One of the best debut efforts in the whole metal scene the last years is the “Axiom” EP by the Greek force Dephosphorus. Actually we deal with seven songs of pure metal havoc! The vocalist and lyricist Panos talks about the EP and what’s to come in the near future.
First of all congratulations for your first effort. We’d like to have a short bio of the band, starting from the point where your former bands reached the end.
Back in the summer of 2008 me and Thanos felt with certainty that our participation to our previous band STRAIGHTHATE has reached an end. We formed DEPHOSPHORUS almost immediately and started to compose and make demos with programmed drums. One year later, we felt that we needed a real drummer in order for our music to take the shape and reach the intensity that we had in mind. That’s how we recruited Nikos, whose main band INJEKTING KHAOS was on hiatus after they have recorded their second record (overdue but should be released within the next few months). From 2009 until the summer of 2010 (with a long break in between because of an injury that Nikos has suffered to his arm) we have composed 10 songs. 7 of them were recorded, mixed and mastered in this same summer. This is the “Axiom” mini-LP session as you know it. As soon as “Axiom” was ready we did not took a break but instead speeded up the composition process in order to record our debut full-length album “Night Sky Transform” the next fall. Indeed we had a hard deadline because Thanos was joining the army in November. It was proven to be the best decision we have took until now (and I have to credit Thanos for pushing us in this direction), because eventually Thanos not only joined the army for his mandatory military service, but he was forced to do it abroad – in Cyprus. “Axiom” was released on vinyl format by 7 Degrees Records (www.myspace.com/7degreesrecords) as a 12” gatefold MLP. It is a beautiful fucker thanks to the artwork with which the visionaries from Viral Graphics have graced it. It is also available on digital format as free download. We have yet to receive an interesting offer for a release on Compact Death format.
Things brought it that way so Dephosphorus is your new baby. This first EP is called ”Axiom”. Is this title a statement that the band is confident for what is about to acomplish in the future?
No, it wasn’t chosen for this reason. “Axiom” was an appropriate title because it is a scientific term and our concept has a very important scientific dimension. We hail science and reason as the two poles according to which mankind should organize and evolve. I also chose it because it is a greek word and we are proud of our heritage. The modern greek language is based on ancient greek, which is much more than a language: it has been originally constructed as a scientific and philosophical tool. Ask whoever linguist and/or scientist you want, the ancient greek language is to this day one of mankind’s most impressive accomplisments.
The material has been recorded over a year ago but still sounds very fresh. How long did the writing and recording process last? Would you change anything in the songs or are you completely satisfied?
We are glad you like it man! A common denominator to most people’s comments about “Axiom” is that indeed it sounds fresh. This is largely due to the fact we did not lose any time: as soon as our first bunch of material composed together as a trio was ready, we headed to the studio. This also applies to our full-length album and makes the material sound very vivid. We have composed the songs that constitute “Axiom” over a few months. I cannot tell you exactly how much because as I have mentionned earlier, we took a break because of a physical injury that our drummer Nikos has endured. But overall it wasn’t much, given the fact that it’s the first time that all three of us have played together. As a matter of fact, we clicked very well together straight from the beginning. I guess this is why our material sounds so instinctive: there is clearly a chemistry between us three and we have an insanely good time playing together. The recording of “Axiom” lasted 10 hours. We were well rehearsed therefore it only took a couple of takes for the tracking of each song. We wouldn’t want to change anything to “Axiom”’s songs. They are representative of the first period of our band. We are proud of them and we will take a real pleasure performing them live. Considering “Axiom” as a whole, we are extremely satisfied with the release and the only thing we would change is the recording. There have been some grave sound engineering mistakes because we have trusted the wrong person for the task. Because of that our comrade Panos Alexiadis (from Lunar Miasma, Utter Hoarse, ex-Heavensore) has had a tough job doing the mix. We have learned from our mistakes though; our debut album has been tracked under different, optimal conditions!
Dephosphorus create an exocosmic atmosphere while listening to them. It makes the listener dive deep inside each song and get connected to it very much. Did that come naturally or was it done in purpose?
