Pantheist interview (07/2016)
|Conducted by:||Bad English|
Bad English: Hi. Thank you for doing this interview with us at Metal Storm.
Kostas Panagiotou: It's a pleasure as Metal Storm is one of my favourite metal sites on the net!
Bad English: Can you introduce yourself, and tell us about your first steps into music, both as a listener and as a musician?
KP: I grew up in Greece and you are immediately exposed to a lot of music in this country. Greeks like to party, and as they are emotional people they also like to express their emotions through listening to their favourite songs, so music is everywhere. I only started to think of myself as a composer when I had moved to Belgium. Around the age of 13 I started composing music in my head, even though in retrospect it just turned out to be variations of existing songs. But I didn't start playing music myself until I was 15 and bought my first keyboard. At the time I listened mainly to classical music, electronic music like Jarre and Vangelis and Greek rebetico (music from the Greek underworld). Later I also got into rock music through the likes of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep and Black Sabbath. Actually my first bands were playing covers of popular Greek music and rebetico, I only started to listen to doom metal and the like when a friend introduced me to these styles at the University, and Pantheist was only founded after I had completed my studies.
Bad English: How many instruments can you play?
KP: My main instruments are piano and any types of keyboards, but I can play some acoustic and electric guitar and have recorded baglamas, guitar and accordion on previous albums.
Bad English: We'll get the most complex question out of the way early. According to the Metal Archives, you are part of Clouds, Ereipia, Landskap, and Pantheist, and you have played in Aphonic Threnody, Bellator, Crippled Black Phoenix, and Wijlen Wij. You have also been a guest performer with A Dream of Poe, Daylight Misery and Mourning Dawn. Are these credits all correct, and are there other projects you have been involved with?
KP: Yes these are all correct, except of the fact that Ereipia has broken up several years ago. I have also contributed as guest to the debut album of Se Delan, and have an ambient side project called Sermones Ad Mortuos. There are some more metal related stuff I am working on at the moment as guest and collaborator, so you will probably hear about these over the next year(s).
Bad English: What kind of a beast is Ereipia? It's hard to find good info on Google.
KP: It used to be a neoclassical project featuring myself on piano and keyboards and Andy Koski-Semmens (Syven, ex-Pantheist) on vocals. It had a classically-based, atmospheric vibe with deep, operatic vocals. The first album also features cello. You can download both albums for free from Bandcamp.
Bad English: You went by the name "Pan" in Bellator, correct? What was the meaning behind that?
KP: I also used this nickname on the Pantheist demo 1000 Years. No special reason really, it's the three first letters of my surname and I thought it sounded cool since I'm Greek and Pan is pretty much the old Greek personification of Satan.
Bad English: A Dream Of Poe recently released their new album, An Infinity Emerged (which was very good, by the way). What was your involvement in it, and how did that come to be?
KP: I know Miguel, the main man of this band, for years. I met him at a gig where we shared the stage back in 2011 in Ghent. We used to meet often when he lived in Crawley, but he has moved to Edinburgh now. I will see him next week however, as he organizes the Doom Over Edinburgh event in which Pantheist performs He asked me to add keyboards and piano on An Infinity, which I did. I was just a guest however as he is the 'boss' in this band. I have also agreed to play keys on his next album.
Bad English: Since the band relocated to Scotland, did the recording process take place somewhere in the UK?
KP: Yes, Miguel has a home studio in Scotland and I recorded my parts in my home studio in Slough.
Bad English: Clouds, one of your newer projects, is an international doom super group. Who came up with the idea to form such a band, and how did you get involved?
KP: This is pretty much the brainchild of Dan from Eye Of Solitude, and carries personal compositions in which he expresses his sorrow and melancholy at loved ones that have passed away. Jarno from Shape Of Despair has recently taken a more prominent role in this band as well, being pretty much Dan's right hand. My involvement in this project has been rather minimal; I know Dan quite well for a few years (he is also drummer in Pantheist). He asked me to arrange some keys on the debut album and I also played a gig with Clouds in Romania at the Dark Bombastic Evening festival.
Bad English: Does Clouds have any future plans for, concerts, touring, maybe a new album?
KP: Yes, Dan and Jarno are currently working out ideas for the second album. There are no specific gig or tour plans though.
Bad English: You worked with some interesting guests on Clouds's debut: Jón Aldará of Hamferð, Pim Blankenstein of Officium Triste, and Ben Ellis of Bloodshot Dawn. How did that come about, and would you consider inviting them back?
KP: Again, this is all Dan's doing as he has invited them in the same way that he has invited me. I know that he definitely has plans to invite guests on the second album as well, but you should ask him.
Bad English: Landskap seems to be one of your lesser-known bands. Could you tell us a bit more about it? How did you wind up with this band?
