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Winter’s Verge’s George Charalambous: “This was not meant to be a "Metal" album. In the end though, I guess what you love most comes out, integrates itself when you least expect it.”

Interview with George Charalambous from Winter’s Verge
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 10 September 2020, 10:00 PM

To be more than mere simple, or overly complex, to reach a dramatic climate that would sweep listeners off their feet, and ears. To take on a written story and make it larger than life. Now that is a task that most aren’t really willing to take. It might be risky, a lot of work, yet there is a good chance that the outcome will be exhilarating. Winter’s Verge from Cyprus always had a special relationship with concepts, yet with their new “The Ballad Of James Tig”, it became a cinematic event, a soundtrack to be remembered. Steinmetal talked with vocalist George Charalambous about this profound venture and the road towards the album’s completion and fulfillment

Hi George, even though not in person, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing? I assume that this pandemic period of time hasn’t been that easy right?

Hi Lior! Thank you for taking the time to do this with me. I am well, hope you guys are too. This period has not been easy no, but we will get through this.

After being unsigned for nearly eight years, releasing two albums in the process as independent, you decided to sign with a label, Pride & Joy Music. What was the nature of that decision after being rather adamant to remain on your own all these years? In overall, what have been your expectations from a label that you found in Pride & Joy Music?

The main reason we wanted to sign with a label again, is that there are things that you can do on your own, but there are things that you can't. When you are alone, there is a limit to what is possible and the amount of audience you can reach. With a good label behind you, like Pride & Joy, you can raise the bar and do much much more.

Your recent album, “Wolves Of Tiberon”, surely left its mark with how in depth Winter’s Verge can reach with its dramatic musical input. However, if that wasn’t enough, you dug deeper to make something even greater, epos driven I might add. And there you are, presenting “The Ballad Of James Tig”. Other than the story at hand, which we will discuss about, what inspired you to head on and fulfill this rather zealous production?

This all started when I went to my very good friend Mr. Frixos Masouras said to him, “I want to collaborate with you. but not just any collaboration. You write the story; I write the music. I want to make this cinematic, where the music sounds like a soundtrack. Each song will be a chapter in the story.” This was not meant to be a "Metal" album. In the end though, I guess what you love most comes out, integrates itself when you least expect it.

“The Ballad Of James Tig” is a story written by Frixos Masouras. With countless stories of a rather identical nature out there, what drew you to this particular story? What made it so special in its plot that made you tick?

Actually, this is what happened. Continuing my answer from the previous question, Frixos was very excited to do this project with me. He wrote 5 different loglines for me. 5 different stories. We had no idea how or what would happen in each one, but they were just basic 2-3 lines summarizing a story. He said - "Choose". So this is the one I had chosen. James Tig was born that day!

James Tig can be rendered as the tragic hero of this story, a suffering kind of individual that lost everything dear to him and he continues to suffer along his journey. What made you identify with the hero? What do you think of the cause that he made for himself, the race for vengeance against an enemy that he is far to match?

It is not as much as identifying with the actual character, but the whole story. I'm a sucker for Great Big Epic movies, like LOTR or Pirates of the Caribbean. This story has a drive, epicenes, revenge, love, pain, I mean I could go on and on. Each of these gives a different kind of feeling, therefore different melodies can be created according to what you are feeling at that given moment. This was not something that pre-existed and we were like, let's do this one. We created it along the journey. Each song was written side by side with the story.

When comparing the here and now, our reality, whether prior or within the pandemic, what aspects can you recognize as shared? What added value there is to learn from this kind of story as an implication on real life in your view?

In my view, simply never give up. And never be afraid to fail. If you really fight for what you believe in, you will always get to where you want to go. Just like James Tig when he was a child. He worked for years and saved his money, to learn how to be a sailor and then a captain. He saved  his gold until when he was able to buy his own ship and set forth to try and find Killagorak. (All this is in the Novela that Frixos Masouras has written. The book will not be released by the label, but if you want a copy, you can contact us through our FB page, and we can ship it to you.)

