Sakis Tolis / Rotting Christ

Bands - Musicians - Issue 1

Their music is considered as radical as their success. Highly regarded in the international music scene, Rotting Christ continue to create and evolve even after 25 years. HeartbeatInk sampled their new album Κατά τον Δαίμονα Εαυτού (Do What Thou Wilt) and chatted with the soul of the band, front-man Sakis Tolis

You have performed more than 1000 concerts, many of which have taken place in faraway places we would only ever dream of like Chile, Colombia, Siberia, Iceland, Australia etc. How does it all feel?

I feel like a warrior of metal. In some way I have created a fairytale, an idea, so I can deal with this amazing but also tiring roaming around the world. Obviously it is amazing to say that you have performed in the Andes. However, in order to get to the Andes in one day and perform at a height of 3.500m plus the jetlag, it is not as easy as it sounds nice.

Our goal is to play our music all over the world and honestly that makes up keep going. I am a traveler with the true sense of the word, not the ‘cool’ one. I feel great after a concert, when I realize that my music has touched someone who is so far away from us, from our home. 

“Κατά τον Δαίμονα Εαυτού (Do What Thou Wilt) is your 11th full length album. How would you describe it in relation with the 2 previous and very successful Theogoneia and Aealo?

It’s the last and darkest part of a trilogy which really renewed the band. It is our most unconventional album, there is no English title, the cover is in black and white like the good old days and it doesn’t even have our logo. We are not concerned about showing who we are after all these years. It definitely won’t help commercially but I don’t care anymore. 

“Κατά τον Δαίμονα Εαυτού”(Do What Thou Wilt) is an album with many cultural crossovers. 

It is a journey into the past, to ancient civilisations with their myths and traditions. There are many languages: Greek, Latin< Spanish, Romanian, Slavic and ancient Mayan. 
It definitely is more ‘difficult’ because it is made up of longer recordings, but I am sure that the listener will travel to places magical and arcane. 


Why did you choose this particular title?

It means Do What Thou Wilt. It is a saying, a motto, which has followed the band all these years, since the time of Non Serviam. 

The way the music industry works today, as well as the listener’s psychology has changed a lot since you first started. How have you experienced it all?

We began during the 80s. We sent out demos on tapes and our only way of communication was via the postman. There were no mobiles then, no computers nor email. We have experienced a tremendous change, a cultural shock. We are lucky we adjusted to the new way of things and are managing to survive without betraying what we do, in an era when everything is sold and bought. Social Media definitely help but I’m afraid that ‘big brother’ has entered our personal lives and legends aren’t created any more. Everything can be found out, there are no personal moments. I believe that at some point, people will become more human again and relax from the social media orgasm.


What is your view on the Greek metal scene?

It’s on the rise. There are loads of good bands. They are going for it, doing tours. They have got the point. Us older guys gave them the light, placed the corner stone and went from 0 to 1. It is definitely easier to go from 1 to 2. However, it will be a big accomplishment if the younger guys manage to survive through music.

The only thing that seems to be missing is personality. I mean, to put some elements into their sound, which will differentiate them from an American band. Of course that takes time and experience. But I see a lot of positive points and I believe they will find their way. 

What would you advise someone young who admires you and wants to get into metal music?

Be himself and not want to be famous.


What is your relationship with tattoos?

I haven’t had a tattoo done in over 10 years. The ones I have are ‘dirty’ tattoos and have been done in different countries around the world. We were on tour, I would meet people during the live concerts, a fan would come up to me and say ‘Sakis do you want me to do a tattoo for you?’ I’d say go for it. I’d go the next day and get it done. I’d pick the design on the spot and they would do it. 

My tattoos are rather small and maybe a little clumsy… I’m not like guys nowadays who fill their arms up with tattoos within a month.

Are you planning on getting more?

Someone in Brazil wants to cover me up and I am seriously thinking of going for it.


Why do most musicians in the metal scene have tattoos? What is your opinion?

We are a group of people who thinks differently from others and that is obviously reflected in our appearance. Of course, with the way the tattoo scene has grown today you probably differentiate yourself if you don’t have any!

At the beginning of the 90s, my brother and I got our first tattoos. When our parents saw us they went mad. They thought that only convicts and sailors got tattoos. It was very tough then. Of course they don’t care anymore. I’m waiting to see what my daughter will say. I expect she will ask for her own tattoo in a few years…

Last photo_Band

Photos & interview by Ino Mei.
Band Photo by Lukas Vasilikos.