If you think tou know everything about rock, hard rock and heavy metal, you should listen to Barbara Black! The Spanish singer released her exquisite new studio album some months ago and her songs still impress people with their strange beauty and their diversity! Myth of Rock listened to the "Love, Death & Flies" album, enjoyed the new lyric video for the song "Damnified" and had a nice little chat with Barbara. Bow down to the Queen!
by Michalis Kapetanakis
Hello Barbara! So how are you with all the craziness around the world that’s going on at the moment?
I'm honestly quite unmotivated. The fact of seeing that the musical world is absolutely blocked makes you feel that your work and effort are not going to have the results and the impact that they should. In addition, seeing loved people who lose their relatives, become ill or lose their jobs makes the low mood.
I suppose you are still busy promoting the new album that was out via the Spanish label Rock Estatal, right?
Yes, we are still working on the “Love, Death & Flies” promotion.
I guess one of the popular things that has been happening at the moment is this whole live streaming thing, what are your thoughts on that?
It is an option, but we need the heat of the audience and enjoying together.
As mentioned before, the new album was some months ago. When did you finish the recordings for that album? Are you happy with the result?
In October 2019 we went to The Cadillac Blood Studios with Andy C and started with the recordings. In March 10th we released the album and the 13th the quarantine lockdown began. We are more than proud with the results, we have worked very hard on each of the songs, we have put our hearts on this album.
You decided to release the album just before the virus … Positive or negative, you think?
Obviously no one knew all the consequences of Covid-19 … we have had to cancel the tour and many interviews.
“Love, Death & Flies” sounds really metal but also very diverse! What is your opinion? And which are your influences?
My opinion is that, when you are creating, you shouldn´t put limits to yourself. The meaning of composing is freedom, from my point of view. Our main musical influences are Alter Bridge, Black Stone Cherry, Blues Saraceno, Joe Bonamassa, Halestorm, Shinedown, Sixx A.M., In This Moment, Vixen, Mr Big, Doro Pesch and many more! We listen from metal and rock bands to country and blues artists.
What was it like working on the composition and the lyrics? Did you work alone or was it a whole band process?
This is a whole band process, absolutely. We are used to start from a musical sketch and then to develop together the structure, the harmony arrangements etc. Sometimes we rely on technology and send each other ideas to work at home individually. After the music is finished, I write the lyrics.
Why did you decide to go with this album title?
In 2019 the band lived love moments (weddings), death situations and flies - funny anecdotes! We knew that writer Augusto Monterroso tells that the whole literature is based on these three topics, so we thought that it fit us perfectly as the album title.
Which are your future plans?
We had a Spanish tour planned and considered the possibility of playing abroad again. We would have done the video recording for the song “Queen of Flies” already, but it had to be postponed several times due to the lockdowns. However, we are working on this video clip, we are looking for locations, outfits, actors and scheduling all the details.
Social Scream is a Greek heavy/thrash metal band, formed in Sparta in 2008. With three full-length albums in their discography, Social Scream are ready to make their breakthrough. Myth of Rock listened to the band's latest album, "Organic Mindset", and contacted immediately Alexandros Oikonomou (bass). Alexandros answered our questions kindly and talked about Social Scream, the band's music and a lot of other interesting topics. Please continue reading!
by Michalis Kapetanakis
Welcome guys! How are things going for Social Scream?
Hi there! Thanks for your interest in our band and the interview! In general we are in a very productive period. We are preparing a live stream show for Bonebreaker online festival and we are adding the last details for our upcoming album. Unfortunately, due to the second lockdown in Greece and the whole corona situation, all our concert plans stay on hold, so we focus on things we can do.
Are you satisfied with the feedback to your latest album, “Organic Mindset”?
Yes, we are. The feedback is positive and we gain new listeners and friends with our latest album.
Are there any plans for another release in the near future or do you find this is not essential for now?
As I told you before, we have almost finished our upcoming release. It will be a double - CD album, entitled “From Ashes To Hope”, including re-recorded versions of some of our old tracks and demos. It is going to be released around March-April 2021.
