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When you have read news about Mystic Prophecy in the last couple of months then it was rarely positive: departures, line up and label changes were the dominating headlines. Nevertheless the Swabians stayed cool and somehow managed to produce the best album of their band history. One more reason to speak with the Swabian-Greek fronter R. D. Lipakis to shed some light on the confusion of the last months.
Lia, congratulations to the new album that for me turned out to be a hit. But before the production hardly anybody would have expected such an outcome.
Yes, that´s right!
Tell us a little bit about the troubles before recording the album!
I would not call it troubles. Gus G. (guit. – the author) and Dennis (Ekdahl, drums – the author) left the band. That happens also in other bands every day and doesn´t really matter. And we were prepared for that because Gus also plays in Nightrage and Firewind and also has an offer from Arch Enemy to go on tour with them. Besides Mystic Prophecy Dennis was also with Raise Hell. Finally all those flights from Sweden to Germany (Dennis and Gus live in Sweden – the author) became way too expensive. Moreover, Prophecy had this air of a project because of the distances, and it should not be like that. We are a real band, and now with all band members living around Stuttgart that should be quite clear now.
How did the soundwriting process within the band change after Gus G. left?
Gus wasn´t the main songwriter. Finally MP are my baby, and it´s mainly me who indicates the direction of our music. That doesn´t mean I do all the songs because for me music is teamwork. The new album was basically created by our bass player and me. Our new members have also already added something.
You just decided to play with two guitars instead, like before, only with one. What´s the reason for that?
Markus (Pohl, also playing in Symphorce – the author) has already played with us on our last tour as second guitarist. We considered to keep him in the band anyway because we noticed the huge difference to just one guitar sound especially at live shows. We are a guitar based band. Martin (Grimm, Ex-Headstone Epitaph – the author) had already retired as musician, and I got a tip from a friend just to check him out. I got one of his old records, and that just blew me away. I couldn´t believe that such an excellent guitarist doesn´t have a band.
Matthias Matze Straub is the new drummer in your band. Don´t you fear interferences during your studio work or tours with Matze´s other duties with Sacred Steel?
I don´t think so. Sacred Steel don´t play so many shows a year, and also we don´t. If something should cross over the band who was booked first wins. The same system with Markus who is still playing with Symphorce. And here I don´t even know when they have something going on again.
You´re in the Metal scene for quite a while. How´s the recent commercial development in the scene for you? On one hand there is Metalcore, the fave of the young fan generation, on the other hand there are more and more traditional Metal bands in the charts.
I´ve been following the charts thoroughly for some years. Basically in the last 7-8 years always guitar orientated bands, Metal or Rock, entered the charts here and also in the US. But remember that at the same time the sales recede. This is why only 1000 sales a week are now enough to enter the charts around p. 80 or so. At least in Germany. In the States naturally you need a lot more to be noticed in the charts. But I find it very annoying that Metal is ignored by music broadcasting media. They decided that this cannot be successful and that teenies don´t want to see that. When we offered our new video to VIVA they just said “too old, noone wants to see that”. They prefer to play those kiddies like Tokyo Hotel.
From the commercial viewpoint, how about the widely popular MP3 sharing?
This is of course harming us a lot! If I see our new album out in the net in Spain two weeks before the release and having already 7000 users on waitlist, but only 500 records sold, then I´m really pissed off. Naturally not all of those would have bought the album, but perhaps just half of them. Still it´s 500 vs. 3500 or 4000 sold records. But the problem doesn´t start with the record companies. Some years ago rumour had it that CDs won´t cost more than 10 E in the future. Today they sell for about 18 E. Consider that many people in the southern regions don´t earn more than 500 E, and you can understand that. Moreover, today any band who managed to fiddle on a demo also gets a contract, and that stuff is also sold. That no fan can afford to buy anything is clear. Just check out all those new CDs every month in the magazines... who could possibly keep up with it?
Let´s change the topic. Tell us something about you! Where and how did you grow up?
My parents, both Greeks, moved to Reutlingen in the 60s. There I was born and we lived there until I was 4 or 5. Then we went back to Greece where I studied architecture. When I was 25 I moved back to Germany. Since then I´ve been living in Stuttgart, and I like it here. I like Germany a lot!
How do you make a living? MP presumably don´t earn so much.
Unfortunately my studies are not accepted here and I didn´t have the nerve to do another education. Now I work as CNC programmer for a company. We make the machines for automobile factories. You have to be flexible for the job market nowadays.
Finally, set up your own dream band.
As the singer definitely Glenn Hughes, he is my all time favorite. On guitar Gus G. and Kerry King from Slayer. Bass? Bass players hardly have profile. No wait! I take Steve Harris from Iron Maiden. On drums I would like to have Dave Lombardo but that doesn´t work if some Slayer guy is already there. What´s the name of the Slipknot guy? Joey Jordison.
Yes exactly! He sounds totally chaotic but is a great drummer! I think this could be a weird mixture, something from every genre. As you see, my tastes have a wide range.
And how about you as a singer?
No, no way! That would destroy everything!
That´s it about Greek-German understatement. Thanks for the interview! Author: Timo Pässler, photos: hfr., translation: Klaudia Weber & Kathleen Gransalke Date: 2006-04-27