I recently had the chance to sit down with Vicky Psarakis, vocalist for THE AGONIST. I had to perform one of my patented hide-in-the-storage-closet-at-work phone interviews while we talked about new album Five (out now, Napalm Records), an interesting choice for a cover song, as well as how she takes care of her voice on tour. We also delved a little bit into how the music is written in the group. Take a look:
Amps: This new record is outstanding. So far my favorite is “The Hunt”, but I was also blown away by your cover of HOZIER’S “Take Me to Church”. That was totally unexpected but really well done.
Vicky: Thank you. Actually Napalm Records asked if it was possible to get a cover on this album and it was something we as a band had talked about in the past. We wanted to do a cover but we were never really able to find the right song. So, in this case, since Napalm asked, we kind of pressured ourselves and started looking online for songs. We wanted a song that was relevant and that people knew outside of the metal genre, but at the same time one that we CAN cover. A lot of pop songs, the lyrics don’t really fit a metal band, or just don’t make sense. So when we found “Take Me to Church” it made sense both lyrically and musically, and we gave it a shot, and it turned out pretty cool.
Amps: Is that a song you plan on doing live?
Vicky: I’m not sure yet. We haven’t really talked about it. The upcoming tours we have are mostly support shows, so we’re doing a bit of a shorter set. If we were to play it live it would have to be during a headlining show that’s well over an hour.
Amps: As I said before “The Hunt” is my runaway favorite on this disc, by far.
Vicky: I’m happy to hear that. It’s definitely one of my top songs, too. I don’t have one favorite, but I have a few. And that’s definitely one of them.
Amps: Because of the aggressive manner in which you sing, how do you go about taking care of your voice? Especially if you’re doing five shows in seven nights?
Vicky: What I do basically after a show is try not to speak a lot and take it easy. The most important thing after a show is to rest and try to get eight hours of sleep as well as drinking lots and lots of water.
As long as you do those two things you should be okay for the next day. And I don’t stay out late or drink lots of beer after gigs (laughs).
Amps: This is album number two for you. Between that record and this one new one Five, what’s different in your approach to things?
Vicky: I think the main difference is the comfort level recording this album. Because it didn’t feel like I was new to the band. There was obviously some kind of pressure that I put on myself to write a good album, sing a good album, you know? But there wasn’t much pressure from outside factors, like being thrown into a band, being the new girl, trying to please old fans, stuff like that. Those factors weren’t there this time. So I was a lot more comfortable recording this album. Aside from that everything else is really the same. Our relationships in the band and the way we wrote the album is still the same.
Amps: On the subject of writing, what is the division of labor within the band?
Vicky: Mostly what happens is I get a pre-production of the songs and then I’ll put lyrics and vocals over them. I’ll do all the singing patterns, the melody, and the screaming patterns. As far as the lyrics go it’s mostly me and Danny (Marino, guitars) that write them. Sometimes I’ll get a track and I’ll write lyrics and do vocals for it, or sometimes I’ll get a track that Danny sends lyrics over with, too. He’ll say, “I think these lyrics would fit this song really well. let me know.” And I’ll take those and try to put them into the song. And then after a pre-prod of everything we’ll listen to to the song again and see if it needs any changes structurally.
Amps: What are you listening to in the car or at home?
Vicky: That’s a difficult question. it depends on the mood and the moment. I definitely listen to a lot of metal bands, but I also like rock music, or alternative rock, some pop artists. I even like soundtracks. Napalm asked us to make a playlist for Spotify, and when I did, it was really, really hard to do.
Choosing 15 songs was almost impossible (laughs)! And that’s why this is such a hard question to answer because I listen to so much different music.
Amps: What would you like people to take away from this album when it’s done playing?
Vicky: That’s a good question. I hope that the album is able to pull them in, so that when it ends it makes them wanna listen to it again.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the fans of THE AGONIST out there?
Vicky: I just really want to thank everyone for supporting us. And hopefully for our fans that are in cities that we’re playing, a shout-out to them, and I hope you’ll come to the show and see us in person.
Vicky Psarakis is humble, down-to-earth, and a genuinely nice person, in addition to being a powerhouse vocalist. New album Five is out now, so be sure and pick it up today. For those of you who were lucky enough to catch THE AGONIST live on this latest tour with EPICA and FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE, I envy you, since it didn’t hit my Philly area. But my time to rock out with them will come, I can feel it!