In August last year Greece-based metal band Cerebrum released their debut album Spectral Extravagance, [Review]. In all likelihood Cerebrum won't ring a bell to that many people though. But don't you worry, as always, Metal Storm has the solution to everything. Here's an interview with guitarist Mike Papadopoulos and vocalist Apollon Zygomalas who were willing to answer my burning questions.
Let's begin with a warm-up introduction. Please introduce briefly Cerebrum and the music you play to the readers of Metal Storm. What would you tell to the people who have never heard of Cerebrum before?
Mike: The band exists since 2003 when me and Jim met in a sound-engineer school. Later that year we met Apollon and the core of Cerebrum was created, haha. We recorded a demo in 2005 which was received very well (it was demo of the month in the Greek Metal Hammer). In 2007 we recorded Spectral Extravagance which was released 2 years later. Well, we play what feels good to us. Most of the people call it progressive or technical death metal.
In what way would you convince metalheads to check out Cerebrum and the debut album Spectral Extravagance? For example, give us at least two reasons why people reading this interview need to surf to http://www.myspace.com/cerebrum right this instant.
Mike: Because we play something that is pretty unique. But I'm not here to convince anyone.
Apollon: Exactly, there's not a point in convincing anyone... If you wanna listen to something new and fresh and original, this is for you. But still, you have to get down on it, pay attention, observe... only this way you'll unlock the meanings
I can imagine a lot of bigger and more known bands are an example and source of inspiration for relatively young bands like Cerebrum. In what way do you guys try to sound different than those bigger bands?
Mike: We don't try to sound the same and we don't try to sound different. I mean we just play what we want. What we'd like to listen to. Yes I like bands like Watchtower, Atheist, Nocturnus but I equally like 70's prog rock, jazz rock so in no way we try to sound like or copy someone. And I think that the way we use different parts for the guitars and bass in most of the songs and most of the time and the "free" drumming is something that you could say is a "way" that we try to sound different. But it comes naturally, we don't do it on purpose.
Apollon: We create the music we'd like to listen to, it's so simple! It all comes from the heart... When I first heard the record (before creating any vocal lines or lyrics) I said: what the fuck is this?! I never heard something like this before! I felt the same feeling when I finished with the vocals, it was something new. And although you might catch some "influences" here and there, in general it will not remind you of something else. And like a Czech reviewer once said: "Cerebrum makes me think of bands like Atheist and Pestilence, without even copying one single minute of these bands. The band has just incorporated way too much modern influences in their melodic sound to resemble aforementioned bands."
Cerebrum is Jim - Mike - Apollon
What's the funniest story/best piece of gossip about the band Cerebrum?
Mike: One thing I can remember now is our sound engineer when we were recording. We used to have coffee break one hour after the beggining of recording, every day, because the girls from a college nearby had a break at the same time, haha.
The band is originated in Greece. Could you give a stand of affairs about the contemporary metal scene over there? And how hard is it for an extreme metal band to break through in Greece?
Mike: The scene over here is pretty strong. There are great bands that are on the same level or better from bands all around the world. The sad thing is that people here prefer to support foreign bands. So it's pretty hard to break through here in Greece.
Let's talk about the album a bit. What kind of an album is Spectral Extravagance actually?
Mike: It's a progressive or technical death metal album, haha.
Apollon: It's a death metal album, but psychedelic also... can't really describe it... It's cerebral music for sure, haha.
How are the reactions so far? What was the most positive and the most negative comment you heard about the album?
Mike: The reactions are very good overall. The most positive for me, apart from the reviews, are the words that people like Alan Tecchio and Mike Browning said for us, [Link]. There are people who say for example: "That has nothing to do with Watchtower" when they see Watchtower in our favorite bands, but when Alan says that we remind him of his days with Watchtower then what more can we say really?!
There are some negative reviews that tend to say that the album is more technical than it should be, but I think that they haven't spend enough time with it. It's not a "one listen album" while doing something else.
