Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Arne Kupetz at Lifeforce Records for setting up this interview
Thanks to Lifeforce Records for the promo pictures of the band
WEARING A MARTYR’S CROWN is the name of the amazing fourth album from Nightrage. I have interviewed bandleader Marios Iliopoulos before but when I heard that he and Nightrage were back I felt that it was time for an update. So for all you Nightrage fans out there here comes an update from the Nightrage camp by Marios, singer Anthony Hämäläinen and drummer Jo Nunez.
Hello Marios, it’s a pleasure to be talking to you again. It’s been a while since last time and I hope you’re ready to dig into the Nightrage-vaults of music, tours and history.
Marios: Hey man nice to have the chance to have a chat with metal temple magazine once again. It’s always a pleasure to answer your questions. I’m ready and excited to answer this amazingly big interview hahahahaha.
Your brand new album is titled WEARING A MARTYR’S CROWN, how did you come up with that title and does it have any special meaning to either you or to the band?
Antony: Marios came up with this title for the fourth piece of music we were writing for the album. Then when we were collaborating on the lyrics the theme became about being put down or hated for being a very good person in a world of very bad people.
When did you start to record the album and how long did it all take?
Jo: We’ve started recording it from 23rd February till 15th March approximately. It took us an entire month to get the new CD in our hands, mixing and mastering parts included. It’s a real pleasure to work with Fredrik and his assistants, those guys know how to make you push your limits.
Is Nightrage a democracy where everyone has their saying about the material?
Jo: Yeah that’s exactly the word, Democracy! Sometimes when we don’t agree on something we just vote (laughs)
Seriously, since we all live on different continents we do not have the chance to compose from the start. But eventually when we’re all together, everyone brings his ideas and we work on it. That’s the way it was during this recording.
You write most of the music and the lyrics, what are the lyrics about this time? Have you written about any special matter this time?
Marios: Yeah I write most of the stuff anyway but this time Olof and Antony helped me write music and lyrics, and it went really well. Antony and I we share almost the same mind and our stories are pretty similar. My lyrics are very personal and I get influenced from my life story and the human feeling and actions. Our subjects they have to do about pain, bad blood, hypocrisy and martyrdom. Our lyrical themes sometimes are really harsh but very real at the same time. I remember also working with Olof really hard doing the new demo songs on our own studio. Our musical ideas really fit together and also Olof understand and like a lot the feeling of what I want to achieve with the Nightrage music.
I think that Nightrage have changed a bit music wise, I think this album contains harder material than before. I think the melodic death metal influences have turned up a notch. And all clean vocals are gone, do you agree and what kind of music do you think Nightrage plays today?
Marios: We play the music that we really feel without worrying about other stuff. I think this album reflects the passion and the hunger that we wanted to express with the new songs, we wanted to stay focus on our metal pure path and we don’t give a shit about any stupid trends that they are around. Its like watching yourself in the mirror and know that u are doing the right thing, without lying to yourself, that is Nightrage music, comes straight from the heart.
Who has done the cover art-work to the album this time? What do you think of it?
Jo: Gustavo Sazes did it. He’s an amazing web designer from Brazil who is also in charge of our websites. Personally I really am impressed of his work and I think he did the best Nightrage cover so far.
My bio states that this album continues and truthfully upholds the original Swedish melodic death metal sound, what’s your comment on that?
Antony: I believe it does for sure. It has a lot of those traditional elements that made Gothenburg the sound it has. But this album also has other things in it that will probably make the listener sit back and go "Wow, I wasn’t expecting that".
You have always featured a strictly instrumental song on all of your albums and so also this time, why have you always got an instrumental song featured?
Marios: Yeah it’s like a tradition in Nightrage to do so. We have always had a cool instrumental piece of music in all our albums so far, and that is because we want to show the softer and mellower side of the band. I believe “Sting of Remorse” is one of the best songs that we had the chance to compose; it’s like a film score in the beginning combined later with our cool heavy hard rock influences. We are also lovers of the acoustic guitar and in this song u can hear a lot of that.
The previous album with Nightrage came 2007, what have you been up to in between the releases?
Marios: We did a cool tour with Mnemic and some festivals, plus some cool single shows in Greece and Spain. We also focus on writing new material and make this new album a reality.
Are you inspired by Swedish death metal or the Gothenburg sound in general?
