Interview for FIRE magazine

With Stefano Cerati • FIRE Magazine #5 • April 2017

Would you say that your music is inspired by Greek mythology and folklore?
We could say that our music is greatly influenced by our homeland’s music tradition, a blend of folk rhythms and harmonies from the Mediterranean and the East that coexists with Western rock music. The ideas and symbolism that complete this whole thing are most often drawn from Greek mythology and literature, yes, but not entirely.

Is your intent to give value and recognition all over the world to Greek culture?
Ιt’s not what we have in mind no, not consciously anyway. It just happens to be the culture we were born into, and therefore the one we understand best, so it’s an expressional medium for us and a very deep well of ideas we can implement in our music. We think that artists should be sincere with themselves, the ways they express their creativity are better when they come from things they really know, or at least have a solid ground of such. If originality is impossible to achieve in this age, at least try and ‘steal’ ideas, images, shapes and forms you really know what they mean and where they come from.

You played also an Aphrodite Child’s cover, The Four Horsemen. So do you see a direct link between you and this legendary prog band of early 70s? Do you want to continue the Greek rock tradition? By the way Mercury is a god as well Aphrodite.
It would be an honour if someone acknowledged a link between us and Aphrodite’s Child, one of the greatest bands ever to have lived. We would like to think that in some way we do continue a tradition if there can be one, but all that is not for us to say. We just found a perfect guide to making a truly great album in A.C.’s “666”, and that’s why we even covered one of the songs in that album, to really see how it works at the same time we were recording “Archetypes”. The god Mercury is the Roman analogue to Hermes of course, and Aphrodite once became his wife and gave birth to Hermaphroditus, their child. One big happy family the Greek and Roman gods.

Do you have a particular love for dark atmospheres. Is it where you give your best and feel comfortable? Where does this darkness come from?
Yes we do, every single one of us more or less. The darkness comes from the people we are I guess, what we are made of and what we have been through in our lives so far. We do laugh often too though and most of us love the Sun and the light. It’s the creation process that is best done in the dark.

I noticed some similarities with Doors and Danzig especially as far the vocals. Were Jim Morrison and Glenn Danzig inspirational singers and characters?
The Doors are a major influence indeed, for everyone. Morisson and Danzig are two of Spyreas’ major influences in particular, yes. Both lyrically and vocally.

I see in your music elements of folk, psychedelia, prog, hard rock and garage rock. How would you describe what you play?
We have stopped trying to play the game of labels and genres a long time now. We like to say that we play “pagan rock”, which is as abstract and precise at the same time as possible.

What is your take about a title like Archetypes? My take is that Greece is the cradle of culture in Europe and you built a lot of archetypes in philosophy, theatre or mythology and your goal is to spread the Greek legacy to the world.
The fundamental archetypes for western culture and science were indeed born in this part of the world. In a way it is a privilege to live so close and get the chance to really know a culture of theatre, poetry, music, philosophy, and an appreciation of human life with people at its centre and the body, mind and spirit in harmony as principles. A long history with uncountable lessons to be comprehended, no matter how much it has decayed and lost its path. But we have no such aspiration of being the ones to literally spread that legacy, rather than becoming better musicians and people ourselves by exploring it in a sober manner, now that the times are getting darker for the whole world day by day and the human mind is under attack. There are always lessons to be taught by ancient ideas from all around the world, the spiral of history always returns to some centre in some way, we just want to sound like the land we really come from and if people from far away happen to come in contact with the greek culture and some good ideas through us, well that would be welcome.

You use some interesting arrangements with piano, santouri and bouzouki. Will you be able to play live in full, displaying all the nuances of your music with these instruments?
There are indeed some challenges in the way “Archetypes” was arranged with some extra instruments, but we have already overcome all that in the live performance of the album in other ways. There is a lot of improvisation and a different approach of dynamics and energy when these songs are performed live. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to witness that up close, soon.

There’s an impressive number of guests on the records. Once again were they necessary to implement your sound and give an extra vibe to the songs?
Well yes, in order to make this album sound solid and to preserve the sense of continuity in some intense differences between the ‘chapters’, we used the additional musicians as would a director use extra actors in a film. When it is performed live they are not required, the balance is different.

Some songs like If We Were Blind and Nothing We Can Do sound like pagan rituals (IMO the best tracks on the record). Was it your intention to play this sort of magic folk?
Yes, these two songs together with “The Lunatic” are the ones we took it as far as it could go. They are exactly what we had in mind as far as the implementation of the greek folk element is concerned.

Why did you put a couple of interludes and did you name them after two gods as Hermes and Apollo?
“Hermes” features an excerpt from the book of Hermes Trismegistus. “Apollo” is a prayer to God that references Christian scripture and at the same time defies the dogma. Jesus as the Son of God is the equivalent of Apollo, the God of Sun, so there you have it. Both interludes are breaths between changes of scenes.