Few bands have carved their niche with the precision and finesse exhibited by Fortress Under Siege. As Myth of Rock delves into the case of this historic heavy/power metal band, it is a distinct pleasure to present an insightful conversation with Fotis Sotiropoulos, the virtuoso guitarist and driving force behind the Greek heavy/power metal powerhouse.
by Dimitris Zacharopoulos
You have just released your new album, “Envy”. Which are your feelings? Which are your ambitions for this album?
We are very happy with the new album and we can't wait to present it live. We have invested a lot in this release and we hope that we are going to make a decisive step forwards.
Where and when was the album recorded? Who did the mixing and the mastering? Please describe the production process of “Envy”.
The album was recorded in Devasoundz Studio by Fotis Benardo, Aggelos Karatzas and Aris Karatzas during 2021 and mixed by Fotis Benardo during 2022. The mastering was done by George Neratzis. The whole production was made by Fotis Benardo and it was an awesome experience, because working with the best is outstanding. Fotis' guidance in the studio is simply unbelievable, he knows how to make everything right and take the best out of you. He always becomes the extra member of the band, this is really priceless.
Who is the main composer (music/lyrics) In Fortress Under Siege? Could you describe your songwriting process, from the initial concept to the final recording? Did you follow any “rituals” or methods?
The main composer of the band is me. I always write the music first. This can start by just a single riff or idea, which will built up a whole song in the process. Then I compose the vocal melodies and finally, write the lyrics which I always try to have a strong correlation to the music. Afterwards, I make a pre-production of the songs in a home studio and then I give the demo to the rest of the band to learn and compose, where needed, their parts. Then we do a lot of rehearsing to learn and perfect the songs and make any corrections we feel necessary. The last act is played in the recording studio, where we and the producer will make any last minute interventions that we feel that will extra benefit the songs.
Where would you trace the differences between “Envy” and “Atlantis?
Every album we make is more or less, different to each other. Nevertheless, the last two albums we did have a really strong bond: they are performed by exactly the same members. This is a very important element to note. However, differences are always there, no matter what, and this is of vital importance, otherwise you become dull and boring while you repeat yourself. The only point I will like to mention, is that "Envy" has a more cohesive and stormy sound than its predecessor which is always the decision of our producer.
Why did you name the new album “Envy”? Where do your lyrics refer to?
It just fitted right as the title of the record, it is one small word, on the contrary with our band name which is long and there is a deep and dark meaning in it. Also, we could correlate it with the painting of the horned girl of the cover and make a strong allegory with that. As far as the lyrics are concerned, as usual there is wide variety. We have two historical songs, "Straits of glory" which is about the famous ancient naval battle of Salamis and "Bring out your dead" which is about the black death in Middle Aged Europe, "Distant voices" which is a song inspired by the famous sci-fi movie "Blade runner's" last scene with Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford, "Disobey" which is a call to question authority, "Look at you" which is a song about the ancient myth of Medusa and Perseus but with a different finale, with Medusa proudly holding Perseus' cut off head, inspired by all time female oppression, "Ride the thunder" which is a song about the hard effort, the power of will, self awareness and moderation, "Burning fleshes" which is about the strong emotions of a guest in Dahau's concentration camp of World War II who happened to be there as a prisoner, "Envy" which describes an envious person, "Broken and torn" which describes a person's feelings seeing accidentally his ex sweetheart in a club with someone else and last but not least "Deceptor" which is a song about people who demand mandatory respect to things they consider sacred or important.
Your favorite song from “Envy”? And why?
I have decided to have a different favorite song in every interview, since I get involved in the composing process and is always difficult to select just one. So, the previous time it was "Bring out your dead", now it is "Distant voices".
How would you define your music? Do you try to incorporate various, different music elements in your songs?
Melodic, technical power heavy metal we play. The only thing that concerns me, is to make really good music that excites me and meet my high musical and lyrical standards.
Which particular bands and artists have inspired your musical journey? Which would be your dream collaboration?
All the great metal bands of the 80's and 90's have made me want to write and perform music. I do not dream of any collaborations, I just dream to make FUS a great band and give it the recognition it deserves.
Power metal is known for its elaborate guitar solos and melodies. How do you balance technicality with emotions in your song arrangements?
I always wanted to play fast and fancy, what I never wanted was to babble while soloing. I never liked solos without essence and melody in them. As a guitar player I admire a technical and skillful guitar solo, but keeping on shredding is meaningless without smart and catchy melodies in it. I prefer a smart and inspired solo that everybody can sing, than one full of fast notes that will add nothing to the song. I always try to make my solos be like small songs within a song.
How much significant are live performances for you? How do you translate the energy and complexity of your studio recordings to your live shows? Please give us all the info about the “Envy” mini-tour.
Live performances are of vital importance. No matter how well you sound in the studio or how great songs you write, if you fail to give a great live performance you come up with nothing. We try to give our best when on stage and to generate all the energy of the songs to the crowd. Our "Envy" mini-tour starts on Thursday 23 of November in Live and Loud club in Sofia, then goes on the next day to Eightball club in Salonika and ends in Athens and Temple club on Saturday 25.
I have always wanted to ask you – how did you come up with your band name?
It is a combination of two old movie titles, "Under siege" with Steven Seagal and "Fortress" with Christopher Lambert.
How do you see things for the Greek power metal scene nowadays?
I think we start to create an amazing power metal scene here in Greece, with very good bands and competitive productions. It is in our hands to make it last and look in the eyes our famous colleagues abroad.
You are a historic band. What keeps you alive and active?
Our will to make and play good music and communicate it to the world.
What should we expect from Fortress Under Siege in the future?
Qualitative music always.
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Take care and stay heavy!