Black Fate – Guitarist Gus Drax

BlackFate_logo_interview_2014Gus Drax – Guitarist for Black Fate

Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall

Thanks to Emil Westerdahl at Ulterium Records for setting up the interview
and Ulterium Records for the promo pictures of the band

Live photos taken by: Julie Lesage & Frank HSJ.com

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Black Fate is a Greek melodic/power metal act that released their great fourth album at the end of last year. The title of their newest album is BETWEEN VISIONS AND LIES and ought to appeal to every fan of this style of metal. Black Fate’s only remaining original member is drummer Nikos Tsintzilonis and he has kept the band rolling since 2000. After a few absent years, it was time to bring the band back to life with BETWEEN VISIONS AND LIES as their first album since 2009. With new members and a record label, it’s now time for Black Fate to conquer the world. I hooked up with the very young and talented guitar virtuoso Gus Drax in order to hear how they would manage to take over the world with their music. I’m sure this band has a great future ahead of them.


Hi Gus, how are you today? Thanks for taking the time for the interview. Are you ready to begin?

Hey Anders, thank you very much for having me. Yes let’s go!

The brand new Black Fate album BETWEEN VISIONS AND LIES was recently released. How long did it take you guys to write and record the album; is it correct that it took you two years to finish the album?

Yes, more or less, that’s correct. I think it was about 2 and a half years of work.

Who writes the material and what are the lyrics about?

Well, our drummer Nikos brings the first ideas and the rest of us are taking them and working on them until we have the final result. Most of the times the first ideas will be something completely different after working on them all together. I will change and refine riffs and of course write the lead parts and Vasilis our singer plays also a big part of the refining mode of the songs as well. Adding/changing melodies lyrics etc. So I would say its a team effort which starts from Nikos.

Our lyrics are a mixture of fantasy and inspiration and we try to write this way that the listener can “connect” and relate with what we say in his own way and life.

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Has the band developed music-wise if you compare this album to the previous? If so, in what way?

Absolutely! Our songwriting is way different, we changed. We became heavier probably also due to the change to the 7string guitar. We are more Progressive and more melodic as well in comparison with the previous album. Also the over all sound and production of the album is way better now.

The band put out an album teaser on youtube, what did fans think of it?

The first reactions were fantastic, really. And we couldn’t be happier for this!

Does the title BETWEEN VISIONS AND LIES have any special meaning to the band; and who came up with the title?

“Between Visions And Lies” message is the way someone sees, understands and deals with God and generally the Unknown. The general concept of it is to show the innocence and ignorance of man before anything strange and different. For example, the child’s look in front of this magical bottle, this pot. I think this and the whole atmosphere of the cover creates “Magical” feelings.

The title was Niko’s idea and is a lyric line from our song “ Game Of Illusion”.

The cover art work was made by a member in the band, Vasilis Gerorgiou. What do you think of it and do you think it reflects the music?

I absolutely love it. Vasilis is a great graphic designer and a very artistic person in everything he does from music and designing to the way he cooks! I think that the artwork does the album justice and really works well with the music that is included in the CD. I think they both fit very well together.

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Were there many songs that didn’t made on to the final edition of the album?

No, not all. We don’t write like…15 songs and keep 10 of them. We work on every song idea that we like and when we had 10 (plus 1 the “In Fear” which is purely orchestral) songs we knew we are ready to enter the studio.

The album contains 11 songs and clocks in at about 50 minutes, was the album meant to be so long?

No. We just wrote the songs the way we wanted. We worked on ideas the way we thought it was the best for the songs without thinking the clock. As it turned,the album is 50 minutes album which I think is a very good length. Not to little not to much.

I think I can hear some strings and keyboards here and there, who plays them?

Our friend Themis Koppa played the keyboards on the album and our friend Malte Rathke from Germany did the Orchestral arrangement on the beginning of Rhyme Of a False Orchestra. Last, but certainly not least, Giorgos Maravgakis played the Keyboards for “In Fear”.

How would you like to describe the kind of music Black Fate plays?

I could describe our music as Melodic Metal or Progressive-Power Metal. I think both terms are describing it very well. We do have a lot of elements, some Power Metal elements in there, some Progressive Metal elements, even a few ethnic ones. We didn’t want to write a monotonous album. We wanted to have a variety of elements and sounds in it.