How would you describe the sound of Social Scream?
We play heavy/thrash metal with both old school and modern elements. Our roots are based on the style of the 80s and the 90s, but we try to have a fresh, clear production that can face the current standards.
Which are your musical idols?
I don’t want to use the word “idol”, but we definitely respect all classic metal bands that established our genre. Also, there are a lot of underground bands and scenes that have an effect on us. Greek metal scene is definitely one of them.
The video clip for your song “Truth Divider” shows a very heavy and dark side of the band. Tell us a few words and special moments about the video session.
We filmed the parts of the video during the first lockdown in Greece (March, April 2020), so due to the restrictions, each member filmed his part separately. The guys from Think Recording Studios and Dope of Sound Studios helped us with the shootings and our friend Louis Vlachakis did the edit. The song is a fast, in your face thrasher one, so we wanted to make a high action playthrough videoclip.
What is your opinion about the use of internet? Is it helpful for the bands or are the bands just lost in a sea of information?
This is the big question for all contemporary bands. For sure, your work is exposed to many people, but the point is how many of them will stay in touch with the band and become active listeners of your material. As a band, we try not to overdo with meaningless posts and updates, but bring out quality stuff at the right time.
Any live plans for the band?
At the 12th of December a free live stream show is going to broadcast through YouTube. Check the link at Craneometal YouTube channel.
What is your biggest dream for Social Scream?
To continue writing and playing music for many years and have the opportunity to meet and interact with music lovers and musicians.
How did you get started with music? Any special musical studies?
Vlassis and I took a few lessons, when we started as kids, but we mostly learnt music through our influences and playing with other people. Kimonas and Foivos studied in music schools for many years and they are also involved with many bands and projects during the years.
What do you think about the Greek metal scene? Are there any new bands that you like?
The Greek scene is one of the best in the world these two last decades. There are many quality bands in all genres. Some bands that I listened lately are Need, Sunburst, Black Fate and Project Renegade.
Congratulations and good luck with your work, guys! The last words are yours.
Thanks for the questions! Don't forget to check our latest album, “Organic Mindset”! Be positive and stay healthy, hope to grab a beer together and meet in one of our concerts soon!
Casagrande is not a typical thrash metal act. Led by Simone Casagrande (guitars, vocals), this Italian band starts from the basic thrash metal sound, but ends to a unique music character, which shocks the unsuspecting listener. Thus, Myth of Rock decided to contact Simone and discuss with him, in the process of understanding Casagrande’s same-titled debut album, out by Soman Records.
by Michalis Kapetanakis
Welcome Simone. We are so happy to have you with us. Congratulations on your new homonymous album!
The pleasure is mine.
Give us a brief overview of the history of the band.
Well, I got this idea in 1998 after two years without playing in a band. My boss changed all the computer networks at work due to the "Millennium bug" issue foretold for the year 2000. Using my Windows PC at work, I started wondering if digital recordings had improved, since 1992, when I issued a couple of demo tapes with the help of a friend of mine who was already producing electronic music through his Commodore Amiga. I called him and he sold me my first PC and some software. Unfortunately, results have been very poor and in 2003 I stopped for about then years, when I released the “Old school” demo. I was thinking also to start up a cover band for thrash classics, but I lost my job and I preferred to save money. In 2016 I moved to London and took some singing lessons and finally released this one.
How would you describe the Casagrande sound and what bands have influenced you the most? I grew up listening to thrash icons such as Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Anthrax, but I have also a classical background, as I played contemporarily the classical guitar. I haven’ t graduated from a music conservatory and to be fair, I am not that good at reading scores, but we may define my sound as progressive post-industrial thrash metal.
What do you think about modern metal?
The most modern I listened to is Korn, Slipknot, Nevermore. I am afraid I am really not into it... I subscribed to many major labels’ YouTube channels, so I have heard a lot of interesting sounds. I don't like the looks these bands have.
Do you think that Casagrande have a place on this modern sound?
Nope, but it honors me if someone thinks otherwise.
