Heathen Harvest: Can you discuss how Decadence came into being and who the founding members are?
Petros Sgardelis: Naturally! Elias & myself have been playing from our sixteen and right after Petros join us so everything came so naturally...
HH: Who are the current active members of Decadence?
PS: Elias and Petros on guitars & arrangements, Euphrosyne on vocals and myself.
HH: Can you please discuss any musical experience the members of Decadence had before starting the band?
PS: Wild youth my friend! Let’s say we had been experimenting with our aggressiveness.
HH: Do any of the band members have formal musical or vocal training?
PS: Yes, all of us have had musical training in the past and Euphrosyne still takes vocal lessons.
HH: What was your original intention when you created Decadence?
PS: To fulfill our karma. I have a feeling that I wouldn’t be the same person if we had never started Decadence.
HH: How has Decadence evolved or progressed since the bands inception?
PS: Not much! But nowadays we have found more ways to express our thoughts and beliefs. We know that in fact we are the same as before with a specific certain talent whatever it may be and that’s it. We try to use it each time the best we can.
HH: Was it your original intention to create a “neofolk / neoclassical” band or did the music just naturally find its place in this genre?
PS: I could agree with your second part. The boundaries of this genre are pretty wide so we found ourselves in it very easily.
HH: When did you become aware of the neofolk / neoclassical music scene and how did you first become involved?
PS: Everything changed for me when I got Nada! and Wall of Sacrifice...then Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre regarding “neofolk” and then other and other and so on. But I really think that the “neofolk” era should be placed on the early 90’s...and in my opinion was the best music after the 80’s. Ohh, and what I like very much from the neoclassical scene is Stoa.
HH: Decadence is one of only a handful of post industrial bands to emerge from Greece over the last decade. Can you describe the Greek post industrial scene as you have experienced it?
PS: What I love from our scene are bands that played in the 80’s, you know they had a touch of dark wave, a bit of Bauhaus, a bit of The Cure. Nowadays there are active individuals that give live performances – mostly experimental / noise oriented – There is a core here in Athens but with not enough strength, at least for the moment.
HH: In the past you owned and operated a records store in Athens Greece. Do you still own and operate the store? If so what kind of music do you like to sell?
PS: I had been working not owned that store and I was let’s say chief editor of L’ame electrique and promoter – I have arranged concerts for Death In June, Non, Der Blutharsch, Kirlian Camera, Christian Death, Clan of Xymox and so many others...anyway, working methods and business greed forced me to quit that job...which music I liked to sell...hmm, maybe the reason why VNV Nation had been so popular here could be me...
HH: Do you feel as if working in a record store helped inspire you to start your own band?
PS: Not at all, on the contrary! I was fed up with music, tons of CD's every day, every night...I lost my respect to music– especially trying to get all those extremely limited vinyl editions and CD's was so annoying. Stopping that job made me find my love for music again.
HH: Do you feel as if Decadence has established a presence as a band in Greece?
PS: Not really. And I think up to now we never cared to work for and achieve it. I have good public relations here but I don’t like to use them for something so personal like our music. You know the driving force behind Decadence is need, we play music becasue we need to do so, not for getting some extra money some day or become recognisable figures in our fatherland. By the way, have you ever seen any band photographs , even one? No, ...but I’ll probably change my mind since little by little I understand that out there exist some individuals that really like what we do. And if I feel they would need to enter our world, to see what is hidden behind – not from curiosity but driven from thirst to share things and moments with us I wont be the one to close the door.
HH: Can you discuss other bands or individual musicians that have influenced or inspired Decadence?
PS: In the beginning there was Douglas P. But I don’t want to claim that he has musically or lyrically influenced Decadence, rather Douglas acted like guidance. Without knowing he “taught” us the value of the individual in music. Maybe it sounds like a punk attidute...just to pick up a guitar and say what you have to say. Even when Death In June has been 3 or 4 persons I get the same feeling, something forces him to compose music not just play nice chords.
HH: Can you recite the Decadence discography?
- A beheaded winner & fragrances of happiness - album
- Leftovers from another summer - album
- Romance lover boy - 7” ep
- Something to love, something to spend - album
- Where do broken hearts go? - album
..and of course some contributions on various compilations.
