Stimulating the Cerebral Cortex
CoC chats with Apollon Zygomalas and Mike Papadopoulos of Cerebrum,
from across the Mediterranean

by: Aly Hassab El Naby
The ancient civilizations of Greece and Egypt are two gigantic entities that have radically changed the ancient world from where its roots ran, and they still influence us to this day. The two countries share between them the Mediterranean sea, that ancient water body that witnessed the ever changing hands of power over its shores. Of course in modern times, it's the path chosen for the main Internet cables coming to Egypt from Europe, the very cables that enabled this Cairo-based journalist / metal-junkie to 'meet' Cerebrum's guitarist Mike Papadopoulos and vocalist Apollon Zygomalas.

CoC: How did you get George Kollias to record the drums with you? Did it interfere with his recording and touring commitments with Nile?

Mike Papadopoulos: George is a friend of ours and really likes the music. He is also one of the best drummers around, so the choice was obvious. No, the recording did not interfere with his commitments with Nile.

CoC: How's the search for a permanent drummer coming along?

MP: Fortunately we have found a capable drummer who can play George's parts. For now he is our touring / live drummer. George will probably do the second album too.

Apollon Zygomalas: Yeah he's great, He's Jakub Chmura from Sceptic, check him out on YouTube, he's performing two of our songs. We're really happy that we found him.

CoC: Is it easy to find a fellow Greek who lives close enough who handle this caliber of metal?

MP: For us it was impossible. We tried almost fifteen different drummers! That's why we ended up with Kuba.

CoC: In local terms, does metal have the same level of recognition and popularity in Greece as in other European countries like Germany or Poland?

MP: I think that metal is popular here, yes. But I don't know if it's in the same level as other European countries though.

AZ: It depends on the country, I think. Each country has different tastes. Poland has always been very productive, producing very good death metal and technical metal music.

CoC: How does that affect you as a band?

MP: Well, people here prefer mostly foreign bands.

CoC: I saw your fellow Greeks Inveracity live in 2008 and they seemed pretty tight. How would you describe the Greek metal scene in general?

MP: There are many good bands here in Greece. Bands that are at least at the same level with bands from all over the world, and often even better.

AZ: Yeah, Inveracity kick ass! I like them a lot, among some other very good bands here.

CoC: How much of _Spectral Extravagance_ is about the human brain and its psychedelic stimulants?

AZ: Well, the whole album is dedicated to the lives we all live, values and ethics, human behavior and communication, the respect for each other and our planet, our corrupted western societies and the future to come. But it's also about altered states of consciousness, dreams, harmony and energy. There are things we forgot and cut from our past, techniques and secrets we banned from ourselves or made illegal, keys to unleash other abilities and faculties of the mind and the psyche, of perception and reality, becoming one with the creation.

CoC: I noticed your interest in psychoactive plants like Salvia Divinorum and some Entheogens. Are you that kind of band that would include a visual section in your show that showcases some effect of these substances like some psychedelic bands do, or do you just go for the standard death metal show?

AZ: Salvia Divinorum is actually one of the Entheogens, amongst others of course. It also means Divine Wisdom (in Latin), so you could interpret it with other meanings also. The meanings in the lyrics often work symbolically. A visual show would be a perfect idea, but not specifically based on the effects of these substances. It would be something different for sure as a show, but there are lots to organize about this, and you need some money too. But that would be a perfect idea! Maybe in the future, who knows.

MP: Yeah, these kind of shows are pretty expensive. <laughs>

CoC: What drove you guys to write about that?

AZ: I really respect and honor these plants and the ways of the shamans. Our western societies lack a lot of their knowledge and wisdom. Why did they keep these secrets from us? Together with lots of other different stuff and knowledge too. But a big change is coming, very soon; a change that will affect everyone eventually.

CoC: You've mentioned in your list of influences bands like Morbid Angel and Atheist, then King Crimson which is completely different, and then the philosopher Terence McKenna. How did you compile all these eclectic influences together in your writing process?

MP: As far as music goes, it's not a specific procedure we follow. When I write, I just play what I feel like at the moment. Many times following patterns or figures I create in my mind and then transporting them to the fretboard, everything comes out naturally.

AZ: Same goes with the vocal lines, they come out naturally. I just feel I have to sing to these specific spots with this specific feeling or tune or style. But the lyrics of course are another thing. The final lyrics were built later, as we said above, and are based on my worries and anxieties and cosmotheory on life itself. Everything can be an influence, you know, from a philosopher to Gong, or from a dog to some clouds passing by. It's a matter of perception and respect on things around you, within you, and above you.

CoC: What do you have planned for us in 2010? Any summer festivals?

MP: Our label is trying to arrange a European tour for us along with some summer festivals.

CoC: What countries would you most likely prefer to go to on tour?

MP: We have no special preferences. We want to play everywhere and as much as possible.

AZ: Yeah, we like to travel everywhere possible, performing our shows and meeting and discussing with people. We live for that. But it would be perfect to play in an ancient monument, if I was to ask for something special. <laughs> A show in Machu Picchu with only a few fans only would be equally mesmerizing and impossible at the same time. <laughs>

CoC: Are you open to playing in countries where metal is not really popular, like Egypt or Tunisia, or would you rather do the relatively safer European and North American tours?

MP: No, we have no problem with that. As long as there are people who want to see us, we want to play for them no matter where they are.

AZ: Of course we'd like to. Try to book us some shows down there, and we're coming. I personally crave to play in Egypt or Central / South America, Asia too.

CoC: Well, thank you guys for your time, I wish you the best of luck supporting _Spectral Extravagance_ and hopefully we'll be hearing some good news from you in the near future.

MP: Thanks a lot for the interview and your interest in us!

AZ: All our greetings to you, to all the readers and to Egypt, viva!

(article submitted 18/4/2010)


ALBUMS
1/27/2010 A El Naby 7 Cerebrum - Spectral Extravagance
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