Myth of Rock and Antonis Mantzavinos had the opportunity to talk with Robert Säll (keyboards, guitars) from W.E.T. and Work of Art, two very well distinguished bands from Sweden, on their sound and genre. W.E.T. has recently released a great album, "Retransmission", so we started our conversation with this release, then we referred to lots of other interesting topics!

First of all, how are you doing, in regard to Covid-19? Health and personal wise. Has all this situation since last year affected you in writing music, playing music and rehearsing?

Yeah, it has pretty much prevented me for doing any of that. Just recently I’ve started to write a little bit again, but to be honest, I didn’t realize I’ve missed it until I started doing it again. But it feels great to be writing again.  I very much need that creative outlet, to feel content.

Having liked a lot the latest W.E.T album “Retransmission”, I would like to focus on that one. Give us some information, how and when it was recorded, about the writing process, any challenges or interesting trivia you would like to share, your personal involvement on this album, etc.

Most of the music was recorded in Erik Mårtensson’s studio, while Jeff Scott Soto recorded his vocals at his home studio in Los Angeles. I did my parts in my home studio. I played the guitar solos for “What About Love” and “One Final Kiss”. As for writing any music for this album, the only thing I wrote was the chorus for “One Final Kiss”, the rest was all Erik’s writing. Erik is the master chef, when it comes to W.E.T., so he deserves all the credits. I was more involved with the first two albums, but, over the years, it has become harder and harder for me to find time to work on the W.E.T. albums. Also, W.E.T. has become synonymous with Erik’s style of writing and no one does it better than Erik himself, so I haven’t really felt the need to contribute to the writing process on the latter two albums. The more I stay out of it, the better, haha!

This band has been created from other three different bands, of which I am a fan as well. How did this idea started from the beginning to form W.E.T. and what was your first memories forming W.E.T.? I would be really interested to know a bit of history, and how also the great Marcel Jacob was involved, few months before leaving us. How difficult is it to get connected between all you in Sweden and Jeff in the US?

Both Erik and I were approached separately by Frontiers Records about writing five-six songs for a new project featuring Jeff Scott Soto on vocals. Then, when Erik was asked to produce the album, we ditched the idea of writing separately and wrote seven songs together instead. Songs that were more in the style of the songs Erik already had written for the project. When Jeff Scott Soto heard the songs, he realized we were on to something good and we all agreed that we wanted to turn this project into a real band.  Marcel Jacob, may he rest in peace, was the guy that felt like the natural choice for the bass position, once we decided W.E.T. could become a real band. Now this was, after the record was completed and we started to think of a possible line-up for live gigs. Unfortunately, Marcel choose another destiny.  But I will always cherish the memory of hanging out with Jeff and Marcel during the time we shot the videos. Remember that we were massive fans of theirs and we got to spend time listening to their old “war stories” from days gone by. We were like kids on Christmas Eve! As far as being on different continents, it’s not a problem really. I mean, Erik has moved away from Stockholm so it’s not much different communicating with Jeff than it is with Erik, it’s emails and phone calls but that works just fine for us. However, it unfortunately means that I can’t really be involved in the writing process like I used to, because that works absolutely best when you are together in the same room. The two first records were really about me and Erik getting together in his studio with two acoustic guitars and flesh out the songs for the albums.

 

Back to the new album, it kicks off with the majestic ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’, but the whole album is my favorite of the band, only behind the first self-titled. It seems that you guys are full of such wonderful ideas and on every album, you surpass yourselves, keep on evolving, keep on having always a fresh eye on the music you create. I would like your comment on that.

Again, all credit should go to Erik as he basically wrote this album himself!

Jeff has done a fantastic job in all choruses and overall vocals, the rhythm section is solid as ever, the guitar solos and leads are incredible, the whole bonding of W.E.T. shows a full-time band, a band playing for maybe 20-25 years, and not a group which gathers up every 2-3 years to record and play a few live shows. What’s your take on this one, and how you all manage to be so consistent, so well bonded with each other?

I really don’t know, but I’m glad you feel this way. Of course, it has to do with the fact that  Erik, Magnus Henriksson (guitar) and Robban Bäck (drums) have played together in Eclipse, so they know each other very well. And I think Jeff felt right at home as the style of W.E.T. is very much inspired by bands like Talisman etc., in other words, very familiar territory for Jeff. For me it wasn’t difficult to bond with the other guys as me, Magnus and Erik went to school together for a year in 1998 and have been friends ever since. So, when the W.E.T. project came about, it just felt like the perfect opportunity to finally do something together, which was something Erik and I had talked about for years.

You play keyboards, you play guitar in Work of Art, you are a person with lots of music talent of course and many influences. Which instrument you enjoy playing more and why?

No, I don’t really play keyboards. For me it’s more about pressing down the right keys at the right time.  Again, the original idea behind W.E.T. was for me to be involved mainly as a songwriter. It was only, when we started to talk about live shows that I got the role as the “keyboard player”. Out of the three guitar players in W.E.T., I was the one who at least knew how to turn on a keyboard, haha! And the irony of this is that I represent the W in W.E.T., in other words “Work of Art”, but I am by far the least skilled keyboard player in Work of Art. So those guys are having a good laugh at the fact that I’ve become the keyboard player for W.E.T. But having said all this, the keyboard parts for W.E.T. are not more difficult than that I can pull them off live.

 

Work of Art has already released four great albums, the first one being my personal favorite, but all of them hold fantastic quality and musicianship. It was formed in the ‘90s if I am not mistaken, tell us a bit of the history of the band, how did you create it, its origins and trip through the years and what is the vision you have with that.