Do you think that old fans of Black Fate will like BETWEEN VISIONS AND LIES?

I already have talked with some of them and they absolutely love it and this makes us very happy. It was something that we were curious about. The reaction of the old fans that have grown up listening to the band.

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The single “Lines In the Sand” was released prior to the album. How have the fans responded  to the single?

It was a great boost of confidence. Everybody was saying the best of words and we couldn’t wait for the release date so that people get to listen to the whole album

Lines in the Sand [OFFICIAL LYRIC VIDEO]

 

You released an album teaser in September, what did the fans think of that?

Same with the rest man. We had people from all over the world getting excited with it and we are glad that they are all happy now with the entire album!

Between Visions & Lies (Album teaser)

 

Are there any plans on shooting videos to any of the other songs on the album?

Yes. We have shoot a video for “Rhyme Of A False Orchestra” and we are currently editing it. Hopefully you’ll get to see it soon.

Rhyme of the False Orchestra [official music video]

 

I think that your singer Georgiou does an amazing job on the album and you really impress on guitar. Are you happy with the work everyone put into the album?

Thank you very much for the nice words. Yes, I am absolutely satisfied with everybody’s work on the album. We wouldn’t release it of course if we weren’t satisfied with it.

Studio and production

I read that you recorded some parts of the instruments in one studio and the remaining parts in another studio, where was it all recorded?

Yes it true. Drums, Bass and Acoustic guitars were recorded in Warcry studios in Larisa. Rhythm and Lead Guitars were recorded in Nikos’s studio and Vasilis recorded his vocals in his own studio as well.

Who produced the album?

We did. We are responsible for the Production of the album.

The band member Nikos Tsintzilonis took care of the mixing, was anyone besides him responsible for that process?

Well, everybody gave ideas during the process, but Nikos did the heavy job. It was like: “Hey guys check this out” and we were “Ok would you like to try this out or that” and so on until we were all satisfied with the result.

The mastering, Eric Tordsson took care of in Sweden. Were any band members here in Sweden with him?

No, Eric did the mastering all by himself in Sweden and sentd it to us when he was ready. Needless to say that we were blown away.

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Did the band record everything together or did you record each parts on your own?

Everybody recorded his parts on his own.

Label and management

Why did you end the co-operation with your former label Asiral Records?

Because we were searching for a bigger label that can help the band go to the next step. We love Asiral records and we are grateful for what they’ve done but we needed to go to the next step.

Were you without a record deal for a long time?

No. As soon as the album was finished we started sending it to label around the world and Ulterium was one of these who responded positively and offered us a contract that we couldn’t say “No”.

You’re now signed to the Swedish label Ulterium Records. How come you inked a deal with them, and are you happy with the support the label has put into the band and album so far?

Of course! Like I said before, we are very happy and satisfied from the work Ulterium and Connecting Music is doing for us. We are sure that we did the right choice to sign with them!

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UR is releasing the album in Europe and the States but who releases it in the rest of the world?

So far we are searching for a deal in Japan. Hopefully we’ll have some good news soon.

Who owns the legal rights to your old albums today?

We do.

Any plans on releasing BETWEEN VISIONS AND LIES on vinyl?

I would like to see the album on Vinyl but that’s probably a question for Ulterium Records.

Are there any plans on re-releaseing any of the old albums soon?

No. Not at all.

UR is co-operating with the promotion label Connecting Music; how is the co-operating going? Are you happy with it?

We are super satisfied from the work Ulterium and Connecting Music is doing for us. They really know their job very well and they are really helping the promotion of the album and the band in general and we really appreciate that. We have a great partnership/relationship with them.

BlackFate_band_04_promo_interview_2014

Is it possible to download the new album legally anywhere? Is it available on spotify?

Yes. Its available on every legal platform including Spotify as well. Anyone who wants to buy a physical copy and doesn’t find it in their local store should go to: .www.ulteriumstore.bigcartel.com

Background

Where does the band name come from? I ask because I know there was a German metal act that was active during the 80’s who also was named Black Fate.

Back at 1990 there was no information in the band about another band existing with the same name. I personally, to be honest, never heard a single song from the German band.

The band is from Greece, how’s the musical climate for metal there? Are there many clubs for band to play in?

