Dip into the thick grey mist of human pain // An Interview with GREY GALLOWS

WL//WH Interview Grey Gallows

We have witnessed, since the early days of their self-produced debut album, the admirable artistic path of Greek darkwave band Grey Gallows, who have been able to patiently develop their 80s inspired, both gloomy and cold, darkwave sound with passion, freshness, and personality, so as to finally attract the attention of the ever-attentive Cold Transmission label.
The band approach their third full-length, after a ‘reclusive’ year in the safe hands of Nick (TheMute) Chalntoupis at AthensSoundCave Studios, with their more cohesive and darkly captivating sound ever, free-flowing without falling into the quicksand of a certain heaviness and repetition typical of the genre, we had a virtual chat with the two protagonists, Konstantin (vocals/keys) and Dionisis (guitar/bass/keys). Enjoy!

  • How did you first meet, and then decide to start a music project in the first place?

Dionisis: Kostas and I met when I came to live in Patras in 2014. Our acquaintance developed into a very good friendship and discovering our common taste in the dark sound, already having some material of my own in the initial stage, I suggested him to collaborate and try to make a band. The idea was initially to set up a full band and to find musicians for drums and bass, but this was rejected relatively soon and we ended up working as a duet. So, our chemistry and creativity were very good, and for this reason, to this day, we work like the first day.

  • What type of music were you exposed to as teenagers? Do you remember when and where you started to get passionate about music and your early artistic inspirations?

Konstantin: Well, the first music I listen to by my own desire was early ‘90s techno. I remember, it must have been around 1991 or 1992, when my godmother bought me a small Casio. That was it! It struck me like thunder! I was playing popular techno songs of the era all the time, but mainly I started writing my own songs. I assume that’s why I really liked electro-industrial a decade later. In the mid-’90s, in my early teens, I was into hard rock and heavy metal music. As years were passing by, I really liked more extreme metal genres, like Norwegian black metal. Around the beginning of the millennium, I started listening to more gothic and darkwave bands like The Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus and Deine Lakaien, which are my main influence, and so a whole wave world was unfolded before my eyes and ears.

  • A Greek friend told me Patra is the third biggest city in Greece with a good alternative scene especially in the 90s, how has your place of origin been important to your music?

Dionisis: Patras in the ’90s and early ’00s had a very active indie / alternative scene with, perhaps, better-known bands Raining Pleasure, Playground Noise, Abbie Gale, who made successful radio hits as well as very good records.

Patra, is a city with many students from all over the country and this means that there are a lot of active musicians and we must mention that Patra’s underground scene has highlighted very important groups as well, for example, the female group of the 80s Petunia Pig but also very well known metal bands.

We are personally defined by our influences as listeners and our aesthetics as a whole, since to be honest we do not know enough bands at the moment in Patras if we exclude the DIY space, which plays music similar to us.

  • Let’s talk about the seemingly fervent and lively Greek dark/goth music scene. Which are the Greek artists/bands you feel closest to?

Dionisis: Very nice question! The Greek dark/goth scene has emerged during these 4 decades, several important figures with very remarkable works! It would be a very long list that we could list but I think it would be better to stay in the newest bands which we consider to have a special moment.

So bands like Selofan and Paradox Obscur have proven their worth worldwide. We also have very valuable work from Data Fragments, Kalte Nacht, Incirrina, Convex Model, Ghostland, Meat Injection, Mosquito, Cold Remembrance and I think the list can grow a lot again.

All the above-mentioned bands have given works which in our ears have nothing to envy from big producers that are made abroad and have really inspired material.

  • Beyond the clear influences, Clan Of Xymox, especially on this LP, Sisters Of Mercy, etc., are there any minor, obscure, unexpected bands/artists who were just as important to your sound development as your sound and attitude?

Konstantin: As I said before, our main influences are The Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus and Deine Lakaien, for me personally. Additionally, bands like The Cure, Joy Division have definitely shaped our sound, as well as newer bands like She Past Away, Lebanon Hanover etc.

As far as not so famous worldwide bands are concerned, I would say some bands from the Greek new darkwave scene of the ‘80s, for example, South of no North and Yell o Yell.

  • Were there any pivotal records or live concerts that changed indelibly your perception of music?

Konstantin: Ι could say that the records that changed my musical aesthetics are “In the flat field” and “Mask”, they greatly influenced how I see, not only the music, but also how I perceive the sound of the instruments and the composition of the songs. The concert that greatly influenced me was the Tuxedomoon concert in Patra many years ago. Their approach in music, their sound, their appearance on stage, all created a deep avant-garde atmosphere. It will be unforgettable!

  •  How did your association with Cold Transmission come about?

Dionisis: We had been watching the releases of Cold Transmission for a long time and we liked that each new job was a distinct proposal. There was a whole background that defines the scene but also a freshness in their work.

So when we finished the first mixes for the new album we decided to send them the first sample. The answer was positive and we were really impressed by the professionalism of the company and their love for the scene.

We also really like the attitude of Andy and Suzy who behave in the team as a family. It is a company that tries to build relationships between its members and we really appreciate that.

  • Your album seems more cohesive, and fluent without the ‘heaviness’ of most releases from the genre. Did you have a conscious intention about it or has it been a more natural development?

