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Comrade Aleks tracks down Decemberance, and asks why 20+ years of releases have only produced a couple of full-length albums. Founder drummer/vocalist Yiannis offers answers to that...

Interview with Decemberance.
"Greek band Decemberance only have two full-length albums, but their story stretches over 22 years. Formed in 1997, the band released their first demo in 1999, but the debut full-length album 'Inside' didn't appear until 2009. Even so, they didn't spent those years in vain, and worked out a few unique elements which were reflected in the songs. I suggest you check the video link below, as Decemberance practice a careful approach towards their art and there are a number of special abstract videos for their songs. Due to changes in the line-up, second album 'Conceiving Hell' wasn't finished until 2017, and it has a quite different structure, remaining some kind of extreme Doom Metal, but with an avant-garde touch. Yiannis Fillipaios, one of Decemberance's founders, helps us to find out the truth about his band."

Talking to Aleks today Decemberance's Yiannis Fillipaios (drums, vocals).

Hi Yiannis! How are you? What's going on in Decemberance's lair?

Good morning to you Aleks. I am quite well, thank you, just finished from work.

The Decemberance lair is in a busy state. I mean that we gather some new stuff, so we can move on and we try to level up our equipment and the ways of recording ideas.

How often do you upgrade your equipment? When do you feel that it's the right time to buy something new?

When our pocket agrees we try to take some things, not necessarily expensive, but "clever". I try to learn the Cubase by myself, so I took a laptop with a sound card, so I can work from home. Guitarists now and then take some pedals. So, nothing special. The right time to change some equipment is when you realize that you reached your limits. But your pocket has another point of view, I think you understand.

Yiannis, Decemberance was formed in 1997, how was it started? What was on your mind back then?

Back then me and Manos Kousourlis on the guitars, (the founding members of the band), we were almost 19 years old. OK we were in some thrash and death metal bands but nothing worthy to mention. The whole idea was to play music and try to play like our musical heroes. Metallica, King Diamond, Annihilator, Candlemass, My Dying Bride, Morbid Angel, Satyricon, Pink Floyd, Aphrodite's Child, Mournful Congregation etc. Some of those bands were typed in our music, some of them not. OK, just some hints here and there. But the plan was from the beginning to play Doom Death Metal first as good as we possibly could technically, and after that as we would like to express.

Live in 2017 - pictured: Chris Markopoulos (guitars), Iliana Koretsi (cello), Yiannis Filippaios, Aggelos Malisovas (bass) and Nikolas Loukopoulos (guitars).

For a long period there were only demos in your discography: 'Decemberance' (1998), 'Just A Blackclad' (2001) and 'Time' (2005). Why did it take so long? Did you just work on the band's sound during these years?

As I said before we were 19 years old. We suffered a lot of band member changes, and of course we had to fulfil our military service, which back then was 18 months. We were searching to find the right chemistry to create something that it could satisfy our souls. We were working not only the sound but the whole artistic view of the band. And that is the key for an underground band. No money, cool, so endless freedom to do whatever you want.

Did you play live back then? How important is the live aspect of Decemberance for you?

Yes, we did. We did lots of local underground gigs, and some supports that we are going to remember forever. With Candlemass, Kaamos, God Dethroned, Marduk just to name few. We know that the music we make is quite "not for gigs" especially back then, when the audience was not so friendly with 15 and 20 minutes long Doom. So, it was not so easy for us to book gigs. It is important, of course, that we would love to play and "prove them wrong" by stating that "good music (we hope), can fit everywhere"

Decemberance - 'Inside' (Video art, 2009):

The first full-length album, 'Inside', is a double edition comprising CD and live DVD. Why did you decide to finally start with such a big release?

The DVD contains a video art. As I told before, we were exploring all the aspects of our artistic view. So, we made a Video Art with abstract images, so mainly it would escort our release (as one unit, one experience) and to be as a background theme in our gigs. Of course, we wanted to do a statement, which is that we are not an average band. I surely do not know if we succeeded in this statement, but we used our freedom.

And where were the videos which are included in this release shot?

For the video we worked with Tassos Chatzipanagos. Some of the material was computer stuff, some of it was experimental music from the 20's and most of the material was from us, individually, taking some hand cameras, going to the forest and in an abandoned hotel in the mountain and we did some surrealistic and abstract shots and some things that we considered as "dark". It was so fun to do it. Some of the material was "homemade effects" like a bowl with water injecting milk, ink, oil and funny stuff like that.

Metal-archives summarises Decemberance's lyrical themes as "horror, insanity, psychedelia, psychological". Would you agree with this description?

In some terms I agree, yes. But I could add that sorrow, grief and despair are leading to horror and insanity. In "Inside" we tried to give a loose concept. The 24 hours of a common man, dealing with his nightmares, his childhood scars. The lack of sleep leads him to insanity. But we try in our lyrics to give something not so tight, so people can find parts of them in the words.

Live in 2017.

How autobiographical are these lyrics? How much of yourself and of your life in modern Greece are in these texts?

