Interview: Nova Skellis

If you like classic heavy metal and US power metal with outstanding vocals, you should not miss Nova Skellis this year. To introduce you to the band and their debut Life Amongst the Damned, I talked to singer/bassist “Falcon” Eddie Green, who some readers might know from Phantom.

André: Thank you very much for taking the time for us. How are you?

Eddie: Hi André. I am very well, thank you. It’s my pleasure to talk with you today.

André: Have you already bought an album that was released this year?

Eddie: To be quite honest I have not. It’s been a very busy year thus far, but I am always listening to hear something new that catches my attention.

André: Which bands have influenced you the most? And can you still remember the first rock or metal concert you attended?

Eddie: Hmmm… This is always a tricky question to answer. I grew up before heavy metal existed as a music genre, so my earliest influences that made me love music were amazing singers like Tom Jones, Sam Cooke and Bobby Hart from the Righteous Brothers. So many great voices, I can’t name them all. It was the Sixties and all this amazing music from pop to the heavier rock later on that made a huge impact on me. By the Seventies it was bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. When I first heard Robert Plant and Ian Gillan, my hair stood up! That became the music that began to really shape me as an artist. Wow… artist… That didn’t sound pretentious! Hahaha… In all honesty I think it was probably the single best time for music.
It was an inflection point. It was all there. Frank Sinatra was singing “Strangers in the Night” then “Whole Lotta Love” came ripping in right after. It was nothing short of amazing. That can’t happen now. Haha.. I can see the shocked look on every headbanger’s face as they look around saying, “What the hell is he talking about?” Hey, you had to be there. The first concert attended is easy. My friend Vito and I went to Madison Square Garden to see Alice Cooper on their Billion Dollar Babies tour. It was absolutely mind-blowing for us to enter that vast cavernous space and be blown away first by the Phosphorescent Flo and Eddie, then the Master of Horror Rock – Alice Cooper! I was gobsmacked. And I was hooked. That was a powerful experience. And I wanted in on it!

André: Can you please tell our readers what the band name Nova Skellis is about? Why did you choose it?

Eddie: The band name has its roots in both Latin and Gaelic, much like myself, but ultimately does not have any inherent meaning other than I liked the way it sounded. I have a tendency to do that. I put words together because I like the sound they make. I don’t know if that is a singer thing or just a personal idiosyncrasy. I’m good either way.

André: On 4 April your debut was released: Life Amongst the Damned. First of all, please tell us something about the artwork. Who is responsible for it?

Eddie: Our responsibility for the cover art begins and ends in the choosing. Haha. “Apocalypse” is the creation of Addison Ellis. We were shown an array of his work – all of which was brilliant – but that painting evoked elements from “Once Upon a Time” that made it leap out and make itself known. I also liked the fact that it was clean and uncluttered. It catches the eye nicely. That’s always been important, but it’s vital theses days. Years ago everything was on vinyl, so you had a lot of acreage to make a statement. Now you have a six inch square sitting in amongst thousands of other six inch squares; all fighting for your attention. It’s like looking at a tile wall! Everybody is vying for a limited amount of attention and an even more limited amount of resources. Although the music is ultimately everything, the wrapping matters.

André: When were the first songs for the album written?

Eddie: Two of the songs were originally written for the fourth Phantom record that never happened. “Something Wicked This Way Comes” was penned years later for a solo project that didn’t work out. The first song written was “Wicked Child” and it wasn’t even for this record. Jörg was working with a band and they had written a piece of music, but they couldn’t find a singer they felt was up to the job of putting lyrics and a melody on it turning it into a song. Their words for their situation, not mine. Enter my good friend Dirk Determann who actually brought us together. He sent me the track and explained what was going on. I listened to the track. I liked it and I was more than happy to give it a shot. Within a few days I sent a completed recording back. The band hated it. All except Jörg. A short time later that band dissolved. Jörg and I wondered if it might not be worth a try to see if we couldn’t create something worthwhile. That’s when we teamed up with Alex and the rest, as they say, is history. The rest of the songs that we wrote were done over the course of the pandemic. All in all, I think that all worked out for the best.

André: What is the significance of the lyrics for you?

Eddie: Generally speaking for myself, lyrics are everything. The music conjures up atmosphere in my head, but the lyrics are the cast, the backgrounds and the sets. That is where the imagery begins and the story happens. Within the context of Life Amongst the Damned they are a reflection of the world around us. I actually have people wondering about my sanity and if I am some sort of dismally depressed individual because of the darkness of lyrics. To those I say – Hey… this is heavy metal, not pop. So let me be clear… I grew up during the so-called “Cold War” where the possibility of being annihilated in a blinding flash was so real our Saturday morning cartoons were interrupted by ads about what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Try watching that with your little bowl of cereal in your hands and Bugs Bunny on the television. Add to that the years we spent in what at times felt like something out of a science fiction novel and you’ve got the perfect recipe for Life Amongst the Damned. At the end of the day, I enjoy life despite all that. There’s nothing I can do about the world, so I’ll watch the endless parade and write about what I see. I’ll be the Ernest Hemingway of heavy metal… without the six toed cats. Hahahahaaa….

André: Is there a track on Life Amongst the Damned that means particularly much to you?

Eddie: Every song on there is dear to me in some way. This is a first for me. In the past I had certain songs that I would listen to more often than others, but I was usually on to the next thing once I’d finished something. This time around it’s different. These songs speak to me in a way as never before. Basically, if this were to be the last thing I ever wrote, it would stand as a fitting coda. In essence this is exactly the record I had always envisioned making. I can listen to this from start to finish and be satisfied that it works. We wrote some good songs. Luckily others think so as well.

André: On our blog, we focus on metal with epic elements. How would you define the term “epic” regarding music?

Eddie: Epic conjures up something big and sprawling. Something that has a huge impact on the listener. It doesn’t need to be 13 minutes long. It needs to feel big and sweep me along while I’m listening. “Stargazer” still does it for me. That was epic.

André: Are you planning to perform live in 2023? Are there already fixed dates that we should note in our calendars?

Eddie: I wish there were. All the festivals have their shows pretty well sewn up late the prior year, so for 2023 that would be December 2022. There are probably a few slots that get finalized by January. Since it’s been a couple years since Phantom’s Cyberchrist was released and Nova Skellis’ CD didn’t come out until April we’ were pretty well out of the running for anything. It sucks, but that’s the music business.

André: Which five albums would you take with you to the famous desert island?

Eddie: Only five? Wow, you’re hard, André. Haha…

In no particular order:

Chris Stapleton Traveller, Black SabbathVolume 4, Deep PurpleMade in Japan, Tom JonesGold, Jimmy Buffet Best of. Hey, this is a tropical island! I would attempt to smuggle in Judas PriestUnleashed in the East. Hahahaa… Ask me again in a few days and it will be an entirely different set.

André: Last question: Let’s assume time travel would be possible. In which era would you most like to live, at least temporarily?

Eddie: I have always said I was born either ten years too early or ten too late. It seems my entire career has been betwixt and between eras. Hell, Cyberchrist came out just as metal was on the way out… again. With that in mind I think the late Sixties was a golden time to be a musician; at least in my imagination that is. Everything was new and musical experimentation was king. There were no formulas. Nobody needed to sound like someone else in order to get in the door at a record label. Everybody was inventing. At least it seems so. I am sure it wasn’t all that amazing in reality. Having lived through that era once as a kid was quite enough for me, thank you very much. Hahaha…

André: Eddie, thank you very much for this very interesting interview. I wish you and your band all the best – and I do hope that there are festivals that book you. Considering the high quality of your album, anything else would be a shame…

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