ROTTING CHRIST

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TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE

Rotting Christ were one of the first Greek black metal bands, having formed already in 1987. Eight albums into their long career they are still going strong and show no signs of slowing down. On September 22nd, 2005, the band performed at Club 666 / Klubben in Stockholm, Sweden, as part of the 'Blitzkrieg III' touring package with Vader, Anorexia Nervosa and Lost Soul. The chief editor of Tartarean Desire, Vincent Eldefors, spent some time talking to the Rotting Christ mastermind Sakis Tolis prior to their show.

It is a very calm, friendly and relaxed Sakis Tolis who puts his guitar aside to talk to me for a little while. Rotting Christ is currently participating in a very long tour of which they have done 17 shows already, 11 of those in Poland, the home country of two of the bands on the tour - headliners Vader and death metal upcomers Lost Soul.

- "We have played in Germany and now in Scandinavia. Before that we did some shows in the Baltic states. Right after this show we will go to Russia. We have more than 60 shows in a row. It's a really long tour."

Sakis in fact believes it's the longest tour they have done so far and as if this wasn't enough they might have some American dates coming up later on as well. The best thing about touring for him is to play each night and meet a lot of people.

- "That's the call of every musician, to play, right? But sometimes it is very tiring. People think there are groupies and stuff but it's not like that. You have to drive very long, yesterday we played Trondheim in Norway, tonight it's Stockholm and tomorrow Copenhagen. But that's rock 'n roll, it's metal, it's heavy metal."

Even though he enjoys touring he doesn't find it as exciting as it was ten years ago.

- "When you are very young and it's the first time you get to see everything. All the time you are drunk. But then you calm down. If you drink every night you are sick after five days and you can not play. That's why we are here, to play, not to have holidays. Of course it's still fun but in a more mature way."

Sakis says they do not make very much money from touring and also explains that during the last five years musicians have been making less money from CD sales too because of mp3 downloads, something that Rotting Christ have noticed directly when sales have gone down.

Rotting Christ did their first tour in 1993 together with Canada's Blasphemy and Norwegian legends Immortal.

- "That was a very nice tour actually. It was the first ever second generation black metal tour. It was oh, every night drunk, every night stoned, you know. It was a very good experience and nice to meet black metal musicians."

Sakis has kept in touch with Immortal ever since and also all the other bands who have shared touring space with Rotting Christ throughout the years. In June this year Rotting Christ was about to play two large Greek festivals but was forced off the bills because of Dave Mustaine of Megadeth.

- "Yeah, he found our music offensive and has become a new born Christian or something like that. It's stupid, it's not metal, it's not freedom of choice. It is being said that we live in a democratic, free society so everyone has the right to do what they want.

Very early in their career the band was offered their first record contract by Mayhem's Euronymous and his label Deathlike Silence Productions.

- "Yeah, but unfortunately he didn't release anything. We have always had good connections with the Norwegian bands. It's not like in the beginning, you know. I call these days the old glory days. Now things are a bit financial, it's about selling figures. It used to be very different, easy and without competition. After big labels became interested they destroyed everything."

Sakis still loves bands like Dimmu Borgir which he considers a true band but he doesn't approve of the attitude of some younger bands who want nothing else but to become rock stars right from the start. It doesn't work out and you lose the sense of underground. After the fruitless co-operation with Deathlike Silence, Rotting Christ ended up with the French label Osmose Productions and the Greek label Unisound Records for a while but these deals did not work out very well for the band. Now Rotting Christ has released six full-length albums for Century Media but things are still changing.

- "We are over with Century Media, we're finished with them. We have some offers and as soon as we're back from the tour we'll look closer at them."

Sakis says that he is still satisfied with the support from Century Media during these years but that it is time to move on and the new contract will definitely be with another label.

In July 2004 Rotting Christ parted ways with their second guitarist Kostas but Sakis has found a new guy to fill his shoes on this tour namely the guitarist George Bokos from fellow Greek metallers Nightfall.

- "He just joined the tour and he is doing very well."

Speaking about what else is new in the Rotting Christ camp, Sakis tells me that their only goal right now is to play as much as possible all over the world. That's what it's all about being in a band. Their last album "Sanctus Diavolos" was released in 2004 but so far they have not had enough time to begin working on new material for the next release. Sakis prefers to sit down and concentrate when writing new material but this year they have had too many shows. Perhaps after the tour this will happen?

- "I hope so. I have to actually.", Sakis laughs.

Rotting Christ released their one and only DVD so far, "In Domine Sathana", in 2003, which was recorded at a show in Poland with many extras, but are right now planning for a second digital representation of their dark arts. Sakis hopes to release the DVD some time in 2006 and it will, among other things, include a history of the band.

Sakis tells me that in their home country Greece most people know the name Rotting Christ even if they are not metal fans. The band has been featured on national television where the name is censored out because of problems with strong religious conservative forces within the country. He still doesn't feel that censorship is a big problem in Greece today and the Greek metal scene is very strong.

- "Yeah, there are many good bands and many shows. All the bands come to Greece on tour today. Ravencult are great and the old Greek bands like Varathron, Necromantia... Astarte are doing well too, many good bands deserve attention."

Greece is a very attractive country for international tourists for obvious reasons and Sakis has meant many Swedish people there. I, and probably many others with me, probably wish to see more of Greece than just the beaches and Akropolis. Then, where should one go?

- "You should go to the north of Greece. It's full of mountains, a nice ancient landscape, very unlike the typical tourist places in Crete for example. I prefer to see something different now in my life. You can see the northern parts, the Macedonian parts - Alexander the great and old towns. That's my opinion."

Even though Sakis enjoys Greece and was born there he is not 'Greece addicted' as he puts it and isn't really into countries but more the people. He believes that people have the same problems everywhere all around the world. He loves Greece and would like it to be a better place. Travelling is something that Mr. Tolis does enough with the band and therefore he prefers to relax on an isolated island or another distant location in Greece for a month when he can spare the time. Is Rotting Christ a full-time job now?

- "Yes, for me it is because I book the shows, I write the music, I write the lyrics, bla bla bla... It takes all the time. Sometimes I do some other jobs. I can make a living out of it but it's really in a limit. But that's the goal. I don't want to be rich in money, I want to be rich in my heart."

I wrap up the interview and thanks Sakis for taking the time to speak to us and wish him good luck for tonight's show, something that I realize he probably needs very little, having spent more than ten years in a touring band.

Thanks a lot to Jenny from Border and Club666 for their help in setting up this interview.


Links of interest:

Rotting Christ
Century Media
Border Music
Club666
Fryshuset