NIGHTRAGE - Marios Iliopoylos

With the release of the new album of Nightrage we found the opportunity to speak with the Greek leader, composer and author of the band Marios Iliopoylos. And this is what he told us about the new album “A New Disease Is Born”, on the continuous changes of the members of the band, what is really the band of Nightrage while he comments the Swedish and Greek metal scene.\r\n
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\r\n\r\nLet’s start with the new album, “ A New Disease Is Born”. Basically a lot of things have changed, first of all the sound seems to me a little bit more melodic and the guitar parts must had been worked a lot more.\r\n

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\r\nYes, that is true, somehow our sound became a little bit more…I wouldn’t say conventional but a little more melodic because I gave also the chance to the other guys that were in the band, to write songs and lyrics. Because I wanted, you know, to have the feeling of a band. Basically I am the main person in charge for all the music and the lyrics but the other guys contributed as well and this is the first album on which I’ve worked so much with the guitars, for 22 days day and night with Jacob Hansen, and I tried to achieve the better result. But I believe that generally the style of Nightrage, according to the old albums, has not changed by no means, that is to say we continue to keep this heavy, melodic sound which we have defined as a band.\r\n

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\r\nYou’ve also changed a studio? \r\n

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\r\nYes, we left Studio Fredman for the first time after four albums that I’ve made over there, two with Excumation and two with Nightrage because Fredrik didn’t have a lot of time too, he was very occupied and Jacob Hansen was a very good choice, and I know him from the days of the album Break and Silence way back, and who has made some very good productions and lately with some well known bands as Fear my Thoughts and generally some pretty known bands of the genre and he was a very good choice for Nightrage, he worked hard in the studio, he liked the music and I believe the result that came out, vindicates the name that he possess at this moment.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nSo I guess you are very pleased.\r\n

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\r\nYes, I’m very pleased. I could tell you that the levels that we worked on, the production, the quality level is the same and even better than Fredman’s.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nAt some point in the past you stated that your previous record company, Century Media, had lost its faith in you. Was this the reason that you left?\r\n

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\r\nThe record company had lost the interest in Nightrage, you know, they have this policy to work in some other way. Generally they throw their money in high-profiled bands. In fact lately they dismissed many bands from their roster. Of course, I don’t blame them, ok, I am very thankful for what they’ve done so far with Nightrage, that is to say they released two albums and they made a name out of us and we’ve worked very much for this but I believe it was a wrong movement from their side to stop the collaboration with Nightrage because we came back with a third album which is even better. But ok we are very pleased now with our new company Lifeforce records, which is of course a smaller company generally in the dynamics but we are their priority and I believe this is the best for a band like Nightrage.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nWhat is the feedback from the fans and the press alike?\r\n

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\r\nThe feedback is quite good although I believe that perhaps some people reacted with the fact that the band somehow changed in some points its sound due to the contribution of the other members, whom in any case I wanted to give them the opportunity to write but I believe people really liked the album and we had some very good reviews from the press and generally over the internet and we have had quite a few lives. We did a really good tour with Mnemic and some festivals during the summer and we have already began to collaborate with a nice booker from Germany, Dragon Productions, which wishes to make also some other lives with Nightrage, like a European tour and we also discuss for an American tour and also for a Japanese tour in the future. I take daily e - mails from America, Canada, Australia and from countries you wouldn’t even think about and we have a very good fan base in Canada and in Germany.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nWhat was the relation between the title of the album and the fact that there was a new lineup in the band?\r\n

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\r\nLook, this title was a line that existed in the lyrics of the track “Drag” of our second album “Descent into Chaos” and generally we thought that it suits with the concept, with what we wanted to give as a band in the third album and because at that time the members were pretty new and in order to show generally that we return with an album that even after the difficulties that we‘ve been through and since we left from Century Media, that we continue as a band to produce the same work and quality we‘ve always placed as a goal from the first moment that we‘ve started as a band.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nYou didn’t write all the lyrics by yourself, isn’t that so?\r\n

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\r\nNot this time. Like I told you I gave the opportunity to the other members as well to write. I wrote half of the lyrics in the album and the other half were done by Ηenric.\r\n