Jo: Obviously but we’re not limited on that kind of music. Antony, Anders and Olof grew up in Scandinavia when the melodic death metal was at its peak so I guess it definitely influenced them. Marios has also been working with Fredrik Nordstrom for many years. He started with his previous band Exhumation and go on with Nightrage which means he’s completely impregnated of this Gothenburg style/sound.
You have received great respond from media and the reviews are really positive regarding WEARING A MARTYR’S CROWN, do you think that it’s important with getting good reviews? Do you read the reviews?
Antony: Everything we have heard has been 100% positive. We will just make the music that moves us, and if other people like it then that’s great!
Jo: It is important indeed; a good review can make discover a band to a new fan, like it was my case with Nightrage back in 2005.
Are there any differences in how the Swedish media treats the band compared to how foreign press threats you?
Marios: Not really I think it’s always depends from the guy that making the review, he can be nice or not nice sometimes. Personally I respect everybody’s opinion and I’m open to criticism, well u can’t please everybody in the end.
Were there many songs that didn’t make it on to the final edition of the album?
Jo: No, not even one. We’ve only recorded the album like it is; no extras that disappointed us, we all were satisfied of the result we got.
Do you have any personal favorite track on the album?
Jo: Mine are” Failure of all human emotions”, “Sting of remorse” and “Wearing a martyr’s crown”.
Marios: Shed the blood, Collision of fate, Mocking Modesty and Sting of Remorse.
Are you happy with WEARING THE MARTYR’S CROWN as a whole now that you look back on it?
Jo: Definitely! I’m very glad and proud of that album and I think everyone feel the same.
Marios: I’m very happy that we have done the music we love to play, I feel very pleased with the outcome of this album.
On the previous album you alone handled the guitar, today you are two guitarists, was it fun to record with another guitarist again?
Marios: Very fun and I had miss that to be honest, Nightrage is a guitar driven band and having a cool guitarist like Olof next to me, its really amazing and we can share all the nice guitar things that we have on our songs.
Do you have any plans on shooting a video to any of the songs?
Jo: Yes, we’re planning to shoot a video from the album but we don’t wanna say much more at the moment and keep the surprise for our fans.
As mentioned earlier is Fredrik Nordström the producer and you have recorded the album in his Studio Fredman in Gothenburg Sweden, why did you choose to work with Nordström again?
Marios: It was more like a band decision this time and also our label wanted that as well. I know personally Fredrik and he is a good friend of the band. I’m working with him many years now and he knows how to handle this style of music perfectly. There were also more factors that we choose him, the studio was close from our homes, he made an amazing offer to us and he also loved the new songs that we had.
What is Nordström’s strongest feature as producer?
Antony: I would say it’s kind of in his mix. That’s where his production comes in to the fullest. He can make some major changes in the mix that to me are like producing.
You worked with producer Jacob Hansen in Denmark on your previous album, how was it to work with him?
Marios: Was an amazing experience, he is one of the best producers in metal and a very cool person and friendly guy. We are looking forward to work with him again in the future. Jacob rules.
What’s the difference between Hansen’s and Nordström’s way to work?
Marios: Well they are both amazing producers, Fredrik is very funny and crazy sometimes hahahahaha and Jacob is a really down to earth guy very friendly and very calm. I like to work with both of them as we are always having the best of time working with them.
Do you see a co-operation with Nordström in the future; let’s say on the next album?
Marios: Yes why not but I don’t really know what’s going to be, all depends and as u can understand that kind of things change all the time.
Again, there’s a new line-up, what happened with the guys from the previous album?
Jo: Jimmie and Alex they were thrown out of the band, and then they create a pop band. Actually there are some other reasons, but it’s more personal plus they wanted to change the band and get famous, they were mainly interested on that I’d say. Henric decided to quit wanted to taking care of his family, which we understand very well of course.
Are you still friends with Strimell, Carlsson and Svenningson that left on the previous album?
Marios: I talk only to Henric Carlsson for the time being, and I have lost contact pretty much with the other 2 guys. I wish them the best of success anyway on their musical paths, and it will be cool to see them some time and have a nice chat.
Did of the guys leave at the same time?
Jo: Yes, they all decided to form their pop band at the same time.
Hasn’t it been frustrating for you to have a new line-up on each album?
Marios: Yes very much but nothing I can’t really do about it, the show must go on.
