One of the things I love is bands that take risks and are open to a new path! Skeptical Minds is one of them and I hope to see them at the next Metal Female Voices Fest in 2016! The lines are open!
So Mich (Michel Stiakakis), you tried out something completely different: a mix between a comic book and music?
We had fun to do that work. The comic brought us in new musical paths and we enjoyed so much, that the "one shot" will have some followings. I don't say more... for now. But we want to continue in that way and prepare some other things mixing visual work and music.
It goes well along & I can believe you had to redo some or rewrite to make it match but you did great!
Yes, because in the beginning, I had 11 songs already written. We had the story since 2008 ready, but when I saw the final drawings of the comic, it didn't fit. I had to rewrite almost everything to make them fit on the emotions of the images. It was a big challenge but we all liked the result! So, I guess it's ok. I hope people feel it like we do. It's subjective, but for us, it's what we wanted and for Alain Poncelet too.
To be honest, some moments, I really had no inspiration like for Thanatos or the Disco song ... What could fit with the comic??? Then I decided to quit completely the Skeptical Minds style to explore other ways, but keeping some electro elements we usually use and others that we don’t. It had to fit the book first. I also put lot of my musical influences inside from the 80 ies and from many sort of bands I liked. It was funny.
Can you drop us some names and styles of influences?
I can give you some names yes (laughs): Front 242, a;Grumh, Rob Zombie, Voivod, Killing Joke, Motorhead, Rammstein, Joy Division, and many others. You also have folk elements for the vocal melodies on some songs… You won’t recognize a copy paste of any of those bands but some sounds, rhythms, ambiances are inspired by those bands I listened to a lot in the past.
It was more driven by the emotions I could catch when I was looking at the final drawings of the comic… it was very different work than usual, but very interesting.
What does Omega Thanathos mean, what it stand for: the darkness of choices?
Omega Thanatos is an album and a reflexion about death… Faith, the impossible escape. Even if we can change something, the issue will be the same, soon or later… We can just delay things…. Maybe or maybe not.
Karolina, did you manage to get your new microphone and is that the one responsible for the new vocal sound on some tracks?
Yes, I could get it thanks to the big help of friends and fans!
BUT, I didn’t use the mic on the album. I bought it after. To be honest, that mic, I’ll use on stage but not in studio. Some studio gear is made especially for that and sounds much better.
The new sound and the new production style are due to 2 elements: first one, the recording takes. We always record in the same place, the Noise Factory Studio. The recording quality is excellent and our relationship with Gerald (the owner) is simply great! He’s like a family member and we feel like home when we record there. For me, it’s important to feel good, relax and with no stress. That place is the place for me.
The second and new elements about our production are our collaboration with Fotis Benardo (ex-Septicflesh and now in SixForNine) who made an excellent job of mixing, mastering and also proposed many good ideas for the arrangements. For me, he did an excellent job and pushed our songs to their best level. He caught immediately what we wanted and it was very easy to collaborate with him. We all are proud of the production level and global result.
Did I recognize Helcanen Val as the pink girl in the comic?
Yes, indeed. In fact, during the Indiegogo campaign, one of the perks was to be in the comic. Three persons were chosen to help us and also chose that special perk. Val is one of them. That’s why we added that part where they incarnate the best friends of the girl who went to talk with them… but things don’t happen very well. It is related to the song: Last Friends. They were her last friends, but in the same time, she loosed them and stays finally completely alone.
If I got it good, you started working on Broken Dolls with Alain Poncelet, but how did you find each other and how was the first contact?
The first contact with Alain was around 1994, during a Suicidal Tendencies gig in France. Alain and I are friends since that time. We first shared a lot of gigs together and we have a special common passion: Motorhead.Skeptical Minds didn’t exist in that time and I didn’t know Alain could draw haha.
In 2011, Alain asked us if he could propose a variation of our logo or a t-shirt. He saw what we did before and felt inspired. We said: Sure, make a try and if we like it, we’ll print it!
He made it… and we were very impressed! We printed it and we sold out very quick. It was the blue logo we still use as a backdrop sometimes. Incredible phantom look like logo.
That’s how things started…. We were so impressed by his style, the darkness he could put in his drawings that we spoke about our comic idea (we had since 2008) and we made a first try: Broken Dolls in 2011. First to see how things work, how we manage that together and if we could be able to make the full comic we did now.
Maybe Alain can join the interview and tell about more about his point of view and his side of the story?
Hi! Yes, indeed Broken Dolls was a great experience. So I was looking forward to work on the full length comic! Things started 2 years ago, when the band gave me the script of their upcoming concept album. The story was perfect! The fact that the girl in the comics had a lot of nightmares and hallucinations gave me the possibility to dive into my darkest imagination. I could really let myself go, and the collaboration with the band was perfect. We agreed quite quickly on the storyboards, so I started working on the original art. One of the most important things was that Karolina had to be recognizable, so she had to pose for some hours. Then came the sketches, final art and finally colors. During the making of the comics, there were a lot of interactions with the band to be sure that the drawings were fitting to the music. We were all very excited about this project, and now very proud of the result!
I assume it’s pretty logical that you will perform at the next Metal Female Voices Fest in Wieze (Belgium) or is that way too soon?
I don’t know… we didn’t even discuss about that yet. We , as band always like to play there of course, but we don’t make the line-up, so let’s see what happens in the future… But if we look at our actuality and what we have to propose, yes, I think we could be there, but until things are not discussed of confirmed, we cannot say more for the moment.
The new direction might also open new doors; festivals like Trolls et Légendes might become interested in a band like you? What do you think?
