We took a moment this time to talk with Theoharis about the Greek psychedelic black metal band known as Hail Spirit Noir. Read on to learn about their inspiration, their start and future plans!
MP: Please introduce yourself and your role in the band:
Theoharis: Hi, this is Theoharis and I’m one of the two guitarists of the band. I also do the black metal vocals on the band’s albums.
MP: How did the band form?
Theoharis: Well, it’s been sometime now so give me a second to get things straight heh. Haris , Demian and myself had been playing together in a band called Transcending Bizzare?. During the recording process of the third album one of the band members and dear friend of ours sadly passed away. In 2010, after completing that record Haris, who is the band’s main composer, had some interesting ideas he wanted to work on and he present Demian and me with demos. After that the band was formed with session members for the recordings. Up until the release of “Mayhem In Blue”, our third record, there had been no live shows due to our various commitments. But we had to look for members to complete our live line-up. So Sakis Bantis (Horizon’s End), Cons Marg (Until Rain, Dustynation) and Foivos (Agnes Vein, Katavasia) joined us on keyboards, vocals and drums respectively.
MP: What is the meaning behind the band’s name and how did you guys come up with it?
Theoharis: Well, the name is our tribute to the darkness rooted deep in the psyche of man and how it’s the driving force behind all humanity’s progress. We couldn’t settle on the name early on but once the lyrics of “Pneuma”, our debut album, were done it became obvious there was a running theme throughout them and it led to a celebration of darkness with our tongues planted firmly in our cheeks.
MP: You guys fuse together psychedelic rock, progressive and black metal, how did the sounds come about?
Theoharis: As I mentioned before, Haris is the band’s composer. So back in 2010 he came up with the songs that would eventually form “Pneuma”. His vision was to pay tribute to the 70s horror movies and their incredible soundtracks and combine them with his love of prog rock and black metal. So once he had some basic tracks down, he asked Demian and me if we wanted to help him out. Once all three of us started working on the songs, our individual influences formed the band’s core sound. To this day that core is everchanging but that’s another story. We all share a love for bands such as Goblin, Mayhem, Genesis and the Doors as well as Manos Hadjidakis so our stew has quite a bit of different flavors to it. We just give it a hopefully personal twist that makes it come together as a whole.
MP: What inspires your lyrics and sound?
Theoharis: The Darkness and evil around us. Our lyrics are generally a tribute to the ways evil has of influencing our actions and how in spite of everything, it guides us forward. You call call it by any name you fancy, Satan, the Devil, it doesn’t really make a difference, it will still be there. The lyrics themselves are often little horror stories with a twist and sometimes a bit more abstract. They don’t really make for happy reading. As for the music, I can’t really say. Everything around will subconsciously leave its mark. Composing is our way of expressing everything from frustration to triumph so it is always going to be unpredictable in the sense that we as people change. We will always incorporate psychedelia and the harshness that comes with black metal but how the end result is going to sound is anyone’s guess. It will always be trippy, though.
MP: How did your debut “Pneuma” come to be?
Theoharis: We didn’t really know what to expect when we were working on it. Haris had a clear vision of what he wanted it to sound like but up until the very end there it was quite vague. A lot of experimentation with sounds effects and different instrumentation was the on;y way we get close to what we were hearing in our heads. One of Haris’ greatest influence is Hadjidakis and one album in particular,”Reflections” and “Pneuma” was dedicated to him. Pneuma was mixed by Dimitris Douvras and he really delivered as we ourselves didn’t know how this whole thing with all the different layers would sound.
MP: What was the inspiration behind “Mayhem in Blue?”
Theoharis: Life, I suppose. And the need to do it. Haris had started working on ideas almosto direct;y after “Oi Magoi” was had been released but as with everything regarding the band good things comwe to those who wait. “Mayhem In Blue” is the band’s difficult third album, the widely-considered make-or-break album. The “break” option wasn’t on the table so we took our time. The whole album has a really menacing aura ab out it. It became apparent that it would one of our harshest albums but that on;ly makes sense. I mean. If you take a look around you there’s nothing to inspire positivity. That obviously influenced the album. Plus we took our psychedelic side more to its extreme, till the next album anyway hehe. But you know, nothing is really planned. The songs came about a bit more structured yet still not so normally. It’s still us but meaner and darker, I think.
MP: What is your personal favorite Hail Spirit Noir song and why?
Theoharis: Honestly, I really can’t tell you. Right now “Mayhem…” is my favourite but that’s because it’s the new one. The Cannibal Tribe… is an amazing song but so is the Mermaid. I really can’t tell you because everything has different meanings to me. Today I could pick “Let Your Devil Come Inside”, tomorrow it might be “Blood Guru” or “Lost In Satan’s Charms”. It’s really hard. You could pick one for us, we won’t argue.
MP: Any plans for a new album, if so, tell us about it:
Theoharis: There’s no definite timeline yet but ideas are being worked on. Eventually there will be a fourth album. Right now we’re too busy finally touring all three previous one!
MP: How is the metal scene in Greece?
Theoharis: I think greek bands have finally stepped up their game and are being noticed. It’s no secret that during the nineties it was the black metal scene that put Greece on the map. Rotting Christ, SepticFlesh, Nightfall, Varathron, Necromantia. More and more bands are now recording albums and are actually doing quite nicely abroad. Bands like Thy Darkened Shade, Sacral Rage, Aenaon, Wardrum all from various spectres of metal are on the rise. Suicideal Angels too. There’s no shortage, that’s for sure. The mentality has changed and bands are taking themselves more seriously and that makes all the difference in the world, if you ask me. Obviously, the state of diasarray Greece is in at the moment isn’t making it any easier for bands. It sure does provide inspiration, though.
MP: How did the band end up with Dark Essence Records?
Theoharis: After “Oi Magoi” was released our deal with Code 666 was up and we felt we needed a change of pace. Dark Essence made the best offer and we decided to take it and we’ve been really pleased so far.
MP: Any new bands that are catching your attention lately?
Theoharis: Malokarpatan impressed me, so did Vulture. Carpenter Brut were an interesting band plus I really dig Ukrainians Bestial Invasion. Inconcessus Lux Lucis are equally great as well. Same goes for greeks “The Locust Leaves”. Tribulation are awesome too but they are not really new, are they?
MP: What got you into metal music?
Theoharis: A cousin of mine used to carry around a couple of mix tapes with various bands. I can’t recall the exact age, I was pretty young but at the time speed was what hooked me. I didn’t care for lyrics or solos. I wanted the speed and vocals. But growing up I appreciated the outsided culture it featured plus how daring it could be in the way bands can mix it up. But the first thing that got me me into it was speed and the power it exuded.
MP: Any advice for upcoming metal bands out there?
Theoharis: We are a fairly new band ourselves so I don’t think we qualify enough to hand out advice. That said, if you give me a second I’ll get on my soapbox and wax lyrically that you should really take it seriously. And make sure you like what you’re doing. That’s is unimaginably important.
MP: Any last words?
Theoharis: We greatly appreciate your interest. Starting with Roadburn in April, we have a couple more shows lined up in Europe which we will announce soon enough. Till then, beware the Spirit Noir!
Interview by Neil Andersen