HH: The early albums released by Decadence were offered in limited editions by the Greek label CAPP Records. The early albums did not have much of a chance to reach such a wide audience. Can you discuss the early history of Decadence and explain your decision to keep these earlier releases to limited editions without repressing?
PS: Alexandra N.S. & St. Silence played a significant part of Decadence in those early years. Especially Alexandra who gave an extra feeling to our music with her lyrics and her sensual voice. But it didn’t last...for the limited editions I have told it again: honestly we didn’t think there would be more than a few hundred to buy it. That’s why when we saw there was a demand we rerecorded, remixed and rereleased “A beheaded winner” on CD. “Leftovers” is another story. It was originally meant for a few people – and it is very strange; we never said o.k. we should gather some of our songs and release it. I saw a piece of art that Donna Klemm ( remember her from Artware productions in Germany? ) had done and thought : Ohh, we should release an album for and driven from this picture. Imagine that if Donna had refused me to use her picture as a front cover we would have never released “Leftovers”
HH: Decadence released the “Romance Lover Boy” 7" through Hau Ruck! of Austria. The “Romance Lover Boy” 7" was the first opportunity many international listeners had to own a Decadence album. Can you discuss how you came to work with Hau Ruck!?
PS: Yes, you are right. I just sent a promo to Albin, he liked it and we released “Romance”. That’s the way Albin – I guess till now – is working.
HH: Did you notice an increased interest in the music of Decadence following the release of Romance Lover Boy” 7"?
PS: Can’t tell...Our first CD finally sold more than 1000 copies and the HauRuck! editions are always limited...What I know for sure is that with Albin I saw our music in many mail order lists, distributors etc .
HH: Decadence “Something To Love, Something To Spend” 12” followed “Romance Lover Boy” 7" and was also released by Hau Ruck! How was your experience working with Hau Ruck! And do you feel that Hau Ruck! Did a good job of promoting your music?
PS: It has been very pleasant to work with Albin. We had good comminication and it was very nice. The matter is not how good or bad our music was / is promoted. You know if someone promotes something they always earn, the better promotion the better the profit but I don’t care- this is a headache for the label owner. What I like from Albin back then and from my Roger-san nowadays is that they were close to me when I needed them.
HH: Though these two albums created quite allot of attention for Decadence it took several years for your most recent release “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” to be released. Does Decadence adhere to any kind of recording contract or timeline or do you prefer to create and release music as you feel entitled?
PS: No, no, no recording contracts or something like this. Just Petros got back after he has left for some years and it took us a bit more to function as a quartet again.
HH: The latest Decadence full length album “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” has been published by Cold Meat Industries. Can you discuss how you came about working with CMI?
PS: Same as Albin. Roger-san liked our promo and we closed a deal!
HH: What do you look for when searching for a label to release a Decadence release?
PS: The most important is respect. I want to respect – both as businessman and musician –the owner of the label. I want to respect them and I expect from them to respect us. Roger-san proved to be perfect in all aspects and it is honestly fantastic to work with him. Cold Meat Industry is a very serious label and very fair, that’s why he has maybe the best reputation in our scene. I knew it f or years...now I am happy to live it myself!
HH: Decadence has not maintained a website or internet presence. This is quite remarkable given the role that the internet has come to play in promoting post industrial music and musicians. What is the bands attitude towards the internet and why has the band not maintained an internet presence from which to offer information to those interested in the music of Decadence?
PS: You could call it lazyness but when I think about it I have a more serious answer. For me there should be a reason to do it. And th e only reason I can think of is communication. But on “Broken hearts” was the first time we ever printed a contact information so what’s the reason for an internet site? I am here and if anyone wants to learn something they can ask me! I don’t bite! A bit naive nowadays, right? But anyway, I guess it’s easier to spend sometime and visit a site and get what you want...so for the convenience of everyone I have ready all the needed material though I haven’t found the right person to do it right yet – but again it will be a mixture of antithesis and humour so as to amuse us too! And it will be done as a path for communication not for promotion.
HH: Does decadence welcome feedback or communication with your fans and audience?
PS: Yes, of course! It would be very important for us to get some energy from our audience at this point.
