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¬ Crystal Tears (GRE) - More Than 100% Heavy Metal!!

After you have already released two demo CD-Rs and one full length CD on your own throughout the past 7 years, CRYSTAL TEARS have now finally signed their long deserved record deal with the new german classic metal label Pure Steel Records! Why did it take you so long to find a professional deal for your great band?

Chrisafis: We were preparing the ground… ha, ha! Ok, getting serious, having a band base in a country like Greece is really hard. Blame it on the region, economy or I do not know where else, no rock and metal music is supported here. There are some metal labels with beliefs and pure heart, but in the end, their abilities are strictly limited. We, CRYSTAL TEARS, decided to go all the way alone, until something good appeared in sight. That is why, after nine years of existence and three demo CDs we signed a record deal with Pure Steel Records record label from Germany. Hey Tobi, you got rock hard from the very beginning… ha, ha!

How did you get in contact with Pure Steel Records? Did you send them your demo and asked them to check CRYSTAL TEARS out or did they already know the band and the first step to join their ranks was done by them?

Chrisafis: Me and Volker Raabe, one of the founders of Pure Steel Records (west Pure Steel Records office), know each other for years. We keep in constant touch and every now and then we talk about our plans; me about my band and Volker about his activities to promote heavy metal. He announced to me the founding of Pure Steel Records and asked me if I was interested in sending CRYSTAL TEARS new work to check it out. I did send it and Volker, after having it thoroughly listened with the rest of his label partners, proposed that CRYSTAL TEARS co-operated with Pure Steel Records.

And what do you think about the co-operation with them so far? Are you happy with the work and effort they put into the release, promotion and distribution of CRYSTAL TEARS brand new album “Choirs Of Immortal” or have they not been able to fullfil any of your expectations?

Chrisafis: Yes, we are. They have been treating us with respect and this is appreciable. Of course, it is very soon to talk about details and have a solid point of view, nevertheless, the efforts they have put into the release of “Choirs Of Immortal” and their movements to promote it are noticeable indeed, always in accordance to reality; let us not forget that it is a newcomer record label. So far we are satisfied with Pure Steel Records, but it is still early, please, ask us again in a year’s time.

I know Volker and Andy, the two driving forces behind Pure Steel Records, for quite a few years now and therefore I can honestly say that they’re both absolutely cool guys and truly devoted metalheads! In what way do you think their passion and love for underground metal has any effects on the way they run their label and treat their bands?

Chrisafis: I believe it is very important to be an ultimately devoted metal fan, as Andy and Volker are. For bands like CRYSTAL TEARS is a matter of trust. Andy and Volker and all the guys that run Pure Steel Records have listened to our thoughts, problems, concerns and suggestions. And CRYSTAL TEARS have listened to theirs. Both sides always try to find the best solution possible in anything that might occur and this is a result of passion to heavy metal. Of course, it is not always that simple. Both label and band co-operate in a different level as well and this level is what business is all about. This is the way it is, but if the fire about heavy metal music always burns, then no serious problems will appear in sight.

I’m not sure whether you’re allowed to talk about such things in public, but if it is a problem for you, please, let me know… About the deal with Pure Steel Records, was it only an one album deal that has expired now or can we expect CRYSTAL TEARS to stay on their roster for a longer time and release more killer albums through them?

Chrisafis: It was an one album agreement. But this does not mean that we cannot renew our co-operation for further releases. If the band stays satisfied with the label and the label stays satisfied with the band then why not co-operate again?

Now let’s speak a bit about the album “Choirs Of Immortal” itself. In the current line-up of CRYSTAL TEARS there’s only one original member left – and that’s you!! Who are your current fellows in CRYSTAL TEARS and how do you think their presence has had any impact on the songwriting and sound of the band?

Chrisafis: CRYSTAL TEARS line-up consists of Natasa on vocals, Dimitris on the guitars, Stratos on the bass and me, Chrisafis, on the drums. Of course, the music is guided by the presence of each guy in the band. All guys have strong personalities and points of view and this can be heard on the songs. Natasa, influenced by Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. and Ronnie James Dio, Dimitris, influenced by Marty Friedman (ex MEGADETH) and Andy LaRocque of KING DIAMOND, Stratos, influenced by Dee Dee Ramone of RAMONES and Lemmy Kilmister of MOTORHEAD and me, influenced by Chris Efthimiadis (ex RAGE). All influences exist in a gentle manner, as you can understand from our CD, we never tried to copy.

Even though I really enjoyed all of CRYSTAL TEARS releases so far, I personally think that “Choirs Of Immortal” is by far your best work up to now!! It contains the heaviest and most old school songs you’ve done so far, as well as great musicianship, fantastic vocals and also a good dose of diversity!! Each and every song is a little hit for itself and they all are really hymnal and powerful – the perfect music to pound you fist in the air and bang your head to!! How do you think about these tunes now, that a couple of months have passed since the recording? In what way do they differ from CRYSTAL TEARS previous work? And are you still satisfied with each and every aspect of the album or would you have changed anything with hindsight?

Chrisafis: Thanks for your warm words! How do we feel? We feel very happy about the result. We worked very hard for this CD. It took us a lot of months to bring it to completion and a hell lot of sweat. It needed tons of patience and persistence and it is really encouraging to see that it was all to no avail. No, we would not change a thing. We know that we gave more than 100% of ourselves that time, we know that we did the best we could and more than this. So, no regrets about anything. But, we know one thing: that we will be better next time, we will improve next time. We keep our profile low and we try to learn by our mistakes; this is what progress is all about; and not only in the playing, but in the song arrangements as well. About the differences between this material and the demo CDs… well, this time the speed was decreased and the music arrangements got much more mature. Straightforward heavy metal played with rapture, passion and honesty.