Those lyrics are 90% autobiographical. But I try to give them in an abstract way. Obviously, they are not my "journal", but my thoughts and the way I try to dive into my depths. I live in modern Greece, it affects me a lot and I could not escape from those barriers. The country and the situations we live in are reflected in our expression. I think every man works that way. Maybe making music is a way to escape from this specific reality.

What happened next? The band disappeared from the radar for a few years, and you returned in 2017 as just a duo. Where did you lose the others?

After "Inside" we played in "Doom over London II with Esoteric, Saturnus etc.'. It was 2011. When we came back we started working on new material and we had some very interesting ideas. But you see, being an underground band, reality beats you up. I mean that some of us were unemployed, some of them lost their interest, some of them found that playing in a doom band could not pay bills. But the thing that cost me the most was that Manos, the co founder of the band had to leave Greece and move to Germany to find a job. Do not forget that economic crisis struck Greece hard and most of us lost their job, so we had to do something else to survive. So, I was left alone. But this gave me more freedom. So, I stood up on my feet, I composed the whole album, I did the whole arrangements and with the help of Andreas Karayiannis again we made Conceiving Hell. It was a "solo" project, not a duet. But Andreas helped me a lot. As I told you before, he played the guitars (I am not able to record decent guitar) and he did the dirty work of mixing, mastering etc, and some friends helped me with bass and cello.

To visit Doom Over London would seem a hard task for a band with one album. How did you get there? How was this short tour organized?

That is a funny story. I was scrolling down on Facebook and I saw the poster of this festival. Esoteric, Saturnus and more bands to be announced. And the Organizer behind that, Paola Postali – Bradfield, was on line, so shamelessly I asked if we could participate. She said that she was familiar with the band, she liked us, she would love to have us in DoL but she could not afford tickets and accommodation. We said, no problem, we are coming with our expenses, so that was it. Timing was just perfect. And this appearance gave us the opportunity to play with those big bands (ok we supported Saturnus in Greece as well, but Esoteric? It was too big for us). So it was the first gig for the band outside Greece. After that, we played in Belgium and Holland as well in Darken the Moon festival, Doom over Gorichem etc.

Decemberance - 'The Scepter' (2017):

'Conceiving Hell' consists of four massive tracks: how did you arrive at this form of song-building? Are such leviathan compositions the optimal format for you to express your ideas?

That is the way we compose from the early days. We gave up the form "intro – couplet – bridge – chorus – etc etc". We adore the way Pink Floyd built their long songs, and bands like In the Woods, Green Carnation, Devil Doll. We try to focus on dynamics, so the song will not be boring, and we try to give music that narrates feelings, places, ideas. We can spread our stuff in a canvas and we play with whatever color we like. It is easier for us. We think that making a 3 minute song is extremely difficult and we totally cannot do it. Long songs with dynamics work better with us.

Endless Winter released compilation 'The Demo Years 1998-2001' in 2018. Do you feel this material is still valid?

First, If I may, I must thank Endless Winter and Gennady for the trust he showed to us offering the opportunity to publish "Conceiving…".

The Demo Years was his idea. I was not so warm for this thinking that "who actually cares for our demos". But Gennady insisted, and I thank him for this. This format is a cool way for the people to get in touch with some raw, but I can assure you, sincere material. The physical format was finished so, it is a great opportunity.

'Conceiving Hell' promotion, 2017.

I see that a few new members have joined Decemberance since the release of 'Conceiving Hell'. How did you meet them? Have you already started working on new material?

Yes, after the recordings of Conceiving I wanted a full band. And the criteria of the new people were (except of their abilities), passion for music (not necessary doom, my passion is quite enough hehehe) and being friends. I believe that this is the way the things should be.

In these years I wanted to play the drums as well, not being just a composer for Decemberance, so I joined some bands so I can stay "focused" on my main instrument. So, in Immensity (melodic doom death metal) I met Chris and Nikos in guitars, and in Daylight Misery (Dark Metal) I met Aggelos in Bass. With Iliana, the cello player, we met some years ago, we are good friends and she is a session member.

Now, about the new material, Yes, we do. We have many ideas. OK, the majority of the music is coming from me, but it doesn't matter, because collectively we will work and the new guys (who are much younger than me, I am 40, Chris 30, Nikos 26 and Aggelos 27) will give the fresh view in this artistic vision.

For the next album we are going to try something different this time. It is our first time that we first set the lyrical concept and we are going to build the music on it. The concept is about the 5 stages of loss. It is a psychological scheme which say that every man conceives loss (death, illness, firing, break up etc) in 5 stages. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Despair, Acceptance. So we built 5 songs to express those emotions. We find it extremely interesting and provoking.

I guess it's a bit early to ask, but let's finish our interview with some hints towards the approximate dates of the next album release. We can stop there, the interview has turned out pretty good in my opinion. Thanks for your time, Yiannis!

I have no idea about dates, but I want to believe that next summer it will be on track.

Thank you Aleks for your time, I really enjoyed your questions.
Thank you for your interest to the band too, we really appreciate this.
Cheers from Athens.
Yiannis Filippaios

Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Decemberance bandpage.

Interviewed on 2019-06-19 by Comrade Aleksey Evdokimov.
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