The Metal Wanderlust has not hidden its collective admiration for Dødsferd mastermind Nikolaos Spanakis. Known by many simply as Wrath, for over two decades Nik’s tireless activity and support for the underground have earned him every ounce of respect he demands simply by remaining true to himself at every fork in the road.
Nikolaos started FYC Records & Distro in 2019 with the idea of curating his own community based on trust and mutual respect and loyalty to the underground movement. “There are no posers on my label,” he says, “no fascists, no mass trends (to follow). People who respect my vision for an underground scene worthy enough to create its own legacy.”
With this in mind, TMW plans to check in with Father Wrath every few months to chat about how this vision is developing and some of the ideas behind the music he chooses to release on FYC. All of it is very personal to him, which quickly becomes obvious to anyone who asks. Approachable, kind-hearted, and deeply passionate about both creating and discovering art that wears its honesty like a favorite sweater, Nikolaos Spanakis is a treasured friend of TMW and we are honored to support his vision.
Over the summer, Fucking Your Creation Records & Distro released two albums: Swamp Suicide by Manos Six and the Muddy Devil, and Dead End by Drunk Motherfuckers. Father Wrath and Manos Six were kind enough to answer a few questions about said releases and, along with a few thoughts by The Great Mack and Vuk, we’re happy to present to you below.
TMW: What drew you to Manos Six to be included on the FYC roster?
Nikolaos Spanakis: Their unique atmosphere; dark and magic, full of messages, their genuine characters, their respect and loyalty to the underground movement, and their thirst for creation beyond massive trends – appetites and successful recipes! Their respect and dedication to FYCRs and my vision were also very important to me!
Manos Six and the Muddy Devil – Swamp Suicide
– The Great Mack
Well then, if you thought the last two releases by FYC (The Flower of Love and Gin Lane) were a little different from the usual bleak and blackened fare on offer from the mighty label, the latest two are also going to expand your musical horizons and bring even more variety to the gnarled, twisted and warped table before you so to speak. The first one we will deal with for no particular reason at all, or perhaps because the very gods will it to be so, is Swamp Suicide by Manos Six and the Muddy Devil.
The first thing that came to mind when I heard the name was, of course, geez that’s a lot of musicians in one band, but it seems I was wrong because there are only two, not seven as my math might have presumed. Nope, right here you have two blokes putting out what I can only describe as absolute brilliance. Having been in quite the rut for several months writing-wise, these two evil-looking bastards came to me like a huge kick in the rear end provided by boots made of gator skin and crawdad skulls.
Yep, how to describe this album may have had me at odds with myself as well, but I came up with the conclusion that this must be some sort of satanic country/folk/bluegrass fuckery, and if I dwelt on it too long a demon may rise and devour one of my children. That would be rather sad as I like most of them, so I just threw caution to the wind and put pen to paper on what actually about it kicked my sorry arse into a reasonable gear again.
For starters, this shit is well out of my comfort zone of death/doom/blackened metal and the like, and yet right from the get-go seems to possess everything I find so interesting about the aforementioned genres. It’s darker than the proverbial witches’ tit. You may find joy in many a song, but it is an odd kind of joy, the kind of joy that follows the end of the world when your spirit soars off into whatever Heaven or Hell tickles your fancy just and think “Well that was all one big fat waste of fucking time now wasn’t it.”
Basically, and that is not a word that is easy to use to describe this band, you are getting some sort of awesomely evil mash-up of tunes that would sit rather well with a new version of the Cohen Brothers’ legendary film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? But with a lot more wicked nuns in latex running around. The 1987 film Angel Heart about a private investigator hired by a mysterious man named Louis Cyphre (say it slowly and you will see) to track down a missing man in good old New Orleans would also fit a re-release with these tunes floating in the background, and probably ANYTHING by David Lynch goes hand in hand with what is offered here in sonic terms.
If the above doesn’t give you some sort of idea about the avenue you are heading down perhaps I should break down a tune or two for your convenience then. Let us begin with the Banjo Esque brilliance of “The Devil will take me by the hand,” and its promise that no matter the selfishness or failed existence you may seem to have thought to have lived, you will always have a friend at the end of your time to guide you to where you belong. The pitter-patter of percussion and seemingly uplifting nature of this music beguiles you into a state of almost bliss, and it is almost easy to forget the subject matter at hand. What is that saying about the greatest trick the Devil ever played? Oh yes, that he does not exist, and so you are to be swallowed in by such musical finesse. A fine move all around I would say.
