Photo credit: Renata Lino*
I last spoke with Marios about a year ago to get some band history. Now, it’s 2019 and the boys are back again with another heavy melodic death metal hitter. The new Nightrage album is called Wolf to Man and it’ll be out in March! Marios was kind enough to catch up with me today and I was so happy to have another conversation with one of my MDM idols. Here we go…
Featured image (band photo) by:
Evelina Szczesik EveR Vision Art
Mike Marlinski: “By Darkness Drawn” came out a few weeks ago. Is this song a good representation of the new album, or can we expect a wide range of melodic death metal as we’ve gotten in the past?
Marios Iliopoulos: Yeah I can tell you that this song its a pretty accurate representation of the sound and style of the new album. It’s really in your face and has some catchy melodies, and these elements are always a part of our sound and style. Of course the new album has a lot of different songs and the overall feel is a bit darker this time. There are mid tempo songs and there are thrash songs, sweet melodies and acoustic 12 string guitars, a wide range of sounds, and also the vocals are very heavy and well thought with some hints of melody, and Ronnie made an amazing performance this time and that gives the songs this extra boost to make the songs more interesting and lift up the music.
MM: The forthcoming album is called Wolf to Man, due out in March 2019. I’m very curious about how the guitar writing process worked this time around. When we last spoke about a year ago, you said that you and Magnus would be writing together more. Did you write the majority of the material, or did Magnus also have a huge hand in the process?
MI: This time our collaboration was even better and Magnus wrote a bunch of songs also on his own. We have a great chemistry and his style is really different than mine and I think that gives the album a different edge, and we don’t sound only one dimensional or monotonous, now that we have built this awesome writing guitar team. Me and Magnus really want the material to be damn good rather than our own egos. So it’s a trinity in the end with Ronnie doing all the lyrics and vocal arrangements and also helping with the song arrangements and that team works really nicely. We look at Nightrage from another perspective that it’s the band that counts and not the individual needs or egos. They don’t belong here. Listen to songs like “The Damned” and “Gemini” that represents that new edge that I was talking about, still different but fits perfectly on the Nightrage music canvas.
MM: The Puritan was a major triumph for Nightrage in 2015. If I’m not mistaken, that was Ronnie’s (vocals) first album. When we last spoke, you said you and Ronnie had a close relationship when it came to writing out the lyrics and themes for the songs. Now that you’re back to releasing a new album every two years, how has your guitarist/vocalist relationship evolved?
MI: Yeah The Puritan was Ronnie’s first album and he did a great job as that was his introduction album in the band. And yes now we know each other so well and he is writing the lyrics on his own, has a really cool style and he took over from mine and made something different, that carries on with the dark themes that we usually talk about. You can say that we have the same kind of mindset and the stuff he is writing about is what I would write and thought of anyway. Ronnie’s style is more simple and he is using really clear lines on his lyrics. I remember my style was a bit more complex and I was using difficult words to express my themes, but Ronnie is more straight forward and he is more direct with his ideas. And I love that approach. We are a great team for sure now and that shows a lot on the outcome of every album that we are releasing.
MM: This is kind of an extension of the last question. What is the “story” behind Wolf to Man? What’s the idea behind the album title? Also, is this a concept album, or a series of individual themes?
MI: I think once again this is a concept album and we are dealing with the fact that finally as humanity, we failed miserably and we are ready to jump on the chaos that we ourselves created. If on the previous album The Venomous, we were walking towards our inevitable end, this time we are already there, and there is no turning back. Ronnie got inspired from this Latin proverb that goes like this: ”Homo Homini Lupus Est” that basically means “Man is wolf to man”. And from that line he wrote the rest of the song, and well this is a reality that we are living now. I mean we are predators and we do everything we can to survive. That means we are drawn by the dark side and we lost our respect for each other, turning to each other. It’s really obvious if you just look around you and see just what horrible things are happening in the world. I think that line is universal and unfortunately we are the ones that caused it, and probably that’s the last ride for us as humans: man is wolf to man.