I met Herman Furin (drums) in high school in 1992. We realized that we both shared the love for AOR and started to record demos together. He had a little studio at home and we both had lot of songs already written when we met, so we had a lot of material to work on right away. Herman knew Lars Säfsund, as they had grown up in the same area and invited him to play keyboards. Long story short, a couple of years later, Lars switched from playing keyboard to singing, which was perfect for us, as we couldn’t find a singer who could sing this type of music. However, the style of the early Work of Art material was more in a Bon Jovi, Europe, Whitesnake style and Lars wasn’t really into that, so by 1996 we laid the band on ice. Then a couple of years later I presented a couple of new songs to Lars and Herman that was more in the direction Lars liked, so we decided to give it another go. Then some ten years passed before we stopped talking about doing something with those songs and actually went ahead and recorded them. Those recordings found their way to Frontiers Records, which signed us right away.

 

I must say that I would not strictly characterize Work of Art as a purely AOR band, in a ‘sterile’ way, as I recognize many different influences and filters in all albums. Actually, I never liked those strict ‘labels’ for bands. Which bands, artists have been your influences, since you were growing up? And also, apart from foreign influences, I would be interested to ask who are the Swedish artists that you have listened to the most, since you were a kid/teenager and you would like to share with us.

I’ve always been “all over the place” when it comes to influences and styles, but if I had to boil it down to bands that has influenced me the most for the Work of Art style, it’s Toto, Chicago and Saga. And a Swedish band that has had a huge influence on our sound, in particular on Lars vocals and his arrangement ideas for backing vocals, is a Swedish duo called Big Money. The love for their debut record was one of the first things we realized we had in common, when we first met in the early nineties. It was produced by Michael B. Tretow, who was ABBA’s producer and kind of like “the fifth” ABBA member.

 

It should be exciting to know, if there is a new Work of Art album to be released soon, even though “Exhibits” came a couple of years ago. Are you currently working or rehearsing on new material?

No, there are no Work of Art plans at the moment. I notice that the interest in the band has become less and less with every new album, so the idea of making another Work of Art album is not on my horizon, to be honest. We have reached a point where I feel it’s just not worth the effort anymore.

 

If you had to choose one highlight moment for each one of your bands so far, what would you choose?
With Work of art, the highlight was, when we got to support Toto on the Swedish dates in 2012. That’s something I will always remember with a big smile on my face. With W.E.T., it is probably the first live show we did at Firefest. One of the headliners of the festival pulled out and we got asked with a very short notice, but somehow, and with only like one rehearsal, we pulled it off and it was a great feeling being on stage together and meeting all the fans.

 

If I am not mistaken, you work as a music teacher in a culture school. What are the challenges a music teacher is facing and how has that helped you with being a musician? And also, how easy is it to combine a full-time job with touring, rehearsing, etc.?
The greatest challenge being a guitar teacher these days is that the guitar as an instrument has become very much out of fashion. There will always be some rock guys around, but those students are becoming more and more rare. It’s sad really. But the really good thing about my job is that it’s very flexible, if something comes up, I can always move around the lessons so I can free time, when I need. And as long as it stays that way, it’s perfect.

 

Last but not least, what do currently listen to? Any new band/album? Do you prefer listening to music through your stereo, or do you prefer the more digital platforms more (e.g. Spotify).
I don’t really listen to new stuff. The older I get, the more I tend to go back and listen to older music. I mostly listen to 70s stuff these days. I have a Brennan B2 CD player. It is a CD player with a hard drive, wi-fi and Bluetooth connections etc. And I’ve ripped my whole CD collection, some 2500+ CDs, to its hard drive, so now I can browse through my entire collection via my computer or iPhone, very convenient.

 

Thank you very much Robert for your time, I really appreciate this! Cheers, till next time!

Thank you as well, take care!

With great pleasure, we heard the news that Lake of Tears return with a new album, ten years after the release of “Illwill”. That was a warm feeling for us, the fans: a feeling that occurs when a good old friend, whom we haven’t met for ages, appears again. We’re happy that Daniel Brennare, the band’s composer and only remaining founding member, is active again. Daniel released an introspective and personal album, narrating his own journey, the difficult path he had to follow through darkness. Myth of Rock interviewed Daniel, who sincerely shared with us what “Ominous” means for him. However, our conversation expanded to other territories, even Schopenhauer and ancient Greek philosophers, since Daniel was openhearted indeed! Myth of Rock wishes the best of luck to this polite and strong man.

by Alex Nikolaidis


Lake of Tears release a new album after ten years. How would you describe the music of “Ominous”? 

I would like to describe it from what I have heard from other people. It’s very varied and dark, but still metal / rock in the base. I already heard that some people cannot listen to it because it’s too dark for them. There’s a sad story in there, so it’s definitely a kind of sad and dark record. What’s most important for me is that those who listen to it, should listen from the beginning to the end, because it’s a whole adventure. You cannot listen to just separate songs; every song depends on the others.

So, is “Ominous” somehow a concept album, a story that unfolds from the first to the last track?

Yes, it’s a kind of concept. I’d rather call it a story, but you can call it a concept as well.

Lake of Tears were always a band that made experimentations with their music. All the albums differ: some of them are heavier and explicitly doom, while others have a more progressive/psychedelic orientation. Is “Ominous” an experimental album as well?

Yes. I think you can say that in every song I have written (maybe not the first ones in the beginning of the 90s) I experiment with new things. I never wanted to write the same song again and again. I always try to find something new at least.

There’s an evident dark and gothic atmosphere in the album. At the same time, some melodies remind me of “Forever Autumn”, while the doom orientation of “Headstones” is also lurking somewhere. How difficult is it to find balance between these different elements?

Usually, I don’t think so much about balance. I just write what I feel like writing. It’s about what comes in life. Every day is a different day. Finding balance is one aspect only and in this record, I must say it was quite difficult. I’ve been working on this for many years and actually I spent quite a lot of time on many small details, much more time than any record before.

