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Interview von: arne mit Marios, am: 08.05.2015 ]

In der Geschichte von NIGHTRAGE gibt es nur eine Konstante: Gitarrist Marios Iliopoulos. Der Grieche ist die Seele der Band und dafür verantwortlich, dass sich trotz ständig wechselnder Besetzungen ein wahrnehmbarer Sound durch die Platten zieht. Mit „The Puritan“ erscheint der sechste Longplayer des Outlets, auf dem Ronnie Nyman von Always War seinen Einstand als neuer Frontmann gibt.


Musicscan: Your new album shows up a band that is playing vital and fresh once again. Could you please tell us what happened to Nightrage after the release of Insidious? How did you develop since then, why have there been new changes to your line up again? What is to say about the "status" of the band in 2015?'

Nightrage: Thanx for your nice words, After the Insidious album we have toured in the USA with Firewind and Arsis and then we got to play some more shows in, South Korea, Europe and Greece, plus a Japan and Russian headline tours. That was the last album that we had our deal with Lifeforce, after a 3 album deal. Things again changed on the line up, due to the people starting taking different directions and loosing focus on Nightrage, and thats a serious problem for us and created problems on our touring schedule, I mean you cant have those kind of people with that kind of mentality in your band, and it wont work no matter what, so they had to go and that actually for me was relieving to see that, because that took a lot of weight and uneccecary drama bullshit from my shoulders, and of course it really sucks to have to go through those kind of situations and changes, while you are trying to promote your music and being there for your fans, but I guess its a thing that you have to do in order to keep it up and move on. But that its not something that will making us stop or whatever, I always believed in this band abilities and that we dont need to give it up as long as we feel that we still have a lot to deliver as a band and as a songwriting team. We developed in the best way since then, and took our time to write the best songs we could, re-born in a way, as we have always been in difficult situations with this band before, but there must be a reason why we are still here, doing what we are doing with Nightrage. I feel blessed that I have found Ronnie Nyman as the new singer in the band and we have clicked together very fast and we are working really well as a team, and actually we wrote the new album “The Puritan” together. Anders Hammer our bass player is still with us and he always had been a loyal and good friend that never had lost his interest in the band. We are going to be a trio for the time being, because that works perfect now, and we will work with a session drummer and second guitar player for the live shows, until we find the right people.

Musicscan: What drives you to still create this style of metal music, what fuels your anger - even after 15 years? And what keeps you motivated to always find new musicians to be able to continue with Nightrage?

Nightrage: I feel that Nightrage its the band that I always wanted to have to express my musical goals. I still feel inspired to write songs and being creative, and also Nightrage its a tool for me lyrically and musically to answer a lot of questions, that most of the time it´s difficult to deal with. What drives me still writing the music its anger and sadness, its every day struggling, its the everyday things that happening to you and you have to deal with, its the hunger for creativity and love for the music. Its the situations that makes you feel happy or weak, even if that it´s pain or happiness troubling you, its the actual ups and downs of life. It´s kind of strange and that also make me personally surprised, that we are still here after 15 years, and we still want to be out there and fight for the Nightrage ideals. I never wanted to give up this band, even if people given up on me and showed me their real intentions. Its an amazing driving force that always never let me go this Nightrage thing, because that band means a lot to me. I´m personally and emotionally connected with Nightrage and the music that we have created, the support from the fans and the love they are showing, means the world to us, I have felt really bad many times, and struggle to carry on, but the willing was always there and I dont think Nightrage will stop anytime soon, and to be honest with you, it will not make any sense at all, I mean if it was for those kind of people, we would be a dead band by now, but its about the music and the love for the music, and I know that we have plenty of that, and fortunately I feel we have a lot to give still, and the best albums and songs is yet to come.

Musicscan: Can you perhaps tell us something about the intention and the spirit of Nightrage when the band came to be in 2000. Has the intention / the spirit / your mission changed until today with changing members, touring and -of course - age? What moments in the bands history for you sum up the whole experience of Nightrage so far? And what has the band “done” for you personally?

Nightrage: After my old band “Exhumation” split in Thessaloniki Greece in 2000, I felt really sad and almost sick, and for me was difficult to carry on, so Nightrage was the cure on that struggle, Nightrage its the band and the driving tool for me to feel creative, and it felt that Nightrage was always the goal to find my own musical path that I was determined to follow, in overall Nightrage was and still is, a musical adventure that I´m willing to take it all the way. I´m still the same guy that I used to be back then, and after 15 years I still feel have that same spirit with me and the same values and mission. I think one of the best moments that defines Nightrage, and why we are here, its the first album “Sweet Vengeance” and the signing with Century Media that gave us the recording contract I have always dreamed about, on the contrary when everybody else, including friends, thought that we are on a mission to a dead end, we prove them wrong with this band, and also another great moment right now, its the fact that we have found Despotz records and it feels like a new fresh start for us, working with cool people, and the new album “The Puritan” feels like we are back in what we know and love to do, playing the music we burn for, and thats where I feel Nightrage its a personal success for me, and that makes me happy and keep me smiling all the time, that sort of feeling that you think its worth it to give it a try and give your best on uncharted territories, and I always believed that you need to take risks and be bold, not being afraid to give it a try for your dreams, being unscared, just following your heart and passion, that is Nightrage for me, and always have been like that, never change, never give up, no matter what.

