Nightrage is a band highly valued in Greece as well as abroad. So, the second day of Metal Healing was as important for the Greek audience as for Nightrage themselves since they were about to perform for the first time on Greek ground. Metalpaths had the honour to converse with the founder of the band Marios Iliopoulos and the new band member, Kostas.

We are in the Metal Healing Festival with Marios Iliopoulos from Nightrage and the new guitar player of the band, Konstantinos. Good evening guys.

Marios: Good evening.

Kostas: Good evening.

The new album by Nightrage has been released recently. Tell us a few words about it.

Marios: We are very pleased with the new album. It was the first time we left the Frendman studio in Sweden and tried another studio for the production. So, the new album was produced in France with Hansen and I think it worked quite positively as we achieved a really powerful sound.

In relation to your older work, in the New Deases is Born one observes new musical elements…

Marios: Yes, we have implemented some new elements in our music, like some clear vocals and generally more simple arrangements in relation to the songs but I believe that the Nightrage element is still there, in the new songs, meaning you can still understand this is a Nightrage album. Furthermore, the new members brought some new ideas that affected the outcome, which sounds a bit more “modern” and this becomes apparent in some of the album’s songs.

How did you come up with this choice for “new” experimentation?

Marios: It was basically my decision. I always used to do all the work in Nightrage as the lyricist and composer and this time I wanted to give the new band members the chance to externalize their own ideas so as to come up with a more homogeneous outcome.

So you’re happy with the outcome…

Marios: Very much. I believe this album to be a rebirth for Nightrage for, after Liberg’s withdrawal from the vocals many thought that Nightrage would break up and won’t go on. I think we can once again prove that the drive wheel of Nightrage is still here and will keep on writing new albums.

A video clip has been created for the album’s promotion…

Marios: Yes, this video clip was made in Athens with Babis Katsionis, who has recently been making a very good job in the video clip area. He’s done a good job with Rotting Christ and I generally like his work. It so happens that he is also a good friend of mine and I considered it a good idea to make the video in Athens. We didn’t produce a “wow” video clip, but considering the money invested it was a very good clip which gives us the opportunity to show how Nightrage might seem on a video.

Kostas, as a new member, would you like to describe to us the experience of making a video clip?

Kostas: It was a really nice experience. A little bit tiresome I should say, but Babis did an excellent job, everything was really organised, the outcome was brilliant and most people enjoyed it…for me it was an awesome experience. I’m only 19 years old and playing for Nightrage is really cool.

What was your reaction when you first realised you were going to be the band’s new guitar player?

Kostas: I was on the top of the world!

During the last years band member changes were frequent. Where do you render this?

Marios: I believe those changes were necessary for Nightrage’s survival. Unfortunately, it is very hard to find devoted musicians, able to follow the band’s tour programme and all its obligations in general, because most of them won’t have music as their number one priority in life. This is a problem to me. I need band members to be dedicated and to perform 100% of their ability, so this was sadly unavoidable. We had to change the band members so that the band could go on doing what it should do.

On which basis were the new members chosen?

Marios: Based on their capacity and my own experience. I’m quite pleased with Kostas, our new guitarist.

Weren’t you at first afraid to choose Kostas, being 19 and obviously lacking the experience?

Marios: I would have to say yes, it sounds a bit odd, but I think age doesn’t matter. Kostas is talented and passionate enough to play in a band like Nightrage and this is the object of my request. That is, to collaborate with people that love what they do, which is –unfortunately- very hard to find in the metal scene, due to many factors…others have financial issues, others can’t go on due to their day-time jobs…all these don’t matter to me. I play music because I love it and I want to play with people that feel the same way.

You are in a country were metal is thriving and opportunities are bigger. Was it a difficult decision to transfer to Sweden? For what reason did you choose this country?

Marios: This, I have to say, was the harder decision I had to make in my life, choosing to leave Greece. Playing there with Exhumation we achieved to produce three albums recorded in Sweden but, sadly, nothing above the Greek reality, for, as you know, in Greece music business doesn’t exist. It’s really hard for a metal band to rise there for either you like it or not there isn’t proportionate efficiency from band members, corresponding support from the audience, the media and so on. So I think, that decision to leave was the most mature decision I’ve ever made in my life and I haven’t ever regretted it, ‘cause I believe that what I’ve accomplished in 6 years with Nightrage I would have never achieved with Exhumation. I’m pleased to see that there is huge correspondence to the music we play and not just in Sweden, but also in Greece and worldwide.

Let’s move to your cooperation with Tomas Limberg. How important was it to you to work with such a metal statesman and how did this cooperation occurred?

