Suicidal Angels

Historic moment. After several months that seemed like years, the live shows seem to start with the Urban Athens Festival in Technopolis. Suicidal Angels will do their part on July 1st and, of course, we had to have a discussion with them about the concert and various other issues around the band. The man behind the drum kit, Orpheas Tzortzopoulos, was very cheerful, happy and honest with us. Interview: George Terzakis Let’s start with what the band has been doing since the end of the world began. Topic one, concerts. Last show in Athens was on January 11, 2020. What did you do, if you did something, the rest of the year?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: We had some shows in Greece, we had played in Athens, Ioannina, Patras, Volos. We had planned some in Crete and Thessaloniki but they were canceled. Then we did a European tour with Destruction and we just managed to come back, since the next day everything was closed. After that, nothing. Unemployed. The financial part is very important for bands like you, who live from concerts and tours, right? What impact did this have on you?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: The financial can be solved. It is also the psychological part I believe. That is, from the moment we returned from the tour, we were not in the mood to do anything. Permanently inside the house, we could neither rehearse nor practice on our own. Of course it was not just us, a lot of people did not have good psychology. And with other musicians we talked to, like Sakis from Rotting Christ and Efthymis from Nightfall, they told us the same thing. They were in no mood to do the slightest thing. This was the big issue, that for a year and a half almost nothing was done. Is anything planned for 2021 and after?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: We want to promote “Years Of Aggression” even more because it was an album which for me is the best of our career so far. It went very well and entered the German, Swiss and Austrian charts and we did not have time to play as much as we wanted for that. We had booked another Destruction tour and were talking about North and South America which were left in the middle. We are in talks for a tour with a big band, which you will allow me not to mention yet, as well as for some summer festivals. A few for this year and more the next one, since the bigger ones were canceled and the smaller ones remained. So, after all this is completed we will enter the studio for a new album. Topic two, live streaming. You recorded a performance for a Mexican festival, right?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: Yes, it was for Mexico Metal Fest. This was a strange experience. Basically you had to rehearse and imagine that you were in a concert to start the headbanging. We did not feel very comfortable, it was not a pleasant experience and that is why we did not do it again. The festival had paid well but…no. Simply no. It doesn’t suit us, we do not like it. If it weren’t for what the festival’s proposal, wouldn’t you be in the process of doing it yourself? Either recorded or live?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: I think not, we had other proposals from Greece and from European festivals but we politely declined. Topic three, new music. Many bands composed while they were locked inside. Do you have new material ready?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: We have written some songs and I was afraid as I told you before about the psychological part, that is, how good the music would come out of it. Nick, our guitarist/singer and main composer, had written some first riffs, as he usually does, and now that the situation has relaxed a bit and we are moving forward, we have written six or seven songs. We will write another three or four, we will choose the best nine and we will enter the studio. And I say the best nine because we had that many on our last two records and they went very well, so we have it as a good luck charm now. I think, as I told you before, that next summer we will start recording so that the album will be released at the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023. The songs you discard are gone forever, right? They are not included in any next album or as a bonus in special editions.

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: Yes, we throw away what we do not like. I do not know if it is our fault or not, so many bands do it. If we do not really like a song, it does not make sense to record it. We do not want to give the last one as a gift to the Japanese, for example. This is our policy. You also do not have any covers.

