Keep up with Kostas Here:
Acid Death has shared the stage with numerous Greek metal acts over the years, some of them would be: Kreator, The Haunted, Impaled Nazarene, Children of Bodom, Rotting Christ, Mayhem, Coroner, Onslaught, Pestilence, Sadist, and Septic Flesh.
The band has participated also in many festivals, most importantly: Helvation Festival 2011 (Finland), Inferniac Festival 2012, (Greece), Rockwave Festival 2013 (Greece), New Long Festival 2013 (Greece), Metaldays Festival 2013 (Slovenia), Noisehead Fest 2014 (Greece), Total Metal Open Air Fest 2014 (Italy).
Kostas Alexakis Interview:
SDM: How important is seat height for your playing?
Well it’s very crucial to have my upper body placed just at the right height so as I am not placed not too high or too low in reference to the ground. As you know good positioning is very important for balancing yourself and be able to play your pedals correctly.
SDM: What companies are you endorsed by? Tell us why you use their products.
I am endorsed by Masterwork for cymbals and Czarcie Kopyto for drum pedals. Masterwork Cymbals have some really unique about them (as they are handmade, of course) and they have a realy big range of sounds which you can play around with and experiment! Also, they have created a couple of cymbals especially for me (as a one-off) which is something that is always appreciated! Now Czarcie Kopyto is a different story. I was looking for a very good direct-drive pedal to phase out from my DW chain drives (pedals which I still love very much). So my drum teacher (Fotis Benardo – ex-SepticFlesh) suggested that I try out his own pedals which are the ones I have now. I tried them out and I immediately fell in love with them. They have a TON of options for you in order to fit the pedal exactly where your foot wants it, they are really robust on their build and the double pedal which I have can split up in 2 singles just by moving the beater to the slave pedal and removing the connecting shaft. Pretty convenient I would say.
Now as far as companies that I would like to be endorsed by, I would say that I would love if I get endorsed by Vic-Firth and Pearl. I use their products all my drumming life and I really love them. So, yes. Give me a call 🙂
SDM: What has the reaction been like to your latest album?
The latest album that we did was a reuninion album for the band and it was received very nice for almost everyone. The sound, of course, is very different from 10 years back… as of course the feel of the music that we made, but we kept the same general direction. Still death, still technical! The newer stuff that we are making right now is taking a turn to up the bpm and difficulty level. But of course it was a fun challenge for us so we took it and I think we did great! Can’t wait to start performing these live.
SDM: Any touring plans of of now?
Right now we are not touring or have something planned as we are still producing the new album. We did recently play a show with The Haunted though, and that was great.
SDM: What are some different things you tried on your latest album, drumming-wise, that you haven’t before?
A lot more fills, a lot more cymbal stacking and a bit more blasting. I am a pretty straight-forward guy on my drumming. But as the music progressed and became more demanding, I upped my game too. Also, this time we decided to use both mics and triggers on the bass drums. The previous album was done with a single bass drum and just trigger.
SDM: How many takes did each track require?
Quite a few, haha! As some stuff was a bit more tricky to put down on recording, and trying out new ideas, we ended up taking an entire week to record everything. I really liked the end result though.
SDM: Are there any new drummers you have encountered on the road that just blow your mind?
For drummers that I toured with, I would say that the drummer that is currently with Master, Zdenek Pradlovsky, is an absolute beast! That guy has serious power and clarity on his playing. Of course I need not to say how impressed I was from Meshuggah’s Tomas Haake when played in the same festival on Slovenia. Man… that guy is seriously not human.
SDM: What sort of triggering and drum brain do you use?
I used an Alesis DM4 for just the kicks, and that sound was mixed into the natural kick sound we got from the mics.
SDM: What have you been listening to for inspiration on the latest recording?
I would say a lot of Gojira, Periphery and Devin Townsend Project. But it’s also what I have been incorporating into my playing for that given time in heavy dependence on what I am practicing on in my practice room.
