About Me

Interview with Rotting Christ

Rotting Christ are well known to the Portuguese public. They recently published the book "Non Serviam" which tells the story of the band during its 30 years of existence and are about to release the 14th album "The Heretics". Sakis talked to with Metal Imperium to tell us all the news...

M.I. - First of all, thank you very much for this interview. How have you been since we last met in Porto? The concerts in Portugal have been completely sold out… do you keep memories of these concerts?

Yes, of course. I always remember Portugal as a very nice part of the tour. In Europe some tours don’t go to Portugal and I am very pleased when we go there because I have many friends. I always enjoy it there.

M.I. - 2019 has kicked off a few weeks ago and it seems this will be a very hectic year for you… new album, new book, celebration of the 25th anniversary of Non Serviam… how full is your agenda by now?

2018 was the busiest year in my life. I wonder sometimes if it is good to work so much. We started the band to have fun but sometimes it’s not fun.

M.I. - It was the busiest year because you had a lot of work but this year you’ll collect the fruits of that work, right?

Yes, I hope. I’ll be very busy. I enjoy this, but I’m not a person that complains but sometimes it is very tiring to work all day and you think if what you are doing makes sense. But it’s great to know the people like the new songs and the book. At least I am very happy with everything.

M.I. - “The Heretics” has already been considered album of the month even though it hasn’t been released yet. How do you manage to create powerful and interesting music time after time?

This is the most difficult thing to do. Working and composing is the only thing that I can do to escape this life. I write music to escape everyday problems. This is the only reason that I am doing this. I am not happy with this world. I have my weapon. I want to have quality in everything I do. I am very glad that after 30 years people still say they want to listen to my music. Who is going to pay attention to the 14th album of a band? The quality makes people want to listen to it and that makes me very proud.

M.I. – Can you imagine your life with no music?

I would die, I would commit suicide. Music for me is the most important thing in my life. It helps me escaping problems. I am very glad that I have music and that I am still alive.

M.I. - Supposedly, “The Heretics” is a back to basics album. 

Not exactly, I can’t say that! It’s a little bit of everything.

M.I. – Yeah, I mean, we can immediately identify Rotting Christ’s sound but the Gregorian chants sound different from what you did in “Rituals”…

I think so. That’s true. 

M.I. - How do you come up with these ideas?

Everyone’s creative in this life. It just depends on the target of your creativity. I put my energy in the creation and the composing. I have many tricks I use. I have an isolated place, a room,  in which I stay alone for ten hours and read, write. I try to be a heretic someone that doesn’t go with the flow. I go there, meditate and write music.

M.I. – So it’s just like going to work?

Yes, indeed. I have this kind of meditation. This is the only way people can still find Rotting Christ’s music interesting. I want to make things going, I want to expand… This is me!

M.I. - The words Fire, good, fear, hell are recurrent in the new tracks… is humanity reduced to these after all? 

Yes, definitely. We are here to protest, to express our different way of thinking, this is what keeps the band alive. 

M.I. – “Rituals” was such an highly acclaimed album… do you think fans will be pleased with this one? Do you even worry about that? 

I do worry about it. I don’t worry about the sales, the numbers. For me “Rituals” became a very accepted album because it was different.

M.I. - This is your 14th album in 30 years… do you still get excited and nervous when a new album comes out? What do you worry about?

Of course, this is what I am doing. Of course, I don’t worry like I did in the past. If I realize I cannot write music that means I am not young anymore, not mentally, but biologically. It’s very important for me to feel young mentally, not physically.

M.I. – You’re always talking about age but you’re not old, you’re 40 something.

47 please! It can be old. You know, you have your routines, your bills to pay, do the same thing everyday and suddenly you realize you are old… mentally I am still young and this is what I am fighting for.

M.I. – But do you go to the gym in order to keep fit?

Yeah, I stopped using my car, I started walking, I’m back to the basics, I try to have my band in a good shape as well.

M.I. - You have to be in shape in order to play all those concerts!

Yes! Don’t listen to the crazy stories about old bands doing this and that! Fortunately, bands are getting more mature and are more conscious about their health. It’s not just sex, drugs and rock n roll these days.

M.I. - The band was on tour for most of last year… when did you find the time to write/compose and record the new album?

As soon as I came back home, I isolated myself in my special place. During the tour I thought about things and wrote them. Then I got home and I grabbed the guitar and I started writing the new songs.

