About Me

Interview with Agent Steel

The mythical 80's band Agent Steel is back! And now, 34 years later, with the founder and original vocalist, the only Johnny Cryriis! Reality and fiction are mixed in the life of this musical artist, mainly due to the stories (unfounded, according to him) about his name and origins.
No Other Godz Before Me is the 6th full-length of the band, but the first of a new era that now (re)starts under the baton of a gentleman without fear of what he says, the attacks he suffers and those he inflicts. Also with Nikolay (guitars) and Vinicius (bass), we had a conversation with the charismatic vocalist, whose inspiration he receives from “The Entity” and who, for those who don't know, was the first vocalist of one of the so-called Big 4 of thrash. Want to know more? It's all down below.

M.I. - Hi! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to ask some questions to a band that is part of the history of metal in the 80's and that managed to win the status of legendary. And congratulations on the new album. A true Agent Steel sound.

Johnny Cyriis: We’re very happy to hear you like the new album. 

M.I. – Getting started… How has your life been in this pandemic time?

Johnny Cyriis: Absolutely upsetting. Life is filled with challenges without this horrid pandemic and this black lodge curse applied, life certainly became worse for many. 
The music industry really didn’t help any! 

M.I. - It was in 2018 that you announced the re-emerge of Agent Steel. What was the motivation to revive the band and why now?

Johnny Cyriis: Why Not? The band, is my band… I created the name and the ideas behind the lyrical prose back in 1983. All faux attempts to recreate my band and capitalize on the name, bilking it for profit without consideration to the original campaign is downright insulting, offensive and Sacrilegious!  All these attempts to fraudulently reproduce my formula have failed miserably! And I am now proven that I am Agent Steel. Well… my new crew and I. And fronted by myself and my guitar teams Head Honcho Nikolay Atanasov, have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the only formula of players that would be intelligent enough to attempt to make a true Agent Steel album, are these geniuses who would incorporate my work into a formula, responsibly attached the True Official Label of “Agent Steel” ™ – rendering a collection of songs recorded and released as Agent Steel… HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED… And now the seed has been planted by the release of No Other Godz Before Me. This the first true Agent Steel release since Unstoppable Force and so is rendered that it is now official that the unstoppable force is certainly back and wearing on its Brazen chest, its most Omnipotent Metal attack to date!
The time is now…
It is official!  The “New and True” Agent Steel is Back. On a solid and realistically based grandiose way. Without doubt! 
IF it’s all about the music… then the new era Agent Steel has certainly delivered the goods!
There is no doubt, whatsoever, that the 5th true Agent Steel album will be an even greater ball crusher than the No Other Godz Before Me release.
Johnny Cyriis: Accept no substitutes! The true new era of Agent Steel has emerged into the fog and mist of the current fumble tongued new age of aggression and hypocrisy, which I plan to water down as much as possible, through my lyrical prose that I transmit while bolting forth my metal polemical gouging’s.   

M.I. - Speaking of the new album... What does the name (No Other Godz Before Me) mean? What do you mean by that phrase?

Johnny Cyriis: The beginning concepts associated this first new era album stemmed from my personal current epiphany associated one of the most profound and taboo philosophical theories pertaining to the hypothesis provoking debates attached the issue of Individualism vs Collectivism. The idea that we are trapped to this dimension and must oblige the presence of those who are not as dynamic and/or responsible with themselves and others - toward the gift of Life, is disappointing. Therefore, it is the current strand of humans residing on earth that must decide for the first time in History, whether or not we are all ultimately one and the same or individuals who are needing to decide which course we are to “individually” navigate toward our chosen destiny “out to the Cosmos” and hither to the vast regions of the Universe, as our journey demands. In my case, it should be perfectly clear which course I have chosen. This first new era Agent Steel album, beams a pinnacle of light which glimmers upon the metal path I have chosen to tread by solidifying my first proclamation via its title No Other Godz Before Me.
It’s just a word to transmit to the critics and skeptics and jealous haters of this album achievement by the new era Agent Steel band. 
“If one can't attend the Ball, then why burn down the building? “
“Attend a Ball that has invited you…and stop wanting what is rightfully mine…and definitely ‘NOT YOURS!”
“I’ve now proven this…. Leave me the F**k alone!”

M.I. - Did the album go as you wanted? Or is something missing there? Would you change anything now, if you could?

Johnny Cyriis: We are very pleased with the end result. In fact, the album turned out much better than we had anticipated. The No Other Godz Before Me album was produced by guitarist/engineer Galin Ivanov, head honcho guitarist/song writer Nikolay Atanasov and myself. So, with that said…We are planning on bolting out yet another kick ass production, as applied the follow-up to this first, in the series of new era Agent Steel albums. The new album is already in preparation and is tentatively titled: “An Argument with the Devil, and God”.

