interview with Scar Of The Sun
What´s the name of your band? The name of our band is Scar Of The Sun
What made you call the band "Scar Of The Sun"? The name is symbolic and it has to do with a personal story that cost me a lot in the past. I wouldn’t like to get in more detail, but let’s just say that it is relevant with a personal loss case. Other than that, it sounded cool to our ears, it’s modern and it fits well with our music vision.
How was the band formed? The band was formed in London, UK back in 2005 by Stamos K. and me and it was a result of the need we had to express the ideas we had developed during the latest years. It had nothing to do with our previous band, that was a Punk Metal band (kinda like The Offspring). It was more modern, more complex, more mainstream and definitely more experimental. At the time, we were studying Sound Engineering and Music Production in London, so we had a stream of new influences, plus we were exposed to different music styles and new techniques, so we decided to start Scar Of The Sun and pour in there everything we had in our minds. Obviously, the challenge was to orchestrate our music in the appropriate way in order to sound right, we worked like crazy in order to make it and we succeeded to create a smooth combination that was exactly what we wanted at the time.
Can you tell about your band? Scar Of The Sun was formed in order to create modern and mainstream metal with easy listening, modern melodies with smart arrangements. Turing was paramount for us. We are not a studio project, we are not underground metal, we play music that can reach the masses and appeal to people both inside and outside of metal. That was the purpose since day one and every album of ours will be one or two steps ahead from the previous one.
Where are all band members from?/Who does what in the band? The base if the band is Athens, Greece now, although one of our guitarists, Alexi lives in Greece’s second biggest town, the capital of Macedonia region, Thessaloniki. We all come from different parts of Greece, but four of us live and work in Athens. The line up of the band is: Terry Nikas – Vocals, Alexi Charalampous – Guitars, Greg Eleftheriou – Guitars, Panagiotis Gatsopoulos – Bass, Thanos Pappas – Drums.
What was the ambitions of the band when you started? As I mentioned before, we wanted to create something new and capable to reach a very wide audience. Our challenge was to combine in a very smooth way different elements in our music. So the ambition was to create mainstream but smart Metal. So that’s what we do! Other than that, we wanted to compose and record albums in a constant flow and tour as much as we can. The ambition was to be a fully active professional band.
Could you explain your music to someone that haven't heard you? Our first album was Modern Atmospheric Metal, some called us Progressive Atmospheric Metal that doesn’t bother us at all. We combined atmospheric/gothic elements with Swedish Death Metal Riffs, electronic elements and smart arrangements. On our new album we are more modern, more ‘American’ I would say, our music is more focused, comparing it to our first album and it’s definitely even more mainstream.
Where was your first gig? Our first gig was in Athens, Greece, back in 2009, in a Greek Summer festival. It was a very good experience, very professional gig, especially for a first gig, and we enjoyed it very very much!
Where was the latest gig? Our latest gig was in Athens again, a few months after our last Europan tour, back in February 2013. We played in the most legendary club in Athens and we were direct support for Katatonia, which happens to be one of our favourite bands ever.
Who writes your songs?/ who writes the music who writes lyrics? Our music is written by the two guitarists and our singer, but everyone contributes his parts. The lyrics are exclusively written by our singer.
Who has the best since of humor in the band? That would be Alexi, our guitarist for sure! He’s a natural talent, but the truth is also that all the members in the band have a well developed sense of humor, we laugh very much when we’re together!
Why did you pick that particular style?/What are your songs about? Well, this was what expresses us at the moment. We like to look ahead and work on something new and catchy. We believe that Metal can appeal in many people and that is not music for a certain minority! And at the same time, it can be smart and not just garbage Pop. That’s what we are and we ought to be true to ourselves. We don’t like to limit our audience, if non metal people like it too, then we are successful. Now, our songs in our first album had to do with the concept of the name I analised before, it has to do with a personal loss, but that was done, I moved forward. The new album has to do with the ‘Zeitgeist’ concept. I’m talking about the American documentary that explains how the things actually function around the world and that a very small minority of people bases their luxury on other people’s misery, something that is happening to Greece right now.
Do you write your own material or mainly covers? We write our own material, although on our new album we have a cover on a non metal song. We cannot reveal the song yet since the album is not out, but we will reveal it soon. On a couple of gigs we played a couple more covers, but that’s about it.
Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they? We have released our first album worldwide through Scarlet Records in June 2011 and at the moment we are mixing our second album. We don’t have a release date yet though. Our debut album was called ‘A Series Of Unfortunate Concurrencies’, our second one will be also revealed in time.
