Interview || The One With Domination Inc.

Athens, Greece based modern thrash metal outfit Domination Inc. released their sophomore full length album, "Memoir 414" via SPV/Steamhammer recently and it would be impossible not to hold a little friendly interrogation session with the band. On a sunny afternoon, we met up with Ares (guitars), Kostas (guitars) and Alpha (drums) who detailed the creation of the new album, the reality of a Greek band and being faced with odd decisions.

© Dearohwell Photography

U: Your new record, “Memoir 414” is dropping four years after the release of your debut album, "Infants Of Thrash". What has happened in your camp in the meantime?

Alpha: We listened to more music, we are even more passionate now, we are better players and have improved overall as a band…
Kostas: I think the biggest difference is that we now have a clearer vision of how we want to sound like and what we want to express, both musically and lyrically. It’s an evolution from every aspect, [a] more mature [approach] but we’re still having fun with it. 
Alpha: It’s a natural progression. 

U: What is the meaning behind the cryptic title “Memoir 414”?

[all fingers point at Alpha]
Alpha: There is a concept behind the album; it’s a battle between good and evil [interpreted] in the reality and the struggles that people go through and how they deal with them. In the first track [ed –"Cutting Edge"] you are met with a dilemma; to either follow creativity and destroy an establishment that holds you back, to rise from the ashes building something new and therefore to evolve, or to remain stagnant and to eventually perish or self-destruct. The meaning is that evil exists in man himself, it’s not just an external [force]. 
Memoir has a dual meaning; it’s an autobiography, and also the progress chart of a patient. If we put humanity in the place of [said] patient, this chart shows an analogy of diseases that plague us. 414 is the numeral form of Domination’s initials, DN. 

You also recently signed a deal with the legendary label SPV/Steamhammer. How did that come about?

Alpha: It started when we played Wacken [in 2017]. We met some industry people there who liked our music and who advised us on how to further work our music and some steps we needed to take. We took their advice, did the best we could and wrote the new album, had a good production and we sent it out.
Ares: We basically sent it everywhere, to every label we knew. We heard back from some of them and we chose what was best for us. We actually heard back from quite a few [labels]…
Kostas: …But the last [reply] we received was from Steamhammer and it was indeed the best deal.

U: Can you walk us though the creative process of Domination Inc.? 

Kostas: The songs are written mostly in our rehearsal space. They all start from an idea or a riff, or if there is something specific we want to do. For example, on “Day VIII…” the riff came after the initial idea. After that, we all work on the music at home, further [evolving] the idea, then we make a lot of changes in the original [concept]…
Alpha: We sometimes make a connection with the lyrics too –the lyrical aspect is usually separated- and based on the music we decide on the theme of the song and lyrics that would best fit it, and we gradually build the track. 
Kostas: After that, we get into pre-production to start working the song, work on the vocals, the melodies, any further additions… This is how a track is usually built, and so we reach recordings, where more changes are made [laughs]. 
Alpha: This is the best part of the creation, you start with something and we all have different inputs -Ares may want to play a certain solo, Kostas may have a specific rhythmic idea, I may change something on the drumwork- and we all adapt to this one change. 
Kostas: The songs are dynamic; everything can change even in the very last minute. 

U: Who writes the lyrics?

Kostas: Mainly me and Alpha.

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U: What really fascinated me with the singles is that each song came with a designated artwork, all courtesy of Revolver Design, who also did the cover of the album. How important is visual representation outside of the videos?

Alpha: We live in the era of image so it definitely helps to present your music with a specific visual. It’s not mandatory, but I think it’s important to treat [the audience] with something extra, instead of just using the cover artwork in every song you release. 
Kostas: Especially for a newcomer band –for the vast majority of people, we are a very new band- it Is very important to add more visuals to attract new listeners, [since] they display the band’s identity and what the single, or the band for that matter, are about. It’s easier to detail that with more images.
Ares: And we actually dig it, we want to have more material, visuals and otherwise, so we decided to release these singles and representing artwork respectively. 

U: How did you decide on the order of the singles? I was surprised that “Cutting Edge” wasn’t the first one to be released.

Ares: We thought that “The Sickening” was more representative of where we are now.
Alpha: And also of our [musical] evolution; if we released a more modern thrash song, when we already have an oldschool thrash metal album out, the evolution wouldn’t be that evident. 
Ares: Exactly. It has some groovy parts, some hardcore elements, some thrash elements, some death/black metal blasts, it’s an all-around song.
Kostas: “Cutting Edge” was purposefully released closer to the album’s due date, more as the final step towards the album. We first dropped the more all-around song, then “The Eye”, which was very different than [older material], more groovy, more modern, and finally “Cutting Edge” which we felt was the third “hit song”. 

U: You chose to close the album with a Motorhead cover. First of all, how did you choose “Love Me Forever”? 