MM: I noticed your new drummer, Dino, hopped on board last year. Judging by the new material I’ve heard so far, things seem to be going very well. What was the transition like and how have things been feeling in the practice room lately?
MI: We are blessed to have Dino in the band, he is a really talented kid, 22 years old. I met him for the first time in the studio that I’m working, otsemusicstudio in Thessaloniki, and he came there to record with a project, and me and Nik the engineer we were blown away by his awesome drum style. So it was just a matter of time until he came in the picture and helped us firstly on our recent tour with Voivod and then we realized that this is the right guy for the band. He totally earned his position in the band, because apart from the fact that he is an incredible drummer, he is the nicest guy and when it comes to that, that’s something very important for us. We are always striving for having nice people in the band. I think he brought a young energy in the band already and that makes the whole atmosphere very positive and we cannot wait to play more shows and do more albums with Dino.
MM: Aside from Nightrage, what have you been up to this past year? I’m sure your studio is still running fabulously, but what are your other hobbies and such?
MI: Yeah like I said I’m working as a manager at Otsemusicstudio and that is the most that I do outside Nightrage. My life is connected with music anyway all the time and it’s in my blood. It’s always nice to have to do something that you love in life, even if that’s not bringing you all the money in the world. The fun and happiness you get from that in the end of the day means everything to me. I also like to go to the movies, hang out with my buddies in the band, even though I miss most of them due to the fact that except Dino, all the other fellas live in Sweden. So it’s always special when we meet and we are having the best of times. Nightrage I feel is more than a band, it’s a bond and it’s a second family to me and I love these guys to the death.
MM: I saw you’re now using the Power Stage 170 from Seymour Duncan to power your pedal board. Can you briefly describe how you incorporate that into your setup and how it’s effected your overall tone? I’m assuming Magnus is using the same setup, as well. As a followup, are there any other guitar essentials that you swear by when it comes to the ideal melodic death metal guitar setup?
MI: That was actually Ronnie’s idea. He knows a lot about that stuff and he is great when it comes to gear and what to use. He is almost a gear nerd (laughs). Since we have a full endorsement with Seymour Duncan and these guys always been supportive from day one, they sent us 2 pedals for me and Magnus and we tried these pedals on our recent tour with Voivod and were blown away by the awesome sound they are creating. It’s a pedal board style power amp, that is really easy to carry on the road, and you connect that with your distortion or guitar effects and then you connect it to any guitar cabinet, and there you go, you have a face melter. Even the guys from Voivod were impressed with the sound we had and wanted to check it out, so we fully recommend that to any guitarist out there. It’s the future I think. Then again Ronnie suggested (he plays the guitar too), to us the P2 pedal distortion preamp from AMT electronics from Russia and that’s it. P2 its the best distrortion preamp I have heard in my whole life and together with the Power stage 170 from Seymour Duncan, makes a lethal metal sounding tool and delivers monstrous metal sounds for days. Also, we are using the Maxon OD 808 overdrive if we want to boost some lead stuff and this is also another great pedal for me and Magnus on our pedal boards, thanks to Maxon pedals for that.
MM: What are your future touring plans? I don’t really see anything lined up for you guys, so I was wondering what your immediate plans were for live shows.
MI: We are working as we speak now for some Greek dates and Euro dates for April -May 2019 and we want to play as many shows as possible. We have already confirmed our first headlining festival date for August 2019 at Warhorns Festival in the UK, and we can’t wait to get some more shows. Thanks to our new great booker Stephen Moss from Artery Global. He is doing a great deal of work for us already.
Thanks a lot for the nice interview again and the support, bro. Hope we get the chance this year to visit the USA. We are also working on that and we hope to come there and play a lot of shows and meet all our beloved fans, Support our new album and we love you all, and remember: man is wolf to man.