Jan 24, 2013

Interview from Czech Rock/Metal Magazine 'Spark Magazin'

When and where did the band start / originate ?
The band started in the summer of 2011 in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. The band consists of George Karakasian (Vocals, guitar), Stephanos Miliatos (back vocals, guitar), Punkunin Marios (bass) and Achilles Vasdekis (drums, back vocals).

When and where did the band start / originate ?

The band started in the summer of 2011 in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. The band consists of George Karakasian (Vocals, guitar), Stephanos Miliatos (back vocals, guitar), Punkunin Marios (bass) and Achilles Vasdekis (drums, back vocals).

I have noticed: a) that the En Psychro’ roots go to Greece / greek HC scene, and b) that the band members come from other, extreme bands.  -  Could you please tell us about your roots, past-bands and generally background of individual band members?

We are indeed influenced by the Greek Hardcore scene, because there’s always been a connection between Greece and Cyprus due to the short distance that separates us (thus making it our most common destination) but also because it is the closest example of any D.I.Y activity, be it in music or otherwise. There is also the factor of the common language and other similarities that connects us and the Greek scene.
At a very young age, George Karakasian became a member of the first Hardcore Punk band in Cyprus, ‘Aposynthesis’ (1992-1996). When Aposynthesis broke up, he participated in a street punk band called ‘Nuclear Mutants’ and in 2004 he started a hardcore/crust band called ‘Entos ton Teichon’ (transl. ‘Within the walls). The band still exists and has recently changed its name to ‘Downward Spiral’. In addition, George has always been a very active member of the anti-authoritarian scene in Cyprus.
Punkunin Marios was a member of ‘Entos ton teichon’ from 2004 to 2008, during which they recorded their self-titled album. He published the fanzine ‘First of the Mohicans’ (‘FOTM’) and has Dj’d in various squats, events and bars playing punk music. Both him and George have been very active in the independent scene here in Cyprus.
Achilles Vasdekis has been an active member of the Metal scene since 2004, being the drummer of various extreme music bands ranging from Heavy metal, to Thrash, Death and Black metal. His most recent participations were with the thrashers ‘Terminal Disease’ and Prog/Power metallers ‘Solitary Sabred’. Other than that, he has Dj’d in local Metal bars and events and has been a radio producer and occasionally a gigs reporter.
Stephanos Miliatos has been a metal head for many years. His many years absence from Cyprus has limited his activities but he has made up for it ever since he returned to Cyprus in 2007. He has occasionally DJ’d at various bars/events. At the moment he is an active member of D.I.Y Collective taking part in its activities.

 Did you move to Cyprus from Greece? And if so, what was the reason?

The three of us (George, Punkunin and Achilles) moved to Cyprus from Greece at different periods of time and for various reasons. Stephanos studied in Greece for a year but we all maintain good relations with our friends from Greece as well as with the Greek scene.

I must be honest, I heard and read of Cyprus history / culture / political issues … but never heard of a punk/HC scene there.  How big is it?  Is there anything like DIY “infrastructure” (I mean like a label, fanzines, alternative venues/squats to live and/or play gigs?

The scene in Cyprus consists of a very limited number of people, since Cyprus is a country with low population. That, in addition to the repressive action by the state (oppressive police, strong censorship) as well as the conservative and narrow minded Cypriot society, has made it extremely difficult for an independent scene to flourish. Furthermore, the geographical position of the island made it impossible for us to get in contact with other independent scenes worldwide and so we were sort of alienated from it all. Our only contact was with the mainstream scene which found its way to Cyprus many years ago. However, the past few years have been really productive regarding the local D.I.Y scene. Things became more organised and more active, a great example being ‘Skapoula’ a student group which, in addition to its socio-political action, has organised a number of festivals/events; Another example is the aforementioned record/fanzine ‘FOTM’ which is being published again as well as the newly founded ‘D.I.Y Collective’ which aims to promote an anti-culture through self organisation, free of any commercial interests. Another encouraging fact is that new bands are formed which is a good thing for our scene.

How is extreme music scene in Cyprus doing in general? (I mean not only bands that operate there, but also things like – gigs, venues, festivals: how frequent are they?, what about the “fan-base”, punk community ?

