You've entered the charts with your new album. Are you pleased with how "Metal Division" is doing so far?
Of course, we are pleased. Releasing a new album is a lot of work. Not only the song-writing, recording, and production, but also the artwork, the booklet, photos, music videos, etc. And it is great to see that people like it and buy it. So thank you all!
Most of the current line-up have been in the band for just a few years. So, what did the new members bring to the table?
Of course, everybody brings their own personality and musical background into the band. But regarding the song-writing we stuck to a well-proven formula. I have written and composed all lyrics and vocals by myself. I am always writing the hook-lines and chorus melodies first and then we are working together with our guitar heroes Evan and Markus on the riffs. Half of the songs with Evan, the other songs with Markus. The chemistry between all of us, Markus, Evan, Joey, Hanno, is incredible and I think that you can hear that on this album quite well.
As far as I know, you always write more songs than you need for an album. Was it the case this time around too?
You always have more ideas and riffs. But this time we only decided to finish the songs we thought would be strong enough for the album.
You did three video clips for the album. Why did you choose those particular songs?
The three songs, "Metal Division", "Eye to Eye" and "Dracula" show different sides of the band. "Metal Division" is a stomping mid-tempo song, and it's the title track. "Eye to Eye" features a very good chorus and is a fast song. And "Dracula" is a very different, groovy song. Also, the video is a little different. We just like to keep things interesting.
You seem to like "true metal" lyrics. On the previous album, you had "Metal Brigade" and this time you've got "Metal Division"...
It's funny you mention these two songs. We wrote both of them with our fans in mind. They are the Metal Brigade and the Metal Division! Without them, we wouldn't be where we are today. They are very loyal and we wanted to give something back. That's also why we invited them to become a part of this album and sing the chorus of "Metal Division" together with us!
Being Greek, why did you wait for so long to write a song about Alexander the Great, ha-ha?
Ha-ha! You can't just write a song about Alexander the Great. The timing has to be right! Ha-ha!
So, what's your favourite event in Ancient Greek history?
I don't have one favourite event. I just like how Greece's history seems to be a part of every country's history in some way. And I enjoy ancient mythology.
You used to have ballads on your albums, but there is none this time around. Is there a reason for that?
I don't plan something like "this album needs more up or mid-tempo tracks" etc. We start with the ideas that every band member bears in mind and the tracks arise and develop spontaneously. Of course, the material must be characteristic in line with the Mystic Prophecy philosophy and sound. And this time, none of the songs turned out to be a ballad.
I prefer your faster stuff, like "Curse of the Slayer", "Die with the Hammer" or "Victory Is Mine" on the new record, but you need variety on an album. When writing songs, what do you enjoy more, working on the fast ones or the slower ones?
That's hard to say. It all depends on the day. When you come to the studio and are very energetic sometimes it's easier to work on fast stuff. And on other days you're more into slower stuff. I enjoy both equally.
You've done 10 albums in 20 years, plus the covers album. Does it make sense for you to release so much music when people don't buy albums anymore?
It makes perfect sense. Nowadays bands don't necessarily release albums because they expect them to be sold often. But you need new material in order to play on festivals and tours. We live in fast times, and if your "newest" album is two years old already nobody wants to book your band. It's sad but true. And by the way, we are actually selling our albums quite well. "Metal Division" was on #20 of the German album charts and #73 in Switzerland, something we didn't expect. But we are more than happy with the success.
You did the covers album a couple of years back, and I must say some of the choices are weird, especially the pop stuff. Based on what criteria did you choose the songs for that release?
I listen to a lot of different music. Not just metal, but all kinds of music. And those songs I liked back in the day when they came out. But I always wondered how they would sound with heavy guitars and heavier drums. So that's why we chose them.
You had Gus G. on guitar on the first album. With both of you being Greek, did you guys know each other before you started collaborating on Mystic Prophecy?
No, we didn't know each other. He was one of 30 candidates for the guitarist position and I am very proud that I discovered him when he was just 16 years old. We are still friends and will always be.
Did you enjoy recording vocals for the last Steel Prophet album? Was the experience any different from recording for Mystic Prophecy?
It was a little different because the songs are different than the Mystic Prophecy songs. But I still tried to give it my best. That's just how I work. When I do something I always give 100%.
You're in your early 50s, your voice is in great shape, but do you see yourself still singing metal in say 15 or 20 years?
Ha-ha! I was born to sing heavy metal. So I'll be doing it as long as possible. Ha-ha!
You guys did a tour with Mob Rules recently, but you only hit Germany and The Netherlands. Are you planning some more shows around Europe, maybe in the UK?
We are currently working on concerts in Greece in fall and maybe a support tour around then as well. And we have some festivals coming up this year (in Germany). We would very much like to come to the UK. However, there are no definite plans yet.