SDM: How supportive has your label been to the band? What are some of your favorite bands on this label?
The label (for the time it existed anyways) was quite supportive. Now for the band part, I can’t say that I related to any fellow bands on that label.
SDM: What is the most used blast beat on the latest album? What’s your opinion on the gravity blast for your own playing?
I do not blast a whole lot, but what I do is regular skank-beat single foot blasting. The gravity blast now always seemed a little off-taste for my liking, but I suppose it has its nice little applications when you get the hang of it.
SDM: Does this newest work represent your strongest playing to date? If not, what album do you think features your best playing?
I would say the latest work I did with Acid Death called “Hall of Mirrors” represents in the best way where I would like to go as a drummer. So I really like it. It might look little simplistic for some but it holds some really key pieces of my personality as a drummer that I keep evolving.
SDM: How do you get a good snare tone in the studio? What Death metal album do you think had the best sounding snare you ever heard?
Well the snare drum, heads, and mics are all key factors on this. I use my Pearl Reference snare with Evans Hybrid on top and have mics capturing both the top and the bottom head. To be honest, you can have a good sound with pretty much any snare drum that has a decent tuning and a good sound man, but if your initial source is better, then you get good results much faster. For snare sounds I would say that both SepticFlesh’s sound on “Titan” and Gojira’s sound on “L’Enfant Sauvage.” Both represent what I really love sound-wise.
SDM: What foot technique do you use the most for rapid double bass patterns and how long did it take you to perfect? Any suggestions you can give are readers who want reach insane speeds on double bass like yourself?
I would not classify myself as someone who does crazy speeds, but I do what I can. I use the standard heel-up technique in both slow and fast speeds with my foot moving a little closer to the base of the footboard the faster the speed goes. I recently started practicing the swivel technique, but that still has a long way to go until it’s usable. Well, there is only one standard advice that everyone knows about: keep practicing! Find a technique that you really feel comfortable with from the outset and go to town with it. Start slow with a click and keep progressing.
SDM: How important is it to wear the right footwear when playing?
Not very for me… I used to play barefoot, but I gave that up. Standard sneakers is fine in my book.
SDM: What are some exercises you use to strengthen your hands and feet?
Its all in one book. “Stick Control for the Snare Drummer,” By George Lawrence Stone. Seriously that book has EVERYTHING in it. And it applies for both hand a feet. You can’t really go wrong by practicing that.
SDM: Do you practice any half-time shuffle grooves?
Well not as much as I would like to! I really do mostly stuff that will help me out with the current genre that I am playing.
SDM: How about practicing linear patterns? Do you cover any of this in your practice routines?
Linear patterns are something of favorite for me. I practice them but mostly for own personal enjoyment since I have yet to find an application for them in the play-style of my current band. Hopefully, if I deal with a different kind of music I can incorporate them.
SDM: What inspires you to create new grooves behind the kit?
Well most of the times it’s something cool that I have picked up from another drummer, which I try to give it a new twist or a new riff that my guitarist gave me to play with. It’s a really fun and creative process to try to find out something which is cool to hear, play and actually grooves.
SDM: How important is it to keep eye contact with your fellow band members while playing live?
Not very important… Because locking in is something that you should have worked on in practice sessions. It should be already there before you get on the stage. Now, interaction between us is always great because that feeling of playing something rock solid rubs off to the crowd and brings everyone in the groove of the band.
SDM: How are your drums arranged, in order to achieve the ultimate results from your playing?
I like my drums pretty low in reference to my eye level. The snare rim is around an inch above in height from my upper leg when I am sitting and the toms are set quite close to that so I can optimize my movements. Same goes for my cymbals; the front crashes are about at eye level and the rest below that height.
SDM: How much of your time behind the kit do you just let loose?
It depends! There are times where I get on with my regular practice schedule and there are times where I have this groove stuck in my head which I cannot get over until I play it on the kit. So I might spend a portion or an entire session just trying out the groove (and then writing it down so I wont forget). I try not to fool around too much and just do what needs to be done at a given time.
