About Me

Interview with Exarsis

Exarsis are one of the great modern bands of Greek thrash, with strong and energetic albums and live performances. The vocalist, Nick Tragakis, answered some of our questions and spoke about the new album Sentenced to Life, its influences, how they decided to take a chance on something more modern and melodic and that, despite the difficulties of the industry due to the pandemic, they never put in cause the launch of a new album.

M.I. - Hi! How are you? Thanks for taking the time for answering our questions!

Ηey there, this is Nick, the singer of the band. Thank you very much for taking your time and interest in talking to us.

M.I. - Congrats for the new album! So far how has the general reaction been? Have the fans and press liked it?

Thank you for your compliments and yes, the reaction has been tremendous so far by fans and press people alike. We’ve been receiving great reviews and interview requests on a daily basis. Enjoying such a reaction is being a relief really, since we took a more melodic turn with this record plus a couple experiments which we didn’t know how they will go down with the people that follow our band for a while. But the most important is that Exarsis is back after a 2-years era of inner crisis and with a strong album to prove it!

M.I. -  It came out exactly as you wanted or, listening now, would you change a thing or two?

I don’t think that there is a band out there that wouldn’t change a thing in any of its albums old and new. Every time you’re listening to something you’ve done, you are becoming a little bit too critical with a thing or two, but that’s part of our nature. To be honest, we were a little worried with the final outcome of that record which we’ve been preparing for almost 3 years because of its melodic approach and songs such as “…Against My Fears” which is the slowest track we’ve ever composed! 

M.I. - What`s the main difference between Sentenced To Life and New War Order?

“New War Order” ticked all the “Exarsis boxes” and it was the peak of our previous lineup which did 4 tours. The songs went down in a different way because of the tightness and the chemistry we built by playing for 3 years straight. By the time “NWO” was completed we started almost immediately writing for “Sentenced to Life” and it was the time for us to inject more melody to our songs, and focus on choruses that you can sing with your fist in the air! That’s the main difference right there. In addition, the recording process between those two records was completely different as “New War Order” was created by a tight line-up, as “STL” was partially recorded by a different, fresh line-up and a guest guitarist (that’s Christos Tsitsis) for the lead parts. Thus, its recording period was a bit longer, if you count the 2020 lockdown too.   

M.I. -  What are you addressing here, lyrically?

This time we decided to touch upon topics such as the corrupted judicial system and all those set up trials ran by the powers that be. It goes further, citing the internet trials people face on a daily basis, inspired by the accusations we faced for our previous album’s artwork. Also, an important part of the lyrical content talks about depression, feelings of betrayal and suicidal tendencies, fighting with your inner demons and eventually win. It’s a deeper kind of lyric that expresses a great deal of our feelings for the past 2,5 years which were quite difficult as the band was severed down to 2 people trying to start the whole organism from scratch…  

M.I. - The last song has the same name as your previous album. What’s the connection?

Yes, it’s kind of a tradition in our band’s catalogue that’s going on, on every album so far. The last song bears the title of the previous album, and its lyrics derive topics from that album’s lyrics and it all kinda connects in the end making it one crazy picture, haha. We like having a common theme running throughout our discography, be it the last song of each record or elements of the artwork (i.e. our mascot) and the layout. 

M.I. - With the pandemic situation, how will you promote the album?

Well, shows are out of the question for the moment. We are delighted seeing that the press and the fans liked “Sentenced to Life”, so currently what we do is interviews and several stuff any band does on the internet. It is what it is. We are just waiting for this craziness to wear off so we can hit the stage again, where we belong. We’ve missed tours.

M.I. - Ever thought of postponing the launch due the pandemic?

No. That was a hard record to make due to the personnel issues and the lockdown that pushed the final vocal recording sessions back, that we had no intention to keep the record on the shelf for extra months. We just wanted to put it out as soon as it was finished and ready to go, promote it the way we can and then just wait for the green light for shows. That’s something to look forward to. 

M.I. - Christos returned to the band after 8 years. What happened for him to leave in the first place? And what made him come back?

Christos left back in 2013 because he accepted an offer from Suicidal Angels and that was something that the guys in Exarsis (I joined the band a few months later) totally understood. He is currently playing in other bands, like Bonded and Destroy Them, and that’s his main focus, which means he is not a permanent member of our band but more like a member of the family that helped us finalizing our latest record. 

M.I. - You started 10 years ago with Demo 2010. What is your assessment of this first decade playing?

It’s just the beginning. We’ve achieved all our hopes and dreams but that’s another step for us to aim higher! We’ve released 5 records, toured Europe multiple times, played with our heroes and survived through difficult times for our band that almost killed Exarsis. But we are here stronger than ever with a new lineup, ready for new goals to achieve. 

