TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
This interview with the Greek guitarist / keyboard player Bob Katsionis was done through e-mail by Vincent Eldefors in May 2004.
Bob Katsionis is a Greek keyboard player and guitarist who have played with many bands from his country such as Fatal Morgana, Nightfall and Septic Flesh. He is also busy working on his solo career but took some time off answering our questions.
Hello, hope you're fine. First of all, congratulations on your second solo album "Imaginary Force" which has recently been released. Are you happy with the result?
Yeah, definitely. Even if it took me one year more than I expected, I think that I couldnít have done it better. Of course, in my next effort, things will be EVEN better, and thatís the way that every musician should think, I believe.
How would you describe the new album compared to your debut solo effort? Was it difficult composing the new material or does that come natural to you?
I think that this time I focused more on song writing rather than showing my skills and present my self to the audience, as I did with my first release where I was using numerous different riffs/themes in the same song. I think that it was the inspiration that one can meet in a debut release: all the ideas and enthusiasm gathered and exposed at once. Of course, there was no problem on writing the new stuff because I already had 18 tracks to choose from and its true that almost every week I have a brand new track, soÖIím done for the next 5 years already!!!
What is it like being a rock / metal musician in a country like Greece today?
Very, very hardÖI mean, thereís no meaning in playing heavy metal in Greece for many reasons. First of all, there is a strange attitude against the Greek bands/people from labels and thatís no strange to me because you see what happens with the Olympic Games, ha, ha! Next,is the fact that a musician can make a lot of money working on one of the numerous Greek music night clubs/stages so,thereís no point on spending money for heavy metal.Only ROTTING CHRIST,NIGHTFALL, and SEPTIC FLESH have managed to do something so big outside of Greece and now thereís this new generation with bands/persons like Gus G., me and INNERWISH that have good contracts with serious labels and the fate of taking Greek Metal seriously is on our hands!!!
Are you looking forward to the Summer Olympics? Do you do any sporting activities yourself?
Yes,I play some football (soccer) but I prefer the virtual version of it as presented in Pro Evolution Soccer 3 on Playstation 2.It rules!!!Itís also true that Iím looking forward to the Olympic Games because all the constructions will be ready and after the event my city,Athens will be a really cool city to live in!
You started playing keyboards at the age of 10 but you were not very happy with what you had to play at the conservatory. What kind of music was that? Do you still think that the conservatory was important for your development as a musician?
Apart of the classical music stuff like Bach, Czerny and Sonatines I had to play some Greek songs and other classic pop songs that I really didnít like at all but now,after 14-15 years I see that anything you learn is important, if you want to be a complete, open-minded musician. Of course, my technique was highly developed after getting in touch with the music of Dream Theater, ELP and other keyboard driven stuff like this!
Was it because you were bored with keyboard playing that you decided to buy your first guitar in 1992, at the age of 14? Was it easier learning a new instrument then than it was when you started with keyboards?
I canít say that it was so easy as guitar has nothing to do with keyboards but after a short period of time the knowledge of one instrument was helping the other and so.I bought my first guitar after listening to metal for a couple of years and realising that this certain style of music could help me express my self more than anything else.
Your first band experience was with Skyward (later renamed Retrospect), could you tell us a little about this band? Who were in it and what kind of music did you play?
I did 3 demos with this band that present my evolution on music:the first was hard/heavy metal,the second was more heavy/power and on the 3rd one it was speed/power and then it was Retrospect that were playing progressive metal in the vein of Dream Theater and Fates Warning.Itís also true that our demo back in 1997 was ďDemo Of The MonthĒin Greek Metal Hammer and this helped us a lot in doing some live gigs playing very special stuff like covers from KANSAS, RUSH and FATES WARNING like no band in Greece had done before.
You started getting many offers to do session jobs for various bands like Fatal Morgana, Acid Death and Deviser, which band have you enjoyed the most working with so far?
It was funny that after doing some demos and played on small clubs, I got a call offering me this chance to appear with FATAL MORGANA on the first open air festival ever been in my country(ROCK OF GODS)and that was a big step forward for me. Then I had the chance to play with ACID DEATH, a band that supported acts like ROTTING CHRIST, KREATOR and MAYHEM and then it was DEVISER that I only did one festival with them along with UDO and ANATHEMA, so, I think that it doesnít matter which was the most enjoyable period of all but the fact that I gained a lot of experience which later helped me to join more popular bands in Greece.
In the end of the summer of 2001 you joined Septic Flesh which was a quite extreme band compared to your previous experiences, what was that like? Why did the band split up?
I wasnít scarred by this offer, in fact I was already a member of NIGHTFALL and I knew that with SEPTIC FLESH I would just help my reputation grow faster. And that happened by doing a total of 24 gigs in a period of 6 months(very difficult to achieve for a Greek-based band)including a European tour with ANCIENT RITES, PRIMORDIAL and other great bands. So that was my big step out of the underground scene. I met a lot of useful people,improved my image and started working more professionally in general. Regarding the music style, it didnít scare me to play in one of the most extreme Greek bands as I had all that previous experience you mentioned before. The band was forced to split up because of a contract limitation on their choices and the fact that the guys are now preparing a very big and more extreme project along with SAKIS from ROTTING CHRIST and I would like to wish them good luck.
You are now a member of Nightfall, what is going on with that band at the moment? Do you have any other current projects in the working?
After the relatively success of ďI Am JesusĒ, NIGHTFALL are born again from the ashes and have set new levels and goals to reach. We are currently working on our new cd that will be out on October, once again from Black Lotus Records, and then it will be followed by a DVD scheduled for the Christmas of 2004. We have also done a pretty cool cover on a Dead Can Dance classic tune named ďThe Ubiquitous Mr. LovegroveĒ which will be included in their tribute double-cd once again by BLR.In fact, we are thinking of releasing a single for this track that turned out to be SO great!
As if music was not enough, you own a video-clip making company called Progressive Vision Group, what is this all about?
Itís a cool situation between me and some friends that we just give the chance to make good video-clips without paying a fortune! It was something that was missing from the Greek metal community.I mean, if a band until now wanted to do a video to promote their work,they had to options: do it with one of the known professional companies and pay from 2000-4000 euros or do it themselves or with a friend with no money but most of the times the result was disappointing.So,we offer the chance to do a decent video with a relatively low budget.And of course,with every video we make, we become better and better every time.
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