A chat with Efthimis Karadimas of Nightfall: Dark thoughts, icecream and depression.
It has been seven long years since the world was last blessed with new music from the melodic blackened death metal stalwarts of NIGHTFALL. Now, the band is plotting a triumphant return with At Night We Prey, the darkest and latest chapter of NIGHTFALL’s already storied career.
welcome to the chelfdom
IT HAS BEEN SEVEN LONG YEARS SINCE WE LAST PUSHED PLAY TO HEAR SOMETHING NEW BY NIGHTFALL. BUT YOU MADE IT WORTH THE WAIT. WHAT HAPPENED DURING THOSE SEVEN YEARS?
Not that much, concerning band activity. Personal-wise, it was a challenging period though. I had to go through a lot of changes. But I am not complaining. Bad experiences are to artists what fossil fuels to factories, right? And At Night We Prey is a manifestation of those experiences.
NIGHTFALL HAS BEEN REINVIGORATED WITH A NEW LINEUP AND A SUDDEN ABANDONMENT OF THE GOTHIC AESTHETIC THAT USED TO BE YOUR TRADEMARK. IS THIS THE GROWN-UP VERSION OF YOU?
Nightfall is about art, rather a linear career. The latter needs regular steps with some big dose of repetition to promote the brand name, that you hope someday will be made famous for. I guess our approach is closer to movie makers, ie we change cast to fit story telling best. Current line up is faster and wilder to its predecessor and that is apparent throughout the album.
IS THIS HOW YOU ENVISIONED YOURSELF TEN YEARS AGO?
Oh, that’s quite a question. 10 years ago we were with Metal Blade and our line up was international, with guitarist from Nashville, TN, a drummer, from Germany, etc. Hence, we agreed we were not gonna do much gigs or tours. It was a pure studio act. But since you mention time, let me tell you something interesting. Nightfall story is so far divided into 4 seasons. Yes, like a Netflix thing. The four sections fall evenly in four decades, with four labels and different line up each time. So, in the 90s we were with French label Holy Records; the 00s with the Greek label Black Lotus; then in the 10s with Metal Blade; and now, in the 20s with Season of Mist. No, we did not do that intentionally, if you ask me, and we don’t plan to keep it that way. It just happened.
IN 10 YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL BE MOST NOSTALGIC ABOUT?
I hope not the times we were allowed to play live and going places, cause we are in lockdown now and none knows what the future brings.
IT SEEMS THE OLDER WE GROW THE DARKER WE GET. I CAN RELATE. LET’S TALK ABOUT DEPRESSION. THE ONGOING BATTLE. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS CAUSING THE RISE IN DEPRESSION THE PAST FEW DECADES?
It’s always been there but never identified. Recent recognition came with scientific progress.
Technology played its role too. Instant communication expanded our daily activity time and the capacity of incoming info became massive. Things that previously were well hidden behind masks or shut doors, went visible.
To process all this data requires extra skills. The sort of future people may have, but we don’t. Physically. You are right of course, the older we get, the darker we become, and my assumption is this is merely due to gradual loss of excitement.
Instead, we have accumulated bitterness as dreams and romance of our youth age gets bust. Have you ever thought that after a certain age in your life, every new thing out there is old news to you, and in order to keep up with the least excitement, you need new thrills that they cost a fortune in money and time.
You soon find yourself in a loop of average things that cause you stress and anxiety simply because they exist, but you feel like you don’t. And all this built up to anger and aggression.
There’s of course the clinical side of it. Some of us have it in our genes you know. So, medical help is required no matter what.
What I wanna share with everybody is my advice to open up, speak about it without fear of rejection or fear of being stigmatized, and of course seek medical help.
This mainly goes to younger people, like the Millennials who statistically are the least privileged generation of them all and struggle to find their way in two worlds that sometimes collide: real and virtual.
Older people more or less know how to cope with the mess in our heads. Or at least we are alarmed.
AT NIGHT WE PREY TO FEED OUR DARKEST THOUGHTS. I LOVE HOW OPEN YOU ARE ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES AND I ALSO THINK THAT THE ONLY WAY FOR US TO RESURFACE, IS TO SHARE THE EXPERIENCE. SO, WHAT CAN WE DO TO EASE OUR DEMONS? FOR ME, IT WAS BEFRIENDING MY DEMONS, ACCEPTING THEM AS PART OF ME AND HAVING THEM MAKE ME MORE CREATIVE AND STRONGER. WHAT DID YOU FIND PARTICULARLY HELPFUL?