M.I. - Is this the result of ideas that have matured over 30 years or is it recent inspiration? How did these themes come about?

Johnny Cyriis: The ideas currently transmitted via the “No Other Godz Before me” release, are ideas that span over 3 + decades of research and geographical explorations into the various phenomena of events experienced on the various continents where I have traveled. Carried over by proxy via the experiences I’ve musically gathered and preserved, while on these journeys which I was somehow able to weave together into the resulting various forms of vocal transmissions, embraced by isolated paranormal observances captured from UFO related contact, alas the psychical as well as mentalized and focused protocol, attached thereunto. 

M.I. - This seems to me a very faithful album to what you are / were. That is, I don't think you want to invent something new but just do what you do best. Mainly because of the guitars, this looks like an album from the 80s. Or at least, looking for that time. I am wrong? Was it purposeful?

Johnny Cyriis: I believe this album is an evolution and yet a confirmation and firm grasp on just what a true follow-up to the 3 classic 80s efforts should sound like (i.e., the 3 true Agent Steel albums which included my musical and vocal contributions). As most may or may not know, the earth has excelled tremendously in as far as the musical equipment technology gear available in the 80s in comparison to what we have now. Just the multitudinous amounts of guitar effects available nowadays, as opposed to what was available then, is surreal. Therefore, any metal album recorded in the here and now, cannot be compared to the material recorded a few decades ago. But some would beg to differ, I guess…
However, I do have a purpose attached everything I do… And I will do all I can to exceed all boundaries and limitations and do all I can to live by the standards I endorse, both philosophically, as well as musically. And that is to live closest to what a great man once said; added a bit of my own mind-generated particles, “A true artist has no limitations as his/her limitation…” (N.A.: modificação de uma frase de L.V. Beethoven).

Nikolay Atanasov: This is an interesting question… This might sound cliché, but we are real artists and we put on record whatever comes from our heart and soul. we don’t put on or limit ourselves by drawing any boundaries or limitations. From the perspective of the musician, some elements need to be included in the music, elements specific to the Agent Steel sound. However, there are also some new things, which not everyone seems to notice…I take that as a compliment, because it means that it is very well mixed in there and sounds like a good true Agent Steel record. We do think that the 80s were the best time for metal music, where a lot of masterpieces came out, however, we don’t live in the past either… When you are a real artist, you record the music that comes out of your heart and soul, with a specific purpose in mind and heart. And one of those purposes is to obviously do what you love, and if a lot of people love what you did, then you are truly successful.

M.I. - What is the big difference between No Other Godz Before Me and Agent Steel's previous 3 albums?

Johnny Cyriis: I think that the main difference between No Other Godz Before Me and the previous albums is the overall ambiance attached the dynamic performances and concepts I transmit via the No Other Godz Before Me, which I see as far exceeding all the Bric-a-Brac transmitted via those 80s efforts.
I really always felt that the vocal character I was expressing on the 3 classic albums were basically not the true me. Aside my relenting discontent with the actual performances on my part, I personally see those performances as “my vocal infantile self” In the 80s. It was as if I had not yet embraced my own identity as a vocalist. I always wanted to transmit both a vocal performance as well as the message that was weaved within the actual melody that represented the emotion and character of the “Cosmic Metal Fiend” I was seeking to portray who would best transmit the message and Vocal style that represents the entity who is transmitting itself via my physical body’s performance. Albeit all that I have been falsely accused of being —by my critics — I salute them with a:  YEAH, MFs here I am, here it is. The Entity you’ve all been fearing and at the same time loathing and/or putting on a pedestal of wonder! Get ready because here’s what I have to Fucking Say!  
 I really feel that the true me/Entity within I have always wanted to transmit as a vocalist just wasn’t making contact with my physical body in the 80s, especially at the time I recorded my vocal tracks on those 80s Agent Steel releases. However, I do feel that there has been attained a full success in the fact that I believe I have finally made contact with that sentient being with whom I have always yearned to channel into a kick ass vocal performance transmission that would correctly transmit my destined and assigned metal message protocol. And Viola! It is Done!!!  The Entity has come forth via my vocal transmission on this first effort from the new era Agent Steel band and album No Other Godz Before Me.

Nikolay Atanasov: There are a lot of common things obviously, but as for the biggest differences - more modern tighter production, tighter playing of all instruments, especially guitars (solos), but not only… And, of course, much more advanced vocals from what is on the old releases… My friend and bandmate Johnny always works hard and is always unique. Those are the biggest differences I can think of now.

