Flames were formed in 1984 by Chris Kirk in Athens and they are one of the first Greek thrash metal bands. In their 34-year course their line-up has changed a few times and they have been on hiatus, but the Kirk brothers Chris (guitars) and Andy (bass) still remain the core of the band. Flames have released six albums making a huge impact not only on the local but also on the global scene. On May 11th they perform at Horns Up Festival in Trikala, Greece, along with many other Greek metal bands, like CRUSH & Death Courier.
Today you are counting 34 years as Flames. How would you describe your journey so far?
CHRIS – ANDY: It’s been a long journey since mid 80’s and is still going on. So yes 34 years of thrash metal history, we had great years, great live performances and a thrashing good time.
What it left to us is a big experience and millions of memories. We were present in thrash metal revolution around 1985 in real time and we are happy for this and for our contribution. We tried to communicate this kind of music as pioneers in our country and this was very hard in the beginning. We’ve passed through many difficult situations, but we always had passion and love for our music and what we wanted to do with it. So we did pioneering things in the area of recording, finding places for live shows and generally organizing our local thrash metal scene. Now after 7 albums we are still on fire and greatful for the support of our metalheads and fans. We plan to release new music soon and we will support it with many live shows.
Personally I feel that Greece has a paradox regarding heavy metal: Although there always has been a significant audience, the metal scene seems to remain an underground thing. If you compare the past with the present, which things have changed?
CHRIS – ANDY: Although we are talking about a new generation, still metal music moves in the underground area. Worldwide. Even more in Greece the main stream likes ..(bouzouki oriental shit) sorry I cannot be cool about this question, even music is a personal thing it is also a meter for the (brain) civilization status of a person… On the other hand, there is a domination of hip hop “black”music. So the answer is. No, somehow is the same, “shituation” as it was the past decades.
ALEX: In the 80s it was very difficult for a Greek band to compare the rest of European and American bands; We were lucky I am half German and Chris also lived some years in Germany so the first years most of the people thought we were a German band, then we signed a contract with Black Dragon Records, one of the top underground record companies and also cooperated with Drakkar Promotion. We had the support of the German Metal Hammer and Rock Hard. All these helped us to be among the important European thrash metal bands.
So now the things are easier we have a lot of great bands and the promotion is easy, and the most important, Greeks support the local bands nowadays.
Do you feel that you have gained the recognition you deserve over these years?
CHRIS – ANDY: We worked hard. The bright side we gain is in balance with the dark side that music has offered to us. So we are cool and happy. Although recognition is the last thing we have in mind. We do it for us and the people who like our music. We are musicians, in a way that is for us more esoteric. We are addressing in the mind status and the souls of the people who listen to our music. It is something higher so we don’t consider ourselves actors or entertainers. So called recognition seekers.
ALEX: In the beginning yes it was great to be one of top European thrash bands. In 1990 we made the biggest mistake; Noise Records had a 3 year record contract ready for us and we didn’t sign it.T he great thing is that everyone respects us that we were the first Greek and one of the first European bands that played pure thrash metal. It’s great to hear from great bands like Kreator, Destruction, Rotting Christ, SepticFlesh that we opened the doors for Greek metal bands.
Your last official release was ‘In Agony Rise‘ in 1996, which you have re-released in 2015 celebrating your 30-year anniversary. The albums ‘Summon The Dead‘ (1988, Black Dragon Records) and ‘Last Prophecy‘ (1989, FM Records) have been also re-released. Were there any corrections to the original production?
CHRIS – ANDY: We did not make a new production or remixing but only some little correction in relation to the sound, like the equalizer and dynamics.
Throu the years many times we planned and wandered whether to re-record all the previous albums. Finally, we came up with the opinion not to mess with the feeling of the time era when we recorded those songs. I mean there is an authentic sound and feeling of the 80’s and even though a today’s better production will destroy this “originality” of our beginning So we re-released ‘Summon The Dead‘ and ‘Last Prophecy‘ albums as they were back then.
Besides we did a better job with the covers of the LP’s. Although we kept the original front and back images we added better quality, colored vinyl, -gatefold-, with more photos, lyrics and info included. Finally, they both came out on vinyl (like they were in the 80’s) and for the first time officially by Flames on CD.I emphasize on this because through the years we saw many times disrespectful pirated releases with horrible sound without our permission..
In regards to the “newest” album ‘In Agony Rise‘, we re-released it for the first time on vinyl with a special different cover photo, and also on CD with a collectible new cover-photo. As you understand those re-releases are special limited editions and collectors’ items.
On your official page you mention that you have been working in the studio for a new album. Give as an update on this.
ALEX: Now we are 5 people Chris, Andy, Tom(1991-1994), me and a new member Nick Samios a great drummer and a crazy guy, so we’re working and have a lot of new songs. I hope until the end of the year to release them.
CHRIS – ANDY: Personally, me and my brother Andy all those years we have been working on new music and we have already recorded many new songs, however without vocals. But this time with the opportunity of this Horns Up Festival live show we worked again as a full band together with old members and we fixed the part of vocals which always were or gap. After this live show, we will take the time to work over our new release album. Many songs are on the table and our only consideration is the “know how” issues and the new tech methods for a new production.
In your early years you have shared the stage with big names such as Motörhead, Kreator, Sodom, Destruction and D.R.I. among others. Which live is still vivid in your memory and with which band would you like to share the stage today?
CHRIS – ANDY: Each one of them was unique and had its own history.
With Motörhead it was our first time that we met our legends and we also took many lessons from the best… I believe this one, I will never forget. On the other hand, with Sodom, in 1988, we made a great effort to bring them in Greece and was the first live with a thrash band from abroad in our place back then. Since it was a successful concert, it was the nodal point that established the subsequent continuous flow of bands of this genre in Greece. To open the door and we are proud to have done that. I also have good memories with Kreator, with the shooting of ‘Betrayer‘ video, and because we went on a professional stage.
ALEX: The greatest moment for me was the show(s) with Motörhead. I was 17 years old had Motörhead posters in my room and then one day I was backstage with Lemmy and during our whole set he was beside the stage watching us. Really, I can’t describe this.
On May 11th-12th you will perform at Horns Up Festival in Trikala. This will be your first live show since 2012, if I am correct. What can the audience expect from you?
First of all we like to say that we chose to participate in this festival because we want to support this local effort and be close to the people outside from Athens. As far as I know, our show is sold out and this is a great sign for a great metal night show. About what people to expect from us: I think the hell brake loose. And we can deliver it!! Furthermore, they are probably curious to see a band with the aura of the 80’s/ To see and get maybe a taste of the legendary 80’s, I don’t know. Surely, they are expecting the best from us and we are gonna give it. We have the stuff and we have the know-how.
ALEX: The audience can expect one thing of us PURE OLD SCHOOL THRASH METAL.
Will there be more live shows after that or are you going to focus more on a new release?
New release. Live shows before this look unlikely. If this happened,,, eh then come on to see us. It’s gonna be something rare.
Thank you very much for your time! Add anything you wish to close this interview.
We would like to thank all the metalheads for their support to our band Flames thru all those years. “U keep the Flames Burning”.