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Rotting Christ need no introductions. These Greeks have been around for 30 years and played in Portugal, in early February, as part of the "Rituals Amongst the Rotten European" tour with Carach Angren and Svart Crown. Before the concert at Hard Club, in Porto, Sakis talked to Metal Imperium ...

M.I. - The band has been on tour for a few weeks now… how’s it been? 

Very good tour, actually one of the best we’ve had in our career so far, it’s a very good combination of bands. The people who come to see us will see a great show from all the bands.


M.I. - Were you familiar with the bands that are on tour with you? 

Yes, yes, with Carach Angren especially.


M.I. - How are things working out for you guys? All getting along?

Yes, we share the same bus, it’s not that easy for one month to share a bus with 20 people but it’s usual when we are on tour. 


M.I. - How do you manage to find energy to be on stage and play a long set almost every night… it’s almost like a daily intense workout, huh?

It’s very tough… because I am not young anymore…


M.I. - [Laughts] Come on, you’re not old!

That’s true! Let’s face reality… I am not old but I am not young and I need to conserve my energy. So I don’t drink alcohol at all, I try to have a healthy life, I take multivitamin pills for one month, I try to do my best because someone paid a ticket to see me onstage so I want to do my best.


M.I. – So it means you won’t even try Porto Wine…

Okay, maybe one… But I won’t get drunk! Cause if get drunk I won’t be able to play Lisbon cause I will be sick tomorrow!


M.I. – Being on the road for long periods of time… how do you keep your voice?

I don’t know! Everyone asks me how I keep my voice and I don’t know… it comes naturally. Of course, I don’t try to be wasted every night and I used to do that but it doesn’t work for me anymore. That’s why I am here… not to have fun but to do my best!


M.I. – And have some fun as well…

I am still stressed cause it’s not that easy to be everyday in that position.


M.I. – The band has been around for 30 years now… how complicated was it getting here? 

It’s a whole life, maybe a book can be written. I have sacrificed a lot of things in my life cause things are not that easy. People think that being in a band is only happy fun times but it isn’t. Believe me” Don’t need to say but I have sacrificed a lot of things but I got something back because I play music and someone says “your music spoke to my soul” it is my reward, it is a prize for me. I like to talk to people all around the world but through music.


M.I. – Your music is very powerful so…

Some people like it, some people don’t. But for those that do like, it’s an honour for me.


M.I. – How do you keep inspired?

Hmmm, very hard. First of all, I need to find free time.


M.I. – Do you have a job besides the band?

No, not anymore, So I am doing almost everything in the band, I am getting inspired when I find free time… but it’s hard to find free time. I think a lot and I try to discover myself. Trying to find some place I never found before.


M.I. – Some might find it strange that you write dark powerful music when you are surrounded by such beautiful landscapes!

Yes, it’s beautiful but I cannot write music when I am happy. But I am a normal person, I think. It just happens that I express myself better by writing music. I don’t care if I come from Greece, Russia or Norway… this is a beautiful country but there are lots of people depressed there as well. It’s not that easy… the country is good but the people sometimes… it happens everywhere, in Greece, in Portugal…


M.I. – Because we are two very similar countries! In March Season of Mist will release a double CD compilation with your greatest hits. Who chose the tracks to be included? I know you were involved!

I did and it was a pain! It was a nightmare.


M.I. – You alone?

Yeah, it was difficult. I tried to include all the years and the albums, all the eras. 


M.I. - This compilation includes a brand new track “I will not serve”. Why put a new track in a greatest hits compilation? 

Yes, it is an unreleased track and I decided to put it there to make it more attractive.


M.I. – But being a “greatest hits” compilation it doesn’t seem to make much sense…

Ahhhh, greatest! I don’t like this but after 30 years I think we should have a compilation like this!


M.I. – Yeah, yeah, you deserve it! But at the same time Peaceville is releasing today an EP to celebrate your 30 years history.

It’s a 7” EP, it’s a rerelease with a new song “The call”.


M.I. – Ok! Brand new or unreleased?

