When you think of Cyprus, you tend to think of wine, Greek relations, hot and sand-swept land. But simmering under the Mediterranean heat is a vibrant metal scene with a handful of bands who have graced the international stage, Winter's Verge for example. However closer to the surface is a underground scene that is fresh as the vineyards growing on this rocky island.
Nekhrah are a Death Metal band hailing from Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus and have released their debut album 'Cosmic Apotasy' this year, so it was only fair for GMA to interrogate this quartet and ask them about their origins, thoughts on Brexit, the history of the Cypriot Metal scene, touring and plans for 2018.
".... the size of the scene is an inherent challenge. It’s something niche that has its own intricate ways of functioning."
Hey guys, firstly could you tell us how Nekhrah came about and what the name means?
"Nekhrah is an anglicised version of the Greek word Nekra (Νέκρα) which means dead / deadness emptiness. It is pronounced as Né-kra."
What do your parents think of your choice of music?
"Well, I’m sure there’s regret for paying for music lessons, our mental health has been questioned on numerous occasions before, but overall, they are all very supportive even if it is not their cup of tea. Some have even attended a gig – needless to say, it was the first and last one."
How long has the Cypriot Metal scene been going? What challenges have you had to face as a band, and the scene itself?
"There were a few bands during the late 80’s that I am aware off. The extreme scene came about during the early 90’s and picked up speed during the early 00’s.
The Cypriot Metal scene has an inherent curse; compulsory TWO YEAR army service for Cypriot nationals at the age of 18. Lots of bands that begin during the teen years don’t make it after the members reach their 20’s due to this. As time outside of the army is limited for those two years, members are reluctant to practise or simply lose the spark to be creative and just go into mental slumber for the duration of their service.
Some of our members had to attend the army, then others left abroad for studies so we relied a lot on each individual’s commitment, passion and of course, the internet to keep Nekhrah going during these times.
I recall in 2014, two members flew from Cyprus, another from Scotland and another from Guildford to play a gig in a local Pub in Colchester, Essex alongside two other local bands. With regard to the scene itself I guess the size of the scene is an inherent challenge. It’s something niche that has its own intricate ways of functioning. Part of the challenge has been figuring out what works and how to put it in application."
You just released your debut album 'Cosmic Apotasy', what has the reception been like? Will you tour South-Eastern Europe in support? Or a simple Cypriot tour?; Is it hard to apply for shows in Northern Cyprus and Turkey?
"So far it has been received far more warmly than we had envisaged. It has been featured in Magazines in Poland, Germany and Norway, in a compilation CD, featured on playlists and has been played on various big rock / metal radio stations internationally. Needless to say we are overwhelmed with the praise the album has received.
A tour is currently in the works, although nothing is set in stone as of yet. Hopefully that works out and we can reach out to new listeners through gigs. Seeing as Cyprus is such a small Island the term “touring” would make it sound more grandiose than it actually is haha. But yes, we plan on playing other cities other than our home town.
Getting political are we? Regarding the first part of your question, it is certainly not practically hard to apply for shows in Northern Cyprus since the opening of the check-points on the island back in 2003.
Regarding Turkey, there are no direct flights from the Republic of Cyprus to Turkey which means that to get there one would have to cross over the check-points with equipment etc and leave from the North or get a connecting flight through another country that flies directly to Turkey. In that regard it would perhaps be practically harder to play Turkey should the opportunity present itself."
What are your thoughts on Brexit?
"Brexit seems to be like one of those terrible far-fetched stories that end up being true. Sort of like Trump being elected as head of State. However, without a doubt it does represent the view of current majority (out of the people who voted) within the UK no matter whether the Pro-Brexit campaigners have deliberately misinformed and misled.
Now on the flip side I’m not certain that it directly reflects the views of the majority of the political leadership which (undoubtedly) must now follow through. As a result the political leadership is now faced with the colossal task of negotiating deals that best protect the interests of the UK citizens with a EU that doesn’t seem well disposed to do so.
Currently I feel there is an air of uncertainty and speculation about what turn events will take. Any speculation as to the economic and socio-political impacts of the Brexit are perhaps beyond my knowledge and the purpose of this interview."
Given Cyprus' location, do you have many metal bands come and play across the island?
"Surprisingly we have had numerous big names come and play here. Some honourable mentions (in no particular order): Paul Di Ano, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Scorpions, Sepultura, Vader, Sodom, Septic Flesh, Rotting Christ, Bolzer, Kafros Lord, Moonspell, Sabaton, Mnemic."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year?
"Now that the album has been officially released we are focusing more on promotion and booking gigs for 2018, thus apart from regular rehearsals, writing new material and perhaps recording a new single we don’t have any other substantial plans for 2017. Further, we have an album presentation on the 21st of December where we will be playing Cosmic Apostasy in its entirety as well as a few new un-recorded songs."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's, etc you wish to send out?
"Thank you’s go out to Constantinos Syrimis, Nikolas Prokopiou of ToneDeaf Studio, Alan Douches of West West Side Music and Maciej Kamuda. Greetings go out to readers of Global Metal Apocalypse as well as anyone who has researched the band and stumbled across your interview. Thank you kindly for your time and interest, we appreciate it greatly."