My metal albums by bands from Cyprus are easy counted. WINTERS VERGE is my first, if memory serves me right. Anders Ekdahl ©2012
Cyprus is not the most common metal country. What is it like to be a metal band on Cyprus?
– Good afternoon, I am Miguel. Being a metal band in Cyprus is like trying to sell expensive watches to poor people. You’d better be sure you’re doing it out of love, because doing it for money is pointless! There are plenty of famous bands who come and play in Cyprus these days, but for local bands the highest they can hope for is to be an opening act for someone. That is why we started looking outside Cyprus to move ahead.
Can we speak of a metal scene on Cyprus? I guess not many international bands play shows there?
-Actually, you’re wrong there. Over the past three years I could name about 15 very famous bands who have come to Cyprus to play… there are some good promoters bringing acts over which is great to see. Stratovarius, Arch Enemy, Iced Earth, Sepultura, Rotting Christ, Children of Bodom, Mystic Prophecy… plenty of bands!
What kind of reactions do you get from the national fans and media? Are they proud of you being from Cyprus?
-Most people do seem to be very happy for us. They seem to be proud that a Cypriot band has been signed to a well-known label and gone on tour with popular bands in Europe. I mean, there are some people who don’t support what we do – either they don’t like our music which is fair enough, or they seem to have some sort of problem with our (very relative) success, which is somewhat confusing; especially if they used to support us but now don’t. But they can seriously just go and fuck themselves. We don’t need them. For the most part, people have been supportive which is always special to see… it’s our home, after all. This is where it all began.
You are on your third album but you still seem like a well kept secret. What have you done in the past to promote the band?
-We were on tour with Stratovarius 2 years ago in Eastern Europe. That was huge exposure for the band, especially as almost everyone at the shows really seemed to dig our stuff and appeared to have a good time, rocking out while we were playing. I mean, if we sucked that wouldn’t have happened, right? We made a lot of new fans on that tour and it highlights the importance of getting out there on the road and doing live shows. There really is no substitute.
When you have two albums already to your name how do you take it one step further when it is time for a new album?
-We look for things we didn’t do on the last album. Maybe a type of sound, or a type of music or dynamic we didn’t try last time around. We want to keep some things the same; after all, we have to have our own soul and style, but at the same time we need to evolve. We need to move and not stay stagnant. That’s what we tried with this album: to introduce stuff that wasn’t in the others, like heavier, Pantera-type riffs and more intense breakdowns.
When you write songs does it feel like you’ve found your style? Is there a flow to the song writing process?
-When we write a song we just do what comes natural to us. We might think ‘ok let’s write a heavy and fast song’ but that’s not some sort of concrete rule – it’s just a guideline. Maybe the heavy and fast song will end up being a symphonic epic, and that’s one of the best things about being in this band, there’s an inherent unpredictability as to what sort of songs will appear. ‘Paper is Blank’, for example, started out as a melodic mid-tempo song, and ended up as a really fast, traditional power metal song. One of the reasons this sort of thing happens is that everyone is involved in the songwriting process – someone has an idea, it gets passed around, and then when it comes to actually playing it each of us adds or takes away or modifies according to our own individual styles. I feel it gives a depth and complexity to our music which is really important to what we do.
How much say do you have in picking art work and the lay-out? Does the art work have to correlate with the music?
-Absolutely. Artwork has an undeniable psychological link to the music – I grew up listening to CDs and reading through the booklets as I did so. Even now when I hear ‘Fear of the Dark’ by Iron Maiden
at the back of my mind there’s a picture of Eddie crawling out of a tree. Same goes for when I listen to ‘In the Nightside Eclipse’ by Emperor, I get visions of the dark forests and mountains of Norway. While all this might not hold as true today as it did 10 or even 5 years ago, it’s still important – it’s something that our subsequent merchandise and stage shows might reflect, as well as the ever-present ‘eye-in-the-mind’ deal for listeners. It would be pretty cool if people listening to our music imagined angels and demons battling in the sky. What we usually do is tell the graphic designer what we want, and they pass us their own interpretation. The record label of course has to agree with it, but Massacre have let us get on with our own thing.
When you’ve been doing this for 8 years does it feel like you are where you want to be in your career?
-In one respect, we’ve achieved more than we could’ve imagined. We’ve had some incredible opportunities come our way and we have tried to make the most of them. While we want more (and if we didn’t want more then there would be something wrong with us), we feel we’ve done reasonably well for ourselves. But the desire and hunger remains to move onwards and upwards.
How frustrating is it to feel like you are standing still, not getting anywhere when you know that you have the goods just because you don’t have the right kind of backing?
-At the end of the day, you have to go out and grab opportunities and make things happen. We’ve all made huge sacrifices in trying to get the band moving ahead, and I don’t see that changing. That’s the nature of the business now – with record labels struggling to stay in the black, bands do have to increasingly fend for themselves and go out there and do the most that they can with what they have. It’s not easy, but nobody said it would be. If you’re in the music industry for a relaxed time, you chose the wrong business!
What would a perfect future look like for Winters Verge?
-More touring, more albums, more fans. We want to play everywhere in the world, we want to travel to Asia, North & South America, all over Europe, and give the music we make to as many people as we can. We want to record an album with a full symphony orchestra. We want to make epic 2-part albums. We want to headline festivals. All art is communication, and music is the most powerful form of communication of all – we want to do that as much as we can. Will we achieve all those dreams? Well, why not? To eternal victory will metal go!