On the occasion of the fifth full length’s release with the title ”Insidious”, Marios Iliopoulos of Nightrage tells us his feelings about the new album, explains how he managed to do his part when he left Greece, and helps us make a great conversation about various stuff. Check out below which are his thoughts and opinions about our beloved music and everything around it.
The interview is available in both video (Greek Only) and text format.
Good afternoon from Metalpaths TV, we have the joy to make an interview in Greek this time, with Marios Iliopoulos from Nightrage. Thanks for the hospitality in this little paradise.
Thank you, thank you for the interest.
First of all, we congratulate you for the new album, fifth album in eight years, nonetheless it shows you are very punctual in discography, every two years we have something new from you. We’d like to start first with the previous album, ”Wearing A Martyr’s Crown”, tell us how do you see it now that it’s completed and if you are satisfied.
I think it was a good album, though the line up was once again formed from the beginning, but I was trusting the other guys inside the group, I believe a good work was done and it really took us back in the good days of Nightrage, just like the band started, and we generally wanted to bring back this sound, after the third album ”A New Disease Is Born” whose influences were a little more modern and we wanted to go back to the good old days of Nightrage, where we were playing pure melodic death metal.
The new album is characterized from freshness in my opinion. Also, as albums pass by, they grow in duration, is it something happening naturally, are you so satisfied with the material that you don’t want to throw a track, or does it happen on purpose?
I understand what you say, this time I wanted to use what we had recorded, put it in the album because I believed it was worth it. It is something… If you look at the album’s duration, you’ll see it’s a little long but in real words, we have twelve complete tracks and three intros, I just wanted to have in the album John Koutselinis (John K. from Biomechanical) who did these two intros on ”Solar Corona” and the outro (”Emblem Of Light”), I just didn’t want to leave him out because I believe he did a very good work. This is a main reason.
Apart from John, the album is what we say ”All good people fit”, we have Kostas (Gus G.) and Apollo (Papathanasio) from Firewind, we have Tom (S. Englund) from Evergrey once more, we have Tomas (Lindberg), partners with which you have cooperated again. How is it to share things once again with these people since the years passed by, for they have helped you very much since the beginning.
This is true, we are blood brothers with Gus, the best friends, either way we had started the band together in 2000 in Thessaloniki. Maybe for some people not knowing, Nightrage were born here in Thessaloniki, in Greece, despite my moving to Sweden.
It’s a good thing to point out.
I’d like to say it’s like calling some good friends, to help you create some tracks. Also, an issue is that the tracks on the album wanted something different, this is one of the important reasons I wanted to try some other things like the clean vocals of Apollo or Evergrey’s Englund and some other stuff. But in most percentage, it was a welcome to some good old friends let’s say. We kept a good relationship with Tomas and Gus and it is an honour for us such good musicians to take part in an album of ours.
In the new album, for those not knowing, you have done a cover of Def Leppard of ”Photograph” (in the Japanese edition), really awesome, they have to listen to it, just like you did with Metallica on the previous album, but not included on the standard editions. How did you come up with this idea, as it is a track which we all grew up with.
Basically it was my idea because I like Def Leppard very much, the old Def Leppard, I grew up with them anyway, it was this band that I once saw and inspired me to get a guitar on my hands, and I believe this track has in a way some elements from Nightrage, I don’t know why, I believe we could make it sound like a Nightrage track and so it happened. We didn’t want to just do a cover.
It produces out something joyous.
Let’s say the chorus part remind me of Nightrage in a way, I don’t know why and I think the work we did proves that, we brought in our style, we tried to bring it to our sound.
I believe you have found a very good vocalist who raises up your compositions very much, it’s the second album you have him. We’d like you to tell us how it came up to find him and how much do you believe he’s helping.
Thank you for your good words, I believe also that Anthony is a good singer and fitted with the band. Basically this happened due to the ”magic” of Myspace in the old days when it was at its peak, now it is basically reduced… He send me a mail. he had learned we were asking for a singer, he send me some mail and so it happened, just like our drummer John, he found me via Myspace and we had put an advertisement looking for a drummer, they knew the band, they liked it very much and especially for Anthony it was a dream to come true playing for Nightrage, as he was a big fan before entering. So he fitted much both as a character and a vocalist, because he reminds me in a way of Lindberg in his voice.
