SEVEN SISTERS have managed to mash legends of Arthurian Britain, Greek mythology, NWOBHM and US power/prog influences into a solid alloy that's hard to ignore. Their latest album was a good excuse to chat with them, so sit back and enjoy what you're about to read.
Hey folks! Greetings and congrats on your new album! How are things so far for “The Cauldron and the Cross”?
Hey Giannis, cheers for having us! Yeah things are pretty good we think. We’ve only played one gig so far since the album came out, but the new songs went down really well and all the reviews have been really positive so far. We’ll be taking the album out on the road soon though, so we’ll know for sure then. Hopefully people like it!
Before we continue, I have a question about your name; was SEVEN SISTERS inspired by Greek mythology and the story of Pleiades, The Daughters of Atlas, or was it something else that spawned the name?
Nope, it was actually initially inspired by a tube station in north London! Haha. We liked it just because it sounded catchy, but we quickly realised that it tied in with the Greek mythology as well, which made it even cooler. Our first album is actually a concept album based on the story of Pleiades, so we did eventually become interested in the Greek myth even if it wasn’t what originally inspired the name!
How would you describe your music to people not familiar with SEVEN SISTERS?
That’s a tough one actually. If I had to keep it simple, I’d probably say that SEVEN SISTERS play classic heavy metal with progressive influences. There’s a bit more to it than that, but we don’t like getting too bogged down in drawing genre boundaries around music. We prefer to just listen to stuff and decide if it’s good or not, rather than describe it in minute detail.
“The Cauldron and the Cross”, your second full-length album, was released about a month ago on Friday the 13th. Is there a meaning behind this or is it just a coincidence?
That was just a coincidence as far as we know – the release date was chosen by the label. We’re not superstitious though, so we weren’t worried at all about releasing something on that day.
Is everything in “The Cauldron and the Cross” new material? Also, what’s the idea behind the album cover and the concept of the lyrics?
Yeah it’s all brand new material. “The Cauldron and the Cross” is a concept album set in Arthurian Britain. It essentially tells the story of the rise and fall of Arthur’s kingdom, focusing primarily on the clash between traditional British paganism and Christianity which had recently been imported to the country by the Romans. The album cover basically depicts this: the cauldron represents the pagan beliefs, and the cross is obviously the Christian symbol. The record was initially inspired by a novel called “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and we’d highly recommend it to anybody who enjoyed the album and is interested in the subject matter in any way.
How does a SEVEN SISTERS song come to life? Are there main contributors or is it a result of collaborative writing?
A bit of both, I suppose. The bulk of the music is written by me, although Graeme contributed a few riffs throughout the album too. The lyrics are a collaborative effort between the two of us, and then Steve and Javi come up with their own drum and bass parts to really bring the songs to life. So whilst a song usually originates with one or two members, the overall sound is very much the result of collaboration between all four of us.
How was the recording process? Any incidents in particular you’d like to share with the readers?
We recorded at Knight Time Studios in west London, with Jim Knight in the producer’s chair. Most of the recordings took place in October 2017, but we spent a while tweaking a few things and re-recording some parts, so it was eventually finished in early December. I don’t think there are any interesting incidents to report from the recording to be honest – it was a lot of hard work, but it all went pretty smoothly.
What felt different compared to the recording process of your previous album, “Seven Sisters”?
The main difference was actually working with a producer and recording in a proper studio. All our previous releases had been entirely self-recorded and self-produced. I think they sounded OK considering this, but it obviously makes an enormous difference working with a professional. Jim was amazing to work with, and really brought the best out of us as a band.
How can people come in touch with the band or get your album(s)?
If people want to buy it directly from us, they can order from our Big Cartel page, sevensistersuk.bigcartel.com. You can buy them album as well as all kinds of other merchandise there. We’re obviously selling copies at gigs, and people can also buy it direct from Dissonance Productions, or on Amazon and in record stores and things like that.
For a four-man band recording in the studio might differ from performing “live”. Is your songwriting affected by this? I mean, would you refrain from introducing a “complex” riff to play and sing into a song, if it made your life on stage uneasy?