What does “Ominous” mean for you? Is it in a way special or unique compared to previous albums of Lake of Tears?

This record is very special for me. Every record I have composed is unique, but this one was “extra special”. It comes from my own story, some really heavy moments in my life. Everything started when I was diagnosed with chronical leukemia. After some years, with all the treatment and pharmaceutical stuff I received, I got really depressed. I was feeling quite down for a very long time. I wanted to find something, some light in the darkness. So, this record was exactly that path for me: to write music, tell a story, try to fit all the pieces together. It was a very therapeutical work. In this way, it’s my most special record so far.

Therefore, did the making of “Ominous” comfort you? Was it a way of overcoming your problems?

In some way, yes. There was something to think about. I’m really grateful for having something like that to hold onto, because I think other people who are in the same situation don’t have that choice probably. They go nuts or kill themselves. It was very good for me to have a goal.

Is “Ominous” a message to people who struggle that they should leave their problems behind through creativity?

This is a nice way to think about it. It was good for me. Of course, if it can be useful to other people as well, I would be very happy. It would mean even more for me.

Actually, this I my personal perception of the album. It’s a story of a man who wants to feel better and survive. That is how I see your music.

That’s nice. Not everybody sees it that way. It’s quite difficult for some people to understand this.

Let’s return to the music now. Are there any evident influences in “Ominous”?

I think there are. Most of my musical influences are in here. But I haven’t really thought so much about them. I’m more used to exploring what’s in the back of my head. I don’t really listen to something and then make my music sound like that. Of course, I use all the available tools because I play for thirty years now. I have composed many songs and riffs. Some bands can be heard in the album and AFM Records refers to them in the press release, like Sisters of Mercy, Pink Floyd and even David Bowie (I’m not really a Bowie fan). I have used musical influences, but not in a very concrete way; they have been mainly in the back of my head. Also, influences that appealed to me for this record are ancient Greeks, like Pythagoras, Plato and Socrates. I found their thoughts very interesting to use them in the record. Even Nikola Tesla, a person of modern times who is quite popular nowadays, has some great ideas about sounds and frequencies that I’ve used. I also must say that Schopenhauer is my greatest inspiration. He’s not a musician, but he has written a lot about musical stuff and I really like his ideas.

So, does your music depict, in a sense, some of Schopenhauer’s logic and ideas?

Maybe not directly. I remember when I read Schopenhauer for the first time. He has written quite a lot about how music, a noble art, can get the human brain to a certain place directly, while science cannot do this. You can learn a lot of things from science, but with music you can cross over into another dimension. These feelings have been very important for me, helping me to find something more inside the music. They were a big comfort, when I was feeling sad: trying to find music, vibrations or frequencies that somehow glowed into my brain with certain waves. Someone may think they’re absurd and not real, but they’ve been very real for me and I really liked that. All this is an interesting territory; it’s on the edge of something normal and something magical or mythical.

Let’s talk about “Ominous” again. Are there other musicians who helped you with the recording process?

Yes. Vesa, a good friend of mine for many years, played the bass. Christian Silver, who works in the studio, played the drums. He’s a very good drummer indeed. Lars played upright bass in the bonus track. The four of us did the recording. There were also Manne and Christian’s son in the studio who were helping, mainly with the recording and other stuff.

The music of Lake of Tears has evolved over the years. The band always gave me a sense of freedom, a sense of defying genres and labels. Was it difficult for you to break the boundaries of a specific genre and make something that probably wouldn’t be appealing to a wider mass audience?

No, it was always very easy for me. I realized this after one or two years I started playing. Of course, everybody wants to be famous, but it was breaking my heart to try writing music that didn’t come from the soul. There are bigger bands who earn enough money, and they can live from it, but I think they had to sell themselves somehow. At least that’s what I hear. Sometimes, I tried to write “hit” songs, but when I go in that direction, I feel there’s something inside myself that breaks a little. For me, it was always easier to write what I really wanted to write. Of course, the most difficult part is always talking with journalists and fans about the record. The music is easy to do, but it’s much harder to explain it to people.

Do you think that some record companies put pressure on artists to sell off and make something more commercial?

For sure! I don’t know if the pressure comes directly from the record company. I would say it’s from the market. Of course, the record company is part of the market. Today, things go so fast. Your name has to be known all the time. When you sign a contract, maybe it says that you have to make a record every second year. As an artist, you have to comply, make touring and other stuff. Maybe it’s good for people who have a lot of ideas to write music. But if people like me would be under such conditions all the time, they wouldn’t know what to write about. They would find stuff just to write something: stuff that isn’t really important for them. In the beginning of the 90s, when we started, things went quite fast. I had so much input, so many ideas! But after a while, I noticed that it was hard to have new ideas for a new record. It was hard to just tell the universe or the world outside “Please, today you have to give me ideas for a new record”! I had to take some time to find exactly what I wanted.

I assume you had absolute freedom from the record company to compose “Ominous”?

Yes, absolute freedom. Of course, there was a budget and I couldn’t record whenever I wanted. But they didn’t say anything about the music. They didn’t intervene in my ideas.

You have said in other interviews, that the bonus track, “In Gloom”, is somehow a separate part. What makes it different compared to the other tracklist?

The main difference is that it’s not part of the story. It didn’t have a place within the story, which ends in the eighth song. I also wanted to sound a bit more different with the stand-up bass and the soundscape of it. When I wrote that song, I felt it was too good to be left out. The guys in the studio agreed that I had to release it. So, I decided to include it as a bonus track.

I think you took the right decision. It’s like a gift for the fans who want to hear something different.

I hope so. But I must tell you that I’ve already heard people sending me messages asking me why it’s not in the LP. It’s very difficult to explain some things because some people always think in another direction. But I think it’s better to have it in the record. I’d feel terrible if I hadn’t released it.

