Piranha’s John and Costas’ interview
Written by Kevin Tanza on November 30, 2020
Michael Kiske, the famous Helloween vocalist, once said that the great thing about the Metal scene is that people never forget about you if you have made great music. And that applies very well to the great comeback that Greek Metal legends Piranha have achieved with their latest album, Arise from the Shadows.
Heralded as one of the first and most influential Greek Metal bands of all times, they hold a very special place in their country’s folklore and this album doesn’t show them as a nostalgia act trying to hold to the past, but rather as a musical entity that maintains their core elements and keeps pushing forward interesting new sounds, like I explained in my review of the album a few months ago.
So it was great to have this conversation with guitar player John and bassist Costas where we talked about Piranha, the country’s Metal progression throughout the years, the new album and of course a bit of the band’s history. I hope you enjoy it!
First and foremost, welcome, guys! I hope you’re all doing well. How are things going over there at Greece?
Hello Kevin and MusikHolics. We are fine and we hope the same for you. In Greece the situation with the pandemic is quite difficult as in the rest of the world. Αt this time we are in a state of lockdown but we hope that very soon we will return to more normal conditions.
What can you tell us about how the virus situation has affected your country?
As in most countries, everything is closed here, so there can be no concerts, music and record stores are closed and all music venues are closed. People are very scared and try to sit in their homes to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus that besieges us. Also, the hospitals are constantly filled with patients who have covid-19. It is a very difficult situation and we do not know how long it will last.
How this situation has affected your plans as Piranha?
Τhe pandemic that exists has made our daily lives difficult as citizens but also as musicians. It was very difficult to move around with all the prohibitions that existed and also even more difficult to be able to record and mix our new CD, Arise from the Shadows. Also, the ban on concerts due to emergency measures “cut off the legs” of the bands, because the concerts were the main “tool” that the bands had to promote their music and communicate with people.
Piranha performing Nuclear Disease live in 2019.
For those readers that might not be familiar with your work, what can you tell them about yourselves?
We are Piranha from Greece and we were formed in 1987. We are one of the oldest Metal bands in Greece and we have played Death/Thrash until 2001(dissolution). Our style is fast drums with heavy aggressive riffs and hellish vocals and also some atmospheric melodic brakes. We have released two demos and three records (LP and EP) from Molon Lave Records & Floga Records. Τhe band during its 14-year participation in the Greek Metal scene received great reviews from the music press around the world – but also managed to play together with many Greek bands such as Septic Flesh, Acid Death, Nightfall, Glames, Death Courier and also with major international names such as Destruction and Malevolent Creation.
By the end of 2017 we were back after 16 years of silence and working on new material, taking part in several gigs. In September 2019 we were very happy to have signed a multi-year record deal with 7hard. Our new album, Arise from the Shadows, was released worldwide on August 14 of this year and it is our most aggressive release ever.
A few months ago you released your latest album, Arise from the Shadows. How would you describe the writing process for this musical effort?
Our new CD, Arise from the Shadows, is more melodic and with more atmospheric elements but at the same time even more aggressive than our previous ones and this is further highlighted by the very good production that we managed to do. Of course the whole effort was very difficult because the first lockdown found us in the middle of the recordings, but we managed to finish it and deliver it to our record label 7hard on time. The recording of the new album was done in the N-Side Studio of our guitarist Dennis (guitars, bass etc.) and in the studio S.I.A. Recordings by our friend Savvas Betinis from Acid Death (voices, mixing, production) who we think did a great job on the production. We used a lot of digital technology (amp modelers, cabs simulators, profilers) regarding guitars and bass but also many new elements for Piranha such as female vocals (Nadia’s wonderful voice), dark & epic details and even some Black Metal elements.
Did you come into the studio with a defined idea of what you were going for?
Yes, the defined idea we had before we even started recording was to be able to combine the old school of Death Thrash with today’s Heavy Death Metal sound with some dark and epic additions, and we think we did it!!!
Considering the long gap between this album’s release and your debut’s, 1998’s Reborn, would you say you have changed as musicians? If so, how?
I cannot say that something has changed us all these three decades we have in Metal music. I think the word I will use is we have learned to see things from many different “angles” and not one-sided and to be open to new ideas. The 90s era was more “innocent” and more “loose”, I think, for a band that didn’t have a lot of competition compared to the current one which is more demanding and professional with a lot of competition.
What are your favorite tracks of this album?
