At the downfall of this year, WASTEFALL give us a masterpiece of progressive metal. An album that was really a surprise to me and I am sure it will be for many that will listen to it. I called up Alex to talk a bit about WASTEFALL and "Soulrain 21" and throughout the 30 minutes of free talk about the Greek heavy metal scene as well, here are the most interesting extracts. |
Hi Alex. Thank you very much for the interview and congratulations for this masterpiece called "Soulrain 21". Before I ask you anything else, can you please give us a small biography of the band so our readers know where and how WASTEFALL were born?
Alex: Thank you very much for your kind words Dimitris. The band was formed almost a year ago by Domenik and me and the reason was that after we left our previous band (for personal reasons) we wanted to create something really ours. From then all the other members of WASTEFALL came on board and on July 2003 we released our first album from Sleaszy Rider Records which is called "Fallen Stars And Rising Scars." It went ok but as a debut album we couldn't expect anything more as we were a newly born and unknown name. The reviews were pretty good but the general response was not that great. From then we worked really hard and now we have a new album on our hands called "Soulrain 21".
It has been some time that the album is out. Can you tell us a little bit about the reaction of the fans, people and the press towards "Soulrain 21"?
Alex: Yes, the reaction of the fans and press is really amazing and we really want to thank everyone for this. It has been voted as album of the month on the top Greek Heavy Metal magazine and on a webzine and also we get very high assessments from webzines all over Europe. The acceptance of the fans is also amazing since "Soulrain 21" was on the nu. 1 spot on the biggest metal store in Athens (now it is on nu. 2) which means that the CD sells. We also get a lot of mails from the rest of the Greece, not only Athens, something that is really very encouraging and honors us a lot.
So this means that you are going to have the chance to tour maybe all over Greece?
Alex: Well this is something that we really want very much. We do not want to only play as support acts on big names that visit Athens. We really hope that we will have the chance to play all over Greece, to as many towns as possible because we want to thank and meet our fans all over Greece.
For someone like me that has only heard "Soulrain 21", can you compare and tell me which are the differences between it and your debut album "Fallen Stars And Rising Scars"?
Alex: Well I am going to start with the most obvious thing which is the production. We managed to have a way better and clearer sound on "Soulrain 21". This doesn't mean that the sound and production on "Fallen Scars And Rising Stars" is bad but for the budget we had and the fact that it was our first time doing an official recording, it was generally good. Our debut album has some really nice tracks that represent WASTEFALL, so this is the reason we play a lot of songs on our live gigs, but it wasn't promoted that much since we were quite unknown, but the album itself is very good for the time it was released. The difference first of all is that "Soulrain 21" is way more aggressive, a lot of modern metal sound on the riffs while "Falling Stars..." is a bit more progressive and melancholic, I would say there are a lot psychedelic moments, acoustic parts and electronic music. Generally "Falling Stars..." has a complete different mood. Of course it is a concept album but it doesn't refer to anything as straight forward as "Soulrain 21" but with something much deeper, the life existence agony if I may say.
How did it come to you to use a violin and Mathew to become a full member of WASTEFALL, which means what do you think the violin has to offer on the music of WASTEFALL?
Alex: Look, while we were composing songs with Dominik for "Soulrain 21", we had a lot of keyboard and string parts on the jamming sessions, we said to ourselves that if we had a violin -because it is nothing uncommon on a heavy metal band to have a full time violin member, look at SKYCLAD or MY DYING BRIDE for example- the tunes would sound really good. Since Mathew was our friend and we had that chemistry as friends we asked him to try out the tunes with his violin and I believe it worked out really great. Because you know, most of the band on the metal scene use violin for their folk elements on their music, we used to give additional theatrically and lyricism. I think that WASTEFALL without a violin will loose a lot so that is why on the violin we will definitely have Mathew with us.
Now there is a big difference between the track that is probably going to distinguish out of the album since you have shot a video for it as well. 'Stunned To The World' is maybe the only track that has so many obvious modern metal elements on it. Aren't you a bit afraid that this will work a bit negative for you?
Alex: Yes I understand what you are saying and maybe because 'Stunned To The World' is the most aggressive song on the album, we wanted to show this. Of course it has all these modern metal elements as you said but it also is quite representative on what the band is about. It had the melodic lines, the paranoid crossings, but I believe it was the right choice for a video clip since, ok the most representative track from the album is 'Empty Heaven' but is way too long so I think 'Stunned To The World' is the best choice.
What is that thing that Domenik bangs on the start of the video clip?
Alex: (Laughs). Oh this is a damaged house of some animal, I don't think it was a dog because this house was very big for a dog, but yeah this is a damaged house of some animal.
Yes, I saw it and I was like, what is he doing there?
Alex: Yes yes (laughs again), it was a damaged animal house though the animal was not in there ok? Really good question, I have never been asked that before.
Hehehe.I don't know if you agree, but generally the whole album moves on atmospheric progressive metal roads. How much do you think complexity on music can help you flow out certain feelings and emotions that you want the listener to have?
