Questions: Tasos Poimenidis, Dimitris Kaltsas
Translation: Alexandros Mantas
Just recently they performed in Thessaloniki and the next day they came to Larissa where we enjoyed them (click). Poem do not need any references. With the release of their third album entitled Unique (our reviews here) they certified that they constitute one of the most prominent Greek heavy bands and their alternative prog metal cannot be confined within geographic borders. A few days before they take the stage of Kyttaro Venue (15/2) we got the chance to discuss with George Prokopiou, Laurence Bergstrom, Takis Foitos and Stavros Rigos.
It’s been almost a year since the release of Unique. In hindsight, are you pleased with it? Is there anything you would do in a different way?
Stavros: Truth is, if there was anything we didn’t like, it wouldn’t have worked its way in the album. Invariably, all musicians when listening back to their music will think twice about some stuff, but that’s because we evolve both as musicians and men. With regard to promotion of Unique, we feel good because we stack to the plan we were proposed to.
It took only two years between Unique and Skein Syndrome in comparison to the time that intervened between the first two albums. What was the audience’s response to Unique?
George: Because of the fact that it didn’t take us long to put out our latest release, the result was that people it embraced more compared to Skein Syndrome. The audience, when you’re a band of such caliber, wants you to be in constant motion. It’s the only way to be convinced that the band is active and meets the standards to follow it.
Are there any fan-favourite songs at gigs?
Laurence: Of course there are! Weakness is one of them off Skein Syndrome – perhaps the fan-favourite. This thing alone, fires us up when we’re on stage!
Unique followed Skein Syndrome pretty soon. The songs for your third album were written after Skein Syndrome or they were pre-existing ones which you had simply left aside for future usage?
George: There’s always this option because every time we put together an album there are bits and pieces that don’t work their way in it, but they could well fit in another song. Admittedly they are not many of them because we mean to come up with fresh ideas. If there is a part which is written in the past and we want to throw it in, then we will craft it to serve the freshness of what we are currently doing. As a rule, we prefer tapping into new and fresh ideas.
In Unique there are elements non-existent in your previous two albums. Which were your influences while composing the album?
Stavros: I’m not sure if we can pin down exactly what influenced us in the process. It’s something impulsive and unconscious. The general influences that make us write the music we do are the ones that constitute the musical personality of every one of us.
A stronger emphasis has been placed on the guitar solos. How come? Will you evolve this aspect?
George: If this is the picture the listener gets, it is because it felt more natural to us in the album as a whole. The fact that Lawrence contributed with his own material has played its role, like we were saying in the previous question.
Which are your individual influences and what is it that every member brings on the table?
George: There are bands and musicians we collectively like (Tool, Opeth, etc) but naturally every one of us has their personal preferences. I’m more influenced by grunge. Laurence, aside the common things we like, also listens to a lot of fusion, Takis who joined us recently is into nu metal whereas Stavros likes the 60’s – 70’s progressive scene. This has done us the world of good since through our interaction great things pop up, with regard both to music and lyrics.
What is the setup when Poem compose a song? Is it a jam-product or the members come up with complete compositions?
Laurence: It’s both. Jam works wonders to develop an idea or connect two parts. Whatever the approach, it is a collective work piece of work. But also complete compositions or riffs which everybody works on them to become arranged and complete songs do exist.
What was the experience of touring Europe?
Stavros: Basically we figured out that it takes hard work and dedication to achieve anything out there since the level, the competition and professionalism among other things are pretty high. We also understood that we are game for it, namely composing and gigging as much as possible, in every place imaginable.
Should we expect a new tour outside Greece soon?
Stavros: Touring is always in the band’s plans. Once on tour, always on tour! But the time is not right to say anything about it because even though some thoughts and propositions do exist, nothing is concrete yet. When the time has come, we’ll probably go to places we’ve been before.
Any funny incident you would like to share with us?
Laurence: We are spoilt for choice! We still remember the final show when first touring with Amorphis and Textures. It is accustomed for the bands to pull pranks to one another at the end of the tour. While George was addressing to the crowd in between the songs, they played animal sounds through the monitors (donkeys, seagulls, roosters, hens, etc) and we were laughing our ass off on the stage! Textures on the other hand, joined us on stage during the last song of our setlist pretending they were playing along to the last riff! And in our headline tour, at the final song, final show at Milano, Damnations Day together with White Walls came up on the stage dismantling the drums and taking the parts with them along with anything else they could get their hands on and as a result Stavros ended up playing the song with the snare drum only! It was hilarious!
Is there any band you dream of touring with?
Takis: The perfect gift we could ever imagine would be a tour including…Tool…Opeth.
Any material for your fourth full-length album?
Takis: We are at a stage now where composing new material is part of the schedule, among all the other stuff we have to do. Everything is still pretty rough, but there are things that will end up in the album. It still requires a lot of work!
The progressive element is part and parcel of your sound. Which is the response of the Greek audience to prog/rock metal today?
George: The last few years the Greek scene has made leaps forward, many good musicians and bands sprout in this field. People respond to that because they see that these bands lack nothing when compared to household names. There are people (like you, for instance) in our country that support us and believe in what we do, which gives us strength!
What should we expect from your upcoming gig at the Kyttaro Club? Will you include material from The Great Secret Show, too? This is something that would delight many fans (us included!).
Laurence: Intensity, passion, energy, a long set-list and generally it will be a wonderful night with friends, not only on, but also off stage; and yes, we’ll play songs from all the albums, we want it, too! Brush up on all the albums! Count The Great Secret Show in!
Thank you very much for the talk guys! See you in the flesh at the Kyttaro Club!
It’s us who thank you, can’t wait to see all of you at the Kyttaro Club on the 15th of February!