DESERT NEAR THE END (for Rock Hard Magazine #29)

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Vo víre súčasnej politickej situácie je v rámci Európy a Európskej únie asi najviac skloňované meno slnečného juhoeurópskeho štátu, ktorým je Grécko. Na týchto stránkach či riadkoch sa určite nebudeme zaoberať politikou či financiami, práve naopak chcem poukázať, že spojitosť s touto krajinou môže byť iba čisto v rámci hudobnej a priateľskej sfére. Aténska kapela DESERT NEAR THE END nie je zatiaľ až tak veľmi známym pojmom na hudobnom poli, ale aj napriek problémom si srdnato razia cestu vpred. O kapele, ich hudobnej tvorbe i reálnej situácii som si pohovoril s basovým gitaristom Akisom.

Interview was prepared by Kremator (Rock Hard Magazine)rock hard magazine 29
Answering  Akis (DESERT NEAR THE END; bass guitar)

1) According to official information the band DESERT NEAR THE END was formed in 2010. It would be appropriate to introduce your band to fans who did not meet your music yet.
Hello, I’m Akis (bass guitar) from DESERT NEAR THE END and we are a metal band from Athens, Greece. We have released two albums so far “A Crimson Dawn” in 2011 and “Hunt For The Sun” in 2014.

2) On the other hand, you are experienced musicians who started as STORMBRINGER in 1997 and later you changed the name to THE EVENTIDE about 2001, and as DESERT NEAR THE END from 2010. What was wrong with the name of the band you had to change a few times? DESERT NEAR THE END is a follower of the aforementioned bands or is that a brand new band?
Yes we used these names in the past and we stack with the name Eventide for quite some time we have even recorded a full length (and still unreleased) album back in 2005. At some point we realized that there were at least two other bands with the same name one from Sweden and another one from USA. So we decide to change our name into something more personal and less generic, something that has a meaning only to us and was born from our music and our lyrics. So DESERT NEAR THE END was the name and we are both a new band and at the same time we continue to walk the same way as before. Because we are at the end the same people. When we changed our name we didn’t leave anything behind, we just needed to express everything we had inside us in a more strong and personal way. All the names you’ve mentioned were steps that we needed to take in order to find our musical self. Stormbringer, The Eventide (and some others that you hopefully don’t know..) are the story of our influences when DESERT NEAR THE END is our story!

3) The Greek metal scene (especially in Athens) made a huge step forward in the last years and its quality is undeniable on a global scale. ROTTING CHRIST, SEPTICFLESH, NIGHTFALL bands or SUICIDAL ANGELS with probably highest similarity to you are well known names in the world. How is this scene accepted by the Greek public, what are the relationships among the bands and how do you see it?
All these bands that you have mentioned are really big in Greece and I personally consider Rotting Christ as a big influence and one of my favourite bands. But we have also smaller groups that are equally good like Karma Violence and Agnes Vein just to mention a few. The entire scene has very warm acceptance by the public and you can see it from the increasing number of people that goes to shows of big and smaller groups, something that didn’t happen a few years ago. As for the relationships between the bands is good in general and most of the bands are willing to help and support each other. But we can’t avoid something that was always a problem in Greece: the formation of closed groups of bands based on musical or aesthetic similarities, which is a good thing at first glance but if you look deeper at least in my opinion is a problem because the collapse of borders between the different genres of metal is what made the Greek scene and Metal in general to flourish these past years. You must choose the bands you want to hear or play together (if you are a musician) based on which is good or bad or what do you like to hear, not on similarities or references.

4) I am about to come back a few months ago asking you of still fresh album released in November 2014. Eight tracks “Hunt For The Sun” was actually released three years after the album “A Crimson Dawn”. What was the main reason of that longer time-out?
The main reason was some technical issues that we had because we recorded and mixed the album ourselves and we were not happy with our first try. So we mixed and mastered the album twice and that took us some time! The final mastering was done by John K. (Biomechanical). And then the next reason was that we wanted to complete the line-up of the band before the release of our second album. We were a studio band for many years not actually by choice just gathered bad luck when comes to other band members. But we finally found Thanos (guitar) in 2013 and we were able to support our music on stage again! Then the final thing was to find a record label for “Hunt for the Sun” because we wanted to reach a bigger audience this time since our first album “A Crimson Dawn” was self-released and it could be found only through us. Our friend Ilias Papadakis from Memorain introduced us to Metal Scrap Records and finally November 2014 was the release date of “Hunt for the Sun”. We hope it will not take us that long for our third album!!

