One of the reasons why I love music – apart from the purely emotional aspect (music is what feelings sound like) is that there’s ALWAYS something to EXPLORE!
I’m curious by nature, I absolutely LOVE digging for facts, information, gaining more knowledge about something that truly interests me. I can lose myself in books or webpages for hours, sometimes days cause I want more!
I used to go to the library several times a week when I was a teenager (the days before Google and internet…) and spend hours in their music department. It was heaven!
There were all these books about ALL types of music styles, artists… Biographies, encyclopedias… And you could listen to records. Back then, there was a couch in a corner of the music department, with 4 pairs of headphones. You would go there with your pile of LP’s and listen through each and every one, just to get an idea what it was.
Music wasn’t available (for free) any other way before the Internet, so it felt like such a privilege to be able to explore.
I borrowed TONS of LP’s and cassettes back in those days – all kinds of styles, just out of curiosity. It could be anything from the brothers Strauss and their Austrian waltzes and operettes to one-hit-pop-wonders to country, blues, heavy metal…
Discovering something new that I liked was a true kick. Especially when I didn’t expect it.
It’s not quite as fun nowadays, because it’s not so much a sport anymore. Pretty much ANYTHING is available – easily and quickly. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes and I kind of LIKED the challenge.
It’s also funny HOW you end up listening to some bands. The turns things can take and where it can lead you. That whole FIREWIND-thing for instance.
Went to see HALFORD when they were opening for OZZY at Madison Square Garden. I was jetlagged and tired and just wanted to get some sleep. The plan was to skip Ozzy after a few songs, had already seen him many times so I figured I wouldn’t be missing out on a whole lot.
UNTIL I noticed the “new kid on the block”, the new guitarist GUS G, who was absolutely fantastic! I forgot about being tired and stayed throughout the whole show.
Then I ended up checking for more info – who’s the dude? Firewind? What’s that? Gotta check it out. Found myself on the next flight to London and Relentless Garage to see that Firewind-band. Absolutely LOVED the energy they produced on stage – and yeah the rest is history.
I didn’t go digging as eagerly into FIrewind’s back catalog, as I did trying to find interesting stuff that Gus had played on in the past. So I got most of THAT, just for the sake of having it. The music was not quite my thing to be honest, but in order to appreciate an artist for who he is today, you need to know a bit about his past as well. It just gives you a different perspective of the journey that they’ve made.
When Firewind parted ways with former singer Apollo Papathanasio, I was bummed at first because I love Apollo’s voice. It’s the next best thing to Tony Martin who is my #1 all time favorite singer ever. Nobody comes close to Tony Martin in my book, but Apollo comes pretty darn close.
I was looking for video interviews of Apollo on YouTube before I did my own interview, just to have something to compare with, but instead I ended up seeing his name on what felt like a million different projects!
THAT got me curious! First I bought MAJESTIC, simply because I know a few other guys who played in that band.
Then I got FAITH TABOO – another band Apollo sang with in the 90’s and I loved the sound and the versatility of that album. His vocals were great even back then, but it also shows how much he’s prospered over the years.
Next thing I know, I’m typing “ebay.com” in my browser, searching for all those Apollo-fronted old bands and projects…. The CD’s were CHEAP for the most part, guess it’s cause it’s not as “cool” to buy CD’s, as it is to just DOWNLOAD shit. But I want the REAL DEAL. I want the booklet, the lyrics, the credits, the thank-you’s, the pix, just the whole thing!
And I had synchronized my eBay account with my PayPal, which means that it was easier and faster than EVER to buy shit on there! Dammit. Bad idea. ;)
I kept clicking away just for the fun of it – “oh look! There’s one! I’ll get THAT… Ah! Another one! I’ll get that as WELL…! Cool, check it out, don’t have THAT….”
An hour later…errrm… Well – take a wild guess. And now that I started, I have to finish it.
Always been collecting records – I love it, nothing like having an artist’s complete back catalog…!
When I started collecting TONY MARTIN stuff, I found his solo-album that HE didn’t even have HIMSELF (long story), and old demos, bootlegs and stuff… I couldn’t just quit half way through, either I had to have ALL his shit or NONE of it. And since he was – and still is – my favorite singer, of course I had to get ALL of it.
[When I started my Tony Martin-collection waaay back in ’95 or ’96]
Apollo has this amazing voice, I just love it. To me a good rock’n’roll voice is not about belting out high notes. I always hear people using M Matijevic of STEELHEART as an example of “good singers”. Sure, the guy can sound like his …uh… boomstick is stuck in his zipper or something, but I get pretty tired listening to that range after more than one song.
I do, however, love the deeper, masculine voices with an edge and a dramatic vibrato (NOT the “Dickinson wannabe”-vibrato or the German power-metal singer parody type of vibrato).