M.I. - Exarsis are a concept band. Namely, about conspiracy theories. How serious do you take these theories? Is there any you say "no, this is really silly. This is impossible to be true!”.

Of course, we say that, all the time! There are certain things we believe to have a meaning and explanation and we’ve spoken for that kind of stuff through our songs, as we did on our new effort as well. We are serious about that stuff. Especially during this pandemic and the whole covid-19 theories we’ve heard and read tons of crazy, super silly stuff. Every person has the brains to fathom what’s happening to the world right now and decide for him/herself where this is all leading us to…  

M.I. - What are your main influences? 

Mostly classic thrash bands like Exodus, Anthrax, Vio-Lence, Overkill, Sepultura, Nuclear Assault and Forbidden. Of course, the new album is a bit more influenced by the traditional heavy metal gods like Priest and Maiden but I cannot guarantee that that will happen in each of our future releases.

M.I. - If you could organize a concert with “The Big 4” of today’s thrash, what would these bands be?

Well, let’s pick anything from 2000 and onwards. Let’s try and pick 4 totally different bands. Violator from Brazil is a quite important group for us and a strong influence, we actually covered “Nuclear Devastation” 2 records back. Vektor from America is my personal favourite thrash band of the last 20 years, a unique astric blend of technical thrash, Voivod, Destruction, Nocturnus and Death with an actual vision and inspiration. We are knees deep into vintage black/thrash, so I am definitely picking something out of the Scandinavian scene of the latter years. We all agree on Nekromantheon from Norway, even though they should release records more often! Last but not least, one of the bands that brought the interest back to old-school thrash metal back in the 2000s is Municipal Waste, using tongue-in-cheek lyrics and tasty crossover moves. Great live band too!

M.I. - You already played in Portugal. How was that like? How’s the Portuguese crowd?

Yes, but sadly only during our latest tour with Nile and Terrorizer! We did Porto and Lisbon in front of warm, enthusiastic crowds that reminded us the wild Greek crowds. It’s definitely a Mediterranean thing going on here. Too bad we didn’t get to visit Portugal earlier in our career but be sure that we will play for your wonderful country when all this is over with the new album and lineup! 

M.I. - Greece is very strong in Black and Death metal with many awesome bands. But what about the thrash metal scene in particular? There’s, of course, legends Suicidal Angels, but what other bands can you suggest?

Suicidal Angels is the most important band, of course. They brought thrash metal back in Greece in the late ‘00s along with acts such as Released Anger and Crucifier. SA reached a point that became so big that took the interest for the Greek thrash metal scene to a global scale. Thus, in the early ‘10s bands like us, Chronosphere and Bio-Cancer refreshed the scene, and then came Typhus (then Nuclear Terror) and Domination among others. Also note Mentally Defiled and Violent Definition!

M.I. -  What do you all do when not playing or doing Exarsis stuff?

We all have our personal interests and day jobs, like everybody else. We love doing stuff that has to do with music, like listening to and collecting music, going to shows when shows existed, reading books and magazines on metal/hard rock music and watching documentaries and films on that topic among others. I personally like standup comedy which I frequently perform when I am not busy with Exarsis.

M.I. - Do you listen to other genres outside of metal? What “outside” bands do you listen to? What’s is your guilty pleasure? That name totally off of all the things you listen to?

We love all kinds of punk, hardcore and hard rock from the ‘70s and ‘80s, especially AOR if you ask me personally. Some members of the band are into hip hop too. I am into gothic rock, post-punk and darkwave as well… I can name thousands of artists but I can’t cite anyone as a “guilty pleasure” because I am not shy to admit that I like listening to something. Music is limitless. I can recall people reacting surprised when I told them that I am dying for the first two Clan of Xymox LPs, but I cannot understand why that is so weird at all.

M.I. - This year took its toll... No festivals, no concerts, no gathering of any kind... What are your plans for next year and the near future?

As soon as we are allowed to see each other in January we will start rehearsing the new songs as well as try our new ideas for a future release. But our main goal is to be ready and willin’ when concerts and tours are finally on. Besides that, we are in talks for a vinyl release of “Sentenced to Life”.

M.I. - Any last words for our readers?

People of Portugal, thank you for supporting us all these years and for the great, warm welcome in our Portuguese shows in early 2018. We will definitely return. Till then, make sure to check our new release.

M.I. - Again, thanks for your time and stay safe!

Take care! Thanks.

For Portuguese version, click here

Interview by Ivan Santos