I really only get to meet the band WALKING STONE GIANTS and not actual walking stone giants because I don’t want to be tramped to death. Interview answered by Janis Aslanidis (Lead Guitar/Vocals). Anders Ekdahl ©2017
What fascinates me is how you can still come up with new combinations of chords to make new songs and sounds that have not been heard before. What is it that fascinates you into coming up with new songs and albums?
-Metaphorically speaking ,Chords, Scales and Rhythms are food ingredients to be found everywhere , from the elevator music to a guy jamming guitar at a music store. Therefore it is a matter of personal taste the way you will “cook” the food using ingredients found here and there. The amounts and the small details/tricks ,make the different “taste definition”. We have a rock/blues approach fused with early heavy metal. It is fascinating when you amaze your self and then others with tastes and colors you come up with. I love when my band members are excited and they find interest in new tunes, that is what keeps me going on. The real magic happens when you start creating, and that happens when you first play the songs with your band before sharing it with the audience. It is more important in your soul to purely enjoy your jams with the band than creating music that is “custom made” for a trendy audience. All your years of studying the instrument ,pay you back on those moments. We see every album as a diary of the magic times we spent jamming at the studio, we make a “snapshot of it” and we look further into the next adventure.
How is this new recording different from the previous? How do you take your sound one step further?
-In the album “The Sons of Gaia” we took at a bit further compared with the “E.P.”. The recording was made in the same studio, but we used different microphones, drums, amps and cabinets. As I mentioned before, we like taking it from the jamming days, to the pre-production and to the final stage of the recording. The difference in the E.P. Is that the songs were set, demos were given to the guys and we hit the studio to record our parts in 2 days. The mastering of “The Sons of Gaia” was made in Las Vegas from Steve Nagasaki.
When you write songs about the topics you do what kind of reactions do you get? How important is it to have a message in your lyrics? What kind of topics do each song deal with? Is there a red thread to the songs?
-The lyrics are the 50% of a song. You can either say your opinion about something or narrate a story( fictional or not). We deal with social matters and human’s internal universe. We in Greece live in some difficult times right now. The Sons of Gaia is a pissed off album. It is about a person in a moody ,due to the crisis ,environment, dealing with all his social problems. Greece is a sunny country and at least that keeps us somehow positive. The sun is important for one’s psychology. Sun and troubles over here! Our crook politicians keep humiliating us (they are involved in numerous scandals). It is sad for Greece/Hellas to be the black sheep because a few families took care of their own butts big time. The Giant is our inner protector beast who woke up due to the pressure taken from the rotten,filthy,egoistic,elite bastards who pretend to“rule”(self benefit is their only motive). It is here to stand as a shield and smash anything that comes near.
Whenever I think of you I cannot help wandering off to different bands. What bands/sounds do you indentify with?
-Our direction is Walking Stone Giants to sound like our selves. That happens because bands like Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Dokken, Dire Straits, Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, Ghost, Judas Priest,Europe, Motorhead, Beastmilk, Black Sabbath, Hendrix, Rage Against The Machine, Metallica, Chuck Berry & Rising Force and many more are fused into our hands and brains. We just pick up the instruments and we sound like that. You see the hands have muscle memory, he tend to express themselves inspired by sounds you are listening on repeat mode. I can’t hide you the fact that I put the mighty Van Halen(1978) album in my car’s cd player on 2006 and it came out on 2010 totally scratched and useless. It was on repeat mode for all those years. Without learning any of the songs in guitar, the playing and Eddie’s expression gets into you. Same happened with Yngwie’s Rising Force(1984) album and Frank Marino’s albums in my car. I listen to a lot of music because I drive big distances all the time.
How did you go about choosing art work for this new album? What was important to have in it?
-We wanted to have some real artwork (not digital graphic designs), made by a comic artist. We found one of the best in Greece, Manos Lagouvardos. He created the Giant who is among the ruins of our city. We are the sons of Gaia, the sons of the earth ,and we take it back to the primitive. So long for the modern vain society we live in. Monsters arouse from the depths of the earth to balance things, so watch out. Musically speaking ,the stone monsters are made from the music of the past fused into one body.
Something that scares me a bit is this I hear from more and more bands that they aren’t that bothered with art work anymore because people today download rather than buy physical. To me the whole point is to have art work that matches the music. I don’t know how many times I’ve been disappointed by weak art work to an otherwise cool album. What’s your opinion on this subject?
-I believe the same. The artwork is the packing of the “candy” . We spend thousands of dollars to record the album, what is a few hundred to make the packing nice? It is like playing a 4000$ Fender Stratocaster and you use cheap cables to connect to an amp. Of course I am a big fan of the old days where the cover of the albums were massive(The LP size). You could play the music and travel into the cover, spot new details every time, read the lyrics. This is the excuse of the download, a small avatar picture of the cover. Same way you could think that a band spends some thousands of dollars for good instruments, equipment, sound engineering mastering etc. in order their music to be heard from Youtube (lower quality) on a 400$ smartphone’s speaker. Let’s ruin everything then. Nah, we are romantic in this. We Respect our music and we want to look back to our albums and feel the pride, feel the burn.
How do you come up with song titles? What do they have to have to fit the songs?
-The song titles capture the main message of the song. Not all the times though. The song titles come naturally when we jam the songs. From weird names just to remember the tracks, to the official titles later on.
I use Spotify and Deezer but only as compliment to buying CDS (it’s easier to just have your phone or pad when your out) but I fear that soon music as we know it will be dead and buried. What are your worries as a band?
-It is lame that music took this direction. It is easier to have access to albums now. 3 clicks and boom, you can download legally/illegally whole discographies , I mean treasures and effort man. Back in time when I was a kid we were looking for copies of albums available in different record shops allover the city. After You completed the discography , you felt the pride. I remember searching for all the Dokken albums in vinyl(no cd versions were available yet except the new stuff). Once I had them all I felt so full,so happy. Then you could enjoy and melt the vinyls. In the past getting a new release from a band, was like gambling . Even if the album was crap, you would listen to it at least 10 times and that you lead to the album growing inside you. This crappy album could accompany a special moment in your life and that would turn it in a favorite. We all tend to connect songs with moments we were listening to that song, good or bad. I personally believe that the tables will turn. For the moment bands are enjoyed live. Sales are low.
How much of a live band are you? How important is playing live?
-It is the ALPHA and the OMEGA. This is the moment where you have the chance to communicate directly with the audience. It is challenging yet original. In the studio you can work wonders , on stage you can’t hide much. Naked truth. We have played gigs in Greece and Ireland till now. For the moment we are a supporting band. We played with Dokken, Stoned Jesus, Nightstalker, Planet of Zeus, Windhand , to name a few. With the second album our playlist goes to 24 tracks (over 2 hours set) thus we will be able to headline. Playing live demands rehearsals. Rehearsals are also band meetings and I love being with my friends/band members. Fun creative times .
What lies in the future?
-We are in the making of the second album, our third release( E.P. 2013 & The Sons of Gaia 2015). Only the vocals are left before heading to mixing and mastering. Same studio,some new faces, same recipe but double excitement. After we are done with the album we will head on to support the album’s release by gigging nationally and internationally. We believe the new album will be a killer.
WALKING STONE GIANTS are
Janis Aslanidis – Lead Guitar/Lead Vocals
George Doulkas – Bass/Backing Vocals
Jimmy Tott – Rhythm Guitar/backing Vocals
Kostas Matis – Drums