Dephosphorus is and will be all about instinctive music with a cosmic concept. All planning as far as the music goes is done by the songwriter and guitarist of the band, Thanos. He writes music according to the realms that his inspiration takes him to. What I can say for sure is our overall purpose and cosmic motivation are always in his mind. Technically speaking, the atmosphere of “Axiom” has taken its final form after the actual recording. Indeed, at the time when we hit the studio we did not know if there would be bass recorded or not. During the mix, Thanos and Panos Alexiadis had the idea of filling the absence of bass with electronics. Panos being a specialist as far as otherworldly soundscapes are concerned, he completed the songs with a classy, cosmic touch.
I find the lyrics rather great and fitting perfectly to the whole concept and atmosphere mentioned above. Where do you get inspiration from? Books? Everyday life issues? Would you like to analyse them a bit?
Let me point out that the lyrics of “Axiom” are not fully representative of our whole concept. The lyrics of “Axiom” describe sagas and incidents of the Dephosphorus mythos. You must wait until our debut album in order to get a clear understanding of the overall purpose of our concept and in order to comprehend the connection with more local, planetary realities. With the exception of the track “Dephosphorus”, which summarizes our concept, this first set of lyrics is deliberately abstract. They are meant to give hints to whoever reads them of the majestic, vast, dynamic environment where our concept takes place. I would not want to give detailed explanations in order to let your imagination do the work! I’ve been inspired for a lot of “Axiom”’s lyrics by the works of Iain M.Banks. He is currently my favorite author and one of the most imaginative minds alive today. If you read novels like “Matter” and “The Alchemist”, you’ll understand a lot more. There is also a couple of direct quotes of his writings, including a line that shook me when I first read it: “Whoever heard of a mortal body, having an immortal soul?”. Major influences are also the latest findings and scienific papers about cosmology, astronomy and astrobiology.
We would like to have some of your listenings during the creation of the EP, as it brings in mind many great bands, I even thought of Voivod while listening to it. My point is that even by combining much stuff inside your music, in the end it sounds unique and that’s what makes ”Axiom” special.
I am pleased that you fancy our concoction of all things fast, heavy and intense! Voivod is a band that we appreciate and respect. I was also able to witness their outstanding craft live during last spring’s Roadburn festival. They do not constitute a direct influence though. As far as the influences of our music go, I will answer instead of Thanos, our songwriter. Here is a (not exhaustive) list of the bands he loves and that inspire them: Helmet, Breach, Neurosis, Nirvana, Immolation, everything by Herr Wrest (Leviathan, Lurker Of Chalice…), Ken Mode, Engineer, Anodyne, Knut, Swarm Of The Lotus, Slayer, Arkangel, Skitsystem, Discordance Axis, Unsane, Jesus Lizard, Swans, Earth…
The vocals are really great, when would it be possible for the crowd to see you lose control in stage? Are there any plans for touring in the near future?
We count to perform live next year, hopefully with a couple of spring/summer festival appearances in Europe and good shows in Athens and Thessaloniki too. Interested parties, get in touch! If you want to see us live in your city, spread the word about Dephosphorus and ask your local promoter to contact us.
As far as I know, there’s going to be a full length album called ”Night Sky Transform”. What is going to sound like? Close to ”Axiom” or pretty different? Do you have a plan about releasing it soon?
”Night Sky Transform” has a different atmosphere and sound than “Axiom” but it’s not either a drastic departure from the Astrogrind style that we have introduced. It’s more intense, more challenging in terms of structure of the songs and of our performance. It is also infused with more varied influences, some that you don’t hear in “Axiom”. Having recorded it under excellent conditions, with our friend Miltos Schimatariotis (also responsible for “Axiom”’s mastering) at his compound at Northside Studio (www.northside.gr), we were relaxed enough in order to experiment on quite a few instances. We definitely have some surprises for you! We feel that ”Night Sky Transform” is our masterpiece. We do not want to rush its release. After all, “Axiom” is still hot and people still talk about it… We want to find the appropriate label who will provide the promotion and distribution that material of this magnitude deserves. 7 Degrees Records might carry the vinyl once again though… As of now the arwork is ready, we are about to print booklets and send over promo-CDR’s to select labels. “Uncharted” & “Cold Omen”, the first two excerpts of the album are streaming now at http://dephosphorus.bandcamp.com ! Check them out.
lso, Ryan Lipynsky from my beloved Unearthly Trance has helped you during these new recordings. How did you get in touch? What is your opinion about the music of the band?
