Interview by Burning Salts Zine #1 (May 2013)
Monomaniac Mind - Interview with Phidion
by Bryer Wharton
We hear about the big bands from Sweden whether it be the melo-death acts like In Flames or Soilwork or the known classics like Grave, Unleashed, Entombed. Phidion fit in a bit like a square peg in a round hole - they don't play the classically known Swedish style death metal nor do they even sound remotely melodic. Phidion are straight up old school death metal - American tinges the style more than the Swedish realm but influences are plentiful and the bands got a great debut EP. Burning Salts gets the lowdown on the realm of Phidion by way of guitarist Christos Chatzikonstandinos, up the irons and read on.
Burning Salts: Where do you feel Phidion fits into the current death metal scene in Sweden?
Christos: I think we play something different than most bands out there. I'm not going to count the endless metalcore bands that are still popping up everywhere but most bands play either Swedish death metal or death metal influenced by the same bands, which you can hear in their sound. I'm not saying I don't enjoy many of those bands, but we have always wanted to do things our own way and that's why you have a mix of OSDM and thrash.
B.S.: It seems most of the time now all I (from press stuff PR firms etc.) is about the melo-death Swedish stuff or bands playing the OSDM style that aren't from Sweden. I'm from an outside perspective - what is really going on in the Swedish death metal scene?
Christos: Well, you have a lot of great new bands from all over. We have Morbus Chron, Vampire, Bastard Priest, Smothered, Conflagrator and lots more. It also seems like this generation of kids in their late teens have grown up with the older bands as opposed to the kids during the past decade who were more into metalcore and nu metal, so I think there's better times ahead. Other than the newer bands, we still have the veterans around, like Entombed, Grave, Insision, Demonical, Unleashed and many more.
B.S.: The members of Phidion have been in quite a few bands - from what I understand slightly is that the band was formed by former members of Ruins of Time. How does Phidion compare to said band - that released two full-lengths? Basically how would you describe the sound of Phidion?
Christos: The most known of us must surely be Martin Missy, who was and is the vocalist of Protector. Me, Martin and Mathias who had all played in Ruins of Time together, started Phidion with Fredrik. Alex joined in August 2003 and we had a complete line up. Ruins of Time was a mix of death, thrash and heavy metal as you can hear on For a New Dawn. On Timetraveller, we had more melodies and less death metal, so in many ways it was softer, but a lot more progressive. In Phidion, we started with the intent of playing minimalistic and industrial, but naturally the sound changed towards thrash and death metal. After four years, we were more or less what you hear today, which is as I described earlier a mix of American OSDM and thrash. We all wrote riffs back then. Mathias wrote a bunch of them, Fredrik wrote his share, Alex came up with ideas that we turned into riffs and I wrote a lot at home. As of now, I am the main songwriter and I don't like restrictions so it's not impossible that you might hear riffs in the future that remind you of black metal.
B.S.: With the new EP Flesh of the Forsaken has there been any build up for the band in terms of momentum - you looking to do a fulllength?
Any label prospects? From my perspective I think looking at Pulverised Records would be a good label fit for the band?
Christos: We haven't done much label hunting, we are trying to build up a fan base and just get the name out. There has been a bit of a line up problems lately, where members have left because of various reasons. Fredrik and Martin left because they both don't have time to play in more than one or two bands. Our original drummer Alex left because of work and Jacob, his replacement, left last year because of personal reasons. There was this gap from 2011 to 2012 where Fredrik was ill and the recording process got delayed because of that, so I wouldn't say that there has been that great of a momentum up until the EP was released. We have already played two gigs this year and we plan on playing more as soon as we get some new songs going. We have some plans to do something like a split vinyl, if we can find a label that wants to release it.
B.S.: Is there any specific meaning to the name Phidion?
Christos: No. I was just playing around with words and came to think of a Septic Flesh album called "Ophidian Wheel". Phidion came out of that. Actually the title of the EP, "Flesh of the Forsaken" was one of the considerations for the name of the band, but it sounded too similar to Forsaken Flesh. Martin also proposed "Monomanic" but we didn't use it and it became a song title instead.
B.S.: The sound mixing for a "demo" type EP on Flesh of the Forsaken - sounds pretty tight, heavy on the bass guitar end, very chunky at least played on my stereo. Did the band selfproduce the EP? Basically what recording methods did you use?
Christos: We recorded it ourselves. What we did was, after Alex left, we got a replacement but things didn't work out, so we decided to do something productive. We programmed drums with the intent of replacing them with real drums afterwards. So we recorded the guitars in our rehearsal room and the setup was pretty much my Jackson RR1, Peavey 6505 and a Bugera cab. We split the guitar signal so that we recorded the amp sound miced up, and the other signal was completely clean. We recorded two tracks, one left and one right. The clean signals were later re-amped by Fredrik. He just used a basic metal preset in Guitar Rig and lowered it to -12 db and mixed them slightly towards the center. I aimed towards a more clean sound for clarity. Fredrik recorded all his bass parts at home and all the vocals were done in our rehearsal room in one day.
B.S.: I'm all about how the listener feels from their listening experience - more-so over what style a band plays, and how technical etc. they sound. I find thrashy bits, mixed with straight up almost American styled death metal (aside from the vocals). Thematically it feels wardriven kind of like a death-march of warriors going to do battle. What would you like listeners to take away from listening to the EP?
Christos: I have no idea. I guess that's very individual, I mean personally I like to listen to music and just close all communication to the outside world and just focus on what I'm listening to. I hope that listening to our music will make people want to come and see us play live. We have a thing that we do on Anthropophagus, that's in Swedish, but it's something that really gets the crowd involved. We just let them sing the chorus on it and stop playing while they do it. Very appreciated.
B.S.: There are some great "riff" and song moments - the beginning riff and continuing pummeling on Monomanic Mind - is seriously heavy. I also sit wondering what the little sound bite blurb at the end of Warzone actually is? There are some great moments on the EP - is there anything looking back at the EP that you'd like to change or do differently?
Christos: Funny that so many, including you, like Monomanic Mind, since it's the one song I think fits the least into our sound and that I like the least. It was completely written by Fredrik and I had a minor part in it writing it, I think I came up with a change or something of unimportant value. The ending of Warzone is something of an inside joke. It's a speaker voice from the subway, calling out the name of the station, which happens to be Sätra (which is also where Martin Missy lives). Warzone was written with Sätra in mind, since they had a few issues with cars exploding and food stores burning down. If we could do something differently, I would probably have chosen another piece of artwork as a cover. It's a free piece but it didn't occur to me that so many others had used it. I would also had pushed to have some lead guitar overdubs and some harmonies to some parts. Maybe I would have cranked my amp a bit louder to get the tubes going a bit more and dialed in a more crispier sound. Next time!
B.S.: How can people get the EP to purchase - what formats is it available on etc?
Christos: As I see it, they have three options. They can either buy it from phidion.bandcamp.com for 3 Euro, buy it on cd that comes in a cardboard single sleeve with printed artwork directly from us for 50 SEK (whatever that converts to in Euro) and get the first demo for free, or they can just simply download a 128-bit rip from one of those Russian forum sites. For those interested in buying physical copies, please visit our website, www.phidion.st. You can find everything we have for sale there.