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SadDoLLs - Interview

Interview with: George Downloved
Conducted by: Ines

Emerging from Greece, SadDoLLs is a relatively young band, but they have a strong story behind them. Consisting of George Downloved on vocals, Paul Evilrose and J. Vitu on the guitars, G.B. on bass and St. Gus behind the drums, the quintet is (by their words) set to resurrect the gothic music. They started out as a HIM cover band, but soon began working on their own material. Now they are the proud parents of one EP and three full length albums. Their latest release, Grave Party, saw the light of the day earlier this year and is without a doubt their darkest, deepest and most mature release. Influenced by different genres, such as EBM, darkwave, suomi rock and gothic metal, their music is a captivating darkened version of melodic metal. George Downloved, the band’s main voice and lyricist, kindly took some time and answered some of my questions. We talked about his band, their collaborations, the future and the past and as SadDoLLs are becoming more popular day by day, you can be sure you’ll be hearing from them a lot more.

Ines: Hello George and thank you for doing this interview with me. Now let’s just start at the end: Grave Party. It’s your latest release and I want to know how are you personally satisfied with the album and what would you say makes this particular release differ from your previous works? 
George: Hello Ines and thank you for this unique interview. Well Grave Party was all we ever wanted to do, since day one. It was a deal we made as a band, we would create a dark heavy and more mature album, or we would break up as a band, and when the pre-production was over, the monster we call Grave Party was rushed into studio production. It differs from our other releases, both in music and in lyrics. We gathered all the bad situations we lived through 2012 and 2013 and recorded them on tape. Also this is an album for every "ear" to enjoy. There is gothic rock music from the 80's, industrial metal Rammstein and Deathstars style, some synth work from electro goth bands from the 90's and also a cover song and a ballad, so I think this album has it all, so it won't bore the listener.
Ines: The sound on Grave Party combines so many elements from different genres. Was that something you were aiming for in order to please the different groups of listeners or did it just occur naturally?
George: We always want to have albums with variety of songs - well except Happy Deathday, which sounded like it was a one track album - so this is what we tried to achieve with this album too. And I think we succeeded. 
Ines: How are you satisfied with the feedback from the fans and media about the new album?
George: Well, I’d say 90% of the album reviews are positive, so the media seems to like it. And as for the fans, we seem to gain new ones day by day; we have loads of orders for our album in our official website, a lot of shares and reposts on Facebook and in the other social networks. People really seem to like this one, this is of course very good for us, because we intend to continue in that musical way from now on.
Ines: Interesting that you mentioned continuing in this direction; does this mean you are already thinking about the next release, even though Grave Party is still relatively fresh?
George: Well, I can't say we are seriously thinking about it, we have some ideas but as you said Grave Party is still "fresh" and we intend on promoting this album for at least the end of 2015. But I think that we will start writing songs at the beginning of 2015, just to see how this goes and if we have something new to present. Because we don’t have any intentions on doing a “part 2 album”. 
Ines: Next step is then, as you said, promoting the new album - what does that include? Can we expect any upcoming live shows, a new video perhaps?
George: Yes. We have already two shows booked for Athens, of which one will be a special Deathstars tribute live with Skinny Disco and the other will be a support to Star Industry. We are also planning a Finnish tour and a rest of the Europe mini tour in November and December, but nothing is confirmed yet. And this September we will shoot a video for "Terminate Me", which will feature Skinny Disco from Deathstars and is set to be released online in October. We also have scheduled some appearances on Greek TV stations.
Ines: Special Deathstars tribute, that sounds intriguing, can you tell us a bit more about that?
George: We will start the show with four or five SadDoLLs songs. Then Skinny will get on stage to perform "Terminate Me" with us and then we will continue by playing two or three Deathstars songs with Skinny on bass. It will be cool!
Ines: Sounds really fun and I'm already sorry I can't be there. But now that we got Skinny in the game, could you tell us a bit more how cooperation between you and him even started?
George: Well, Deathstars knew us from the Happy Deathday era, because our former manager Silke Ily Sirnio from HIM introduced us to them. We have been Facebook friends ever since with Skinny, so we send him over the demo version of the song. He liked it and he recorded it for the studio version.
Ines: Forgive me now for being a bit straight-forward now, but did you intentionally invite Skinny as a guest star to get more publicity? Deathstars do have a pretty solid and devoted fan base, especially now since their 4th full length was released a month and a half after yours. Did you aim to get some new fans by presenting Skinny or was it more of a “dream come true” collaboration?
George: Skinny is a well-known artist, so featuring him did of course appeal some new people to give Grave Party a spin. Whether we aimed for it or not - it really does not matter to us. We lived and experienced this as fans and we are long time Deathstars fans. It is cool that I can actually hear, and not just imagine, a great artist that plays in a band that I love, singing a verse in a song that I wrote lyrics and vocal lines for. This is priceless and bigger than popularity.
Ines: Nice to hear that. But this was not the first time you collaborated with a musician you also admire – if I recall correctly you also did a tribute HIM show and played with their former keyboard player, Zoltan Pluto. How did that come to be?
George: That was a magic experience and a huge honour for us: to share the same stage with a musician, who is actually playing the keyboards in the song of the decade known as “Join Me In Death”. We knew Zoltan since 2005 when To/Die/For visited Greece to perform a show, then we became friends on Facebook and we sent him a demo for the song “Dying On The Dancefloor” from our previous album Happy Deathday. He agreed to compose some keyboards for it. Our guitar player Paul Evilrose and Zoltan became close friends, so one day Zoltan decided to come to Greece to visit us and meet us in person – well, especially Paul, since he knew him already from that gig I was talking about. All of us together then decided to do a small HIM tribute on one of the days he was staying in Athens and he agreed to it immediately. We only played with him a couple of songs from Razorblade Romance, but he used the exact same samples and sounds as he used to when playing with HIM live in 2000. The songs sounded exactly the same! It was a real and truly amazing HIM live tribute. But the most amazing experience was meeting him and spending time with him. His is a marvellous person with a huge heart and we love him!
Ines: As you have one successful collaboration already behind you and one coming near, I must ask: is there still any particular musician or band you'd like to work with, if anything was possible?
George: Well HIM and Deathstars would close that "fan circle” we opened. And when I mention Deathstars I mean that I would also like to participate in their shows; supporting them or whatever. Let's see how this will develop in the years to come.
Ines: Now that you brought up supporting them, which was, let's say "the best band" you ever opened for?
George: Hmm, hard to say. I Guess The 69 Eyes. We opened for them a couple of months ago in Tallinn, Estonia and we also met them personally. They are great guys and they performed one hell of a show. We also had great fun with Lacrimas Profundere when we opened for them in Athens in 2008. We also shared some great moments with Chris Pohl from Blutengel after our appearance in Dark Storm Festival 2013 in Germany.