Tell us a few words about your debut album that was released on October via the French record label Soman Records.
Loud, unexpected, cheap.
Have you been pleased with the response to the album from fans and critics?
What are the band’s plans for 2021?
I wish to work on new songs and be able to rehearse the vocals. A new global lockdown is coming, so the future is really uncertain.
Lyrics or music? What comes first? Tell us a few words about how you compose your material.
Lyrics should come last, but I remember to have written some parts before, then I adapted some riffs to it.
What do you think are the most negative moments in your career?
The times, when I had to quit bands I really liked to play with for other people’s whims and fancies. I think it has happened to many other musicians. When you got a good number of songs and you reached the right chemistry live and the project begins to be serious, the genius of the moment listens to a new emerging band and decides to change his sound. He/she successfully convinces other members to follow his/her new direction. Your ideas become outdated and you feel just stupid to have wasted all this time.
And what is your biggest dream about Casagrande?
If I was younger, I would like to act like the other old school bands, but I know the music industry is completely different nowadays. CDs are not sold so much as in the past and making music for a living it's really harder than before. Let's say my biggest dream would be to make another record and reach a lot of people giving nice feedback.
Last but not least, please share something you need to mention. You are very welcome and thank you for giving this opportunity to me. I really enjoyed this interview. Catch you soon.
One of the best bands of the Greek power/thrash metal scene, Desert Near the End is ready to reach a broader audience worldwide. The band’s fourth album, “Of Fire and Stars”, released one year ago, contained top-class power/thrash metal and put the band’s name on the table. Myth of Rock, anxious to learn the news from the camp of Desert Near the End, contacted vocalist Alexandros Papandreou - right below you can thoroughly read all the interesting things that were discussed!
by Michalis Kapetanakis
Hello! "Of Fire and Stars" was a great album that had a strong impact in the global power/thrash scene. How do you feel when you listen to the album now?
Greetings! Wow! It’s nice to know that! You know, we are currently running the mixing process for the new album and I do that test quite often…I listen to the previous albums and try to see if things are playing out! If there is a clear path forward as a band and our songwriting! I think it serves its purpose as a big step forward in Desert Near the End’s future!
Which bands is the worldwide elite of power/thrash at the moment?
Well, the bands that inspired us are still here, but not as raw and powerful as they used to be. We grew up with the early days of this genre with bands like Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, Morgana Lefay, Nevermore, etc.
So, I could not say for sure which one is a worldwide elite, because each one of the bands I mentioned has carved its own path and I’m not sure at this point that they serve the term “power/thrash”.
Please let our readers know some things about the band's biography and introduce us the rest of the current Desert Near the End members.
Well of course! We are currently a three-member band. I on vocals, Akis Prasinikas on the bass, and Panos Kalompratsos plays the guitar. Drummer seat and second guitar are filled by guest musicians, when it is needed. We began playing music at high school, when Akis and I used to be members of a school band. We just kept on going, when others decided to stop. We wrote our own songs in 2000 and tried to record some demos. Just the two of us!
Your first three albums were a trilogy. What is the concept of the trilogy and how did the fans accept it?
Well, it’s funny, because we didn’t plan that! We completed the first album and before we recorded it, we sat down and put the lyrics and songs in order, and came up with a story about it. And we kept “telling” this story for two more albums. We were composing the concept at the same time that the music was composed. And the story goes like this; a man, of a not known identity, wakes up at the shores of an ocean with no memory of anything that has ever come to pass. Under a sun that never sets, under absolute, blinding light. And we begin to follow his steps and thoughts, dreams, fears, memories in order to find what he seeks … a sun that will guide him to the truth and will not only blind him. Absolute light can be as deceitful as absolute darkness …
I'd like to know some more things about the themes we can find in your lyrics.
