Apollo Papathanasio – in his own words

Finally – time to go live with the Apollo-interview that I did recently.

Read about Apollo’s visit here:
http://lita77777.blog.com/2013/04/07/if-all-interviews-were-like-this/ = [and photos from the set at www.facebook.com/intherearviewmirror]

The “camera guy” Henrik has been working hard all week editing the video. He did a great job, thanks Henrik!

And a big thanks to Apollo for taking time off on a Saturday to drive down to Malmo for this interview eventhough he had to be at rehearsal with Spiritual Beggars the same day.

Below you will find the full transcript of the interview – including parts that had to be edited out of the actual video (cause it was too long).

I also made a list of topics discussed in the video to make it easier for the stressed, modern rocker to find exactly what he/she wants to hear more about – straight away. :)

So here it is – Apollo Papathanasio in his own words. Enjoy.

Leaving Firewind, what happened?  0,38
How did the band react? 2,06
Are you still friends? 4,13
The harsh reality of the music business 4,49
What's happening with Evil Masquerade? (and Spiritual Beggars) 5,25
Joining 3 different types of bands (Firewind, Evil Masquerade, Spiritual Beggars) How/why? 7,50
Feeling like a full member of the band, or a hired gun? 8,55
The new Spiritual Beggars video 10,42
The Spiritual Beggars tour 12,37
Loves the music teacher job/influencing kids 13,46
The plans for this year 16,35
Solo-project and collaboration with In Flames-Niclas 17,43
A message to the fans 19,00


Hello Apollo, welcome to Malmoe. You had a good drive down here? Nice weather and all? It’s a nice day today.

Very nice, we should be outside!

Maybe next time! :)
You’re known for fronting many bands, but maybe mostly for fronting Firewind. A few months ago you quit the band and fell off the map. Nobody really knows what happened. This is your chance to give your version of what happened?!

It’s a long story. I felt that many times I couldn’t give 100% of myself and I felt that… I don’t wanna be the guy who pulls the breaks all the time because I cant take this gig or do that tour.
So, I started thinking about it and we talked about it many times. And in the end I decided to step down and give my place to somebody else.

You’ve been with Firewind for 10 years, did you think about this for a very long time or was it a specific moment that made you decide and feel that “this is it“…?

Yeah I felt that sometimes you can’t combine different things. I wanna do a lot of things… I also have my family and you have to make it economically. It’s not easy to play in a rock band. There are some duties… You have to be available all the time. I felt that I wanted to be able to do something else.

How did the band react when you told them that you were out?

Actually, they felt it. It wasn’t anything new, it’s been a process for a long time. We talked about it and there was no arguing. It was my own decision. I wish we could had played more shows, played 300 days a year, so that you could have made a living of it. Instead of playing in different bands – just play in only one band.
Then it would have worked. But the way it is today, people have to play in different bands… it’s not easy to combine all that stuff.

And sometimes I felt that eventhough I was there, I had my mind somewhere else sometimes. It has to be 100 per cent. 110 per cent.

Did you know that you were going to quit the band when you did the anniversary shows in Greece back in December?

Well…yeahh… Like I said, it’s been a process for maybe one, two years. I almost decided that I was about to leave, so the guys knew. We didn’t always talk about it, but I think they felt it. They knew that something was gonna happen. They were not shocked or whatever.

You never really made a “last show” or a farewell gig, you just somehow went “underground” and disappeared…

No, I can’t say I disappeared because I’m still gonna be a huge fan of Firewind and if they ever need anything I’m there for them. We have always been like brothers. I’m happy to have given my part in such a great band like Firewind.

So you guys are of course still friends…?

Of course, yes, yes! We don’t talk so much right now but after a while I think we’re gonna talk more. I mean, they are busy, I’m busy…. There’s no time for chats right now.

Are you at a point in your life where you realize that it’s not just about becoming a rock star – you’re experiencing the harsh reality of the music business?

Yeah, it is a tough business. You can go for doing something 100% full time and live in a tent or whatever to make it – or, like in my case, just do several gigs and record records but not tour that much. And in my case, that’s what it is.

But you’re still in Evil Masquerade and Spiritual Beggars, if you had decided to quit those two bands and made more time for Firewind, would that have worked? Was that ever a solution?

No, actually it has nothing to do with that, it has to do with how to make a living. If there had been more time for one band, really a full-time job, of course it would have been Firewind.

So many people try to make it, I know many guys who are in seven, eight bands just to keep it up. But I don’t think it’s good to do that, because you put your energy in too many different things and sometimes you lose that energy because of it. It’s better to minimize and focus on less things. So, it was not about choosing, or whatever. It has to do with how big the job is.

But you are still in two bands. If we take Evil Masquerade to begin with. What’s happening with that right now?

Yeah, we recorded a great album, Pentagram, it’s fantastic. Kind of doom with Rainbow and Black Sabbath-elements. I really like Henrik [Flyman] because he’s very creative. He has new ideas, that nobody else dares to do. He doesn’t follow a manual. He does what he likes. And with Spiritual Beggars it’s more straight forward rock’n’roll, which I like. Everybody decides together if we’re gonna do a tour or do gigs, so it’s easy. It’s two different kinds of types of business or whatever you wanna call it.

With Evil Masquerade, Henrik wants to push the band forward and get out more, which is difficult. It’s a small band. ‘Beggars is more established – since ’92, and there are people who really love the band. So it’s easier to do some touring. It’s a struggle for Henrik, I try to help him as much as I can. He’s touring with the band Lacrimosa and he keeps busy, it helps him find new ways to push Evil Masquerade.

