Sometimes it does not quite fit to call a band a “fresh act”, when most of the people involved have quite a history in the biz already… I bet you all have at least heard the band name “Rotting Christ” at some point… and there’s also someone of a certain band named Nile involved… Therefore let us proudly introduce a remarkable new project from Greece called Stone Cold Dead that will release their debut record “Lava Flows” on November 6th (via the band’s own label).
George Bokos (git, voc) and Charis Pazaroulas (bass) tell us more…
Could you please introduce the band to us – there are well known names in the line-up, some not so well known, so how did you get together?
George Bokos: First of all, I would like to thank you for being interested in our music and for giving us the opportunity to introduce STONE COLD DEAD to your readers. The core of the band is actually myself on the Guitars and Vocals and Charis Pazaroulas on the Contrabass and the Electric Bass. For those who don’t know my musical past, I was the guitar player of Nightfall (2001-2005) and Rotting Christ (2005-2012). As for the drums, there is something really interesting going on as we had three drummers who handled the recordings of our debut album “Lava Flows”. George Kollias, best known for his work with American technical death metal band Nile, Yannis Stavropoulos, who is one of the greatest all-around drummers in Greece and Dimitrios (Vorskaath) Dorian of Zemial, who is a multitalented musician with lots of projects and great music in his background.
Coming together wasn’t an easy task, as all of us had very strict and busy schedules. Driven by passion for the creation of this album, we finally found out the way to solve any problem that stood in front of us and I am very glad for what we came up with.
When and why was the initial idea to form this band born?
George: STONE COLD DEAD started as an idea back in 2010, from the need to write my own music. Among the heavy touring with Rotting Christ, I started to record the first guitar demos including ideas which later developed into fully arranged songs. After 12 years of performing with the greatest Greek metal bands, I just felt the time right to take my own way. At that period of time, Charis joined this journey and we started working together as a team.
How did you come up with the band name – is there a story behind it?
George: I came up with this name during a North American tour with Rotting Christ and the name kept struggling in my head together with other possible names that I was thinking at that time. At the end, STONE COLD DEAD inspired me the most to bring all of my music ideas in life. In some way it connects me with the earth’s ground and the nature, mostly with mountains, rocks and volcanoes.
Charis Pazaroulas: From my point of view, the name of the band reflects any idea, theory, state of mind, emotion, prejudice, psychological or sociological pattern, once I felt it was real, I started to construct my being around it and at some point I felt my “truth” collapsing and becoming STONE COLD DEAD. That’s a different perspective about the band’s name but it has a common ground with Georgeʼs point of you.
Your debut seems to be a concept album – tell us all about it.
Charis: You are very right! It is a concept album, an inner journey, setting as a central axis the ancient aphorism “Know Thyself”. The quest begins from the depths of a dark cave, that only reflections is what you can see. Through cyclones of awareness, rivers of trust, the death of ego, the reunification of Ouroboros and the deconstruction of the Architect, the human consciousness reaches the regenerated breath of life.
Along this journey, there are references to the “Allegory of the Cave” by Plato, the ancient sufi story “Mojud: The Man with the Inexplicable Life” and the “Prometheus Bound” by Aeschylus.
Furthermore, the journey takes place along the archetypal Cosmic Tree and consists of three parts (Underworld I.STONE, Earth II.COLD, Heaven III.DEAD).
How come you worked with 3 different drummers for the debut? Will you have a regular drummer in the future for live performances?
George: This idea came up by the needs of the concept, which Charis described just above. It is a triptych and each drummer recorded three songs in order to serve the ideas and the lyrical direction of each part. A further connection between the band’s name and the triads of the album has also been achieved. So, Yannis Stavropoulos handled the I.STONE part, Dimitrios (Vorskaath) Dorian the II.COLD part and George Kollias the III.DEAD part. We couldn’t have any better result than this. The energy those extraordinary drummers gave to the music is absolutely ideal. As for the future live performances; Dimitrios will be the drummer to handle all of our songs.
How did you develop this particular musical style?
