Rotting Christ - Sakis Tolis

Rotting Christ - Sakis Tolis

ROTTING CHRIST had to fill the huge shoes of MARDUK who had to cancel all of their US shows due to Visa issues. But the Greek band did not only handle the entire tour, but also proved to be a powerful headliner, getting enthusiastic response in every stop of this tour. Just before the Chicago show, we chatted for a while with the band’s mastermind Sakis Tolis who was more than eager to talk about the tour, the making of “Rituals” and the band’s future plans. Read on!

Rotting Christ - Sakis Tolis

Hello Sakis and welcome back to Chicago!
Thank you guys.

So, how is going the tour so far?
It is going great and, in fact, better than what we were anticipating. Especially when considering that MARDUK had to cancel their shows due to the Visa issues. ROTTING CHRIST had to cover their spot and this was a huge responsibility for us but I believe it turned out to be the most successful of our US tours.

I definitely understand what you’re saying because if you keep track on the posts at the social media, you’ll see only positive things being said about how well ROTTING CHRIST have been handling this tour.
Yes, and in hindsight I think ROTTING CHRIST could have scheduled a headlining tour from the beginning. Of course, CARACH ANGREN and NECRONOMICON have been a great help and have contributed to this success.

Have you regretted the fact that you did not aim for a headlining tour in the first place?
No, I cannot say this because the offers we got were for supporting slots. Still, we managed to pull this tour off.

Do you feel that ROTTING CHRIST are getting bigger in the US?
Yes, I definitely feel this because the US is a tough market and if you don’t play live here, then people will forget about you. I mean, if you don’t come here for two years, the band gets forgotten. So, the fact that ROTTING CHRIST played twice in a year helped a lot in increasing the band’s exposure.

Yes, you’re right. I was looking at the band’s touring schedule and it is packed with days; after this tour, you have one month off…
[interrupting] We don’t have one month; we have just two weeks off and then we go on with the European tour, one day off and then we're off to South America. I will be back at home for the Christmas holidays.

This will not be a one-time thing, right?
No, it is that I had to do this for a really long time. For some years we were only doing festivals but after getting some offers, I started thinking that maybe we should do an extensive tour. You see, there are times when you say "ok, I am done with so much touring" but when the offers come, you start feeling an itch and then say "yes". This is some sort of an addiction to the adrenaline rush you get from playing live. Plus, there are some offers that is impossible to say "no", like touring Europe with INQUISITION.

Are you still having issues with the band’s name?
Yes, we have but it has been like this for all the time. Although I have to admit that we are living in rough times and here in the US things are a little bit better than in Europe.

You said things are better here?
Yes, here it is slightly better. We played in France and they had the army in festivals and inside clubs. Imagine playing live and having commandos standing around the place, ready to take action. And the connection with the band’s name is because some of these conflicts have to do with religion, so everyone is suspicious of everyone. This unrest is also reflected to the political parties that slowly rising in popularity and I am talking about all the extreme parties which thrive in such conditions. I just hope things will not get worse but history has shown us otherwise. Anyway, this is a huge discussion to have on the back of a club.

Yeah, so let’s go back to this tour; did you have to make changes in the setlist to accommodate the extra playing time?
We were already rehearsed and ready, so we have absolutely no problem. This lineup has been together for a long time, so we have a big pool of songs to choose from.

If it was up to me, I’d choose to play the entire new album.
We play four songs from “Rituals” but I see why you’re saying this. After getting some complaints after the album’s release, there was a great positive response from the press and the fans.

My guess is that most of the complaints came from Greeks…
Of course, I’d say 80-90% of the complaints came from Greeks, but you know, we like to complain a lot.

Oh yes, we are. Is there any connection between “Rituals” and “Kata To Daimona Eaytoy”?
Well, I wouldn’t say that there is a direct connection but both albums are multi-cultural. I tried to use elements from culturals from all around the world.

Why the ROTTING CHRIST logo was missing from the cover artwork of “Kata To Daimona Eaytoy” whereas in the “Rituals” it is written with smaller fonts and say “by ROTTING CHRIST”?
There was no particular reason and for the last one I did it as a pun like Rituals by ROTTING CHRIST.

What was the biggest challenge when you’re working on “Rituals”?
I’d say that it was a challenge working in the studio due to the political unrest in Greece, and on top of this, we had a new member in the family, so this was the most difficult situation in my career so far. I mean, bringing a child into this situation added lots of stress and it was extremely difficult to focus on music making and get inspired.

I guess this is why the album came so dark…
Yeah, I think you’re right. It was a really difficult situation.

What’s the story on the video you did for “Apage Satana”?
It was not my concept, it was the director’s.

He had the idea to have Indians? Because I was expecting to see some Orthodox priests or something like that.
Yes, this is what I told him too, but he said that I should trust him and do it his way.

There was also some “Blair Witch Project” vibe in it.

And what is going in the end? We see three figures there, but no hint on what happened to you.
It leaves you wondering. I guess, that the soul lives on.

Or simply that the exorcism failed and Sakis continues with ROTTING CHRIST... (laughs)
(laughs) That sounds right...

So, after finishing this heavy tour schedule, what do you think you’ll do?
(sighs) I have made a promise to myself and take a break to rest. Although I need to stay in touch with the band, plus I am seeing new offers coming in, so I hope I will take some rest. My plan was to take a long rest because I have to get inspired and write new music. I love playing live but I also love writing music and in order to do this, I need to get in a specific mood and let my mind wonder and get inspired. When you are on the road, your mind gets a little flat because you only care about your performance and staying healthy, so you kind of lose your inspiration. I hope we will stay healthy and be able to play everywhere they ask us.

Do you have in mind when you would start working on the new ROTTING CHRIST album that will be the 13th one?
It will be the 14th one, because I am counting the mini-LP “Passage To Arcturo”.

Ok, I am only counting the LPs…
I have in mind to start working on this, and my plan is to slowly get in the mood after finishing this touring cycle. And this gives me energy and gets me going because writing music is the only way to escape from this reality.

This is the best way to end this interview, Sakis; we wish you safe travels and hope to see ROTTING CHRIST live again in the US really soon.
Thank you guys for your support, and yes, I hope to see you live again soon!