When I don’t get timed-out from Facebook I do occasionally find bands that interest me. Greek UNTIL RAIN enticed me enough to want to check out their progressive metal. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
Why is that most Greek bands are of such high quality? What kind of tradition do you have that you have to live up to?
-I think it’s kinda weird! You know, here in Greece we have a very different culture on music. Most people love Greek folk style or a kind of traditional music but not the original, not the archetype. Actually, this music is used from people just to have fun. In contrast with that, we have a lot of great bands in our country and a huge rock & metal fan base. That is so ironic! Many bands were kind of influenced by this situation and became bigger! I think we are people who love music anyway, and that’s what makes us more creative as person. Creativity is the key in art. That’s our tradition!
What is progressive music to you? How do you describe something as progressive?
-At first I believe that there shouldn’t be a strict and short definition of progressive music and if one exists, I have to admit that I am unaware of. Progressive music is the freedom to compose, play, write whatever you want without having to think a label in order to categorize it. It may be something that is a category on its own. Progressive music, always in my opinion, is the music where new things, such as composing techniques, instrument techniques new sounds, etc are elements of a song or album, giving to it a fresh and different feel and signature from all other music and albums.
There are a couple of progressive metal bands that always are mentioned. How do you avoid being compared to Dream Theater all the time?
-We are often compared to Dream Theater, but most of the times, it’s for the wrong reasons. Anyone who plays and composes progressive metal music would be lying if he says that Dream Theater hasn’t got any influence on him. Even if he doesn’t like Dream Theater’s music, I am sure that many bands try to avoid being labelled as “Dream Theater wanna-be” by letting out certain things in their music that are very “Dream Theater – like”. Anyway, I personally like a lot Dream Theater, it is a prototype band of the progressive field and has already showed us how some things should be done. As our music is a mix of 5 musicians’ opinions and remarks, I believe that through this process and filters, that it becomes unique. Now, of course, there may be a part in a song that reminds someone a “Dream Theater – like” part, but in many cases, it is only a “progressive – like” part and many people when it comes to progressive have in mind or are aware of only Dream Theater. This is a major reason we are compared to Dream Theater often and I believe other bands are experiencing it too.
What is that gets you going musically? Where do you draw inspiration from?
-In my opinion, being a musician forces you to have a certain kind of lifestyle. Every day that passes I remind myself that I must improve my skills and my technique, because this is an important part of my toolbox of expressing myself and creating my own music. Also if I don’t listen to new interesting new music but also old favourites I feel a little bit empty and I feel I must draw from somewhere inspiration or make something different. The rehearsals and the process of rehearsing is also an important part of a musician’s lifestyle. It is like small deadlines, where you must be ready in order to show your work to your band mates, and it is very nice when the others picture it the same way and we all try for the best. After a tiring but effective rehearsal I feel refreshed, I change my TO-DO list and I study different things.
I draw inspiration on my lyrics and music from various things and situations of everyday life. Sometimes you can be very inspired when you re-examine a situation in the past with wiser eyes, or just with another point of view. We all know days that are a lot different and special, compared to others and we remember them for a variety of reasons. These are the days that in some way, they define us, they change the way we think, we take decisions and sometimes they keep us moving on.
As I haven’t written one single song in my life I have no idea how to do it. Is it especially hard to write a progressive song compared to a straight one?
-I don’t think that are any major differences, only because we are not forced to write progressive music but it comes out naturally. This is the music we love, the music that expresses ourselves. There are some difficulties when writing a song generally, like choosing the right chords, the right melodies, the right sounds, the way you build all the melodies and the rhythms around the voice and all this stuff. But these things are known to every style. Maybe in progressive music (and every other technical music) there are more difficulties recording the music and making the whole band sound tight but in the concept of writing is just a natural process!
Have you noticed that people are more interested in the band once they find out that you are from Greece?
-It’s normal. Greece always has been in interest of people. Now unfortunately we are in interest because we are the bad guys of Europe who don’t pay taxes and all this stuff. Haha! I don’t know why but this can happen because we are a small country of Balkans and it’s very unusual to see metal bands rising and growing up from down there!! Anyway, the truth is that we‘re very proud for our music history and for the bands we have!
It’s not just enough to write and record music. You also need to get it out to the people. How do you go about getting people to hear about you?
-As it’s widely known, Internet is the big power these days. You have to be patient and promote wisely your stuff through the band pages (Facebook, MySpace etc.) and send your stuff to radio stations, e-zines and everything that can publish your work. Of course without the backing of a major label it’s a hard & long process but it’s necessary if you want people to hear about you. Some of us had spent hours of sending here and there our page (not spamming) just informing people about what we do. We gained some fans all over the world only just by the internet. And of course we started giving for free our 2 first releases only because this would appeal to people and anyone could just give his email and have a digital copy of our album. This way you “lure” people to you!
Are there any advantages to doing stuff on your own instead of having the backing of a label?
-Yes, probably! First of all you hold the rights of all your songs and you can write or ‘’sell’’ your music freely, without someone putting too much pressure on you. The band can also decide for its schedule or anything else. On the other hand, a big label offers to you a lot of advantages, huge promotion and management, sense of security, arranged tour etc. These are the things that can put a band in the public consciousness. Basically, it depends on how big is the label and how far from your country can people hear your album or see you perform live. Sometimes when bands get to their second or third album they can choose if ‘’now’’ is the right time to move on, or keep things as they are.
How much time and effort do you put on the packaging of the music? How much thought goes into selling the package?
-Except from writing good and honest stuff much thought has to be put on the cover, the booklet, the design of a band’s site, the band’s photo-shoot and many more things that will create a nice package of the music. As I previously said, without the backing of a major label all these things require tons of money and it’s a slow process if the band makes everything on its own like us. We try to present something as beautiful as we can to people but we hope after we find a major label things we’ll seem much professional.
What are your plans for the band?
-We’ve just finished the recordings of our new album (second full length release) and the production & mastering are in the hands of well-experienced Jens Bogren from Sweden. When we have the new album in our hands we will try to sign a contract with a major label and do as many shows as we can among Europe. Thanx for the support and for the interview!