Musicscan: For some time now, the metal underground seems to go even more extreme than ever before. Bands are pushing the boundaries as far as complexity, technical approach and extreme arrangements are concerned. What are your thoughts on this, and where do you see Nightrage in the grand scheme? Nightrage is focusing on real and mature songwriting and uses lots of great melodies to keep things emotional and traceable, so you are doing - in a way - the opposite...

Nightrage: I like when bands doing their own thing and they are trying to expand and evolve their own music, finding their own voice in music. Personally I dont think that technicality and complexity its the key to create a great song, I believe in simplicity and give raw sounding material, that is honest and to the point, and also I love adding to it a lot of melody and hooks. And thats where I think Nightrage is coming from, we still want to be a 100% metal band to the bone, that means buisness and also we like to combine brutality and melody in a great metal package, at the same time we dont want to follow any trends and do cool commercial tricks, just to be able to sound trendy or modern so to speak. I mean we dont want to be a shitty pop metal band like many today, we want to be honest and fight for the music we love to play. I dont have any respect for people and bands that they are trying to manipulate their audiences with any kind of tricks, or trying to get commercialized for the sake of it. Of course I like evolving and to be successful, I think every band and every musician wants that, but we want to do this on our own terms. Of course you also need to be flexible and be able to listen to different ideas, and let the thing roll, but you dont need to forget where you are coming from. Our motto is never let down yourself and your fans. Thats why we are still here because we believe firmly on musical integrity, we are not fucking sell outs and we will never be, I prefer to stop playing the music rather being a musical whore. So for us there´s no grand scheme, we just playing music from our hearts and there´s no plan, theres only pure honesty and integrity in what we are doing.

Musicscan: Looking back on 15 years: what exactly does Nightrage sound like from your point of view? Is it any kind of departure to what people might expect from you if you think of reviews and fan reactions, do you feel understood to say so?

Nightrage: Well we are doing musically what we have done all those years and that is one thing that havent changed so far for us. I mean we have gotten a lot of negative and positive reviews all those years, but I dont think you need to pay attention too much on either of the mentioned, because if u start believing too much on the positive reviews you can be a big headed guy or you can loose the point if you start believing on the negative ones, you need to trust yourself and your music and always trying your best, no matter what people or trends telling you to do. You need to keep your self happy and excited with the music that you are creating, except what everybody else saying, it´s us that we have to deal with our music all the time and forever, and we need to make sure that we are doing the right thing for us. I think we are blessed that we have very loyal fans, that they understand us and they are believing on us and our own music, and that is a reason for us to carry on, because without our fans I think we are nothing, and with this sort of support and love we get from them, we are fueling the Nightrage machinery to carry on. In the end of the day you cant expect everybody to like what are we doing here, we also need to accept constructive criticism, and I think that can make us a better band.

Musicscan: Has it been harder for you guys to come up with new songs this time for your sixth album as you have written so many tracks already? What were bands goals for The Puritan, and were they reached, or perhaps altered along the way? How would you characterize the band’s evolution musically from Insidious to this current album?

Nightrage: Yeah this time took us a bir more time to come back with the new songs and on one hand, this happened intentionally as we wanted and needed some time to make sure that we have the right material on our hands, and on the other hand was a bit harder for me at least to create those songs, because I wanted to take some time for myself for a while to think about things, re-consider and re-direct some goals, and also feeling inspired and ready to compose the new material. Find a meaning and a purpose why I still wanna do this and what I really care about. Our goals was to make the best songs that defines Nightrage, and this time I personally felt that this album its a bit more special for me, because of the ups and downs that we had to faced, not having a label once again, and members leaving and all that stuff led to make me wanted to not give up, fight more, and I took this as another challenge to try to make the best Nightrage album ever. So I think in the end that we managed to keep ourselves very positive, and definitely we love the songwriting on the new album and we are very proud with the songs and the whole production. Our evolution from the previous album I think its that this time we have focused more on the music and songs, rather putting many guests on the album, we wanted to keep the focus on the Nightrage name and on us, as songwriters and musicians, because I think that line up we have now, feels for me the strongest that we have ever had, and also you can hear this on the album, that we are feeling free and happy to be back doing what we love to do. So “The Puritan” its the outcome of another great struggle, the songs are even more simpler and the sound we have this time, it´s the best and more raw sound that we have ever had. Also the change of the recording studio, getting away from Studio Fredman after many albums recording there, felt like a new challenge for us, as we decided to record at Dug out productions studio in Uppsala with Daniel Bergstrand and George Nerantzis, they gave us the most brutal and raw and melodic sound that we always wanted, this is the album for us that really defines who we are, and why we still loving to play this sort of music. The new album speaks for itself.

Musicscan: Are there specific aspects on the new album that stand out in your mind, or aspects that have an inner meaning to you you already would like to share with us? What is to say about the chemistry within the band if you remember the songwriting and recording process?

