Lead Singer George Charalambous
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack at Massacre Records for setting up this interview
Thanks to Massacre Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Additional promo pictures is taken from the band MySpace page.
Cyprus isn’t maybe that well known for its metal bands, however, here is an interview with the excellent act Winters Verge that come from Cyprus. I hooked up with the lead singer of Winter’s Verge George Charalambous to talk about their amazing second album TALES OF TRAGEDY, the past, the present, and the future of the band. The band has recently been out on tour with Stratovarius on the first leg of their European tour. This band is one of the new up and coming stars within the heavy metal scene. So remember where you read about Winters Verge first.
Hi George, what’s up? Are you ready to take on me and metal-rules.com?
I thought we could begin with talking about the brand new Winter’s Verge album TALES OF TRAGEDY. How long have you worked on the album? I mean with writing material and music and so on?
This album was an “internet album” so to speak, as 2 of the guys (Harry and Miguel) are studying abroad, so we were sending material back and forth. It took about 9 months. The first time we actually all played the songs together was in the studio, where we recorded the album in 2.5 weeks.
I’ve read that the album is a concept album. What is the lyrics and the album really about?
It is not really a concept album, other than the fact that it is like a little story book with different stories inside. The only concept in the album is the song “I Swear Revenge”, because it is the continuation of the song “Eternal Damnation” on the first album.
Where does the title TALES OF TRAGEDY come from?
Well, like I mentioned above, the album is like a little story book of 11 different “Tales of Tragedy”!
And let’s go back to your debut album ETERNAL DAMNATION that came 2008. It has taken you about 2,5 years to follow that album what have you been up to in between the releases?
Oh come on, not 2.5 years! The first album was released in March of 2008 and the second in January 2010! 1.5 year and a bit more!
No seriously now, the reason it took that long (1.5 and a bit), is because it took some time for the songs to be finalised as we were sending it back and forth, and because we also switched labels, so we had to fix the ‘details’.
Do you think that the band have developed music wise since you the release of the first album? If so in what way?
I definitely believe that the band developed in many ways because of the experience that we got from writing and recording the first album, studio wise. We are a bit older now, so our style of playing, writing and thinking is a little different, and with the addition of Chris (Drums) to the band, who brought a lot of experience to the table, I believe we were able to do a better job with the second album than we had done with the first.
The biography says that you on this album have featured more darker and progressive songs is that correct?
Yes it is. I believe that this album has many different ideas put in each song. And the truth to be said – the lyrics are not really the happiest lyrics in the world; they are a bit darker than the first albums lyrics.
Were there many songs that didn’t made it on to the final edition of TALES OF TRAGEDY?
No not really just one or two, that we believe they didn’t really fit in with the whole album. Who knows? Maybe we might use some of the ideas for a later song!
How would you like to describe the kind of music that Winter’s Verge plays? I have a variety of labels that have been put on your music like epic heavy metal, power metal and progressive metal…
Yes, this is a question that I often get! Well, we are not a progressive metal band, and we are not a totally power metal band. I think it would be safe to say that we play melodic metal with some progressive and epic elements!
You did put out a song from the new album on your MySpace site before the album was released. What did the fans think of the song?
We are very happy with the reaction from the fans, as we are getting a lot of extra hits that we usually wouldn’t get in the past. I’m guessing that they liked it!
Have you read many reviews of TALES OF TRAGEDY? What have the critics to say about the album?
I have read quite a few reviews, and I have to say that I am quite happy with what everyone is saying. Reality though is that you cannot be liked by everyone. So there are a few that are not that good, but I am happy that the good ones are far more!
Do you have any plans on trying to conquer the North American or the Asian music market with TALES OF TRAGEDY?
We have no confirmed plans for the near future, but if the opportunity is given to us, we will make the best out of it that we possibly can.
Who has done the cover art-work? What do you think of it?
The cover artwork is absolutely amazing. It was done by Meran Karanitant (www.darkmouth.com).
You have returned to The Prophecy and Music Factory Studio in Germany to record your album. Why did you chose that studio to record in again?
Well, firstly because we were happy with the recording and production of the first album, secondly because we trust and wanted our producer to be the same, R.D. Liapakis and C. Schmidt are absolutely amazing at what they do, and on top of everything good friends of ours. Finally we like the studio and its environment!
And you have also worked with producer/musician R.D Liapakis again. How come you did work with him again?
Like I mentioned above, we trust him, he is a good friend and he has helped us countless times. His advice means a lot to us, especially to me a singer.
What do you think is Liapakis strongest feature as producer?
He will push you to your limits in order to get the best out of you! If and when he says that something sounds good then you know it does! (But that’s hardly ever the case!).
