Interview with Hari of
HAIL SPIRIT NOIR
Magicians in real life and magicians in music, from old and current decades. Hail Spirit Noir and one of the brains in the band, Haris, explains everything about both kinds of magicians. You like black? You like prog? You like the real image of the human? It doesn't matter... If you like Hail Spirit Noir and their music join the words...
Hari, only 2 years have passed since your debut “Pneuma” and here you are back with an excellent album full of fresh ideas. Were those two years enough to gather all the ideas and turning them into songs?
Thank you, it’s nice to hear our efforts are appreciated. We don’t look at it as being too soon or too late. Inspiration was there and we gathered all the ideas that flowed and turned them into songs. As with “Pneuma”, there was a lot of experimenting both with sound and arrangements so we could keep a feeling of spontaneity and excitement throughout the proceedings. It could have taken a year longer or it could have been a month after the first album. It wouldn’t really matter as long as the ideas were fresh and intense enough.
Where did the recordings of “Oi Magoi” take place? Somewhere in Olympus as it happened with your debut?
Yes, it was the same studio, Lunatech Studios. We recorded and mixed most of the stuff there and then we sent it over to Sweden, to Jens Bogren for the mastering. Jens is something like a legend when coming to recording and mixing, so the final result was more than satisfying.
For second time Code666 Records is by side you. How came the contact with the label? I must tell you, as I have noticed, that this fact has helped you a lot so that your music being more famous outside Greece rather in there (not that you don’t have followers from home).
We sent them a demo and that was all. Regarding the rest about Greece, maybe you know better…
Before getting into the sanctuary of the new album, for the promotion of “Pneuma” you didn’t had any live performances. Now, can we wait for live shows? And it’s not just that we want to see Hail Spirit Noir live, it’s more that we want to “see” the colorful sounds of your music on stage.
Live shows, yes, the thorn in our side. As I said, due to other obligations we couldn’t tour or perform for the album. We tried to come up with a plan as to get Pneuma on the road but no such luck. So this time around, one of the main goals “Oi Magoi” is to get our freakshow on the road. We are in the process of planning the show because we want it to be something special, it can’t be just some chaps playing and screaming. It needs to be more intimate and planned.
Looking at the artwork, I see the spirit of your debut being the leader of the human soul now and here we have the magicians. It’s really interesting how you moved from the free and “searching” act of the noir spirit to the place it takes inside human’s soul. Did you inspire again from Lovercraft?
The Lovecraft influence is apparent on our stories and the eerie images we like to paint with our sound. The lyrical approach this time is not as Lovecraftean as the debut’s, it’s only prominent on tracks “Blood Guru” and “Hunters”, essentially horror stories with our tongues planted firmly in our cheeks. The rest of the themes expand on the debut’s cental idea of selfishness and innate evil in man adding deception and delusion to the qualities of the human psyche. It takes a stand against the herd mentality of today’s way of living and wherever it may be found. Man is selfish and that is not necessarily a bad thing. It helps us lead a meaningful life and when we care about others it’s the people we call our own. We are possessive beasts and we should always taste and burn before we can create our own path.
When do you think will we stop being the hunters of ourselves and the magicians who kill our children? Your lyrics are the whole true of our daily life. For everything in our life, we start blaming others, but we deny seeing the blackness feeling our soul. And thus time doesn’t change and Satan is every second present.
Time, yes, well the thing with time is that in itself is a great deceiver. Slowly but most assuredly taking back every single wish it grants. When view the term Satan as seen in the Christian tradition, it’s always been painted as the Deceiver. When you think about it so is time. We are born believing we have all we need. We are indoctrinated to thinking constantly ahead and always look to the future and plan. It’s like a promise that we are forever. That we will always be. It’s all an illusion. There always comes a moment that there’s no time left. There’s no will left, no spirit left to create or act or prosper in whatever way. It’s all gone along with that initial promise. In the meantime, we’ve already cast our darkest shadows onto others. We’ve taken advantage of everyone as we are so selfish. And as for the magicians. They could be everything. They could be your memories. They could be what you’ll never get. They could be Dickensian Ghosts that will simply shatter your illusion of mortality. And then you become bitter and frustrated and then, well, you just perish. Probably unfulifilled and deluded that you could do more and that you are worth more.
