Interview with Fallen Arise – Hammerfest X
Interview by Richard Tilley and Beth Jones
Back in March, we had the pleasure of interviewing Gus, Giacomo and Fiona, of Fallen Arise, just after their set at Hammerfest X. They are an incredibly interesting band and it was really great talking to them about who they are and what they do.
For the people who have never seen you before, just give us a quick history of the band, who you are and where you come from.
Gus: Well, we are Fallen Arise. We are from three different countries; Greece, Italy and the UK. We were formed in 2009, the summer of 2009, and, of course, we had some other members those years. Now, we are Giacamo on guitars, Fiona on main vocals, Vlassis on main vocals, me on the keyboards. Marios K on the drums and Paul on the bass.
So, this band has two things that I love. I’m a keyboard player, so instantly I was like ‘Yay keyboards!’ I love bands with keyboard players!! And I’m a woman and I love women in metal. So, Fiona, how did you come to join the band first of all? Were you there from the beginning or have you been picked up recently?
Fiona: No, 2016, August. I received some communications from the management of Fallen Arise and we had some conversations and felt a good vibe and I enjoyed the music very much. Listening to the melodies and the orchestrations really grabbed me and I’d never actually played in a band with a keyboardist before, so I thought yes!
It makes a difference, doesn’t it? Adds a different level.
Fiona: Yeah, I played in a band with sequenced backing tracks but it didn’t have that live feel, so that was something that I really wanted to do, and also because there was a male vocalist too, again a new thing for me, I thought, yes absolutely. I signed up and we began a few tours.
So, how do you get around the whole rehearsal schedule thing?
Fiona: We don’t really rehearse (laughing)
Do you like do it over Skype? (laughing)
Giacomo: Usually we don’t (laughing)
So, you just learn all your bits separately and then just come together for a gig?
Fiona: Basically! We did get two rehearsals in Manchester as we all flew in last week, but we also had to prepare our acoustic show and we had never done anything like that before.
I guess it’s a very difficult thing to do acoustically.
Fiona: Yeah, and unfortunately for us as we were setting up, the keyboards failed so we had to very quickly rethink things the two of us and it was a little bit hairy. But, we got through it. We had fun.
Yeah, if you can get through it, that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
Fiona: It was good, I think people were enjoying it.
Giacamo: I was playing, thinking about the disparities, singing in my head…!
Fiona: We changed some things. We dropped a song, had to cut short things.
Giacamo: In a very short time we had to decide – ‘we are going to do this, this and this, ok’?
Fiona: But it was good. So, we rehearsed, we did our lovely acoustic rehearsals in Manchester which no one ever got to hear! But sometimes if we can all go to Athens to do a couple of days rehearsals before we go to somewhere like Romania or somewhere like that, we try to do this, but it’s not always easy.
So, when it comes to playing gigs then, I’m assuming the rest of the guys get gigs in other parts of Europe, so you’re going all over the place to do gigs?
Fiona: Yeah, we are. (Agreement from the rest of the band)
So, what’s it like for you then? Is it amazing to get to these different places that you perhaps wouldn’t have gone to if you had not been in a band like this?
Fiona: Yes, it’s amazing, absolutely amazing. Fantastic. The biggest one I think for me last year, for all of us, was Russia, when we supported Paradise Lost! We got to some beautiful places, played to some fantastic audiences, they were absolutely wonderful to play to, really the passion and the energy is fantastic! So that was an amazing thing for us as a band and each, personally, as well. But earlier in the year, last year 2017, we did some tours through Germany, and The Netherlands, which was fantastic. Romania and Bulgaria too, and we played Greece last year as well! It’s been really nice to see all the fans.
The fans in Greece are magnificent. The metal scene in Greece is just fantastic. The fans out there are crazy.
Gus: The metal scene in Greece?
I think it’s crazy. You don’t think so?