My next pick would be “Lucifer.” Lured into the initial dulcet tones you will be, and then the pace picks up into a more urgent tone as you get to hear a man’s lament about his failures, and his open invitation to the Devil to join him at his very end, if even only for a brief moment. “I gave in, to life’s bitter promises.” “You and I are brothers.” Such words must have indeed touched the Devil’s soul, and one wonders if the invitation was accepted, and a drink or two shared with a good laugh before his soul was whisked away to face eternal damnation. And yet again, we are distracted by the beauty of the moment and do not heed the message. This is the way of the band, throughout the entire release. Make the listener feel comfortable, and tell them tales of misery and loneliness. Of feeling abandoned by the light and finding or seeking final solace in the fires of Hell.
To say many of these songs are a total brain worm would be a mockery. If you are not whistling or humming this shit whilst out shopping, feeding the cat, or attending a funeral then this has gone right over your head and maybe you should consider taking up basket weaving or something. Infectious is a word that springs to mind, and if by somehow listening to Manos Six and the Muddy Devil I am doomed to hell for all of eternity, I for one am fine with this. My esteemed colleague Joel has mentioned that they are more than likely the house band there on weekends. This may upset a few, but the Devil cares not for genre. He, or even she, as suggested on the second track, only likes GOOD music. Or so I am told.
Perhaps the strangest thing for most would be just why Nikolaos would put such a band on his label, not to mention the fact that these two unholy monsters are from Greece and not some Southern American backwater, but in keeping with his first and most important rule for creating FYC in the first place, they are a natural fit as you will see. Again, he is supporting the true underground, and in doing so staying true to his values. I for one could quite easily listen to a lot more of this stuff and be a very happy music fan.
Magnificent stuff, and if anything written above upsets you or makes you question your very place on this shitty planet, may I suggest you take a note from the third track, “Old Time Religion,” with its almost Johnny Cash-like delivery and creepy as fuck tones. To paraphrase, “Brothers/Sisters – Don’t get worried, the world is almost done.”
Manos Six and the Muddy Devil Q & A w/ Manos Six:
What is the origin of this project?
Manos Six and the Muddy Devil is a side project of the five-member band:Skull & dawn:.
Both of these bands have similar musical aesthetics, but some details and differentiations make each one of them unique in its own way. For example, Manos Six and the Muddy Devil has a strong black metal element.
What was the songwriting process like for this record? How did this process transfer to the studio?
The writing process is very simple. My inspiration comes from various elements of the American South, from stories that have happened… or not. Extreme Christian cults, movies, and favorite artists. The personal factor is also very strong. Like personal experiences, things that have happened, or things I would like to happen.
So, I write the songs, and during the rehearsal, Stamos and I shape their final form. When we are ready, we go to the studio of our friend George Emmanuel. We play the record live 2-3 times and we keep the best take.
The next step is that we add any extra instruments we might need and at the end, I add the vocals. Simple as that.
These songs all beg to be heard live. What are your plans for performing this material?
The live performances were, and always are, an important part of this specific project. They are very theatrical. We have a certain dress code. Most of the time we use corpse paint makeup, and we create a very exquisite atmosphere.
About the live versions of our songs, we try to stay close to the album versions, but this doesn’t mean that if we feel that for the atmosphere we want to achieve at a certain live it’s suitable an alternate kind of playing we’ll hesitate to do it.
We also use audio samples, and have guest musicians on stage, when the circumstances allow it, we have guest musicians on stage.
The cd version of the album, which will be released on this year’s Halloween – October 31st, 2022, we will have two bonus tracks from our live performances so everyone can have a small taste of how we sound on stage.
The next live gig of Manos Six and the Muddy Devil, which will be the official presentation of the album, is on October 31st, at Temple Club in Athens, and on the same night, we will also be the opening act of the amazing Jay Munly and the Lupercalians.
Manos Six and the Muddy Devil are:
Manos Six: Lead Vocals, Banjo, Percussions, and Wood Cutting Stamos
Abatis: Acoustic Bass and Moonshine Maker
Drunk Motherfuckers – Dead End
Following up their 2013 release, And Alcohol for All…, Drunk Motherfuckers are back with another small but powerful batch of tunes called Dead End. This is straight-up stoner rock in the vein of bands like Clutch, Fu Manchu, and Kyuss. The kind of shit you play as loudly as possible with the windows rolled down, swingin’ your arms around, middle fingers in the air and you most certainly do not care.
