Johnny Nightelf is the spiritual father of the band Thelemite and Thelemite from Athens, Greece is a band that should not be missed. Especially if you are in the melodic Heavy Metal vibe, worshiping Rainbow, Sabbath, Priest and Malmsteen this is THE band for you. What follows is an interview that would introduce the band to the reader, we would go back to their early days, letting John to share some really interesting band info, adding some very important notes about his complete artistic vision as well. Grab a cold beer, spin some Thelemite on the speakers and let yourself enter their magical world.
By: Chris Papadakis
Hello! Welcome to your first Forgotten scroll interview! So lets get to the point Can you give us some basic information about the starting point of the band? Who were the founder members and which was the initial line up?
Hey Chris. So...Thelemite was summoned an Autumn twilight of 2010 by three ceremonial magicians, Johnny Nightelf, Nikos and Tassos. The original trio that remains until now and is the core of the band.
Who came up with the name Thelemite? Any special concept behind it?
I wanted a name that had to be one word, audible and mysterious at the same time. It had to express our musical ifluenses itself without being an already used word or a phrase from famous album songs or titles.I studied several web links until I thought maybe Aleister Crowley invented a couple of definitons I could use as a name.Besides Crowley lent his name at an Ozzys song and surely people would relate to that when they would listen to our name. Thelemite sounded just great. It expresses all the mystical and heretic paranoia of Crowley and everybody would be interested to find out if we are really any mysterious dogma adherents. Thelema is a spiritual philosophy or religion that was developed by A.C.The religion is founded upon the idea that the 20th century marked the beginning of the Aeon of Horus, in which a new ethical code would be followed; "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law". This statement indicates that adherents, who are known as Thelemites, should seek out and follow their own true path in life, known as their True Will rather than their egoic desires. The philosophy also emphasizes the ritual practice of Magick.The word "Thelema" itself is the English transliteration of the Koine Greek noun θέλημα: "will", from the verb θέλω: to will, wish, purpose.
Your first release was your Promo Digital Release. Was there any specific title for it? When it was released and how many songs were included? Which was the actual tracklist?
When we designed the promo we had already organized the album conceptual artwork, so it featured the same title "slave to desire" and front cover, with the star of David and the letters ΘΕΛΗΜΑ .We had put some titles like Doomed to Passion , Forever, Veils of Vertigo and a couple of others, plus a bonus classic rock cover.
Were there any releases before this Promo that we are not aware of?
No previous releases, just several unofficial uploads just to give a taste of what we had been preparing.
Before we go on on your actual debut release I want to ask how would you describe the music of the band in your own words to someone that have not heard even a single tune of yours.
Thelemite sounds a lot like Sabbath of all era, Judas Priest, Rainbow, Dokken, Savatage, Ozzy and Malmsteen. The sound of the album has enough air and all the elements are clear and powerful. I would say that "Slave To Desire" sounds like a best of all those bands in modern production. If someone is a fan of classic power metal shall enjoy Thelemite. The vibe is there.
Which bands and artists are you main influences? ?I remember that before your actual Promo release there were some rough mixes laying arround the internet, one of them was a cover of Diamonds And Rust - a song that also made it to the promo right?- So are you a big fan of Joan Baez, Judas Priest or both?
The whole heavy metal is quite influential to me all the time. Tony Iommi, Paul Stanley, Ozzy, Malmsteen, Blackmore, Halford, I kneel and pray to these gods every day and they are so inpsirational to me at every moment. We planned to record a cover song for the promo, something that i could play and sing live. I am not a fan of Joan Baez at all, but Judas Priest are the A and z of heavy metal to me and the cover was suitable for the promo.
When have you started to work on your debut release?
We started working on the debut from scratch, from day 1. I composed new songs exclusively for Thelemite and left my past songs for future use. Time proved that we needed them.
Which was the recording line up on this release?
The line up for this release was Me on vocals, guitars and piano/keys, Nikos-bass guitar and Tassos-Drums.
I know that originally the full length album was to include less tracks that the ones included on the final release. But it seems you went into a process of getting back into light some older songs re-working on them. What happened? Why you did this?
Well we presented the album to the record company,with less songs and duration, so the company suggested that although the album was already interesting, they needed a couple of songs more to complete space and boost the duration, making it more reasonable. I brought to light 3 past songs of mine and a new one I was planning for the next release. The boss got excited and I re-recorded, arranged and remixed them in fast motion. They are now considered the aces of spades of the album!
So the album is out, so lets start with the basic info for those who are not aware of it: what is the title? How many tracks are included? Who have done the covers and artwork?
In the New Testament as well as the works of Plato, Thelema includes the ideas of will, choice, inclination, desire, including sexual desire, and pleasure. And the phrase "slave to desire", although taken from Sabbath's "Immaculate Deception", fitted just fine. This concept incarnates Thelemite's image philosophy in all its length and depth. The album includes 15 tracks, 9 full Heavy Metal tunes, 2 instrumentals and a ballad, plus a bonus track... I worked on the band's cover layout and artwork... I am an artist and designing to me goes parallel to music. Kostas from S.G. guided me when came the time of adjusting the meters to become a booklet.
I know that you record and produce all the band's stuff on your own studio. How easy or difficult is that? Any tips to bands that want to do the same?
