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Greek Rebels Interview

Andy recently sat down with Minos from Greek Rebels to discuss the past, present, and future of the band.

You can read the original interview in Greek here, or - as an alternative - we've provided the full English transcription/translation below.

Hi Andy and welcome to our webzine. I’m Minos. First of all let me congratulate you on a great album. I have completely enjoyed it. I know that only a few days have passed since its release, but have you received any kind feedback from the fans and the press?

Andy: Thank you very much. Really glad you liked it. We’ve had some really good, and really interesting, feedback, both from fans and the press as it happens. Mostly it’s been really positive (though a few people seem to have taken issue with the fact that the mix/master isn’t the usual over-processed, brickwalled until it bleeds, style).

What’s been really great, though, is that the responses have actually gotten more positive as time has passed, as the album seems to be a real grower (a lot of the coolest elements are quite subtle and take a while to uncover), and people seem to really be connecting with it, rather than just treating it/us like the “flavour of the month.”

Would you like to say a few words regarding the band’s history? And how come you changed the name from Threnody to Beyond Grace?

Andy: Long-story short, we’ve all (apart from Chris) been friends and playing together since our university days, and have had a few different names over the years. But we became Beyond Grace when we decided to take the band more “seriously”, you might say, and changed our name to reflect a fresh start and to cut ties with our more amateurish early stuff. Hopefully it worked!

Let’s talk about the new album. What does it talk about? Is there a background story that connects all the songs and is the cover related to what the songs talk about?

Andy: It’s no secret that the new album is much more “political” in content and context. But it wasn’t supposed to be. Compared to the first album, which was a bit more cerebral and high-concept, lyrically, “Our Kingdom Undone” is much more raw, and with everything that’s happened in the last few years it’s no surprise that what came pouring out of me when I started writing was much angrier, much more visceral, and much more “political”.

But whereas the lyrics were, in a sense, pretty spontaneous (even though I inevitably spent hours/days/weeks writing and rewriting them) the album cover was much more considered, in that I knew from the start the sort of image I wanted, and how the whole piece should reference the lyrics. That being said, Shindy (of Shindy Design) still had lots of room to expand and improve on my initial concept… and did!

Although “Our Kingdom Undone” is a very intense and powerful album, I think that one of the most interesting things about it is it's dark and ominous atmosphere and the constant change between styles and pace. Would you say that this is a key element when creating new music?

Andy: Atmosphere was very important to us this time around. And was key to making the record feel like a greater whole, rather than just a haphazard arrangement of songs.

Similarly, the structure and flow also played a huge role. We paid even more attention to the dynamics, both within and between songs, which really helped us open up the songwriting more and tell a better, stronger, story across the entire record.

When creating a new album, what is the process you follow? Who is responsible for the music and the lyrics? Is it a collective process?

Andy: Lyrically the guys just leave everything to me (it’s not that I’m necessarily against input, it’s just that I’m making notes and writing lyrics all the time, even before there’s any music, so I always have lots to work with) but musically it’s much more collective.

Tim is still our primary riff-engine, but we’ve made sure that Chris (who joined after the writing of the first album was complete) has also been able to contribute, and both Ed (drums) and Andrew (bass) play an equally important role in the writing. My role tends to be more of a “big picture” - the structure, the dynamic, etc - but we all comment and collaborate on every part of the songwriting.

As I’ve said, the new album was great, but also the previous one was very well received. Does the fact that most of you are together since the Threnody years, plays a major role in creating successful albums? 

Andy: Definitely. We’re stronger as a group than we are individually, and it’s the electricity of the creative process shared between the five of us - being able to freely bounce ideas off each other, to take something written by one of us and filter it through four other minds, each of us tweaking and twisting things as it evolves - which gives birth to the best stuff.

Would you say that your music has evolved since the creation of Beyond Grace and since the debut album?

Andy: Undeniably. We’ve found a lot more space, for want of a better word, in the songwriting this time around, and were more willing to let the songs develop more organically rather than trying to force them into a certain shape or fit a certain “sound”.

We’ve definitely lost a few fans by moving away from the more recognisable “Technical” Death Metal style of the first record, but we’ve probably gained even more just by being true to ourselves.

You’ve recently signed with Prosthetic Records. How is this collaboration working for you and how has it helped the band?

Andy: Prosthetic have been great, to be honest. They’ve been relatively hands off and, even though it’s our first record with them, they seem pretty supportive of our voice and our vision - both for the lyrics, the music, and the videos - and their support has meant that we’ve been able to reach more potential fans and make a mark for ourselves as a band to be taken seriously.

I saw that you performed live in Nottingham. How did it feel like hitting the stage again after all this time?

Andy: Ah, the livestream show? That was a great experience. Stressful, as you might imagine (what idiots decide to stream and record their first show in twenty-ish months?) but so worth it.

Being able to perform the whole album, as a way of showing how much we believe in it, in front of a crowd of friends, fans, and family, while also streaming it around the world, was so rewarding, and helped us reach a much bigger audience. We also filmed the set on a bunch of 4K cameras too, so it will be interesting to see what we end up doing with that footage too!

Let’s talk about you as a person. What does Andy Walmsley do outside of Beyond Grace? What are his interests?

Andy: Well, as a lot of people know, I’ve been writing for NoCleanSinging for a long, long time now, so I spend a lot of time listening to other bands and writing about them. Honestly, I’m more comfortable talking about other bands than I am my own!

I’m also a voracious reader - which, in turn, informs a lot of my lyrics - and a bit of a cinephile. It doesn’t matter whether it’s high art, low art, mainstream, arthouse (if those terms are even valid anymore), I just like to absorb other people’s art which, in turn, fuels my own (not that I’m calling myself an artist).

Have you listened to anything interesting recently and what new bands have you discovered if any?

Andy: Ha, so I’m always happy to recommend new bands. There’s one called Gravenchalice from the US who put out their first album last year and just released an even better follow-up. Disillumination and Moanhand from Russia. Sugar Horse from the UK, and Hundred Headless Horsemen from Finland. Arid, Axecatcher, Autarkh… I could go on!

What is your opinion about the English death scene of 2021? Is it strong and what are your favorite English death metal bands?

Andy: The Death Metal scene over here is extremely strong at the moment. And the world is clearly taking notice. You’ve got Cryptic Shift and Ingested signing to Metal Blade. Venom Prison moving to Century Media. Dyscarnate on Unique Leader. Celestial Sanctuary on Redefining Darkness... and so many more who are making waves whether they’re on a label or not.

As for my favourites? Some of them I’ve already mentioned, but let’s also add Mithras, Paradise Lost, and Man Must Die (I know they’re Scottish, but my love for them knows no bounds).

What are your plans for the immediate future? How are you planning on promoting the new album?

Andy: We’ve got a couple of live shows booked or in the process of being booked. We’ll be recording a couple of different playthroughs too. And we’re also going back “into the studio” to record a top-secret cover track which will be featured as a digital bonus for anyone who orders the vinyl of “Our Kingdom Undone”.

And then, obviously, we’ll be looking to book more shows, tours, and support slots in 2022. We’re keen to get out there again and show what we can do!

Thank you so much for this interview and I wish you all the best with the new album. Any last words are yours.

Andy: Let me say a big thank you to you guys for featuring us, and to everyone who has supported us, in whatever capacity, thus far. We don’t take it for granted and we appreciate it more than we can say.

Also, if you can, please check out some of our friends from the UK scene - Luna’s Call, Rannoch, Talanas, Allfather, Epiphanic Truth, The Injester, Damim, Slugdge, Ageless Oblivion… with apologies to anyone and everyone I’ve forgotten to mention!