How have the reactions from the fans and media been so far? Does the gross of the metalheads like CRYSTAL TEARS new album and leave good feedback for it?

Chrisafis: It is still early to talk about it. So far, all reviews have been positive indeed. We have been receiving a lot of e-mails, reviews, interviews; all of them commenting very heartening. The majority of the metal world seems to truly enjoy “Choirs Of Immortal”. There is a significant interest on the band I would happily say. And we wish that this goes on and on and on and on…

Not only the music is absolutely brilliant, but also the artwork, which was done by Joe Petagno (well renowned for his work for MOTORHEAD)!! Whenever I lay my eyes on it, I’m still as impressed and stunned as if I’d seen it for the very first time!! Truly a great picture!! Please, let us know what you think about the cover artwork and also give us a little hint or two in concerns of how it relates to the album title and concept.

Chrisafis: I have the same opinion with you about our cover painting. And it is a real honour to have your cover painting done by Joe Petagno, who is responsible not only for the MOTORHEAD covers, but for the MOTORHEAD badge as well, the Snuggletooth (the skull with the chains), while he has also worked for PINK FLOYD, LED ZEPPELIN and ALICE COOPER! And what is more, Joe is a very co-operative and loveable person. We worked together on the idea, we gave to him the concept and the first clues and Joe evolved it in what you see. The main concept is the eternal fight between the good and the evil. There is this orchestra of demons conducted by their leader playing the soundtrack of battle and death, while an army of demons attacks to the angels. The “Choirs Of Immortal” could be the sound coming from the orchestra or even the screams of the demons and the angels coming from the battlefield. You can take it as you want. It is an angry painting, exactly as the songs of the CD, which make reference to death, battle, revenge etc.

Such a killer artwork and fantastic old school sound literally screams for a vinyl release!! Are there any plans of putting out “Choirs Of Immortal” on blax wax as well or is it supposed to be a CD release only?

Chrisafis: Since you mention the sound, I would really like to highlight the precious help of R. D. Liapakis of MYSTIK PROPHECY (MYSTIK PROPHECY, FIREWIND, CHASTAIN etc.) to get such a killer sound – he did the mastering. Yes, it would be great, if “Choirs Of Immortal” was released in vinyl format! I think the guys from Pure Steel Records work on that. If everything goes well, we will see our CD with this excellent cover painting and killer sound in vinyl relatively soon. However, the CD format and its promotion is the first priority at the moment.

And will there also be T-Shirts and other merchandise available, too? It would look pretty nice and I’m sure quite a few fans (me included) would be damn happy to have a CRYSTAL TEARS shirt in their wardrobe or a patch on their jacket...

Chrisafis: If it is to keep a CRYSTAL TEARS shirt in your wardrobe, then why we should print one… ha, ha, just kidding! Yes, T-Shirts and relevant merchandise is on the plans for Pure Steel Records. We would like to see a CRYSTAL TEARS T-Shirt, we have never printed one before and I am pretty sure that the feeling will be quite funny… ha, ha!

What are the chances for CRYSTAL TEARS to play outside Greece soon? Can (and will) Pure Steel Records help you out in this matter and maybe get you on the billing of one of the cool underground festivals like Keep It True, Headbangers Open Air, Swordbrothers or Heavy Metal Maniacs? It would surely be great to see you live on stage once!!

Chrisafis: It is very hard for an underground band from Greece to play abroad. Pure Steel Records seems to be very willing to help CRYSTAL TEARS perform in some of the cool underground festivals you mention, but it still remains difficult for us. Of course, nothing is impossible! We really want to perform in Germany or anywhere else in Europe or outside Greece in general and when we want something, then nothing can stop us! It would be surely great for us too to visit Germany, we have so many friends there! There are SO MANY metal brothers I would really like to meet face to face after all these years of correspondence…!!!

And as I’ve never had the pleasure of witnessing one of your live gigs so far, please, let me know what it looks like when CRYSTAL TEARS rock on stage!? What can the fans expect, when you four rock survivors crank up your amps and thunder your drums??

Chrisafis: Ok, listen to this. Every time we perform live, there is always this feeling of worry and concern to give more than 100% of ourselves. All this anxiety is transformed into obsession to get it right and all this obsession to get it right is transformed into high power energy on stage. It is all a matter of psychology… ha, ha! In the end, we give people hell!!!

Your homecountry, Greece, has a very fertile and lively underground metal scene with lots of fantastic bands! So, which of your fellow countrymen do you like best and would recommend our readers to check out?

Chrisafis: Oh… there are so many that either I will forget some, or I will not mention, due to my ignorance. This would not be fair. I agree with you, there are many cool metal bands here.

And in general, which bands do you enjoy most at the moment and which records are constant guests in your CD player or on your turntable?

Chrisafis: Mmm… this is a difficult question. My all time classic hero is Alice Cooper. What about at the moment… Oh, there are so many… maybe LORDI… quite argumentative a subject, I know, but I happen to like them.

That’s it!! Thanks a lot for the answers, my friend and keep up the awesome work with CRYSTAL TEARS!! All the best and hope to meet you soon at one of killer metal gigs or festivals!!

Chrisafis: I thank you for this interview and for your support throughout the years! We really wish that we can meet someday and generally talking, we really wish that we can present our music to some of the killer metal shows and festivals of Europe. Music is a miracle and rock is heaven sent, let us rock until we fall!!! Efxaristo poli! Yia hara!


Fragen: Oktober 2006 by Tobi
Antworten: Oktober 2005 by Chrisafis Tantanozis