Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: May 2011
Brian Rademacher: Hi Ari Congratulations on the new album.
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Thank you very much and thank you for the stellar review you gave it, it means a lot to me and Iím glad you enjoyed it.
Brian Rademacher: You said you really dug deep in writing this new album. What were your thoughts going into writing the record?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: I was writing some things and I thought it was ok but the last album with "The Way of The World" and how that took off I wanted to write something that was like that. I just couldnít, so I started writing this heavier stuff since going out with much heavier bands like OTEP, BURY THE DEAD and THROUGH THE EYES OF THE DEAD. After going out on tour with those bands I was the only one backstage doing vocal warm ups. I wanted to get back into the more melodic vocals (type of) rock. I wanted an album that was positive and uplifting because all the stuff I was surrounded with was very dark and negative and ultra angry with all these things. That music is great, but I use that when Iím working out and I wanted to do stuff that was inspiring, especially with some of the people I know and myself going through some tough times. I didnít want to write stuff that added to the misery but wanted a bright spot and that was my method going into writing the new CD "Cry Havoc".
Brian Rademacher: I listened to the CD countless times and really there are no fillers or weak tracks at all. Were you happy when you heard the finished product?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Iím so glad you think that way. When I was writing "Cry Havoc" I wanted to writing stuff that was just as good as our debut release and others and it was. When releasing our debut album you want to go out and show your best side because most people donít even know who you are at that point. With this one I had some old tracks and I knew they were good and I wanted to use them with some changes but I ended up doing all new tracks. "Cry Havoc" was a lot more personal and some points (were) embarrassing I guess.
Not like this tough guy walking around with your pants off and you have to have some confidence in what youíre packing. I wrote some stuff that I was avoiding dealing with. Itís like standing up for what you believe and it was real import to me this time around.
Brian Rademacher: This album gave me a lot of joy because recently I lost my sister and with this release it gave my mind a way to think about other things.
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Thank you so much Iím glad this CD helped you and that it gave you a moment of peace (because that) means I did my job. The final track which was the easiest track, "The Hello Song" was about my best friend who I havenít seen in a long time who committed suicide. I had a moment where things flicked through my life, I sat down and thought about how that affected me. I had another friend that lost his life to brain cancer which was a terrible thing; I had some emotional tracks on this release. I was hoping I can give my friend a song that would bring a smile. Life is dark on itís own but donít think everything is happy flowers and rainbows but at the same time as a society we take all this crap thatís thrown against us and have to deal with and try and make something positive out of it and at the end of the day I donít want to be unhappy. I donít want to be sad and I donít want to be angry. I want to have some sort of drive to do better and wake up with some positive energy. Thatís something I try to inject into the community, where ever I am. This album is the most braising attempt that Iíve had and already we are getting feedback from the hater community that never liked us before and like the brutal metal community. If you listen to "The Way Of The World" I have no idea how they can put us in the brutal genre, I have no idea where thatís coming from. I understand that community is not going to like it, like the devil drivers. The Victory catalog is filled with it; weíre a different band and trying to do something different with a positive thing.
Brian Rademacher: How has the road to success from the beginning to the point where you are at now?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Itís a long hard road. Starting off in high school loving METALLICA, MEGADETH and that thrash era. They had this energy that I really liked and a complicity that I was fascinated with. Thatís where it all started and eventually you find your own voice and you feel you have something different to say. To get to this point you have to be comfortable with your tools and my tools are how to record and make it sound like whatís in your head. Iím no virtuoso in any sense; Iím a hack player and a hack singer. I slowly gained a sense of composition, production and arrangements. I try to deliver it the way people can understand; itís all about taste and how to execute it.
Brian Rademacher: So when you were a kid and you were working other jobs did you have dreams of being a musician?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Yes, my first paycheck went towards a wireless unit. I was lucky my school had a talent show that let a couple bands play. We did a METALLICA cover and for me being an outsider and a low-key person it gave me a stage to express something I was interested in and have an audience that appreciated it and I got hooked and to this day as rough and draining life on the road and living out of a van can be Iím still playing live no matter if there are two people or a couple hundred itís still worth it to go out and meet people and enjoy what youíre doing. Now itís just how we can financially justify it because at a certain point the credit card wants their money back (laughing).
Brian Rademacher: What was your first concert experience?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: It was the "Clash Of The Titians" tour with MEGADETH, ANTHRAX, SLAYER and a little band at the time named ALICE IN CHAINS. I think that was 1991.
Brian Rademacher: How was it giving your first autograph?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: I still love it and Iím flattered that somebody wants it. Iíll always give it and I personally donít understand people who would not give it to a fan. I can understand fans that hound you for an autograph that they are just selling. Iím sure that can get annoying. I donít have to worry about that.
Brian Rademacher: I know you are endorsed by Kramer Guitars. Did you start with them?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Yes, Kramer was the first and I was proud to help the distressed Explorer guitar. You can see that guitar in our new video for "Closer".