I wouldn't say that its easy or difficult. It is something that concernes me first of all. Its my music, "Slave to Desire" is my first son and I am very proud of every moment i spent on it. I would cry when I wrote the songs, I spent all my energy on them and the process made me forget hard times or issues of my life. "Slave To Desire" is my best friend and thats for everything artistic I do. I put my soul in it and obviously i was the only one who could drive the result where I wanted to and where it deserved.
Thelemite is a lucky band. We saved a lot of money as I take control of all the composing, recording, arranging, mixing and production steps. As O previously refereed, I love all the artistic procedures regarding such efforts and i really enjoy involving in them personally and exclusively. Thats why the result is so solid and succesfull and not a misguided mess, and the professional help of the company added to the result. I would advice everyone who want to do the same, to hire me! haha... or at least exhaust all their chances to improve their music in their home studios...
In general are you satisfied with the debut album? Would you change anything if you could?
Oh no, not that question haha... well ok , I wouldn't say what i would change because it will preoccupie the reader. Its technical staff that only I know, and in the next release the mix might not be better, but surely different, maybe darker.
Which is your favorite song of the album and why?
Hm... Intriguing question... I feel like choosing "Fallen Angel". Its so Black Sabbath/Martin Era and the pronounciation of the verses is glorious. "Save Your Soul" is a Power Metal anthem too and I love it. Anyway I really like the album. Even "Hell" wins you with its Alice Cooper attitude. "Back Home" is a mini epic and "For Your Eyes" reminds me of Uriah Heep.
Are you satisfied with your co operation with Steel Gallery Records so far?
Yes, quite. For a new band as Thelemite, Steel Gallery offers a satisfying cooperation so far and they are friendly and true Metallers.
Are there any plans to bring the band on stage? Where and when? Will the line up be the same as the one that recorded the CD?
Of course there are plans to bring the band alive on stage. Live is the essence of our music and we love to perform!! We believed in the ceremonial character of a rock show and the only thing that stops us is the army services of our drummer. But I am getting really impatient with all this, and we are really revisiting our chances of getting a temporary drummer to play a couple of gigs in the near future. But we also look for a permanent keyboardist and who knows, maybe a lead singer some time. Just wait!!!
Apart from Thelemite, have you got any other projects running?
Apart from Thelemite I play with Crimson Fire, which are friends of mine and I had the luck to produce their last EP "Fire in The Sky". I help them by playing bass.Who could ever imagine?? :P
I have also noticed some recordings with legendary Angelo Perlepes. Do you plan a co operation in the future or they have been made just for fan?
I would not make any comment for Angelo Perlepes, cause I know he hates them. NOT! Angelo was and is the ambassador of Neoclassical Rock of our country and one of the last classic rock guitar heroes. It is an honor for me that this virtuoso trusted me to share his love for Alcatrazz and the other Swedish guy who owes a lot to Ritchie like ...us!!! I find really inspirational and encouraging the fact that I've got a brother and co-fighter in Neoclassical Metal. Of course there is more to come ,stay tuned!
You are playing guitar, singing and writing the lyrics on the Thelemite stuff, you are also doing the recording, mix and mastering on your stuff. Can we point Thelemite as a personal project? Is there any creative participation from the other band members or they just perform what you have composed?
I wont deny that statement. Thelemite is Johnny Nightelf and I am afraid I will interfere with most of these responsibilities for ever. I used to do it all by myself since my first years .I had no one in my age in the same level at me at anything and that frustrated me so much. I had to get 20 years old to find band members at last. Even if a real band is established, until now I do most of the procedures and then the boys perform their parts to add the human factor to the result. People need a real band and we must support this. I want a real time band also.
Composer, guitarist, singer and producer. Are you self-taught?
Haha. Yes i am self taught in everything....I've been writing lyrics since 6....after a year in English... I organized them as songs before I even learn music... My dad showed me some basic principles regarding guitar and then I evolved my technique. I never studied music, I just keep playing all the time and never exercised upon my style, it comes off naturally. I never went clubbing or for coffee during adolescence and I was locked in my home studio, I was out only for playing at the neighborhood, go soccer or go to school. I was religiously dedicated to the art and i could feel the divine calling or purpose thats above wasting time for nothing. Every day I had to do something more and better than the previous. The difficulty was to become a record-able singer, I like singing but I always dreamed of having a main man and leave the guitar role to me. But now i enjoy working on my vocal techniques. In the start I wouldn't sound gifted, my voice was immature and primitive in adolescence. At 11 I left drum machines and four channel recorders to join digital pc music production suite Cubase. It was my playstation. My revolution of playability came along with the recordings that I made as I was playing. Thus I managed to improve my skills so what i play sounds professional not only virtuoso. Everything has to sound like a ready, correct song and not like some guy who practices in front of people. Thats my principle and top priority. Now I work as a sound engineer in parallel with my music duties. I believe that you can have every teacher you want, but the key is you and only you can make yourself better. No one else. Just keep your eyes and ears open and trust/listen to the right guys. Then filter the information and do what thou wilt ;)
What are the plans of the band for the near or further future, are you in the mood to work on newer stuff?
We MUST find a key player and complete our military services. I have already composed and pre-recorded many of the songs which gonna be the second release of the band .I am definitely in the mood to work in the next album and I sincerely have many songs as a back up in case of writer's block!!!
Well that was all dude. Thanks very much!
For more info about the band you can visit http://www.steelgallery.com
You can by the album online here.