By Miguel B. Ribeiro
Hintf: Thank you very much for this interview, can please explain how all began?
George – We Poem, we are from Athens Greece and we are very happy for this interview!
We play progressive metal and the band was formed back in 2006 and it consists of me, George (vocals, guitar), who’s the oldest member, Stavros (drums), Laurence (lead guitar) and Takis (bass).
We have released 3 albums so far, have played many shows & festivals and 4 EU tours.
Hintf: Why the name Poem?
Stavros – The name was chosen by George back in 2005-2006. He wanted something simple that was musically neutral, that wouldn’t define the sound or genre of the band’s music. I think it’s a nice choice.
Hintf: Many line up changes?
Stavros – As it was mentioned before, George, our vocalist is the oldest member of the band. Back in 2006, the line up was much different. Me, Stavros (drums) entered the band around 2011 and a little bit later, Stratos, the former bassist player. We started creating the Skein Syndrome material, which is the 2nd album. together with our former guitarist George Anagnostou.
Unfortunately, George Anagnostou and Stratos had to leave the band for personal reasons and they were replaced from Laurence and Takis. Our 3rd album, Unique, was composed by the current line up.
The line up changes and the different musical backgrounds, have definitely affected all the 3 albums of the band. For example, Skein Syndrome presents more progressive and complex sound than the debut “the great secret show”, but Unique is more rough.
Εach album expresses a different period of the band and I wouldn’t say one album is the evolution of another. They all have their own reason for existing.
Hintf: What influences your music?
Stavros: As mentioned, we all have different musical backgrounds and also different music taste.
For example, I’m fan of Beatles, Pink Floyd and King Krimson, but George in more into grunge and so on. As far as Greek music is concerned, I wouldn’t call it an influence, it’s more like a part of our culture, our identity, something you are exposed to throughout your life when you are Greek; it is not something you can choose. If it does emerge in your music, and not in a mannerist way -as Giorgos put it- it’s magic. That’s what progressive music is about, combining rock or metal with elements that are quite distant from it and have not been often used in this context. Legendary rock band Socrates did that, because their guitarist Yannis Spathas had really delved in music from Epirus and used it in his technique.
Giorgos: Other influences definitely include classical music, due to our studies. I think this applied to anyone who has received formal musical education, regardless of whether one becomes an actual listener of this type of music in their free time. We might not deliberately use it in our music, but it obviously helps us; like, for example, I use classical placement in my vocals, or you may track a harmony that is primarily based on classical music.
Laurence: Musical studies aside, we have all been listening to a lot of music in our lives. I believe this is an ever-changing process and there are always things you hear or study and practice that might influence you in a subtle way. Of course, there are probably some things that somehow become the roots of what and how you play. This could be the reason you started playing your instrument or singing in the first place. These things stay with you even as years pass and definitely find their way into what you compose. It’s the interesting and beautiful thing about collaborating with other musicians on an album. Everyone in the band contributes to the writing process. We get together and jam, we send ideas back and forth and jam again. This goes on until we have a roughly complete idea of the song. It might start with a lyrical idea, a vocal line, riff or a rhythm pattern. It’s a liberating and selfless creative process.
Hintf: Why progressive metal?
George – People identify us as a progressive metal band. However, we didn’t actually start off with the perspective of playing music belonging to one particular genre. We weren’t even big fans of the genre to begin with, each of us had various influences, and I personally had an affinity for grunge music.
Stavros: You basically start creating music and see where it takes you and, when you come up with something, others suggest that it belongs to this or the other genre, so you’re like “if that’s what you would call it, it’s OK by me”. These are basically labels, and they are useful because they help people reach some kind of understanding, but they shouldn’t limit your expression or make you work having a specific outcome in mind.
Hintf: Singles, eps, albums please tell us all…
Stavros – We have released 3 albums so far, 2018 – “Unique”, 2016 – “Skein Syndrome” and 2009 – “the great secret show” .
The albums “Unique” and “Skein Syndrome” received stunning reviews, worldwide and this landed the band a 45 days European tour, as openers for Amorphis, Textures and Omnium Gatherum in 2016, a support tour for Persefone at 2017, a headline Balkan tour at 2017 and a 2 weeks co-headline European tour with the Australians Damnation Days in 2018 – in all tours Poem triumphantly gathered loads of new fans.
We have shared the stage with Opeth, Ozzy Osbourne, Pain of Salvation, Paradise Lost, Burst, Mekong Delta, Cilice, Rotting Christ, Leprous, Katatonia, Gojira, The Gathering, among others and we have also participated in numerous festivals in Greece and other European countries.
The band’s potential is best reflected in its live performances and is considered as one of the best rock live acts around.
Hintf: How it is to have a thrash metal band in Athens, Gothenburg?
George – We really don’t know! We involve with many genres, but thrash metal isn’t one of them – definitely! Hehe, just kidding – however I’m sure that you meant Progressive metal band, not thrash metal band, right?
All jokes aside, In Greece we have many amazing bands and musicians, really talented to be honest! Especially, the lever is very high for Progressive rock and metal bands. If you have time, please check out Verbal Delirium, Need, Mother Of Millions, Mask Of Prospero, Tardive Dyskinesia, ect. Unfortunately, the crisis situation of the country doesn’t help at all and that’s sad.
Hintf: What are your plans for the future?
George – We ’re currently composing our 4th and our primary plan is to release it around Autumn 2020. However the corona virus situation has brought a few changes, so we don’t know if we’ll be ready until then. Also, we wanted to do a pre release tour in April and May, in Greece, Romania & Hungary, but unfortunately, we had to cancel it due to recent restrictions & respecting public health. When the 4th album will be released, of course we’ll hit the roads of Europe again. Finally, we will perform at Comendatio Fest in Portugal in June, as well as Ready for prog festival in France & Autumn Moon festival in Germany in late Oct 2020.
Of course we don’t forget that we’re facing one of the most severe crises in which the live industry has been hit hardest and we can’t program things at the moment.
Hintf: What is your opinion about Portugal?
Stavros – Well, it will be our first time performing in Portugal and we ‘re very exited that we’ll play at Comendatio Festival. Since Portugal is a Southern Europe country, as Greece, we believe that we probably have the same mentality. We’re looking forward to visiting your sunny country!
Hintf: Imagine you could be an animal, which one you would choose?
Stavros – I don’t know, a tiger or a horse! Proud and fast! hehe
Hintf: Anything you would like to say it wasn’t asked?
We’ve covered pretty much everything, right? We just want this lock down situation to pass and the humanity to be safe again. Until then, stay strong, stay safe and stay home guys! Looking forward to seeing you in Tomar in June!
Thanks for your time.
Source in Portuguese: www.facebook.com/notes/hintf-webzine/entrevista-poem/1392584884262999/