EMQ’s With HELLPASS
Hi everyone! Welcome to another EMQs interview, this time with Greek Heavy Metallers, Hellpass. Huge thanks to them for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Hellpass is a Greek Heavy Metal band based in Thessaloniki, Greece. Founded by its original members (Vasilis on vocals, Aggelos on guitar & Alexander on drums) in the beginning of 2022.
The band members have a decade of experience on stage, most of them being involved in many other bands and music styles in the past such as Snakebones, Checkmate, Blue Gin, Blue Mist, Pandora’s Prophecy, Broken Roles, and The RnR Project Vienna.
In the early beginnings of the band, we had a bit of bad luck: We had some changes in the band’s formation, as well as the name. We were left with 3 people, the 3 founding members of the band “Hellpass” as we know it. I (Vasilis) lived in Vienna, Austria for a decade and was part of the Hard Rock Band “Snakebones”. After some years I left the band to pursue my law degree, which I completed. So I came back to Greece. I had no intention of playing in a band again, that is until I met those two guys. Their professional view on the band’s future, as well as their music persuaded me to go for it. I mean I believed in their vision, it became my vision, a part of me. It wasn’t even a hard decision! I mean we “clicked” right from the start! Hellpass was born.
So as I said we were at this point where we were missing a second guitarist and a bassist. We created a time-plan for the band’s progression but we needed some material first. The bell rang for Aggelos, who had to compose songs fast. The surprising part was that it wasn’t even a problem for him! He came back two to three weeks later having composed a whole damn album! I mean it was a creative madness! So we hit the studio right away and worked our asses off to produce our debut album. In a few weeks since the band started, we were already done with album production! I mean we put our heart into this album. We wanted to put our feelings and thoughts imprinted in it, not just to show off some virtuous skills. I think you can hear it in the album, the sound almost captures a live-like aesthetic! You have all the breathing of the voice on some one-take parts, you have the guitar stretching to its limits! We wanted the audience to experience our album not just as a studio work, but rather as a concert simulation. I think that’s an element our fans appreciated in our album from early on. One more thing that I would say was crucial to our sound, was the harmony & co-existence of every instrument playing in the album. “We respect each other so much that we take the time to listen to each other and ‘fill’ each other’s sound to completion” (Kostas Mpatsinilas, our sound engineer, that believed in us since the first time hearing the – then – not released album “Gates of War”).
After our album was ready, we had a photoshoot at @ideato Studios with Alexander Goulas Photography S.A. We produced a series of Music Videos, one for every “Chapter” of our Album, which was hard work. We had to learn so many new things in order to rise to the challenge of the production inside a so-called “Infinite Room” with smoke & light effects (ImageNation Studios in Association with Ichochroma Productions). By the time we released our first Single Track called “Oath to the Metal Gods” in October 2022, we had found our fourth member, our bassist, Nikos Paraskevopoulos. He had the same mentality as us, so he was integrated into our family really fast. He even took part in the Music Videos to come in November 2022 till January 2023.
We recently had a new addition to our team, our second guitarist, Vaggelis (“VAPA”) Papaidis, an amazing Heavy Metal player, to strengthen our heaviness even more!
We were mentioned and reviewed in various Rock Magazines and Radio Stations (we would like to thank them all but we will name just a few) such as RockWay Magazine, Rock Attitude Magazine, The Brett Scarrot Show, Metal Attack Magazine, Metal Music Across the World and some YouTube channels, as well as twitch streaming shows in the US, Greece, Romania and Spain.
How did you come up with your band name?
After our former band members changed, in the previous band called ‘Wylde’, the remaining and founding members (Vasilis, Aggelos & Alex) were discussing names for a new & fresh beginning of the band, in terms of rebranding the whole concept of the band. We figured we wanted not to just produce classic Heavy Metal, talking about mainstream topics in our lyrical thematology. So, we decided to approach our musical & lyrical creative content with a sociological point of view. Our society, the citizens, real people, feeling the consequences of the war in Ukraine, after the covid-era, constitutional breaches by the national government, and corruption scandals. And all this, after a long recession. I am of course referring to the worldwide financial crisis since 2007. All this made us think that if Hell existed, it wouldn’t be underneath the Earth, but rather on it! So, if there is another Hell, we might prefer it!