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\r\nWhat is the theme they are dealing with?\r\n

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\r\n Well, generally I write mostly about the dark side of human soul in my lyrics. About how do I see the world, all the situations, mostly about human situations like things that all of us have to deal with and generally I try to attribute all those with a more poetic manner. I am, you know, a big and fanatic reader of Edgar Alan Poe, I read Poe a lot, a famous poet of previous century, who is a great influence for me and generally I believe that this kind of lyrics are the right fit for the music of Nightrage, which is sad and has sentiments. And I want them to be genuine and not based on imagery themes.\r\n

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\r\nBasically it is known that Nightrage is your own creation but you are also and the only initial member.\r\n

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\r\nYes I am the only remaining original member of the band. I was the one who was always there for Nightrage, that is something that no one can take away from me, thus, at least.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nHowever how much do you consider that these changes do help the band to advance?\r\n

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\r\nWell, certainly it is not the best thing to change members but I believe this was the only way for Nightrage in order to survive. These changes had to be done so that Nightrage could be able to stand on their feet, otherwise we wouldn’t exist now as a band, I believe. If I had been disappointed by the first album or the second one when we were changing members, right now I wouldn’t write music for Nightrage or even I would have quit, I do not know. But like I said I am not that kind of person and I want to continue this vision and the idea and I hope very much, if there is a god, that from now on we will be able to show to people that, yes, Nightrage has a steady lineup. Perhaps this will take us much more time than the other bands had to, but what can we do, life is hard. My wish is certainly to have a reliable lineup because I‘ve been through a lot of difficulties here as a foreigner and there isn’t a good understanding generally and people are…you know, there is no honesty from those people, you can’t trust the people that you find to collaborate with, you know, it is hard but I believe that from now on things will change in the potential of Nightrage. Naturally this is a very bad thing to happen, it’s not good to change members but I want to continue with Nightrage because I am the creator that writes the songs and makes all the work and I just want to find people that would want to play metal and who love what they are doing.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nAren’t you a little bit disappointed about all these?\r\n

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\r\nI’m a little disappointed, I’ve been through a lot, all seven years that I live here in Sweden I’ve met a lot of difficult situations and generally I haven’t still found what I was looking for but I don’t give up, because, ok, like I said I love to play metal and I don’t do it for any other reasons, neither to make money, nor to be glorified. I like to play this music I’ve always played since many years back and the difficult part is that in nowadays people are more interested in money than in love for the music, you understand? The situations have changed, they aren’t like in the older days and it is very difficult to find persons that they really mean what they are doing.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nYou seem kind of angry;\r\n

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\r\nNo, just disappointed, I am quite disappointed, generally with the situation that prevails in the metal scene at this moment, perhaps I was a little bit unlucky also, you know, when you are a strange man in a strange country, you know, you get jealousy, there are people that can’t put their faith on a Greek. Greeks as you understand don’t actually have such a good reputation abroad although I believe that there are some really good musicians, that make some nice movements in order to achieve a high level for Greece and I believe that we are also a bunch of those musicians who try with our work and our achievement to put Greece on a high position in the metal map. But as you understand living in a foreigner country, I have faced jealousy, I have faced malice, I have faced a lot of things, that could dissolve somebody but, ok, I believe that I am a strong character and I continue to do what I love.\r\n

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\r\nIs it true that Fotis left because you wanted to create a more Swedish background?\r\n

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\r\nFotis is still my friend and at this moment Septic Flesh are also at the Fredman studios and they write their new album and I go there every night and hang out and talk with them. Fotis simply left because distance was a problem and generally with the tickets and stuff like that there’s been an economic problem and the guy wanted to deal and to play only with his bands in Athens. There is no problem, we are still friends, we help each other, even though you never know what will happen in the future.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nWhat I want to say is that your direction is mostly into Swedish musicians?\r\n