The first three albums have to do with the concept story I already mentioned. Stories of absolution, regret, hope, battle…against yourself or against the truth that one has learned to accept! In our current album we wanted to light things up a little by not having a strong concept story, but I guess we are cursed! Hahaha! So, a couple of new songs later we figure out that looking at the night sky your thoughts can be lost in a million directions. These ‘’lights’’…these little “fires” in the night, what tale could they tell? Now, we know…but back then, how did people explain what they were seeing? They fueled imagination, folklore, religion…and that’s what the topic of “Of Fire and Stars” is all about. Stories that could have been told under a starlit sky some moment in time in this world…or another!
The Greek scene is globally known for black metal. Are there any other strong scenes in Greece and which are the Greek bands you respect the most?
I’m listening to Rotting Christ right now!! But I think that they have gone beyond their genre the last years…they have established their own signature, so I wouldn’t call them black metal anymore. Well, we have lots of great bands in almost every genre right now! World domination is at hand! Haha!
How important is it for Desert Near the End to play live shows and what are the consequences of the current restrictions on the band?
It is very important. Not just for us, but for any band that wants to reach out to the world. This situation has left us all waiting in agony. The worst thing is that there is no “making plans” whatsoever…
What is the procedure of writing a song for Desert Near the End like?
Pretty simple and works for us. Akis does all the hard work! Hahaha!
He writes a song, records it and then he pass it to me in order to come up with vocal lines and lyrics. When it takes an early form we record it and listen to it in order to improve it. And we do this until it reaches its final form.
What are the Greek studios like at the moment? Is it easy for a band in Greece to find an appropriate rehearsal room and a good sound engineer?
I think the current status of music production in Greece is pretty legit. Since the internet and the evolution of computers, things have gone beyond imagination, it is pretty easy to set up a home studio with a quite low budget, I mean comparing to the late ‘90s or early ‘00s, when we begun to play and finding a place to record a demo was so fucking expensive!
Although Desert Near the End exists for, like, ten years, you have been around in metal for more than twenty years. From your experiences, what would be your advice to a new band that starts today?
It’s funny…I get many invitations in the social media from new bands to “like their page” and when I get in their page there are just photos, logos, etc! I believe a band, a new band for sure, should focus on music and music alone. Image and communication are nice, but you have to be able to show something, your vision, and let people know how to measure you. As a musician/band or as a poser?
How do you see filesharing and lyric videos compared to tape trading and vinyl hunting? In other words, please make a comparison of the 90's with the 20's.
Things are so easy these days! It’s great. But I can’t shake the feeling that music has somehow lost its magic… You stand in the middle of a fuckin’ storm of information and everything flying around crazy fast…one does not have the chance to appreciate enough. On the other hand, I’m grateful for all of this, because this is how bands like us have the chance to reach a far more bigger audience.
Do you guys in Desert Near the End have regular jobs or is music enough to make a living?
The day we can make a living through music is still beyond our reach. Haha! We all have regular jobs.
What are your plans for the future of Desert Near the End? Please close this interview with a message.
As the days go by, we get closer to completing our new album. We’re in the mixing process right now. We wait for this pandemic situation to be over and start making plans about live shows. Closing this interview I would like to thank you for this chance to share our news and points of view with your readers! It means a lot, really! To all our friends out there, I would like to share with them that the new Desert Near the End is on the way and it’s gonna be freakin’ awesome…follow the Path across the Desert, my friends.
Thundermother released recently their latest LP “Heat Wave”, so we seized the opportunity to have a little talk over that (and much more) with the band’s voice Guernica Mancini, who spoke to us from Stockholm Sweden, straight out from the band’s rehearsal studio. Enjoy reading!
by Antonis Mantzavinos
Hi Guernica, how are you doing?
Hi Antonis, I am fine, I hope the same for you. We just finished songwriting with the rest of the girls so, it feels really good this afternoon, even on a busy Friday afternoon! Its all good considering Corona and everything, so we are all well.
How has this whole situation with COVID-19 has affected you personally and also the band with the new album, etc?
We have been mostly affected by all the shows cancelled. And the shows we get to do right now is with seated audience and very limited amount of people, so it feels very weird actually, very different than what we did. We feel happy that we are able to play of course, but it is very strange, our year has changed so drastically, very strange times overall.. For the new album, it has been very well. I think we are very blessed in a weird way, considering the whole situation.
