Head Cleaner is a band that worked its way very hard and can finally claim it’s an unstoppable force in the Greek extreme scene. Having already released their third release, the EP ”Resistance, Determination And The Sheer Will To Overcome”, they give us all details about their perspective on their music and the creation of their latest release. Vocalist Jim ”Mitch” Evgenidis and guitarist Costas Chatzizamanis give a fully detailed interview for the Head Cleaner fans. Join the frenzy already created for them and become a member of a team that always plays to win.
First of all congratulations about your latest release. Before we start discussing about it, let us enter the world of Head Cleaner and tell us a short story of how things started to the point we’ve reached with your third effort so far.
Mitch: The band was formed in 2002 so that we could at last play music without rules, realizing our fervent desire for absolute freedom of expression. Until 2004 the band was supported by members of Disembowel and Erectus and during this time we released our first full length album, “Intellectual Oxygenation”, which incidentally was sold out just a few days ago. In 2009 along with my old friend Costas we reformed the band. We continue to “build” right on the same philosophy, while evolving our music at the same time. From the beginning of this new project we have Billy on drums (Diesembowel, Terrordrome) and now on bass Lefteris from Kvazar as a permanent member, having replaced Leonidas (Cease of Breeding) 2 years ago. Since 2009 we are unstoppable, having accumulated so much power in us. Within 2,5 years we have released “The Protest”, our second full length album, as well as a mini CD called “Resistance, Determination and the Sheer Will to Overcome”. Just two weeks ago we completed the recording of an extra track that will be released exclusively in the compilation “Monomaniac” by Blastbeat Mailmurder”. Currently we are in discussions regarding other collaborations as well.
I’ll tell you the truth, it’s sure about the Greek scene but I can hardly remember in general people getting so obsessed with an EP like they’ve done with yours so far. Do you believe in the right momentum of things happening for a reason? Which is the response from fans and press so far? How long it took you to create it and in the end of it, are you completely satisfied by how it came out?
Costas: First of all thank you very much for your very positive comment about our mini CD. The truth is that the response was phenomenal, reminding me of better times. As you say, it could be the momentum, but certainly it cannot be just that. We owe a huge thank you to our very good friend Stelios Koslidis, who did an excellent job as a sound engineer not only during the recordings but with the mixing as well. What I can certainly point out as a peculiarity in in this release is the quality of sound. All the rest follow. From the beginning of the rehearsals until we got a printed copy in our hands it was 6 months. During this period we had a great time, we enjoyed our rehearsals and our conversations and I believe this positive energy was channeled in the release. Every review I read was positive and very encouraging and the most important thing for me is that I stumbled upon electronic or printed Zines writing about us without havine obtained the material from us, but they had found it elsewhere by themselves. The most important thing of course is that the public and our fans really enjoyed “Resistance” and this is for us the greatest satisfaction.
Mitch: I would say that completing “Resistance” was not at all painless. We really took great care that this release would be flawless from all points of view (composition, production, artwork) somethnig that was quite time consuming. Now that it is released I really believe it was worth the effort. We could not be more satisfied with the result.
What I like in the band very much is that despite the massive sound, everything is heard clear and well played. When it comes to grindcore, sometimes band tend to forget how important it is to have a good sound instead of being more ‘old school’. What is your approach to your music in general and which is the process of a Head Cleaner track getting fixed?
Costas: I really like your wording on the matter. I can now say for certain that we have the same opinion with you about how a completed production should be. In the “Resistance” especially we tried a lot –and I believe we succeeded- in order for the sound to have on the one hand all these “nasty” and “rude” elements that characterize grindcore, and on the other hand someone can listen very clearly every instrument and every riff throughout the duration of the album. This is where Stelios did his magic. He was very demanding, even more than we were. We recorded the guitars on three different amplifiers before we decided on this sound.
Mitch: Production-wise, many people equate grindcore to sloppyness. As for overall aesthetics, they say “the more rotten, the truer the grind”. I believe that an album can be brutal and “fast” without a production that makes it impossible for you to listen to a turn in the drums or a riff in the guitar. We tried from the outset to achieve the optimum production without compromising the power and the fury of the material. Beyond that it depends on everyone’s personal taste on how they want to hear a band and what feeling it brings out to them
Costas: There is no specific recipe in our approach to each piece. Usually, when I play guitar at home I record it and then I listen to what I have played. If I like some riffs or ideas I write them down so that I do not forget them and then I build the track on them. Mitch has the last word on the matter, since he is the one who is put the lyrics in place and he will tell us how long this or the other riff must be.
I think that the great videos you have done so far are a very serious reason why one in twenty metalheads especially in the city of Thessaloniki, wears one of your t-shirts. It used to be cool but I think now it’s gone beyond the limits of frenzy for the fans. The video work is very professional in all terms, it shows that you take your music very seriously. Did you expect such a feedback from the fans, commenting on the clips and making your t-shirts almost disappear?
Mitch: I cannot say that a good video-clip will drive someone to wear a t-shirt of your band, I can only state that it is an excellent means of promotion for your work. I am very glad that you are using the word “professional” for our clips, because although we are a d.i.y. band regarding all things, we try to do everything professionaly. The sure thing is that for someone to wear your t-shirt they must first of all like your music. All the rest are important as well, but secondary.
Costas: You cannot know for cerain if the people will respond to what you do, so we did not expect that something like this would happen. We would like once more to express our gratitude to all those that have supported and currently support Head Cleaner. We feel much obliged and have a lot of respect for them.