KP: This is just our shared passion for anything related to '60s and '70s psychedelic/prog rock. I was asked to join back in 2013 by Frederic (ex-Pantheist) who has now left the band. We have played several gigs in the UK, among others at the HRH Prog festival and Desertfest, and have just recorded our third album last weekend.
Bad English: Landskap in Swedish means "nature, scenery, landscape." Who came up with the name?
KP: It was Frederic, as the same word is also used in West Flanders, where he is originally from.
Bad English: It seems that those two new bands are rather busy these days. Meanwhile, there hasn't been a lot of news from Pantheist lately. Is the band still active? Do you have any upcoming plans?
KP: Yes, we played at Doom Over Kiev last year; we will play next week in Edinburgh and at the end of this month at Doom Over London. We are still working on the fifth album and had a few line-up changes in 2014, so we decided not to bomb social media with new info about the band unless there is something significant to say.
Bad English: Pepijn van Houwelingen left in 2014. Are you looking for a replacement, or will you continue as a three-piece?
KP: We have found a replacement since 2014, which is Valter [Cunha] from Before The Rain. Since last year we also have a second guitar player, Frank [Allain] who also plays in Fen.
Bad English: Pantheist is known as a funeral doom act, but your last album, Pantheist, changed a few elements of the sound. How did fans accept it? Do you have a lot of "conservative," die hard fans who hate any changes in sound and want the same thing all the time? It seems to me that the only band that manages to write the same album over and over without getting boring is a certain sewing machine-themed group of Aussies (AC/DC).
KP: I'm sure we managed to piss off a few people with this album, at least I hope so! Change is all about challenging listeners and making them think about what is 'acceptable' and why. If it forced some people to challenge their preconceived notions of what constitutes doom then I'm satisfied. Having said that, reviews and comments we got were overall very positive, so maybe there are a few open-minded people listening to doom after all!
Bad English: You started the band in Belgium and then moved to UK; you've had members of various nationalities throughout Pantheist's existence. How does that affect sessions and recordings?
KP: The band is based in London and this city is a melting pot of ethnicities so it shouldn't be a surprise that we have so many different nationalities in the band. However due to the history of the band -which as you said, involved relocation from Belgium to the UK - we had a huge turnover of members over the years, a fact which no doubt has hampered the band's potential and development.
Bad English: Is it hard to play live, being in so many bands and having so much material? Does the experience of playing live differ much from band to band?
KP: Currently I only play regularly live with Landskap and Pantheist, so logistically is not really a big thing. The experience is very different, Pantheist is very atmospheric, cerebral and 'planned' music, while Landskap is rather spontaneous and often improvisatory.
Bad English: How do you write music: at home, via PC, or by jamming?
KP: Both ways, but I prefer the first. Nowadays we write music at rehearsals in both Pantheist and Landskap. In the past I used to write in Pantheist by recording demos at home and sending them to all members, we then worked out the details at rehearsals.
Bad English: Do you think that there is any such thing as "tr00" metal?
KP: Yes I do believe in true metal. This is metal that comes straight from the heart, is a direct expression of enthusiasm and emotions that the writer wants to share with an audience, hoping that they feel the same. Everything else is false metal.
Bad English: If you continue playing music for the next few decades, how do you think your career as a musician will turn out?
KP: As I get older, I notice that I'm more and more interested to be involved in bands/projects that just write good music, without analyzing too much the material that is being written. Communication with the other band members also becomes more important, so that we all work together to achieve our goal in a synchronized way. Either that, or solo projects when I rather not have anyone 'tampering' with my compositions. "Crushing' the listener with heavy music has become less and less important for me. Having said that, the new Pantheist album will undoubtedly crush a few sensitive souls when it arrives.
Bad English: For a bit of ancient history, could you tell us a bit about Wijlen Wij - the band and its music, the funeral doom style, and why the band broke up?
KP: Yes, it was just an idea for the 'funeral doom elite' (haha) of that era to come together in a one-off side project that tried to play the darkest and most funereal music possible. So it was Stijn from Until Death Overtakes Me, Lawrence from Solicide, Kris from In Somnis and myself. As it turned out to be, we made more than one record over the years, even though the second album came 7 years after the first, and without
Bad English: Sijn van Cauter seems like funeral doom Dan Swanö, with the number of bands he plays in. Are you still in contact with him?
KP: No I very seldom speak to him and we are not really in touch. He has decided to give up music for now and I am doubtful whether he will ever return as he has found other ways to express his creativity.
Bad English: Do you have any last words to our readers?
KP: Thanks to those who took the effort to read this interview. It's good to have a community of like minded people here at Metal Storm, sometimes I miss the good old times of the early incarnation of the doom-metal.com forum. However, remember there is a world out there, and many of the bands you like are now gigging regularly, so make sure you go out from time to time to see them and support them.
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