Leading the charge here are guitarists Andrew and Wee, plowing through foot-stomping swampy riff after swampy riff. Hearing Wrath use strictly clean vocals is different (even more so here than on last year’s release by Gin Lane), but lyrically he’s as nihilistic as ever. That’s both good and bad news, I suppose. Good news for fans of Wrath’s work, and not-so-good news for Wrath himself. The thing about a worldview like Wrath’s is that cynicism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If you consider the feelings expressed in Dødsferd or Grab, the voice he uses in Drunk MFs doesn’t come from a soul that’s been hurt any less. But what this does is add an air of reliability and genuineness that’s often completely missing from music that requires a sense of humor. Of course, this wouldn’t be obvious to anyone who heard Drunk MFs out of context with Wrath’s other projects, and that’s what makes this EP so badass.
For my money, the best example of all this is on “Saint Wee(D) Day,” which you can check out right now.
Drunk Motherfuckers Q & A w/ Father Wrath:
What is the origin of this project?
It’s a band I created back in 2009, under the ashes of The Drunk Earth, a Sludge ’n’ Roll band, which had members of Dødsferd and Grab (Bacchus, War). After we split up with The Drunk Earth, I decided to create a band more into heavy stoner rock; “Drunk n’ Roll” (is what) I named (the genre), and had generally clean vocals. I connected with people that were into this style of music and started rehearsing my songs. Live performances started all over Greece. We released some stuff and put our activities on ice after releasing our debut album, …And Alcohol for All, a year later in 2014. And now we are back, stronger, and more focused on our vision and our needs!
What was the songwriting process like for this record?
Half of the members are settled in Athens and the other half in Crete. So we worked separately and together where it was needed. The new EP, Dead End, contains 4 new songs that we were performing live at our shows before we split up. Each song was written by a member of the band, in addition to the debut album, (in which) all songs were written by me. Recordings took place in Athens and Crete while mixing and mastering were done in Athens, at 133 Studios.
How did this process transfer to the studio?
We knew exactly what we wanted. Wee and I had prepared the preproduction of the new EP here in Crete, and when we finalized it with Andrew’s leads and solos we started the recordings at 133 Studios in Athens. Michael Skarakis did astonishing work with the recordings and mixing of Dead End. And of course, Nasos Nomikos gave us the ultimate result, with his extraordinary mastering at VU Productions Studios, also in Athens.
Total respect goes to Angel and Alex Vafeiadis for providing us with such a professional studio to work with. I would like to pay my respect also to Mavrikos Skarakis for giving such a groove to our songs with his unique drum performance, Thomas Kefalas for the amazing artwork, and to Nikos Stavridakis for his high-quality graphic designs!
What are your plans for performing this material in a live setting?
Each of these four songs were enjoyed very much at our live performances before we split up. So we are more than glad that we were able to record them and have the chance to perform them live once again! We hope that we will be ready by the end of the year to start performing our music live again.
Drunk Motherfuckers are:
Father W. – Vocals
Andrew – Guitars
Skarakis – Drums
Nikolaos Spanakis/FYC Q & A:
So, what’s on the horizon for FYC Records & Distro?
A lot of things! Swamp Suicide will be released in October of 2022 in 6-Panel Digi CD Format, plus t-shirts and stickers. The debut album for G.N.L.S. (Wrath and m.Sarvok’s new project), merch for Drunk Motherfuckers, and re-release of their self-financed acoustic 2009 EP Drunk & Wasted, re-mastered and with an unreleased bonus track. The limited LP Format of Dødsferd’s Suicide and the Rest of Your Kind Will Follow Part II album on November 6th, and many more! I have to admit that my schedule is full till the end of 2023.
Another thing well worth mentioning is that on September 24th Nikolaos did a presentation of his first book of poetry called Burried in the Land of the Dream at the publishing house bookshop of Ostria Editions in Athens. His poems, which are presently only available in Greek, analyze his philosophy even further. He does have plans to release an English-translated version in the future, which will no doubt please any fan of his recorded work. Hopefully, by the time we check in with Nik again, he’ll have some more info on this. For the time being, please enjoy a sneak peek at a poem called “Loneliness” that Nikolaos translated for us himself. Take care of yourselves, and support the underground!
Have you ever stepped out of your body,
to admire the immensity of solitude?
Have you ever traveled into the depths of your black soul,
and get angry with the monotonous colors it has been given?
Have you ever felt the loneliness of the sun?
A sun that dies and rises, at the escape of the moon.
You never had the chance; you never got the power
to move away from this disgusting complacency.
From this spoiled tragedy,
implanted in you by your merciless creators;
and now you enjoy the burden of your human existence.
Nikolaos Spanakis (Taken from his first book of Greek Poems, “Burried in the Land of the Dream,” which was published in April of 2022 and translated by Nikolaos Spanakis to be exclusively included for The Metal Wanderlust.)