Kind of unreleased too. You know, I tried to push them to release in old school formats like 7” Eps, vinyl only, like we used to do back in the days. We don’t do that for money cause you can understand that 7” don’t give you money at all, we just do it cause I like the idea, to see my songs or band songs released in straight old school formats.


M.I. – Some people prefer those formats and bands release albums like that because they know fans appreciate them. This 7” also includes “In the sign of evil existence” featuring Nergal and Necroabyssus. 

Yeah, it is a live song that we did together in Poland and Nergal was there and he joined us onstage to play the song. 


M.I. – I believe these 2 tracks will increase sales…

I don’t think so because this is only for those that still listen to vinyls.


M.I. – Many albums are available online only a few days after being released… does it affect sales?

Yes, of course. I don’t care anymore. I prefer this. In the past, in South America, Brazil, they couldn’t listen to our music and now they can, they just need to press the button. For me it’s not important to get money for the music, is for someone to listen to our music. Some people find this strange and call me stupid cause I lose a lot of money but I don’t mind cause I want to listen to my heart to my soul… this is something that always follows me from day one.


M.I. - The official video for Societas Satanas has just been released… it’s a 22 year old song from Thou Art Lord… why this track in particular?

Yes, yes! Because it is one of the best… it is one of the songs during which the fans react the most. You’ll see tonight! 


M.I. – This song is from a Greek band and you have also covered a song, which I totally love, from Aphrodite’s Child “The Four Horsemen” and they’re Greek as well. Why cover this song from a rock band?

Because it was an influential album and I like the song. You know, sometimes people ask why we don’t cover Slayer, Iron Maiden and stuff and we want to do something different. It’s great finding dark songs from other genres and trying to make it into a Rotting Christ song. 


M.I. –  It’s beautiful and the video is great as well!

Thank you! We try to have lyric videos even though they are simple but just for people to read the lyrics and have an idea because lyrics for me are very important. Some people don´t like them, but they are important for me!


M.I. – Yeah, I agree. I like your lyrics even if I don’t understand some of them. I like “Devadevam” and I go to google translator in order to have an idea of what it is about.

Yes! It’s good, we made you search and it’s good! We live in a world where too many languages are spoken and we try to put a little bit of everything. I don’t care that some people don’t like to listen to something that’s not in English! 


M.I. – I enjoy the melody and the Greek language is very nice and when you sing it sounds beautiful!

We’ll sing some songs today!


M.I. – Will you sing “The Four Horsemen”? Haha!

No! But Devadevam we will.


M.I. – I know! I’ve searched for the tracklist you’ve been playing on this tour so…

It changes a little bit…


M.I. – And I was going to ask you about that! Most songs on the setlist for this tour are from the latest or the earliest albums… the middle albums don’t get any attention!

No, not that much!


M.I. – Why?

Because we feel that this era doesn’t fit well with the current atmosphere of the band.


M.I. – But there’s one song that you play in every show “The Forest of N’Gai”. Is it true?

Yeah, it’s from the 1st album and it’s for old school fans. We like to include songs from our first era because we think it was a very important era.


M.I. - The tour is titled Rituals Amongst the rotten European but you only play 3 songs from Rituals.

Yeah, but we play 12 songs and if we played more people would complain because they want to hear more songs from the other albums as well. 


M.I. – But did you do a tour to promote Rituals?

Yes, we toured all the world except Australia and not in Portugal.


M.I. – Ahhh! You are one of the few bands that has managed to maintain a steady line-up. How important is it working with the same people over and over again?

For me it’s very important but sometimes we need to change. Because not all the people follow your dreams and they can’t understand this. Some people don’t want to be in a band after 5 years, they want to go on with their lives and I say it’s okay, no problem! 


M.I. - Sakis and Themis are brothers… how complicated is it keeping things separated?  

It’s very complicated! You know how this is! But it’s the person I can trust the most. 


M.I. - The band has played over 1250 shows already… 

Well, 1500… my whole life has been on stage.