I’ve been in touch with Ryan for many years. Me and Thanos are fans of his works since the early days of the first U.T. 7”EP’s. We are also huge Thralldom & The Howling Wind fans. We totally appreciate the immersive, occult and organic nature of all those bands. Personally, Thralldom’s “Black Sun Resistance” has had a major impact on me in terms of lyrics and concept, which is something that you will realize when you will read the lyrics of “The Astral Putsch” and a couple of other tracks from our forthcoming debut album. When I heard the music and read the lyrics, it was a major fucking revelation! Extreme metal had just become more crucial and offensive towards the status quo. Ryan responded immediately to our request, wrote lryics that fit perfectly to our concept and tracked vocals and guitar solo at this compound in Brooklyn, NY. All hails!
Tell us some things about how 7 Degrees records signed the band and what is their philosophy as a company. Are you satisfied by their promotion so far?
I am about to answer this question after spending a few days of bitter communication between my other band Amnis Nihili (www.amnisnihili.com) and our bigger, professional label, with both parties blaming each other, etc. If I had Simon from 7 Degrees Records here in Athens right now, I would give him a big hug, pay him dinner, then go chill at the beach with beers and smokes! We have with him a grass roots, old school underground relationship. No bullshit contracts. Just mutual respect, honnesty and sheer comradeship. 7 Degrees Records is a record label specializing in hardcore/grind vinyl and it is about to grow. Their philosophy is to produce high quality releases, without sparing the cost, focused in putting the band’s music into a fucking pedestal in order for the scene to absorb their craft under the proper conditions. That’s what they did for “Axiom”. It was a MLP, costing the same to manufacture as a full-length LP but sold at a lower price. Yet they did the extra mile and went for the more expensive gatefold cover (heavier, thus more expensive to ship), including an insert too. They did send quite a few promo copies to blogs, webzines and magazines. As you already know, labels these days are reluctant to send physical promo CD’s. They prefer to make promos available online, so a small underground label that sends a few dozens of promo vinyls all over the world, well that’s something that we appreciate very fucking much. Simon we love you! Check 7 Degrees Records online www.myspace.com/7degreesrecords (they should get a proper site online soon) and ask for their mailorder catalog at email@example.com. They have a lot of outstanding releases, including the latest MÖRSER album (gods!) and Simon’s own band, grind powerhouse KEITZER!
I can’t help but praising you for the outstanding cover of ”Axiom”. Especially the tower on the inlay of the gatefold vinyl is totally amazing. Are you going to have a co-operation with Viral Graphics on ”Night Sky Transform” also?
Don’t praise us my friend, praise Viral Graphics! The inlay tower is a personal favorite, the kind of design that you want to do a tattoo with… That’s why we did a t-shirt of it (buy it!). It is safe to say that Dephosphorus and Viral Graphics are like Metallica and Pushead! They have just completed the artwork of “Night Sky Transform” and it fucking blew us away. I think it’s safe to say that with such another mind expanding inlay picture, the vinyl will get the gatefold treatment once again… Back to Viral, they are friends of ours. We grew up together, we as musicians and them as visionnaries and artists. Our collaboration has started back at the STRAIGHTHATE days, with the video-clip of “Ethnocide” and the “Cannibalistik Society” t-shirt design (still available from www.blastbeatmailmurder.com if you have a few euros to spare). We follow their evolution with excitement and awe… We have also used their services for the latest releases of the black metal bands that me and Nikos have. AMNIS NIHILI “Christological Escalation” digipack MCD (out also soon as a cross-shape 10”EP) and INJEKTING KHAOS self-titled MLP (to be out soon).
Which are the reactions of those who have listened ”Axiom” so far? How much important is for a fresh band to get recognition? Is it more than a motive for the future or does it bring extra responsibility to yourselves first?
