Looking at the line-up of this band, one could not but expect an interesting result: John WEST (ex-ARTENSION, ex-ROYAL HUNT), Steve DIGIORGIO (ex-DEATH, ex-SADUS etc.), Charlie ZELENY (ex-BEHOLD...THE ARCTOPUS) – all combined under a Greek-named title: MYTHODEA. How come? Christos NIKOLAOU, the main man behind this project explains to ProgArchives and JustIn Case Radio followers how myths become reality in a torrential manner…
Hello Christos! Please briefly introduce what MYTHODEA stands for to our readers:
Hi Thanasi! Mythodea is a symphonic progressive metal band, featuring John West on Vocals and the writing of the lyrics, me on guitars-music composition, Steve DiGiorgio on Bass and Charlie Zeleny on Drums. We just made our appearance with our debut self-titled album Mythodea.
The name of the project came out as rather intriguing to me – how did you come up with the name?
I was looking for a name that would combine music and story-telling. The word Mythodea is a made-up word by the Greek composer Vangelis, and it means song of a myth. I found it very appropriate for my music, because a myth can be a fictional or a real story... and this gives no limitations both musically and thematically. The way I compose music is like creating a soundtrack for a movie... so the less limitations that movie has thematically, the more space it gives me to express it musically.
Is MYTHODEA a “Christos Nikolaou” project with session musicians, a full-time band or something in between? – please enlighten us!
I would say that it is something in between. It could be a solo project with my name on it… but I don’t like solo projects. It seems selfish and it discourages the members to participate into the music, and it makes them feel distant from it. I prefer a band with steady members. I feel the combination is right between us… we worked very well together and we have the same passion and madness for music.
Now a question that I guess you get from many: how did you manage to get all these big names under a single roof?? What was your selection process/aims and where there other names on your list – why these specific musicians?
Well, I can say that I was lucky! It all started by aiming high and sending a demo song to John West. I was and I am a fan of his magical voice for more than 10 years now, and working with him was a dream come true. I asked him to record just one song (Ultimate Pain) just for me, because I composed that song imagining only John’s voice in it. I got positive answer, we both liked the result of the first song very much… and I asked “shall we record more?” and he replied “as many as you like”. Never thought of any more musicians participating because I had no budget for a whole album… but John suggested finding more musicians replacing drums and bass, and thanks to him I could now have the attention in order that I can be taken seriously and finally work with musicians I never thought it would be possible to work with. At first I worked with Bobby Jarzombek, we recorded two songs but sadly he was too busy touring and we couldn’t go on. So I found an equally talented drummer who has a great variety in all music styles, Charlie Zeleny. For bassist, John suggested Steve DiGiorgio and of course having this legendary bassist would be amazing. Steve liked my music a lot and he got on board. I consider them Mythodea band members and they feel the same. I can’t describe how happy I am having such talented and great people in my project. The rest of musicians came along within the years of self-producing slowly the album. It was a slow process but very necessary… I learned so many things having all these guys as mentors and gradually improving myself both as musician and sound engineer.
About how I chose all these musicians… simply by their talent. I was feeling that for Nostalgia, for example, the great piano playing of Vitalij Kuprij would be the most fitting and it was. The same happened also with all the rest of the musicians, and knowing one led to a network of more talented musicians. The problem after a point was only financial. I did everything I could, with the means I had to create this album.
I read that you write all the music for the project – how long did it take you to complete the music for the album? Will there be space for other composers in the future for MYTHODEA?
Yes, I compose all the music for Mythodea. Composition is something that I love and I’m trying to evolve in. Most of the music was already made, but in primate stages… they sounded demo, and 4-5 years ago didn’t have a good picture of my style. I was composing how I felt, and whenever I was inspired without forcing myself. Having no deadline for completing my album, was a good chance for improving the already composed songs and create more, and at the same time improve myself as sound engineer. You may have a good composition but the way you can orchestrate it and how you can present it takes the half of your effort. My style is multilayered and everything is on the move... so, having so many instruments playing all together is a very challenging task both as an arrangement and a mix.
I haven’t worked together with another composer in the past. I wouldn’t mind, but I believe that the sound will be totally different.
What is the lyrical story of the album? To me it sounded a kind of “Ode to the Greek Gods” (laughs) – is there a specific story or concept behind it?
Haha, thank you very much! This is actually a very honoring title!
This album is not a concept though, but the themes are similar. They have to do with the human nature itself. Everything that we experience in our lives, our feelings, disappointments and temptations. I have plans though, of making in the future a concept album or a concept song. I think it is very appropriate for my style of music.
How would you characterise the MYTHODEA sound? Would you like to assign some tags for the benefit of our readers? Surely the term “progressive” is a valid one…
I’m not very fond of tagging, but of course they are useful for the listeners to get an idea of what to expect to listen in a band. Mythodea is a symphonic progressive metal band, with all the creation effort being focused not to impress with technical skills, but mostly it is focused on the music itself, in the description and presentation of its lyrical theme. I would characterize Mythodea as a heavily orchestrated melodic music, a balanced combination of symphonic soundtrack music and power progressive metal band, which both depend on the other. Most bands compose the riffs and their music could stand easily with just only the main band playing, without the orchestra. My music would sound incomplete without the orchestra, it plays a great role to my music.
Following from the above, does the term progressive rock mean something special to you or is it just another means of categorising the music? What are your predictions about the future of prog rock?
