DREAMLONGDEAD – Interview with Tassos

In the year 2012, a new darkness has surrounded the always active Hellenic underground metal. Athenians DREAMLONGDEAD, apart from creating massive doom/death swamps, also have some very interesting opinions about the band, the scene and the metal sound in general. Guitarist/vocalist Tassos, speaks to the AntiFlesh Nimbus.


AFN: Give us a short (or not) history of the band. What led you to the murky paths of doom/death metal?

Tassos: Look, it wasn’t any conscious “decision”. In a way, all of us have always been drenched in putrefaction; yet some years ago after having been stuck playing in various bands –even though I had a good time there too- I had the thought that eventually I wanted to play the “music” with which I grew up and existed in my DNA. Say it midlife crisis or anything, but this was the music that wandered in my head and seemed natural for me to play.

While the original idea was for me to record all instruments by myself, a series of karmic events occurred and the band got the shape it now has. Sometime during spring of 2011 we were talking with Panos (our producer/sound engineer and finally guitarist) over some beers, about where we could find a drummer about a project we were running at the time and was kind of stuck. It was then than Tolis (our drummer) came to my mind, of not for the project we were discussing with Panos but for DREAMLONGDEAD. I instantly called him, told him that I had some riffs ready and whether he would like to jam on them; we set a jam session a few days later in that cursed building in Piraeus where Tolis was playing with his former band (HELLROAD CARAVAN) and –bang!- chemistry was there already.

We discussed the bassist issue and agreed to continue as a duet, in order to preserve that chemistry and, if anything, for cult reasons! Yet, a few days after I had a message in my inbox from George with whom I was in contact after he had invited one of my former bands to one of the gigs he organized and we kept exchanging musical tastes (such as COFFINS). He was looking to play guitar in some extreme band, and asked me if I knew any. I asked him back whether he would be interested to play the bass guitar, he came to Piraeus’ meat-market, we jammed, the bonds where there, end of story!


DreamLongDead @ Rainbow ClubAFN: You began as a power-trio, but along the way two additions were made and you stand now as a quintet. Especially the double vocals fit perfectly with your music. Was it a spontaneous inspiration or did the though already existed for some time?

Tassos: It was the karmic coincidences I mentioned above. I know John (vocals) for a long time and all these years during our drunken hours in some bar, we were talking about doing music together. In the end we did but I still wanted that doom/death rotten thing and so, when DREAMLONGDEAD we shaped, John was always by our side.

I have a voice with certain limitations so that Tom Warrior/Chris Reifert/Jeff Becerra zombie-with-bronchitis growling would be perfect for me. John, on the other hand, has the imperial Karl Willets/David Vincent deep throat (hahaha!) so I always thought than we would record he should jab into the music some of these vocals for extra theatricality and volume. When recordings where finished, George brought a new song and while showing it to me and Tolis, he says at some point “…and imagine John doing these vocals over here!”. So, you know, this was the sign that John’s vocals were official part of the band’s musical palette.

And with Panos, the story is somewhat similar. The guy is my metal brother for more than half of my life, he produced the record (“MadnessDeadGrave”), he had an idea for a guitar part on “The Comfort Of A Cold Grave” which he recorded and then we thought he should pay the parts on our live shows also. But then what, he would be on stage for just one track? We knew the man is so busy, he doesn’t even have the time to take a shit but on the other hand we also knew how much he’s into playing live and drinking beers, doing music with friends. We didn’t want to pressure him much but then he didn’t need any, also John “blackmailed” him a little and so we ended up as a five men band. Think about it, we started as a duet, then as a power-trio and didn’t intend to change that in order not to mess with our chemistry. The Ancients has other plan for us, however…


AFN: How did you manage to produce this sonic outcome where all organs sound in a good balance, yet at the same time seem to come out of the deepest well?

Tassos: This was a fortunate combination of certain factors. First of all we knew how we wanted the band to sound like. Second, Panos knows his job. If you listen to the man’s other works, he never aims to cap a band’s sound, he just tries to make everything sound right. And the “well” you mentioned is his fondness for natural reverb. The guy just loves physical space and what better than a slow doom band where all instruments have the required time and air for the deepness to be heard. Also, the studio plays a vital role at this. We recorded at UNIVERSE 217’s studio and their recording room has that fine, physical space which we finally kept.

There are other small details and secrets also, like the drum tuning and the way Tolis “punishes” the skins, the way the microphones were set when we were recording guitars and bass, our instruments’ tuning, even the fact that George and I use fuzz instead of the more common distortion and overdrive that most metal bands use. Even more, I have a relatively special guitar set-up and play with what one could call a “non-metal” guitar. And as far as the mastering of the album was concerned, we preferred to use a lower one which makes the music’s dynamics to sound clearly than to create an overproduced record. It was a combination of technical knowledge and fortunate coincidences.


DreamLongDead @ Defcon 2012, AN ClubAFN: Which bands, sounds, texts/books, facts and any other incentives inspired you to exhale such Darkness in “MadnessDeadGrave”? What are the lyrics about?

Tassos: You know, there are many reference to the FROST-like or HELLHAMMER-like atmosphere that surrounds our music, but it’s not like we sit down and say “hey, let’s make everything sound like CELTIC FROST”. It simply just happened. Maybe their music is so much embedded in our musical genes that we can’t get rid of it. Other bands that exist in my DNA and, I believe, are common place for everyone in the band are AUTOPSY, WINTER, CATHEDRAL, BOLT THROWER, DARKTHRONE, ASPHYX, NIHILIST/ENTOMBED, MORBID ANGEL, BATHORY, MERCYFUL FATE, the list is huge.