Historically speaking, the Catholic Church in the 50’s condemned Rock ‘N’ Roll as ‘the music of the Devil’. Later on, the same thing happened with Metal Music. Dee Snyder (frontman of ‘Twisted Sister’) had to prove in front of the Senate on ‘Dee Snider vs Tipper Gore’ (1984) that Metal Music does not make people evil and should therefore not be banned. This demonizing of the revolutionary music inspired us to call our band ‘Hell-Pass’, meaning ‘the passage to Hell’. And there you have it, our slogan: Hellpass, our ticket to Hell!
What Country / Region are you from and what is the Metal / Rock scene like there?
We are based in Thessaloniki, Northern Greece. The thing we love the most about our Metal scene is, of course, the fans: those Metalheads give their heart and soul on the concert, on and off stage, stage-jumping, clapping, shouting, singing along, ‘dancing’ in mosh-pits and so much more!
Greece is a very creative country, contributing to the Worldwide Metal Scene with many acclaimed names such as Firewind, Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh and many more! Everyday there are bands being created somewhere across our country, by younger and older metalheads, generations after generations, keeping Metal in Greece alive! As you can imagine we are happy to be part of such a strong scene!
What is your latest release?
Hellpass released their debut album under the name “Gates of War 2023” on the 15th of February 2023, referring to the worldwide crisis and events of this eventuous year. The album was recorded and produced by Render Productions and the sound engineer Ilias Palapelas. Their recently released Music Videos are the result of the co-production of the companies Ichochroma Productions in Association with Television Productions, and ImageNation Studios.
In the end of 2022 and till the beginning of 2023, Hellpass released 2 Single Chapters of their Debut Album in Music Video Version, called
‘Oath to the Metal Gods'(2022): https://youtu.be/iKqjPXxMHRY
& ‘Futura'(2023): https://youtu.be/utlvVsp7dts
The track ‘Oath to the Metal Gods’ (2022) is dedicated to our metal fans that give their heart and soul on all our concerts. This is our way of thanking these crazy dudes for keeping Metal music alive! So, we went uphill to the mountains for them to create an epic music video to go with the song! It’s a hymn, an anthem really, to the Metal Gods. The ‘Metal Gods’ in our case is not any Metal Legend that made history, not the big names of the scene, but rather the people that go to smaller concerts, supporting new bands to promote their music and give a variety to our genre, thus reviving it, Godlike!
The track ‘Futura’ (2023) was inspired by the events we experienced with the covid-crisis, alternation, hatred, division, solitude, frenzy. Our cities became Zombie cities, ghost cities. People changed. We will never be the same. People stopped helping each other. They forgot what it meant to be human, only caring about themselves, about profit. Our rage is printed on those lyrics. You can hear our feelings live on tape! Enjoy!
Who have been your greatest influences?
Hellpass’ sound consists of a variety of the members’ heavy metal, doomy, as well as thrashy influences. Some melodies of the band’s vocals root back to the glorious Viking folk genre. There are so many influences that shine when we create in the studio sessions. To name a few: Judas Priest, Mötley Crüe, Rage Against the Machine, Guns N’ Roses, Megadeth, Tool, Metallica, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Manowar and many more!
What first got you into music?