I want you to tell us about a big chapter in music; Manos Hadjidakis and his affect on Hail Spirit Noir sound.
Well, Manos Hadjidakis is my biggest musical influence and additionally a man that his way of thinking I really admire. There is magic in his music, something that I cannot really explain. His album ‘’Reflections’’ is my favorite album of all times, what can I say more about him?
Was it easy for the band to combine all the elements together psychprog/folk from late ‘60s and ‘70s with black metal from the ‘90s? I hear Manos Hadjidakis, Goblin, a small dose of Opeth, Darkthrone and the result is your personal sound.
To be honest, we never actually planned our sound. It just came natural. I can see what you are talking about but there was no effort to sound like Goblin for example or Darkthrone. The only thing that was really aimed was to make the production 50% vintage and 50% modern.
Who brings the ideas for the gentle sound and who for the extreme one? Or and the three of you have the same love for everything?
I am the main composer of the band but no song ever stays the same after I’ve presented it to Theoharis and Dim. There are always suggestions and little tweaks of everything before we’re happy. It usually is Theoharis that comes up with the more aggressive riffs but it could just as easily be me or Dim. The truth is our tastes in music differ a lot but it’s only to our advantage. It allows as to experiment with stuff the other would never think of. The always the common denominator of progressive rock but our influences are all over the place.
If I ask you to name your favorite albums from the psychoprog sound of ‘70s, from the extreme black sound and from those that combine both of the elements, will you?
Well, my favorite albums from the ‘70s are 1) Yes – “Close to the Edge”, 2) King Crimson – “In the Court of the Crimson King”, 3) Emerson, Lake and Palmer – “Tarkus” and 4) Camel – “Mirage”. From the black metal realm I can definitely say “Paracletus” from Deathspell Omega, “Grand Declaration of War” from Mayhem, “666 International” from Dodheimsgard, “Storm of the Light’s Bane” from Dissection and some more. Bands that combine both elements and I really like are Sigh, Nachtmystium, A Forest of Stars and Murmuure. I am sure I am forgetting some more though…
It seems that many artists of the extreme sound have started incorporating elements from a distand sound (or not so distant) of what they are used to playing and thus some of the old followers stay and watching from away and new followers from a broad domain come every day. (Some examples are Opeth, Enslaved, Satyricon and Watain for their latest albums; only Darkthrone are not being blamed, ha ha). Why do you think, listeners don’t try to be more open minded in the evolution of one musician’s way?
I don’t really know. I know how hard I am on my favorite Bands when they start getting more out there and out of their comfort zone. It’s what they should be doing, though, isn’t it? You can’t expect someone not to evolve or not to experiment at all ever. There are few bands who are successful and still relevant today that have not even slightly change their ways. It all comes down to the quality of their work, at least it should. There were albums like Emperor’s “Prometheus” that baffled fans and it was half a decade later that was recognised for the masterpiece it is. Take Dodheimsgard for example. When “666 International” was released there was an uproar that they had sold out and all the usual crap. You’d be hard-pressed now to find one that thinks it’s not at the very least good. Maybe it’s viewed as a sell out but I would hardly call these albums commercial, heh. I think that back in the seventies artists were allowed to experiment more with their sound. It’s weird that instead of being kept wide open minds have constantly been made narrower and narrower. Especially in the metal scene. Maybe the fact that metal was seen as an ideology, as a banner under which like-minded people could gather and be different in peace. Strange how they can’t really deal with difference sometimes, isn’t it? Perhaps, it’s the lack of reference points.
Ok, Hari this is it. It was my pleasure to do this interview with you. My greetings to Theoxaris and Dim and I wish the new year be the ideal for you on a personal level and of course for Hail Spirit Noir. Anything last?
First of all I have to thank you personally, wish you the best man! Our album comes out January 20, 2014. Hope you guys like it.
Review by Dr. Feelgood