Canadian metallers The Agonist recently unleashed the Days Before The World Wept EP. Featuring a batch of new brutal, yet melodic gems, the release was inspired by real life experiences, and “explores a grim, conceptual tale of greed, gluttony, confusion, pain, redemption and hope enveloped in a new level of aggression and cohesive, technical prowess.” We spoke to vocalist Vicky Psarakis about creating music during a pandemic, the new EP’s concept, future plans for The Agonist and more.
Brendan Crabb: Tell us about the writing and recording of an EP amidst a global pandemic, and the unique challenges that presented.
Vicky Psarakis: I can’t say the process was any different than usual. The only thing that was difficult was crossing the border and having to quarantine to record my vocals. I’m the only person in the band that resides in the USA and there were serious travel restrictions at the time.
According to the press materials, the new EP is a conceptual tale inspired by real-life experiences. Can you tell us more about the concept, including who devised the idea?
Sure, I was behind that. To give you the short version of the story, it talks about a character’s journey through afterlife and the many stages until they’re brought back to this Earth. It’s a fictional story, filled with my own personal emotions and beliefs, and the lyrics are written in a way that are very relatable, even if you have no idea what the general concept is.
I feel the vocals on this record are some of your strongest and most diverse work yet. Who are your main vocal inspirations, and how do you keep your voice in such strong shape?
Thank you. I can’t say I have any specific vocal inspirations anymore. There are singers that inspired me to get into it when I was younger, but at this point I’m mostly intrigued by all the different emotions and sounds a human voice can create. I have somewhat of a voice acting approach when writing and performing. I’m pretty active with streaming and recording covers and guest features, so that naturally keeps my voice in shape.
What’s the touring outlook for The Agonist in support of this EP? Are the band keen to get out on the road, or with the pandemic ongoing is it all up in the air at the moment?
We don’t have any tours this year, unfortunately. Some plans for a North American tour next spring and possibly other territories later in the year, but nothing that can be announced just yet.
Is there a new full-length in the works for The Agonist? If so, could it explore similar themes to the EP?
Perhaps. It’s all very preliminary at this stage and we’re in no rush to record new songs, but ideas are there. And lyrically I do want to continue this story that I have in my head.
I’ve enjoyed your series of quarantine covers, whereby you’ve tackled everything from In Flames, Korn and Killswitch Engage songs to the Ghostbusters theme. How do you go about selecting which artists to cover?
It’s a very random process. Most times I just say yes to what other people suggest (laughs). Especially when it’s not what someone would expect me to do.
The videos for the covers have also seen you really embracing the process – donning costumes, wearing pro-wrestling title belts and the like. Is it all as much fun as it looks?
(Laughs) Well… I do enjoy video editing. So that was a good reason to dive into it and learn some stuff. It’s a ton of work though, which is why covers took a bit of a backseat this year, since original music was being created and shared with the world.
As you mentioned, in recent times you’ve become an avid streamer. However, you’ve also created your own merchandise and co-launched the Sicksense project. How you plan to balance these activities when The Agonist’s schedule really kicks off again?
I’m very grateful to be expanding and growing the team of people that help me with all these endeavours. In the beginning I was tackling a lot of tasks all on my own and it was absolutely exhausting. Mind you, I’m still exhausted, but I have a great support system that is always willing to help out when needed. I’m not worried.
Any famous last words?
Wait, am I dead?
(interview published October 30, 2021)
Watch The Agonist – “Remnants In Time” Video