Interviews: Herc

On this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the Tolkien Metal band Herc from Germany. Check out this band and follow them on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band’s name, did you plan it or come out just like that? 

IC: My actual name is Hercules, but people used to, and still do, call me “Herc” instead. When I composed my first song inspired by Tolkien's poem “A Elbereth Gilthoniel,” I initially thought of using “Herc” as the temporary name for this side project. However, I grew rather fond of it, so I decided to keep using it. Additionally, after releasing my first unofficial compilation of acoustic songs, I had the pleasure of receiving a proper logo design from the mighty “Lord of the Logos”, Christophe Szpajedel. This firmly cemented the project’s name for good. sealing this way, the project’s name for good.

2. Why did you want to play this genre? 

IC: Throughout the years, I've immersed myself in a diverse array of bands and genres, primarily within the metal scene. However, one band captured my heart from the very first listen – Blind Guardian. Their musical style and thematic concepts align perfectly with my personal taste. Above all other influences, it was Blind Guardian that shaped me into the artist I am today, guiding me toward my current musical direction. In addition to them, I draw inspiration from bands like Bathory, Insomnium, Empyrium, Ulver, Wintersun, and many more, along with rock bands such as Styx, Kansas, and Blackmore’s Night. These bands have evoked profound emotions through their songs, propelling me on a musical journey to create the perfect atmosphere within my own compositions. Each song I craft tells a different story, and it's of paramount importance to me that the listener perceives these stories as heartfelt, adventurous fables. The result is a genre that seamlessly melds the elements I've mentioned.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed? 

IC: Yes, I've known Panayotis since my early 20s. We used to play in different bands, but unfortunately, I never had the chance to collaborate with him. It's such a pity because, upon working together with Panayotis, I instantly realized how closely our musical minds aligned. I am confident that together we can create wonderful music. I can't help but feel that I missed out on some great opportunities by not making music with him earlier. Now, I'm genuinely excited about our future endeavors.

PM: I had the luck of knowing Iraklis for years and I was a big fan of his work with Herc and Arkenstone. I was always fascinated by his vocals and admired his passion for music and metal. Once he suggested that we should work together, it was an immediate “yes” from me before he even finished his sentence. When I first listened to the first songs we would work on, I recognized that they were totally matching my own music taste and it was a no-brainer that we should take it a step further together.

4. Each band member's favorite band? 

PM: Similarly, with Iraklis, my taste in music includes many different music genres, as well as many different metal genres. Since it is very difficult to narrow it down to one band, my top 3 would be Black Sabbath, Nevermore, and Psychotic Waltz.

IC: As I mentioned earlier, Blind Guardian is my favorite and most influential band of all time. However, if I were to pick my personal top three, the remaining two bands would be In Flames and Nevermore.

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs? 

IC: Tolkien has always been my primary source of musical inspiration. I fell in love with his books and poems during my late teens, and they continue to ignite my imagination. These stories immediately generate various musical concepts and ideas in my mind. Back in 1998, I formed a band named Arkenstone with the intention of narrating the story of "The Hobbit" in our debut album. Our singer, Nick Spyridakis, wrote the lyrics in a similar manner to how I approached our latest album, "Of Light and Darkness" – one song for each chapter of the book. However, a few years later, the band underwent a musical style change, and this concept was never released. When I began creating music as Herc, I decided that this album deserved to see the light of day. "Towards the Mountains" marked my first official release as a solo artist, and I was thrilled with the result. Consequently, I continued crafting music under the same influence and direction. 

6. Where was your last gig? 

IC: Until recently, Herc used to be a one-man project. Due to this, I only had the chance to hit the stage and perform just once. It was almost 16 years ago at a local bar in my hometown, Heraklion, Crete. Alongside a good friend of mine, we hosted an acoustic evening, performing various cover songs from the metal scene and some of my own compositions from my first compilation album, "Of Perilous Realms... and Other Tales."

7. Where would you like to act? 

IC: I currently have no plans for touring, as my private life keeps me quite busy. However, I can't say definitively that, in the future, we won't consider a few gigs with the assistance of hired musicians for those shows, or perhaps as an acoustic duo with Panayotis or anyone who can lend their support. While I would love to perform anywhere, if I were to choose an event, it would be the "Tolkien Tage Festival" in Geldern, Germany. I can't think of a better event to make my debut performance and promote my music.