Do you have any clips on YouTube? We do have two videos for the songs ‘Swansong Of Senses’ and ‘Disciple Of The Sun’. The first one was an actual video, the second one contains scenes from our tours and gigs.
How old are you?/What got you started in music? The average age of the members of the band is the early thirties. I guess we all loved music so much as fans/listeners that made us grab an instrument and started playing. Personally, I felt the magic when my sister brought some cassette tapes back in the ‘80s when I was very very young and that rocked my world. It was kinda certain that I would follow music and actually today my whole life is around music, since I am a professional sound engineer.
At what age did you start playing? I started playing the piano when I was 8, then I took piano lessons, then guitar lessons and eventually I took vocal lessons for many years in conservatories both in London and in Athens.
How old were you guys when you first stood on stage? For me it was when I was 13, although I was a member on school choirs earlier than that. At the age of 13 I started playing gigs in school, where I was playing electric guitar and I was singing. I have no clue for the other guys, hahaha…
What year was the band started? The band started back in 2005 in London, U.K.
Best/worst gig you've played? We had some great shows on our last European tour in cities like Bochum, Germany, Zlin, Czech Republic, Warsaw, Poland and Paris, France, but we also had some great gigs in Greece, with the best being when we were the direct support of Firewind. Worst should be probably in Berlin on the same tour. People were showing no emotion and initially we thought they hated us. But then Lake Of Tears took the stage and it was exactly the same and the guys from Lake Of Tears told us that that’s how Berlin is. The same reaction came with Swallow The Sun, so we cooled down, hahaha…
What places will you be playing in the immediate future? Well, once our album will be released we will do at least two more European tours and we hope that we will be able to tour the States this time. No certain plans yet though, it’s too early.
Witch band is the best you’ve seen? I’ve seen many bands I really liked. Amorphis is one of them for sure, I loved Cult Of Luna on Summer Breeze festival 2013 and I’ve watched some amazing shows from Paradise Lost on the Symbol Of Life tour. Dream Theater were impressive also, as well as Tool! Probably I forget some bands, but I have watched many impressive bands for sure, so it’s natural to forget some.
Is it always the same songs live? Obviously not, hahaha… Depending on the time that there is available for us and depending the bands that we play with, we form the best possible set. We try to cover the whole material we have released, but some songs function better live, so we stick on those more.
What has been the best/most promising gig so far? That should be the gig in Bochum, Germany, the show supporting Firewind and the one in Warsaw, Poland. It was crazy to see people singing our songs and shout our name! We are still in the beginning, so these are very impressive things for us.
Have you had any bigger tours from start to now? Well, for our first album we have been part of a Dark Tranquillity / Insomnium tour for some dates, but we have also been on big tours with Rage / Tyr / Communic and the biggest one was about a year ago with Pain / Moonspell / Swallow The Sun / Lake Of Tears. It was awesome and we are looking forward to do it again very soon!
How big crowds do you usually play for? We have played in small clubs in the beginning, but on our tours the average is about 900 – 1000 people. We have played to more than that in a few occasions, and hopefully we’ll get to play in bigger audiences in summer festivals soon!
What are the plans for the rest of the year? Well, we will finish mixing our second album and find the most appropriate tours to be part of. Summer festivals are definitely in our plans and at some point we will start composing material for our third album. Typical plans for any band I’d say, hahaha…
Where do you usually play? Apart from Greece, our European tours covered about 13 European countries so far, but Germany is the country that we have played the most gigs, after Greece of course…
How do you get psyched up for a gig? We try to focus first of all. After that, the most important thing is to get into the mood of our songs. Once in, we are able to give the maximum, first for us to have a good time and then to transmit that to the people that are watching us.
What are your goals with your music? We would like to be able to release albums every two years and tour constantly. Things are very difficult right now, cause the illegal downloading have destroyed the music industry, so living from our music is very hard, but if we manage to reach a level that would have us touring and releasing in a constant flow, that would be great for us!
When did you decide to go all in for the music? It was when I realized that our first songs as a band are very good and they are on a top level as compositions. But the actual moment was after our last tour that I realized that this is for us! It was something that was formed slowly, it wasn’t just on a spur of a moment.
Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern? The older bands gave us the base for what we are doing for sure. But it’s actually the modern bands that we feel comfortable with because that’s what we do as well. I strongly believe that the bands that are really successful are the ones that are looking ahead and not behind.
What are your sources of inspiration? Life! The biggest inspiration of all! I am also getting inspired by modern bands that tend to experiment, so music is also a source of inspiration. Bands and artists from many kinds of music, not just Metal. I am also getting inspired by arts in general, with my favorites being painting and acting (cinema mainly).
