The Elysian Fields (Greece) 08/12/2010
One of the most underrated band of the Greek Black/Death scene is The Elysian Fields. With a 10 years journey in music and 4 albums to their credit, they may be underrated because of the fans and the labels, maybe because of their own choices, however they have given music which will be remembered by a few fans who appreciated their work. We came in contact with MARINOS who became a member of the band in 1998 and we had an interesting conversation not only about the band but also about music in general. You may disagree with some of his views, as i also did, but the sincerity and the authenticity of MARINOS make the interview remarkable...
1. Give me some information about The Elysian Fields. Describe to me your experience inside the band. Why you didn't continue with the band?
Marinos : Good evening and thanks for the interest. I want to make it clear from the start that i won't talk on behalf of the band. I will talk as MARINOS (composer) who played for The Elysian Fields. I played keyboard and guitar, i made composition of some drums, instrumentation etc... The result though was coming out by the contribution of every member. The Elysian Fields is an avant-garde band (that's how it was described by the journalists back then) that was created in 1994. The members were using guitars-drums-bass-piano-keyboard-and violin later. I took part in the album "12 Ablaze" and every album from then. I became a member of the band in 1998 when the 2nd album "We...The Enlightened. It was the best Greek band that i had ever heard and i was really glad that i became its member! When i had listened to "Adelain" in 1995 i had been very surprised! Then from Elysian Fields we became The Elysian Fields because of the existence of another band with the same name. Later we put more keyboards and the band's style changed a little: groovier passages, techno keyboards etc. but the seal of The Elysian Fields remained. For some time now the band has split up. That was a decision of our singer (don't ask for details). As he decided to split up the band, we accepted that as he is the owner of the band. He owned the name. Our myspace, where you found us, was created by a fan after we split up.
2. Who was the main composer of the band? From where do you get inspired to write music?
Marinos : The music of The Elysian Fields was the result of the cooperation of all members. We were composing all together. Even if someone had an idea 100% complete all members had to agree in order to put it in the album without working on it. About inspiration, comes from everywhere. I personally like to compose music when i see or imagine a landscape, when i listen to the music that i like etc... Even suddenly when i do nothing.
3. How was the scene in Greece that time? Was there any support from the Metal fans? Any interest from abroad? What's your opinion about the Greek BLACK METAL scene and generally Metal in Greece?
Marinos : The scene in Greece was always very bad (with some exceptions). Many posers and no inspiration. Much corpsepaint and no music. It's something else to use corpsepaint and play good music and it is something else to use it and don't play well. BLACK METAL is something else than "idiot" Metal (or just idiot because the music played by some bands who use corpsepaint and hit a guitar is not Metal.) BLACK METAL is a style of Heavy Metal with darker lyrics and atmosphere. That's why it's called "BLACK" METAL. One thing only is for sure: The "dark" feeling the heavy atmosphere isn't achieved by using corpsepaint and scratching a guitar, but by playing music like Cradle of Filth, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir, Samael, Dark Funeral and some older bands like Venom, Mercyful Fate, Bathory etc... In Greece people didn't know what Heavy metal or Metal in general is. People and press in Greece starts to understand what Metal is the last few years with the big success of Slipknot etc.About BLACK METAL in general after 2000 all those who were just producing noise andusing corpsepaint were disappeared and only those who were playing music remained like Cradle of Filth, Satyricon, Dimmu Borgir, Samael, Dark Funeral that i just mentioned. In the other hand the rise of techno metal(!!!) with "Du hast" of Rammstein, "Jihad" of The Kovenant, and some older bands "Fatherland" of Die Krupps, "Their Law" and "Breath" of The Prodigy etc... (we are talking about very commercial albums...) It was time to remember some techno themes that also the other members liked as i understood after and from 2001 we were using them. I wanted to mix techno with Metal from 1991 because i thought that they mix good. The issue is: What Heavy Metal is? Let's make it clear once and for all! It is a kind of music the name of which came from a journalist after a live show of Jimi Hendrix. Because he couldn't explain that he had listened to, he wrote: It's like heavy metal falling from the sky. Jimi played among many songs, "Purple Haze" and he changed the chords so that he made a nightmare combination of chords with much distortion for that time. The melody of his voice was still in rock scales (to be exact blues scales). After that Black Sabbath mixed blues, the melody-epic with the nightmare feeling with distortion and they played Heavy Metal. Even Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin created Heavy Metal songs. When somebody told to OZZY for the first time that he plays Heavy Metal, OZZY didn't understand and i don't know if he knows how this term was created. But the "tra la la" choruses of Stratovarius aren't Metal! However the Greek press was telling the kids that it was Metal. Instead of making covers of Pantera, Korn, Disturbed as the European press did, they put in their covers those "tra la la" bands and they supported that it was true Metal! The press in Greece (metal hammer etc...) is to blame for the Greek decadence! They should be blamed for the fact that there was no big bang for Metal in Greece! I wonder how you (press) gave good reviews to our "bastard" metal... See what does the majority of people call Metal... Metal has heavy riffs and it doesn't matter if there are rap vocals or techno keyboards... It doesn't have silly "tra la la" or shitty corpsepaint with guitar raping! Grunge also helped Metal as Metal exists in Alice in chains, Soundgarden, Nirvana. It didn't repel Metal as some ignorants were saying, but posers! On the contrary it pushed the childen to get a guitar and except of Nirvana they also started to play Metallica etc. I was in Belgium back then and i lived that period from inside during my adolescent. About us the peoples' interest depended on the advertising that we had. Everyone that listened to us, liked our music. Labels were pleased by us. But you can't expect much by small labels. We could have moved to bigger labels but we didn't. We had some suggestions to play in big festivals. But it was not everything in our lives! We had our jobs, universities etc...