8. Whom would you like to feature with?  

IC: Last December, I had the honor of attending Anneke Van Giersbergen's solo acoustic tour. I'm a fan of her work, and I've always wanted to see her perform because I adore her voice. When I finally had the opportunity, I found myself in tears during the live show, marking the first time in my life that this had happened. I would not only love it but also greatly appreciate the chance to incorporate her voice into one of my songs or, even better, to sing alongside her. 

9. Whom not? 

IC: Haha! I don't know. Even though I think very hard, I can't come up with any particular artist I wouldn't like to collaborate with. I'm an easy-going person, and I can collaborate smoothly with almost everyone! Well, almost everyone, because I do suffer from ADHD, and I might have unintentionally alienated some people I've worked with in the past without even noticing it.

10. Have any of you ever suffered from stage fright? Any tips for beginners on how to beat that? 

IC: I've performed several times in the past with different bands of mine, and I've never been afraid to take the stage, except once! There was an audition back in 2004 for a talent show in Greece. I had to sing "With or Without You" by U2 a cappella. For some reason, even though I was perfectly calm before stepping onto the stage, I got very nervous during my turn. I was holding the sheet of lyrics, but my hands were trembling so intensely that it was impossible for me to read them! This taught me one thing: No matter how confident you feel or how well-prepared you are, you might reach a point where your nerves take over, and your legs might not cooperate as you'd expect. It happens to everyone, so try not to feel bad about it. Just get up there and have fun! It's the little mistakes during a performance that make it feel truly live, after all!

PM: In every gig, the first five minutes for me are always making my heart pump faster. It always gets better when the band and the audience connect, to enjoy the same beautiful feelings that music is capable of awakening in all of us. If you are a beginner with stage fright, just know that it is a part of being a musician and that all it means is that you really care for everyone to have a good time and sometimes a little bit of anxiety shows your passion and dedication in what you do. If you focus on enjoying the experience and have a good relationship with your fellow musicians, just turn to give them a look and smile. Everything will get better if you have fun playing until the band and audience become one inseparable organism.

11. What bands have inspired you the most? 

IC: (Off the record: could we skip this question since I already answered similarly above, on question number 5? In any way, I provided you my answer too.) In addition to Blind Guardian, I draw musical inspiration from bands such as Bathory, Insomnium, Empyrium, Ulver, and Wintersun. I'm also inspired by rock bands like Styx, Kansas, and Blackmore’s Night.

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for? 

IC: After a show with a former punk rock band of mine in Thessaloniki, I was sweating profusely, and I had a bit to drink as well. As I was taking off my soaking wet T-shirt, a fan of ours asked me to give it to him. Instead, I playfully threw it in his direction, and it ended up landing on his face! He took it and jokingly said, "Sexy! It smells bad, but I'll keep it."

13. What do you think of your fans? 

IC: I look at myself as a start-up artist who’s trying to build up a fan base, and so far, this is proceeding slowly, but in a good direction. There are a few people who have spent some time listening to our music, and they are always getting back to us with their heart-warming words. These people have become loyal fans. This is practically what keeps me going, even though I am not a famous artist. I am hopeful that our upcoming projects will make this small, yet, slowly expanding group of people very happy. I could not be more grateful for having them.

14. What do you think of our site?

IC: By looking at your website with the eye of a web developer, which is my profession, I can certainly say that it looks very professional and very user-friendly! Apart from that, I loved its vast content and its huge variety of genres. I also liked your focus on smaller bands like us, and the way you guys are promoting them. What you are doing and the way you are doing it, shows your love and devotion for this music! Keep up the good work! People like you are in need and bands like us should be very pleased to be featured on websites like yours!

PM: Everything on your site is spot on. I enjoyed the neat categorization, aesthetics, and the wide range of materials you cover. Great work, keep rocking! 

15. Something to add?

IC: First and foremost, thank you for giving us a voice on your website! We will be very pleased if more people find out about us and listen to our music, because of this interview. For everyone who reads this: I will kindly ask you to check out our music. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us in case you like what you hear! Please, make sure to subscribe to our social channels and spread the word, to let more people know about Herc and its endeavors.

PM: Thank you for the interview, the great questions, and your interest in our band! We really appreciate it, and we are very excited to share our music with your readers! Everyone, keep rocking!

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