You mentioned the LP version of the album. Are you a fan of vinyls? Do you like the fact that vinyls tend to return to sales of past years?

I grew up with vinyl. There’s something special looking at big things. In that sense, I’m a fan. But I’m a fan of new technology as well. I like music spreading on the internet. This is the future. Sadly, in these modern times, people forget about records. It’s more about songs, new songs and hit songs. Today, for the most music I hear, I don’t even know the songs’ titles and the musicians who play in the band. In the past, I was looking at the LPs and I knew everything. In that way, I really like LPs. But I’m not a collector.

I agree. Somehow, we have lost this originality as fans. We tend to download and forget about the artists.

I understand it totally. I download things too. I think it’s good because music is supposed to be spread. But if we go back to people like Pythagoras, who made the musical system into what it is today, he wouldn’t be happy about the kind of music that’s being spread. He was doing calculations of frequencies and today there’s not much left of this in the music. Today, music is mainly a quick experience, money and image. Of course, there are many bands out there who write different music and may even encompass magical, religious, or deeper thoughts in it. But in many other bands, that way of thinking is very restricted.

Are there future plans for the band (assuming of course that societies will return to normal conditions)?

Right now, I don’t think so much about it. I think it will take quite some time. I just heard a calculation that if vaccination goes on in this tempo, it will take 6 or 7 years until everybody is vaccinated. It would take up to 7 years until things become normal again. So, I’d rather not think about it, because it becomes problematic in my head. I prefer to take time writing music instead.

Why did you name the band “Lake of Tears”? Is there a story/inspiration behind the band’s name?

Not much actually. If I chose a name today, that wouldn’t be “Lake of Tears”! If I found a band of that name, I don’t think I would listen to their records! I still remember the day. We had started getting into that gothic music genre and we wanted to have a name in that direction. We had some ideas and just decided on “Lake of tears”. So, there’s not really a story!

So, it was a matter of choice and nothing more.

It was something with the right vibe. There’s some connection between the name and the band. But as I said, if I did it again today, I would choose something else.

Daniel, thank you about our conversation. It was good to talk about “Ominous”, music in general and your personal perception towards music. It was very insightful. I wish you all the best. Remain strong and I hope that sometime more music will come from you.

I am sure it will! Thank you very much!

 

It’s not very often that Spice gives interviews, and for that reason I am glad I had the opportunity to speak with him for the new album of his band (Band of Spice) called “By the Corner of Tomorrow”, to be released very soon from Scarlet Records. He is sitting in his living room at home in Småland, he is in a very good mood and I hope you will find this interview interesting.

Antonis Mantzavinos


Good afternoon from Stockholm! How are you doing?

Hello my friend, good to hear from you again! I am doing fine, we have a lot of snow right now in Småland, which I don’t mind of course, but I don’t like this damn cold at all, so, it’s been not so good lately I must say (laughs).

 

I have listened to the new album of Band of Spice, which I like it very much and wanted to catch up with you about this. First of all, how are things for you and the other band members in terms of Covid-19? How are you coping? And how has this whole situation for almost a year has affected your songwriting, playing music together, etc.?

Nothing has changed for me in terms of writing songs and stuff like that. I have been constantly writing music. However, it was quite difficult to write this record, because we started to record the drums, I think it was in February last year, and we recorded bass and guitar as well in early March, then Covid-19 came and we had to stop everything, every activity basically had to be stopped. I recorded the vocals in the summer, in August. We could not meet earlier, because of the whole situation, and also because the guy who owns the recording studio did not to operate the studio for many weeks, so, it was quite difficult I must say. Studio-wise, the drums were recorded in Helsingborg, and the rest of the album was recorded in our rehearsal studio. Like we did for the “Economic Dancers” album.

 

“By the corner of tomorrow” – in my humble opinion – has quite many similarities with the music you play in My Regime, guitar-wise and the way you handle the riffs and all the guitar parts. How does this thing work for you, being in different bands, playing different things, having different inspirations? Tell us a few words about that.

Sorry for the dog noise in the background (editor notes: his dogs sound like they want to play or something, so there was a bit of background noise – which was funny actually)! Actually, in the fall of 2019, we were rehearsing with My Regime for a new album. Then we got a notice from Scarlet that ‘we don’t want to release a new My Regime album now’, so, some of the songs, actually 2 of them were meant to be part of a new MR record, but I decided to put them on this one now. ‘The Sharp Edge’ and ‘Reglutina’ (which I actually wrote 20 years back and now it was about time to release it!). For the latter, I had the main riffs and the structure, but now I worked on that more, so I am happy it will be released now. But for now, it’s focus on Band of Spice. I already have 20 songs that I want to rehearse and play.

 

This new album has a strong early 80s heavy metal feeling all over it, the songwriting, the riffs, tell us a little bit about your influences and inspirations for this particular record and why you wanted to make it sound like that.

I was aiming of course, to make an album with strong influences from records like “Heaven and Hell”, “Mob Rules”, “Blizzard of Ozz”, those were the albums I had in mind when I wrote the songs for “By the corner of tomorrow”. When we recorded the songs, I wanted to capture that sound, that guitar sound, and some songs are closer to that – some others not so close ha-ha! But I must say that Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’ was a strong influence on the new album as well. Those four albums were on the background in my head. This is the first time I recorded on standard tuning actually, because the first two Black Sabbath albums were on standard tuning too, and then they tuned it 3 steps down. But, despite those influences, I wanted a more fresh sound I guess, maybe to feel a bit younger myself ha-ha!

 

What about the lyrical themes that this album is dealing with? There are many similarities with the previous albums as well, but I wanted your opinion on this as well.