4. What kind of music in general do you listen to? Do you want to make for me a top 10 of old or new bands that you listen to?
Marinos : Hmmm... Here what can i firstly say?... I have to say much as i have always been listening everything... I want say only 10. Nowadays i am listening again a little of every type of music as i always did but mostly 80's pop (many times with progressive and little jazz features) and a little Italo-Disco. Briefly, i listen to Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, A-ha, Petshop Boys, Sade, Den Harrow, Talk Talk, Sandra, Kim Wilde, Gazebo, Genesis, Miles Davis... But i also listen to some new stuff (when i don't listen to 80's music) like Die Krupps, The Prodigy, Cradle of Filth, dj David, Threat Signal, Hocico, Delerium, Kosheen, Guano Apes, Disturbed, Silent Decent etc... From Greek music when i go to clubs i listen to Sfakianakis, Terzis, Kourkoulis, Dantis... (But as you asked generally, when i was young i liked Anthrax, Carcass, Faith No More, Exodus, Red Hot Chilly Peppers, Bodycount, Cypress Hill, At The Gates, Jamiroquai, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Sepultura, Ozzy, Black Sabbath, Mickael Jackson, Paradise Lost, Sisters of Mercy, Pantera, Bestie Boys, 2 Unlimited, K.L.F., Kreator, Bad Religion, Biohazard, Suicidal Tendencies, Morbid Angel, Quadrophonia, Machine Head, The Prodigy as always and many more...)
5. Do you still communicate with the other members of the band? Have you ever discus for a reunion? From when the band split up what is the occupation of the members? Do you still write music? Do you plan any other project?
Marinos : Yes, we sometimes communicate. However i don't think that we are going to do anything. All members are working and generally we don't have much time. I sometimes compose music. I have composed Greek pop, oriental, Greek music, symphonic music like soundtrack, techno-ebm with guitars, dancing jazz etc...I compose music generally and i have material for 2 more The Elysian Fields albums. I don't know what i will do with that material! I may sell it, i'll think it...
6. What role does "religion" play in your life?
Marinos : "Religion" plays 2 roles in my life : 1) I pay my taxes and my country pays their priests, something that i don't like at all. 2) I turn on unbelievably when i make sex to christian girls (especially if i have met them at weddings etc...). That's how i take it out on them and i have fun. I am anti-religious and especially anti-christian. Religions were created to enslave and separate people.
7. After the first album the band was gradually leaving speed behind and was giving attention to melody. After that you added some electro sounds and in general you were changing your style continuously so you were going away from the BLACK/DEATH that you had been playing. That was happening for commercial reasons, so as to gain more attention from the Metal community or it was just the evolution of your music? What comments did you receive by your fans and by the press for that change?
Marinos : What are you talking about? We were never playing Black/Death exclusively. We always had a great variety of sounds from a lot of musical styles, that's why we were a unique band.As i told you before, Metal is a mix of many kinds of music. We from the other hand we made more mixing in styles of music than the mixing that the old Metal had. So we put Gothic, techno, progressive, '80ies melodies, classical, symphonic music etc. If it was in my hand and i didn't have to ask the two other members, i would have put more musical scales, music conversions etc. Moreover, we had big variety in speed and we always had melody! We were just composing different albums because that's what we liked to do. We were always evolving but there was always the special ''Elysian Fields'' sound! That's what people liked and the press reviews were fantastic. Many people (so to us) like that a musician has always inspiration and he isn't boring. Nothing was made for commercial reasons. In our last album the only thing that we did was to abstract the very slow parts because they didn't fit. We put more heavy modern groovy parts. We always did what we wanted and people knew that. About the re-release of suffering G.O.D. almighty with more techno-trance keyboards from my new synthesizer, the people that listened to it that it should be released after 10 years at least. It is the future sound.
8. Has The Elysian Fields ever played live and if yes where exactly? Which moment in a live you will never forget?
Marinos : We have never played live. We didn't care. Also in order to play live we should have 8 persons on stage but we were only 3. If the band was our first occupation we would hire more members and we would play all over the world. But in order to do that and to live by our music, we should have singed a contract with a big label as we had the opportunity! But! We didn't do that!... The band wasn't our basic occupation! It was our hobby! We were pleased with that! We were pleased only with the part of composing music and nothing else...
9. Do you know the selfcalled scene ns BLACK METAL? What is your opinion about that scene? Do you agree with the match of Metal with extreme political views?
Marinos : I have graduated from the politics department of panteion university, I am a thinking being and ''ζώον πολιτικόν'' as Aristoteles says about people, i don't know what someone means when he selfcalled something. Someone should explain to me what does "ns" that you write, mean. Metal music though exists from 1968. From the first years (let's say from 1970) had relationship with politics: I will refer to "War Pigs" of Black Sabbath which is talking about warlusting pigs. (Well wars will always happen because of the borders. This happens due to State centrism.)
10. Tell me your plans about the future. Do you want to say some last words?
Marinos : Thanks for the interest and good luck. I will continue my life as everyone else. I don't have something planed about music to tell you for sure. Time will show... I'm not trying for it though... I just compose music... Anyone who wants information about The Elysian Fields visit www.myspace.com/theelysianfieldsofficial. Listen to a lot of music! Listen whatever you like depending on the time. Music is good!
11. Thanks for the interview. Good luck in everything you do.
Marinos : I thank you again!