Joey DeMaio worked with Sakis Tolis of Rotting Christ and famous Greek actors on an “Odyssey” inspired epic from Manowar’s upcoming album

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Last Monday, November 15th Release Athens Festival held a press conference with Manowar bassist and founding member Joey DeMaio about the bands upcoming show in Greece in June 2022.

During the press conference it was revealed that the band worked with Rotting Christ’s frontman Sakis Tolis on a song inspired by “Odyssey”, which features a narration in Ancient Greek language by two famous and established Greek actors, Kostas and Konstantinos Kazakos, who are actually father and son.

Jimmy “Immortal” one of Manowar’s crue, who is Greek, and also a friend of Joey’s was also present making the introductions and actually being the connective link between the American metal band and the Greek metalers.

DeMaio talked about the band’s upcoming show at Release Athens Festival on June 22nd, 2022, as well as the setup of the stage, which is going to be the biggest the band had ever performed in the country, plus the concept of the song about the classic epic poem immortalized by Homer, “Odyssey”.

Below, you can check out a transcript of the entire interview and watch two clips, a teaser for the show in Athens and the making of the song.

Sakis Tolis: I was asked to translate a text from English into Ancient Greek, which is very difficult. It is already difficult to translate it into Greek as a matter of fact. So, I asked my wife and some friends for help and during the summer we sat down for five days to do the translation and I think from what I heard at least it turned out very well. It is a great honor for me to be able to participate in a work by Joey, as Manowar is one of my favorite bands. Of course, I am impressed by what the father and son Kazakos did! Is he here to call him? I was really impressed with how they were performing. It’s epic!

Konstantinos Kazakos: From a young age I was a metalhead. As most of you know these colours don’t run. I’m an actor, but I’m also a musician and Manowar were my childhood heroes. So, working with them was a childhood dream come true. It was a divine gift. As soon as this proposal was presented to me, I jumped from joy and said “yes”. I think we’ve done something good, something beautiful. I am expecting to hear it too (laughs) but it will clearly be epic. My father played the role of Odysseus and I took the role of Telemachus. We played father and son. It was very interesting. It is an overview of “Odyssey” through the eyes of Telemachus. Once you listen to this you can judge by yourselves, but I want to tell you that it was a great experience to work with Joey, who is a great guy. Apart from being a musician, he is an awesome director. He can guide an actor, he is very descriptive, explaining exactly what he wants. We had a wonderful time.

Sakis Tolis: I was shocked too, I have worked with a lot of people but he is on another level of professionalism; I was shocked by how much everything was on time and how much passion and love he had on what he does. I believe that if you love what you do, your creation leaves its mark and I think that it will also leave its mark. We are talking about Manowar, it is no coincidence that they have become who they are after all these years. Really, I took a lesson in my 50s!

Konstantinos Kazakos: There was passion, at the time we did this… you had to bleed as we say… you had to erupt…

Sakis Tolis: He used to say to Telemachos… “you come in and you have to kill… but, oh they fuck your wife! Make it more real”, I was moved… the way he said it was really something that wakes you up and gives you intensity and I remember that you said it much better in the 2nd take!

Konstantinos Kazakos: Oh, thank you very much! And in the meantime I had to explain to my father who is Manowar! I said “do you remember some posters I had in my room when I was 15-16?” he goes “okay, you had many”! My room was full of posters! You could barely see the walls. I told him “there were these guys on the top right”, he tells me “I do not remember”, so I explained to him and he was very happy and he really wanted to do it for a band that exists from the beginning of heavy metal and is the band that I also listened to as a kid. I think we have done something good.

Joey DeMaio: Sorry, I am late I was drinking some tsipouro! I am practicing… if I was in America I would say “Odysseas” that’s the way everybody is saying but I know it’s “Osysseus”, I’ve been practicing my Greek because next time I’d be here to play –not tonight- I would speak Greek, so I am practicing every day, so when we play here in the future I can say a few words, they might not be perfect, but I’d do it out of love and respect and people find humor in my bad Greek! So, why not entertain?

Thanks to my dear friend Jim, we found our way to Greece in 1992. I know most of you were very young to remember that, but we were lucky enough to find such a great audience, and such a great country. I feel blessed for the very day when I was 10 years old and I was given the book “The Odyssey” to read, that changed my life forever! I always believed that those stories were based on people that did great deeds and like in life it’s always hard to do the right thing, it’s never easy, but that’s what brings the rewards in here (shows his heart).