Apollon: Yeah, that's why it's a cerebral album! Cause you need to give it some time, and sit down and take the booklet in your hands and listen to the whole 42 minutes. This way you could delve into it, and enjoy it so much more! Browning said that our music is killer music that stimulates the pineal gland. I still can't believe his comment... I mean, I don't need to hear anything else, I'm full, haha! This guy got the point right from the start
One of the eye-catchers of the album is of course the inclusion of Nile drummer George Kollias, a longtime friend of the band. How hard (or easy) was it to give a musician of such a high caliber a place in the Cerebrum picture?
Mike: George is as you said a really good friend and really likes the band. There was nothing hard about it. We just told him about the parts we wanted something in particular and let him do his thing. And I think the result is really good.
Apollon: I think that it couldn't have been done better. George's ideas and energy fitted perfectly into the picture.
What was the first thing you did after the album was recorded?
Apollon: We went out and drunk beers. But we do that all the times, haha.
The album cover artwork is pretty intriguing. Tell us the story behind it. How did you come up with the idea?
Mike: The artwork was done by Xaay. We sent him the music and the lyrics and he made it to what you see. He came up with the main idea of the cover and we just told him to add several other things we wanted.
Apollon: The cover and the whole art he created in the booklet fits perfectly with our atmosphere and "concept". Again, it's part of the whole Cerebrum experience, you have to get into the album and then you'll understand everything.
How do you think that image fits into the general Cerebrum atmosphere?
Apollon: There are many ways to interpret it and many hidden signs in it. For sure it's a big guy, observing other smaller guys, hehe... but then it's the universe around them and the brain that unfolds into spirals and straight into space. But everything is symbolic... You'll understand everything if you get into the album, that's for sure
What was the most interesting band you have toured/performed with and why?
Mike: Unfortunately we havent played live yet, cause we had a really hard time with drummers. But now we found someone who can play the songs and we are ready to play as much as we can.
Apollon: He's Jakub Chmura from Poland. He's amazing, maybe the only one who could perform George's drums. Check out 2 videos he made on YouTube performing "Thorns of Weakness" and "Pattern of Fear".
Speaking of performing, what kind of a live band is Cerebrum? What can people expect at one of your live shows?
Apollon: We're the kind of band that will perform everything exactly as you'll hear it on the CD, maybe even better! So you won't be disappointed in that part... As for the whole feeling and atmosphere, it has to do with what kind of mental state you're into... you could really get into it and trip, or you could just observe us and freak out, haha!
What will the future bring for Cerebrum? I read the new album is almost finished. Could you already give a few exclusive details about the forthcoming material?
Mike: Yes the music is all finished. It's about the same length as Spectral and I could say that it's more technical and crazy...
Apollon: We gathered the 4 of us some days ago to listen to the whole new album... Again I can say that I've never heard of anything like this before, haha, it's way more crazy and groovy and chaotic, haha. Let's wait to see how more it will progress with the voice on it, can't wait for it.
In what way will the new album differ from Spectral Extravagance?
Mike: It's more technical, more experimental... It's quite different, but I think that you'll know it is Cerebrum when you hear it, haha.
And what's the best album of 2010 so far according to you guys?
Mike: I haven't heard many new releases but from what I've heard I can say that the new Immolation is really good!
Apollon: I haven't heard much new metal stuff but I really enjoyed the new Angst Skuadron, Ihsahn and Immolation albums.
If you could trade places with any other person for two days, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, with who would it be, and why?
Apollon: I'd choose Jesus Christ for sure... There are so much more things we need to learn... Or then, I'd choose to be an animal for 2 days, such as an eagle or a wolf, it's the same thing...
This interview is coming to an end. Thank you for your time and answers! If you want to give the Metal Storm readers a final message/advice/life lesson, now's your chance.
Mike: Well I'm not the one to give a life lesson to anyone, haha. Thanx a lot for the interview. Hope you enjoy the album and to see you all when we tour!
Apollon: Just be good and honest with yourself and others, and everything will come wonderfully at your path. We greet everyone and hope you all enjoy the album, see you on tour for some beers and chat, viva!
Cheers and beers to Mike and Apollon for doing the interview!
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