Does the band own a studio, or you have to rent one each time you need to rehearse and write music?
We have our own rehearsal space which right now is more of a storage room, we don’t all live in the city. This weekend we will all be in Stockholm, so we need to have a good planning ahead, each time we are about to meet and rehearse. We try to maximize the time we’re together and be productive by this means. When we’re apart, everyone is doing their own part, write music, doing interviews etc. The band is based more or less in Stockholm, even though when Filippa started the band she was living in Växjö in Småland, in the South of Sweden. But with COVID now, we definitely need to have better planning so that we arrange to be and play together.
Ok, so, let’s move on with some information and background about your new album “Heat Wave”, which I personally really like. Give me please some details about the writing process, what was your contribution to that, etc?
That was a new process to write an album like that, meaning altogether. My contribution could be around 25% more or less, I have provided lyrics and some melodies to the songs, and I think the magic of this album is us all coming together, giving our best aspect of ourselves, our influences and experience. We are all very proud of how it came out at the end. Speaking about this line-up, we have been 3 and a half years together, we share everything equally, we bring everything forward together, and we have a great time altogether, if you ever going to see us live, you will immediately sense this energy and boost from our side (boost from hell!), so that is a great common feeling we all share. Moreover, every song is different of course, meaning that every ‘jam’ brings on new ideas, riffs etc. so, Filippa brings a riff and then we create something together from that riff, or Emily and myself bring something from ourselves. This week we tried to create lyrics based on some ideas we have, its always different and we try to grow as creative artists and music writers, we try to push ourselves and see what else is out there, we want to grow and evolve further. The whole thing is a very dynamic process. We are all good on many different things with each other and we bring our own ‘vocabulary’ so when this is blended with all 4 of us, this is something very unique and special.
“Heat Wave” is more diverse and different than the previous ones, so, was that an intentional effort towards a specific direction, or it just came up like this while jamming and improvising in the studio, blending your ideas?
First of all, we all share different music backgrounds, influences and music origins so to speak. You can hear that I believe, all the different music flavors which stand out with our songs and performance. The album itself is very diverse also because we wrote so many songs and we try to pick the strongest ones to our opinion, the ones we felt more comfortable to be more representative of what we wanted to present. We spend a year and a half preparing for that album, and then when we started the pre-production we had to be selective and decide. Some of the songs remained the same, but others evolved and changed from their original form. For example, the song ‘Bad Habit’, we had a few moments there, questioning even whether it should be on the album or not, and then, boom!, you know? And also ‘Purple Sky’ which is a different song for Thundermother but it was really cool for us to show a different side as creative musicians.
If you had to distinguish one or more songs from “Heat Wave” as special for you, for your own special reasons of course, which ones would that be and why?
Tough question. Well, personally I like “Somebody Love Me”, because it’s a very emotional song, making me showing my vulnerable side to the world, so to me it was uncomfortable from the one side, but I enjoy it, and I know that some people could relate to that as well, making it very personal to them as well. Also “Sleep”, a heartfelt ballad, which Emily arranged and recorded the guitar strings, and I love as well “Purple Sky” which is a very cool track. But overall, I love every single song of this album, honestly.
As a vocalist, how do you challenge yourself to perform and improve the way you perform? How exactly do you address that situation?
In the studio, it all has to do with people who make me feel comfortable to push myself and challenge my boundaries and try harder. I know that I have been able to do that more for this record, because we have been working with our producer Soren Andersen, who knows how exactly to bring the best out of us. He has made the whole experience a lot fun and productive at the same time, and I really like the blending of those two. So, working in the studio has been very effective and not boring at all. It’s helpful being in a group that allows you to ‘fuck up’ sometimes, you know? Give you good energy, pushes you, that’s why I have been able to evolve. Initially, when I joined the band, I had a more blues background rather than rock, so all this time, it was super exciting to get myself into new territories, challenging my skills and trying a different style. I want to be the best I can be, and I feel comfortable, I say “Why not?”