That was also the only way for the band to keep going, otherwise will be dead by now.
And now there’s a new line-up on this album, where did you find the new guys?
Marios: I know Olof many years by now, as he used to be a very good friend of the band before he joins for good, and also he was helping us on and off the last 3 years. Jo and Antony find us pretty much from my space as they wanted to give it a try to be in the band, Anders came later as a friend after Olof suggestion, to help us for some shows, but eventually loved the band and wanted to stay for good.
What do you think of the new singer Hämäläinen’s effort? I mean, it can be quite risky to change singer.
Jo: It can be risky like you said, but when you’ll hear and see Antony on stage, trust me you will understand why we’ve chosen him.
He’s just amazing, his voice is quite close from Tomas Lindberg, and he’s very professional and has a fucking energy on stage!
Marios: Antony is an amazing singer like the small brother of Tomas Lindberg or something, I think his vocals performance on this album its something amazing and the clue of the whole album, thanks Antony for being such a kick ass singer.
What do you think his efforts compared to the former singers Strimell and the first singer Lindberg?
Jo: Like I said, his style and voice are pretty close to Lindberg’s. He did a great job by bringing some fresh air to the new songs. Just listen to the bridge on "Futile tears"; you would never hear that kind of clean vocals anywhere today!
What’s it like to work with a new guitar player like Mörck?
Jo: Olof is a very talented person. It’s a real pleasure to have him in the band; he is perfectionist and relaxing at the same time.
Antony: He’s also a Gothenburg aristocrat. His accent is amazing!
Marios: The best guitarist in the whole world hahahahaha. He has his own “Olof Mörck” Nightrage song, he knows that. He can play the violin and piano as well, for me he is like a classical composer that happens to play in a death metal band.
Do you feel that this line-up is a solid one?
Jo: Yes, totally. The chemistry between us is just perfect, musically and humanly.
Marios: The line up is awesome now, the guys in the band they are nice people and they mean what they say. I love them all.
Are any of the other members involved in other acts besides Nightrage?
Jo: Yes we are. Olof and Anders are currently playing Dragonland, Antony plays in Burn your Halo from Arizona and I play in Suicide of Demons from Belgium
My bio says that Nightrage now is a Swedish/Greek band, how many Swedes are there in the band at the moment?
Jo: Two, Olof and Anders. But people and media generally consider Nightrage as a part Swedish band because Marios has been living here in Gothenburg for the last 10 years.
Do you still live in Sweden? And have you learned more Swedish since we last spoke?
Marios: Jag kan prata lite grann hahahahahaha, Inga problem (in English: I can talk a little, no problems)
The new members are pretty young compared to you, no offense, was it a conscious move to add a young line-up this time?
Antony: Age has nothing to do with being a nice person and being able to play your instrument. I, Anders, and Olof are almost thirty so I don’t know if you are just talking about Johan who is twenty one.
How does the current line-up stand the test if you compare to the previous line-ups you have had?
Antony: The fans can judge that. And they will I’m sure. But so far everyone has been really great! So thank you to them for that!
You are signed to Lifeforce Records, are you happy with your label?
Jo: Lifeforce are doing a very good job for us. Our relationship with our label is pretty good; we have met Stefan several times before and he was very open-minded regarding our plans.
This is the second release on Lifeforce Records, for how many albums are you signed for?
Jo: We have a deal for 3 full length albums. Maybe more if both parts wanna go on afterward. But right now, I don’t see any problem at all, they’re very comprehensive and we love working with them.
Have you got a bigger priority from the label now?
Antony: You will only be a priority if you sell albums. That’s the business. So if the fans go out and buy it we will be a priority. It’s that simple.
In what territories is the album released today?
Jo: Europe, Japan and USA for the moment, we expect more to come very soon like South America and Australia for example. My dream would be Africa but I’m not sure our label agree on that (laughs)
Do you know if the album is gonna be released world wide?
Antony: Yes it will be.
Marios: Pretty much in 22 different continents around the world as far as I know, Lifeforce doing an awesome job at making this possible for us.
Is it Lifeforce Records that releases your albums world wide or do you have a deal with any distribution label that does that?
Antony: It’s complicated how it really works but yes Lifeforce is the world wide label for us.
Marios: We also have a license in Russia as well from Soyuz music, and a distribution deal with SKD entertainment in Japan.