desert near the end band5) After the initial riffs (apart from the 20 seconds intro), every listener can feel your music is skillfully mixing thrash and power metal styles. Was it your goal from the very beginning or it processed gradually in the band?
It was definitely our goal from the start. We became fans of many genres through the years and we remain active metal fans first of all. So we try to assimilate every influence but we grew up with bands like Iced Earth and Blind Guardian in the mid 90’s and when you built your core around some things you cannot left them behind no matter how far your music path will take you.

6) When asking you what metal genre is mostly preferred in the band, what would be your response?
Almost everything I think, but to be honest I can answer only for myself. The correct answer from my part is that I don’t prefer a specific genre of metal and I don’t mean on the other hand that I like everything. I listen to bands because I like their music regardless of what genre they serve! So eventually I like bands from all the specter of metal.

7) How much time was needed to make the album? Who cares of lyrics, music writing and so on? Is that an individual or team work?
I’m responsible for the music and most of the lyrics and the usual procedure is when I have the music for a song ready we sit down with Alexandos (vocals) and we work on the vocal melodies together and try to figure out which of our lyrics fits better in the song. Because usually we work the lyrics separately from the music and we put them together at a later stage and then we see which one needs modification. I have to mention here that there is a concept that connects our albums lyrically and will be concluded in our third album. Because of that we often have lyrics without music or entire songs without lyrics because the connection between them is like a marriage you cannot put any piece of music with any lyric and vice versa, you must wait for the right one on either side. As for the time needed to complete the album was almost a year, the further delay was caused by mostly technical issues and line-up changes.

8) What is the basic idea of the album? Please get us briefly to the heart of the lyrics, alternatively to the concept.
As I’ve said in the last question “Hunt for the Sun” is a concept album. It is the second part of a story which started in our first album “A crimson Dawn” and it will be concluded in our next. Everything moves around two ideas:  that something is never lost as long it is not forgotten and for that it may rise again someday and that the absolute light is not guiding, just blinding. Absolutes are not for men, you can hunt for them but you can never catch them. But that’s only the ideas behind the concept, the story itself follows the life of a man who wakes by the sea in a world without sun and without any memory of who he is or what brought him there. So we follow him on his quest for his true self and destiny as he hunts for the sun, the real one, the one who guides and not only blinds. We follow him on his journey from the shores of the sea to the deepest desert, a desert under a sun that never sets in a place where time stand still. He renounce this burning star in the sky as not his Sun and the star in return draws him in the sky and consumes him. And there in flames as a burning star himself he is lost from the world but his trail remains in the sky as a promise for every man. There is where “Hunt for the sun” ends with a promise of return which we hope will be fulfilled in our next album.

9) How did you come to the cooperation with the Ukrainian label Metal Scrap Records and how do you evaluate your cooperation (even though short, perhaps), their promotion, etc?
Last year in March we were on tour along with Memorain and Insidead and Ilias from Memorain, who had a contract with Metal Scrap Records at that time, introduced us to them and we came into agreement for “Hunt for the Sun”. We are very pleased with our collaboration so far, everything goes very smoothly and nice and it’s very important for us to have a way to reach biggest audience with our music this time, because our previews efforts had a very limited distribution.

10) I am to get off the point now and ask you about the atmosphere in Greece. Media compete with each other bringing news of the situation in Greece in the last days. Is it really so hot in there?
Yes the situation is very difficult and actually today that I’m answering the interview is the day of the referendum here in Greece and they have closed our banks for one week now and everyone can understand what that means. As for the media are doing their usual job spreading terror trying to control the public opinion but it seems that they failed to do it. We are all hoping that the situation will take a turn for the better. But the worst thing is a general feeling throughout Greece about a lack of hope for the future in or out Europe.

11) Thanks for the conversation with you. Do you have a message for the fans in Slovakia and Czech Republic?
Thank you for the nice interview and we hope that we will have the chance to come and play there.  And I want to thank everyone who will spend moments and thoughts over our music and always...follow the Path across the Desert...whatever this desert might be.


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