Mencea's Stamos Koliousis meets eFestivals

Hammerfest 2009 interview

published: Wed 6th May 2009


Friday 24th to Saturday 25th April 2009
Pontins Holiday Camp in Prestatyn, North Wales, Wales MAP
from £85 per head, based on a group of seven people sharing
last updated: Wed 11th Mar 2009

Having barely finished a somewhat unorthodox interview with pirate metallers Alestorm in the middle of a children's adventure playground at Hammerfest, eFestivals was summoned back into the ball pit for a rendezvous with Stamos Koliousis, guitarist for Athenien prog metallers Mencea. Luckily, it wasn't all Greek to us...


Yo Stamos! Enjoying your weekend?
Yeah, it's been quite relaxing! I think we must have had the longest trip to come in here, we came from Athens and we landed really late at Heathrow, then there was mad traffic so it took us like seven hours to get here. After this we go straight back to Greece! We arrived yesterday...

What do you think of Pontin's as a Metal Mecca?
Yeah it's really nice, the vibe is good, although the sound hasn't been that great, which is the venue I think. But it's alright! The fans get really close to the bands, they all live in the same chalets...the arcade really helps, I've seen loads of people in there. I think that the fact that there's not much to do around [Prestatyn] kind of helps people to focus on what's going on here. No one really has these kind of things back in Greece, we used to do things like going to the beach, but this all looks great for kids, and even for me now even though I'm not a kid! *laughs*

Tell us about Mencea.
We come from Athens, Greece, and we were formed around 2004. At the moment we have an album out which came out in November called 'Dark Matter', and the tour for that has been really good so far. This is our second time in the UK, hopefully there will be a tour scheduled right after the summer, and the music we play is kind of progressive death metal. I would say more death than prog, It's not really focused on one kind of genre, there's a bit of thrash, a bit of death metal and some progressive.

It seems like progressive metal is having a boom period at the moment with bands like Mastodon and Opeth getting huge critical acclaim and decent album sales...
Yeah well it's really nice to see these bands get the recognition they deserve. Meshuggah and Opeth have been going for so many years and I have been following them for many many years, so it's nice to see them getting that status. It seems like listeners are opening up. I dunno if that's because everything's been done, but death metal's coming back again, thrash is coming back again, so the bands that are not focused to one type of genre are starting to get recognition these days, which is really nice.

Why is metal back in the big time again?
I dunno, I mean for me I can only think of the perspective of a metalhead. I've always been one, so for me maybe perhaps the last few years there hadn't been so much metal music coming out into the spotlight, and they've run out of r'n'b and hip hop and all these other things, but with metal it's a genuine type of music. I think it's nice for people to see that there are genuine people doing genuine music out there.

What's the music scene in Athens like?
Well there's Firewind, Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh have also done really well. Apart from those three main bands there isn't much coming out, even though the level [of metal] has gone up from when I was a kid. The mentality in Athens and in Greece isn't very professional when it comes to bands and booking gigs, it's chaos, you know? It's so hard to get a show and to get the backline there and the people, and there's just no touring circuit. The big bands come play Athens, and that's about it, there's not many venues.

The music scene in Athens is strange, what is really popular is the kind of modern pop music, which is terrible Eurovision! That kind of stuff seems to be really popular, but as far as selling units there isn't really a market in Greece. I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that the most CD's sold are from metal music or rock music in general. Greek pop music is shifted more towards live music.

Was it difficult emerging as a new metal band in Greece?
It's been hard because there's always been this myth that if you're a Greek band and you send your CD out to this label, as soon as they see it's from Greece they throw it in the bin. I don't think that's really the case, it's more like "Dude, you didn't try hard enough", you know? But we were never really into trying to make something in Greece, it was more like we wanted to try and make something that had nothing to do with where we come from and try to work with people that aren't from Greece, some good press people like Duff Press and other promoters in general. I don't mean to be arrogant, but good stuff gets places, and if you keep at it you will get rewarded somehow.

Do you think there is a stereotype surrounding Greek and, to a lesser extent, European bands in general?
I dunno really, if you look at the biggest metal labels in Europe – Nuclear Blast, Metal Blade, Century Media, SPV, stuff like that – most of them are German, with some Scandinavian ones, so I guess what a lot of them do is look to their original market. German labels would rather promote a German band than a Greek band in Germany because people will connect with them more. But like I said before, if you try hard you will get somewhere. I don't think we've done all that much yet, but at least we have hopped on the train that might take you some place if you play your cards right! I think for us the hardest is yet to come.

Well we wish you good luck with it! Thanks loads Stamos.
No problem.
interview by: Merlin Alderslade

Friday 24th to Saturday 25th April 2009
Pontins Holiday Camp in Prestatyn, North Wales, Wales MAP
from £85 per head, based on a group of seven people sharing
last updated: Wed 11th Mar 2009

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