I think this might sound weird, but the “Shadow remains” album was a lot darker overall. I wanted to go a step up, to lift the mood up of the new album, so, for example songs, like ‘The Fading Spot’, are glimpses and pictures in my head, like this one where I see myself as a kid in school, looking out of the window and wanted to be somewhere else instead. So, it’s not that dark from my perspective. Many of the lyrics in the songs are images in my head, and I want the listeners to picture their images inside their head when they put and listen to this record, or any other record I make.

 

We have discussed together in the past, about this term ‘political correctness’, which I know you dislike so much, how does this term affect the way you write music and lyrics, for this record but also in general?

Well, this is interesting, because in this record I intentionally stay away from this term, and from giving a ‘political’ denotation to the songs and the overall feeling. But of course, ‘common sense’ is what I like, especially when you are not hurting someone else. Because nowadays, everybody is offended by something, and this is something that worries me a lot.

 

How does it feel after all these years to work together again with Bob and Saso? I know you have been friends for so many years, maybe more than 20. But I would like a few words about your band mates.

Last year was a challenge for all of us due to Covid-19, so it was tough lately due to the whole situation. I must say that Saso shines on this record a lot, he plays really well, he can contribute more to this band rather than in My Regime where he follows the guitar riffing, but here he is very creative. And of course, Bob he has been my friend for so many years, we have played a lot of music together, so, I am really happy with him.

 

Do you currently listen any new or old band that you would like to share with us?

The last couple of weeks actually, I listen a lot to REM, specifically their early stuff. I absolutely love their “Green” album. There is a song there “I remember California” that I really like and wanted to make a cover of that for almost 30 years now, so, maybe in the next album we can make a cover of that one, who knows?! Its really heavy, especially the riff. You know, I was kinda disappointed when ‘Losing My Religion’ came out ha-ha! I Said: “What is this??”. Lately I also listen a lot to Captain Beyond’s second album, this is a very special one for me.

 

Is there any news about Kayser?

Kayser has completely disbanded, so we should not expect anything from there.

 

No further comments about Kayser, I understand that J Ok!
Changing subject, do you consider any Swedish bands-musicians from 30-40-50 years back as your influences in both writing and also listening to music in general? We have discussed in the past about other countries, but I wanted to focus now on Swedish bands. Rock Metal or any other genre.

Ooh.. Difficult one… Well, I do like a lot November, Entombed, Candlemass, and I really like an artist called Thomas Di Leva, not the stuff he is doing today, but his records from the 80s. “Rymdblomma” is his best album and my favorite. I really like his lyrics there, so I have been kinda inspired by him in a way. All his albums are in Swedish, but you can try to listen to that if you want.

 

To get back to the new album, what is the story behind the instrumental song ‘Tehom’?

‘Tehom’ means ‘Abyss’ in Hebrew. It’s just a build-up to the next song “The Sharp Edge”. Actually, both songs are the same one song, but I cut the intro part as an instrumental to the main song.

 

Last but not least, what are your next plans? Are you soon going to record something new or take it easy?

My plan is to rehearse the songs I have now, starting in maybe the next couple of weeks, depending also on the intensity of the Covid-19 situation. This album took almost a year to make, so, I am eager to do another album soon. I can’t stop.. Let’s see.. “Find what you Love and let it Kill you”!

 

Maybe that is the best thing, I agree! Thank you for your time, I appreciate and cheers till the next time we talk!

Thank you my friend, take care!


 

Their music is mesmerizing. Their live shows are mystifying. Their occult heavy metal, singular and consummate, will take your breath away. It is Serpent Lord (GR), a Greek occult heavy metal band, which, having released the single “The Gospel of Judas” and working on its upcoming studio album, is ready to conquer the world of metal. After listening to the band’s music, Myth of Rock was thrilled and soon came in contact with the members of Serpent Lord (GR) for an interview. Below you can read all the interesting stuff that we talked about!

by Dimitris Zacharopoulos


To start this interview, we would like you to tell us, when, by whom and other which circumstances Serpent Lord (GR) was formed.

Konstantinos:  Firstly, we would like to thank you for this interview. Serpent Lord (GR) was formed by Giorgos Savvidis and Konstantinos Sotirelis in 2016. It was an idea of Giorgos (our ex – singer) and it was immediately decided that also Giorgos Terzitanos should enter the band – he of course remains in the band as an integral and composing member. After some line-up changes, the band took its current shape with Marios Arikas taking over the vocals and Lazarus Bouroutzoglou sharing the rhythm/lead guitar duties with Giorgos. I think that the circumstances under which the band was formed were, more or less, the usual. We wanted to create our own music, inspired by bands like Ghost, Iced Earth, Mercyful Fate and Candlemass. Later on, of course, some other influences were added, for example from more extreme bands (Behemoth, Death, Immortal, Rotting Christ), however, we didn’t change our first concept. From the beginning we agreed that we wouldn’t like to be a covers band, that’s why from day one we had our own songs and we presented them to an audience.

 

Which are the official releases of Serpent Lord (GR) until now? Can you give us some information about each one of them?

Konstantinos: Our debut release was the “Serpent Lord” demo (2017), with the first line-up and Vasilis Katsikas on drums, as a session member. It included our first two songs, “Sacrilegium” and “Blood Offering”, and was recorded with our permanent since then producer, Giorgos Stournaras (Mass Infection). It was our initial effort to create something of our own, that period had a lot of ups and downs and some mistakes, which made us stronger and more experienced for the future. “Towards the Damned”, our first full-length album, followed in September 2019. Although we had gained a very small fan base thanks to our demo and our live shows, essentially, that album gave us the ideal boost in order to make a European and a Greek tour. One year later, in November 2020, came “Horned God”, together with a cover of Death’s “Sacred Serenity”, which introduces a new chapter for Serpent Lord (GR). We get even darker musically and lyrically, we have a stronger black metal vibe and add some more extreme metal influences. Our latest release, which comes just before the new album, is “The Gospel of Judas”, a song which summarizes our releases until now and indicates what will follow in our upcoming full-length album.