Really? You know, I’ve spoken to bands before and seen DVD’s of bands playing out in Greece. The crowds they get are just phenomenal.
Gus: Actually, the situation with Greece is that we have many, many talented musicians, many, many talented artists, but we have a bad ideology. It must be the music first, and it’s not. That’s the truth. Most people you will hear them say that my local scene is wonderful but it’s not.
So, do you prefer going to the rest of Europe and coming here?
Gus: Fallen Arise is more acceptable in other countries than Greece. It’s the truth. And that’s the reason we feel like home not in our real home but here in Wales, in Romania, in Russia, everywhere except our countries. I’m very sorry to say that but maybe in the Greek road I will be like an idiot but that’s the truth and I don’t care!! (Laughing)
It’s interesting, because we see obviously the media coverage and YouTube and things, so it’s interesting to hear it from your side because you’ve been there, you’ve come through that, the Greek side of things.
Gus: It’s the same for every country. If you are from the country, it’s harder to have an audience in your country because there is a sort of rivalry between musicians and this is absolutely something bad. I usually think about other musicians like brothers and I try to support them, but I heard also from people from abroad saying the same thing about their countries.
So, here in the UK, we are always going ‘oh the metal scene in Europe is so much better than it is here!’
Giacomo: I think everyone says the same thing!
So, Fiona, are you working towards some new material, a new album?
Fiona: Yeah, we are. The musical side, the composition side, has been finalised, and I actually fly to Athens in about a week to start in the studio for a few weeks doing final vocals, and we will finish up after that at Iron Queens Festival in Romania. So, it’s this one, lots of recording and then that! We are going to have a fantastic time! I believe, and I’ll have to double-check this, but I’m sure I read somewhere that the Iron Queens Festival in Romania is their first ever female fronted metal festival which I think is a really good thing.
I’m seeing more women in metal bands popping up all over the place and I think it’s fantastic, whether it’s singers, drummers, keyboardists, bass players, guitarists, you know, it’s really good. I’ve also been a massive fan of women in metal but you do get the people that go “hmmpft” Also, and I hate to say it but back in the 80’s, and I’m sure it still goes on a bit, females were in metal bands because they had been put there to look at, not to actually listen to the talent, and so it’s really nice now to see so many good female musicians come through and get respect. Has it opened doors for you, the fact that ladies in metal is much more accepted?
Fiona: I think so, and I think that some of the female fronted platforms across Europe added quite a powerful influence to that over the last decade but it’s becoming less and less needed. I think that’s why Female Voices in Metal decided to take a break, because they felt that the platforms weren’t perhaps necessary, whereas ten years ago it absolutely was! But, I think still there is a huge gap, there is a huge gender imbalance when you look at some of the bigger festivals. In time, I hope to see that change and I think it will.
So, what’s coming up for you guys now then? Obviously, you are going into the studio to record the album and you’ve got that festival. Have you got any other big dates planned for this year?
Fiona: We’ve got Iron Queens. We have another one in May.
Gus: We have another one in Romania on 9th June in Constanza, then we go to Sweden for new video. We are also playing in Italy. It’s not something we have confirmed but we are planning to do some dates in Italy.
Fiona: We concentrated on just a few festivals this year, because we have such a heavy job to do with our album, and our video, and our artwork, working with the label to get the album out by the end of the year so that take a lot of time and energy.
So, that’s what you are hoping for? A release date by the end of the year?
Fiona: We’re hoping so yeah, we’re confident it will be towards the end of the year.
Have you got any album title you can go by yet?
Fiona: Not presently no!
Is there going to be a theme about the album? You know is it going to be a concept, overall story, or are the songs going to be separate?
Fiona: In terms of lyrical themes, there’s a lot to do with passion, power, being reborn, feeling like there’s a shift into something better, so it’s a really positive album and it’s really reflective of coming out of harder times and going into something better. It’s that kind of thing. It’s that just get up and do something new, let’s be out there, let’s be passionate and powerful about what we believe in. That’s a lot of the lyrical themes so far. That’s about it.