Definitely befriending them. Acceptance is imperative. Personally, music has saved me. It’s my psychotherapy. And by music, I don’t mean the process of making albums only. It is the communication with other people whom share the same passion and fears with, that gives me courage to move on. There’s a misconception about depression, that people who suffer from it are always dimmed face, never laugh and shit like that. These are stereotypes made to serve other purposes. I laugh, I try to have good time, and I love good company. It is that at the same time, I have concerns that try to disorganize me and cause me stress or panic attacks and I am always alerted not to let them drag me down. It’s an ongoing process. I will never forget a quick chat many years ago with a friend of mine who told me he is always up to something, anything, and when I asked why, he simply told me “to keep my mind from thinking”.
AS A FELLOW GREEK
I KNOW FIRST-HAND THAT HAVING PLENTY OF SEA AND SUN IS NOT ENOUGH TO KEEP DEPRESSION AT BAY. WHAT ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS YOU HAVE TO FACE AS A GREEK LIVING IN GREECE?
Greek society is a hybrid of western and oriental elements. The former mainly are shown in the looks, and the latter in the habits. Some “habits”, like sexism, masculinity, and stuff like that are still apparent behind the scenes. Among them, it is depression. Mental health issues thought to be something bad, really bad, so bad you could tell none. Even to yourself. But I am used to it and I’ve deliberately decided to come open about it with the new album. Don’t forget we talked about stereotypes and highlighted subjects like alternative lifestyle and sexual preferences back in the 90s, with Lesbian Show album. Those were really tough years.
And what’s the best part of living in Greece?
It is a good place to be spontaneous. Not the arrogant way, but the natural. I recall London’s hectic schedules, where you have had to arrange everything weeks prior. That suits business, but not life. Greece offers us an alternative way of thinking too. We’ve been taught about logic and philosophy, and I think we practice them in a great degree, without knowing it or doing it in purpose. We are built that way. And these are good. Food for thought, you know. We shall never forget however, that tragedy and comedy invented here, and that says a lot about the grotesque side of things…
BACK TO THE NEW ALBUM:
WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS LIKE? DID YOU ALL GET TOGETHER TO BOUNCE IDEAS OFF EACH OTHER, OR YOU CHOSE A MORE SOLITARY APPROACH?
We are a band and I, personally insist on that. I hear others hiring session musicians, “hired guns” to do the job on stage and on the studio, and I don’t get it. The difference between a band and a solo artist or duo is exactly that. We all work together and complete each other. This is essential to Nightfall, as each time a new member or line up bring a fresh tone that pushes things forward.
THE ALBUM ARTWORK WAS CREATED BY TRAVIS SMITH AND IT REFLECTS THE UNLIT MOOD OF THE ALBUM. HOW INVOLVED WERE YOU IN THE CREATION OF THE FINAL RESULT?
ery much, indeed. Travis is reliable and supportive. Both very important when working from distance. He did Astron Black for us. I described him the main idea, with the personification of depression in female form, with a knife and he delivered. The cover is ugly in a beautiful, artistic way. It well reflects the nastiness of depression. I chose female form for two reasons: 1st depression is feminine in our language, and 2nd female nature is the very source of our existence, as humans. I wanted to depict the tragedy of it all, and I think we’ve made it. It’s a nasty nasty cover. Don’t you think?
I MOST CERTAINLY DO, EFTHIMIS.
IT’S WONDERFULLY NASTY.
A NEW LIST OF LIVE SHOWS HAS BEEN CONFIRMED. BESIDES EXCITING IS GOING ON A TOUR STRESSFUL FOR YOU?
Quite the opposite. We very much look forward to playing live after so many years. This line up is made for it. Our tour has been postponed to 2022 and that’s not the best it could happened, but unavoidable given the circumstances with Covid.
ALRIGHT, LET’S LIGHTEN UP AND GRAB A BITE TOGETHER. I’LL BRING DESSERT, YOU COOK THE MAIN COURSE. WHAT ARE WE HAVING?
Salmon teriyaki with rice or casserole veal with orzo, tomato sauce and cinnamon. What will you bring?
Hmm… I need a boost of caffeine so how about a big indulgent bowl of affogato with two spoons?
Until we meet again,
Efthimis Karadimas : Bass, vocals
Mike Galiatsos : Guitar
Kostas Kyriakopoulos : Guitar
Fotis Benardo : Drums
‘At Night We Prey’ is now available HERE.
I conducted the interview on behalf of MHF Magazine.