It would be interesting to get some personal musical background for you, and also, how did you get involved with Thundermother, what is the story behind that?
I’ve been singing as far as I can remember, singing is a huge part of my life. Once I graduated from high-school, I came into terms that I really wanted to do music full time. I just had to make that happen. So, I applied for a music school in Los Angeles, called ‘MI’ (‘Musicians Institute’), moving to LA and living there for almost four years. During that time, I studied vocal performance, music business but I really found myself and what I really wanted to do. Found my way so to speak. During that time, I also grew up with a lot of ‘80s rock crowd’ (laughs). I’ve always loved soul, r n' b, blues, I still listen to that a lot, but started back then to also focus on hard rock. And tried to sing Hard rock and see how my voice works that way, I liked it, I got a rock music teacher as well, who specialized in extreme and rock vocals as well. I learned how to scream without losing my voice! Moving back to Sweden, I started a band on my own, which was sounded more like Led Zeppelin, that kind of music. I guess you could compare it in a way to a Blues Pill-ish sound. Very retro band. So, that way I got to meet Filippa, and we became friends, and then as all bands sometimes goes through some difficult phase, my then band faced a similar situation. I reached out to some friends, Filippa also included, to get some advice, maybe they knew a bass player etc. I remember telling her, “if you need a singer, I’ll be there tomorrow”, then we discussed that I could audition, and the rest I guess is history! That was early 2017 and then we just been working together since.
If you could freeze the time, which moment you could characterize as your best moment, the one you’ll never forget?
I have a few of those moments, but I would say the first time we played in Wacken was incredible! I have never played in front of 10.000 people before, so that was absolutely overwhelming! It was just an amazing, euphoric, magical day, on all aspects. Great show, Fantastic audience, everything was perfect. And also,, last year, when we played at Sweden Rock, that was a unique experience as well. I was flying high after that show, could not come back down to earth in a way! It was spectacular. My expectations for the Swedish audience were quite not very good, but they proved me the absolute opposite! I swallowed my own words because we had 15.000 people cheering like crazy for us ...! Amazing!
What would be the artist(s) that influenced you as a musician or a singer?
I am influenced by so many, but I consider myself to be more influenced by Prince. Both as a songwriter and a performer. I am a huge Prince fan, all the way! I love how he was at the same time, rock, pop, electronic, funk, he was so many things altogether but everything in him was so sexy, so awesome, and he could be everything he wanted to be and also be very good at it. I think it was amazing the fact that he was also very bad ass and very talented, that made him very special to me. And I feel that he is one of those artists that someone does not think about too much or too directly, it seems that people do not understand his greatness in a way, I don’t know.. He wrote so many great songs, he was not only a great performer but creatively speaking, he was a fantastic music writer.
Currently, do you listen to music the old school way, like putting records in your stereo, or you prefer the digital way (Spotify, etc)?
I am a constant listener, always putting some music, mostly on Spotify at the moment. I have a vinyl player somewhere in my apartment, because I just moved to Stockholm to my new apartment.
Any new music band that you have listened recently and you would like to recommend?
I always love finding new bands and discovering new stuff that might be interesting for me. For example, the singer of Tribulation has released his solo album, and that one I really like. I also found out a band from England who play indie rock, they are called “The Amazons”, and they are really good. And there is also a punk band from Malmö, called ‘Arre! Arre!’, their latest single is called ‘Sit on My face’!
A lot of artists have passed away this year, the latest Van Halen, I would like your comment as well about that.
It’s heart breaking, so sad, all these legends are gone and they leave a huge void behind. They’ve done incredible things for music, have inspired all of us so much, I don’t know what to say. I hope we will all keep the torch high and flaming. And be able to do it with dignity and honor them the best way we can, continuing their work.
Any special comment for the fans and our readers?
We had a fantastic time during the festival in Thessaloniki, it was so much fun! Even though we had a problem with our luggage. It was a great party with the audience and everything. We definitely look forward to come back to Greece soon, as soon as the whole situation world wide gets better!