Welcome! The very first AM interview had to be special, and I decided to bring in guitarist Christos Chatzikonstandinos from the Swedish death-thrash metal massacre Phidion! These guys finally released their debut last year and are absolutely killing it with their new album the Throes of Scourge (the review can be read here), and Christos is here to tell us a little about why it took so damn long for these guys to come out with their record, along with some other trivia.
Let’s not waste any time. I understand that you’ve been involved in other projects in the past such as Ruins of Time and Melting Flesh. Would say that Phidion is the most ambitious project you’ve been in so far?
I started Ruins of Time back in 1997 and we didn’t really know what to expect. I just wanted to play in a band and wanted to mix pretty much everything; death, black, thrash and doom. The ambition was there but we were inexperienced and split up in early 2003. Melting Flesh was just something me, Mathias and Fredrik, then all members of Phidion, did while we were looking for a place to rehearse with Phidion. It’s not a serious project and we did it just for fun.
Phidion started out to be something completely else, but in the end it became even harder and less melodic than what we were doing in Ruins of Time. There was a lot of obstacles up until 2012, and the biggest setback was in May when the drummer quit and left me and another guitarist in the band. He quit to do focus on his project, and in 2013 we started playing live more frequently and have written more songs and finally released a record in 2016. So yeah, Phidion is by far the most ambitious, at least since 2013.
Tell us about the creation process of The Throes of Scourge. Why did it take so long for you guys to come out with your debut record?
We were supposed to start recording back in 2014, but then we had a huge setback when our drummer fell ill and we had find a replacement and start rehearsing all over again. We were more of a live band and even went on a small eastern European tour with Rifle and Inflikted.
Finally, we started recording again in April 2016. We ended up with two more great songs, Peter came up with the main riff in “Mother Pestilence” and I came up with the rest and used riffs that I had in stock to bind the whole thing together. Actually, a lot of the songs have contributions from other members in the band. Our former guitarist Magnus wrote a couple of riffs that are in “Lost Transmission” and “Assailant of the Weak”. Our former drummer Albert came up with different ideas for several songs and Johan did some of the riffs in “Swarming Spectres” and “Ruins of Serenity”, as well as song structures and tempos. Oliver wrote all the lyrics except for the old songs, which were written by our original vocalist Martin Missy. We recorded at Audiogrind Studios and Linus Nirbrant came up with several ideas on the songs and added some effects on a couple of tracks; he did a really great job in editing and mixing the album!
The constant member changes are something that resets you, but that’s the way it is. People have jobs, families and lack of interest and so they quit.
What are some of the new themes, ideas, concepts, etc. that Phidion wants to detail in their music, perhaps in the future?
The new music will probably sound a little bit different, but it’s still recognizable as typical Phidion. So far this year, we have written three new songs and more are on the way.
Oliver writes lyrics about different things that surround him; personal topics that he can see around him. Also various thoughts and scenarios that pops into mind. The songs on the first album were quite fictional, but the new songs we are writing at the moment tend to have a more realistic theme with a rather surreal approach.
What are some of your biggest musical influences?
I’d say Hatespawn, Rotting Christ, Krisiun and Morbid Angel. When I played and wrote songs in Ruins of Time I had Sentenced as my biggest influence, especially their album “Down” as well as C64 (Commodore 64) game music.
How long have you been a metal fan? How was music important in your life?
I think I started listening to metal when I was 14. Before that I listened to pretty much anything. My favourite band is still the Beastie Boys, but I listened to bands like Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and Guns ‘n’ Roses as well. But in 1991 I started to listen to heavier bands. Music has always been important to me. I used to spend my allowance on records. I’d just go to the store each week and buy either a couple of singles or a LP. I still have many of them.
How many times a week do you guys rehearse?
We rehearse twice a week. The months before we recorded the album we rehearsed at least three times a week.
Any thoughts or elitism in metal, or what’s considered “true metal”?
I don’t know. I don’t really care what people think. It’s only music and you like what you like. Listening to certain bands doesn’t make you cooler or a tougher person.
What are some of your favorite releases from this year?
According to Encyclopedia Metallum, you guys aren’t currently signed to any labels. What would you say would be some downsides and some positives of being an unsigned band?
The downside is that you get less exposure and it costs a small fortune to release the music on vinyl. The positive side is that you are free to do whatever you want with your music.
Does Phidion plan on working with any labels in the future?
Perhaps if something interesting comes our way. The deals we were offered for The Throes of Scourge weren’t that good to be honest. Right now we only have one single out through a label, so we’ll see what happens next. I’d much rather sign to a label that is run by enthusiasts, rather someone that is more interested in sales.
Describe the Swedish scene. What are the shows and fans like?
The whole scene is pretty small and with Facebook, everyone pretty much knows anyone. The underground scene isn’t exactly spoiled when it comes to venues for smaller bands to perform, so we usually play at the same bar and meet the same people.
I understand you’re a family man as well! How do they support you and your music? Does the family life interfere with your band?
My partner never cared about the band, since she has no interest in metal at all. She lets me do my thing and she’s aware of how important it is to me. Writing new material however is hard, because I don’t get much time alone to get inspiration to pick up the guitar that often. Back when I was single I could play guitar the whole evening and come up with stuff for 3-4 different bands and projects, but now there’s so much else going on around me that I have to lock myself in a room and find time to play just for an hour. My oldest son, who’s turning 10 this fall, has seen us live twice though, and he likes it, probably only because he sees his dad on stage.
Also, our original vocalist Martin quit because he had become father to twin boys and was already in four bands at the moment. He reduced them to two and now he’s only in Protector.
What are some things you wish you knew ten years ago that would of helped you as a musician?
I was probably a better musician back then, but I wish I didn’t spend time and money on trying to make a crappy amp sound better by buying and using pedals on it. Until I bought my Peavey 6505, I was never really satisfied with my sound. When I got it, I pretty much sold every stomp box I had and got a couple of new ones to complement the amp instead.
Any tips on being a successful metal band?
Be persistent, write and play what you like and don’t stick to formulas. Too many bands quit before they even record a demo and some just fold after their first album release. Support other bands and help each other out. Don’t be jealous if your friends’ band is more successful than yours.
What can you tell us about the future of Phidion?
We’re going to Bulgaria and Romania in a month for three shows and after that we’re going to write some more songs. Hopefully we will record something new the next year.
Any closing remarks for the viewers of Angelus Mortem?
Check out our album and follow our Facebook page for more information. Thanks to Angelus Mortem for the great review and for this interview!
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