HH: On past albums you chose not to sing but rather recruited female vocalists to be featured in Decadence. On your most recent release “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” you are featured singing on most of the songs. What changed your attitude towards singing for Decadence?
PS: Music itself. If music demands Euphrosyne to sing I feel it. If music wants me to take a bigger part I simply do it.
HH: Most of the lyrics that you recite on “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” are delivered through spoken word. Are you opposed to exploring your “singing voice”?
PS: Exploring my singing voice? Haha. Yes! If and when a song is composed that wants my singing presence I will try it.
HH: The music of Decadence tends to revolve around themes of love, relationships and sexuality. How do these aspects of life come to be such a defining aspect of Decadence?
PS: Yes you are right. I could also add though honour and every satellite of the above mentioned themes. I find them having a huge life force and is more than natural to talk about what concernes me in life – hoping I am not the only one...
HH: You have mentioned in previous interviews that “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” was written during a time of great emotional and personal hardship. Could you elaborate upon this period of your life and what you experienced?
PS: Forgive me but I would rather not recall such days...it would be like challenging my bad karma. I have merely passed through it so it would be wise to talk from now on for more positive themes.
HH: Have you found that writing music has helped you understand this emotional hardship or move beyond it?
PS: None of them. Actually when I’m in a bad mood I can’t write anything…there are times that I can’t even listen to our songs.
HH: Though the music of Decadence is mostly romantic in nature there is also a militant current that can be heard in specific songs. This militaristic aspect often emerges in the music via martial drumming and often appears lyrically with references to war and strife. What is your interest in war either personal, historical or academically?
PS: My biggest interest in war is metaphorical meaning what I want to explore is the war between me and my inner self. Actual war can be a theme of research or better say inspiration when – and always – includes such dramas ...but I don’t find war amusing though man is a beast that likes to see other humans dramas.
HH: “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” features illustrious portrait s and nude photography. The photography appears to echo the recurrent themes of sexuality and despair that can be heard in the music of the album. Who conceived of the photographs and how did you choose / find models to participate?
PS: You are one of the few that got the meaning behind these photos. My aim was to have some realistic / straight forward photos that you could possibly see around you any time under certain circumstances. Each photo somehow depicts a phrase of each song and we wanted to visualise our music & lyrics. These photos were chosen from 7 photo sessions – each session resulted in 100-150 photos – I had much more sexy and stimulatory ones to use but my aim was different. Small, tiny details that maybe only I could distinguise, had been the guide to finally choose. And my models are always friends of Decadence belonging to our wider circle. The photographers are professionals and close friends of mine too...anyway, for me there would be no reason using a professional model...for example I could pay a beautiful model to sensualy pose with an incredible eye catching result but that’s not the point. There is not always perfect beauty around us and for sure Decadence does not represent the most beautiful aspects in life, don’t you think? Now, I am thinking to ask from friends / fans to take photos trying to depict the song s they like. For example I could ask you Malakhi – supposing you like our song “Sin” – to take a photograph trying to visualise what you feel when you listen to this song...it could be yourself walking on a beach or an empty street or your genitals or anything...I will gather all these photos and use them as promotional material for Decadence and on the photo section of our web site. So. Please encourage anyone who would like to take part to contact me!
HH: Some of the lyrics on “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” seem to defy traditional gender and sexual orientation assumptions. At times the first person lyrics seem homoerotic as if a conversation were occurring between two male lovers (an example being the ending of “Good Boys Go To Heaven – Sperm & Honey.”) Are the lyrics meant to be interpreted from a particular gender or sexual orientation view point or are they meant to be open to interpretation by the listner?
PS: There is no need for anyone to agree with me, I am not an instructor too so my lyrics are always open to be interpreted by the listener. But yes, “Good boys” is a gay friendly song. I have so many gay friends and “Good boys” was inspired by a true love affair with a not so happy end...
HH: Guns and references to suicide also appear in the lyrics of “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” Have you contemplated suicide or are these references simply artistic indulgence?
