Full House Brew Crew

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Just before the end of the past year, Full House Brew Crew released an amazing album entitled “Me Against You”. The release party is closing in and the founder, composer, guitarist and vocalist Vagelis “Van Ace” Karzis (also bass player in Rotting Christ) is on the other side of the phone. The conversation is a true delight, because it is clear from the beginning that he is a person that will put all his self in what he is doing to achieve the best result possible. Respect! Interview: George Terzakis

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Rockpages.gr: Good morning Van. First of all, tell us how you came up with this unusual name.

Van Ace: Hi, George. The first half came up from a time when we played a lot of poker. We had the band, we have written some songs and doing rehearsals, but we haven’t found a name yet. One day I was winning constantly with full house, so our bass player at that time suggested to name the band after that. It also matters that full house is not the strongest combination in poker and that symbolizes that we are just humans and we don’t define ourselves as the best there is. The second half came up because we were drinking a lot of beers back then and because we believe that nowadays the musicians and fans are more united than ever.

Rockpages.gr: You were founded in 2009 and the first album, “Bet It All” came out in 2011. They year after you joined Rotting Christ, so how active where you during these first years?

Van Ace: The first period wasn’t so much active, but we had some very good gigs. I wasn’t deep in the music industry at that time and I didn’t know the steps I had to take, so we released independently our first album and tried to promote it with the way we knew. We played twice with Spiritual Beggars, also twice with Corrosion Of Conformity and with Greek acts. After that, as you mentioned, I joined Rotting Christ and committed myself there, so it took me at least three years to give the time needed for Full House.

Rockpages.gr: On the plus side, you learned very well how to manage a band.

Van Ace: Obviously, even if the hard part is that I learned stuff of the next level. I didn’t know yet how it is to take a band from the lowest level and move her up. I was low, I went instantly very high, so I didn’t experience the steps between. But if Full House get to the next level, I will know how to manage it.

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Rockpages.gr: Now, in the second album the difference from the first one is obvious. In “Bet It All”, it was just a band who wanted to play heavy music and did it with good results. “Me Against You” on the other hand has clearly more work on it. You can hear it from details like the melodies or even the fact that the semi-acoustic song now is in the middle of the album, and not in the end like before, and serves as an intermission. How long did you take to compose each record?

Van Ace: A good thing is that in both occasions I didn’t have a deadline, so I had all the time available and I can’t recall exactly how long it took me and I didn’t have any record contract to bind me. Now, I know that the next album must be released in 2020. Also, it took me more time because we changed our drummer, with home we had already moved on with the recordings, so we delete everything we had done and started over because I didn’t want to rush into things and regret the final result. So, all this delay wasn’t due to the compositions but with all the rest behind the creation of the album.

Rockpages.gr: So, you changed drummer and also put a second member on guitars. How did this come up as a need?

Van Ace: The truth is that I always wanted a second guitar player. When I was playing live, I had to be so focused and careful and this started to create negative emotions on me. It started stressing me out, because if I made a mistake in the melody or the rhythm parts or the solos, someone could notice it very clearly. Fortunately, we got the chance to cooperate with George Tzatzakis who was already a fan of the band from the first album. He respects the band, he has a lot of passion and is a big help to us all.

Rockpages.gr: What can you say about the lyrics of the album? I hear a lot of cursing in some parts.

Van Ace: It’s basically stuff I have experienced. I write about them but in a way that someone else can connect to that and not in a clear personal way. But there is “Hollow God” that has to do with how people treat a religion as a socio-political phenomenon and not God as an entity. Or, “When I Crossed That Door” that is a certain story about a couple in 1950 in Agios Nikolaos in Crete. The man had leprosy and all the lepers were exiled in a small island called Spinalonga. As he was walking towards the boat that would take him there, his wife run behind him and started ripping her own flesh with her hands to show the others that she also had leprosy and should join him. It’s a story that really touched me.

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Rockpages.gr: Really incredible. As for the feedback of the album, I believe it was quite good, right? It entered easily my top-10 list for 2018. What were your expectations and how Rock Of Angels helped with that?

Van Ace: The label does promotions worldwide, but for us the main market is Europe, U.S.A. and Canada. It is our main focus, because if we start to spread everywhere, we may get lost. There will be time for that after the first steps of the promotion. We also got a deal with a very big booking agency that will be announced soon and have already received offers for European festivals at the end of the year, maybe even a tour. So, one thing leads to another. The label invested in the digipak CD and the vinyl, they made us good videos and all that was checked by the booking agency. The saw the whole work and believed in us that we are capable of taking the next step.