As I mentioned in brief, the prospect of “The Ballad Of James Tig” took Winter’s Verge into a whole different level of a Metal oriented production. Easily the album’s music can be a soundtrack for a play, even a bigger production like a film for instance. When it comes to songwriting, how do you think that Winter’s Verge evolved concerning the aspects of this album in comparison to your past?

I truly think that as we grow we learn. Musically we are more mature than how we started, and we want to keep growing. I mean, our first album was straight power metal. Simple and to the point. But musically it was not rich. This one has detail. We cannot stay on the same level forever. I want to grow as a musician and explore. But I think this is where the band should focus on direction. Maybe add a little more speed to the songs, and of course the guitars will be more "involved". But other than that, I think we are on a Good track to becoming much better.

Furthermore, in terms of musical progression, is there anywhere to go for Winter’s Verge, especially in order to keep a certain kind of melodic flow to the songs along with show strong musicianship?

Yes, we seem to have started something different and interesting with this choice of musical direction, so i think we should focus here and evolve.

While writing and recording the album, what would you say were the most intense moments, may those be ordeals or periods that showed a bright future?

Oh man…. I remember those nights, brutal hours. :))))) Writing would begin every night at around 10pm and end at around 4am. I would write things and send them to Frixos. we would discuss what happens in the story and he would. This took about a year to finish writing. The other thing I remember was the delivery on the vocals. Trying to find the correct feeling for each part. I'm not an actor!

The new album officially presented new members to the Winter’s Verge family, two guitarists and a return of a keyboardist of the ranks of the band after the last one was featured on “Beyond Vengeance”. What do you make of the new members? How did they contribute to the creational process of the album?

Well, the first part of it has to do with getting along. Good people that you can hang out with and have a laugh together. The second is to find good musicians that will share your vision and dream! Savvas and Deniel are totally different Guitarists. But both are great at what they do. Their styles are very different but yet when together can be awesome! Stavry on the keys… well… the truth is a real person is much different from samples. We always have had Keys in our songs, so we always had sample playbacks during our live shows. Having an actual person play that is so much better! And brings new horizons to the band. We have not yet written anything together, but we will, soon enough. Can't wait to hear what will come out of this!

The opening track “It Begins” decimated any form of doubt that this was going to be yet another Winter’s Verge album, the dramatic aspects became tense pretty fast, showing a lot of promise. What is your opinion of this track and its songwriting process?

It's the first song I wrote for the album, as soon as the idea was born. Melodic, and intense, with a lot of ups and downs. It just brings out the first dramatic part of the story. This is one of my favorite tracks. I love the melody and it's the first one I wrote.

Taking a step forward, with emotion levels on the high ground, came forward “Blood on the Foam”, possibly one of the strongest within this epos. It is pretty much a rat salad of everything that the album has to offer, guided by a tight production. Is this the future of Winter’s Verge marked by this particular song, bombastic oriented productions?

Exactly! This is where we want to be. The only thing I believe that's missing, is the guitars need to be a little bit more involved. Obviously, For James Tig, being a more Cinematic approach, the guitars were laid back and came forward only in a few places. But for the future it will not be like that. I believe we are close to the direction we want to be.

In regards to the Cypriot scene, due to the pandemic, is it possible to perform live to a small number of attendees or currently the live scene is still shut down?

Unfortunately, we cannot have any of that quite yet. Hopefully things will change soon.

With time on your hands, have you begun brainstorming for the next Winter’s Verge album? Perhaps it will be yet another concept?

Yes we have! We may or may not already have 2-3 songs ready. The possibility of it being another concept album is there! It remains to be seen.

Once this pandemic is over, any plans in order to promote the album other than through the media or locally?

Crossing fingers, we want to get out and do some shows! Can't wait to play for our fans!

George, it was amazing having you for this interview. I really hope that we will have a chance to talk in person sometime soon. But first, this pandemic has to end and let’s expect it to be fast. Many thanks for the great music and well-crafted album. Cheers

Thank you! Can't wait to share a beer together! Cheers



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