Oh! Honestly, I think our music is still too metal and dark for that fest if we have to play a complete set. But I know what you mean… if we play songs like Balcony Dreams, Last Friends etc,…. Those songs could fit easily. Last years, Trolls & Legends proposed heavier bands. Last edition had Tanzwut,Eluveitie,… Folk but with heavy elements and even death metal elements… With such bands, I think maybe we could fit. Let’s see… maybe one day we’ll be on that stage too, who knows? We don’t decide for other people’s choices.
During the last edition of Trolls et Légendes I saw you working as a stage engineer and Karolina singing with Rastaban (the crowd really loved it), could that be that one magical spark that sets the fire and drag fans of the world of fantasy and comic album into your direction? How do you both see it and look back at it? People are wandering if there might be a chance that there will ever be some recorded (with Rastaban), knowing that they are good friends …
Hehehe many questions. Let’s answer one by one. Yes, I’m stage manager for the Trolls & Légendes Festival since 8 years now. I really love the live concerts world… playing, working, watching… all sides of the music business is magical for me and I think I spent more hours beside or behind the stages than on stage… also in front haha most of my life maybe. As long as I have fun, I’ll continue to do that. Trolls & Légendes, like MFVF are fests that grew up by them and both fests are leaded by people who put their passion before business. The goal is not to make money, but to make a good fest. In such conditions, you work like with a big family… and not like in a shit factory! Why to stop then?
About Karolina now: yes, she was guesting at Rastaban’s show. They had many guests and Karolina was asked to be part of the party. Of course she did. First because she loves the band and their music and second: don’t ask Karolina if she would like to sing on stage haha the answer is obvious. On stage, she feels in her element. Indeed, some people discovered Skeptical Minds that evening because of Karolina. It’s always good to open new doors. A Collaboration with Rastaban is not impossible. They are really good hearted people and we respect them a lot. We didn’t speak about collaboration, but things can always happen. The door is never closed for us, and personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens one day. Karolina feels good also in the fairy, folk and medieval world… it was her world first before joining Skeptical Minds. She loved this music, but also metal of course! That’s why on this album the vocals may sound more folk or more linked to Karolina’s personality. And it’s not a coincidence. It’s the first album where Karolina wrote 100% of the lyrics and the melodic lines were written with Karolina, to fit perfectly to her voice and style.
Before, when she joined the band, songs were written, she received them and had to adapt and fit to them. She did it well, but now, we can feel things were written by her for her. That makes a big difference and we hear it!
If you would have to pick out an artist with whom you have never ever worked together with to start a collaboration with, whom will it be and why?
Very hard to say… I don’t think we want to start new things now… we want to continue with the team we have. Alain is part of the band now, we’ll go further; we already have some projects ready in our heads for the next productions. Stay tuned! With Fotis Benardo, we found a very good producer. We both are enthusiastic to continue the collaboration and see what it can be to start together from the very beginning of the project, not only mix, mastering and arrangements. Let’s see.
To answer your question, I think we would like to collaborate with someone who can build a show for Skeptical Minds on stage (ok, let’s dream that we have unlimited budgets). I always was impressed by the Kiss shows, Laibach, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie , Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein…
All is perfect, lights, sound, projections, ambiances, visual, synchronizations… I would like to work on something like that. I think I would prefer to work on new sides of the band than with new artists just around music.
I suppose that the new work with Alain Poncelet will also be part of the live shows/visuals … ?
Indeed, we’ll include more and more Alain’s elements in our shows. Alain’s drawings became a new side of Skeptical Minds’ world. Both go together. Expect to see them more and more. We are busy to develop new things, but it takes lot of time, to explore, to try, to build; but each time, we make new step and it keeps the passion alive!
Can we expect a video from Alain Poncelet (drownings) with one or more songs from the new album?
We just had a meeting last week about a video clip: it will be released in December. First single of the album and first video clip ever for Skeptical Minds. Until now, we only used live images but not real video clip. It’s time do to something now. It will be related to the album, but not an animation clip. We would like to do that and as you can guess, we work on new ideas; but its question of time and budget as usual… and time, we already spend a lot to our new ideas and projects. We have to find the best balance to promote what we have ready and to go further; we would like to finish a project for end of 2016… I don’t say more for the moment, but it will involve Skeptical Minds and Alain Poncelet of course. We started the brainstorms already and we go for it! The new video clip will be filmed, and will also include Alain’s touch, so wait and see!
Of what kind of festivals are you still dreaming about? Something in Germany?
Oh! We don’t dream about a specific one. We dream to play as much as possible; we are discussing now to build a Polish tour, a Greek tour and also a north European tour.
We applied to many summer fests, but when you see the line ups, it’s very hard for a band like us to put a foot on it and to make our own place; it will come with time. Or not; we don’t care … What we know, is that we’ll play a lot wherever we can and that’s great! To be honest, I prefer smaller places where we can see people in the eyes! So, no huge fests where you have 15 meters between you and the first row… its very strange… the contact is colder… even the feeling of the crowd is huge and different… we really prefer the direct contact. So, no real dreams about big fests. If it comes, we will be happy of course, but it’s not our main goal.
Ummhh… it’s not time to die, but I’ll tell you my last words: “burry my heart in Crete”! haha
And more seriously now, thank you for the interview, for your support and your feedback! It really helps us! Thanks to all people who have read this interview until the end! Thanks for your support, comments, insults or whatever: anything you say about Skeptical Minds! Let us know that you took some time of your life to listen to, to enjoy, to hate, or whatever about our music !!! Good thing! See you all around and Watch your back !!!