And so, I was fortunate enough to come to Greece with the whole feeling that I gained, plus after reading the “Odyssey” and did a record “Triumph And Steel”, which I dedicated to Greece. After playing the festival last year, I just could not believe that the fans had become more and more and stronger, stronger… the audience and all the love and all the emotion came out, so I said maybe now is the time to approach this big work and the “Odyssey” is such bigger than the “Iliad”, I guess you all know it better than I would ever and I just was so amazed with what Jim was able to find, not only a translator, but a translator and a friend, Sakis, who –believe me- suffered and his wife suffered with me, like no one is supposed to suffer. He translated it, not only in Greek, but also ancient Greek and the next stop was that he put us in touch with this amazingly young guy (pointing at K. Kazakos) and his “young” father and it was like the greatest gift. It must have been like when Francis Ford Coppola had all those great actors to make “The Godfather”, it would be hard to make a bad movie. So, for me it was just like a blessing to be in Stamos’ fantastic studio. And to have all my friends around me and of course him (pointing at Sakis) helping me with his beautiful translation of the text and hear him (pointing at K. Kazakos) speak with his father, his real father… the part of Telemachus and the father speaking back as Odysseus. I can tell you, not only me, but everybody in the studio the hair was up on their arms. Everybody looked like a bear or a dog that day. And it was something that I just can’t forget. That’s what I have to say!

Joey DeMaio: (coming back to Greece for a show after 2019) it’s a combination of a challenge, because the last show was probably the best in Greece. Not that the band played any better that we always try to give 100%, but I think being able to see from the stage the look on the face of everybody there it looked as they were rewarded after years of believing in the band and fighting against all that negativity and all the “malakas” that tried to put Manowar down, all the jealous assholes. For them I could see the vindication of “wow! Look at the stage, look at the knights, listen to that sound, listen to this music. We were right, this people really love us and believe in us. It’s hard to tap that feeling. So, half of it was really exciting, but also it’s a  big challenge, because when you do something good you can’t repeat it. There is no way, you can never do the same thing twice and do it better. So, the challenge was if we return, when we return it has to be bigger. And it has to be better and that’s a challenge.

  • So what should the fans expect from this show?

Joey DeMaio: Well, we finally have found a partner, a festival, the promoter that we didn’t ever think we could find, we’ve been lucky in the past with the people we worked with in Greece, we worked with some good people in Greece, so I can’t say we had some bad experience, but I think that we found someone now that I think understands that the thing we do is based on the fact that we are not going to make our fans suffer in any way, for anyhting Our fans is the life blood of the band, it’s what we are living for and if you are working with someone who understand how the band feels and if they feel that way and understand that without the fans we would be nothing. We would have nothing, we are nothing. A lot of magazines doesn’t understand that, televisions, radio stations… promoters they don’t think of the fans as being here and the rest of us as being here. Without the fans what would the band have? They would have been some assholes playing in their bedroom. And if you don’t understand that and you don’t understand how important somebody who is dedicated to your life and your music is and that without them you wouldn’t have an existence professionally speaking. It’s a big statement and this people really feel that and I know the are sincere, because we really put them to the test last year with the sound, the lights, the PA, the level of professionalism that was expected and they didn’t disappoint us. I went for dinner with them last night and they asked me “did we have any problems?” and I said “well, not really problems…” so, they asked my “is there something else you want?” and I said “well, we would like a much bigger PA system, we’d like to be louder and clearer. And they said “yeah, OK we’ll do it”. I said “could the stage be bigger?” they said yes, and I said “I hope so, because we are bringing a lot more stuff than last time” and they said “OK, we’ll build it as big as we possible can”. So, when you have that kind of attitude and that feeling it presents everybody with the possibility of a nice experience and that’s all that I really care about: that the fans enjoy themselves, everybody is safe and has a great time, so, that’s what it’s going to be.

  • So, can you talk about the setlist and the set up? It’s going to be a massive set up…

Joey DeMaio: We are trying to do something new that we’ve never dome. We are trying to take the whole stage and make it look like it’s a movie screen. So, everywhere that you look you’d see the band disappear in a way, although that we would be on stage, but the projection of what we are putting on the screen will be completely all inclusive. That’s going to be extremely difficult, but we have some great people from all over the world working on this project, so we think that it’s going to be an experience both visual and sonically, which is going to be the biggest than anything we’ve ever done here in Greece for sure!

Questions from the media…

  • How would you like Manowar to be remembered?

Joey DeMaio: I would like to be remembered as the band that never gave in or kissed the ass of record companies, TV, radio, managers, companies, agents, anybody that tried to take the purity of our music and dilute it in anyway… financially, quality-wise… I’d like to think that we’d be as a band that stood up and fought for the fans no matter what it took.

Rockpages.gr: Have you seen or heard the next band that will take the baton from Manowar?

Joey DeMaio: When we are gone, and I hope that’s not for a long time, nobody will take over from what we are, because it would be like saying somebody is taking over from Pavarotti, or Maria Calas, or any of the great artists that established themselves as being one of a kind and unique. With those artists there’s only been one and no one can take their place . And I think with Manowar we are very unique who we are and not just with our music but also in our feeling. Also, as I said defending the honor of the fans. I don’t think that another band will ever be like us. There’s always going to be other bands and other music, but there’s only one Manowar!