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: Yes, I remember we used to play in our concerts a long time ago but we have stopped doing that. I think people want to hear your music. From the moment there is inspiration, why should I put on a cover? Sit in the studio, work and get something of your own. Show the world that you work. I think covering is the easy way out. In order not to be misunderstood, I do not have a problem with those who make cover, but we believe that people should hear our own things, what we have to say. Will you continue with the same record label, NoiseArt?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: No, we finished with them and within the next month we will have an announcement for a new label. You will hate me but you will allow me again not to tell you which one [laughs]. We have already signed the contract, they will re-release “Years Of Aggression” and our next album of course. On the subject of the label, I wanted to ask the following. You released the first record from Old School Metal Records when thrash revival was not yet on the map, then you went to Nuclear Blast after winning a competition and since then you have been at NoiseArt. How come you didn’t reach for a bigger label?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: We had made a big six-record deal and we could not leave easily. When we were younger we signed whatever it was thrown at us. You know what they say, that we have to be careful where we put our signature…and not only that [laughs]. We had not even read the terms and we regretted it, since we already had proposals but in order to break the contract we had to give a lot of money. The one who owns the company is the biggest promoter in Austria and in the beginning he helped us a lot. Now, he has moved away from music and is dealing with real estate. The next label will probably buy the rights from all the other records, so we will be permanently free of NoiseArt. Will you be working with Ed Repka on the cover again?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: Yes, we think so. I would not say that it is a safe choice, it has just caught our pulse. When you tell an artist, whether he is called a graphic designer or a producer, three things, he understands you and brings out the result you want, you will do your next work with him. We are looking for people to communicate with, so that they will not make our life difficult and we will not make theirs difficult either. What applies to Repka, also applies to Jens Bogren who produced “Years Of Aggression” and left us speechless with the result without the slightest issue. In all the years of the band, if there was an opportunity to go back in time and change something, what would it be?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: Maybe I would choose my partners better. I do not want to say anything bad about them, I just wish they had the same dreams as me, the same fire. Because the band for better or worse, is an organization or a business or a family, you name it, and it required a certain dedication. When did the band level up to become who you are now?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: I think the overall work counts and what we are now has been achieved step by step every year. In our early days, however, there were two very important events. One that Rotting Christ trusted us with and took us on a European tour in 2007 and definitely in 2009 when we signed on to Nuclear Blast. Many doors opened there, a lot of people, managers, promoters learned about us and we entered the world of the music industry for good. Since we are talking about your story, the twenty years of the band are approaching. Have you considered doing something special as an anniversary or will pass like every other year?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: It will probably pass like every other year because we will have a new album and we will be touring. But we never rest, so we will organize something. Especially in Athens we must definitely do something that will be related to the twenty years. I do not know what exactly, although I have some ideas. We’ll see until then. Let’s go now to the show that will take place in Technopolis on the 1st of July. How did they approach you? Did you ever think that it might not even happen?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: The promoter called me and I told him directly yes. First, we need to play a concert after such a long time. We need to get in touch with the people. We get a lot of messages asking us when they will see us perform. Judging by our last show at Piraeus Academy, which was amazing, we really wanted something like that. My only concern is that I do not know whether our people will be able to sit down. And I say it as simply as I can. It is no longer a secret that Technopolis has only seated people and everyone must wear a mask. How many people can they attend?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: 900 viewers plus 100 all the others who will work that night, technicians, sound engineers, the crew of Technopolis and so on. So 1000 people strictly. The same answer would have been even for 150 people, because we need communication with our fans. And I think the Greek metalheads and in this case the thrashers can be disciplined. They are smart people who think and understand the situation so I believe there will be no problem. Will you be alone or will you have a support act?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: This is under discussion with the promoter. He told me that no changes is allowed, that is, other people going on stage due to strict measures. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. But I think we will have a band open for us. We will try but nothing is certain. In terms of setlist, will it again be a promotion of “Years Of Aggression” or something like a best of?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: “Years Of Aggression” will get the biggest share because it is an album that we have not promoted almost at all but we will play songs from all our discography. We have put some surprises. Let’s see if our fans will enjoy them from their seats. Beyond that, we’ll also see you at the Merch Of The Band Bazaar on July 21st and 22nd, right?

Orpheas Tzortzopoulos: Yes, we were last year and it went very well. It is a very nice thing for all the bands, for the communication with their people but also for any financial support that comes out of all this. It is a breath of fresh air for both the musicians and the fans and we are very happy to be there again for this year.