I like very much the last track, where we have the clean vocals together with Tom, which is something completely different for Nightrage, it gives a boost to the album.
Which track are we talking about?
In ”Solar Corona” it’s Tom doing the vocals.
The clean vocals in the beginning is something beautifully different for Nightrage.
Look, this track was about to become an instrumental one, I came up with an idea on vocals, a special theme and I instantly thought about Tom. I said ”That would be appropriate for Tom and his voice” and so it happened.
In addition to all, in the gap between the last two albums, you also did the bassist for Firewind. We’d like you to tell us, since in Nightrage you are responsible for everything and you somehow give the rhythm, if there are differences and how much to hold the rhythm by being a bassist. Was it easier than we can imagine, was it difficult to adapt?
I’d say it was very easy because basically I was playing in another one’s band, I didn’t have any responsibilities, the only thing I had to do was play my parts and sit in my corner and I can tell you I liked that. Sometimes when responsibilities are out of you and the only thing to think is play your music as good as it gets, is very good.
I dare saying it fits you, personal opinion.
It’s all right, I’m not a bassist, I’m a guitarist.
That’s why I’m telling you.
Basically I wanted to say I just helped Firewind for some shows, I was asked by Peter (Firewind bassist) and Gus to help, because Peter couldn’t be in the band for some space, of course I’d like to say he’s back and I stopped. They are my buddies and whatever they would ask me I’d do it for them, as we are brother bands, one band helps the other, there’s brother spirit and it was a joy and honour for me to play with my friend Gus again.
Do you believe that this experience helped in the creation of the new Nightrage album? We hear it a little more loose if you like, because ”Wearing A Martyr’s Crown” had to bring the band to the initial road. ”Insidious” sounds a lot more loose and it’s like this experience gave you a lot, you knew what you had to do, in which order to do it and you also sound more relieved and determined yourself.
Now that you say this, I observe you are right in a point, because I believe an important part is I left Sweden, it’s two years I’m back in Greece now, I made this studio, I think I don’t have so much stress now, I’m back to my family, I saw my friends again, all these played a part so that the material becomes more relieves as you said. I believe that as a band, we always have good ideas, we’ll never go and make an album just for releasing it, it happens to create an album every two years but I think that a main reason for this is that always when we have good ideas, we go in the studio to write stuff.
To me you are one of the biggest examples of people that chased their dream, as for those not knowing, you passed through a lot of difficult stuff in the beginning of the band, you had to move to another country, but you finally made it and we’d like to tell us when this journey began, if you waited things to turn this way and in which rating.
The truth is when I left this place alone with only one guitar in my hands, I didn’t really know what would happen. I might believe I’d be washing plates for a lifetime when I would go to a foreign country. I didn’t have money, I didn’t have nothing, all I had was my songs and the will to build this band and make this first album, ”Sweet Vengeance”. Basically I’m very happy I stood at my feet. I managed to build this band and this moment we are able to release music abroad and there are people liking the music we do. This is the biggest achievement for me and I consider it a personal success, I made a bet with myself and I said ”This is my dream and I have to follow it” and at least I tried to do it. I feel good with myself about it.
Apart from the joy of creation and seeing your struggle being rewarded, is there a feeling of justification in all these?
Yes, there is because in a way, you see your work being recognised, you have five or six persons believing in your music, you have enough fans loving you, sending you mails, telling you they love the band and the tracks you have done or the lyrics you have written, and for me it’s the biggest reward, someone coming and telling you ”Buddy, I was influenced by a musical theme you wrote or a lyric that affected me in my personal life”. They have told me that many times and it really makes me feel good and I feel happy.
You have travelled with Nightrage and with Firewind recently in many parts of the world, we’d like you to tell us if there are plans for a tour in 2012 and if yes, when.