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\r\nNot really, I could have a Belgian or Finnish or an American person in the band and we could be something like a multi cultural band, and you could describe it as a Greek/Belgian/Finnish/American band (laughs). The important thing is not the different nationalities but to all aim the same common goal and that is to love playing metal, this is the basic reason that we exist in this music and we continue according to this protractor.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nA lot of people believed that that when Tomas Lindberg and Gus G left, the future of Nightrage seemed uncertain forgetting that the music was almost exclusively your own affair. What do you have to say on this?\r\n

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\r\nWhat I have to say is that this band is the band of Marios, because I created this band, I worked for this band. Neither Gus, nor Tuomas have worked so much to make what I have made, I mean I have spat blood in order to reach up to where I am. I live seven years in a foreign country just to follow my dream. Of course most of the people did not know that, from the beginning. Everyone believed that because Tuomas has a bigger name than mine, that this was one of his band but I can clearly tell you that Tuomas simply, and of course I thank him very much for this, helped Nightrage so that some people can turn their faces and look in our direction but all the work has been my responsibility. Not even Gus who is my best friend had the time to deal with it as much as I did. He had other things to attend to and generally this was not the style of music that he would like to play anyway. I am also grateful to Gus, because he helped me a lot and especially in the first steps of Nightrage but this is the band of Marios. I worked for this band, I spat blood, I am the one that brought the band where it is and that is something that people should learn about.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nYes, because at first you were characterized as a super band, and later on as a project.\r\n

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\r\nNightrage simply is my band and I want to have good people in it, cool guys that love what they are doing and love playing metal and that we have a good time, give some great shows and give pleasure to our fans. This is our next goal for the moment.\r\n

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\r\nGoing back to your new album. It seemed to me that this time you kinda have a modern sound.\r\n

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\r\nYes, perhaps this is because we somehow changed the mentality in the style of the songs and due to the fact that we changed studio. Even though I believe that, according to my own opinion, the sound and the feeling of Nightrage still exists, it is still there. There are tracks like Death-Like Silence or Encircle and Surge of Pity that are clearly Nightrage songs, and there are other songs like Spiral or Reconcile or Condemned Club which are more this way, you know, they tend to the modern sound but still maintaining this classic feeling that Nightrage have.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nBecause from what I know your musical influences come mostly from old school metal.\r\n

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\r\nWell, yes, I was raised with Iron Maiden, with Mercyful Fate, Def Leppard, Ozzy, things like that, and these are and my influences. I can’t tell you that I was listening to death metal when I started to hear music. I can tell you that I was listening to Asia and Queen, these were my favorite bands when I was child but I try accordingly, you know, with the hearings that I have, along with the new hearings that exist to make a good alloy out of it. I try to have some qualitative heavy metal in the music of Nightrage but also some brutal death metal like some new bands. I mean I try to make a good mix with melody and at the same time to create a more original sound. Even if in our days as you understand it is very difficult to create an original sound. Everything has been played but I think that if there is an inspiration you still can write a few nice songs.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nYou have been told as the successors of At The Gates. Do you believe that with this new album you still keep this title?\r\n

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\r\nI don’t think so, from the moment that Tuomas left the band, this label that was attached to Nightrage has gone and I can tell you that I was glad for this, because I think that many of the fans finally realized that this band was not just a bad copy of At The Gates or something like that. This band simply has a person in it named Marios, who works very hard in order to be there for the fans and I believe that our fans understood that with this third album and many of them also gave us some credit for this.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nThe clean parts of Strimmel’s vocals at some points reminded me a little bit of the american metalcore, was this something that came out in the process or did it happen full consciously?\r\n

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\r\nThis is something that in the beginning I was against to. I don’t listen to american metalcore at all or whatever you want to name it, I don’t listen to that kind of music, it just happened that Jimmie had some certain ideas about the clean vocals, which he told us and, since I wanted to be a little bit more open, you know, I don’t want to be a dictator in the band. As you understand I wanted the guys to feel that they are team of the band and I accepted those ideas. And I think they didn’t harm the band either, I believe they brought a different style although in the next album we will not have as much clean vocals as in this one. Of course proportionally with the songs that will be written but as you understand we always try to write good songs. I don’t care if they will have clean or dirty or whatever vocals, we just always try to write good songs that we like them first of all ourselves.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nIs there any new material for your next album?\r\n