What's the first step when making a new song? Usually it starts with some good melodies/riffs or ideas about a certain structure. Some times we start from a good vocal line, a great chorus. It depends really. I can surely tell you that the last thing we do is to write lyrics, although I will have a title for the song and I know what this song will be about.
How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums? It’s tragic! It destroyed the sense of music and the sense of respect for the bands and for the musicians. People don’t understand that they lead music to extinction! They thing we all live in luxury and move around with limos! They don’t realize that there are no budgets anymore in order to record an album in a dissent way. I am working extremely hard for at least a year, and I mean full time work in order to release an album. What makes people thing that one year’s work should be distributed for free? Do they do the same with their work? I don’t thing so! Imagine a civil engineer building a home and when he’s done, somebody walks in and gets possession of the house without paying! It’s exactly the same thing and whoever can’t get it is really shallow to say the least!
Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to? I like good pop, electro, alternative rock, post rock, Euro Disco and Italo Disco. I’m a huge fan of the ‘80’s Disco! My favorite non metal bands are Depeche Mode for sure and I would have to say Muse, but they are close to Metal. I like many bands from different styles, but I don’t have another favorite such as Depeche Mode. Maybe I would also have to say Placebo that also close to Metal. I like random albums and songs. In the kinds of music I described above there is a tremendous amount of music that I love, but I also like Progressive Rock of the ‘70’s (also very close to Metal) and I believe that the biggest band that ever existed is Pink Floyd. I am also a big fan of Mike Oldfield and The Alan Parsons Project. They released unbelievable music! My favorite pop band of all times is ABBA for sure! That was smart pop! I think that Muse is the biggest band today though.
What do you hold most dear? I’m a huge basketball fan and also I love cooking very much. I could work professionally around these two things easily, hahaha… I’m having a great time and I enjoy both playing/cooking and watching/tasting other people’s creations.
What would be your greatest fears for the future? My greatest feat is death! I don’t even wanna think about it! Other than that, health in general and a world financial collapse, if the leaders of this world will continue acting like stupid children in favor of their pockets only! I think people should wake up and kick some serious butts finally! What is going on on Earth is ridiculous, we can’t go on like that! I think humans as species has failed totally!
When you are on stage, what do you fear most then? I only care about my voice to be in a good condition. If that’s ok, I fear nothing!
Have you been part of any other projects? At the moment I have no time to run another project, since I am running SOTS. But at some point I will record an album with some guys from my previous band that was playing Punk Metal as I said before. We had a full length’s album worth of material and it would be pity not to record it some time. So I started discussing it with our drummer and we’ll do it at some point that our schedules would be more relaxed.
What do you work with outside of the band and the music? I am a professional sound engineer, I have my own professional studio here in Athens. I am recording and mixing music, but I also work as a live sound engineer with some bands. My whole life is around music, thankfully, hahaha…
What would you do if there was no music? I would create it, hahaha… I would’ve been very cool if I was gonna be the one inventing it! And if it was today, I would also be very rich, hahaha…
How important are your fans? They are extremely important, they give life to a band. Seeing fans singing your music is an amazing feeling! When they come after a gig and they express their love and their fondness to your music, it’s just invaluable. Fans are the fuel for us!
What's the funniest/most memorable thing a fan has done for you? There ain’t something funny, I would have to say two memorable things though. In Warsaw there was a guy that travelled from Latvia in order to see us and he printed a picture of us from his computer in order for us to sign on it. The most memorable though was that a girl travelled from Latin America (Colombia I think) to Germany in order to see us on our last tour!!! That was crazy! She was first row, singing our songs and then she told us the story! We were stunned!
How often do you rehearse? Depending the occasion. At the moment there no imminent plans for a tour or gigs, so we rehearse once a week, just to maintain our form. Before tours or gigs we rehearse up to 3 times a week. We study our music a lot, so we are well prepared when the time comes for gigs and tours.
Where do you rehearse? We have the privilege to rehearse in my studio. That is very comfortable and we all feel like home over here! We also have all our equipment permanently over here, so everything is very convenient.
Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment? That would have to be ‘Gravity’ from our first album, which is the song we always close our gigs with and the opening track of our new album, called ‘Among Waters And Giants’. It’s not out yet, but when it will come out, you will understand why.
What drives a band that isn't all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing? Well, you just answered the question! Sharing our music to wider audiences, simply because we know that if more people will get to notice us, there will be many that would appreciate it and love it! So basically, spreading our music to the world is the motive! We believe we deserve it, we believe we can appeal to more people, so we are taking our chances!