Alex: Oh right, another fine question. Well listen, we have been categorized as a progressive metal band, but of course progressive metal is very inapprehensive idea since half of people are talking for complexity on the music and the other half are talking about innovative ideas. I will agree with the second half, I believe that our music is not really hard to play. The thing is that we always try to output whatever we feel, according to the lyrics, the image and the feeling of course, and we just write a song. We do not want to sound aggressive or complex on purpose, what comes out it comes out from our souls. Now I don't think that we do sound that much complex and progressive metal is just a label, what we do is to try and output all the images we want to give to the listener as straightforward as we can.
Well indeed, progressive metal is an inapprehensive idea and a label, but it gives us an understanding on what the sound and the style of a band is about. For example, what are the influences that you have as a band?
Alex: Well of course, yes it is obvious that we do like PAIN OF SALVATION, mostly on the atmospheric side of things. Now from there, each member of the band listens to whatever he likes. For example Domenik (the lead singer) listens a lot of ARK, NEVERMORE , I do like them as I like BJORK for example, Mathew (violin) listens a lot to IN FLAMES, Christos listens to progressive rock like EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER and a lot of funky pop. There are all these different kind of things that we like and each one of us puts his influences on the songs of WASTEFALL.
I do thin that you have quite a lot of complex parts though. How was this perfect equilibrium between complexity and melody was achieved for "Soulrain 21"? In a few words what is the composing procedure for WASTEFALL?
Alex: Well we always try to balance things. One procedure that we do follow is that we gather and we read the lyrics or talk about what concerns us at the moment and we try through jamming to output our feelings to the music. I believe that the melodic parts should be there not for the sake of melody but because they are something that we are touched from. Especially when we play the melodies and we are touched by them. So, we always try to have this equilibrium between the different kinds of music we like and we try to marry. Either way, we are at almost 2005, so everything has been played but the way you are going to present your music should be harmonically tied and have a beautiful result.
As it concerns the song like 'Riot Of Oblivion' (one of the best tracks of the album) became so big because you wanted to have an 'epic' on the album or it just grew big?
Alex: Oh, I am very happy that you told me that, you are the first one to tell me that this is his favorite track of the album, and I really consider it to be a very beautiful song. Well, what happened is that we had a lot of music composed on oriental scales and we had a lot of tracks that on the jamming sessions sounded really beautiful. As soon as the lyrics and the atmosphere of the song came out everything just suited there by them selves. Well of course it came out quite big, at 10 minutes, but what can we do, it just came out that big. I think on this song an idea comes and adds to the other, 'Riot Of Oblivion' could not stand by itself if not all these different ideas co-existed.
So the album is a concept album and is dedicated to the 21 souls that departed so unfairly last year. By reading the lyrics I saw that they are not all referring to this fact but one song, '21'. Am I right or your lyrics are so allegoric that I didn't saw the difference?
Alex: Yes you are right; let me explain it to you. It is not a concept, with a story line, it is just that this accident happened and for some reason, maybe the tragedy of this event, maybe that we close on the age as the kids that died, it touched everyone in the band, and so we wrote '21'. From there what we do with the lyrics is that, based on this fact we tried to talk about this age, the teens. How this age is looking at the world, how the world looks at this age and what are the problems this age has to face. Let me give you an example, 'Stunned To The World' talks about how this world looks like to the teens, that there is always a small hope in them. 'Empty Heaven' is the process when someone has so many dreams and he says that he is just to coward to try anything, 'Self Extinction Project' talks about drugs, alcoholism and generally for self destructive ideas. So there are all these things that do represent this age. Oh for another example 'Riot Of Oblivion' as an epilogue, talks and criticizes about how people forget and don't learn from their mistakes. For example for this accident, no one will remember it after a month as well as all the other problems that we have mentioned; no one will look at them since other things came up on the current news. So this is what our concept is about, not a story line but a common idea between the songs.
So, I understand why you have underlined as red some words from 'Stunned To The World' on the booklet, words as drugs, shattered etc etc. It is because you want to emphasize the problems of the teenagers this way as well.
Alex: Yes, this is exactly this. We wanted to present this and graphically on the booklet.
Another thing is the double CD. Why to release a double CD? Isn't it already expensive for someone to buy a single CD?
Alex: Yes damn it, this came out afterwards. What happened is that we had a lot of material and two songs 'Fountains Of Fire' and 'Numb Lake' that have nothing to do with the concept. But we said are we going to release them as B-Sides or singles. We thought it was better to release them as a double CD along with the video of 'Stunned To The World'. Unfortunately, the price of the CD is a bit high, especially on the province but this is not the band's fault or the record label that do their job nicely. Unfortunately prices are high in general and we do not like it, so that is why we bring CDs on the concerts that we sell them way lower because we do not want to make money out of this but we just want to have a contact with the fans and the people that like our music, and generally to do something creative.
Alex thank you very much. I don't want to tire you anymore and if you want to add anything else to our readers please do it here.
Alex: You do not tire me my friend, not at all. I just want to thank you for all this interest and the opportunity you give me to talk about WASTEFALL. I hope we are going to be able to visit as many places as we can with live gigs in order to meet people that like our music. Thank you once more.
Thank you too Alex. Good luck with everything.
Alex: Thanks to you guys and good luck too.