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\r\nRight now there is nothing at all and you know with all what has happened lately I wasn’t so much in an inspiration mood, not to mention that we had many lives but I think that we will begin to write soon here in Gothenburg, Sweden and hopefully we will enter the studio for our next album late 2008.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nThe festival in Larissa was an unfortunate moment for Nightrage because of the bad weather. Later you returned to Greece for the Metal Healing Festival in Xanthi but from what I’ve heard there were some small problems there as well, am I correct?\r\n

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\r\nGenerally there were problems in the Metal Healing festival, I believe that the guy that tried to organize the festival didn’t manage it all that well, they were deficiencies, there were certain holes that not even this guy himself wasn’t able to fill in. Ok, I don’t want to say anything negative, I hope he didn’t lose a lot of money because I think that the people didn’t support him either the way they supposed to, from what I saw, but I believe it was a good movement to make this live and generally so that there is no more only the monopoly that Athens has with the classic festivals that take place over there. But the mistake goes also with the people since their support wasn’t good enough, and that was a big mistake. We went once again over there even though they cut seven tracks from our setlist, we played only five songs and, ok I do not have to say anything negative. Nightrage play because they love their fans and they will perform even for one person only. There will be no problem from our side, it’s just that I believe it could be better organized, because I heard that many bands had complaints, lots of them.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nThat’s what I’ve read also\r\n

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\r\nWell, I hope next time that he will attempt to do it again it will be more organized, there will be more people to work for him and generally it is not a good thing to exist such problems, definitely it is not helpful for the scene. Although I believe that in Greece whatever you try to do it never gets the people’s support, there is that bizarre mindset.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nThere is the mindset of the fans that protest for not being so many gigs and when they are at the end no one goes.\r\n

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\r\nThey haven’t been supported by any one, you know? You go to a live and there is no one, I wonder who is to blame for this? Maybe we fans ourselves are to blame also? This is what I sit down and wonder.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nAnd then on January 26 you will perform in Athens.\r\n

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\r\nWe play on January 26 at the An club with the support bands Nordor and Insidead. And I am very happy that we will have the opportunity to play a whole setlist in Greece because in Larissa as you know we didn’t play because of the heavy rain and unfortunately the live was cancelled. This was an unfortunate time for us but I hope this live will be a great one and all our Greek friends will enjoy it.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nIs this the first time that you will perform in Athens?\r\n

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\r\n In Athens, yes, it will be our first live\r\n

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\r\n\r\nAre there any other live dates yet?\r\n

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\r\nRight now we have only some discussions, we have certain offers from some festivals in some tours and we want to make a European tour in January but nothing isn’t confirmed yet, we are simply discussing all that.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nWhat I would like to ask you is what are the best memories you have from the time of Excumation and which are those that you wouldn’t like to remember at all?\r\n

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\r\nThe best memories I believe are the albums that we’ve made, they were very good albums and even now sometimes I sit and listen to them. Surely I have some bitter memories because that band didn’t end up with the best memories. I think it had a future but the people that were in this band didn’t want it so much, they wanted to make other things in their life. I wish them the best, even if we haven’t spoken with each other over seven years, we haven’t spoken since then and I forgive them for all that they have done against me, there is no problem. Life goes on. I want to remember the good moments we had together, the work that we’ve had, the albums that we’ve made, the travels, all those things and I feel good listening to the albums of Excumation. There is no bitterness.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nMaybe it was just an inglorious end for a band that had gained such a really good name.\r\n

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\r\nIt was a pretty good step but generally the magazines in Greece weren’t all that supportive to us, they turned their back on us and I believe they didn’t give the appropriate support to Excumation although I believe we truly deserved it because we were making such a good work but, you know, the time will reveal the truth. Maybe later on some other fans will listen to them and will appreciate them duly.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nDo you believe that there is always the probability for the Greek metal scene to come out at some point from the swamp of improvisation and the lack of professionalism?\r\n