Do you know in how many copies your last album A NEW DISEASE IS BORN has sold?
Antony: Yes we do.
It’s pretty hard to find releases from Lifeforce Records in Scandinavia; do you know why it’s so hard to find albums released by them?
Antony: I have no idea. But you can go on Lifeforce official site and buy any album you want from their online store for a simple price. It’s just about taking that effort to support the bands and buy the albums.
Marios: The shops they have to buy the album as well as some of them they are not doing it, so it always depends.
Your previous album is called A NEW DISEASE IS BORN and it came in 2007, do you know if that album went better or worse compared to your older albums?
Jo: I think it went worse… Not because of the quality because I still find this album is very good. But like you probably know, CD selling’s are going really bad in general, the music industry is getting down and we could see it on our sells. But I think in terms of quality, that album was really appreciated. Some of our fans completely rejected it because of the modern touch we had on it, but it also enabled us to make our fan base growing.
You also went out on tour in 2007 with Mnemic, how was that?
Marios: Was a decent tour and we had a very cool time with all the guys, from Mnemic and Slowmotion Apocalypse.
You only did a few festival shows during last year, why didn’t you tour more? I know a lot of people that’s really eager to see you live.
Marios: We wanted to concentrate and start writing material for the new album. That’s why we didn’t do a lot of touring. We wanted to write the best songs we can and that always need time and being in a very calm environment.
You are co-working with the booking agency Dragon Productions, how is that?
Antony: We will be announcing a new booking agency soon! Due to the "magnitude" of this album and the response it is getting we have to move up in this department.
I know your albums are released in Asia, are you big in Asia?
Antony: I wouldn’t say we are big but we have a nice fan base there.
And what’s your status on the American/Canadian market at the moment? Are you selling a lot of albums over there?
Jo: I don’t know about selling’s but I do know that we have a great fan base there. Antony who is living in USA can confirm that. People from North America send us tons e-mails everyday asking us to come and play there. I hope we can satisfy them as soon as possible with that album.
Where in the world do you think that Nightrage has its biggest fan base?
Jo: I would say United States regarding our email box (laughs), but I think Scandinavia and Greece are pretty much on the top of the list.
What’s the most common question you get from fans?
Jo: Are you really playing music? (Laughs) Is your singer single? When are you coming to my country?
Are you active on My Space and what do you think of the My Space forum? Is it a good way to get out your music to the public?
Jo: We all run a personal my space page, but I’m not very into that this. It’s great that you can promote your music and skills. Eventually it’s thanks to my space that Antony and I are doing this Interview (laughs)
Do you think that Nightrage’s popularity increases more and more for every album you release?
Jo: Yes I do. Every album we deliver is different and in a certain way better than the previous one. I think our fans know it and appreciate us for that so it can goes worst for us.
Are there any plans on going out on tour now that WEARING THE MARTYR’S CROWN is released?
Jo: For the moment, we’re still promoting this album, but you’ll see us touring Europe very soon, that’s for sure.
If you’re going out on tour is the line-up gonna be the same live as on album?
Jo: Of course! No doubt on this
And if you’re going out on tour is it as headline act or support act?
Jo: Probably support act, for the moment we can’t take that risk on an entire European tour. I think we can fill some good venue in countries like Greece or Spain, but not everywhere I guess.
Do you have any plans on making a live DVD or a live CD?
Marios: Not at the moment since we want to make a DVD when we feel that we are ready for it and it make sense. We want to make this right and be the best band we can for the DVD shoot.
When can we expect the next brilliant album by Nightrage to be out in stores?
Antony: Shit we just finished WAMC! (Laughs) Give us some time to tour for this one and we will get to work on the next batch of brutality!
Can you give the readers three reasons why they should buy WEARING A MARTYR’S CROWN?
Jo: Because it’s by far our best album since Sweet Vengeance
What do you have to say to those who haven’t discovered Nightrage yet?
Jo: Listen to wearing a martyr’s crown; you’ll see what we’re able to!
That was all I had for this time, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and also a HUGE thank you for continuing to deliver ass-kicking metal music to the world.
Antony: Rad! See you on tour!
Marios: Thanks a lot for the nice Interview, hope all our fans will like the new stuff, please go and buy this album and support us. See u all on our shows.
// Hail from the Nightrage crew.
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