Basically yes, as you know, we already did a North American tour playing as a support for Firewind in U.S.A. and Canada, which went pretty well, we were playing with White Wizzard and Arsis, a very good tour around eighteen days. And now at this moment, our plans for 2012 are to prepare gigs in Germany, Sweden, England, some gigs in Greece, of course we want to play in Greece, and after that there is a plan to go back to U.S.A. for a tour in April or May, nothing is booked yet, as this is upon the plans we work at the moment for the gigs. Then we want to do some summer festivals in Europe, we’re looking at this too, and then come back on September and do another European tour.
I’d like you to tell us your feelings when you first played with Nightrage in Thessaloniki after all these years, was it like the prodigal son returning back home -in the good sense of course- because you were missing a lot of years and we finally had the chance to see you after almost ten years.
Actually, the first time we played here was in Athens, at An Club in 2008, it was something I wanted to do very much, as I was missing a lot of years just like you said. The other guys in the band love Greece too, they like it when we play here with the response that exists. They know the whole story and what happened. For me it was an honour and we try as much as we can to play in Greece when we are given the chance as much times as it gets.
Once you are into music all these years, despite having a band that split up and years passed until you made the next one, we’d like you to tell us some of the new bands you like, if something’s fallen likely into your ears that you’d suggest the fans listening to and tell us some of your influences in your playing and the structures of the tracks, if you have some advice.
You mean new bands?
Yes, some olders too, but mainly if you liked something new very much.
For older bands, I have told it many times, I grew up with Maiden, Metallica, Testament, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne and such stuff, old listenings. From newer bands, there are many new bands I like, I generally follow the scene. I’m always inside things.
You also were in a country that produces bands continuously.
If you ask me about the lowest in status band, I may know it, so I know what happens. I don’t want to say I don’t know what happens just like others say, I really know what happens because I look into things closely.
That’s why we ask you, you’ve seen a lot from touring also.
I like very much what Suicidal Angels do at the moment, it’s a band that started from nowhere and now suddenly they have a success, I like that, a Greek band starting from nothing and doing something very good. I like Psycho Choke here from Thessaloniki which is a very good band and is worth more chances, many bands, Firewind is one of my favourite ones. I know this sounds somehow because I’ve played with them, but I’m looking to it as a fan.
It’s good to do something that you like in all ways.
Many bands, there are many in my mind right now that I could tell you. I like Trivium, I liked their latest album from foreign bands (”In Waves”).
I’m glad you say this because they are very controversial as a band.
I like what they did because I believe it’s something different. Their latest album is very good and the production they did is amazing, incredible sound and the guys play very well. There are bands to be inspired from, I recently listened to a track by Primal Fear, though I’m not into Primal Fear very much and I was blown. Sometimes this is the magic of heavy metal, something comes to you, hitting you in the head and you don’t know what happens.
Like going back to the roots.
I didn’t believe this would do a click to me, but this track brought chills in me.
Can you remember which track it was?
It was a new track called ”Metal Nation”. And it really caused me a great impression, incredible production, incredible metal feeling, just how heavy metal must be, pure and in your face, that’s what I like in heavy metal, it’s always magical and it always has to give you something. No matter if someones say that it’s a cliche and it doesn’t have something to give, well it does.
Speaking about dreams before, and since you create music, what advice do you have for the new children which may find some difficulties in the beginning, but want to chase their dream?
Basically follow their heart, know what they exactly want to do, not make public relations but get busy with their music, that’s what I’d suggest. If they truly love their music, they must get busy only with this, and it will bring them to a good point some time. I’m sure about this.
We want to thank you very much for this interview, wish you the best for the band and 2012, close with a wish for 2012 and the fans of Nightrage in general.
Basically, I’d like to thank you guys for the invitation and the interest for the band, I really appreciate it and it’s not something I take for granted, because I know things change from day to day. It’s a joy for me and of course, I always like talking about Nightrage. I’d like to wish a happy year to you and all your readers and those who watch you, I hope things will get better and have more new groups which will lead this Greek scene in better paths.
Thank you very much, may you get even better.
Thanks a lot too!
Interview by: Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.