On Thorns I Lay have gone through some tough times in their long career but now things seem to be getting right on track… their latest effort “Aegean Sorrow” is proof that the Greek band is here to stay and are doing the best music ever. Time to read their thoughts and ideas about the new album, the new era and the upcoming concerts…
After so many years of activity how different is On Thorns I Lay?
First of all, I would like to thank you for the interview. We are for sure older... hehehe. Really now I think our sound is more mature heavier, doomier and darker. We pay more attention to every detail now and I mustn’t forget to mention that we have the best line up in our history.
After the album “Egocentric” the band ceased its activity for 12 years or so… why did you return? Did you miss music? Were you involved in any other musical project during those hiatus years?
We missed playing music. Back in early 2000, we felt that we lost our musical identity so in 2004, after the Egocentric album, we just stopped. Of course, we were into things cause, first of all, we are death metal fans but none of us was involved in any special project.
Do you think those years helped forge the “new” sound for On Thorns I Lay?
I think that time showed us the way to our new era. I do not regret this long hiatus as now we are back with our best album of our 25 year career so far.
Your most recent album “Aegean Sorrow” is among the best albums of 2018. How exciting is that?
It’s really amazing all this incredible feedback we are getting from the press and from the fans so far. But, to be honest, we knew that this time we made something special...
This album is a return to the roots… why do it after so many years?
There is no answer to this one... sometimes life has so many surprises, it was supposed to be like this...
What were the main sources of inspiration for this awesome album?
Of course, our fave bands and our previous albums. Aegean is a mix of our 4 first albums and our demos. It’s a 100 % OTIL album, darker, heavier than before. We are fans of the old Paradise Lost, old Anathema, old Katatonia, My Dying Bride, old Opeth and of course many other newer doom death bands that influenced our sound.
“Aegean Sorrow” is a concept album. Tell us more about it. What issues are approached?
“Aegean Sorrow” describes with a poetical way all this pain and misery that exists right next to our door. All this catastrophe and misery that humanity provoked again. It’s a main characteristic of the human race, this way to self-destruct and we are very pessimistic for the future...
Why the title “Aegean Sorrow”? The cover portrays the sea… does it have anything to do with those who lost their lives on the Aegean Sea?
Aegean is nowadays a sea tomb, were thousands of lives faced death trying to escape from hell...
The sound of “Aegean Sorrow” was mixed and mastered by Dan Swano. Does the producer make a different on the final product? What did Swano add to your album that wouldn’t be there if it had been done by someone else?
Dan is a great producer and an important inspiration for us as we are fans of Edge of Sanity and of his newer projects like Witherscape. He was the right person to mix our album. He gave us an organic, huge sound and we are more than happy with the result. In the next one we will work with him again for sure.
How did the release party go on 18th May? Were there many fans attending the party? How did people react to the album?
As I said before, the reactions are the best. The release party went very good surprisingly as we announced it just a few days before it happened. It is very honorable for an artist to reach the fans and thank them... I think this is the best sentiment that music can give you...
OTIL will be headlining a gig in Athens for the first time… how excited were you when you got the invitation? Do you think it is a long wished for recognition?
We were not sure if it was a good idea to have a headline show for this album as 12 years is a long period away from the scene. 2 months after the release of the album and after 3 gigs with SepticFlesh and Satyricon here in Greece, we realized that many fans are waiting for a full show from the band. So we are working on this event hard as it will be a special one with a unique atmosphere and violin and female vocals onstage for our older songs. We will play material from all of our 8 albums of course with our new sound back in our 90s roots and we are anxiously waiting for this night.
The band has recently played with Satyricon and SepticFlesh and has some dates lined up already… is playing live important for On Thorns I Lay or are you more of a studio band? Do you think logistics complicate things and stop you from playing live more often?
To tell you the truth, I personally prefer being in a studio creating music but all the others really love playing live hehehe. It is very important for a band to play as much as possible nowadays and we will try to have as many shows throughout Europe as we can. We just signed with Flamming Arts agency (Venom inc, Behemoth, Marduk, Satyricon etc ) for touring so, I think, in a couple of weeks we will announce new dates for Europe.
The band is already planning a new album and has already started the pre-production part. Wow! Isn’t it too early? Are ideas flowing free right now? Is this a great creative period for you? It is a very creative period after so many years.
We are planning to support this album as much as we can through gigs but having also a new album coming out in no more than 2 years. So I am writing new material and I can say that it is doomier and heavier... very excited with how the new tracks sound...
The band has been signed to Holy Records (4 albums), Black Lotus Records (2 albums), Sleaszy Records (1 album) and Alone Records (1 album). What have you learnt with all these label changes? Are their interests the same? Do you think money speaks louder than music these days?
Of course, this is the way that things are happening. It is important to have a label that believes in you and works for you all the time. We did not have this before as we felt that our name would have been bigger if we had more support. On the other hand, we also were not very careful with what we were doing and we did many mistakes through all those years. But all this just belongs in the past now and a second era has just started for us.
Most of your musical influences are bands that have evolved into a sound completely different from the sound they became famous for… do you think a band’s identity can evolve so much that it loses all of its essence?
Yes, I totally agree with you. It happened to our band also with this change of style. Music is progressing but as an artist you have to be very careful cause you may lose your identity and this can be catastrophic for a band. It is important to progress but you have to know when and where to stop and this comes with time and maturity.
Greece has an intense and great underground scene with powerful bands. Do you share the same opinion? Are there newcomers to the scene that the fans of these musical genres should pay attention to?
Yes, we are proud of our scene and for bands like SepticFlesh and Rotting Christ that are well known worldwide. In the past years many local stoner bands appeared and they have a great response from the crowd here. It’s not the style of music that I like, but it is really great to see a Greek metal band sell out gigs for 3000 people. I have to admit that all this is awesome to the local scene.
If you were organizing a festival in Greece and could only invite local bands, who would you invite? Who would be headlining? Who would be opening the shows?
In our headline show we will play with Ocean Of Grief and Decemberancre, 2 very good Funeral Doom Death Metal bands from Athens and with March Funebre from Belgium.
Is there an album from a Greek band that influenced On Thorns I Lay at some point of their career?
Being a fan ever since their beginning, SepticFlesh is my fave Greek band and their first album “Mystic Places of Dawn” is a cult masterpiece that every death metal fan should listen to one day.
Thank you so much again for this interview. I hope you will like “Aegean Sorrow” and we are looking forward to seeing you in one of our future live shows.
Interview by Sonia Fonseca