M.I. - Do you have memory of a special one for some reason?

There are a lot of shows that are more special than the others. I played in war conditions, in Ukraine, in Siberia, in Patagonia, all around the world… every show has something special.


M.I. – And in Porto… what’s special about it?

Today I feel a bit like being home. We don’t speak the same language but…


M.I. – It’s cold isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s cold but it’s winter! But still I feel like being home and can talk to people more easily because southern Europeans are different than the northern Europeans! The mentality…


M.I. – We are supposed to be lazy…

I don’t think that we are lazy… maybe the conditions and the politics all the system made us lazy. The political system of the last 15 years is so bad that we are trapped here. It’s the system we created. I want to change things in my country, I want to be part of the solution!


M.I. – Are you running for politics?

No, I don’t want to get involved in this situation. I am a very honest person and I cannot tell lies to people because if you are a politician you should lie!


M.I. – They are all liars!

Yeah, yeah! But I will try to change things from my point of view.


M.I. – But how will you do that?

For instance, many young musicians ask me how I became a musician without help from the world, just by myself. I try with my actions to help people. I say they must work and follow their dreams, they must give everything and I don’t just say that, I actually do it. 


M.I. – You are like a role model!

I am a normal person, you can find me everywhere and this is me! I don’t want to pretend that I am special because I am not.


M.I. – So do you feel you need to portray a responsible person instead of going onstage and getting drunk and all that?

Yes, I am very responsible and I will do my best today. I will try at least!


M.I. – I know you will! Are you already preparing new material?

On the road no but yes! This is the way I escape from life, to think.


M.I. - If you could travel back in time, what would you tell Sakis 30 years ago?

I would do exactly the same.


M.I – Everything?

Not everything! I would sign some contracts or some things I have done… we learn from our mistakes and if you are open-minded…


M.I. – And those mistakes become experiences and you become wiser!

Wiser of course! Unless you are a drug addict or alcohol addict… then you say bye bye to life! 


M.I. - We are people and our opinions and feeling change with time… is there anything you said or any lyrics you wrote that you don’t agree with these days? That you “regret” saying or doing?

Hmm, sometimes you regret but not that much! I tell you that you mustn’t regret that much from the past. Everybody was young and made mistakes… sometimes you regret it but I try not to.


M.I. - You’ll be quite active this year with touring…

We’ve been quite active for the last 5 years, believe me! I like it so I don’t complain!


M.I. – Don’t you get tired?

Yes. Do you see these shadows around my eyes? I get tired because every day I have to play and every day I have to travel! This is my dedication in life so I have to do my best. 


M.I. – Are the travels the worst part of the touring?

Yes, by far. If you had no travels this would be perfect. Just snap your fingers and show up everywhere you need to be.


M.I. – How much has the music industry and underground scene in particular changed ever since Rotting Christ first got started?

We started with cassettes, tapes, without pc, computers, internet and now we are here. I have seen everything, the whole evolution. 


M.I. – Do you miss the tape trading and the flyers in the early 90’s?

Of course I do. The flyers, the letters, the legends, the communication, now there’s no communication… I don’t know if it’s good or bad.


M.I. – I think it’s bad…

Now you know everything, there’s no mystery and it is very important for the imagination. Now everything is good in a way but I don’t want to know what Bruce Dickinson is doing now. I want to have him as a legend but…


M.I. – You know everything and sometimes you know too much. It’s all online.

That’s life. Big brother!


M.I. – That’s why I always go back to the bands that I started listening to. These newer bands don’t appeal to me…

I know what you mean! You don’t have time to keep up with everything. There are too many. This is the reality. If you want to change the system, you need to change it from the inside, from within. This is my solution! Music will remain, not faces. I don’t want to be glorious, but I hope that my music will remain for many years.


M.I. – I wish you a great show!

Hope I don’t disappoint you. I will do my best!


M.I. – I know you will! Please say a few words for the readers of Metal Imperium!

Keep the spirit and always Non Serviam!


For Portuguese version, click here


Interview by Sónia