Synthetic – Moving Up the RanksSaturday, 7th May 2016
It seems like it gets said a lot around these parts, but Bandcamp has really become a vehicle for those who want to search out and discover new music that might escape their grasp otherwise. Take modern melodic metal act Synthetic, whose debut, Here Lies the Truth, grabbed this writer’s eye with its killer artwork. Add some selling points of utilizing Soilwork drummer Dirk Verbeuren and a mix courtesy of Disarmonia Mundi’s Ettore Rigotti and you’ve got the makings of something worth investigating. But Synthetic is far greater than a couple of selling points.
Here Lies the Truth operates in and out of the melodic death metal framework, allowing for some diversity you might not initially expect. Hooks a-plenty as you move through any given track, and the debut seems skilled far beyond the years the band has been together. We fired off some questions to vocalist Stergios Bititsios to enlighten us on the band’s formation, sound, and the struggles for a young band to get noticed in the age of the Internet.
Dead Rhetoric: What brought the band together initially?
Stergios Bititsios: The desire to be musically active again after the long term hiatus of our previous band. Simon [Charkas] and I decided to join forces again mainly to satisfy our need to be creative and take a break from our daily routines. It was our dream to make a full album and we felt this was the right time.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel separates Synthetic from other melodic death metal bands that are out there today?
Bititsios: We do not necessarily class our style as melodic death metal although directionally there are some elements of that genre in our music. We absolutely love melodic death metal but we like to think broader and bring all our influences into our music in a refreshing manner. Having said that we recognize that we are not here to reinvent the wheel but to write and play from the heart. We write music to satisfy our ‘taste buds’ predominantly and if people like it then we have a win-win situation.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the sound of Synthetic?
Bititsios: This is a great question. When asked we say that we play melodic heavy metal. If we wanted to elaborate we’d say that our sound is an eclectic mix of classic and modern metal, with elements of Nordic and progressive metal and a hint of American grooves.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you get ahold of Dirk Verbeuren of Soilwork for the song “Hollow?”
Bititsios: We approached Dirk in a humble manner recognizing the magnitude of his musicianship. We are massive fans of Soilwork and we believe that Dirk is the greatest drummer in the modern heavy metal scene. We felt that his contribution would boost our confidence and give us strength to carry on. And it did. We sent him a couple of our demo tracks and he enthusiastically accepted our proposal. Dirk is not only a fantastic player but a great man above all.
Dead Rhetoric: What made you feel that Ettore Rigotti was the right choice for mixing the album?
Bititsios: Working with Ettore was a no brainer for us. We are fans of Disarmonia Mundi and the great work Ettore has been doing all those years with writing and producing the band’s albums. Ettore is amongst the very few people who can appreciate the strains and difficulties underlying the process of putting an album together first hand. One of the most pleasurable touchpoints in our journey so far was our collaboration with Ettore.
Dead Rhetoric: What brought about the idea for the more mellow tracks like “Still Cold” or “Scream in Your Dreams?”
Bititsios: Funny story! Simon wrote “Scream In Your Dreams” some 10 years ago and I wrote “Still Cold” 7 years ago. We felt this was the right time to finally bring those tracks to life. We are not afraid to let our sensitive side come to surface. As a matter of fact, those two tracks provided us with a platform to write lyrics that relate to deeply personal matters, which we kept inside for years. It’s through those two tracks that we found a channel to finally express our feelings and let go.
Dead Rhetoric: Could you go into the design of the album artwork?
Bititsios: The artwork is open to interpretation, we’d like fans to combine it with the album’s title and make up their own minds. We have our own interpretation and we directed the creative part with a specific theme in mind. Let’s say that truth is not always honest, and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination. Many thanks to our brotherly friend Tolaz for executing our ideas so successfully. Perhaps we can revisit the subject of what triggered the idea behind the artwork at a later interview and after the album has reached a wider audience. Let’s not demystify it yet!
Dead Rhetoric: You frequently post pictures of fans receiving the album. Do you feel it’s important for a young band to have a solid interaction with fans on social media?
Bititsios: Simon came up with the idea, but it wasn’t forced. It came naturally as he is really a people person. He encouraged friends and fans who acquired the album to send us photos of themselves with the album. They all warmly welcomed the idea. It is important for any band, regardless of its age, to have a solid interaction with fans. To an extent this is an obligation and a responsibility, the least we can do to express our gratitude for the support and encouragement we receive from people. Social media offer a simple and cost effective way to achieve that. We would love to be even closer to our fans and meet them in person and we hope that this time will come soon. So for the moment we will have to solely rely on social media and email.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the hardest part about getting your name out there as a young band?
Bititsios: There are a lot of remarkable unsigned metal bands out there. There is a disproportionate amount of equally strong alternative choices for fans in relation to the modest size of the metal community. It is hard to break through and stand out in the crowd without the backing of a big label. Therefore, we have to rely on ourselves, our friends, social media and the good will of webzines and magazines to get our name known. And we are grateful to you guys for doing this for us.
Dead Rhetoric: Will Synthetic be a touring act or a studio band?
Bititsios: Synthetic started with the view to be a studio band. However, there was a point during the mixing process when we realized that the album holds some potential. We thought it’s now or never. We decided to get our act together and form a full band, with the view to pursue live appearances and maybe get signed someday. At this point, both Simon and myself would like to publicly thank Hal Smith (guitars, keyboards), Chris Cassidy (bass) and Joe Ricciardi (drums) for joining Synthetic and making the dream come true. We are a family and we have a great time together and we’re absolutely sure that you won’t be disappointed when we hit the stages.
Dead Rhetoric: Where would you like to see Synthetic accomplish in the next few years?
Bititsios: Definitely a second album sooner than later and to expand our fan base hopefully through a lot of live appearances worldwide. If during this journey we get discovered by a decent record label, we will welcome the opportunity to discuss our future together. If not, then we will have to keep relying on ourselves. But that’s fun anyway.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s next for Synthetic with Here Lies the Truth released and available?
Bititsios: We currently practice in the studio and our goal is to make our first live appearance sometime in August 2016. We are not a pub act therefore we will have to be patient until the right gig opportunity comes our way. We want to share our music with our fans all around the globe and we aspire to share stages with the bands we admire. Hopefully we will get noticed by some organizers of major events and festivals and we’ll be invited to play. Until then we will keep promoting our album via networking and continue practicing hard.