When I look at the musical styles of the 3 bands that we mentioned – Firewind, Evil Masquerade and Spiritual Beggars… those bands are all in totally different areas of the rock spectrum…


What makes you decide that “Yeah, I’m gonna join this seventies band and then I’m gonna join this heavy metal band”?

Firstly, it’s good to play in bands who have different directions. I don’t think it’s a good idea to play in Firewind and play in a similar band that plays the same… there’s no point. If you wanna play in different bands you have to develop yourself to play in different styles. So I think it makes sense. Cause I really love the seventies, I always liked ‘Beggars. Since ’92 I’ve always been listening to what they released. It was an honor to join the band in 2009, I think, when they asked me.

Since you are singing in different bands – is it difficult to feel that you are a full member of one of these bands…? Do you feel that you’re just stepping in like a hired gun? Or do you actually feel like a member?

Firewind was, I think, the only band that I felt I was a member of. Cause everybody would contribute to the band, sometimes the ideas were bad, but in many ways it was perfect.

Evil Masquerade is the same because we’ve already made three albums, They did two earlier, before I was in the band. After three albums you feel that you’re “in“… But I think, somehow, that it has to be a band that’s starting together. Putting a band together from the beginning. When you step into new bands and become the last guy in, it will always be that you’re not a hundred per cent a member of a band.

With Firewind it was like a restart somehow. We recorded the album together. We went to the studio together, did some songs, and that made me feel that it was truly my band.

[Firewind with Apollo]

Evil Masquerade made something called Let’s Unite in Rock. Can you tell me more about that?

It was a guy in Australia, I think, whose relative died of cancer and he wanted to do something. He got in touch with Henrik and Henrik made this song. The idea was to do like back in the eighties, you know “Stars“, with Dio and all those people…? The all star project? The idea was to do something like that because it’s very rare today. Nobody does that.

It was an eighties thing, everybody used to do that…

Yes. It has to be simple, it has to be great and in the vein of the eighties. So Henrik made that great song, I like it. He called some people and everybody wanted to contribute.

You also just released a video with Spiritual Beggars…

Mike [Michael Amott] likes seventies vintage style. He likes new stuff and old stuff, it’s good to have from different worlds, We just decided to make it as simple as possible, as much as we could. So we did the recordings in a rehearsal studio and some parts of the whole band outdoors, It was to show people that we ARE a band, and we’re gonna keep going. The idea was to just make it as simple as possible. It’s real, you don’t have to put any effects on it. We only used old effects, like in the seventies, with the colors and whatever… Very straight forward, yeah.

You’re going on tour next week…?

Yeah, it’s gonna be great! The tour is only two weeks, but I like that, because you can put your energy into those two weeks fully. I prefer when it’s only two weeks here and two weeks there. I don’t really like 7-week tours. It’s too much, because somehow a band loses their energy along the way. So I think that two or three weeks is good. You go home for a month and then you can go out again. It’s the best thing to do.

[Spiritual Beggars – on tour right now]

Spiritual Beggars

You’re also working as a music teacher. Does it give you some kind of satisfaction to give the legacy of music to very young children and inspire them?

Oooh, yeah, yeah! Of course. I love my job, very much. It would be very difficult for me to leave my job. It gives me a lot. And I’m happy to contribute to students with my experience and teach them how they can work with their music, teach them how to play.

What ages are the kids that you’re teaching?

They are from around ten to sixteen.

Do they know that you’re touring with bands and stuff?

Yeah…I try not to talk about it but you know…Kids always find out…!

So, no metalheads that think you’re the coolest teacher they ever had?

Naah, It’s cool with music, everybody loves music. In that sense you can say it’s cool… I try to teach them what reality is like, to do new recordings, to play in bands… I put them together in bands and sometimes it’s like in real life, some people can’t work together and you can see it pretty quickly.

Have you influenced any kids that might not have been interested in music before, to start listening to rock’n’roll?

Yeah, I think I’ve made many students interested. Sometimes after two months they tell me that they bought a guitar or they ask me “I wanna buy a Fender, how much should it cost?”. Sometimes even parents want to play in bands, haha…! It’s fantastic, music is fun, it’s business it’s everything. You make good contacts, meet great people…

So what are your plans for this year, as far as you know right now? It’s the Spiritual Beggars tour – what else is happening that you know of…?

I’m gonna work a bit with Evil Masquerade, and these are the 20th anniversary shows with Beggars, so that’s why we’re putting out a new record. We’re gonna do the tour and we’ll try to do some festivals, in France and whatever, I don’t remember. And then some more gigs later this year.
And then, when this year is over, I will try to work with my stuff, together with some other people.

Any plans of doing something solo?

Yeah, I don’t wanna call it “solo” but I wanna work with other people. It’s just music, doesn’t matter if it’s solo or something else. I wanna work with people who I appreciate.
I have done many songs with Niclas Engelin from In Flames. We have like fifty songs that we can start working with, if he has the time. We will see what happens after this year. When I’m free and don’t have so much to do.

[Niclas Engelin – In Flames]

It’s not gonna be so much for Spiritual Beggars cause Michael is with Arch Enemy. So I’m trying to keep it cool this year and then I’m gonna start preparing something [in 2014]…

[Michael Amott with Angela Gossow – Arch Enemy]

Seems like there’s gonna be a lot for you eventhough you left Firewind!

Yeah. It’s always like that.

Do you have any message you want to give to your fans?

Keep on listening to heavy metal, rock’n’roll, and thank you for supporting me. We’re gonna meet again, soon!

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