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\r\nEven now if you think about it, and look around you, the same old bands that were in the ’90s, they are the same bands around. We haven’t seen some new bands continuing this work like Rotting Christ or Septic Flesh, and all these bands are doing. I don’t see any new bands with the same and proportional passion and talent and that makes me wonder what goes wrong. There is a lot of coffee shop in Greece and generally no work at all and bands that would think in a more mature way and make some serious movements to show their music to the outside world and take a notch up the Greek metal scene. Personally I would love that very much but unfortunately in Greece there is no such thing as metal structure, you understand how we are, we are a society of the bouzouki, I mean there are other styles of music that the Greek people are fond of listening to. I believe that metal is being derided. In Greece if you play metal they spit on you while in Sweden they kiss you, how could I say it. Unfortunately we do not have a rock and roll mindset, we are not rock people. We haven’t grown with that, we are not the same as a Swede who listens to Iron Maiden since the age of 5 years old. When we were given birth, we grew up having the sound of the bouzouki in our heads and you know this is one additional bad thing that we have taken from the Turks, that we could never open our ears to other types of music and I would say that this is a very sad thing.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nDo you believe that this is the reason that the Swedish death metal scene is still so much strong and flourishing?\r\n

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\r\nIt is strong because people over here have got structure, there are studios, the people are different, more open minded, they listen to other styles of music as well. Of course they have their local music but they are open with other styles of music as well, they accept them and they judge them and they really like them, I mean their mindset is quite different from the one in Greece. In Greece if you play something different from what all the others are listening to, the mass, if you are not a sheep then they criticize you, they put you in the corner. Regardless if it is metal, or pop, or reggae, or classical music. I do not know, I believe there is a wrong mindset in the young people as well. They don’t give them the chance in Greece to go up, to do something, their dream. I mean there are talents, there are fantastic musicians in Greece but unfortunately they have remained there, up to where they have gone so far. I believe we have not been able to have a big band in metal up to now. Except perhaps Rotting Christ and I respect them for this, they really have accomplished great things.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nYet in Sweden there is a much more competition, isn’t it?\r\n

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\r\nIt exists and this is good because that makes you become even better. When there is a good competition, I like the competition, I like having ten bands that are better than mine because I learn from them and I try to reach them and this way I become better, you know? But in Greece unfortunately when someone sees that someone else is better and is working instead of helping him rise even higher, they bury him out of jealousy, malice, I do not know out of what. We have this bad habit in Greece.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nTherefore how much easy it is for Nightrage to maintain in the publicity with all the competition that exists there?\r\n

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\r\nLooked I am pleased with the fact that Nightrage exist, that they are alive, that we can go out to play in concerts, to release albums and this is my only pleasure. Now if we are to become better or worst or wherever we may go, it is not my interest by no means. What I care about is to release some good albums and be well with what we are making. And then there is time for everything.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nSo this is your ambition for Nightrage;\r\n

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\r\nYes, my ambition is to make good music, to play in concerts, to have a good time and that’s about it. I do not have any ambition to become the best band in the whole world.\r\n

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\r\n\r\nDo you ever think the possibility to return at some point permanently to Greece?\r\n

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\r\nThat, yes, is a thought that crossed my mind many times, I am seven years here in Sweden, things are hard, life is hard, the climate is difficult. People are different, as you understand. I don’t believe that I will leave my bones here. At some point I believe that I will return to Greece simply I do not know when. And you know for me it will be difficult again to do a new beginning, if I return to Greece. I‘ve made lots of things here, but that thought really crosses my mind constantly. I miss Greece, I miss my friends, my neighborhood, all those things that I’ve grown up with, I miss them a lot but I make a sacrifice because I wanted for Nightrage to have a bigger chance in music business, you know?\r\n

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\r\n\r\nDo you want to add something that I haven’t asked you, something you would like to say or to comment?\r\n

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\r\nYes, I would like to say a big thanks to you and the metalzone webzine for the concession of this interview, I hope we will talk up closely and we wait for our performance in Greece to see all of our friends closely and to give our best live, to give everything for them.\r\n

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\r\nVaso "Necromass" Prassa \r\n

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