Dionisis: From the beginning, we had agreed that as far the composition, the sound and the lyrics are concerned, we should not work with the logic of the clichés, and by that, I mean that we did not want to repeat ourselves in some way. Of course, we want our influences to be obvious, after all, we do not consider that we innovate in any way, but more that with our music we express our love for this sound and the scene through our own prism. I believe that for someone who will listen to a complete work of ours, he will recognize a spectrum of influences from classic bands of the ’80s until today. Of course, some elements such as the loud bass voice of Konstantin and my clear guitar are a conscious choice to differentiate as much as possible our sound.

Here I would like to mention that in our last album “Garden of lies” an important role was played by the mix and production of Nick “TheMute” Chalntoupis, whose work really gave us a result that we had not even imagined. An excellent professional, with a deep knowledge of sound and style and with a very strong instinct regarding the artist he has in front of him (I think a look at his CV is enough).

  • What shaped the narrative as you wrote the tracks and compiled the album? Take us through the genesis of it.

Konstantin: First of all, I could say that the common ground that unites those songs is the pain of human existence, as it can be seen through love, life and death. We wanted to experiment with our sound, to create more and more dark or melancholic musical landscapes, without deviating from the limits we have set for our music, which are those of the wider wave / gothic sound. “The Garden of Lies” was written and recorded in the middle of quarantine, which brought to the surface even more unpleasant feelings and images of isolation. Inevitably, the songs exude such emotions, which, however, worked liberatingly for us, giving us the opportunity to express that we had a negative inside us.

  • Cleopatra Kaido of Meat Injection is a special guest vocalist. Was this to break the dominance of baritone hues or to play a lyrical role?

Dionisis: Cleopatra is an excellent singer with participation in very gifted bands like Meat Injection. Beyond that, she is a person who really loves music, we were impressed from the first time we shared the stage with Meat Injection, its musical immediacy and energy. Finishing “Dissociation”, Konstantin and I decided that it would fit better in a female voice and so we suggested this collaboration to her. I think the result came quite naturally, without either side giving absolute directions. We gave her the song and the freedom to interpret it as she really felt. We are very happy with the result!

  • Lyrics contain extreme mental anguish, eternal suffering and broken-hearted isolation. Are the lyrics inspired by personal experience or follow just a certain aesthetic?

Dionisis: The lyrics are written either to describe real experiences/worries we had, or to describe a fictional story. We have songs with a strong experiential character such as “Tears” or “The only one”, but also songs that describe fantastic situations and characters likeDissociation”, which talks about people with mental illnesses. Our thoughts are to try to map the inner paths in each of us, experiencing intense emotions and difficult situations, until purification. Nothing in our real life is just white or black.

  • Cinematic, Poetic, Surreal depictions paint Hellish/Apocalyptic landscapes. Are there some authors, directors, or artists that incite the vivid imagery?

Konstantin: Ιn general, we feel very close to anything that has to do with darkness and macabre. Poets like John Milton, Edgar Allan Poe, authors like H. P. Lovecraft, Steven King and Clive Barker, painters like Gustave Doré have significantly influenced our aesthetics, our image of darkness and light, of the fall, of punishment but also of purification. A suspicious listener can find metaphorical or even verbal references to works of the above artists in some of our verses.

  • I know you really like playing live. What are your highlights so far? Do you play any cover versions?

Dionisis: I think playing live for every artist is the quintessence of the artist’s existence. The moments of intensity, anxiety for the result but also joy for the feedback you get from the audience, is what pushes you to continue as a creator, given that do not make a living from it.

So yes, live shows are probably the best we can aim for as a group. We have really missed a lot since we did not always have the opportunity to have an intense activity before the pandemic. I think the loudest gig we’ve done in terms of name on the headline was with Spiritual Front and we warmly thank Leo Skiadas for the invitation then. Of course, we have shared the scene with several notable Greek groups (some of which we mentioned above).

We have in our setlist 2 covers from our favorite groups which we have played in almost every live. They are “Alice” from Sisters of Mercy and “Jasmine and Rose” from Clan of Xymox. The truth is that we would like to have experimented a little more with the covers but we have been busy with our own material, that we have to some extent forgotten that. Who knows, maybe at some point we will try to make something new.

  • Are there any contemporary, up-and-coming artists with who you’re particularly into or feel an affinity?

Konstantin: Of course, there are several artists we respect for the way they express their music. Starting from Greece, we will definitely mention Incirrina, Kalte Nacht and Data Fragments. There are also some more guitar-driven bands such as Cold I and Radio Sect. They each have their own unique sound, with impressive records standing at the forefront of the European dark community. From foreign bands, we really like Double Echo, Kaelan Mikla, Ash Code, Silent EM, Ortrotasce, Antipole and many more!

  • To our welcome guests the final words

Dionisis: I would like to personally thank those who participated in the creation of this album, such as Nick Haldoupis who I mentioned above for his excellent work, Cleopatra, who made us the honour of singing our song and my friend Ermis Samsa for the original idea at “At the crack of dawn”. Also Marilia Fotopoulou for her great cover photo and Maria Deligiorgi for her beautiful artwork.

Konstantin: We really thank you for this interview!!

Grey Gallows third LP “Garden of Lies” is slated for release on March 19, 2021, limited CD /Vinyl 12″ and Digital, via Cold Transmission Music.

Keep up with Grey Gallows:

@marilia.fotografia

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