On the occasion of today’s release of their amazing second album Towers of Gold, we present you an interview with Sacred Outcry songwriter and bassist George Apalodimas. Enjoy reading it.
André: Thank you very much for taking the time for us. How are you?
George: Hello André and thank you for the invitation! I’m great, the album is out, and the first wave of feedback is beyond words. Super tired though, I’m going to need some time to cool off after all this is over!
André: Have you already bought an album that was released this year?
George: Yes of course! A lot of phenomenal albums this year, personally it’s the best year in recent memory. Got Triumpher, Gatekeeper, Smoulder and Darklon, and I still have my eyes on some stuff like Mace‘n’Chain and Blood Star among others!
André: Which concert or festival did you attend last as a fan?
George: Last one I attended was an amazing performance by Iron Beast, a Greek Iron Maiden tribute band that put out a 3.5-hour Maiden show and it was a blast! This week I’m going to Up the Hammers Festival, but unfortunately can’t attend all 3 days. Can’t miss Riot City though!
André: Today , on 19 May, your second full-length album was released: Towers of Gold. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the great artwork. Can you please tell our readers some background information about it?
George: I wanted to create something that would be visually impressive, immersive, and hinting at a great journey ahead, without revealing too much about the story. Obviously, it’s a loose homage to Imaginations from the Other Side which is one of my favourite covers ever made and there are a lot of goodies in there for anyone eager to look deeper. It was a huge project and took me about 600 hours to complete along with the inlay, mostly because I am not a graphic designer, so I was working mainly through trial and error until I got the result that I felt was closer to my original idea. I never really wanted to make the artwork or the covers for our albums, but I have so many of those hidden easter eggs I like to include that I don’t think any professional painter or graphic designer would have the patience to work with me, hahah.
André: Which artwork of metal albums did you particularly appreciate in the past?
George: First and foremost, I’d say the Cirith Ungol covers were my childhood obsession, way before I got into the band. Imaginations from the Other Side as mentioned, The Triumph of Steel and the most recent Helloween album are among my favourites, but I generally love the work of Ken Kelly, Andreas Marschall or Adam Burke and Eliran Kantor for more “recent” choices. There are so many, it’s impossible to choose!
André: How does the songwriting work in your band?
George: Very roughly, I usually start thinking what kind of song “is missing”, as I like the album to be varied and not repeat the same song twice through its duration. I usually go through rough ideas and slowly shape them into songs, adding or deleting parts to make sure everything works and “flows” nicely. Then I come up with the vocal lines and write the lyrics and record everything using midi instruments so I can have the full song in the first rough form. We don’t really rehearse with the current status (Daniel in Sweden and Defkalion out of Athens) so the full midi song helps, so everyone can get an idea of the final form and we can work together to polish everything up and see if there is anything we feel that needs improvement. I do miss rehearsing and composing stuff jamming in the studio, like we wrote much of the stuff in Damned for All Time…, but at this point it’s impossible.
André: What do you think distinguishes your current record most clearly from your debut album Damned For All Time?
George: I’d say Towers of Gold is “bigger”. More ambitious, has a bigger scope and immersion is the most important factor, since it’s a concept album. Damned for All Time… was composed when we were in our late teens-early 20s so, Towers of Gold brings an extra 20 years of influences, it’s only natural.
André: Is there a song on Towers of Gold that is particularly close to your heart?
George: While the cliché answer “I love everything equally” applies here, I always had a soft spot for “The City of Stone”. I think we got the perfect feeling out of it, the part of the story it describes, and the general atmosphere always gives me chills, and I think it’s the best Daniel has ever sounded. He really killed it. Plus, it features my favourite solo, which is an homage to the great Bill Tsamis, who was one of the main reasons we started the band in the first place.
André: You were able to win Jeff Black as a guest musician, among others. How did this contact come about?
George: Jeff had contacted me to say hi when we released Damned for All Time… and we started casually chatting on Facebook. I followed his career, and I’m a fan of both Gatekeeper and the solo stuff he puts out, so one day he posted an awesome video where he was fiddling around with a 12-string guitar for one of his solo songs (which became “Beyond The Arch“). I sent him a message asking if he’d like to play some small parts on the upcoming album and he happily accepted. He did a great job and was very understanding, even when I told him we had to re-record one song on a different tuning, hahah.
André: What is the significance of the lyrics for you? Is it especially important to you to tell the listeners an interesting story?
George: Yes of course, I don’t like lazy or generic lyrics. This type of music thrives on immersion and it’s a golden opportunity to take the listener away from his everyday struggles and let him lose himself in your album for an hour. That was the tricky part of writing a concept album for me, I had to make sure I could match the music with an equally interesting lyrical approach. But even in standalone songs, I always cherish the sense of journey and mystique.
André: Are you planning to perform live in 2023? Are there already fixed dates that we should note in our calendars?
George: Unfortunately, nothing for now. It is something we are actively looking into, and we had a couple of great proposals, but at the moment everything is on hold until we can find a formula that works.
André: On our blog, we focus on metal with epic elements. How would you define the term “epic” regarding music?
George: As a frequent reader of your blog, I’d say the perfect answer for me has already been given by Adam from Smoulder. I wholeheartedly agree with what he said and wouldn’t change a word.
André: How do you evaluate the underground metal scene in your home country?
George: Top of the world! I really am amazed by the quality of the releases Greece has been steadily producing, and there are a couple of new bands coming up that will take everyone by storm!
André: Last question: What is your opinion on streaming? It’s often a very controversial topic here.
George: It’s a necessary evil. It can be a great tool if used correctly, and there is always Bandcamp which is the best thing for smaller bands like us. It really helps get some exposure and have a greater reach, but they have normalized not paying anything for music, especially in the younger audience. The worst part though is that they grow that fast-food mentality when it comes to listening to albums, which is the polar opposite of what we grew up doing. People “review” entire albums by 2 minutes of streaming online, but it is a sign of our times.
André: George, thank you very much for this very interesting interview. I am also really happy that you follow our blog so closely. I wish you and your band all the best for the future.