Vinicius Carvalho:  I think No Other Godz Before Me stays true to Agent Steel’s speed/thrash roots while, at the same time, exploring a darker, more aggressive sound and lyrical perspective. It’s definitely a new chapter in the classic Agent Steel sound with great songs and memorable performances by Johnny and my fellow bandmates.

M.I. - No Other Godz Before Me is only the second album with the band's original vocalist and, at the same time, the only element that remains after the band's reunion. What was it like to recruit and transmit the band's primordial ideals to the younger people? None of the remaining elements were even born when Agent Steel released their first album in 1985!

Johnny Cyriis: I think my Agent Steel related concept and ideals, have always been far ahead of their time. But wait, It is no mystery or obscurity to young people of the day ( as it was attached the ignorance surrounding society and the metal music cabal in the 80s, who believed one to be a “Nut Case”, if one believed in UFO’s or the possibility of life existing elsewhere, I.e., on other planets and galaxies and out into the Universe at large), whom I believe  certainly understand that something I championed as my ideal in the 80s, alongside the raising of questions I was bolting forth, especially those that were - at the time - the most “Unpopular of All” (i.e., the existence of UFOs and the possibility of life existing elsewhere in the Universe…) is yet another vast array of evolving paradigms of revolutionary cycles and to some, the protracting of yet another phase in artistic history, seeing itself through to its peek. Not just another mantra but an actual panacea that excels the creative and unabridged metal musician and/or connoisseur of the present day to embrace new paths to artistic multi-choice and freedom from the accepted unchangeable lumber and wreckage often recreated over and over by stale and sterilized Metal radicalism. Especially those who critique Agent Steel, I say GFY (Go F*** Y***).
I believe myself to be a pioneer, not an imitator! I may draw from various influences which originate from those artists I admire, but I don’t aim to clone or reproduce exactly. If anything may come as such, I apologize to fans. But I believe I do resemble any other!  
Finally, I would like to add that I am certainly freak, just as others would and have labeled me as being! 
Better being a freak, and original as I need be, than to be as others are, particularly those who dare not remove their politically correct veils of hypocrisy and campaign their stale creativity attached the sham and sterile product that comes affixed their art!  

M.I. - With so much uncertainty and albums so spaced out in time, I imagine that it must be complicated to keep with a label. Why did you choose Dissonance (Productions)? Was it easy to reach an agreement?

Johnny Cyriis: After the premeditated ambush on my person by colluders who wanted to do all they could to intercept all my efforts and attempt to reactivate my band (Agent Steel) —via the scheduled KIT festival performance, I realized that they had outnumbered me and the lynch mob was to determined and too sinister,  as they carried with them too much weight from heavy hitters in the shadows for me to be able to continue, as all the promoters —all at once — contacted my rep. and canceled the entire “8 Lights Over EU Tour” for no Valid Reason…
I returned home defeated and depressed especially for having been betrayed by the entire shitty lineup I had put together for that tour. When suddenly and out of the blue I got a call on my cell phone from a number whose caller ID sported a London UK prefix. It was the director of Plastic Head/ Dissonance. This person suddenly began making a statement. He said “JOHN! I’m an admirer and I want to ask you if you’d like to make an album?”.
And the rest is history! 

M.I. - Are the Masters of Metal still active? How is your story, currently, with that name? I read somewhere that when the band plays with John, they are Agent Steel and when they play with Rick, they are the Masters of Metal. Is the agreement still standing?

Johnny Cyriis: Masters of Metal “Is Not Agent Steel” and I believe was never meant to be Agent Steel. 
I have no contact with anyone from Masters of Metal band or even any of the past lineups of Agent Steel. I wish them all the very best and appreciate the time they spent making music, however long or short, with one of the most influential and dynamic metal bands in the history of the genre! All past members rocked their asses off by way of their contributions to the Entity and whether appreciate and respect their talent and participations and associations at the time. However, I feel more than any other time in the history of the true Agent Steel that this new era lineup is the best and greatest of all! And humbly speaking, I guess only a few albums down the road will prove this my hunch to either be truth or Fiction. Or will it all turn out to be taken as such:  THE NEW ERA AGENT STEEL WILL ALL TURN OUT TO BE “STRANGER THAN FICTION”, AS “TRUTH”, OFTEN IS! 

M.I. - Are all the problems that existed previously with the band - the line-up changes, controversies, etc. – permanently solved? Can we expect a solid Agent Steel from now on and continue what was done with No Other Godz Before Me?