Nightrage: The collaboration that we had with Daniel Bergstrand and George Nerantzis at Dug out studio made all the difference in the world, and for me felt that for the first time we have found finally some people that loving our music, they are born to care, and they were willing to work their asses of to make the album as good as possible, so this mentality in overall really helped us as songwriters and performers to do the best we could, and that also really helped the album having that big sound. The chemistry between me and Ronnie, as we have written “The Puritan” together, was astounding and also I felt that I have found a brother here that cares and fight for the Nightrage ideals. We worked really hard all of us, and this album took a long time to record until we make sure that we had the right perfomances and sound, I think that we have reached the levels of perfection that we all wanted and dreamed about. This is the first album that we have pay attention to so many details and tried to keep it simple, raw, getting a straightforward in your face sound. And one good thing that also helped the album evolution, was the ability we have, knowing when to step back listening all the great ideas from the producer, when something needed to get fixed or done in a different way and of course that made the album sounding way better, we care about writing the best songs, rather our egoism as songwriters. I would never be able to record this album the way it is now, without the great help from Ronnie, Anders, Daniel and George, so I cant get the whole credit for that, since this is a team effort and thats why I love it even more. I mean Nightrage its not my solo project, this is a band and I like to share and write with other people

Musicscan: On your website there is to find: "This time the songs are shorter and more simplistic, and the lyrics are deep and very esoteric, dealing with the rotten core of the human race and the rough reality that we have to face every day." From my impression The Puritan is in a way close to what Wearing a Martyr‘s Crown was. Back then you also addressed harsh and straightforward melo death. How do you feel about it?

Nightrage: The songs this time are simpler and we pay attention on feeling rather technique or complex arrangements. The lyrics are also very honest and down to earth and they have a great connection along with the music, as we always pay attention on the lyrics as we feel they are very important on our songs. We tried to reach the essence of the human soul this time and dig a bit deeper. I think “The Puritan” represents who we are right now as a band, and also in a way we tried putting together everything that we have done so far as a band, all those elements that defines what is Nightrage, it´s still there, but this time we added even more raw and melodic sounds to the songwriting, the vocals are the best that we have ever had and for the first time we worked so hard to make them fit the songs properly, and we put a lot of time also recording them and find the right performances, Thaks again to Daniel Bergstrand putting a lot of effort and work recording the vocals with Ronnie, also we tried to lift up all those elements that makes Nightrage stands out, heavy riffs, emotional melodies, vocal hooks, etc from the rest of the pack, of over the top productions of copy paste metalcore, pop metal bands, that playing the same riffs all over.

Musicscan: As you are following the -lets say- traditional melo death style: Do you think it's more important for bands to observe the traditions of their style, or to push the genre's boundaries? Is there a way to achieve a balance between progression and tradition? What’s to say about what Nightrage are doing in this regard from your point of view?

Nightrage: Being yourself and being honest and true to your fans its the way to go for us. Sometimes bands they are using the word evolution to hide themselves behind it, in order to save them from criticism. I think that if u have pure intentions and you are true to yourself, there´s nothing wrong about this.We do believe in progression and I think that “The Puritan” its a great example of that, you get a great sound, and also you have a band there showcasing their best intentions and song ideas. I know that we have found this balance and that we are not afraid to experiment, and create some songs that keep the tradition and also pushing forward to new musical territories, and as long as you are honest and you have good intentions, people will get it and understand the message you are trying to deliver.

Musicscan: The Puritan is a pretty challenging – but also catchy – and self confident record. It is intensive and stands somehow outside competition due to the fact you are not following trends. Do you like this description? Does it fit? What is your view on the album?

Nightrage: I think I agree with you and I´m happy that you get what we are doing here, yeah and we dont care about trends here, we care about the songs and the music to keep it exciting, fresh, heavy, melodic, and metal 100%, and I can tell you that we are proud to be a metal fucking band and we are not ashamed of it, and that doesnt mean that we are close minded, but we are here to deliver and play the best metal music that we feel we can make and deliver, out there for our fans. We dont want to dissapoint ourselves and our beloved fans, I mean this is simple, why people make it be so hard to get, if you believe in what are you doing people will get it, if you have other intentions people will get it too. You cant fool the fans, the moment you will start making some tricks, they will see it, so you need to respect your audience and do the best for yourself and for them.

Musicscan: Lastly: Nightrage has always seemed to me to be an underdog band, always maintaining a high level of respect from critics and their peers, though never quite attaining the commercial success that the band was due. How do you feel about this, and what type of success you hope to have with The Puritan?

Nightrage: Like I said before, we like to get success and also give that band a chance to move on and get more recognition. But thats the thing, we are fighting for our ideals so many years and also we get an amazing respect from media and our fans so far, because we stick to our guns, doing what feels right and not following, lets say, the easy way to success, we love to do this on our own terms and we dont want to sacrifice our ideas and passion for commercial tricks. I dont know where we would stand today if we would have followed another path, maybe we would be a bigger band, or else a dead band by now, you never know, the only truth here, is that we are still here, playing our music the way we want, and that says it all for me.

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