alongside its sound. However, through “Full Metal Jacket”, do you see any sort of going forward with the band’s music? Any difference in your approach to writing the music, especially with members in the lineup that weren’t part of the original lineup?

Not at all, the new members are all from Cleveland and grew up Shok Paris fans, it's a dream come true for them to play with us, and it's an honour for us to have them playing, they know us, they are a part of us, they know the Shok Paris style inside and out and fit the band perfectly!!

What kind of elements in the band’s music were, let’s say, resurfaced within “Full Metal Jacket”?

As an old school Classic Hard Rock/ Metal band we like to do change up's in the styles of each song, no songs sound totally alike, that is what we do, different keys and different beats, work best for us, and as a singer and the primary lyric writer. I like the different feels to each and every song, that helps me to come up with lyrics that fit the mood of the songs!!

Prior to the Covid-19, did you have the chance to present your new material live? If so, what were the reactions of the fans to the new songs? Any song that you would say captured the ears of the fans in comparison to others?

Since we have been writing and working on these songs for several years, we did play many, if not all of these songs, over time live for our fans, to get a feel for them and how our fans responded to them! We considered that response by our fans when we chose songs for Full Metal Jacket, but not all songs, some of these songs are so new we never got to play them out, but we believe in all of our songs, song that are in the Shok Paris style of music!!!

In overall, how would you say that the younger generation of Metalheads perceive Shok Paris of the present?

That has yet to be determined, I guess sales will tell us that hopefully, when we do play out, I can tell you we have a very diverse crowd, the young and the old before us and everyone in between, and that to us is a good thing, it keeps us going!!

When it comes to the songwriting and the song arrangements on “Full Metal Jacket”, for me at least it sounds kind of natural, a Shok Paris album. What is your take on that? Did anything actually change in your perception of how to write songs?

Not at all, as for the song arrangements for the CD/Album, we left that up to Bill Peters of Auburn Records, he has a great ear for putting songs in the proper order, he has been doing it for over 30 years!! The writing just comes naturally to us, it is what you live for, it is from the soul, when you have been doing it for years, it becomes a special part of you, you live to write!

Talking about songwriting, how did it feel to come back and write new material for a full length after so long?

Really, it's like riding a bike, you don't forget. I personally feel that when a writing team gets back together after a long break, you feel good about what's happening and you just pick up where you left off, but with a new perspective and fresh ideas!! It is something that is part of you, you never lose that!!

So it happens that the bonus track of the album, “Up The Hammers”, turned out to be rather obscurity in comparison to the rather loosen vibe of the tracks. It is an epic, showing a rather interesting side of the band. What is your take on it? What can you tell about this song’s writing process and its perception?

"Up the Hammers" is roughly based on the ancient God's of the people's of Europe and how that relates to the Metal fans at all Metal Festivals and how it's like a religion to them!!! "what is of the past, is also in the present and will be in the future"!!! We are all Metal Brothers and Sisters, with all the same hopes and dreams!! Music brings us all together, we breath it, we live it, we are the music and we stand together one and all!!! The idea for this song came to me when playing the Up the Hammers Festival in 2012 and seeing ancient Greece!!!! "We hold these Hammers High, the Hammer of the Gods"!!

While there is still a lockdown, in various scales, have you guys already started working on the next Shok Paris release or have you been centred on the promotion of “Full Metal Jacket”?

Yes, we are centred on this release, first and foremost, it is very special to us, but we are deep into the idea of using the songs for "Decharge Electricque" as a follow-up CD/Album and not an EP, using those 6 songs and some new ones, will breathe new life into that Project!!

What can you tell of your plans going forward, after the Covid-19 threat is lifted to the point where you can actually travel and perform? Where is Shok Paris headed, or at least where would you want to head out and tour?

Like everyone else, because of the virus, we are in a holding pattern, we are Scheduled to play the 2021 Up the Hammers Festival in Athens, and we can't say for sure we will even be allowed to travel their next year, so all we can do is wait and see, we know that plans for any shows right now would be a no go, so we will just wait and see what happens!! Let's all hope, it ends well for all of our sake!!

Vic, it was sure amazing to have you for this interview. I honour your consistency and your passion throughout the years. Many thanks. Cheers!

And Thank you for all your support of Shok Paris and what you do! And also a very special thanks to all of our current and future fans, may we all come together soon and "Hold those Metal Hammers High, Up the Hammers my friends!!


 



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