 

You get in the spotlight again with the release of your new single, “The Gospel of Judas”. How did it come and you decided to release such a single?

Giorgos: We know that due to the current situation, the period we all live in in very difficult for everybody. We wanted to create a song, which would narrate the life and times of a person misunderstood by history. Such interpretation of things is really food for thought, is something we wanted to render though music in the best way, making the listener wonder about the concept of good and evil and their role in the course of life until its end. “The Gospel of Judas” is the last omen for our upcoming album. It betokens the dark side of Serpent Lord (GR), it is a sample of what is to follow.

 

How would you describe the music and lyrics of the “The Gospel of Judas” single? Is this single indicative of the direction of your next studio album? Can you give us some information about this next album of yours?

 Kontantinos: We think that it is pretty much indicative, that’s why we chose it. Essentially, it is a connection of “Towards the Damned” with “Horned God” and it presents something new. First of all, it is much more mature musical wise and more impeccable technical wise. What is more, we handle our influences more efficiently and gradually we give our own character to our music. Lyrically, “The Gospel of Judas” is the album’s forerunner – it’s much more mature than “Towards the Damned” and it’s lyrical style is very close to that of “Horned God”, although now it is clearer.

The single talks about Jesus Christ’s betrayal by Judas, through which God fulfilled his Divine Plan, which was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to the Apocryphal Gospel, Judas, Christ’s favorite student, was ordered by Christ himself to betray him, for the salvation of humanity. However, God didn’t keep his promise, which was Judas’ ascension to Paradise, but left him wandering in remorse, having lost Paradise, due to his suicide. So, the song talks about the fact that God betrayed man, about the vanity of prayers, and in general, it refers to everyone’s betrayal by his/her beloved persons, in some moments of life.   

Although we won’t reveal the album title, we can say that it is based on the Apocryphal Gospels, giving a different concept. Lyrically, we refer to topics like betrayal, death, love and faith, This time our direction is more personal, more philosophical too. Musically, this album will be a step forward compared to “The Gospel of Judas”, being more extreme and melodic at the same time, with many heavy/thrash and black metal influences, all through the occult character. You will find some progressive elements too.

 

Who are the main composers and lyricists in the band? How is a common Serpent Lord (GR) song composed?

 Konstantinos: The main composers of our music until now are Giorgos Terzitanos and Konstantinos Sotirelis. Sometimes we write together, sometimes we present one another some riffs and we make songs based on them, sometimes we present one another a complete song and we work on some details. Nevertheless, all the members of the band have a say in the composition process, we don’t restrict anyone. Marios has composed a song and Lazarus has contributed on the new album, with his exceptional ideas in some points, adding his own touch.

As far as the lyrics are concerned, Konstantinos has the main role, having written the majority of the lyrics, but also Giorgos has contributed on several tracks. Here things work a little different. Usually we write the lyrics, we present them to the other members of the band and then we make some minor changes, in case there are objections. In general terms we pay a lot of attention to the song lyrics, that’s why we work equally focused on this sector.

 

You call yourself an occult heavy metal band. Can you explain this definition please?

 Konstantinos: Firstly, let’s make a clarification about the term “occult”. There are two concepts. The first one has to do with pseudo-sciences, like astrology, alchemy and spiritualism, whereas the second one has to do with Paganism, Christian Cults and some more personalized concepts of the metaphysical. Although we greatly focus on the second concept of the occult, since we mainly deal with it, there are songs, like “The Lesser Key”, which refer to alchemy topics, making a mix of the two concepts. That’s why we put this “occult” label to the band. Namely it has to do with the lyrical and stylistic side of the band.

As far as the term heavy metal is concerned, although none of the band members thinks we play in a classic heavy metal style, since we have influences and obvious elements from subgenres like black, thrash and doom metal, we like to adopt Chuck Schuldiner’s saying, that everything is heavy metal. So, as we combine different heavy metal genres in our music, we believe that the term heavy metal, together with the term occult, describes Serpent Lord (GR) better.   

 

Why did you baptize the band Serpent Lord (GR)?

Konstantinos: The name of the band came out after a lot of effort. Although we were still in the beginning, we had two songs already composed and we knew what our direction would be. Therefore we moved a bit towards that direction, so that our band name reflects the lyrical, musical and stylistic character of the band. A lot of name proposals were made, we finally agreed on Serpent Lord, since serpents are a personalization of evil - both evil and the Bible have an important role in our lyrics and image.

 

Do you still cooperate with Alcyone Records? If not, are you in negotiations with other record labels or are you planning to make a self-release?

Giorgos: In our last two releases we have not collaborated with Alcyone Records, we chose that both of them would be self-released. Regarding our next album release, we are in search of a record label, however, we haven’t decided yet if we will choose to cooperate with a label or if we will publish it ourselves.

 

What do live shows mean to Serpent Lord (GR)? Can you describe a Serpent Lord (GR) live show? Your sound and image?

Marios: Live shows are a part of own self. This connection with the audience, the atmosphere, all these keep us going. You can’t tell about a band only from its studio sound, but also from its live shows … mainly from the live shows. Every live performance of Serpent Lord (GR) is a unique chapter for us. Theatricality and its combination with music is significant for us. That’s why we use banners and various other occult objects, which have become an integral part of our live shows. The bottom line is that anyone can go up to a stage and play ten songs perfectly without making any mistakes, but what will make the viewer want to see you and see you again is the interaction you have with him for as long as you are on stage. You have to give a good show. Your own show. That is when you will be rewarded.

 

You have opened as a support band for many well-known bands. With which band did you enjoy it the most? With which band would you like to tour together in the future?