Where was the album mixed and mastered and who did it?
The album was mixed and mastered at Maranis-Studio, Germany by V. Maranis.
Did you have time to see anything of Germany or were you stuck in the studio the entire time?
Germany is truly a great country, with amazing people! We did spend some time in Kempten, because the studio is there, and we spent our last day/night in Munich. The truth is that it was not enough!
Do you think that you’re gonna continue to work together with Liapakis on your following albums?
Was it hard to land a deal do you think?
It is never easy. I guess we were lucky!
How did you end up on Limb Music that were your first label?
We sent our demo “Another Life… Another End” and after a lot of suspense, we got the deal!
How many albums did you sing on for at Limb Music?
Just one – “Eternal Damnation”.
Why did you leave Limb Music?
We didn’t just leave as it was a 1 album deal with some extra options.
In November of 2009 you inked a deal with Massacre Records. Were you without a record deal for a long while?
We were without a record deal for only a few months. After mastering the new album, we sent “Tales of Tragedy” to quite a few labels, got back some positive results, but we signed with Massacre Records, as they are a very good label with incredible bands in their roster.
What’s the biggest differences in between the way Limb Music and Massacre Records works?
I believe due to the fact that Massacre Records is a bigger label, they have more connections all over the world and can help a band in many ways to show their work.
Are you happy with the promotion etc Massacre Records have put into TALES OF TRAGEDY?
We are getting a lot attention from many different countries and people. That means that the promotion that is being done is very good! Yes we are very happy.
Are you co-operating with any booking agencies or management at the moment?
No we are not in co-operation with anyone at the moment, but we hope to start some kind of connection in the near future.
Let’s talk a bit about the background of the band. Winter’s Verge was founded back in 2003 by you, Psillides and Mallopoulous. Was it hard to find members to the band?
The band was started by me and Psillides. I wanted to start a melodic power metal band based on some of my influences like Sonata Arctica, Nightwish and Stratovarius. We started writing some material together where Psillides was playing keyboards and I was playing guitar and singing, but it is quite hard to sing this type of music and play guitar as well. So we started looking for guitarists. After a few auditions and a lot of changes we found Mallopoulos. We wrote some more material and found a drummer and a bassist and started having our first gigs. After four years of playing all over the island and creating a strong fan base in our country, we got our first deal. Mallopoulos couldn’t stay with the band due to some personal obligations and so we found guitarist Harry Pari. He learned the songs, added his style to the mix and we were off to Germany to record our first album…
Was it given from the start that you were gonna play the kind of music that Winter’s Verge do?
Yes, the idea was to start a band based on influences like the ones I mentioned above. Through the years and due to the different influences that all of us have in the band, Winter’s Verge evolved into what it is today. We still have some elements from the original idea and I’m sure that you can hear some of their influences on us through our music, but I don’t think that we sound like Sonata Arctica or Stratovarius.
Where does the band name come from? Does the name have any special meaning to the band members?
The band name comes from that melodic dramatic feeling that you get when you know that winter is coming. That is what we try and portray through most of our music.
When did your first live show take place?
Winter’s Verge’s first live show was in November 2004. My first gig was in September of 1998.
Before you released your debut album did you release 4 demos, what did media and fans think about the demos?
We released 3 demos. 50 copies of the 1st two and 200 copies of the 3rd demo. I have none of them… ha ha ha. Maybe someday they’ll be worth something! I don’t think the media knew us when we released the demos, except the last one, which we sent to a couple magazines and webzines; we actually got some excellent reviews. I think the fans liked the demos though.
The first line-up change came when bass player Ioannou left the band. He was replaced by Trapezaris, was it hard to find a new bass player?
Trapezaris is probably the best bass player of this type of music, we can find in Cyprus. His style is perfect for the band and he fits in well. Funny enough when we asked him if he wanted to join Winter’s Verge he said yes without even thinking.
The second member change came when Mallopoulous joined the army. Was it hard to loose another original member?
Yes it was very difficult. We needed someone that could play a good riff, but that could also shred. Cyprus being a small country doesn’t have that many musicians, especially for this type of music. We were lucky to find someone like Harry. He is very talented and also the youngest in the band.
At the end of 2007 you re-worked the songs from your demo ANOTHER LIFE, ANOTHER END and added two songs and turned that into your debut album. How did you re-work the songs and the demo into a full length album?
The songs were re-worked by mostly taking parts out and editing the tempos. 70% of the songs were almost 7 minutes long! We decided that we had to take parts out because the songs seemed a bit too much and boring. We added 3 songs to the mix – “To you I sail tonight”, “Get me out” and “Spring of life” and ‘Eternal Damnation’ was born!
How come you didn’t write completely new songs to the debut album?
