Which struggles did the band have to go through while searching for a new singer?
We needed to find someone who can do all the vocal styles that are necessary to be in this band, that’s a difficult task. But also, we didn’t want to choose a male singer. We thought that would be too much of a change to the band. I mean, that automatically cuts it down to 50 percent of the people we could reach out to. But in the end, it all went out great. I couldn’t be happier with Vicky.
In your opinion, in which way has the band changed after Alissa’s leaving?
The band communicates a lot more and we collaborate together, we worked towards the same goal and when we wrote and recorded the album, it was a very positive experience. Everyone kind of communicated and that’s how the songs where written rather than very disconnected. Myself and Vicky worked together to ensure that each song was the best by altering our parts to make the song better. Before, there was none of that on either end. I would write the song and then we would write the vocals and there would be no communication at all. I think it’s a much better way of working and I’m very happy with the way we are working now.
Which goal did you have in mind during the songwriting and the recording process of “Eye Of Providence”?
We wanted to record the best possible music we could and to really have it stand as one piece of art, the whole album and each song within it. We were really trying to write for the song, everyone was focused on that. There was no selfishness involved like thinking just about your own instrument. It was just all about what makes the song the best.
Comparing the vision you had of the latest record with how it actually turned out, are there any differences and if yes, which ones?
It’s hard to say because I’m extremely happy with the record. I guess we did reach the goal (laughs). It goes in a lot of different places musically so I’m really happy about that because that’s always something that we try to do. We experimented with new styles as well, especially in the later tracks in the album. Everyone in the band I think is totally satisfied with the end result.
Which artists and bands is your songwriting influenced by?
So many different ones – Opeth, Devin Townsend, The Mars Volta, Muse, Gojira, Mastodon – there is really a lot.
How was it like to work with Vicky in the studio?
It was great. Like I said before, it was so easy-going that we could just talk through songs and we had an open-minded exchange of ideas. She is also a very creative person. It’s not like she just came in and we told her “These are the songs and this is how you sing them.”. She was a huge part of the vocal writing process, for the melodies and the lyrics. Overall, it was a lot of hard work, but it was the most enjoyable recording we’ve ever done.
Which are the main lyrical topics on the latest record?
There’s a number of topics. There’s a couple of songs that are personal to either me or Vicky, just from personal experiences. But if there’s a theme within the album, it’s the eye of providence, which is the title of the album. That’s something that I came up with basically just from taking interests of mine that I have already and putting it together into this concept. If you research the eye of providence, you see that ancient mythological symbol for the all-seeing eye. In various civilizations throughout history there has been a notion of an all-seeing god or eye that can see everything and everyone at all times. I’m pretty interested in ancient history and civilization, but also, the other interest that comes with it is my interest in science-fiction and technology. What this album is themed on is the idea that the eye of providence exists in reality today, it’s not about a god or some mythological idea. It’s just that in reality, the technology now can see into everyone’s life and almost every facet of it. You’re able to control and predict what a society or population might do, because the applications have reached a point of artificial intelligence where it’s really just math and percentages. Overall, I just found this concept really interesting that what people thought back then was a God and it really is reality today. Through our own eyes, whether it’s corporations or governments, we do have the ability to see through everyone’s eyes and use that to possibly control things and shift populations and people the way they want them to go for their own interests. I thought the whole thing is very interesting, like a brave new world concept.
You released a very funny video for “Gates Of Horn And Ivory”. What is the idea behind it and how was it like to shoot it?
It was a lot of fun to shoot it, we shot it with some of our best friends, like video director David Brodsky. He did a bunch of our videos, like “Thank You, Pain” and “Business Suits And Combat Boots”. It’s always super fun but it was more fun because every video we’ve ever done was serious, it’s always been like “Yeah, we’re a metal band and this is us trying to look cool and badass” or whatever (laughs). It was a lot of fun to finally just laugh at ourselves and the reason for the video being that way are the lyrics as the video is inspired by the lyrics I wrote. Again, it’s something that’s actually inspired from the ancient text “The Odyssey” which is an old Greek text. I came across a concept called “Gates Of Horn And Ivory”, I did not invent that concept (laughs). What that is: It said that if you’re dreaming and you see gates made of horn in your dream, anything behind those gates you should trust in real life if you see it, as truth, but if the gates are made of ivory, then it’s just a deception. Because ivory is beautiful and alluring, it’s just tricking you and what you see behind them is actually fake. I just applied that concept to the music industry and things that I’ve seen. We tried to show the ivory as us being in a fake studio being told what to do and how to look versus the horn which is us just as we are, playing and doing what we do. That’s the idea.
Are there any other subjects you are planning to cover in the future?
There’s no specific plans. I have a lot of different interests and so does Vicky. I’m very open and I think you can write a song about almost anything. It’s more about how it’s ordered and how it’s melodically sung or played, that really matters. It could be something about a big social issue or it could be something small in your life, just your relationship with one person. It’s pretty much completely open-ended.
How do you pick songs for live shows?
We just do what a lot of bands do. We have to make decisions and it’s hard, because now that we have four albums, it’s getting harder and harder to select a set. Often there are some song you have to play because they’re big singles and we’d upset old fans if we didn’t play them, but at the same time we’re getting to the point that we have to make those tough decisions. We’re making some changes as there are songs we’ve been playing at every show for the last four to five years and I think it’s time to replace them. We’re trying to get the best blend of the new and old songs.
Do you have a favorite song from “Eye Of Providence”?
I like all of them to be honest, but I kind of go between them. Right now, I’m really feeling the song “Follow The Crossed Line” and I’ve always loved the last track “As Above, So Below” just because it’s so different and it’s in the kind of music style that I’ve wanted to write for a long time but was afraid to bring it to The Agonist as it’s not metal, but it’s a whole side of my musical interests. It was cool to finally bring that out.
Which goals and wishes do you have for the future of The Agonist?
We just want to bring our music to as many people as possible. I think that as much as we’ve been around for a long time and we’ve gotten a lot of attention online there’s still a ton of people that have never heard of the band. We just want to show our music to the world and to be able to play our music live and record albums. Today, it’s harder then ever for musicians to be a full-time musician only with no lack of album sales for example. We just want to be in music 24/7.
Interviewed by Cristina Somcutean
Review: The Agonist – Eye Of Providence
Label: Century Media Records
Vicky Psarakis – Vocals
Danny Marino – Guitars
Pascal “Paco” Jobin – Guitars
Chris Kells – Bass
Simon McKay – Drums