The extreme music scene in Cyprus started evolving about 10 years ago. The reason for this is that most extreme music fans came back to Cyprus after studying abroad and brought with them new ideas and a sort of ‘new knowledge’. The internet helped a lot since it helped us gain access to a vast amount of up-to-date information. Slowly but steadily more and more people started getting involved either by forming bands or organising gigs/events.
Nowadays there are a great number of extreme noise bands covering a wide spectrum of extreme noise. Few of them were able to play gigs/take part in festivals abroad and so spread their sound to other countries, some even toured Europe with well known bands. However, having a lot of bands means having a larger number of fans, which leads to more promoters most of which see music as a product and the bands as their puppets and took (and some still do) advantage of the ‘newly founded’ scene.  After witnessing the exploitation the metal scene has gone through, we try to spread the D.I.Y mentality which as you know, does not promote exploitation of any form of art.
That being said, the D.I.Y scene is limited mainly to Nicosia, with the majority of its fans being supporters for idealistic reasons and not so much of the music. This is a negative thing (amongst others), since we were sensitised through Hardcore music and not the other way around.

How is this kind of music / scene perceived in Cyprus?

As noise !!

And how is life in Cyprus these days – I mean, for independent artist …? Also compared to Greece?

It is very difficult for an independent artist to find places to express their art due to the fact that owners of such places prefer to rent out their places at very unreasonable prices. The public in its turn fall victims of advertisements and as a result they’d rather support a well known ‘mainstream’ artist than a not so well known Cypriot one. It is difficult to compare the life of a Cypriot independent artist to a Greek one, because Cypriot and Greek societies are very different and distinct with various factors affecting this comparison (number of population, mentalities etc.).
Unfortunately, Cyprus has become a small capitalistic state, a former (but somehow an existing) protectorate of many other former ‘empires’, constantly being pressured and influenced both by the West and the East. This artificial prosperity has caused moral decay.

From your page I read a short release about Villa Amalias. What is the history of this squat and is it still functioning?

Villa Amalias Squat was created at the beginning of 1990 and it represents a statement for organizing all those who stand defiant against anything that represents sovereignty, oppression, indifference and subjection. It has played a major role in the creation and spreading, amongst other things, of the DIY scene throughout Greece. Currently, Villa Amalias Squat is being repressed by the Greek state, it has been evacuated and looted. For more info check https://athens.indymedia.org/?lang=en

En Psychro will release their first album – when the album will be released, what will be the content (new songs, remasters  or?)  and will it be available at OEF? J

It will be released within the next six months and of course it will be available at OEF ! It will contain re-recordings of the 6 Demo songs along with 7 new ones, two of which will be in English. At the moment we are preparing a split EP with Kyff Pack from Germany, which will be released sometime in the next 6 or so months.

Your music roots can be told from your music (but of course, feel free to say something about the bands that influenced you … might be actually interesting to hear about bands from Greece, either bands that had impact on En Psychro or your friends with whom you do gigs or festivals …)   … but what about the lyrics? What are the main topics / issues you sing about?

Even though we are all influenced by the Greek Hardcore/Punk scene, we are still 4 individuals with different music tastes. These consist of foreign Hardcore/D-Beat/Crust/Thrash and Death and we aim to combine all these together and find a balance.
Our lyrics deal with events and socio-political matters which take place not only in Cyprus but throughout the entire world; we also write songs based on personal experiences. The lyrics are usually straight forward, raw and one can easily relate to them; it’s a sort of a reality anti-news show about messed up things that happen in the world today.

Will it be a DIY release and / or do you work with a label / collective? Who is doing the artwork and the technical things?

Yes, it will be a DIY release. At the moment we are collaborating with FOTM which, as stated above, is being ran by a member of the band. Achilles is in charge of the artwork in collaboration with our friend Xenios from Rusted Lock Art & Design. Technical things are handled by us and AV Playroom Studios.

And actually what format? Vinyl, CD or digital?

All three !!

Obscene Extreme: did you visit this festival before? And if not, I guess you heard of this fest before, so what are you looking forward to most?

Unfortunately no we haven’t but we’ve heard so much about it from friends who have visited the festival before! We really want to meet other bands, freaks and of course let people know of how things are in Cyprus through our music !

Thank you so much for your time and am looking forward to seeing/hearing you at OEF!

Thank you for the interview! We will see you at OEF !!