Difficult question because all the tracks on the album are our favorites but if we had to choose three songs these would be the Arise from the Shadows, Eternal Night and Deadboat and these because they show the musical style of the band today.
Despite your debut album being released in 1998, you guys actually started in the early 90s, releasing a couple of demos. What can you tell us about the band’s early days?
Having a metal band in the 90s was very different from today because back then there were few studios to rehearse with the band. There were also very few places and clubs to do concerts and of course there was only one Greek record company that dealt with Metal sounds. Even the recordings were different back then (the recordings were only analog, with which you do not have the ability to copy – paste – erase that you have today in digital productions) so you spend many days in the studio.
And the technology has changed. For example, to record guitars and bass then you wanted heads & cabins (amplifiers) that took up volume and space, therefore large studios, while now with amp modelers and multi effects everyone can write at home in their comfort. Also promoting your music at that time was very difficult because the band had to run from door to door and leave cassettes with their material so that a radio producer or fanzine could hear it. Despite all these difficulties, we managed to release our first two albums World’s Grave and Cancer that made us well known in the Greek Metal scene.
How was the Greek Metal scene back in the day? And how do you think it has changed throughout the years?
Τhe Greek Metal scene of the 90s was very limited. There were a few bands that recorded records and did live performances to promote their music. But little by little, with the perseverance and hard work of the Greek bands all these years, they have managed to have today a Greek Metal scene that competes on an equal footing with any other Metal scene in the world. It is natural that the Greek scene, with the passage of all these years, has matured and has found its sound and also managed to have awesome bands in all Metal styles such as Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh, Acid Death , Nightfall, Suicidal Angels, Chronosphere, Diviner, among others.
Piranha’s 1992 EP, World’s Grave.
You guys actually released an EP in 1992, World’s Grave, which became a cult record of sorts. What can you tell us about the making of that album?
World’s Grave was our first record release and when you hear it you immediately understand the aggression and rage of youth. The making of that album took us about five months in the studio with daily recording, and this was because we were young and inexperienced and also because it was the first time we wrote with a metronome (very difficult). This album was also our first attempt to find our sound like a Metal band. I believe that World’s Grave is an album that shows the aggression of the Greek Metal scene of that time and will remain in our hearts forever. It is no coincidence that we always have two (World’s Grave and Human Fear) of the four tracks of the album on our live playlist.
Now obviously, there is a considerable gap in the band’s history between releases. Was that life just getting in the way or at the time you didn’t want to keep going with Piranha?
We believe life just getting in the way. The band disbanded in 2001 because the conditions of its members were difficult with the obligations they had (daily jobs, family, etc.) But the desire for music and creation all these years of inactivity was hidden and waiting to appear again at the right time.
Was the name Piranha inspired by the Exodus song?
We did not get our name from the Exodus song. It was a suggestion from a friend of ours to describe the style of the band (raw, fast and aggressive).
Obviously your music tastes have changed throughout the years, but what are the albums that you guys think have influenced Piranha the most?
Indeed, all these years our musical tastes have changed a lot but the records that will always be in our hearts and have influenced the band are the following:
- Slayer – Show No Mercy
- Exodus – Bonded by Blood
- Sepultura – Beneath the Remains
- Possessed – Seven Churches
- Malevolent Creation – The Ten Commandments
Are you guys working on new music right now?
It is too early to say that we are preparing songs for our next release because we have given all our attention to the promotion of our new child, Arise from the Shadows, but to tell you the truth I have recorded some new riffs and I put them aside so that we can use them when the time of our new creation has come.
Do you have any future shows in store in the coming months?
This period is very difficult for a band to promote their music because there are no concerts which is the main means for people to learn your music, so we have based the next tool which is the internet (social media, magazine, zines, youtube radio etc.) as well we are preparing a video clip for the second song, Eternal Night, from our CD. And it goes without saying that as soon as the measures are lifted and the concerts are safe, we will start a small tour in Greece and some appearances abroad.
Thank you so much for being here, guys! It’s been great. Any last words for our readers? Where can we buy your music and follow you on social media?
We would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to present and talk about our new release. And we would also like to tell your readers to take care of themselves during these difficult times and to stay healthy, so that we can all meet at one of our concerts quickly.
You can buy our new, Arise from the Shadow, in digital format on all digital platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes Store, Amazon Music etc.) as well as in physical format (CD) in all record stores.
Our social media are the following
- Facebook Piranha Greek Metal Band
- Instagram Piranha Greek Metal Band
- Youtube Piranha Greek Metal Band