This is because the demo was a full length album demo, but it wasn’t at a quality that could be released professionally. The songs were already there but we had to re-record them in order for them to reach the market’s standards. Plus, those were the songs that we got our record deal for.
Did you do any touring on the debut album?
No, we did no official touring, other than a lot of shows in Cyprus and 3 gigs in Greece.
Are any of the other members involved in any other band/projects besides Winter’s Verge?
At the moment we are all very dedicated to Winter’s Verge, and with everything going on, I don’t really think that any one of us has any time on their hands for other projects.
Do the members have any common role model or artist that you look up to or are inspired by?
We all have different influences, some of us even from classical music. I like bands like Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, Rage and Iron Maiden. Trapezaris like Statovarius, Iron Maiden, Black Metal and other bands of different styles of metal. Pari like Sonata Arctica, Rage, Pantera, Dream Theatre and Metallica. As you can see we all have different influences but some link us together. That is why we have a lot of different elements in our music.
Winter’s Verge comes from Cyprus what’s the climate for harder music on the Island?
Hot! We are not that much tough. There are only around 2000 metal heads on the island, but they are truly dedicated!
Are there many hard rock and metal clubs/venues on Cyprus for band’s to play in?
Unfortunately there are none! We have to rent a club or a venue and set it up for a gig in order to play. There are no hard rock clubs or venues that can support a gig.
Are Winter’s Verge big on Cyprus? Where in the world do you think you have got your biggest fanbase?
Like I mentioned above, Cyprus is a small country with an ever smaller metal scene, so everyone knows everyone. We are quite big in Cyprus, as every metal head knows us. As far as the rest of the world goes, I have no idea where we might be quite big. Though, when we went on tour with Stratovarius, we did have fans in Bulgaria, Serbia and Czech Republic.
With thought of all the member changes you have had during the years. Did you have any plans on putting the band to rest?
As long as we still love what we are doing we will do our best to keep going! We are just getting started!
Are you friends with the old members today?
Off course we are. Our ex drummer (Andreas Charalambous) is also our web designer and our ex guitarist (Mallopoulos) is a very close friend to me.
Before the release of TALES OF TRAGEDY you headed out on tour together with Stratovarius and Mystic Prophecy how was that?
It was an absolutely incredible experience! We learned a lot and will remember our first official tour for the rest of our lives.
Where did the tour take you?
We started in Serbia, then Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
What did the Stratovarius fans think of Winter’s Verge? Were the other band nice to you?
I believe we made quite a few fans on tour, as we got some very good feedback. Especially in Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Czech Republic. Stratovarius were awesome to us and we actually became very good friends with the guys from Tracedawn!
Do you think that the band gained new fans on the tour?
Definitely! But it was not easy. Every night we would go out on stage and play in front of an audience of people that mostly didn’t know us. We had to win them over. Half way through the show people were cheering for us. That to us was an accomplishment.
Did you play any of the new songs on the tour? What did the fans think of the new songs?
Yes we did. We played “Old Man’s Wish”, “Captain’s Log” and “Dark Entries”. The reaction was actually very positive.
Do you have any plans on doing more live shows during 2010?
I have no confirmed information to share, but if the opportunity arises, we definitely will take it!
Do you think that you will do more touring as a support band in Europe this year?
Never say never!
Are there any plans to do any festivals show’s this summer?
Like I mentioned above, we have confirmed info to share, but we are working on it!
Winter’s Verge has its own MySpace site. What do you think of MySpace as a way for bands to get out their music to the masses?
It is a very important way for people to get to know you and listen to your music. I think it is one of the best possible promotions that you can have.
Is the band active on Facebook as well?
Yes it is. Here is the link –
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common questions you are asked by fans?
We have been getting some mail lately, and the most common question is when are going to go to their home country to have a gig.
I have been checking out your website quite often lately but why is it so poorly updated?
This is because a new one is currently being made, and this one is going to be very up to date, in terms of design and news.
This statement is taken from your bio “Winter’s Verge is Cyprus leading heavy metal band” how would you like to comment that?
This is because we are the only band from Cyprus that has ever been signed, and then released an album world wide.
What have you to say to those unlucky ones that haven’t heard Winter’s Verge yet?
(Unlucky? Thank you for the kind words!) Check us out, you might like our music!
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy TALES OF TRAGEDY?
1) It’s Heavy Metal!
2) Good Production.
3) We need money!
When do you think we can see the next Winter’s Verge album out in stores?
Probably in 2011.
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom for the fans and readers?
It’s all about the music! Stay Metal and Cheers!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to make this interview with me and metal-rules.com. I wish you all the best in the future and I’m hoping to see Winter’s Verge on a stage near me soon!!