Johnny Cyriis: I believe I have as solid a lineup as possible. The guitar team wizardry that is bolted forth from the guitar team that fronts the new era Agent Steel band, is in my opinion, the best and most resilient 2 headed serpent to date. This guitar team of virtuosos are by far my favorite guitar team ever to presence the Agent Stell frontline troops.
The new album will be even heavier, displaying and even more devastating guitar attack upon all unsuspecting listeners and fans and Agent Steel enthusiasts in general! On the new album, this guitar team will far surpass the limits of all other performances and certainly out-do themselves again. As they are tracking the most salivating-furious chops with total brutality added thereunto. 

M.I. - Vinicius is Brazilian. It is always good and curious to know that there are international bands out there with Portuguese speakers. Has he ever taught you a few words?

Johnny Cyriis: I speak Portuguese. I am a Brazilian born in Santos, Brazil. However, I left my country when I was very young and I only returned to visit in the late 1990s. I was raised speaking and listening to Portuguese language. I actually speak to Vinicius in Portuguese to practice as unfortunately I do not reside in a Portuguese speaking country. 

M.I. – Picking that theme… How did all the history and secrecy around your roots come about (John)? The place of birth, name, etc.? Some speak of João Campos, others of Jean Pierre Camps ... Do you want to demystify the issue here, once and for all?

Johnny Cyriis: I think I have been dragged through the mud more than just about any other artist in history! I know who the perpetrators of this libel and slander are. But it really doesn’t matter because I ultimately WON!  I finally got to express myself through the best platform of revenge in the Universe. And that platform is “a phonograph record”!
Weaved into the lyrical context of the “Carousel of Vagrant Souls” song, I told them just where to shove their libel and slander of my name and person! Read the lyrics of this song, which appears on the No Other Godz Before Me release and there you can see my message to the M*** F***s! 
What I will say here is: “My name is NOT Joao Campos” and I am a natural born native of Brazil! 
I would like to add and am finally proud to say:  Remember, success is the greatest form of revenge! 

M.I. - I know that for a brief period, you were the lead singer of… Megadeth! Tell that story! Why didn't that continue?

Johnny Cyriis: I was the first ever vocalist of Megadeth but, of course, Dave (Mustaine) fired me because I wrote lyrics about life existing elsewhere. And yet, he went on to include an alien on the cover of Rust in Peace and to write the song “Hangar 18”, which is about aliens. But the two Dave’s turned out to be stand-up gentlemen and good friends, and they were invariably polite and respectful towards me. They particularly expressed admiration for my vocal work too, so it was an absolute pleasure being the first vocalist of Megadeth. A privilege and experience (which excelled my drive to succeed, and which motivated me to launching Agent Steel) that I will cherish for the rest of my days.
And now, it is really disheartening to see the two Dave’s not working together as I saw them from the days of their earliest works, as I’ve always thought of them as being two of one as a metal force, inseparable in many ways. And due to a dumb, scandalous event (coming from misunderstandings), now the truest, purest form of Megadeth I’ve always admired has been separated from one of its kindred souls.

M.I. - What other side projects do the band members have?

Johnny Cyriis: All current Agent Steel members are Full members exclusive to the Agent Steel band. 

M.I. - Coming back to the (next) album you just talked about, when can we expect it?

Johnny Cyriis: There are several songs already completed which my publishers in Tokyo plan on releasing as teaser clips. This next album will be a concept album and is tentatively titled: An Argument with the Devil and God.
The current titles that are final completed songs are:
1- Terminator of Souls
2- The Riddle Man
3- A Sinister Turn of Events 

M.I. - Any concerts planned? At least, for when the pandemic situation improves.

Johnny Cyriis: Working on a full world tour for 2022 and beyond!

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

Johnny Cyriis: Hello denizens of Planet Earth! Be on the lookout for the new era Agent Steel band visiting your towns for a Full Live Cosmic Metal and Lights display, transmitting out and into your Heads and ears, on our 2022 and beyond, world tour! 
Also, be on the lookout for teaser clips from the new album songs —appearing soon— on the official Agent Steel Facebook and webpage. 
The follow-up to the No Other Godz Before Me release, is already in preparation and is tentatively titled “An Argument With the Devil and God”. The new album should see its imminent debut on all streaming platforms including vinyl and digipacks releases are scheduled for release in the Spring of 2022!

M.I. - Again, congratulations on the new album! And thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I hope to see you soon, live, on a stage! Feel free to visit Portugal!

Johnny Cyriis: Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak out on behalf of the true new era Agent Steel band and I hope we can all rock hard and free soon enough, minus Covid and all other restrictions that have stifled the metal masters of the world from delivering the goods! 
Sending a great big  to all in Portugal. The band is looking forward to see you all Live on tour in 2022 and beyond! 

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Ivan Santos