Interview with Drummer Michael Vafiotis - 4ARM.This was done in the middle of February 2012
-Formed in about 2005, we are a thrash metal band from Australia. We have just released our third album “Submission For Liberty” for the world to hear.
Please tell me a little about every member, age, family, work, interests and something bad about every member?
-We all are from Melbourne, Australia, 30 years of age and currently all work jobs to support the band and families. Jobs range from chef to IT software developer and anything in between. I guess we all have our own interests outside the band, I myself am into sports and play a lot of football and tennis which keeps me in good shape for drumming. Danny our vocalist/guitarist is a great tattoo artist and does some work on the side as well as on himself. (laughs) Something bad??? I guess everyone in the band has their flaws, but at the end of the day we all work hard to get where we are. We always take the good with the bad.
How is it to play this type of music in Australia?
-Well it’s a hard scene to be in really. Only a very small amount of people bring themselves to go out and listen to thrash metal in this country. Unfortunately these days Australia is dominated by more “core”, “trend” type of stuff. I mean even the population is very small here and its really hard to perform regularly around the country as major cities are so far from each other. We are talking 5-10 hours to drive to the next city. A lot of press from Europe seem amazed to hear that there is even a thrash scene in Australia.
How would you describe your own music in three words?
-High Energy Thrash!!!!
The latest album, you had a very nice cover (both nice and scaring)on that(i didn´t get the cover myself). who have done that cover?
-We had a guy named Brent Elliot White from NY work on the artwork. We were very impressed with his work on Death Angels recent album as well as Megadeths End Game, All Shall Perish and Whitechapel so we knew he was perfect for the job. Co-incidentally he was working on both our album design and Arch Enemys around the same time.
In terms of the concept it’s basically a bunch of guys chained up and sent to work in the presence of their hierarchy who are in complete control. Kind of like a flock of sheep being herded into a slaughter house. It represents how we all feel being told when to work, how to think, when to eat, when to rest etc... We basically have lost that control from ourselves in today’s society.
I compare you with Testament, Metallica and Discharge? Comment
-I suppose we grew up listening to the first two bands mentioned and they have been a major influence in our style of music you hear today. We have been constantly reminded we should have been raised in the Bay Area so we are use to such comparisons throughout our career. Having a comparison to such bands is humbling I guess and if we could achieve half the success of those bands that would be amazing.
How is it to live in Australia right now, I mean politically?
-We are a nation so far from other countries and very isolated. Fortunately, we don’t have so many problems as I hear in Europe at the moment but then again many people here are weak minded. Australia is a country where no one stands up for themselves, we don't have protesting and petrol bombs thrown at police or anything but people here are too soft (laughs) and I think we are, if not, the highest taxed country in the world so the cost of living is at times unbearable for most people here.
It´s hot in Australia, how come that you play this sort of heavy music then ;-)? -Growing up in Melbourne, I find you are most likely to get 4 seasons in one day (laughs) but i guess playing in places such as Queensland and Perth it can be physically challenging during summer, but nothing a good industrial fan cant fix on the night.
Before many people went to Australia, now it´s Thailand...have you met many swedes in Australia?
-Thailand is a much cheaper option for people these days, whether it be for shopping or anything else, so I can understand why people prefer to go there. I know when the Australian Open tennis is on here in Melbourne, then all the Swedes come out and show themselves, and i could be wrong but I don't think there are many Swedes in Australia.
What do you know about Sweden?
-They spawn great musicians. Kind of like Japan I guess with their amazing talented musicians, I think in Sweden they really breathe, eat sleep music and that’s why they are so good at it. I also hear you have the most amazing women over there and well we all love our Swedish massages. And sorry to say but don’t you guys make one of the ugliest cars in the world – The Volvo??? :p
Have you heard any swedish bands you like?
-Oh yes a few. The mighty Meshuggah, Arch Enemy. The Haunted, Soilwork, Ghost (a new favourite), and lets not forget Entombed.
What is typical swedish do you think? And what is typical Australian behaviour?