Ares: We wanted to challenge ourselves. Right before we entered the studio, Lemmy passed away so we wanted to pay homage to his legacy. That was the first step. When choosing through the songs, we wanted to do something radically different, we wanted to transform a Motorhead song into a Domination Inc. adaptation. 

U: Which leads me to the next question. While the track slows the album down, you managed to fully integrate it to the overall sound. What was the biggest challenge in assimilating the song and coming up with a different interpretation?

Ares: I don’t think that assimilating was that difficult, the most challenging part was getting Theo to do clean vocals. 
Kostas: This is the only song that has clean vocals. We needed to figure it out and find a way to make it fit the rest of the songs. 
Alpha: We didn’t want it to be very clean, it still has some distortion. We also changed the second verse, which was originally also sung with clean vocals, and we decided to make it into some sort of bridge, more [homogenous] with our material.  

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U: What is the reality of a Greek band in 2019?

Alpha: I think it’s different for every band. When it comes to Domination Inc., we are constantly rehearsing, we are currently writing new songs, and we are moving forward.
Kostas: It’s a work in progress, there’s always something more to add or to do, whether we’re talking about “homework”, or preparing for a show, making decisions, promoting the album… It never ends, it never stops.
Alpha: Especially when it comes to the US and the different time zones. It’s a never-ending job, which for the time being isn’t generating an income, but we still enjoy doing it. 

U: With three tours under your belt, and numerous shows in and out of the country, which would you say are the biggest differences in the crowds you’ve played for?

Ares: Things may differ even within the same country. The main thing we’ve noticed is that foreign crowds tend to buy more merch if the band puts on a good show –this doesn’t mean in any way that Greeks don’t buy merch, but it doesn’t happen that often because times are hard.
Kostas: In the UK, I think they are more open minded when it comes to discovering new bands, they can be more interested in a band they hadn’t heard of or seen before. They will sit through the show even if they don’t end up liking the band. 
Alpha: Although, to be fair, when a band goes abroad, being foreigners is what attracts the local crowd. I think it’s the same thing in Greece; when a foreign band comes over, it is usually sparking more interest than seeing a local band, which in my opinion is wrong. We have many good bands in Greece, who are sometimes better than bands that come play here. 
Kostas: The reality is, when Greek fans love a band and go out to see them, they are very welcoming and very active towards the bands they want to see. At shows abroad, people can be… quieter. But it really depends on the city, on the country… [In our recent tour] at the show in York, someone was punched in the pit during the show. He got a nosebleed and left the pit, only to return later with two tampons in his nostrils [laughs] and continued moshing and stagediving! 

U: If you were members of the Spice Girls, what would be your Spice names?

[after some explaining who Spice Girls were and how their nicknames worked]
Alpha: Kostas would be Curry Spice, I don’t know why [laughs] 
Kostas: Alpha would be Junior Spice… 
Alpha: Ares would be Lefty Spice because he is left handed. Jim (bass) would be Moustache Spice and Theo would be… Anselmo Spice [laughs] 

U: If you could have a one-minute phone conversation with a younger you, what age would you choose and what would you tell yourselves?

Alpha: I think it depends on the age I’d choose…. I’d tell myself to live more because [he’d] end up working more as he got older. 
Kostas: For me, the only thing I could say to a younger me would be that everything would work out in the end, not to worry, not to stress about tings…
Ares: I don’t think we’ve done any grave mistakes in our lives that we need to go back and fix… 
Alpha: He’s right, because the things you do, at the end of the day, shape who you are. If we had the chance [to talk to our younger selves] we probably wouldn’t end up being who we are today. 
Ares: “Drop ‘Cutting Edge’ as the first single!” [laughs]

U: If you woke up one day in the opposite gender’s body, what would be your first reaction?

[Unanimously: “WOOOOW!!!!”]

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U: The plot twist here is that you keep your actual heads.

Alpha: I’d shave my face then.
Ares: I’d be like “what are these??” [laughs]
Kostas: For sure! [I’d head] straight to the mirror… 
Ares: No actually, I’d like to see how irritating would be to pee while sitting. Or if breasts are really uncomfortable when you sleep… It would be interesting, seeing [how things work on] the other side. 
Alpha: How badly periods hurt. [ed –good luck with that]

U: If your life had a soundtrack, other than your band, what would that be?

Alpha: The soundtrack from Clockwork Orange. 
Kostas: [Metalica’s] the Black Album in a loop.
Ares: And from Blade Runner, which was written by Vangelis, from Aphrodite’s Child. Or Lord Of The Rings that has every mood. You want something depressive? You got it. You want something epic when you enter a room? You got it! [laughs] 

U: Final question. Although you’re still very young, what do you want Domination Inc.’s legacy to be?

Kostas: It’s too soon to specify this. 
Alpha: We’re not really thinking about a legacy, we just do what we like and wherever that takes us.
Kostas: I second that. We did what we liked and we took it as far as we could. 
Alpha: We want to take it a step further [with every new release].
Ares: It’s what we were discussing in the first questions, to destroy the old and to rebuild something better every time. 
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