Greetings over there. I would like to thank you very much for taking your time to answer this interview. Please, I ask you to introduce yourself and the band we are going to talk about, first.
Hello! I am Jim Tasikas from the band Contrarian, progressive death metal with our first release “Polemic” on Willowtip Records!
As I have stated before, I found Predestined a highly impressive release. This EP showed the band’s potential. Now we have the full-length Polemic, a brutal, but yet atmospheric, eerie and spacey album. I highly enjoyed it. How hard was it for the band to achieve the same level of greatness presented on the début EP?
It actually was easier as we became more comfortable with each other’s playing and style! We feel the newer songs on the full length were more mature and original – wait until you hear the next CD!
Still on the full-length, and, as a matter of fact, on the band’s music at all, I have read that Contrarian aims to create progressive death metal with emphasis on aesthetics. Could you please, explain to us in a more detailed way the meaning of this? I find it interesting how some bands, including Contrarian, can blend beauty and brutality at the same time.
Yes, we like to call it “pretty shred” – lol – the goal was to have the guitars as “pretty” as possible and maintain the brutality. It’s a harder thing to do than most would think! I always liked contrasts and extremes in moods within music, especially prog metal.
Concerning some general aspects of the band and its members, I would like to talk about the lyrics. What are the main aspects, which you enjoy covering about, what inspires you to write them and what does come first, the lyrics or the music? In your opinion, how important are the lyrics?
The lyrics are very important. One might expect to find cookie cutter space alien or gore or anti-religious/ political lyrics. I hope people will be pleasantly surprised to see the lyrics concern themselves with philosophical questions which embrace the supernatural and the superstitious and reject materialism and naturalism.
Talking about Contrarian’s future now, I am very happy to know that the band will be releasing a new album, via Willowtip, in 2017. Not only that, but also that Paul Masvidal will be contributing this upcoming work. George Kollias will once again be performing the drums. It all sounds very promising. What can you tell us about it in advance? Do you feel any sort of pressure when it comes to this new release?
No pressures what so ever – these compositions are a labor of love. We all enjoy this very much. Some call Contrarian a “super group” but I don’t think that it is fair – I don’t like that label actually – because the framework composition is all from my mind – the final arrangements reflect the other musicians interpretation of it. We don’t function as a super group, rather much like Chuck Schuldiner or Steve Harris being the main composer and enlisting the proper musicians.
I have read an interview with George Kollias complementing you, saying that, besides being a good friend and a smart person, he mentioned that you know how to move things around and get the band going. With all the difficulties bands face in these days, which advices would you give to musicians that are starting their bands now and would like to get their music out there, to be able to play live and release a full-length album?
It’s very hard, especially if you have a career or business and family. Death metal, especially that of the technical or progressive kind, out of all musical genres, is the most a labor of love – ironic – lol. Being successful in a metal band requires much determination along with experience nowadays – you can’t fool anybody (fans or labels ) with generic songwriting. The generic stuff will come and go – only the truly authentic will make their mark in this genre.
In a way this can be related to the previous question, perhaps one problem for many bands. I enjoy getting to know the musicians opinions about this issue. An important band member stated that everything related to music, especially full-length albums, is in a click away. In his opinion, for many people, all that matters are the first thirty seconds impression. He concludes that “we” do not give ourselves enough time to discover music. What are your impressions and views on this? Do you agree with him, that many, in a way, take music for granted?
Yes. Ironically – once again, Contrarian’s music placed emphasis on composition, re-occurring themes, variations on themes, aesthetics etc. You can not be a mature music listener if you do not look for and appreciate these things.
About you now, and metal music as well, listening to your music, we can think of some of the bands that you enjoy. I am not saying that it is a carbon copy, not at all, but I believe that you would not want to create something that you simply do not like. Well, when it comes to metal music as well, which were the main aspects of it that got your attention. How did you get in touch with this musical style and what makes it such a passionate form of art?
I love “cult classics” and under-appreciated metal releases that fly over people’s head at first but then stand the test of time. Good examples are Watchtower, Fates Warning, Confessor, Cynic, Catharsis, Ved Buens Ende, Mithras and many more! This is where Contrarian gets its inspiration from!
As in every single interview I conduct, I like to ask a few personal questions simply to know a little bit more about the man behind the music better. And as I always add, nothing intrusive, of course. I just would like you to share favourite activities, hobbies, movies, what you usually prefer doing at your free time.
To write music for a band like Contrarian, you have to be quite the dreamer. Fantasizing about guitar riffs and supernatural scenarios – lol – that’s what it takes – and self teaching yourself music constantly to maintain authenticity and originality.
And so we reach the end of this interview. One more time, I thank you for your words. I really appreciate your time spent here. I also would like to wish you and the band the best in your personal and professional plans. Do you have any last words?
Yes! Thanks for everyone’s support and enthusiasm – please be on the look out for “To Perceive Is To Suffer” – it will be out in 2017 via Willowtip Records!
February 21, 2016