Saturday, May 31, 2014

Interview with After Dusk (2014)

After Dusk is a Greek Gothic Rock band with ten years of history, they are carrying the torch of traditional Gothic Rock in the vein of the most representative classics such as : The Sisters Of mercy, Fields Of The Nephilim, The Mission , Nosferatu, Malaise. After Dusk Has the influence from the best 80’s and 90’s Gothic music and they have developed their own sound. This year Gothic Music Records has released their debut album “End Of Our Days”. This album was in the shadows for almost ten years; and we will talk with them about this, their history as a band, the Greek Gothic Rock scene and more. 

I have read your biography at Facebook; and I guess that you did that step from great fans devoted to traditional Gothic Rock, to musicians. If so, which bands and musicians inspired you to take your respective instruments, and go out to form a band?

John V. : I started playing classical guitar at an early age. My devotion to Gothic Rock began in the early '90s, primarily as a listener and album collector but also as a radio broadcaster. These activities kept me in a constant contact with musical instruments. Later I started playing electric and acoustic guitar and created my first musical ideas, which were kept in my drawer for many years. Today very few people know that part of After Dusk’s musical material has roots that back in time. The other member of the band John “Preacherman DF” K., who played keyboards, was a close friend of mine since back then and in the mid '00s our love for Gothic Rock urged us to create our first musical projects (Phosphoros, Pantheon). After we met Akis L., a truly charismatic musician and singer, we formed "After Dusk".

Leading bands in this specific genre like The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim, influenced us to being actively engaged musicians. In my opinion, landmark album and the most important in the history of Gothic Rock is Sisters' "Vision Thing", though I personally like their earlier albums more. After this album we are talking about “large venue Gothic Rock", because Gothic Rock till then was an underground music movement. With this release this genre entered every house, changing and transforming the way most music bands of 2nd generation will sound in the future.

John “Preacherman DF” K. : We grew up listening to what we today call “traditional gothic rock music” and at some point we decided to form some sort of a band that would enable us to leave our personal mark to the history of this specific genre. Our influences are bands none other than Fields of the Nephilim, The Sisters Of Mercy, Nosferatu, The Mission etc but also many other bands from the 80s, 90s or even newer ones

Akis L. : As far as I am concerned this came to be the other way around. I was studying and playing music way before I heard the genre of “gothic rock” music. I begun studying keyboards, but then switched to guitar. I first studied a bit classical jazz, and rock and on the guitar blues and rock ‘n’ roll. I always had a thing for horror movies, novels and comics so I naturally wanted to play music that would reflect that. I composed various soundtrack-like stuff on the keyboards and later on I played some dark sounding garage,surf and rock ‘n’ roll music of my own that would be similar to what some people today label as “gothabilly”. Sure, there was already dark psychobilly back then but unfortunately I didn’t even know about it! If we had internet back then it would be easier to find out about more music genres and styles. I also started performing semi-professionally in blues, rock and rock ’n’ roll bands (which I actually still do up to this day) Since I started singing in some of these bands I also begun studying vocal technique and taking more music lessons (jazz and classical). Later on I began playing a bit of bass guitar also.

Now back to the main subject: Gothic music. I first got in touch with The Sisters Of Mercy and Fields of The Nephilim, which are of course also quite popular in the “rock crowd”. I didn’t know any “goth people” at that time so I really found out about more goth music after I got some internet access (early slow dial up torturing internet that is). Since, as I have already stated, I was always fond of the dark side of things and music, it’s not much surprise that one of my main things I did online was hunt down dark sounding music. I found out all about the classic goth and dark wave bands, but also some 90s stuff like The Wake, Malaise and XIII. Stoleti (which I treasure). Naturally, I wanted to create and sing music like that but I didn’t know any musicians that would be interested in this genre. So once I met these guys and they told me what they were doing it didn’t take much thought to form an alliance. At this time I also took a keen interested in music production (programming, mixing, mastering) which I practice till today. I disagree with the term “traditional” as far as gothic rock music is concerned. In my opinion its roots don't go that much back in time to actually define a tradition. Due to force of habit I might use this term myself sometimes though...

I feel that Greece has a really strong fan base for Gothic Rock. You have been involved in it as part of the audience, and later as musicians. What can you tell us about your experiences in the local scene?

John V. : The musical tradition of Greece in pure Gothic Rock has its roots in that "golden" era of the early 90s, when a strong core of supporters is formed who enthusiastically participate in musical events of that time. Since then, many were added and many old friends left. The result is that there is always a steady stream of people dealing with this musical genre, I believe at a rate higher than other countries. It is not a coincidence that almost all the major bands regularly visit Greece for concerts.

John “Preacherman DF” K. : Greece has indeed a fanatic crowd that listens to gothic rock. This has been proven at each concert that has taken place in our country. The crowd is always energetic which is not often found at venues in other countries. We support every foreign band that performs in our country since we were very young and sincerely hope we get the same kind of support if we happen to perform live someday.

Akis L. : Since I was not part of the audience as way back as the other two guys I can’t really say much on that. It is interesting to point out however that for a such sunny country with a supposed “endless party” attitude and “Mediterranean temperament” there are quite a lot of dark sounding alternative or underground -or whatever you may call them- bands. For gothic rock in specific we have among others: The Flowers of Romance, Ding an Sich, The Illusion Fades, Opened Paradise, New Zero God, Come with Reverse... quite an impressive list don’t you think? There are also many good bands in other dark music genres in this country. As for the live gigs, you don’t see many “motionless like statue” people in gothic rock concerts in Greece. Even a small crowd can make lots of noise.

When listening to the album the room is filled with the tradition of the best Gothic Rock, at the same time the style of the band is really distinctive. Please, some words about your biggest influences.

John V. : As we have already stated we want our music to be straightforward Gothic Rock. Yes, we don’t hide the "labels". We serve this kind of music with love and devotion so our influences come from most bands which emerged from this type of sound. I wouldn't say any particular band, but we find lots of interesting ideas in most of them.

John “Preacherman DF” K. : If someone cares enough to go through the pages of our album’s booklet can spot a lot of our influences. So there you go, my answer is a small riddle

Akis L. : If I have to name a few that would be The Sisters Of Mercy, Fields Of the Nephilim, The Mission, The Wake, Star Industry, Elusive, The Merry Thoughts, Nosferatu, Dryland, Meridian, Age Of Heaven, XIII. Stoleti, Age of Heaven, The Cult and many more

After Dusk has experienced line-up changes in these 10 years? Or the band has the same members since the early days?

John V. : “After Dusk” have a stable line-up since its birth. First of all we are loyal and trustworthy friends and then band mates.

John “Preacherman DF” K. : Ever since we came across Akis L. as our new member our project was named “After Dusk “and we carry on with a strong faith in what we do

What’s the meaning of the band’s name and the logo?

John V. : Our name is conceptually related to the sound and tradition of alternative music, which was attributed historically as "dark sound" and in which Gothic Rock belongs. The logo is partially inspired by the ancient symbol of "Caduceus" and “the rod of Asclepius". These symbols in mythology have many meanings, among which are health, concord and harmony.

Akis L. : Both the name and logo was John V.'s idea, vision and suggestion. John “Preacherman DF” K. and me really liked it and accepted right away

“End Of Our Days” remained as an unreleased record for more than five years, how do you feel about the fact that this album is finally seeing the light?

John V. : Thanks to the interest and efforts of "Gothic Music Records" this musical material was released and registered in the history of Gothic Rock and we are very pleased with that. We had earlier released a demo-cd named "Primal Memorandum", which was sold out in a short period of time. With the release of "End Of Our Days", everyone has the opportunity to approach our music by listening to a full album distributed worldwide. At this point i would like to thank our friend, musician and producer Bob Katsionis (Firewind, Outloud, ex- Septic Flesh/Nightfall). His help was more than important to us.

John “Preacherman DF” K. : There’s a saying in Greece: “good things take time to happen”. We encountered some difficulties, as most new bands, but thanks to the help of some good friends we managed to come through and create something very good in my opinion

Akis L. : I am glad it finally came out. It felt like having unfinished business with a 13 song unreleased album hidden in our drawers for so many years It certainly took a lot of effort to create this album so its release is a form of closure to me

Do you have any live shows scheduled for the near future?

John V. : Actually we never had the intention to move in this direction and we didn’t try to perform our songs live on stage. In the CD we have recorded/programmed several instruments and in order for this musical material to be efficiently performed on stage we would need at least two additional musicians. We wouldn’t like to have a live concert with many pre-recorded tracks. Lack of time is another problem. Personally my priority is my family, but there is always time for music. Live performances are something that we will consider for the future.

Akis L. : No plans for live gigs as of yet but I will not rule out such a possibility for the future

Talking about Gothic Rock; can you mention at least five of your favorite albums from the 80’s; and some of your favorite albums from the 90’s?

John V. : My favorite albums are a lot, but if I had to choose between some from the Gothic Rock scene, these would be:

- The Sisters Of Mercy: First and Last and Always
- Fields Of The Nephilim: The Nephilim
- The Cult: Love
- The Damned: Phantasmagoria
- The Sound: From The Lions Mouth
90’s really many many albums, between them:
- The Sisters Of Mercy: Vision Thing
- The Merry Thoughts: Millennium Done I: Empire Songs
- The Wake: Masked
- Star Industry: Iron Dust Crush
- Malaise: Fifty Two Ways

John “Preacherman DF” K. : I will skip the decades and just list my 15 albums of all time  if that's ok with you:

1.Fields Of The Nephilim : Elizium
2.Sisters Of Mercy: First And Last And Always...
3.The Mission: God's own Medicine
4.The Merry Thoughts: Millennium Done I: Empire Songs
5.Dreadful Shadows - Estrangement
6.Rosetta Stone: An Eye For The Main Chance
7.Nosferatu: Rise
8.Love like Blood: Odyssee
9.Malaise: Fifty Two Ways
10.Star Industry: Iron Dust Crush
11.The Wake: Masked
12.Garden of Delight: Necromanteion IV
13.Elusive: Destination Zero
14.Age of Heaven: Armageddon
15.Red Sun Revival: Running from the dawn

Akis L. :
From the 80’s:
The Sisters Of Mercy: Floodland
The Sisters Of Mercy: First And Last And Always
Fields of the Nephilim: Dawnrazor
Fields of the Nephilim: The Nephilim
Sisterhood: Gift
The Mission: God’s Own Medicine

From the 90’s:
The Wake: Masked
Fields Of The Nephilim: Elizium
The Sisters Of Mercy: Vision Thing
XIII. Stoleti: All of their albums (but not their “political” views)
Love Like Blood: An Irony Of Fate
Malaise: Fifty Two Ways
Nosferatu: Rise
The Merry Thoughts: Millennium Done I: Empire Songs
Suspiria: Primitive Attentions
Star Industry: Iron Dust Crush
Rosetta Stone: Adrenaline
Meridian: Sundown Empire
Funhouse: The Second Coming
Paralysed Age: Empire Of The Vampire
Garden Of Delight: Sargonid Seal
Age of Heaven: Armageddon
Elusive: Destination Zero

And talking about bands of today, which ones do you like?

John V. : I admire bands which are still active over time having cd releases and live performances. Among my favorites are Malaise, because Martin Danielsson is a musical genius and Star Industry, because their songs have amazing structure and they perform like a well-tuned machine.

John “Preacherman DF” K. : There are many bands of today that impress me. Among them are Aeon Sable, Canis Lupus, Red Sun Revival, Angels of Liberty, Arts of Erebus and many more

Akis L. : When you say “bands of today” I take it that you mean bands that have been founded in the recent years (and not older bands that are still active up to this day). So my favorites are definitely Angels Of Liberty and Merciful Nuns (though one could say they are just a reformed Garden of Delight, but to me they still have to be considered a new band)

I really like the album and I want to hear more songs from After Dusk, Do you have some new stuff in the making?

John V. : There is plenty of unreleased material (not in a complete song form) that for various reasons was not included in our CD, as well as some covers of favorite songs of ours. Time will tell if this material will be released. We're considering the possibility of producing some new songs. However, it is very likely that you'll listen to some new music projects as well, that I could consider as side-projects of After Dusk, in which some of our members participate.

John “Preacherman DF” K. : We have lots of ideas that might lead to a future release but it will still take some time. Patience is a virtue...

Akis L. : I always compose stuff and play music to myself. But composing music for ones personal enjoyment, exaltation, expression etc is one thing and producing an album is another. It takes quite an amount of working hours and some funds as well. I cant say that I am motivated enough to go through that process again for the time being, but who knows what the future may hold?

Please some words about your lyrical themes in the music of After Dusk?

John V. : Some of the songs lyrics were created entirely by Akis L. For the rest of them we contributed by suggesting some directions and ideas and sat down to create the lyrics word by word with him. We try to refer to certain situations as neutral observers and we let the listeners draw their own conclusions. In some songs where I gave a few ideas and directions about the concept of the lyrics I tried to express optimism, hope, love, etc. I personally don’t like misery and frustration. To me if Gothic Rock has something to boast about, that's the dynamism, the pompous and grandiose. Not the melancholy that is usually found in other dark music genres.

John “Preacherman DF” K. : I will again ask you to go through our album's booklet. There are symbols and images that give some clues to direct you to our approach of some of the songs' meanings

Akis L. : For the song lyrics that are solely my creations, “The Seas Of Infinity” is obviously a tribute to H.P. Lovecraft and “Ghouls in Disguise” deals with the subject of atheism/agnosticism. I will let the listeners try to figure out the meaning of my other songs “Under Dismay” and “End of Our Days” and also all the others which were created by the three of us together. Please excuse me for being just a little cryptic!. I think that if a band wishes to be labeled as gothic their lyrics should be somewhat dark. Not necessarily overly depressive or always about the occult, horror stories etc but still dark. For a romantic love song one could go through decades of pop music or tons of other genres as well. Some people use the broad term “dark alternative” for a large category that contains many “dark” genres”. I believe that in order for this term to be solid it should offer a true dark alternative to mainstream musical genres in every possible way, lyrics included.

And finally, some words to the audience of This Is Gothic

John V. : We don’t feel no contamination. First and last and always... Gothic Rock!

John “Preacherman DF” K. : I would like to thank Oskar for all the great work he has done with Gothic Music Records. Many bands have finally found their home. I really hope things continue to be like this. Listeners of Gothic Rock should support the new bands and each effort in this area. People need to carry on listening to the music they love
Keep the gothic fire burning!

Akis L. : I'd like to thank anybody who takes the time to listen to our music and also anyone who supports this scene. In order for any scene to be kept alive people should offer support to the bands in every possible way (buying albums, digital downloads, merchandise and supporting them at live shows). Without support from the fans nothing can live on.
Keep it sur-real and dark!