-I would think most Swedes are very well educated and well spoken individuals… quite the opposite to us Australians, I think all the beer drinking has fried our brain cells. (laughs) Our behavior and attitude is very laid back which is good but this means not a lot gets done here promptly, which at times is so frustrating.
Your lyrics, what influences you?
-Danny writes all the lyrics but I can tell you that Submissions lyrical content is based on the mans disdain towards government sectors and corporate hierarchy. Topics also include things such as child abuse. He believes in standing together to fight those who place themselves above others.
Do you play in any other bands?
-Nope %100 commitment to 4ARM, unless Metallica lose a drummer (laughs)
I f you had the chance to choose five bands from now and from the history to do a concert together with, which five band would you choose?
-Metallica, Slayer, Carcass, Pantera, 4ARM
Which is the biggest band you have played together with?
-Testament in 2010 Damnation Tour
Which is the biggest band you have had as a support act and then that band have being really famous?
-Most bands quit after they play with us (laughs)
Please tell me some funny thing which have happen during all these years, some really sick thing?
-One incident that always sticks in my mind was when JP our guitarist finished one of his grand finale guitar endings to a song and got that into it he fell back crashing into the drum kit and knocking himself out.
Which type of people comes to your concerts?
-Socially challenged individuals most of the time. (laughs) Obviously we play music to a male dominated market but we have fans both young and old which I think is cool. It’s great to see young kids from the age of around 15 into thrash who know the history and appreciate the older bands that started it all.
Is it many interviews? Is it boring with interviews? In which way do you prefer to do interviews?
-I’m always happy to go through an interview whether its online or over the phone. I do however get sometimes tired of the same questions but you kind of have to expect it when starting out and no-one knows who the hell you are. So far this interviews been rather different so I like :)
Please rank five favourite records, five favoruite concerts and five most important things in life?
-Master Of Puppets, Divine Intervention, The Black Album, Heartwork, Destroy Erase Improve.
-Metallica in Norway 2007, Slipknot/Machine Head 2008, Testament Damnation Tour 2010, Carcass 2009, Meshuggah 2009
-Family, Health, double bass drums, fresh drumheads, grip tape
First, last and most expensive record ever bought?
-And Justice For All, Unto The Locust, Metallicas -The Good, The Bad and The Live.
How do you see on downloading, mp3 and all that stuff?
-I think it´s not good at all and it has killed the industry in a way where artists can’t earn enough money and sustain a career for themselves in the music industry. Musicians rely on album sales and illegal download takes a good chunk out of potential profits for the band. Now we see bands going into studios every year almost rushing albums to get them out in order to make money from new releases. Before bands would take time in writing great albums cause they could. Having said all that it’s really something we can’t stop or regulate unfortunately, part of evolution I guess, either embrace it or find a new career path.
Is your label a good label? What can they do better and what are they really good at?
-Label has been great so far to us. Without the label we would be stuck in our home town going nowhere. Things are moving forward nicely, they're helping us with touring and promoting the album in places we just would be unable to target.
Have been outside Australia and played a lot, where is best?
-Just Australia so far, but were pretty keen to play in Europe, where thrash is more loved and appreciated.
Where in Australia is best to play?
-A few places spring to mind but I would say The Palace Theatre and Billboards in (Melbourne) are top notch venues to play at. Huge PA and massive sized stage. What more can you ask for ey??
Where did the name came from?
-"A long, long time ago, when we were youngsters and you know when you start out, you thrash as hard and as fast as you can, before long our forearms were in a great deal of pain (laughs) this is the significance behind forearm, the fact that thrash is heavy, unpredictable, aggressive and fast… we learnt painfully, then 4Arm immediately suited our music”. Also 4arm has a less comical meaning and that is the word “forearm” can also mean to prepare yourself for ”WAR”, which is kind of what we do each time we go on stage.
Futureplans for the band?
-Well, we will continue to promo the album and have a month of touring in the US in July and Japan straight after. Were also hoping to get to Europe this year and tear it up. I think at this stage it’s too early to talk about the next record, we will just let this one do its thing and take it from there.
Futureplans for yourself?
-Just work harder as a drummer and improve on it as much as I can.
-Most ball games are lost, not won
Something to add?
-Thanks for the interview, was fun.