That’s a story that makes me feel nostalgic. I’m going to just talk about my story for this, I can’t represent all the band members’ stories. So, I was in 5th grade and we were a rather musical school. I have always loved singing since a very young age, so I tried out for the choir. The Maestro was a famous one, an acclaimed French Maestro, who shall remain nameless. Naturally his words had a huge impact on me. I was going through the phase where my voice was changing. I auditioned and this music teacher told me that I “would never be able to sing properly”. So, I made it my goal to overcome the obstacles and started vocal lessons. I was rehearsing for hours, daily. After a few years, I started playing the guitar, I started playing the piano. I was eager to learn more. I started composing. A few years later, at the age of 14 I found some guys and we formed a band. We were playing Hard Rock. A few months later we had our first gig. I was so happy. I even invited my – former – music teacher to the gig. He never showed up. But I was content. I didn’t have to prove anything to him. I had made the first step. I had proven to myself I could do anything I set my mind on. So, I did. I continued practicing and practicing. More bands came by, in Greece, later then in Europe, multinational formations and I was learning a lot from different influences in different genres, from punk to blues, to Metal. This progress will never be over for me. “As I get older, I never stop learning” as Solon (Ancient Greek poet, legislator & philosopher) said.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
This is a personal opinion. As Vasilis, I would pick Iron Maiden. They are my favourite Metal band. I love the voice of Bruce Dickinson, as well as their guitar melodies, so powerful, so epic! But as I said, this is my personal opinion. In Hellpass we always make decisions unanimously. So, this will be a dream of mine, I hope one day it will come true.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
Definitely Wacken Metal Festival! There are so many great music festivals all around the world, like Rock in Rio, but Wacken is a dream of all our members, so this would be the goal!
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
A girl’s underwear, I’m assuming. It was just so random!
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
I know this is not something an artist would typically answer to this question, because it’s something we all think, but never say. It’s just unpopular to express this type of ‘raw’ point of view to the audience, but we will do it anyway. It’s more important to us to be honest with our fans. We appreciate integrity as a unity. So here it is:
Bands need their fans to move forward. We are not Hellpass, you are. With your support we can do anything. So, if you enjoy our music online, come by to our concerts! We perform in many cities in Greece and we have started planning gigs abroad, so you can’t miss us! It’s important to support your favourite local bands by purchasing their merchandise, so they can invest this financial help into a new album and produce more of the music you love! That’s the way to keep Metal alive! You guys make us keep going! So, we would like to sincerely thank you all! We have some really great stuff planned for the future, you’ll see more from us, for sure! Stay tuned to our social media for more!
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Ronnie James Dio, definitely. He left us way too early. He had so much more to give. That voice… spectacular! He is a legend that will forever be remembered in the History of Metal, an honour for the Hall of Fame of the Fallen Metal Legends!
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
Hmm… tough question!
Let’s start with the one thing I hate about this job… It’s the lack of mutual support within the artists. Most of them think only of themselves and mostly focus on a short-term vision. You know, take what you can now and don’t look back. I see things differently. I enjoy helping other artists move forward, that may be promoting them on our social media, or inviting them to join our concerts, organizing events, helping them out in selling merchandise, or simply just following them on their social media! There are countless ways to help each other, but it doesn’t always happen. What artists need to understand is that when we help each other and build a long-term bond of trust, we create a network, a connection, that no PR could replace. It’s not always about you. Helping others does not mean you will lose something because of competition. It’s creating opportunities for future collaborations. One’s success does not automatically mean your demise, on the contrary: helping out each other could lead to ‘reviving’ the music scene even more, from which we all can profit. It’s about supporting the music you love. We are not people when we play Metal in concerts, we represent this music in its local scene!
But let’s move onto the things I like about being a musician: I enjoy the creative process of making songs! I write the lyrics and the melodies for the vocals. It’s an interesting challenge adding to the groundwork of Aggelos, he has such a crazy imagination, variety, range and originality when it comes to writing songs!
But my absolutely favourite part of being a musician would be the concerts. Performing is life for me! Feeling the audience, connecting with them, making them go crazy! This collective interaction fascinates me! Sweat, shouts and headbanging on and off stage, that’s the real deal! That’s what Heavy Metal is for me! That’s the reason I do what I do.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Naturally it would be the thing I mentioned in the previous question. I would urge the musicians to work together, not to compete, to support each other, not to stay silent. It’s our responsibility, I think.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
“The Number of the Beast”, of course!
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Well, the internet, the social media revolution and the streaming platforms have reformed the industry, drastically. It is easier to access content online, so bands have this opportunity to promote their music to a broader audience, easy, fast, cheap. It’s also good for the fans because they can listen to so much more content easier. This access makes the audience more ‘informed’ than it used to be during the 70’s and 80’s.