I don’t think playing live and in the studio differ too much for us. When we write a song we rehearse it a lot before recording it, so we’re able to play it live before we get anywhere near the studio. There are obviously some songs that are harder to sing and play live than others, but we’d never let worrying about this affect our writing.
Despite some NWOBHM influences, I was able to spot some power/thrash and epic metal touches from the US side of the planet. Not sure if you would agree with this, but I’d like to know more about your influences as a band.
Yeah you’re right, we’re definitely influenced by a lot of US bands too. QUEENSRYCHE, VIRGIN STEELE, FATES WARNING and stuff like that. We listen to a ton of European bands too – HELLOWEEN and BLIND GUARDIAN to name a couple. We’re also influenced by some more progressive music and maybe even AOR to a certain extent. Between the four of us we listen to a huge array of different stuff, and hopefully we learnt something from all of it that helped make our song-writing more interesting.
Also, did you end up with two lead guitarists on purpose or was it something that “just happened”? Some of your songs reminded me a loth the way LEATHERWOLF used to write songs with three lead guitarists in the band.
It was definitely deliberate in our case. One of our favourite things about Heavy Metal is twin lead guitars, so we wouldn’t have wanted to play this kind of music without incorporating that. Also, when one of your guitarists is also your lead singer, it just makes sense to have some back-up!
Many bands nowadays take advantage of the internet and sell/distribute their music in a DIY manner. What’s your take on that and why did you choose to work with Dissonance Productions?
The internet is great for getting your stuff out there. I don’t think anybody would have ever heard of us if we weren’t able to stick our demo online when we first started out. It’s probably the easiest way to discover new music these days, and it’s been a great tool for us. As I mentioned earlier, our previous releases were all very much DIY jobs, but signing with Dissonance allowed us to record the new album professionally, and it sounds way better than anything we’ve done before. It also means our music will be distributed on a much wider scale, which is great too. We’ve spotted the album in stores all around the country since it was released, which definitely hasn’t happened before.
UK has “served” as a heavy metal powerhouse during the 80’s. Being in a band that digs the sound of that era, do you feel like you’ve taken on the “burden” of continuing that legacy?
I don’t feel it’s a burden at all. We play that kind of music because we like it, and no other reason. It’s obviously pretty cool that a lot of the classic bands in this style were British, but I think we’d still like this sound if it hadn’t originated in the UK. As I mentioned earlier, we have a ton of non-British influences as well anyway. We’ve never tried to describe ourselves as a NWOBHM band or anything like that, because that movement ended 30 years ago. We just play the music we like inspired by our favourite bands, and have never felt like we’re trying to continue anybody else’s legacy for them.
It wasn’t until recent years when we saw many new bands forming up and delivering metal the “classical” or “traditional” way. Being influenced from your favourite bands is one thing, but sometime the inevitable happens and you end sound a lot like the original. Why do you think this is happening?
I think the trend probably started with a lot of the classic bands reforming and being able to play their classic material to a new, younger audience who might not have known about them before. There are festivals all over the place this days devoted to this kind of music, which gives it great exposure. You’re right that some bands sound pretty similar to bands from the 80s, but I don’t really have a problem with that, because a lot of people just want to listen to stuff that sounds that way. We’ve always tried to take our influences and add things to them rather than just repeat what’s been done before, just because that’s more interesting for us, but I don’t have a problem with bands who want to stick to the formula. It’s a good formula after all – metal was amazing in the 80s, so there’s nothing wrong with wanting to sound like that.
What’s the plan for SEVEN SISTERS moving forward? Should we expect any live gigs, tours or anything else?
We’re doing the first stage of our UK tour in June, and there will be more to follow later in the year. We’re very hopeful of making it over to Europe at some point too, so we’ll see how it goes. Ideally, we’d like to play places we haven’t been before and perform to as many new people as possible.
If there’s something you’d like to add, now is the time…
Thanks to anybody who’s taken the time to read this interview. Check out the new album if you haven’t already – we hope you like it, and hopefully we’ll see you on the road some time!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer to my questions. Please, the closing statement belongs to you!
Thanks very much for having us, we really appreciate it. All the best, cheers!