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Aris, Mike, Panagiotis (Wheelrunner)

Interview with Aris, Mike, Panagiotis from Wheelrunner
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 15 March 2009, 5:41 PM

After having the pleasure listening to WHEELRUNNER's Bloodpaint we did get a chance to talk to three of the four band members about this release and the future of this Greek band. Let's see what they told METAL TEMPLE.

Welcome to the METAL TEMPLE webzine. Please take some time to introduce the band to our readers.

\[Mike] WHEELRUNNER formed back in 2000. We have released three demos and on December 2008 our debut full-length album Bloodpaint was released by Emotion Art Music. Right now we are a four-member band with Mike Madness on the vocals and lead guitars, Aris Escaper on the drums, Pete Savage on the bass guitar and Chris on the rhythm guitars.

Musically, where do WHEELRUNNER stand? What are your influences?

\[Mike] WHEELRUNNER sound like Hard n' Heavy with scratchy vocals & plenty of influences from MOTLEY CRUE and VAN HALEN to DOORS and BEATLES.

So, Bloodpaint is your debut full length album. It came after two years after the demo release. So, what did happened during these two years?

\[Aris] Actually during that period we were preparing the debut album, meaning pre-recording sessions and finalizing our songs. In the meantime we all came across our military obligations; however we managed to keep up with a few live performances.

\[Panagiotis] When we finally decided to be a three-member-band, we arranged as many live gigs as we could. It was another way of rehearsal that enabled us to start recording our debut album.

Actually, your demo featured four members whereas Bloodpaint three members. Can you give us an update on these lineup changes and explain your decision to go on as a three piece band?

\[Mike] Unfortunately, the former singer of the band, Jon V, decided to leave when we were about to start recording our debut album. We couldn't wait any longer so we decided to finish the recording the three of us.  

\[Panagiotis] When we realized that we had to move on and there was no time to search for new members, yes we decided to be a three-piece band. Our songs were ready. Probably it was inevitable… Now, a fourth member joined the band, Chris on rhythm guitars & he really rocks in live performances.

 

I remember your performance supporting JON OLIVA'S PAIN; actually Jon said some pretty good things that night. Are you still in contact?

\[Aris] Yes indeed, we were overexcited to support his shows. It was an amazing experience. But, when our lead singer left the band we lost contact.

Let's go to your debut album, what was your composing process? How lomg did it take you to prepare the tracks in it?

\[Aris] Mike gives birth to the initial format of the songs. Upon that he presents the ideas to the rest of the members who in return finalize the composing process. That means lots of hours in the studio but the outcome has the personal character and influence of all members.

What are the lyrics about and how important are for your music?

\[Mike] WHEELRUNNER is a Hard Rock band and the lyrics are not a brew of complicated socio-political problems or poetry… Maybe one day we'll refer to such problems but for now we simply sing the pain of love and of course Rock 'n' Roll!!

The album breathes 80s atmosphere, was this your intention? Or was it something it just happened during the composing process?

\[Mike] We are great fans and inspired by the 80s. I don't know, maybe it's just the way our music should sound!

\[Panagiotis] The most important thing when composing new stuff is that the melodies and songs must fulfil the band's expectations. At the same time, one should feel good every time he has to perform. We compiled these feelings and recorded Bloodpaint. Let me note that Bloodpaint contains songs, actually parts of them, from our very first years back from 2000.

Even though I am just a fan of Metal music I feel that the Greek Metal scene is in its prime. What is your opinion about the Greek scene as member of a band who has just released an album?

\[Mike] Hellenic Metal Scene was and still is underground. Only few bands succeeded to fly over the borders and become professional bands. Our country, apart from the great climate and scenery, has many great hard Rock/Metal bands. However, not many people help and support those bands to make one step forward…  

\[Panagiotis] Nowadays many things have changed. I think that there's room for those who try and want to achieve something better and I really believe that we are not primitive any more. Some bands begin to look and act like real professionals. They just need someone to believe and support them…

 

The concerts in Greeks are hosted in small and inappropriate venues. Can a new band build a reputation in these conditions?

\[Mike] Is this an rhetoric question?

\[Panagiotis] Yes, inappropriate venues indeed… But there's nothing you can do about it! If the owners don't finally understand the worth of having a stage/ live club and the meaning of how this influences our music knowledge, nothing will ever change. Another matter is that of the terrible sound…  I think that some people just don't care…

\[Aris] It is my strong belief that reputation comes with the music rather than the venue. Obviously good venue being set up in the right way can help you to promote your music. Small venues are not necessarily negative, since they assist in some cases to create an explosive atmosphere, being helped by the fact that you are one with the crowd. After all, apart from AC/DC we (new bands) all play in the same venues….

What about the record label; how did you make the contact?

\[Aris] During that period our plans were to finish the album and start making contact with specific labels. Just about before that, Emotion Art Music, who had spotted us through our website, declared their interest to us. We were positively surprised with their offer… Although it was a new label and we didn't know anything about them, we took our chances. Fortunately up to now they have exceeded our expectations… (I hope so did we!)

Expanding the previous question; how important do you believe is the record contract for a new band?

\[Aris] Among other things, the most important is that a contract may provide you with the means to promote your work and a start point to go with. You need to have someone with the experience and the knowledge to help you overcome several problems and keep you focused with music and only that. Very important elements to succeed are mutual respect and trust between the label and the band.

…and can a record label push a new band to a certain and more profitable musical direction?

\[Aris] Under certain circumstances yes, although it is really optimistic to designate as profitable the heavy metal industry.

\[Panagiotis] I'd say yes, a really big push for a new band. I can't speak for other labels but, Emotion Art Music is not glass-faced. Our partners are people who care about us, the band and our music and yes, they work hard to promote WHEELRUNNER and Bloodpaint in a more profitable musical direction. Labels, in general, have a plan; a specific scope and objectives… They surely may give a boost in a band!!!  

What are your touring plans? Any summer festivals on the way?

\[Mike] We confirmed a live performance on April 4, 2009 supporting DEMON at On Stage Club and by the end of this month we'll announce dates & venues or our Hellenic Tour.

\[Panagiotis] And we discuss for some other lives in Athens, but nothing's confirmed yet.

Thank you for your time, I wish the best for the future and hope to get the new WHEELRUNNER album relatively quick. Add anything that I forgot to ask.

Thank you for hosting us in this legendary webzine, keep up the great work and do not forget that your contribution to the local scene is important! See ya on stage….



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