The downside is that people don’t ‘bond’ anymore with music. It’s so easy to access songs and albums that it has become a given thing. Albums lost their value this way. We don’t appreciate the songs and the physical form of an album (that may be a CD, Cassette or Vinyl). I remember purchasing my first albums, I was in love with them! I would even hug them! So naturally, I feel a bit nostalgic. Not to mention the quality. A good vinyl is no match for a digital file. Vinyls serve memories, files serve accessibility. Both are good, both are welcome, as long as they promote music itself!
This would be a good point to raise awareness about piracy. Sure, you can download songs for free, but if you wish for new music, you need to support it! Artists are dependent on their fans to keep them going, the same way a store needs its customers. This doesn’t take anything off the magic and connection of the musician with the crowd. It’s just a simple truth people hate to admit. So, if you don’t want to lose Metal to the mainstream trends (of course every music genre is respected and separate, but some genres are or have already died because of the audience’s turnover) and if you want to listen to new Metal songs and not just the classics (which are amazing and have made history, inspiring generations of musicians), please support your local bands, they really need you! And who knows, maybe you’ll enjoy it even more! Maybe one day they will be the new metal legends! And you would be one of their first fans, attending their first gigs!
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
It’s a trick answer, but we are eager to play at the Rockwave Festival this summer, alongside our Metal heroes, Rotting Christ!
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
I have studied Law and have a degree in Management. I also work as a manager at a Healthcare Facility, a Rehabilitation Centre called “Evexia”, in Lakkoma, Chalkidiki (GR).
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Ozzy Osbourne, Gene Simmons, Tommy Lee, Till Lindemann, Marilyn Manson. I mean imagine how this dinner party would turn out! It’s almost science-fiction to even think about it, it’s dazzling!
What’s next for the band?
We are planning a Tour in Greece called ‘Gates of War Tour 2023’, starting from our home town Thessaloniki and going down Greece till the capitol, Athens, with a few stops along the way in: Serres, Volos, Larissa and many more places TBA! The tour dates start from March the 10th and go all the way till August 2023!
During the summer we have planned to play in some really great Festivals, like Rockwave on the 7th of August, alongside the amazing ‘Rotting Christ’ which we all loved since we were kids, and ‘Over the Wall Rock Festival 2023’ on the beautiful island of Creta, on the 26th of August!
Next, we plan a European Tour with the Israeli Black/Death Metal Band ‘Arallu’ during November 2023. The dates will be announced soon on our social media, so stay tuned!
The merchandise of Hellpass is expected to be out on e-shopping platforms for pre-order sales next month (May 2023), so you can pre-order our merch on our Bandcamp website and win a small surprise gift!
Hellpass is already set on writing new songs! For more info & material, please visit our YouTube channel, our Official Website, twitter, Instagram or Facebook!
What Social Media / Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
E-mail | email@example.com
Merch Pre-Order | https://hellpass.bandcamp.com
YouTube | https://youtube.com/@hellpassband
Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/hellpass.band
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/hellpass.band/
Spotify | https://rb.gy/wcokiw
Bandcamp | https://hellpass.bandcamp.com
Apple Music | https://music.apple.com/us/album/gates-of-war/1671308437
Amazon Music | https://music.amazon.com/artists/B00310WJTG/hellpass...
Deezer | https://deezer.page.link/TKZ5Y5UzgjA9Rb2d8
Time for a very British question now. As an alternative to the humble sandwich, is the correct name for a round piece of bread common in the UK either a Bap, a Barm (or Barm Cake), a Batch, a Bun, a Cob, a Muffin, a Roll or a Tea Cake?
I would say a Bun. I mean I know the bread of a burger is called a ‘burger bun’, so… that’s my best guess! (laughs).
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I would like to thank you sincerely for giving us a voice and for the opportunity to reach your audience. It’s an honour for us! I think your very thorough and well put questions approached our band to the point that we have covered pretty much everything there is in order to get to know us, HELLPASS, as a band. I’m pretty sure we can go into greater details and length, but I’m sure we’ll have the chance in the future! Stay tuned to our social media and streaming platforms for more news about the band, there’s much more coming up in the next months! See you soon!
HellPass, our ticket to Hell!
Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.