SDM: How much of your time do you concentrate on practicing things you may not be so good at yet? What are some of your strengths and weaknesses behind your playing?
I suppose practicing the thing that you are not good at is the whole point of practicing in the first place, right? Well for most cases at least! That’s what I try to do. I know for example that one of my weaknesses is that I cannot blast very fast with a single foot. Or that my blasts lack variety. So I try to strengthen these points by doing exercises that evolve them. I would say that some of my strengths is that I have lots of ideas of things that could fit in a given section so I can work on them to make the music sound better.
SDM: How do you keep motivated to drum?
My own will to be the best that I can be! I love drumming and I love to be able to play a lot of different things efficiently and with musicality! So I am striving towards that.
SDM: What are some of the methods you practice in order to get great pocket time and feel?
I first practice the pattern that I want to learn with a click and no feel to it. Once I get down how everything should fall into place, I start adding all the feel to it like dynamics, ghosts etc. Sometimes It goes the other way around; If it’s something that its stuck in my head, I try to get it down on the kit with all the feel I can give it and then I start to deconstruct it to its base elements. Once I find these out, I try to build it up again but more solid and with the appropriate feeling to it.
SDM: Are you a big fan of pro tools and do you support others in the studio copying and pasting / manipulating your performance?
I’d like to think that they help in order to get the desired result. But I am not a big fan of copying and pasting entire sections. I’d like my playing to be as unedited as possible. But there are times where you don’t have all the studio time in the world in order to get something down as good as you would like. So a little editing here and there is not something bad in my opinion.
SDM: What factors do you consider when buying a drum head? Is it just durability, plenty of life, or a open bright tone or a fat sound you are looking for?
I usually try to mix all these in together when possible. The Evans Hybrid skin is a great example on how you can combine all these qualities into one drumhead. Unfortunately there are not many things like that for the toms and kicks. So whenever I go into the studio for recording sessions I focus on drumheads that will get me the best tone out of my drums. But for practicing, and since I do not have an endorsement for heads so I can get em cheaper, I pick out a head which I know I will not need to change very often.
SDM: How often do you use odd time signatures?
Quite frequently, as the genre I am currently playing has a lot of that in it! But as I said, I am not someone who will deliberately change the signature so it sounds more flashy or weird. It all has to do with the music. If it calls for it, then it gets it.
SDM: How much time do you focus on drum fills when practicing by yourself?
I try to dedicate a small portion of practice on fills. At this timeframe I am more focus on technique so fills/licks come in second. But I find something tasty that I really like I try to practice it a bit to get it down so I do not forget it.
SDM: Do you practice One handed rolls?
Well, I personally do not use these or never felt the need to start using them so I do not practice them. But I suppose it’s up to the drummer and the personal style which he/she plays. Others rely a lot on it, others don’t use it at all.
SDM: How do you build your chops and drum licks?
Practice pad, George Lawrence’s book for the Snare drummer and metronome. Once you get these down on the pad and you start applying them on the kit you get serious development there.
SDM: How good are you at playing at a slow tempo?
Well everything that I practice, it starts very slow and then builds up from there. Including all grooves that I might come up with or hear from someone else and would like to play too. So I would say that I am decent? I don’t know, haha! But It’s not that I hear a slow tempo and get all itchy to add a blast or a fast fill into it.
SDM: How important is proper drum tuning to your playing?
It’s important as setting your seat, drumkit and rest of your gear correctly. Tuning is a big part of the drummer’s setup that a lot of us either seem to ignore, or try to pass it off quickly by just tuning sloppily. There are methods and tricks so you can get a very good sound off your kit with very little effort, so do your homework, kids! (and by that I mean, look it up on youtube) Don’t play with an untuned kit.
SDM: What other styles of music can you play or are you interested in?
I really like jazz and samba rythms! Whereas the samba ones have something really spicy, cheerfull and upbeat about them, jazz is a kind of chill out situation.