As far as the lyrics are concerned, the prevalent theme is the Cthulhu mythology and the whole circle of writers –contemporary or descendants- around H.P. Lovecraft and also a lifetime of obsession with fantasy/horror cinema and literature. But the album’s last track (“The Comfort of A Cold Grave”) has a more realistic lyrical theme, something I would like for us to continue doing in the future. About the “Darkness” you mentioned, we thank you. You know, as you grow up you become a grumpy, cynical bastard so even if you borrow inspiration from the fantasy and unreal sphere, everything is absorbed by that cynicism and misanthropy that life itself leaves you as a permanent “gift”.


AFN: In the meantime, how can you start an album with a 15-minute track? Is there no business spirit there anymore? Of course I’m kidding, but in the era of internet and hyperfast consumerism (even if we’re talking about underground music) it seems that fans have less and less patience with creations that demand attention and devotion. Would you agree with that?

Tassos: Man, our next record will probably start with a 20-minute track! And I say “20-minute” because the others nagged so much, I had to throw a whole 7-minute part in the middle, ha ha ha! You are right in what you are saying but do not forget that we are stubborn old men. We still buy the albums we like (huh?) and even prefer vinyl (wtf?) and we like to listen to whole tracks and whole records. So maybe we address to people like us. Then again, maybe not, but I can’t and won’t tell anyone how to approach our music or music in general. If it causes a certain reaction to someone and they dedicate more time and attention to us, then first of all we thank them for that time and second, they should know that their souls will be cursed to wander eternally in the interstellar void, haunted by Azag Thoth’s flute! Ia ia!


AFN: That fast part in “The Dead Dream Under Our Skin” crushes bones and breaks necks! Do you plan to use more parts like it in your upcoming tracks? Are you in the process of creating new material and, if yes, which direction is it heading to?

Tassos: Thank you. That part functions well because at the point it “bursts”, after almost 20 minutes of inexorable putrescence, the listener has been humiliated, surrender and… bahm! I love that part because it exhales and old-school VENOM thrash feeling with the vocals also providing an essence of POSSESSED. Yes, there will be similar parts in our upcoming material and yes, by this time we are working on new songs, some of which, by the way, we will present in our next shows. I’m transferred above the clouds (or, better, down to Tartarus) with this new material. On one hand it has more of an old-school death metal aura (circa ’88-’91), but it’s also more classic heavy metal in a way, it has oriental influences, it contains post-metal passages, huge track lengths and, in general, it’s more varied because as “musicians” we’re into a mentality that makes not want to feel reassured with what we did on “MadnessDeadGrave” and to pressure ourselves in what we can do technically but also to take full of advantage of the double vocals and the two guitars. It will be an extreme album nonetheless…


AFN: As I’m watching the Hellenic underground scene more carefully in the last few years, I think I’ll go the opposite way of that of nagging/misery and I’ll say that fans are supporting more and more the local bands, maybe due to the fact that economic crisis prevents someone from spending money on expensive tickets, in comparison with the pre-crisis years. Do you have a similar feeling based on what you get as active members of the scene?

Tassos: I agree with you completely and this comes from a man who uses to nag and treat thing with cynicism at any given chance. Yes, we feel that we get the support you mention.


DreamLongDead @ Defcon 2012, AN ClubAFN: Which Greek bands do you think are special in the last few years?

Tassos: A lot and with many of them we have the luck to maintain friendly relations. Speaking for myself, this year I couldn’t stop listening to the albums of NOCTURNAL VOMIT and RESURGENCY. Also I like MORTAL TORMENT, DEPHOSPHOROUS, MERCILESS CRUCIFIXION, NECROVOROUS, INCINERATION, MALLEDICTION; recently we played together with Salonicans TERRORDROME and I was watching them in awe. Also from Thessaloniki comes AGNES VEIN, a band with a similar approach to music with us. Other records I played a lot were last’ years INFIDEL and UNIVERSE 217 and I believe that, objectively, the top bands of the scene are DEAD CONGREGATION and RAVENCULT.


AFN: Back to DREAMLONGDEAD, who’s idea and execution was the perfect logo with that bat-octopus or whatever is this wonderful abomination?

Tassos: Ha ha ha! From the very beginning the idea was for a font similar to ENTOMBED/NIHILIST/CARNAGE and surely there ought to be bat/dragon wings like DARK ANGEL or TREBLINKA. George took the above as a basis and came back with that horrid thing. What you see, is a depiction of the Great Cthulhu from a comic artist, whose name escapes me right now, but George changed it and reduced the tentacles to five, giving them the shape of the reversed pentagram. And because it’s Cthulhu, he added the dragon wings behind it. Finally, I took it and made some graphic additions/changes and here it is. It reminds some band’s logo from back in ’89-’90 and this was our goal. When we get a bit more organized and see if there is some demand, you will also see it in some t-shirt. I think it would be great for such purpose.

AFN: On a 1-to-10 scale say how much you love HELLHAMMER/CELTIC FROST!

Tassos: Uuuuuh, probably 11!


AFN: As we move towards the end, which releases shook you or –at least- had some impact on you during 2012?

Tassos: This year was a good one for slow and rotter music. Personally, the record that blew me off was “Vessels Of Light And Decay” from Londoners INDESINENCE. Other great albums I listened to a lot came from AHAB, EVOKEN, PALLBEARER, HOODED MENACE, ANHEDONIST while recently John and Panos passed me AEVANGELIST’s full-length I can say I’m still gathering my pieces together.

Band contact: http://www.facebook.com/Dreamlongdead

~ by antifleshnimbus on December 29, 2012.

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