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Winters Verge: Metal Tales from Cyprus

Interview with drummer Chris Ioannides of Winter’s Verge by Vera in January 2010

Early January we welcomed Cypriote metal band Winter’s Verge as opening act for Stratovarius and Mystic Prophecy. They also released their sophomore album on the 29th of January. Since ‘Tales Of Tragedy’ turned into a great power metal album with progressive influences, we made contact with the band. New drummer Chris Ioannides answered all our questions, even those from the past. You can read everything about this seminal band from the beautiful island near Greece!

Recently you did a European tour with Stratovarius and Mystic Prophecy (and I think it was your first tour). What about this experience? Can you tell about this tour, the special happenings, what struck you, etc…
This was our first tour supporting such a legendary band. We have had some great live experiences in the past like touring Greece but this definitely takes the cake!! We knew what to expect as far as the schedule of the tour goes and how things work in these situations (sound checks etc) but the “scary” part is not knowing what to expect from the people that come to the shows. As a band you know that they are not there for you. They are there for Stratovarius, so it’s like a war each night to win the crowd. You have to prove yourself to them. We gave everything and amazingly the people loved us beyond any expectations!!

The band was formed by vocalist George and keyboarder Stefanos. Can you tell a bit more about those founding days and the band’s first years…
The band in the beginning had to undergo many line up changes especially in the guitar and bass sections. George knew what type of style he wanted the band to take on and finding the right and dedicated musicians was a hard job. Winter’s Verge recorded two demo albums, each containing 4 songs and then recorded their first full demo album ‘Another Life…Another End’ which later became the band’s debut album ‘Eternal Damnation’. Like every other band, through the years Winter’s Verge evolved and after six years, here we are today with ‘Tales of Tragedy’.

You live in Cyprus. Nice weather, but not really a benefit for a metal band, I think… Can you tell us a bit more about the struggles you had, due to being located on the small sunny island?
Cyprus is a small place so you can’t expect much as far as a Metal scene is concerned. I believe though that a lot can be done through the Internet these days. Bands struggle anywhere they are. I don’t think that if we were in a town in Alabama or a remote village in France things would be that much easier. The difference here is.... We got great beaches!!

After several demos and a self-released debut album, international recognition came by signing Limb who released ‘Eternal Damnation’. How do you look back at this record and what was achieved with it?
I think you covered it already with your question. Some international recognition came with the first album; “Eternal Damnation” definitely prepared a fan base for the second album. As much as you would like to go back and change things sometimes, in this case we respect that album because that’s the reason we could make a second one.

It meant the beginning of the cooperation with R.D. Liapakis (Mystic Prophecy), how did you get in contact with him?
Well, we knew about Mr. Liapakis and that he is a good producer, so we sent him the demo album ‘Another Life…Another End’ and talked with him. He liked the idea of working with us and I guess the rest is history. Today we also consider him as a very close friend, and not only our producer. He has certainly helped the band a lot and we thank him gravely for this!

How big is his role in the final sound of Winter’s Verge? Is he acting as a kind of technician or a man who comes up with composing ideas, being like a sixth member?
I believe what we like most about R.D is that he shows us the way, but it’s up to us to make the right decisions. He gives us advice about everything from song writing to live performance. He does have a big role in the final sound obviously.

You went through many line-up changes during your existence, but let’s only focus on the last one: on ‘Tales Of Tragedy’ you introduce drummer Chris Ioannides. He seems to be an experienced musician, can you tell a bit more about that?
This is going to be a hard one since I am the one answering, but I can tell you this.........”It was the best damn decision this band ever made!! hahaha” seriously though, I believe I was able to bring some experience and new ideas to the band and I hope that shows. My input was more about the way the band worked, in general the drums on ”Tales Of Tragedy” have a simple approach. That’s what I wanted at the time and I am happy about the result, but I’m in a really crazy mood for the next album so anything can happen.

But former drummer Andreas did not leave totally? Explain…
No, Andreas didn’t leave the band totally! He had to leave because of some personal matters. We are very close friends though and so he agreed to take care of the bands website!

I think ‘Tales Of Tragedy’ shows a great improvement on many levels (better vocals, better songs, more progressive, etc) if compared with the rather straight forward power metallish predecessor. But what do YOU think are the biggest differences between ‘Eternal Damnation’ and the new album?
As a musician you get better as you go (either that or you should go work at the local McDonalds) Each album SHOULD be better than it’s predecessor. In this case new elements just came out with the song writing. The difference is in my opinion, better sound, better playing, better songs and a general better approach.

I even hear female vocals for a moment in the back (‘For Those Who Are Gone’) and violins (or keyboard samples). Are there any guests on the album?
I wish there were. If we could we would have real violins but we had limited time so we had to pull it off with samples and keys. No problem with that though, samples are a big part of what happens in music these days.

As I am always interested in lyrics: there should be a sinister running concept. Please tell me everything about that?
The lyrics are 11 different little stories that have nothing to do with each other. They are like 11 different tales of tragedy. The only ‘concept’ that exists is that the song ‘I Swear Revenge’ is the continuation to the song ‘Eternal Damnation’ which is on the first album. Who knows, maybe George might decide to continue the story on the next album!

And I guess that’s why the music turned out more epic, glorious, progressive, isn’t it?
We write our songs in a weird way! (laughs) Sometimes lyrics come first and so according to the story of the lyrics we are able to adjust the music in order to make it go with the mood of the words. I guess you can say that in this case it did play a part as a whole, in the album!

Who did the beautiful artwork and can you tell something about its interpretation?
Mr. Meran Karanitant ( did the artwork. He is a true artist! The whole artwork is done, based on the song ‘The Captain’s Log’, which is our favorite song of the album. It truly gives that melancholy feeling of a tale of tragedy!

You switched from Limb to Massacre. What’s the story behind this (upgraded) deal?
We weren’t going to continue with Limb so we had to find a new “home” for the new release. Massacre was always our goal so this is great. It is indeed an upgrade so we are very happy about that.

Your singer George has opened for Nightingale and Antimatter with his former band Spirits. I still remember this special happening pretty well, being into both bands as well. So I’m thrilled to hear your story about this quite unique experience?
There is a funny story about that night actually. George indeed had another band at the time and so did I. We both played that night in different bands but I didn’t know George back then. My band “Armageddon” was well known at the time and we had a great gig that night. I think this is the first time it is going to be said that George actually told me the “Winter’s Verge” idea was born that night after watching my band. So it was a great night for all of us!!!

Is it a place where they organize many rock/metal concerts?
There are a quite a few places where concerts are organised in Cyprus.

Are there plans for a video clip?
We are discussing that these days, we still haven’t decided on a song but we will.

Are there other tour plans in the pipeline or any other plans for 2010?
A video clip would be our priority right now and promoting our new album any way we can. We are hoping for some festivals in the summer.

If I forgot to cover something, feel free to write it here…
Hmmmm... I could talk for hours but I’ll just bore everybody. We pretty much covered the important stuff.

What do you hope to achieve in the near future with Winter’s Verge?
Super Stardom and a star on Hollywood Boulevard and be able to say that our next gig is at the Super bowl haha. I guess if we are able to continue exactly what we are doing and increase our fan base as much as possible we would be happy.

Thank you for this interview!
The pleasure was mine…

Geplaatst door Vera op dinsdag 09 februari 2010 - 23:46:23
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