INTERVIEW: Bob Katsionis – Firewind

Greek power metal warriors FIREWIND have just dropped their eighth studio record, Immortals (read our review here). Prior to the album’s release we caught up with keyboardist Bob Katsionis to discuss the band’s new record, it’s writing process and themes alongside a look back at the band’s history.

It’s been five years since your last studio album, Few Against Many, how do you feel FIREWIND have progressed since your last album?

Bob: This 4 year break we took from FIREWIND was a really important time for everybody. We found time to do stuff we always wanted; I released a new album with OUTLOUD and toured for it and I also joined SERIOUS BLACK where I am a full member now. Gus did two awesome solo albums and extensive touring as well. All these were priceless experiences and also a chance to refresh our ears and aspect of what we want FIREWIND to be in the future.

What was the recording and writing processes like for Immortals?

Bob: The main difference is that this time and for the first time ever in our history, we worked with a producer (Dennis Ward) who was also involved in the writing process, not in the music or arranging part but mostly in the lyrics and vocal melodies. Meanwhile Gus did most of the composing and when the time was right we all joined together and did the recordings in Belgium and then some home-studio work as well. Pretty relaxed, no deadlines, no pressure and we are really happy with the result.

What sort of themes or messages are contained in Immortals?

Bob: Well, mostly it’s about values that are not very strong in our society nowadays like Pride, Bravery and Loyalty. This is depicted through the eyes of the warriors of great-and very important for the whole history of the world- battles of Greeks against the Persians. Battles that shaped the map as we know it, and would have been really different for the whole of Europe if the outcome had been different.

Has there been anything in particular which has influenced any of the tracks?

Bob: If you mean musically, I can say that this time you might hear some more classic metal influences from the likes of IRON MAIDEN or JUDAS PRIEST but through the FIREWIND prism, as always! It’s never wrong to pay some tribute to the ones who made you who you are today.

What are you hoping to achieve with the new album?           

Bob: I think that we are achieving it: people seem to like it a lot and as you know this is very hard to do; to please most of your fans! I think that we will continue building our career step by step as we did so far. We never expected a sudden boom on our fan base or a hit single and this is what keeps as together (and sane!) all these years!

How does Immortals compare to that and your other albums over the years?

Bob: As I told you before, in this time we all had the time and chance to work with different projects. Hence, a lot of our experimenting side could bloom somewhere else than FIREWIND, so when the time was to make a FIREWIND album, what was “left” was pure melodic power metal (which is also the music style I prefer) with not a lot of deviations from the plot!

How do you feel the scene has changed since Firewind was formed back in 1998?

Bob: Not that much but then again I don’t really watch what the others are doing. I’m not gonna talk about the Internet, piracy, YouTube etc. Times are changing and you have to adapt or quit. Thank God (Rob Halford!) we are still strong!

When you first started out as a band did you ever think you’d reach this far in your careers?

Bob: Well…definitely not! But then again, the dream of playing big festivals and having people singing your songs is always in the back of your head, or what you think when, as a teenager, you go to bed and close your eyes. I’m really happy with the way things are going and I feel blessed.

How much of a challenge is it to keep producing new material?

Bob: It’s not a challenge at all, is a reason to be alive! Be it with my bands, or making videos with my video production company or with bands working on my studio, I can’t think of myself not making something new every day!

What are the future plans for the band?

Bob: Most of all, I want us to keep being good friends and have fun playing. I would hate it if some of us started disliking each other and having to play just from obligation. The rest is gonna come one way or another.

To close, we’ll offer you the floor, do you have anything to say to the readers of Distorted Sound?

Bob: This February we are coming to spill the blood of the warriors through the UK so you better be ready!

Immortals is out now via Century Media Records.

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