Marios: I think that we can’t select a certain band. Fortunately, all our collaborations for one or more live shows were flawless. We surely gained valuable experience from all these live shows and we met people of the music business outside the stage lights in some more relaxed moments and conversations with some nice and funny highlights (maybe we share some details another time). As far as a future tour is concerned, we would like to cooperate with Rotting Christ, Candlemass, Behemoth and many other bands, who have influenced us a lot. It would be ideal if we could play together with such bands.

 

How much were you affected as individuals, as musicians and as a band by the COVID-19 pandemic? How do you imagine the time after the lockdowns, the restriction measures, etc.?

Konstantinos: Fortunately, it did not hurt us as much as other bands, since we didn’t have scheduled tours. Of course, it delays us in some of our plans, nevertheless, we didn’t have many financial losses. On the contrary, the pandemic helped us in some matters, for example in focusing on the completing of the composition and the recording of our second album. I think that the biggest impact was on a personal level, regarding the jobs and the psychology of everyone of us. As we don’t want to stand still, we tried to take advantage of this time as best we could and to improve both on a personal level as musicians and on a band level.

As for the post-lockdown season, it is difficult for us to think about what will happen and when or if we will return to normalcy.  If we talk about the band, whether there will be concerts again, when and with what criteria, will determine much about the future of each band and about the evolution of the music industry. However, it will be a major blow to any musician. We already have a year without live shows and apart from the revenue, the mood and motivation for improvement are lost. We try to remain optimistic, to do whatever we can and work as hard as we can to take advantage of even these times.

 

Your message to the metal fans!

Serpent Lord (GR) Be prepared. Apocrypha is coming. The truth will shine. Get ready to be baptized to the eerie sound of the Serpent. Are you ready to be damned?

 

 

 

It is a super group of our days. It is not only a band, but a rock ‘n roll music collective, where famous musicians collaborate. Ladies and gentlemen, The Dead Daisies! Glenn Hughes, Doug Aldrich, David Lowy and Tommy Clufetos! No introductions needed, of course, however, I have to mention that The Dead Daisies’ classic rock music is wonderfully fresh and uniquely interesting, they rock like no other! “Holy Ground” is their latest effort, an album which will be a great rock n’ roll company. Myth of Rock grabbed the chance and talked with Doug Aldrich (guitar), who had so many things to say. It was a honor for us to chat with him!

by Dimitris Zacharopoulos


Hello Doug! Let’s start! Rock n’ roll history has showed us that most of the times super groups don’t last too long, they release one or two albums and then they split up. The Dead Daisies is of course a supergroup, however, you have already released four studio albums and now you are releasing your fifth one. Which are the reasons for this longevity of The Dead Daisies? What keeps you alive and rocking?

Well, … music! I love music, I love guitar! I feel so blessed that I wake up every day and I play the guitar, I play music. You know, we need music, this year (2020) had been very difficult and music definitely helped me get through it.

 

The Dead Daisies were formed in 2013. After all these years, how much different is the band?

I think it is very different. This band, The Dead Daisies, has been called a collective, so basically, people can come and go, it is like a roundabout. Early Deep Purple was a roundabout, people would come in and write some songs … Purple didn’t have a solid line-up, until Mark II. And then Mark III started. That’s a big change, from Mark II to Mark III, then Mark IV, there was a different guitar player. So, it’s something like that, The Dead Daisies have changed a lot through these seven years, since David Lowy (rhythm guitar player) formed the band. However, the band has always kept the flavor of something that David created back in 2013 - straight ahead, simple rock guitar sound. And now we have made a big change, as you know, because we have Glenn Hughes in the band, it is really amazing! It is amazing for us, we are so happy with the sound, Glenn is truly gifted, not only as a singer and a songwriter, but also his bass playing is insane, you know, I love it.

 

How did it come and Glenn came to the band?

When John Corabi (vocals) decided to leave the band at the end of 2018, we knew that we would make a fresh start in 2019, so we began to talk about with some different people to come in, and then the management phoned me and told me that they had spoken to Glenn! Wow, I thought that would be really something! They told me Glenn would also like to talk with me. I know Glenn, we have been friends for years, I am a fan of him, we are really close, so I called him. To be honest, I didn’t think of Glenn, since he was busy, he was touring doing his Deep Purple stuff. When the management told me they were speaking to Glenn and that he was interested in us, I thought that it was perfect, an amazing change. Because that wasn’t just a little change, we were making a big change, we were going to a brand new, fresh direction. I called Glenn and he told me, “You know, Doug, it is time for you and I that we make music together”. I was like, “I know, this is awesome!”. We got together and played, so that he could meet everybody, the sound was killer!   Glenn’s bass is like a whole band by itself, it’s pretty much complete! He’s got this massive sound, he is a very melodic player, I really enjoy watching him, especially when he going off! During a solo section for example, I see him playing his solo bass part and I say, “Ohh, that is so cool” and I try to play around that with my guitar, maybe he is wailing up high, so I go way down low, … it is awesome, man, really fresh!”.

 

Did Glenn write songs for the new album?

 Yes, we all wrote songs for the “Holy Ground” album. Glenn brought in some songs that were complete, and we just put our style on them, we maybe re-arranged some stuff. When Glenn came to the band, I immediately started writing …, I got inspired and started writing for Glenn, I know what Glenn likes and I know how Glenn writes. There were some things that I maybe wouldn’t have done before, like for example in the second song of the album “Like No Other”, I basically had the musical vision for this song figured out already, I had a demo and I was keeping this track especially for Glenn, I thought that he was going to love the groove of this song. And he did … I was inspired, I thought I could see Glenn on stage, starting off the song with his bass, then the bass drops off during the verse, there are only two guitars, one on its side, I could picture me and David playing and Glenn singing his ass off, and when the chorus hits, boom, the bass comes in! Another example is the riff of “Bustle and Flow”, I thought Glenn would really like it! … We all brought in ideas, David and I had worked on some songs together, for example on “Come Alive”, we had written a part of the song, not the chorus part, but when Glenn listened to it, he liked it and suggested the chorus of the song, bam bam bam! It was done! So, we collaborated really well together on a bunch of stuff, Glenn brought four or five songs, I helped him arrange them, we made the demos so that we could present them to the band. When we get to a room, everybody does his own thing to the songs so that we make them the best they can be … if I bring a song, Glenn is definitely going to make it better, he will say, “Hey, how about this? What if you did this?”. On the other hand, when he sings something, I may say “If you are going to sing that, I will play this (on the guitar), because it will work better”. It is a natural progression.