Marios: I have known Tomas since 1998, when we were recording the second album by Exhumation in Sweden. When I moved to Sweden later in 2000 I suggested this idea to him. I had some demos by Nightrage and well…I never thought something like that would happen. I’m a fan of At The Gates, too, and I loved Tomas for his voice. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that he liked our music and this was the reason he wanted to join us. So he joined the band and we did together two very good albums and it was an honour that he played with us.

As far as Exhumation is concerned, what was the reason of your withdrawal and how are your relationships with the rest of the members of the band?

Marios: Look…a lot of shit happened especially towards the end of Exhumation. There was generally an unprofessional attitude by some of the members and they didn’t want to go on.

Would you like to elaborate?

Marios: Ok, I think what’s done is done, I really forgive them for what they did, if they did something against me and it’s ok…life goes on, we move forward and I’m very happy that I managed to achieve something musically on my own, based solely on my own ability and I didn’t need these people to tell me what I had to do. Either way, these people lacked the appropriate capabilities and passion in order for me to proceed with my own musical expectations.

This is the first time Nightrage perform in Northern Greece…

Marios: This is Nightrage’s first performance in Greece. I believe this will be a special show and I think we’ll have our best show ever. We’re really pleased with this opportunity to perform in Greece for the first time and we hope that our Greek friends will value it respectively.

Would you like to tell us some of the differences you can spot between festivals in Greece and abroad?

Marios: It depends on the festival, on the audience and the time period. It’s not a matter of country whether a festival is successful or not. The same phenomena are true for other countries, too, but I think the most obvious difference is that maybe abroad things are better organised. They’ve been doing this for more years and have gained greater experience in the process. Such cases like Metal Healing, I support them wholeheartedly and I hope the festival will become established and succeeded. I would also like, though, the respective support from the people, that is, to come and see the bands performing.

Do you think there is a chance that metal in Greece will evolve? Is there a “recipe” abroad which maintains the high standards in metal?

Marios: The difference, as I said, rests on the “music business”. There is no such thing in Greece. Imagine that in, let’s say, Sweden, where I live, the state helps new musicians. It gives them money for recordings, lives and rehearsals…

How does this work?

Marios: The state, in general, helps young people get involved with music, and even more, with other arts as well, like painting, poetry…

Kostas: I remember you mentioning in another interview that perhaps the Greek society is not ready to accept new kinds of music.

Marios: Yes, this might be true. Not to mention that in Greece we’re overwhelmed by pop-folk music and I think that with folk music we haven’t got any further and that young artists are not given any appropriate opportunities to play something other than Greek music, like rock, pop or classic, so as to unfold their talent. I believe that there are quite capable musicians in Greece, who are –unfortunately- fading in this vicious circle of “folkness” that reigns in Greece. Even if there are talented musicians there won’t be corresponding support from the Greek audience towards a band so that it can rise higher. There is generally a bad attitude in this issue. Things are very different abroad. For example, they don’t mind if a band is from a foreign country. There exists meritocracy. That is, they estimate a band’s value without trying to “put down” a band on account of not being native. On the contrary, they do exactly the opposite, by supporting them, something which is not true of Greece and it is sad, as there are really worthy musicians in Greece. I believe this and I had the opportunity to perform with some of them like Fotis from Septic Flesh, Babis Katsionis, Giorgos Kolias…there are so many great musicians and of equal standing like those from abroad.

Have you ever thought of recording a live DVD?

Marios: Yes, that’s a very good thought. Basically we had an opportunity of recording a live DVD in Poland but last February we had an accident there and we couldn’t do it. Now we’re expecting a response from Metal Mind Production and we will probably do it later. But we had a chance 5-6 months ago.

What are your plans for the future of Nightrage?

Marios: We want to be in as many live concerts as we can in order to promote our new stuff and, later, to start recording the songs for the new album which is going to be the best Nightrage album ever. We have a lot of new ideas and we’ll do our best.

You play on the same day as another Greek band which, in the past, has made us proud abroad on several occasions. I’m talking about Septic Flesh, of course…

Marios: Yes, I’d have to say that Septic Flesh are among the oldest and most worthy bands on the Greek scene and I’m happy about their reunion after so many years of absence from the stages. I believe they’re having a great come back album and, well, they are one of the aces of the Greek scene together with Rotting Christ and Firewind.

Thank you so much for this interview. We hope the best for the band as well as on a personal level.

Marios: You’re most welcome and we also hope the best for you and your website. The metal scene needs you.

Kostas: Thanks a lot.

Interview by: Rena Koutsou
Translated by: Thanos Koulouris