Brian Rademacher: How is your ritual with eating and taking care of your body? I think you were on the cover of Max Sports?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Yes I was. I can spend hours talking about this; itís a big passion of mine. Iím not saying I eat perfectly either. Iím an emotional eater and I love junk food too; ice cream is a real big thing for me. Most people know they gotta eat more vegetables but not too many people do. If you follow a regimen by saying to yourself you gotta eat this everyday not like crap food. You treat food like fuel and you feel so much better and if you eat right you donít worry whatís next for the next twenty hours in the day. Eating junk food and the pleasure you get eating it for five minutes but once itís gone the pleasures gone too. On the road, and I preach this to my band mates and any other person (whoíll listen). I think the cleaner you eat the better life is most of the day. Eating right you donít have to think about the foods society pushes on you which is cheaply made high mark up items. Those things tend to be breads, candies basically anything you find in a convenience store. Iím convinced those thing are made to rot us from the inside out.
Brian Rademacher: So then on the road how do you eat right?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: I typically pack a protein powder because when youíre in the van you donít want people to stop every couple hours. If you get into that type of feeding habit, for me I eat every three hours and you have to keep hydrated. Protein powder is fast, it doesnít make a mess and I donít have to stop often to go on the side of the road and it doesnít make a smell in the air that band mates have to smell. So with that a funnel and a bottle of water I can get quite a few cheap meals and we donít have to stop often. If we stop every six hours I like to stop and get chicken salad and Subway is a good one that has good meals for only five bucks and you can get in and out quick. When we get to the venue and if we get lucky we will get a meal but they do love to serve pizza, like I said itís a cheap meal that has high mark-up. Pizza, I donít process it too wellÖ
Brian Rademacher: Tell me about a DESTROPHY cassette that was produced back in 1997. I heard it was ultra rare and the 10-song "Limited Edition E.P. also?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Yeah, there were cassettes. We had one in 1993. We had a self-titled purple album recorded in 1996 and released in 1997. It was recorded with a completely different bunch of guys and a different sound. Itís basically for people who are extreme DESTROPHY fans I donít like it but there are people who do so bless their hearts. I was into it but I was always disappointed what came out because I had a sound in my head that I couldnít pull off because I didnít have the technology to execute. Now I feel like George Lucas twisting these old movies into stuff I love. We donít offer them anymore because they are out of print and for me I rather not re-visit stuff that far back. This was the beginnings of what this is now; the birth of the band started in 2002/2003. This is when we started and we played at the Clicktrack and were most aggressive.
Brian Rademacher: What makes you happy in life?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: I love it when there is a room full of people getting along and having a good time. That makes me really happy.
Brian Rademacher: So what pisses you off?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: I am the exact opposite; itís when people are not getting along. When people canít see the other personís perspective and canít reach a common ground. Thatís frustrating, I see that a lot on the road when working at a bar and alcohol is involved you see that a lot. I find my self more times than other being an arbitrator to get people to come together.
Brian Rademacher: Were there any songs left off "Cry Havoc"?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: There were three that were not finished. I would have liked one more track on the release and at the same time didnít want to go with twelve or thirteen because I feel tracks get lost. Gosh, our first CD had seventeen tracks on it. Like you said we wanted the disc to have no filler tracks and we did that. Plus next time we might do something different, who knows. I always like doing something different on each release.
Brian Rademacher: Is there going to be a second single?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: They were talking about "All My Life". With this release there are so many that could be a single which is a good thing the last thing you want your label to say there are no singles here. I had no idea what song they were going to push and they were fighting with which one they were going to push, which is pretty cool. I thought "Cry Havoc", the title track, was going to be the single; it kind of bounced around a lot and we are getting feedback for "Still Bleeding". I think this album is going to have some life to it.
Brian Rademacher: My favorite track is "Misery".
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: That was a hard one, that was suppose to be on the previous album but I had a heck of a time getting it to flow and finally it fell into place. Iím glad you enjoyed it. That song was directed at women who was going through a tough time and taking it hard on themselves.
Brian Rademacher: When you hear a song you wrote can you tell that itís going to be special?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Sometimes, for instance with "Closer" I felt this is a hit type song. I played it for a couple people and their reaction was itís a pretty cool song. They didnít get that same vibe as me. I thought all right I guess we will put that one back. I canít predict what people are going to latch onto. Some tracks are grower tracks. As a single you want it to click right away. The only thing after five or six listens there is no more to explore since it clicked right away so people tend to burnout on a single. And they start to get into deeper tracks.
Brian Rademacher: So what is the next step for the band?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: I wrote this album to go out on more rock tours and it ends up us going out with OTEP. This will be our third tour with OTEP and in addition to going out on tour with OTEP, she asked us to be her backing back. So we are DESTROPHY and OTEP. We always got along since we first met and it continues. It will be a challenge for us. The tour should be something special it will be BLAKGUARD who are melodic death metal, SISTER SIN that have that 80ís thing going on, DESTROPHY and us playing in OTEP. Itís always something good to tell the grandkids about.
Brian Rademacher: Iíd like to thank you for the great interview. Would you like to say anything in closing?
Aristotle Mihalopoulos: Sure, I want people to know we are accessible. We do write back on Facebook and anyone who does use MySpace anymore we are on there too. We do have e-mails where you can write us. We just want to tour or I would stay home where I can make some money writing and releasing material. We want to go out and meet the people that are interested in what we are doing. Thank you very much Brian!