Ines: Let’s move on now and leave other bands out of the game and focus now on what's really important: SadDoLLs. If we go way back to the beginning, would you share the story of the band's formation with us?
George: I met Mr. Evilrose and our former bass player Miltos Demonized through a HIM fan club. They already had a band called Kingdom Of Dark Heaven and they had a female vocalist and played covers. I joined them in a rehearsal just for fun and one week later, Paul called me and told me that they had booked a show in a small theatre and he wanted me to sing with them under the working name SadDoLLs as a male fronted band. Soon the female singer became our keyboardist and we started working on our own songs. In the mid of 2007 we had our first official release done - The Dead In The Dollhouse EP. No great art in this one, but for our musical level back then it was OK.
Ines: So what's up with the "dolls"? Dolls in the band name, dolls in the EP title - any particular reason for that?
George: Not at all! SadDoLLs is actually a really corny and childish band name, but we were just children back then. Due to the popularity we gained with that band name, we decided to keep it. It means nothing at all; it's just a childish mistake that we got stuck with.
Ines: What about your artistic names? Mr. Evilrose, George Downloved... I'm sure these aren't the names your parents gave you. How and why did you come up with those?
George: The reason is our original Greek names. We just found the use of nicknames simpler than our real names because we were aiming for non-Greek audience from the beginning, so our real names wouldn't make any sense abroad. I use my last name – nickname- since I can remember and everybody recognises me by the nickname, so I use it in SadDoLLs as well. It is just a miss heard lyric from a song that said "down low" and I kind of changed it. I know it is stupid, but it got stuck with me.
Ines:  Hypothetically speaking - as you said the name SadDoLLs got stuck with you as did your names - so if you'd form a band right now, what would you name the band and yourself?
George: ThechnoirE and I would simply go as George G.
Ines: Well, straight-forward answer, with no hesitation. But tell me George, how does the song writing process usually takes place in your band?
George: Paul Evilrose is composing the music for most of the tracks, and I usually write the lyrics and vocal lines. Sometimes he writes some lyrics too. He usually composes the main idea and then we all gather and work on the arrangements; it's a really simple method really. And we have been using it for our last two albums and it seems to works very well. 
Ines: Simple recipe, which works, then. One more thing that really caught my attention is also the Johnny Cash cover of the song "Thirteen" you have done for Grave Party. We've talked about your influences before and Cash is stylistically far from it, but nonetheless, a respected musician we all know. How did you come up with an idea to cover that very song?
George: Simple recipe for this too: we were always looking for a song to cover it and make it our own and we always seemed to fail. We made a live cover for "I Was Made For Lovin You" by Kiss, but it sounded too metal and it killed the song's feeling completely. Then we tried to record Blondie's "Call Me" and that failed too. So we scrapped the idea and kept on doing live covers only, without changing them and making them more metal; we were just playing them exactly as they were. One day Paul sent me a rough demo of the chorus of "Thirteen" he recorded with his voice and he asked me if I liked it. It was the first SadDoLLs real cover song. It was just perfect for our sound and new album, so we recorded it. And it's originally sung by Johnny Cash, the legend himself, so it's an honour for us to get to honour his memory with that song.
Ines: Could you say which one of your songs do you enjoy performing live the most?
George: Hmmm, this is a hard one…. But I guess it's “Watch Me Crawl Behind”, which is my favourite SadDoLLs song .
Ines: Now that we know your favourite SadDoLLs song, would you be able to say which one of your songs makes the fans go wild?
George: I’m not sure yet; I think that “Criminal Of Love” and “Lady Cry” top them all, from what I can tell while doing a show.
Ines: Now George, I think we covered a lot about SadDoLLs, so at this point let me again say thank you for your collaboration and time and wish you all the best. Please, if there's anything else you'd like to tell to our readers about SadDoLLs  that I didn't ask or give them a message: famous last words are yours!
George: Thank you for this interview! I had a great time and I got to tell a lot more than I usu-ally can on the interviews, which is of course a good thing. Also I’d like to add that a lot of people say that Goth is dead... We’re here to resurrect it!

SadDoLLs links: Official website, Facebook