 

This time you cooperated with another producer, Ben Grosse. How was it, working with Ben?

 It was great, it was different. We needed to cooperate with someone like Ben, because Ben really makes everybody comfortable, he sets a really great environment for creating. He is a musician himself, I think his main instrument is drums, he has a great sense of melody … there was a solo section in a song, he had an idea for a melody and he just put that melody on his computer, he put the midi dots on the computer! He’s got melody in his head. He was perfect, because we are a new band together, we had to find where to jell, we wanted everyone to feel comfortable and he did that. The other thing that was interesting with Ben was that he got us some different guitar sounds, sounds a little different from what we had done in the past. It was cool, there were heavier sounds in some spots, we did some clean guitars and he had in mind some amps he thought I would like. He said, “Hey, I’ve got this Budda amp and it is really great for clean guitar … let’s go with the Budda!” It was excitingly fresh with Ben! The other thing that it was interesting about Ben is that he is an old-school producer. He had a list of things he wanted to accomplish. Once we had the tracks recorded, after I had done most of my guitars, Ben called me and told “Can you come in for a couple of hours tomorrow? I just got a few things I need you to do”. I got there, he told the engineer to go to the chorus of “Holy Ground”, for example, and said “I just need you here to play this part balls out!”. He set the amps and I played. Then he told me about the solo section, “I love the beginning of the solo, but the end isn’t really working”. So, I put some new, different ideas and he said “OK, I’ve got it!” … he got a list of small things he wanted me to do, and then he edited the way he wanted. It was cool! I didn’t know what he was doing, how the sound would be, he just told me what he needed, maybe more energy on the chorus, maybe the guitar was a little out of tune … he wouldn’t tell what it was, he just told me to play. When I heard the mix, I said, “Oh shit, that sounds great”!

 

You went to a different recording studio this time, to La Fabrique Studio in the South of France. Why did you choose that particular studio?

Yes, we recorded at the La Fabrique Studio, that’s correct, it was a great studio. South of France was perfect for us, because we needed a place where we could really focus. It was a beautiful place … we could really focus there. We didn’t have to go anywhere, basically it was just “sleep, wake up, have breakfast together, jam and write”, then we would probably go for dinner and maybe go back and record a little more. Generally, we were together all time, so that we could really focus … We were there for three weeks in November, 2020, and for other three weeks in December, 2020. Most of the album was done there, apart from a few things left for Glenn and I to do back in Los Angeles in January, 2021.

 

Which are the trademarks of The Dead Daisies sound in your opinion?

I would say, first of all, David Lowy’s guitar sound. Another trademark is keeping things fresh, we don’t want to fall to the same groove every time, we want to keep it fresh. Another thing that is a trademark and it isn’t a trademark at the same time, is the fact that we always want to push ourselves.

 

Why do you think a fan of classic rock music should listen to your music?

He/She doesn’t have to listen to our music, haha! It is up to everybody! I think the new album is a really groovy album, it has got some cool moods to it, I think that if you like classic rock, you will enjoy it. But I am not forcing anybody, they will do what they want to do!

 

Live shows and tours are very important for The Daisies and you, Doug. How have all these cancellations of live gigs, tours, festivals etc. due to the coronavirus pandemic affected you? How do you feel about that?

It has been a long break. We took off 2019 as well, so it has been two years of being home, which has been amazing on the one hand, but also very difficult on the other hand. Mentally I am used to playing live shows, I miss it, I really miss it. When we were making the record, that was fun, we were playing all the time. We also rehearsed for ten days in October, 2020, and that was great … Not being on tour means that I am home, which is great for my family … So it’s like juggling, because I am working but I am also a dad. There are so many things going on. When I am on tour, I am very focused on touring, on my playing, it is very easy to be focused, when I am home, there are more distractions.

 

Which are your resolutions for the new year 2021?

That’s a good question. I want to become healthier, I want to come back in the best shape that I can be in. I need to get my body and mind into a better shape than it is now. It is ironic, I used to smoke cigarettes and drink Red Bull, but I was super fit … I used to smoke terribly for years and I quit smoking 12-13 years ago. Of course, in this lockdown pandemic it is normal that you get a little out of shape. The gyms are closed in Los Angeles, for example … I also want to be a better father, a better husband, I want to work on my personality, I just wanna be better, you know. As my kids are growing, I am learning what I need to do, what it is important 

 

Doug, as an epilogue, I would like you to tell me who your three favorite guitarists of all time are. Give me also your comment for the loss of Eddie Van Halen.  

 It is hard to pick three favorite guitarists, but Eddie Van Halen would of course be in the top five. He was one of my favorite guitarists, I respected him so much. When I saw him playing live for the first time, I thought I had never seen anything like that before. The first time I was him was in 1979. Eddie Van Halen was an innovator, not just because of his playing, but also because of the way he changed everything, the way he built his guitars, the way he made everything custom for himself, he inspired so many people to do the same thing. I think he was the most influential rock guitar player ever … it is so difficult to pick only three guitarists, there are so many guys … I have to say Jimmy Page … Randy Rhoads, Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Gary Moore … !!!