PS: I guess everyone who has seen / will see his / her world falling apart have thought of a suicidal solution...Art & suicide? Maybe from an aspect...but I think the best way to get through is get away from everything. Regarding the guns; sometimes it is what it seems to be while other times even if it’s not so obvious I camouflage other meanings behind the word guns. Do you want an example? Let’s see something older from our “Romance” “Pigs noise joy” :
Pigs noise joy for 5 minutes of pleasure, my gun seeks revenge, love and affection
Pigs noise joy refers to a couple having sex ( not making love, just having sex ) and if you alter the word gun with the word penis the meaning changes dramatically. It is filthy, raw, even disgusting and decadent. Sexual intercourse is schematically avenging the womb that gave birth so as to suffer and also when calmness comes a true need for love and affection is present and sometimes chocolate!
HH: The music of Decadence is also darkly romantic. Is this romanticism inspired by any particular literary tradition, writer, or poet?
PS: I like to play with small phrases meaning if we conversate and you say something that clicks me I immediately get it in mind and inspire from it to write something...after all I am not that intellectual, hehe and most of all I detest name droping statements trying to prove my “quality” to others.
HH: Do you ever find it challenging to share your inner feelings and your personal life experiences through the music of Decadence?
PS: Yes, I have done it so many times but most of the times, like I said before, many of my experiences are a bit camouflaged. It is easier for me to hide behind a curtain.
HH: Many neofolk bands are deeply rooted in their national identities and draw upon musical traditions native to their nationality, ethnicity, and culture. Is there a Greek musical tradition that decadence feels inspired by?
PS: You know I have a small objection for using the word “neofolk”. It is not in my opinion right to say that any band who plays acoustic guitars an d uses orchestral instruments is neofolk...neofolk for me stands for a band which plays traditional music with contemporary recording techniques, ideas and lyrics. Anyway, Hellenic traditional music is rooted in getting back in time to Byzantine music / chants and ancient Hellenic music of course. Since there is no comparison rate to our ancient music let’s go to Byzantine. We all love to listen to such tunes but we are not inspired simply beacuse Byzantine music has such musical values that nowadays only eastern / arabic instruments which don’t have frates could reproduce it. And we don’t use such instruments...at least not yet.
HH: Can you explain how Decadence approaches song writing, composition, and the recording process?
PS: O.k. Petros & Elias compose the music. When they think the songs they have composed are able to express them and they are satisfied by themselves I get them home for a period and try to catch their feeling without any previous explanations – it’s a game basically...so what I get from their music possibly the listener will get it too and inspired from their music I write most of my lyrics. I am kind of a filter and I give a final touch. Then we record everything as a demo and leave the whole matter for a while. Afterwards we can judge if the result is representative for all of us and if it’s close to what we had in mind and we choose the songs for the final recordings.
HH: How much of the instrumentation used by Decadence is sampled and how much is created using authentic instruments?
PS: Our studio is not built with prescriptions to record a violin quartet for example or a grand piano so we use sampled instruments apart from the guitars of course. Some years ago we recorded some live piano themes but with our new studio we don’t have such an ability, unfortunately.
HH: Do you have formal musical training?
PS: I think we talked about it before and yes, we all have and Euphrosyne still improves her voice.
HH: In past interviews you have expressed an interest in disco music. What kinds of music do you enjoy outside the post industrial genre?
PS: Ohh yes! But you know, disco is not M. Jackson or Madonna or Samantha Fox. I like very much 80’s pop singers / bands but I am basically into I talo disco ( period 82-87 ) with mostly I talian artists. Especially slow beat I talo is my favourite...there is so much sweet bitter sadness in these songs and they have some absolutely fantastic melodies...anyway, my heart right now belongs to Tsunku and Enka.
HH: Given that “Where Do Broken Hearts Go?” was just recently released should we be expecting anything from Decadence anytime soon?
PS: Yes maybe... I mean we will rerecord some parts of “Something to love” and “Romance lover boy”, remix them and we will add the songs we have given to some compilations plus maybe a couple unreleased songs ( depending on the total length ) and release all of them on cd...so everyone who didn’t have the opportunity to get HauRuck!s editions could get them now.
HH: Is there any thing you would like to share with Heathen Harvest readers in parting?
PS: Of course. Thank you very much for the chance of having Decadence featured and I really enjoyed it since you knew so many things for Decadence that you gladly suprised me! And something for the readers: Stop animal abusement and experiments. Do not kill animals, do not eat animals, do not wear animals. They belong to themselves not to you.