Giacomo: Yeah it is separate songs, not a concept, but we also use symmetry with art, for example, we are using, for the first time in A Fallen Arise album, a seven-string guitar. We were trying to mix more thing together, seeing that we are from different worlds musically, so we try to combine to do something new.
You mention you are all from different musical worlds, what are your influences?
Giacomo: I come from thrash metal and progressive metal so when I joined the band it was hard for me, because I’ve never been a big fan of symphonic! But I found some characteristics which really were joyful for me. I think I have learnt very much from this band. Before I was thinking about songs like ‘alright, solos as fast as I can, I have to do this difficult riff, then I’ll change this!’ but now I have to serve the song and it’s something very, very, very beautiful. That happened to me, it completely changed my style!
It’s not all about heavy and fast, it’s about feeling the music.
Giacomo: Yeah, you have to serve the musicians and the audiences. This doesn’t sound so hard, but trust me it’s harder than playing many lines together, changing time etc.
Gus: I come from a classical background. Of course, I very much like metal music, all different bands, but not only metal music. As a musician, I have my ears open for every style. I like jazz, I like blues, I like everything. My main influences are the composers of classical music like Ravel, Stravinsky, Samberg, who were fascinating for me. Because of this, I chose to make this symphonic metal band. The idea of the frustration of the composer; taking a short theme and making it quite big, for a band, for an orchestra, for many, many, many people. It is fascinating. But, actually, generally I would say that I’m a fan and passionate about good music, wherever it comes from.
Fiona: For me, I grew up through the UK scene of classic metal and rock. Some of my influences stretch right back to the seventies, from things my parent where listening to, and I just picked up on. Things like Marillion and all sorts of stuff. A lot of that was quite influential to me, but as I sort of moved through the eighties, I got a lot of the classic rock influences as well. I was also a big fan of Iron Maiden; Bruce Dickinson especially is quite an interesting one for me. And you didn’t really get a lot of female vocalists to be honest. You know, Janis Joplin was pretty cool, I used to love her but, you know, unless it was pop – I think Madonna was one I used to dance around to when I was a kid! And Billy Joel apparently, I don’t really remember too much about that!! That’s the sort of stuff that’s come through for me. But, I’m also half Irish – lot of my family were born in Ireland, so we have a lot of that influence too. I think in the last ten, fifteen years, I think the female vocalists that have stepped out for me, I think were probably Christina Scabbia – I think she’s a pretty good performer as well as an exceptional vocalist; I do like the earlier Tarja stuff, I think she is a very, very talented vocalist. A bit of Nightwish, but I think Floor Jansen had a lot more variety for me and I think she’s got that power. I do like powerful singers, I really do. I listen to her a lot more now because I like her voice. But also, I think there are some really fantastic singers out there and it’s really hard sometimes to pick one that influenced you. I also like a lot of James LaBrie, Geoff Tate, people like that. It’s that kind of voice I think that grabs me.
Fantastic! Well that was our last question for this time – is there anything else you would like to add – anything you want everyone to know about?
Fiona: Yeah, the album. Iron Queens in Romania coming up in April, and obviously our new album coming out this year, that’s fantastic. So, do look out for that. But, also, you know, a huge thank you to everyone who’s given us time and support and interest. That’s everything for us.
Giacomo: And great hospitality!
Fiona: Hammerfest has been an amazing place to come to. Thank you so much.
And that was where we left it. It was incredibly interesting to chat to this quite remarkable band, and discover how the logistics of a multi – nation band works, and also how they see the metal world differently to us. It was fascinating and enthralling and I really hope we get chance to speak to the guys again at some point in the future. A massive thanks to them for taking the time out of their schedule to do this for us. Don’t forget to check them out, and keep an eye out for the new album – we are certainly excited for that!
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Richard Tilley, Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this interview, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to do adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities