In Belgium and the Netherlands we are in lockdown due to covid19/corona. How is the situation in Cyprus? I guess this virus is not doing any good to a country that depends somehow on tourism?
You are absolutely right. Cyprus’ main pride economically is the influx of tourists every year. Lockdown means that this would have to wait longer. At the moment the government is imposing new measures with early evening curfew hours, keeping the ‘mask at all times’ and social distancing measures as well. Artists are also primarily affected by the pandemic and measures, however when there’s a will there’s a way, hence we are motivated and productive.
Without the virus, would Harmonize be on tour now in support of Warrior In the Night?
Who knows? That would be lovely, wouldn’t it? As Harmonize we try not to worry about the what ifs. We like to look at the future ahead. It is definitely something we aim to do very soon when it’s time.
Your album was a nice surprise. What took you guys so long to write and record this album? (time, money, finding the right people, …)
Although we formed in 2012, since then many band members were replaced, due to young age, studies abroad and entering the national guard. When we finally started recording in 2018, things were still not right, as we felt that some band members were uneasy about the recoding choices. Our priority was that everyone is content, therefore we changes recoding studios and producers. At some point it was apparent that certain band members were drifting away, and we felt that it was best to let them go. When Sozos finally joined the band-the last piece to our puzzle, the process really started. It felt right, it felt like worth all the struggles and the work was successfully done-with a lot of hard work involved. As you can understand this was time consuming and financially draining, but we wouldn’t change a thing.
The spoken word-part is a good find. Is Nicolina Papas a friend of someone in the band?
The spoken part was essential, because we wanted a narrative to tell the story of the warrior and where he is at now. Our work is conceptual and based on the tale we are developing. The spoken outro is meant to help those interested in the story put the pieces together. Our next release is going to reveal more about the story. Our debut album is an introduction to it and an homage to one of the characters involved. George, the rhythm guitarist and only original member, was adamant about including a narrative piece describing a part of the warrior’s journey. He asked his partner Nicolina, whose written work he’s read before, to write the story and record it.
She is our good friend and crew member. She has supported us and has been part of our journey and its creative process, even before most of the current members joined.
How are the first reactions and reviews ? Are there countries where the album is better received than others?
We have received countless reviews and we are very satisfied with the reactions. Inevitably some reactions are opposing, some people are speculating things about our work and reviewers are analysing our sound and style in different ways. This is very exciting to watch, even the more negative reactions, as this type of engagement creates conversation around our work. For the most part, feedback has been positive. We haven’t noticed certain countries having reacted one particular way or another in comparison to others. We find that it all depends on the individual listener and their personal tastes.
To me the stories in the lyrics could have happened everywhere, but maybe to you the stories refer to specific situations, maybe about the history of your country? What (books, movies, games, …) has inspired you guys for the lyrics?
We are glad you are saying that because although our album is based on the story we are writing about, we wish that listeners can interpret each song and situation anyway they wish. The fantasy fiction story we are developing is our primary source of inspiration. Emotionally connecting to what we write also inspires us. Other types of art and different types of media and the imagery involved inspire us in our creative process. Fantasy fiction books such as the eye of the world, lord of the rings, cinematography, fine arts, we find inspiration everywhere.
Which other bands do you like and inspire you for the music?
We find that we musically and thematically relate to Amon Amarth, Iced Earth, Behemoth, Blind Guardian. They have influenced our sound, but we also admire the artistry involved in their work.
Some of you are/were in other bands. In Belgium/the Netherlands we know very little about metal in Cyprus. Are there a lot of metal bands we should know? Do you have a lot of fans in your country?
We are not surprised neither offended. The metal community in Cyprus is very small but that is because it is a very small island. We have a lot of noteworthy metal bands in Cyprus such as, Blynd (death metal), Mirror (heavy metal), and Temple of Evil (black metal) in which our drummer Harris Peratikas is a member of. Sozos Michael, was a member of American band, Helion Prime. A lot of people support us and the local metal scene. One of our greatest memories is being on stage when the crowd began singing our songs before we’d perform them. That was before we released our album. We are very thankful for the support we receive.
How much do you guys know about metal in Belgium or The Netherlands? Can you maybe name some bands that you know of and like, or festivals or venues you’ve heard of, … (Picture, off course)
Yes of course. We actually met Dutch band, Picture when they visited Cyprus in 2018 for the Power of The Night Festival. We played that night too so it was great to share the stage with such a band. They put on a great show despite the difficulties one can face at such a small festival.
One of the few bands from Cyprus we know, is Winter’s Verge. I think that Harmonize should have the same ambition. Do you hope to follow the same path, like finding a label in Germany, tour all over Europe as support for bigger bands?
As Harmonize we have our own ambitions and follow no one’s footsteps. Winters Verge are indeed a notable band and their work is also conceptual which makes them pioneers in Cyprus. Germany, being one of the greatest European metal spots, is definitely a country we’d like to collaborate with and tour in, like most European countries. Finding a label in Germany and tour all over Europe is a possibility.
Is Greece the first and most logical step for Harmonize to go international?
We think so. It would make sense also because we love the Metal scene in Greece and our brothers and sisters there.
If viruses, time and money were no problem, in which country would you like to tour, with which other band, at what kind of festivals, …
With absolutely zero limitations we would aim for our big goals. Wacken in Germany, Hellfest in France and Bloodstock in the UK.
What will happen for Harmonize in 2021?
We already started working on new material and we plan to continue the work in 2021. If the pandemic allows us to tour then we would love to perform live in Cyprus and abroad. In the meantime the plan is to keep audiences engaged and keep creating.