I believe the term Progressive Rock is a tag describing originality, so I would say that it is the tag of no tag in music. Music has no limits, so personally when I compose I’m not thinking that now I’m going to create a power song, or a technical hard-to-digest song or anything like that. I have a theme in my mind, and depending on that, I’m trying to express it as well as possible, and that only leads me to the appropriate music. I like the term progressive, because I aim for originality and to evolve musically but always keeping in mind the beauty of music. Predictions about progressive rock… I’m very optimistic that listeners’ hunger for a better, honest and more interesting music will make progressive genre to have more and more fans. I’m hoping that metal in general will finally be more appreciated. There are great minds and talents, and I hope they will see the light of day and be recognized.
Buzz word: influences – what are your influences as a musician (e.g. other musicians, bands, styles) and which of these found their way through to your music?
Whatever I’m listening to and keeps me interested in, I can say that it’s my influence. The way that a composer orchestrates a full orchestra, or a guitarist composes riffs, even experiences in my life, broadens up my ideas. My favourite bands are Symphony X, Adagio, Evergrey among few others, but my main influences are composers from baroque and classical era like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, and more recent composers from the movie industry like John Williams, James Horner, Howard Shore, Danny Elfman etc. I would say that my music is a mixture of all this, All these composers and bands have helped me find my way and finally shape my own sound.
What’s your personal philosophy or/and mottos of your life?
I believe that the ability to think for yourself, being original as a person and having the wisdom to take selfless decisions no matter the cost, is my main philosophy. Self-preservation and survival by hurting others are primitive instincts that only education and music can help keep away from and evolve as better people. I mentioned music also because as Plato said music indeed “gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything.”
What would you advice someone who is currently aspiring to sink her/his band in the challenging world of progressive rock?
I’m quite new to this. I can’t tell that I have much of experience. The only thing I could advise from my brief journey making this album and working together with such great musicians, is to take your time, be patient, don’t be very eager to release your music to the world, unless you are very happy with it and you did everything you could for it. Just be yourselves and enjoy the creation of your music, and time will tell about the rest.
The album has been released only digitally – do you see this as a more direct way of promoting your music? Was there/is there any interest from record labels in releasing your material now or in the future?
Producing an album is very costly. I self-produced it, and it took me four years to complete it. After mastering it, and feeling that I had to move on, I thought that it was about time to release it. Surely, digital release is fast and easy way for the artist, but it’s not the best. Most listeners want to have the actual CD with the booklet, and artwork in their hands. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bare further costs so I made only a digital release for the time being. Hopefully, a record label will help me soon with the physical release. I’m expecting some answers from a few. Thanks to the crises which has affected all of us, has affected also the labels. Booking a contract is not easy no matter how good or bad the music is. No matter if a label helps me or not, I will make a physical release also in the near future.
I enjoyed the album quite a lot but I will try to remain as unbiased as possible (laughs) – what has been the reaction to the album so far from the press and metal fans?
I’m very glad that you enjoyed the album! Receiving positive feedback it is the best reward for me. Thank you!
It’s two months after the release, the exposure process is kinda slow, but I’m very happy that the people who have commented in facebook, youtube and e-mails and from the reviews, were very kind and generous to my music. It is a nice feeling that my work had only positive reaction (so far!). I hope more people will get to know Mythodea and then I will have a better picture of how they think about it.
Do you (as Christos) have any side projects/musical collaborations beyond METHODEA? How do the members of the project balance their time between this and other projects?
Mythodea is the only project I work on. I just want to make as many albums as possible! The other members of course they are super busy with many projects at the same time. The fact that I only compose the music and there is no deadline makes it quite easy. They don’t have for now to balance their time with me and the other projects. When I will be ready I will notify all the rest members and we will then work all together. For now we just keep in touch as friends, and exchange ideas for the future.
Are there plans to see MYTHODEA live in Greece or elsewhere? I can imagine that it would be a challenging task to get all members together and reproduce the album in a live set?
Yea, it’s a bit difficult for something like that to happen. Maybe it would be easier for me to go to USA instead of them to come all over to Greece. My main interest for now is to make more studio works… and if there will be the right response it would be great to play some Mythodea music to the fans. The ideal for me, live or studio work, would be to play together with live full orchestra .
What does the future hold for MYTHODEA? Any further surprises?
Well, yes… I’m working on it! I’m hoping that you will enjoy the second album even more when of course I release it. It’s very soon to tell, but the four songs I have composed already sound different and promising. It’s still the Mythodea you have heard already, but more evolved. Depending on finance of course I would be happy to work with additional talented musicians or even with a live orchestra… all depends on what future holds.
A message from your part for the listeners of JustIn Case Prog Radio, Greece is…
I would like to wish to them a happy 2013 full of music! And my thanks to those who support Mythodea!
Any final words?
Just a big thanks to you Thanasis for this interview and your interest in Mythodea.
I would like to invite everyone to feel free to join to Mythodea facebook page so you get all the updates and have a talk about the band or music in general.
All the best!
MYTHODEA’s profile on PA: http://www.progarchives.com/artist.asp?id=7737
MYTHODEA official webpage: http://www.mythodeaband.com/home.cfm
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MythodeaBand
Youtube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/MythodC
JustIn Case Radio Progducer & Progressive Metal Collaborator in www.progarchives.com