Do you have any webpages? Sure we do! We have an official site, which is www.scarofthesun.com, you can also check and like our facebook page, which is www.facebook.com/scarofthesun. We also have pages on Reverb Nation, My Space and we also have our web shop, that everyone can find our releases and merch. Links to our web shop can be found on all our sites.
Any pearls of wisdom for all other bands out there? Sure! Try 10 times harder than you think is enough, be ultra patient and be ultra persistent if you believe in your work! Invest seriously in your bands and be ready to sacrifice many things in life. These are general rules of success, not only in music. They won’t lead you to success 100% but if you wanna succeed, the above rules are paramount!
Describe your show, visually and musically At the moment we use some backdrops and side drops, since we don’t have the opportunity to have many props and stuff, but we are preparing some things for our new shows. We prepare clothes that are relevant to our visuals and we will have bigger backdrops and more impressive for sure on the next tours. Musically, they are very intense and emotional, we combine classic headbanging parts with more dramatic moments and that creates a very special atmosphere that should be watched for sure!
How do you view the music industry of today? Well, music industry is kinda destroyed today. Record labels stopped helping the bands, so we have to do almost everything on our own. Pay studio costs, pay for our tours, and some times even pay for the promotion. This is crazy really, but it all started because of the illegal downloading that tends to destroy Cinema and Writters/books as well. The labels don’t have any income anymore, so most of them cannot afford to help their bands. Furthermore, there is a new trend and that is that the bands are asked to pay labels in order to release their albums!!! Now the labels and governments around the world don’t really do much in order to stop it, although it is absolutely possible to control it. USA has NSA that controls prime ministers of the world, you think it’s that difficult to track and shut down downloaders? There is something behind the scenes that we don’t know. According to me, music goes to annihilation and this is happening because of people that are not really fans of music. It’s simple as that, if you really like a band, support it! If you steal music and you think you have the right to get any product for free (when you don’t go to super market and get things for free), then you will see your favorite bands disband!
What are the biggest obstacles for a band? USA, England, Germany and Sweden produce great music, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get an awesome band from Greece, Portugal or France. People that run the industry usually tend to snob bands that don’t come from the above mentioned countries and that is the biggest obstacle (and mistake for the labels). Other than that, due to the situation described on your previous question, any band has to be able to find a budget on their own in order to survive or go forward. In a way, the industry today is both self financed and run by labels. I think that these are the two biggest obstacles today, as regards the external factors though. There are internal obstacles also, but my opinion is that any band should be able to tackle any internal obstacles and face only the external ones. Internal don’t count as excuses for me, whether we like it or not, the bands with more patience and persistence will have the most chances to survive and do something.
What is best/worst with playing the clubs? I like playing in clubs. My answer will be typical, but there is a more direct contact with the audience and usually it’s easier to stir up the crowd. A club can be very noisy also while playing and I think that the interaction is more direct overall. As a bad thing I would have to say that some clubs don’t meet the necessary standards in facilities. Dressing rooms, showers etc, so some times it gets a bit tiring, because especially on a tour you need to find a place to chill till the time to be on stage will come or rest after a show.
How would you describe your sound in one sentence Modern, catchy, dramatic, melodic, serious. Five words are more than enough!
What is your favorite crappy instrument? I really hate saxophone and bouzouki, hahahaha…
What was one of the most quarrelsome times for you in the band? Life on the road is very hard some times, so many things may happen, but I can’t say that there was such a time for me in the band so far, thank god, hahaha…
Whats your Pre-show ritual? I am trying to be relaxed and focused as the time of the gig approaches. About two hours before the show I’m trying to eat something healthy and not too much of it. I drink a lot of water after that and on the last half hour I am trying to concentrate and find a quiet spot on the venue. About 10 to 15 minutes before the show I do a 5 minutes warm up and then I am ready to jump on stage. Needless to say, a couple of hours before the show I also take multivitamins.
What Won't you spend money on? I wouldn’t spend money on gambling, drugs and alcohol for sure, hahaha… I might sound weird to a Swedish person, but the truth is that here in southern Europe we don’t drink!
What do you feel a band should spend their money on? A band should spend money on getting the best possible mixing engineer to mix their album, the best possible sound engineer and studio to record it properly and spend money on tours. Also it is wise to spend money on good equipment, there is no doubt about it! Last but not least, some money should be spend on stage clothes and stage props, cause today everything counts! Doing just one of those will never be enough anymore! So, as you can see, a band should spend good money to make it and that means many many sacrifices!