Rockpages.gr: I see that you are usually refer to the views of your videoclip in YouTube (over 100.000 views) and the subscribers in Spotify (over 10.000). Do you think that it’s necessary in our time and shows the status of a band?

Van Ace: For many years we were talking about the record sales or how many people go to live shows. A way to define the status of a band, not the quality, are these numbers. For example, in Spotify this means that 10.000 people listen to you. It is easily measurable in order to compare yourself with another band. That has to do so you can know where you are in the music industry. There are so many bands, more than ever. So, this defines the status, the quality is something that the listener will decide. We are extremely happy because it shows that our music has reached so many ears and the truth is that we didn’t expect something like that.

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Rockpages.gr: So, the first video for “Cannot Be Judged” is already out there. Are there any plans for more?

Van Ace: Yes, another one will soon be ready. I will meet with our director, Leonidas Michelopoulos, who also did our first one to arrange the last details. Hopefully, it will be released just before the release party.

Rockpages.gr: What will be the song behind it?

Van Ace: “Me Against You”.

Rockpages.gr: And what we will see in it? Something similar with the first one or different?

Van Ace: No, it will feature footage from the live show with Planet Of Zeus and Nightstalker on December 29th.

Rockpages.gr: And I was about to ask you about the live shows. How did the people react in this one and also when you opened for Monster Magnet?

Van Ace: The feedback was that they show a band that was absent for a long time and suddenly reappeared extremely prepared. And it seems a bit strange to them. But we worked very hard to be ready for these shows and checked every detail. So, the first one was the surprise of not expecting something like that. The second was the positive reaction about the vibe that we create while on stage. Transferring our energy to the audience, sharing emotions, sharing this thing we call music, having this connection between musician and listener is everything to us.

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Rockpages.gr: To get back to the news for the booking agency and the tours, lets get to the million-dollar question. If Full House continue to receive offers and you realize that you can’t manage them and Rotting Christ at the same time, what will you do? Have you thought about it?

Van Ace: Of course, I have. It will have to do with priorities. Meaning, what is bigger than the other. For example, if I have offers for live shows that aren’t such a big deal, I will pass. But if I have a really good offer, I will discuss it with the guys. If things get bigger and faster, the possibility is that I will choose Full House.

Rockpages.gr: Let’s go the live show that will take place in the 4th of May in Kyttaro. You have announced big surprises. What do you have a mind, if you can give us a hint?

Van Ace: It will be the biggest production we have ever done in a live show. Something that we want very much, like in the video of “Cannot Be Judged”, is that we want our gigs to be impressive. We want to give to the listener more things than the ones he pays for. He won’t come to listen to five songs, but to see a show and have fun. We think of what we want to see from a band as fans, so we start from there. The production will have smoke machined and flames, but not dangerous ones.

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Rockpages.gr: Yes, the venue has a low ceiling so it’s not that easy.

Van Ace: Correct, the guys told me to put whatever I want, but we’ll burn it down so I can’t. Basically, this was the first thing we wanted. We searched for a place to put fire and then thought of everything else, ha-ha.

Rockpages.gr: Only if you play in an open-air fest, there you will have a good chance.

Van Ace: Yes, if we do it will be epic. We will put on the production all the money we’ll receive. Something that we are already doing, we pay in advance all the payment we are going to receive. Same thing will happen now, even if I believe that we won’t get them all back because it will be quite expensive.

Rockpages.gr: Let’s talk about the support bands. What are your thoughts on them?

Van Ace: We wanted a strong line-up and we want to play with band that ourselves like. For Hidden In The Basement, I hear all the time that they do great shows and transfer all their energy to the audience.

Rockpages.gr: True, I saw them last summer in New Long Fest.

Van Ace: You see? Everyone who talks about them has something good to say. Serenity Broken is a band that isn’t well-known, but they have very nice songs. We like cooperating with bands like them, so to deliver a strong-line up with very cheap ticket. They presale costs 6€ and on the spot 8€ and you can see four bands with that money. Of course, the competition is fierce and created the need for this. In the end, I believe that people will think that they saw many good bands with cheap ticket and expensive production. We know that we have to invest in this to make our name bigger.

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