Interview with Nick Giannakos
Hello and Welcome to Acier Doux Metalzine Tunisia ! Let’s go …What should a reader who isn’t familiar with Wretch know before we begin ?
Wretch is a Heavy Metal band from Cleveland, Ohio. We play what the European’s call “U.S. Metal” – which is a mix of Traditional Heavy Metal and Thrash. We’ve also been called Power Thrash. Whatever you call it, it just sounds like heavy metal to us. We’re currently on Pure Steel Records out of Germany. We just released our third full-length album, called “The Hunt” in late February of this year.
What would your biography look like if it was summed up to the most essential zests of citron ?
So the band was founded in 1984. Currently, the only members in the band from the 80’s are Nick Giannakos (Guitar) and Jeff Curenton (Drums). We released some demos and were on a compilation in the late 80’s, but the band eventually broke up. Around 2005, we reformed and released the album “Reborn” and a EP called “Make this Garden Burn”. We then ended up not doing much until 2013/2014 when we released the “Rise to Power” EP & the “Warriors” album (our first on Pure Steel). Our current line-up also includes Mike Stephenson (Guitar), Tim Frederick (Bass) and we just recently added Juan Ricardo (vocals), who appears on the new album.
Introduce us to your last album “The Hunt” that was released at 2017… Are you still satisfied with it? How are the feedbacks for now ? And the sales, are they gaining weight as a big baby in full growth ?
Yeah, we’re definitely satisfied with it. We’ve been getting a lot of great feedback on the album – and it’s selling really well. During our European tour to support the album’s release we moved a lot of CDs and Vinyl.
I say to myself you could be perfectionists, or you had a lot of problems, rehearsal room, or provisioning in hash and strong alcohol… Why didn’t you guys release a big shitting record every year to fulfill the space? What prevented you from flooding our hears with tons of big dry excrements ?
Ha ha! Well, we had a bunch of personnel turnover in band personnel after the Reborn album – when that happens, especially with singers, it takes a while to get back up to speed. Really that’s what it comes down to – our lineup lacked stability. It’s really hard to write and produce music when that happens. Fortunately, we’ve got a line-up now that is rock solid. We are already working on new material and hope to get some new stuff out in 2018.
Your style has became quite seriously technical by moments… My cartilages are creaking… Is your music always easy to be reproduced live ? Isn’t it too anguishing to always be at your best and reproduce every tracks as it should be ? What are your tips: A warm-up before the gig, intravenous injections in the fingers, or do you directly plug yourselves in the high voltage ?
Especially on this album, we’ve been trying to push the envelope a little more. Mike and Nick (guitars) have been playing together in various projects since the early 90s. There’s a bit of a competition there – to see how crazy we can get with harmonized guitar solos. Tim (bass) and Jeff (drums) are both beasts. I mean, we’ve been together long enough where we all get what we are supposed to be doing. Even so, we really working on rehearsing to ensure when we get on stage we are able to pull everything off as recorded. It really just comes down to practice, practice, practice!
This question became quite a bit cliché, but I like to ask because it enables readers to have a more precise idea of the band’s music. What are your strongest musical influences? I know some musicians refuse to answer, since they don’t want to be taken as copyers, but even without voluntary copying one can find similarities between his music and those of other bands (Unless you don’t listen to other music than yours… But well ?
That’s easy we are a bunch of old guys. We all grew up in the late 70s-early 80s. So Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy, Loudness, Mercyful Fate – all that guitar driven Heavy Metal. I would also say that those first couple Helloween albums had a profound influence on us. More than one person have remarked that we have a similar sound to Helloween.
This question is as old as the older first Webzines that came out from the underground Metal scene of the very first months… But it still works quite well ? How would you define your music ? What are your strongest influences ?
Again – I would say that early 80’s Power Metal sound. The dual guitars are a big part of our sound. We do have a bit of thrash influence in our stuff.
Who composes the most in the band ? Have you got a quite particular way of composing, or does everything occur during rehearsals and then exchanges through emails? Your songs generally contain a minimum amount of how many riffs ? (And a sub question, just for fun : Did you transcribe everything as scores ?)
Well, before this last album – Nick composed most of the music and the vocalist (original singer Colin Watson on Reborn/Make this Garden Burn; Ron Emig on Rise to Power/Warriors) wrote the lyrics. However, the last album Nick did about 80% of the music with Mike doing the other 20%. Mike and Juan each wrote about 1/2 the lyrics. We expect that trend to continue. So when we write, we generally exchange our ideas via e-mail – using that to get a solid demo track together. We don’t really have a minimum number of riffs – we generally take each song as an individual effort – and we’ll kick ideas back and forth – once you start writing lyrics, the arrangement might change a bit. Once we have a good solid demo track everybody is happy with, then we’ll record the final version.
What themes do you touch in your lyrics ?
Mythology and magic are fairly common. Also, there are commentaries on the state of the world, war, life, hope. We don’t have any favorite theme, just whatever the music seems to inspire.
Was it easy to find the suitable musicians and are everything okey on a line-up point of view ?
As we referenced earlier – we had some line-up struggles since the bands reformation in 2005. It’s not always easy to find the right musicians. But the current line-up is probably the best we’ve ever had – and we’ve all known each other years (since the 80s). It just took us a while to all end up in the same band at the same time. But when it happened – we wrote the new album and it was just so easy. Unlike any of the past efforts.
What do you enjoy listening to these months ? Are there only new bands, or you dig some old record s? For the older stuffs, do you still dig albums from the 90’s or mostly the 70’s/ 80’s records you grew up with ?
We all listen to a mix of new and old albums. The new stuff we’re really impressed with includes the new stuff from Iced Earth, Testament, Beast in Black, among others.
Time to talk about gigs. Any dates already scheduled for next year ? Are we going to see you across the Europe ?
We did a month long tour of Europe earlier this year followed by a few US shows. For next year, we’ve actually got something exciting in the works as far as gigs – but not ready to announce anything yet. So no, at this time, no dates officially scheduled. But we’d be really surprised if we aren’t playing someplace far from home next spring.
Let us ask about your experience after so many years rocking, what gigs do you remember as more impressive and what bands you enjoyed sharing the stage with ?
Our appearance at the German Swordbrothers Festival this year with Sweden’s Tad Morose and Mexico’s Split Heaven was the most recent highlight. Playing with Angel Witch, Lonewolf and Elvenpath at the 2013 Up The Hammers Festival in Athens, Greece, was amazing. Some of the other bands/artists we’ve had a chance to play with that were great: Michael Schenker, Primal Fear and Fate’s Warning. We’re huge fans of all of them, and they all treated us well.
Thank you very much and congratulations for your great work. If you wish to add something , go ahead.
Thank alot. We really appreciate the support. We have some exciting things in store for 2018, so stay tuned !
Interviewer : Med Manef Slama