Late last year, we reviewed Leap of Faith, an incredible Alt Rock-infused Stoner Rock album from Narcosis that fit well into the Greek Stoner Rock scene, especially alongside contemporary albums like Youth of Dissent from 1000mods.
We were so enamored with Leap of Faith that we reached out to Narcosis founder (and guitarist/vocalist) Marios-Kostas Pappas to uncover more details about the album’s creation and the band’s background.
A Conversation With Marios-Kostas Pappas
Monster Riff: I’ve read in a few different places that Narcosis began in 1998, but everyone in the band looks relatively young and I can’t find any material from before 2015 (Road to Infinity). Tell me how the band started and what you were up to from 1998-2015.
Marios-Kostas Pappas: I was very young at that time—14 years old—and we had a different lineup. We started as a trio band and I was on the bass instead of guitar.
It was an era before the internet exploded, and we were playing gigs in very small venues and in little houses managed by anarchist groups. Our sound was raw and Grungy with a lot of Punk Rock attitude, you know, breaking down our gear and that kind of shit. We even released eight EPs (30 songs total) on cassette for free. I do have those recordings somewhere in my storeroom.
In 1999, I saw QOTSA play live in Athens for the first time and I remember that their songs inspired me to start working on much more riff-based tunes.
Unfortunately, we had to finish school, and then we split up for university studies, and then we had military service—yes, in Greece military service is something that you cannot avoid—and then, of course, we had to get jobs and make a living.
We finally had time to make music more seriously with a steady lineup in 2014, seven months before our debut release.
Monster Riff: Tell me more about the venues you played in as a kid. What was the atmosphere like? And what was it like being there as a young man?
Marios-Kostas Pappas: I remember my first live show… Blood was pumping hours before the concert up until the soundcheck. When I got on the stage, it was just me and the sound. I still remember our shitty and loud sound, but we didn’t care for such things, let alone the crowd trying to get drunk and laid. We just wanted to play and have fun. Obviously, I felt overwhelmed by the crowd watching, as every teenager playing live for the first time. At the end of the gig, I felt relief and satisfaction for actually playing in front of people.
Monster Riff: 2015’s Road to Infinity is an awesome album, but its sound is quite different than what you’ll find on Leap of Faith. How would you compare the two albums, and how did the band change and evolve between both writing sessions?
Marios-Kostas Pappas: As I said, the band solidified only several months before the release of Road to Infinity. The music came to be more raw and improvised. We didn’t quite think about it; it was a spontaneous process. We just wanted to record and release our music.
On the other hand, Leap of Faith is more mature and well-thought-out. We actually spent a whole year writing the album and fine-tuning the song structures, the sounds, and the melodies, and, beyond that, we had a new drummer. The obvious change in our sound was inevitable, but we always wanted to evolve, so I believe it turned out to be a good thing. Besides that, we wanted to incorporate more Post and Atmospheric music elements in the album that Road to Infinity only minimally had.
Last but not least, the overall production on Leap of Faith is on a whole new level compared to its predecessor, and it was completely intended to be.
Monster Riff: Many of the songs on this album open or close with haunting tones. For example, the intro to “Shifter” is really unsettling. How are you producing these sounds, and what inspired these moments (versus sticking to the main parts of the songs)?
Marios-Kostas Pappas: I wanted the songs to sound like living in a weird and stressful dream, and that’s why I think this record is musically deeper and richer. Guitars recorded in the smallest room of the studio give this beefy and dry sound while maintaining a claustrophobic feeling.
Doing the opposite of using a Les Paul into a Marshall head amp with a huge cabinet forces you to do things differently. Physically being in a tight space and spending time with your rig was easy enough to produce these bizarre sounds.
Monster Riff: Talk to me about the album closer, “Poison Cup.” When I initially reviewed the album, I talked about how the guitar solo sounded a lot like Santana and the song as a whole stands out against the rest of the album. Is there any special significance behind “Poison Cup”?
Marios-Kostas Pappas: As a band, we aim to surprise the listener, that’s why especially in Leap of Faith we use many different parts in a single song. I’ve heard many records where if you hear just one song off that record you basically have already listened to the whole album. This is something that Narcosis will never attempt to do.
“Poison Cup” was a song created effortlessly. We rehearsed the song for about three or maybe four times before we recorded it.
At first, I was thinking about using only acoustic instruments, but I said, “Heck, let’s do it our way.” The guitar solo is just the offspring of our playful improvisations while recording the song in the studio.
Monster Riff: In one of our previous conversations, you mentioned that “Unknown Flavors” originally started as a bit of a filler track—but it has, in my opinion, turned into one of the best songs on the album! Any interesting stories behind other songs on the record?
Marios-Kostas Pappas: I remember working on “Unknown flavors” for about a year, especially its outro, and I didn’t know what to do or what I even wanted to do.
I went to the studio and when we finished the main parts of the song, we were all very unsatisfied with the outro—especially Jon (our bassist). We kept playing it over and over again until our drummer, Zois, came up with the idea to use dynamics as the main key of that part. He came up with a beat and the rest was easy.
Every song on the album has a story behind it. For example, the main part of the track “Leap of Faith” was written after Ι rewatched Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands. By the way, I love that gloomy and creepy atmosphere in Burton’s movies, and that’s especially evident from the music-box imitation at the end of the song.
Monster Riff: Who are your favorite fellow Greek bands to listen to right now?
Marios-Kostas Pappas: We’ve shared the stage with a lot of Greek bands, like Nightstalker, Poltergeist, Void Droid, Yellow Devil Sauce, and many, many others, and it would be unfair to highlight only one band. But I can tell you that we do listen to every single release of the scene—not only because we like and support it but also to avoid doing something that’s already been done by them.