Its difficult but its getting better. There are some decent clubs mostly in the biggest cities though like Athens and Thessaloniki.

Is the band big in Greece and what did the media think of the new album?

The Media is embracing the new album in a great way. We have great reviews so far and I would say the band is now getting bigger.

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Do you and the band care about what media and critics have to say about your work?

Of course. I think all the bands out there releasing albums care about with the media and critics have to say about it. Even if they admit it or not.

Have you done a lot of touring outside Greece during your years when active?

No. We haven’t been outside of Greece yet. It’s one of our biggest goals for this album.

The debut album UNCOVER came out in 2000 and the second disc A PIECE OF DREAM came 2002 and then there was silence from the band until 2007. What happened? It’s only drummer Tsintzolis that’s the only remaining member from the line-up, what happened with the rest of the band?

Life happened. The members of the band then had personal issues and priorities different from the band. Ilias the ex guitar player also became a father and I guess it was just inevitable to split and the band went on since then.

black_fate_2000_promo_2_interview_2014

Those quite years must have been hard for the band, did the break-up have any effect on the music?

Absolutely. The sound changed the songwriting changed. Its just how it is. Also after these years you mature and you change as a person and so does your music as well

Do all of the members live in the same town or are you scattered across the country?

Yes we all are very close to each other.

Does the members have any common artists or bands that you are inspired by?

Yeah. Pretty much the same. We have similar tastes in music and of course some individual differences. For example I might like a band that Vasilis doesn’t or Nikos. Or the opposite.

Is the current line-up a solid one?

Yes. And right now this is the longest line up ever for the band.

Future

Is there any difference in how the band is treated by native and foreign media?

I think is has to do with every magazine/webzine individually and not by the nationality but I have to mention that the most “negative” reviews so far are coming from Greek magazines. Although we have some of the best ones coming from other Greek magazines as well. So far foreign media is more positive towards the new album. That’s the feeling I get.

How come the band doesn’t have a website?

We didn’t need one yet. But we will probably create one now.

Who runs the bands facebook site and what’s the most common question you get from fans online?

All the band members. And the most frequently asked question is probably “When are you coming for a live show in “…Insert town and country…”.  It’s a very pleasant question to read and we probably read it everyday from different parts of the world.

Are you on twitter and so on? Do you think that is important for a new band to be active on the net?

I personally am yes. The band isn’t on twitter yet. And yes I think that is is essential for every band to take advantage of the internet and be active and to have communication with the fans. The Internet is a great promotion tool and we certainly use it. There is no other way.

Are there any plans on heading out on tour or playing some shows?

Yes, we already started planning. We have one show confirmed for March. We will open for Sanctuary in Thessaloniki but will play more shows until then for sure. We are playing in our hometown in January and we are in discussions for more.

Do you have any festival shows confirmed for 2015?

Not yet. Hopefully soon!

What is the main focus for the band now, Greece or the rest of Europe ?

I would say both but the fact that we haven’t been outside of Greece yet is making us focusing on it a little bit more. We always get gig suggestions and opportunities for Greece but now we want to go to the next step and play outside of our country.

BlackFate_gus_live_photo_by_FRANK.HSJ_promo_2014

Are there any interest in America and Asia for the band?

Yes, thankfully from both. We are very grateful and happy for it and we will make everything possible to go to both. It means the world to us that people from the other side of the world appreciates our Music and wants to see us playing live. We want to see them equally that’s for sure.

When can fans expect to find the next Black Fate album out in stores?

I don’t have an answer to that yet but the first new ideas have started making their appearance. Right now we only think about promoting “Between Visions And Lies” and not the next album. This one has to do its “circle” first.

What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t heard the music of Black Fate yet?

Check it out people, there might be something good for you in our music.

Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy BETWEEN VISIONS AND LIES?

1) It has some good –in my opinion- songs in it. I think we have some stellar songwriting in it.

2) The album is sounding very well. The production is very good and you can have a pleasant listen.

3) We are damn good guys! hahaha

Well, that was all for me. Once again, thanks a lot for taking the time doing the interview and I wish you and the band all the best in the future. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with fans and readers?

Thank you very much for having me Anders. It was a pleasure. I hope I’ll see you all soon on the road.
Till then, take care and have fun always with great music.
Metal On \m/

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