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“When there’s no room or inspiration for innovations, people tend to turn back to their roots”

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Mahakala; a band that made a spectacular impact on the Greek music scene. Metalpaths recently caught up with Jim (bass,vocals) to talk about everything and everyone; from the debut album of the band to the line up changes and from the massive live shows to his side-project Black Soul Horde.

– Kostas Tsotsanis

Congratulation on the release and success of ‘Devil’s Music’. Tell us a few lines about Mahakala and the foundation of the band.

Thank you. Well, Mahakala is a great journey: We were found in 2005. We released a couple of EP’s and a full album since then (“Mahakala” EP, 2007 / “Pact with the Devil” EP, 2009 / “Devil’s Music”, 2013) and played a lot of gigs too, mostly in Greece. Me and Nick (guitars) are the only founding members that still remain in the band, but I feel that we’re closer than ever in finalizing the band’s line-up with Kostas Savidis behind the drumkit and George Zafiropoulos as the second guitarist.

Why did you choose to make a concept record for your first full-length record? Tell us about the story ‘Devil’s Music’ unfolds.

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Concept albums have always been my favorite ones! I grew up listening to albums such as The Who’s “Quadrophenia” and “Tommy”, Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime” and King Diamond’s… well actually King Diamond’s discography! Hahaha! I really cannot picture Mahakala releasing a non-concept album! “Devil’s Music” is a biblical story about a human that sold his soul to the Devil to gain knowledge, wisdom and power. People can find out the rest of the story by listening to the album. I believe that everyone will find a part of his self in the lyrics of “Devil’s Music”.

While listening to the record everyone can hear the classic heavy metal and doom metal influence of the band. While making this record, did you choose on purpose the old-school influences or was something that came out while jamming the songs?

We’ve always been admirers of ’70s rock, ’80s metal and ’90s heavy rock. These are the components that “Devil’s Music” is made from. We didn’t try really hard to come up with a specifically generic result in this album, so it’s all natural and from the heart. A lot of the songs were composed using the jamming method -like you said- so all our influences, spontaneously took their place in “Devil’s Music”.

The occult heavy metal is receiving some serious momentum the recent years. How do you explain this comeback ?

Most of these bands are hipsters, but that’s the way things work in fashion. Music business -just like the rest of the show business industry- is a matter of fashion. So, when there’s no room or inspiration for innovations, people tend to turn back to their roots. I can’t deny that there are some bands that did a really good job in renewing the occult rock/ metal sound though. There is The Devil’s Blood, In Solitude, even Year of the Goat, to name a few.

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You’ve uploaded a cover of ‘Stay Away’, originally written by Nirvana, on your facebook page. Why did you record the song? By the way, Nick looks great as the baby in the artwork!

This cover of “Stay Away” was recorded back in 2011, some months before Aris Hatzidakis, the drummer that recorded “Devil’s Music” left the band to depart for Australia, in search of a better life. Nick was going to follow too but he changed his mind afterwards. The song was supposed to be included in a Nirvana tribute, but the possibility of a band break-up, stopped us from being creative, making plans, even rehearsing. Two years later, Nick decided to do the final mix and mastering of the song, surprising me and the rest of the band. I recreated the original “Nevermind” artwork and posted it online right after that. That bastard bought his way in the album’s front cover.

After the release of the record you have been constantly opening for a lot of bands, supporting their shows. How do you explain the success and the impact Mahakala has made in the Greek heavy metal scene.

It’s all a matter of hard work and investment. We paid good money for instruments, equipment and studio time. We also spent most of our free time working on the album these past years. Right after that we hit the road. We met people, discussed with them and learned a couple of things too. We’re an unstoppable force at the time. The way I see it this is the only way to make it happen in the underground. If a major record label or a big promotion agency was in charge of our campaign, things would be different, but now, we just had to work our asses off.

Have you planned a possible tour in Europe or somewhere out of Greece or will the band remain local as it does right now?

There is no budget for a European tour at the time but things change, so I cannot say what will happen for sure. If we don’t tour Europe, then probably we’ll stop touring Greece sometime around early 2014, to enter the studio.

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Are there any future plans for another record?

Actually there are a lot of plans concerning the follow-up of “Devil’s Music”. We’re currently composing some brand new material and it sounds pretty dope! All I can say for now is that our next album is going to be a concept album too and it’s going to sound rougher, heavier and darker than its predecessor.

Since the very beginning of the band and your first EPs the band has changed its line-up a few times. Is the current line-up closed or will we see some changes in the future again ?

As I told you before, I feel that we’re closer than ever in finalizing our line-up. George and Kostas are some of the nicest guys we’ve ever worked with. To be honest with you, sometimes they are so nice that I and Nick end up feeling like the band’s assholes. Hahaha! But let’s get serious… The most important qualities that a Mahakala member can have is the willingness to tour and the realization that he’s never going to get any money out of it. All of our earnings are invested again to the band to pay our expenses for touring and recordings.

You are busy musically with another music project too… Tell us about Black Soul Horde and the record ‘Tales of the Ancient Ones’!

Well, I’m not going to say much about it, since this is a Mahakala interview. Black Soul Horde is an epic metal project featuring me, the guitarist duet of Speedblow, the drummer of Sun of Nothing and the bassist of Nordor, all well acknowledged acts of the Greek underground scene. We just released our debut album “Tales of the Ancient Ones” and we have a few tour dates announced as well. We’ve been working on this project since 2011 and John (guitars, Speedblow) has been pushing me really hard to turn it into a full time band. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but at some point I realized that we had some pretty killer material going on. You’ll be hearing from us a lot in the near future.

Jim, thank you very much for your time! We wish you the best for your band! Last words are on you!

Come to our gigs and bang your heads off. Keep it true and don’t compromise. Destroy everything. Live forever.