Most people loved it, finding it exciting and fresh. It was interesting to realize that despite the hundreds (if not thousands) of new releases every year and the over-saturation that the rise of the webernet era has brought, the worldwide underground audience is still hungry for powerful, inspiring music that strays from the beaten path. It is extremely important for a new band to get some recognition and credit, because this gives back to the members energy to carry on. If nobody cares, motivation gradually diminishes to the pointing of ending the band or reaching a hibernation sort of stage when you release a demo once every few years. To answer to the last part of your question, it is both a motive and extra responsibility. People enjoy Dephosphorus’ music so we are impatient to unleash our new material upon them, as well as to perform live and prove what we are capable of. It is also extra responsibility because most bands disappoint after a super debut! They might not suck for the rest of their discography but they never reach that sort of peak.
How do you see music in general? We have reached the year 2011, things are not as they used to be. Now everything becomes easily accesible with a button push. Has it become only a product to be sold for glory’s sake, or is there still some romanticism left in your opinion?
Art and music spring from the depths of the human psyche. As long as we are not reduced to ash by a meteorite or global thermonuclear warfare, the human race will keep on making art and music. I do not like the old snob bullshit about times bygone when music was real, the sort of “they don’t make shit like that today” moronic nonsense. Maybe this does apply to american cars – not to music! Whoever claims that, either is ignorant of the current music production or is stuck in the past. Being stuck in the past is something that I can understand and respect, but I absolutely hate it when people try to scorn modern music because they still listen all day long to Bob Marley, Eric Clapton, Iron Maiden or whatever. Get real and stop being a living fucking caricature. But I digress. There are positive and negative aspects in every era, and that applies not only to music but in everything. I would like to take a trip back in time for example but I would not necessarily want to live centuries ago when life was more fragile and you would die from a mere peritonitis. The human brain has the built-in functionality of focusing on the more positive memories, forgetting the bad ones, pushing them to the depths of the subconsious. We are resilient beasts, built for survival. If we could not get rid of all the bad things that have happened to us, of all the fuck-ups that we have done, then we would be driven insane. Actually some mental illnesses are exactly that: people that cannot bear down the traumas of the past. I’m explaining all this in order to get down to the simple fact that sometimes the past is so appealing not because it was really great but because we miss our youth, our formative years, our innocence, the safety of being taken care of by our parents, not having to work, etc. Yeah I sure miss the early/mid 90’s! But not so much because I traded tapes or expected eagerly when the postman would arrive with answers from bands or packages with cd’s, but rather because I was a carefree student, a young adult choke full of blood and semen discovering life. My perception about life is such that I focus on the present. I don’t spend too much recollecting the past. We are living exciting times. We are discovering more about the universe each day. We have less delusions than past generations. Take the fucking hippies for example. They thought they would change the world by smoking weed, taking LSD and listening to psychedelic rock. Then they became either social cripples or ended up working for multinational corporations screwing up the planet. Fuck the past. This is now. I only care about living in decent health as much as possible. As long as that will happen I’m sure that I will lay my old hands on exciting, new music/art and hopefully that my vocal chords will still allow me to rock the microphone…
We’d like to thank you for the interview and wish you the best of luck in the future. I personally want you to relase the new album and get what you really deserve from press and fans. Close this conversation by adding anything you’d like or you weren’t asked about.
Dephosphorus is pretty much a D.I.Y. operation. We are trying to make things happen on our own and with the precious help of a dedicated group of comrades. That’s why we appreciate so much the support from Metalpaths and the occasion that you give us to speak up our minds. We are grateful but not in the usual way that bands end interviews typically thanking the journalist and the publication. Hopefully you will be proud of supporting us when “Night Sky Transform” will be out! ACHTUNG! Shameless self-advertisement follows next. Download “Axiom” for free from http://www.dephosphorus.com/download-axiom (in case you haven’t done already that is) and if you like what you hear and what you see, vote the capitalist way by ordering the MLP and/or our t-shirt either from us or from 7 Degrees Records (www.myspace.com/7degreesrecords , firstname.lastname@example.org). Last but not least, don’t forget to check out the two brand new tracks from “Night Sky Transform” that are streaming right now at http://dephosphorus.bandcamp.com.
Interview by: Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.