So I’m like a kid in a CANDY STORE right now! Here I’ve been following Firewind all over the globe the past few years just because I enjoyed their live shows – yet I never bothered to start digging deeper into the musical history of anyone except Gus G’s.
Getting all these old Apollo-projects on CD now is going to absolutely rock! I even found that very first vinyl single he recorded with CRAZE like a hundred years ago, yesterday!
In a way, it’s a good thing that the guys went separate ways, cause now they can try their wings doing different things. Gus G is working on his solo-project which I’m DYING to hear… And Apollo trying something different with stoner band Spiritual Beggars and the one-off Craze-reunion and whatever else he’s got up his sleeve.
Everything happens for a reason in life – as well as in the music business. Firewind will start a new exciting page in their history, there is a different dynamic in the band now with what Kelly is bringing to the table. I’m convinced that it’s for the better. :)
Well, regardless what band or artist rocks your boat – isn’t it just awesome to be able to lose yourself in MORE of whatever it is you like about what they do?! It’s what keeps the rock’n’roll spirit alive!
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
COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT – INCLUDING BITS THAT WERE EDITED OUT OF THE VIDEO-VERSION
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]
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!
Travelling all over the place to see bands, is not only about the travelling, the music or the adventure. There is yet another important aspect of it, and is something that I truly value. It’s getting to know people. Friendships, plan and simple.
It started in 1989 with Skid Row. That was the first band that I travelled around to see live everywhere. Up until a few years ago, it was the band that I had seen the most times, but that has been far surpassed by Firewind since then.
If I had only seen one of their shows, there obviously wouldn’t have been a platform for friendship. But, we were all young and it happened, and even after all this time, we’re still glad to see eachother – anytime, anywhere.
Scotti Hill walked out of a photo-session at Sweden Rock last time Skid Row played there a few years ago, cause he was so glad to see a familiar face that he just ran over to give me a hug.
Then I met Sebastian Bach at the Swedish Metal Convention two years ago. In this short video sequence he mentions that we’ve known eachother for 25 years. It’s a long time, but it doesn’t feel like it. :) I love those guys (regardless what they think of eachother) they will always be special to me.
Then there’s the “smaller” bands who went from “interview-objects” to friends who I love catching up with anywhere in the world. Jon Oliva’s Pain bassplayer Kevin for instance, really became a friend for life. And the girls and boys in the Oliva-crew, they rock. We’re all travelling people, so of course, we get to see eachother every now and then, still.
We’re all just people – some you just simply click with. Especially when we all share the love for music (which is a total dealbreaker for me) :-)
When I started travelling all over Europe (and a few states in the US…) to see Firewind, I eventually got to know those guys one by one as well. But for some reason I didn’t get to talk with Apollo the first two years. The first time I did was in Hamburg last year, and I noticed that we had a very similar taste in music. And as we’re also the same age and grew up in Sweden, it was just easy to find topics to discuss.
[Spooky looking but fantastic sounding Apollo with Evil Masquerade]
Before a gig in Kolding, Denmark, I showed him to the nearest 7Eleven that he was looking for, and then took a short stroll around the small town (not a soul outside that day for some reason, maybe it was a Sunday, I don’t remember).
That was definitely when I could establish that Apollo was a great dude. Very easygoing, down to earth, unpretentious.
So when it was announced that he had decided to leave Firewind, I thought it was a shame that I wouldn’t see him on tour anymore. But then it hit me, what the hell, he lives in Sweden, how hard could it be to get back in touch?!
I just dropped him a line.
And so after a few mails and phonecalls, he drove down here to Malmo yesterday afternoon. Did a video interview because I figured it would be good if he was given an opportunity to explain, in his own words, why he left Firewind – after being with the band for ten years.
Up until now the statements have been from the others in the band. Time to hear it straight from the “horse’s mouth”. I’m glad he took the time, I think it turned out really well – so stick around for that.
Had brunch before we got started, just chit-chatted about bands, tours, albums – all the stuff that I could spend hours talking about. :)
It would have been great if all interviews could be this relaxed. To be able to do an interview in a home-setting without the stress of soundchecks, gigs or other journalists stomping outside the door – is pure luxury.
“The camera guy” Henrik and Mari instantly liked Apollo as well, he’s simply a very likeable person. Well, all the Firewind-guys are, actually. :)
Apollo is still a busy guy these days. He had a rehearsal to get back to with Spiritual Beggars, as their tour is kicking off in Germany next week. I’m taking time off to catch the gig in Hamburg next Monday. Should be interesting. Not normally what I’d listen to, but curious to see Apollo in a different setting.
The video-interview will be uploaded soon of course, as soon as Henrik’s had a chance to make something really cool with it. :)
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