Many bands seem to hurry sometimes, as they think they have to prove something. This time Head Cleaner seem more certain to me, by releasing an EP. Is this a way to state you wanted to do a smaller but steady step, or did you just want these tracks to be something separate from a future full length release? Are there any new ideas that weren’t included on the EP?
Costas: The truth is that we thought for the mini-CD to function as a bridge between “The Protest” and the full-length album that is going to follow. Literally it is the starting point for a new direction for the band. The music gets faster, the sound gets more extreme, there is more rage for what happens all around us. We do not have to prove anything to anyone by creating an album, we only want to express what there is in our heads and in our souls.
Mitch: The creation of a mini-CD gave us the opportunity to experiment with the production and mend some things we did not like in “The Protest”, so that we know how we will proceed with the recording of our next full album. From this point of view, as you said, it was a small but certain step in order to control as much as we can the output of the next full-length release.
The title of your third work is ”Resistance, Determination And The Sheer Will To Overcome”. I think it concludes all that Head Cleaner is about. On other terms, where should people resist at, where should they show more determination and which is the sheer will to overcome in your opinion?
Costas: We resist to any thing that is anti-human, either this refers to social or fyletic racism, inhuman working conditions, totalitarian models of government, and any sort of human exploitation. We need determination to defend our ideas and actions, and to be true and honest in order to defend our dreams. Those dreams that we must pursue with pure desire in order to prevail. We build our utopias ourselves and have the duty to strive to make them real.
Which topics are your favourite in writing lyrics? Do you attract inspiration from other aspects like books, movies or is it all about reality and everyday issues?
Mitch: The main source of inspiration for our lyrics is our everyday lives and all the things that happen around us. Greece goes through a period of great changes. The economic crisis, the unemployement, the migration, the uncertainty for the future. No one stays unconcerned about this situation, because this situation is everyone’s business. The band was reactivated exactly at the point when all this shit started happening, so what else is there to write about beyond stuff that concern you and your fellow humans? Beyond that, cinema and litarature are other endless sources of inspiration. We always make our own thoughts when we see a movie or read a book. These thoughts can be the basis for the creation of a verse or the concept for the creation of a video-clip.
Head Cleaner are a part of the whole Greek scene, you also had the chance to participate on the first Greek Death/Grind Scene Festival, where all fans were blown by your presence. Tell us about this experience and how do you see the scene of our country in general. Which parts should be improved in order some bands could achieve something better in the future? Which is your advice to newly formed groups in terms of surviving through the years?
Costas: First of all thank you very much for supporting the fest from your side. It is really beautiful that a lot of people participated in the event selflessly, and everything flowed so smoothly. The first GDGS was a wonderful expereience both for the bands that participated and for the fans that came and supported it. The only thing I hope for is for the event to be repeated next year. The Greek scene has become so fucking awesome and with so many unbelievably good bands that I know a lot of people who deal with and listen to only the Greek scene, since it expresses them absolutely. Regarding your second question, since I do not like advising anyone, not even my own child, I would only like to note that the most important thing is to love and be consistent with everything you do. I think that if those two elements exist, sooner or later the rest will follow.
Mitch: We are very pleased that we participated in this fest. It was a super experience. We came in contact with people that we only spoke through the internet. There was a very friendly and nice atmosphere and we hope that it will be repeated next year with even more success. I think the Greek scene is at its peak. Countless bands with kick-ass releases from all kinds of extreme sound. It is also very positive that there are many concerts and these bands have the opportunity to show what they are really worth on stage. Whoever does not know a lot of things about the Greek scene should check out bands from here, because he will certainly discover many new stuff to add to his “favorites” list.
Tell us some of your favourite bands, even some that do not have any relation to rock and metal. Are there any recent releases or bands that you’d suggest to fans of good music in general?
Mitch: Ministry, Lard, Brutal Truth, Godflesh, Napalm Death, Skinny Puppy, Frontline Assembly, Discharge. This is a very small list with my favourites. I would strongly recommend the new album by Ministry “Relapse”, the “Utilitarian” by Napalm Death and the “Hordes of Zombies” by Terrorizer.
Costas: Because we referred above to the Greek scene I will name here some band I really like –and forgive me if I forget anyone, it is not on purpose. These are Mortal Torment, One of These Days, Murder Made God, Erectus, Nocturnal Vomit, Tardive Dyskinesia, Carnal Redemption, Bloody Donation, Slaughtergrave, Ixpapalotl, Obsecration, Γέννα από κώλο, Alter Self, The Anal Treatment Experience, Slavebreed, Birth Through Gore, Dephosphorus, Karma Violence, Progress of Inhumanity, Abyssus, Vulnus, Inveracity, Dead Congregation, Sun of Nothing, GrassRoll, Custom Made Noise, Samatas… fuckin’hell, they are so many! One of the foreign releases I recently listen to and shit myself is of course Utilitarian by Napalm Death!
Last but not least, we’d like to thank you for this interview. We leave the final words to you and you may add whatever you’d like and we forgot to ask you. We wish you the best of luck in the future and we hope everything goes great for you.
Mitch: We thank you for the interview and for your support in general. Godd luck to whatever you do.
Costas: Thank you once again for the interview and for your support with the fest. I would also like to personally thank Manos Spanos and of course Metalpaths. I wish the scene always remains in solidarity as it is in these times.
Interview by: Aggelos “Redneck” Katsouras.