George: Our music is basically a combination of metal and rock/blues music with progressive and experimental elements. Literally, it was developed on its own, during this unique and long journey! It is like you are lost in a forest with huge trees. The exits are there. You don’t need to create them, you just need to search and find them. This was exactly the way our album was created.
What made you become a musician in first place, what are the musical roots and influences that inspired you ”back then”?
Charis: The mystical communion of exploring and learning about myself and my relationship with the other beings of this planet through music, was always a fascinating aspect that led me to learn a music instrument and play together with other people. This inner need of exploring and at the same time escaping, the psychological empowerment through listening or playing music, plus the musical family environment are some of my main roots and influences.
George: I found myself very familiar with Charis’ words. I remember myself getting the first goosebumps from listening to music that I liked and it’s one of the emotions that forced me to learn an instrument. If I could talk for influences in the very beginning, then Tony Iommi was the biggest of all.
Are you working on music and lyrics for this project as a team, or is only one person responsible? George: Most musical ideas of “Lava Flows” are based on that first demo I did. At that time there were no vocal lines for the songs. Only guitars and drum machine. Charis handled the whole lyrical concept of the album and we worked closely together in terms of arrangement, structure and songwriting of the album. I know Charis over 15 years now and actually from the days we were students at the Ionian University – Department of Music Studies, here in Greece. He is one of the greatest musicians I have ever worked with. It feels great to have people in your life to share the same vision!
Is there a particular philosophy behind your works, or where do you get your inspiration from? Charis: The fundamental philosophy of our work is to explore, to travel through music and every time get to know a little better and in more depth ourselves and also the relationship with our environment. In other words, we find ourselves surrounded by death and horror in the world, and we escape it into art.
What is it like to be a Metal act in your country – celebrity or outcast?
George: In the 80’s and early 90’s I would say that being in a Metal band felt like you were an outcast. The society had a totally different state of mind back then… Nowadays, Metal / Rock music is getting very popular and I would say that finally this music genre gets the deserved attention. Greek crisis, in some way, gave people the energy to form more bands than ever and also the will to create and perform good music. We don’t consider ourselves as celebrities and so do many friends of mine from bands that I know. But neither outcast, I could say these days.
What do you want to achieve with this band?
Charis: The band is a vehicle for us, through which we express our thoughts, we communicate with our fellow human beings, we explore relationships and we get to know ourselves.
Being seasoned musicians, you surely have some weird and absurd stories to tell… please share one with us.
George: Well, there is a story from the making of our album. The drum recordings of the first part (Ι.SΤΟΝΕ) took place in a hotel, near a lake, which is located in the Mountains of Feneos, Corinth. There was a big empty room made of wood and stone, which with some proper acoustic treatment that we did, was ideal for recording drums. During the recordings, the electricity of the Hotel went off for a whole night and we were in the middle of nowhere, in absolute darkness. We kept on working on some ideas, as Yannis was still able to play his drum kit without any lights, but we have no recordings from that night…
What are your plans in the (near) future?
George: All our crafts are into getting our music to the people with the best way possible via our own label. Our debut album “Lava Flows” will be released on November 6th via Volcanic Music. The first single of the album, titled Hubrism, will be available soon and at this time we are working on a lyric video.
Charis: Furthermore, after the release of “Lava Flows”, we would like to release two tracks which for various reasons are not included in the album. Most probably, one of these will come together with a video. Later in 2016, we would like to start the recordings of our second release.
Anything I didn´t ask and you’d desperately want to share with us?
George: Thanks a lot for the interview! I would like to share the credits of the album with you. The album was engineered and produced by myself, mixed and mastered by Vasilis Gouvatsos at our own recording studio Grindhouse Studio Athens. The artwork was created by Costin Chioreanu, who is also known for his collaborations with such acts as At The Gates, Paradise Lost and Arch Enemy.
Charis: We would like also to thank our partner for the promotion of the album, Tuomas Saukkonen from One Man Army and all the people who are supporting in their own way, our first official effort. Thank you very much for the interview and let the Lava Flow…
The CD teaser you can also find on our StalkerMagazine YouTube Channel!