M.I. – But how do you come up with riffs… I mean, coming up with different riffs probably isn’t easy… how do you create them?

It’s the easiest thing. The more difficult nowadays is to catch the idea of a song, I can write 5 riffs in 5 second. That’s the idea of writing something. You can have a riff but the idea of writing something based on Edgar Allen Poe was the most difficult.

M.I. – You were inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven”… how did you come up with this idea? How complicated was it turning such a powerful poem into a song? 

My brother and I did everything in the studio but the composition was done by myself.

M.I. - How did the idea of writing based on the works of Nietzsche, Edgar Allen Poe, Voltaire, Thomas Paine, Mark Twain, John Milton, Nikos Kazantzakis come up? They are the Big Heretics which inspired the concept for this album. 

I just realized I am like them. Black metal and extreme metal is quite a heretic kind of music. I read a lot and I came up with this idea of writing an album about this.

M.I. - These authors are so intelligent and awesome. Did you inspire yourself in particular works by these authors or by their works in general? Do you think that it would be possible to write more than one album based on them?

No, I based myself in one only. Why not? That would be a good idea. But then I would prefer to write about something different next time, because I have already done this and I want to surprise the listeners.

M.I. – Do you think your listeners are familiar with these authors?

Not always, but I can make them. Yes, they will google the names and titles and they will open their horizons. Music is not just about drinking beer, it is also food for our brains.

M.I. - One of the quotes is “The mind is universe and can make a heaven of hell a hell of heaven," What do you mean by this?

Everything is in your mind, it’s up to us to control things.

M.I. - The album was recorded in George’s studio, Pentagram in Athens. Recording in your home town makes things a lot easier?

Of course. That’s why we won’t leave Greece to record. I prefer to work close to home because, whenever I have a new idea, I call George and he opens the studio for me!

M.I. – Yeah, but you go to Sweden to have the album mastered and mixed by Jens Bogren. Why do you keep on going to Fascination Street to do this instead of doing it in a local studio?

He’s the best mixer and it’s the best best choice.

M.I. - Artwork was done by Maximos Manolis. Tell us what’s the message you wanted to convey with the cover.

Witchcraft. We wanted a cover that portrayed that time in the middle ages in which everything was controlled by the church.

M.I. - You already have 3 lyric videos for this album.

And we’re gonna have 11. It’s a complicated process but we want to have one for each track.

M.I. - Late last year, the band’s official book “Non Serviam” was released. How did the idea of writing it come up? 

I never had the idea to write. Dayal is my friend and he asked if I wanted to write it, I told him that I am not writer and I couldn’t do it alone. So we did it together. After 30 years in the scene I have many things to say to people. Tell them about the old days, when there were no computers and all that.

M.I. - The book “Non Serviam” tells the story of the 30 years of Rotting Christ… did you include everything about the band? 

No way! I would still be writing the book if I had to write about all that happened. It includes the most important moments.

M.I. - Do you tell the whole truth in the book?

Yes, I think it is the most honest book about a band. 

M.I. - How are sales of the book going?

They are going great. It’s a good thing. People say it’s the best band biography they’ve read.

M.I. - Will the book be available merchandise stand when you go on tour? 

Yes, yes.

M.I. - I want to believe you’ll be doing a tour this year… have you got that sorted out already? 

We are preparing a very long tour with someone who might surprise you. I will reveal it later.

M.I. - Will you come here?

I think we’ll play there after the summer.

M.I. - The band has such a long catalogue… how do you select the songs to play live? There are quite a few that the audience wants to listen to so it makes the selection more difficult for you, right?

Don’t tell me! It’s a nightmare cause I have to choose from 200 songs from 14 albums. I try to choose between the older albums and the newer ones in order to satisfy as many people as possible.

M.I. - You could also do a poll for the fans to choose.

I don’t want to do that because I would create a few fights.

M.I. - If you had to choose the Top 3 of Rotting Christ albums which ones would you choose?

Thy Mighty contract for the 1st period of the band. Theogonia for the 2nd period of the band
Rituals for the 3rd period of the band.

M.I. - Many thanks Sakis for this conversation. I hope the band comes back to Portugal soon because we love having you here. Please share a message with your Portuguese fans and readers of Metal Imperium.

Hope you enjoy the new album when it comes out. Till the next time we meet in Portugal! Always Non Serviam!

For portuguese version, click here

Questions by Sónia Fonseca