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Monday, November 29, 2010

Interview - Transcending Bizarre?'s Harris

Over the past few days I've had the pleasure of communicating with the main composer and founder of one of black metal's most forward thinking acts Transcending Bizarre?. He's been nice enough to comment on the band's previous work, the loss of a fellow founding member, S.A. Akis, and the newest record, The Misanthrope's Fable. Enjoy!

Ian: I guess the first question is how are you doing now that The Misanthrope's Fable is released?

Haris: We are doing fine actually. The album is really fresh at this moment and we can only say that the reviews so far are more than encouraging.

Ian: How did Transcending Bizarre? form?

Haris: Me and S.A. Akis were the founding members of the band. We used to rent a flat together almost ten years ago and we were both really passionate about music. We recorded our first demo where I was almost playing all the instruments and singing. We were very lucky to find really skilled musicians the years that followed.

Ian: How does Transcending Bizarre? write songs, does a single guy usually write and bring in songs or is it more of a collaborative effort?

Haris: Most of the times, I am the one who writes a demo song in Cubase that contains sample drums, synths and maybe some vocals. I then bring the demo to the rest of the band and we add things, or we repeat parts or delete some parts giving the song its final form.
Ian: How did The Four Scissors come together? To me, that's your sound at it's most aggressive and black metal sounding while still being quite proggy and synthetic at the same time.

Haris: We were much younger and we couldn’t tame our inspiration while composing ‘’The Four Scissors’’ hehe... This resulted in a very experimental and innovative album and we are very happy for it. The main problem of this album is its terrible production. But we have re-released it in digital form through Vic Records and we improved the sound, we remixed it and remastered it. Now it’s much better. This was definitely our most bizarre album.

Ian: What happened in the five year gap between The Four Scissors and The Serpent's Manifolds?

Haris: I had to serve the greek army in 2004 and 2005. After this period we composed ‘’The Serpent’s Manifolds’’ and we tried to search for a descent label. We found a Dutch label but the things didn’t work out between us and we decided to move on and release the album from a friend’s label, Dissonart productions. All these things caused this 5-years delay. And to be honest, I regretted serving the army, I should have found a way to avoid this shit.

Ian: How would you say the band evolved from The Four Scissors to The Serpent's Manifolds? That record is a lot more experimental and progressive sounding than the debut.

Haris: I doubt that ‘’The Serpent’s manifolds’’ is more experimental than our debut. ‘’The Serpent’s...’’ is much more mature, it has a solid production and it is less eclectic. I think that we evolved as musicians after our debut album and we became more experienced in terms of production, composition and arrangements. Our symphonic parts became much more realistic and advanced. We focused on composing darker songs, more symphonic and less complex.
Ian: I know that record was well received upon it's release, did that boost the band's confidence to become even more explorative with their music?

Haris: Well it’s true that the album was really well received and this was a surprise for us. You know ,we didn’t have a big label behind us, however lots of people found about the album and lots of people bought it or downloaded it. This made us more confident, you are right, and encouraged us to start composing the next album.

Ian: How far along was the new record when S.A. Akis unfortunately passed? What did he add to the band before his passing? I know that you handled the synthe on the new record, how did you approach that additional work?

Haris: S.A. Akis death was a real shock for all of us. He was a founding member of the band and he was also the drummer, the producer and the keyboardist. Fortunately, S.A. Akis had finished recording his drum parts for the new album before passing away. But after his death we had to seek for a new producer and I had to take care of all the synth parts myself. This was not a problem since I was a synth player myself. S.A. Akis never composed any song himself but his influence in the character of our music was severe.

Ian: Now onto the new record. How would you describe The Misanthrope's Fable to someone that's never heard the record?

Haris: Our new album combines the experimental temper of our debut and the dark symphonic vein of our second album. It is a concept album, both musically and lyrically, and it’s bit more complex than ‘’The Serpent’s...’’. It is also a bit more bizarre and psychedelic. Definitely, our most complete creation so far.

Ian: I found this record to be the band's most orchestral and theatrical sounding, with a lot of dynamics occurring in every song, from progressive riffs to large orchestras in the background and even the vocals. What was your intention for this album?

Haris: We intended to compose an avant-garde modern black metal album that would sound unearthly, spooky and perverse. The new album was a chance to prove ourselves we have found our own style of composing and arranging music. And I think we managed to produce an album that is fresh, diverse, tries to transcend the barriers of black metal and at the same time carries our own distinctive musical mark.

Ian: How did Bjørnar Erevik Nilsen come into the album? I thought he did a great job on The Empire of Mind.

Haris: Glad to hear you liked Bjørnar’s parts! Some years ago i ran into Vulture industries’ debut album and quickly noticed Bjornar’s voice. When composing this particular track, I thought of his voice and I was intrigued. I decided to contact him immediately, I sent him a rough mix of the track and after a month he sent me the vocal files via mail. I was really excited when I first listened to his samples. By the way, Vulture Industries’ new album is really amazing.

Ian: How did the idea to use a children's choir come about?

Haris: I always thought children voices are really spooky. So, we found a theatre school with its own choir and contacted them through a common friend. Adding them in an extreme metal album was a real challenge. It added an extra soundtrack-ish / avant-garde touch in the music. It was kind of strange having 20 children singing in the studio!

Ian: How did you get in touch with Anetis Goudas? I thought he did a great job with the artwork.

Haris: The artwork is based on the brilliant paintings of Jesse Peper (http://www.jessepeper.com), an artist from the USA. Anestis had to unify Jesse’s paintings and use them in a common context. Anestis has collaborated with famous artists such as Dimmu Borgir and Rotting Christ and we expected something really good from him. The final artwork meant to be unearthly and compatible with the music and I think Anestis and Jesse really managed to realise what we had in mind.

Ian: How has the band enjoyed playing live?

Haris: We gave our first live concerts in 2008 sharing the stage with bands such as Septicflesh, Therion and others. Playing live is an amazing experience and we currently plan a south european tour. But nothing is certain yet.

Ian: What are some of your favourite Transcending Bizarre? songs, in general and live?

Haris: I would say: Irreversible, Cell, The Music of the Spheres, Envisaging the ideal planet, Broad Daylight Misanthropy, The return to Nothingness. But I guess ‘’Infinite’’ is our most popular track.

Ian: I guess that's it, thank you for the interview, the last word's are yours.

Haris: We have to sincerely thank you for the interview and the review. I am very glad you liked our new album. I really like people with their own blogs and ‘zines that want to share their passion for music with others. Well Ian, keep up the good work!
I would like to thank Hakis for allowing me to conduct this interview with him as well as ask some questions I thought might be a bit personal. I sincerely thank him for his honest and kind words. Check out Transcending Bizarre? if you haven't already!

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