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Achilla

Martamaria Q & A

Lean, enthusiastic and a lively conversationalist, Achilla’s striking female vocalist Martamaria Kupeczik is raring to go with some UK tour dates and buzzing with the news that Achilla have added a keyboard player to their numbers and the extra dimensions he is bringing to the melodic metal band’s sound.  Over dinner in downtown Twickenham we talk about everything happening under the sun ( including Living Colour), but on the lady and her group we start thus :
FH : What has adding a keyboard player to the Achilla lineup meant to the group sound ?
MK : It does make a world of difference..we had not pushed to get a keys player aboard, but once we had come across the right one ( Gabor Soulavy – PS) and another countrymate ! – its amazing another Hungarian in London who actually fits the mix of styles in your group…Gabor auditioned two years ago, then he was a student and not ready for touring because of his studies and then Dani started to play sometimes with a covers band and ran into Gabor and then said to me literally one and a half weeks before BloodStock
‘ We have to take that guy along with us ! ‘ We texted him to tell him and he straight away said yes and we played BloodStock and went down a storm..
FH: Sounds like Fate knocking on your door, doesn’t it ?
MK : (Laughs) Indeed !
( The rest of the Achila crew are Daniele Panza, guitar, Greek bassist Gus Macrisostas and Italian drummer Vincenzo Infusion – PS )
FH : Do you ever play songs in a live setting before you actually record them in the studio ?
MK :Yes we do, and I really think that is the best way to build new songs, it’s one thing to have an idea how a song will sound but another thing to consider how it will come across ‘live’
FH : It’s the audience reaction
MK : Absolutely, it really helps a lot
FH : Audiences respond to dynamic passages, they will follow you if the song has merit
MK : Yes, it’s how they follow, how they react and how they are connected – you can truly see that
FH : Do you write songs with other band members ?
MK : We do write songs together… when I started this band we include songs from our previous years making music. I used to write with two boys from my old college. One of these became ‘Fever’ in our repertoire. We finished the second half of the album with Dani my current guitarist. The band is four years old now and we have been through a lot..
FH : Now Dani’s the guy I saw when you opened for Delain at Relentless Garage ? A little touch of Paul Kossof in his playing…
MK : Well he has heard pretty much everything…now he is playing whatever he likes
FH : I could be wrong !  Puts some soul into the technique…
MK : ( sighs and smiles)
FH : I write down every lyric idea  ever have in a notebook – do you ?
MK : (Nods) I do a lot of that, Pete… the boys make fun of me as I am always with a pen, paper. Notebook, always writing. It can happen in odd situations and people seeing you writing stuff down, it looks kind of ‘ official’ or something
FH : When I’m reviewing a concert, people always ask me what I’m doing…I have to give them a site card so they can read the piece later..
MK : Yes, it happens in a moment..and you have to write it down..you don’t know what is going to happen next and you might lose those words !
FH : They’re not always brilliant later, but ..
MK: (Emphatically) No – you have to do it there and then ! That’s how Achilla’s best song was created. I wanted to write about time and how people are relating to time ..but I didn’t find the angle for a long while..then it just happened and came together !
FH : Name some songs that make you cheerful
MK :  Shinedown’s ‘The Crow & the Butterfly ‘. Other artists that inspire are Doro Pesch and Lacuna Coil ( who we really want to open for ). But a whole album that lifts me is Dream Theater’s ‘ Images & Words’
FH : Does Achilla the band ever complete an instrumental track and then ask you to compose a lyric ?
MK : Oh yes ! Our album’s title song ‘Timeless’ is a good example. Dan had this crazy thought, before we were going into our last recording session with Vince our drummer – he wrote one more song overnight, which set quite a challenge for our band and Vince, wh had to play it the very next day literally heard the song only just before we recorded it. Then, the song was ‘Song 11′ but then I came up with the lyrics and the melody and that became our debut album title track.
FH : Is your album nearing completion ? Any details ?
MK : Never say an album is complete before it’s out ! I’d rather say – we are very close. We have to remove some guitars, add keyboards and add a little more vocals. The demo has already received favourable reviews from Malcolm Dome and Gotz Kuhnemund ( key English and German reviewers, readers  PS )
FH :  How long were you living in Hungary ?    What music did you happen to hear there that inspired you to sing ?
MK : I grew up in Hungary …and that means you learn at least a hundred folk songs in elementary school ( thanks to to the work of Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly – PS). You learn all these songs until you reach the age of fourteen so these were my earliest musical influences. Then , my sister bought an album by a Hungarian metal band Pokolgep and this made me discover another spectrum. It seems Hammerfall discovered them too, as they covered one of their old classic songs called ‘Send Me A Sign’. In the rock category a Hungarian group called Edda Muvek was the biggest influence on me…still is
( That’s until you’ve played the 1994 album I gave you a bit more, Martamaria – featuring Karen Lawrence, this writer’s favourite hardrock vocalist…ha – PS )
FH : What track if played on the radio would you run to switch off ?
MK : If I am around my guitarist Dani, it would surely be Europe ‘The Final Countdown’. I love the song but when he hears the first chords he will find the nearest keyboard and play along with it..with one finger, in the most annoying way !
( On the way home, I tell Martamaria my own ‘Final Countdown’ story – but I can’t write it down here, sorry !  If we ever meet, I will tell it to you – PS)
FH : Playing live, you meet many players and see many acts, but who would you still like to experience live ?
MK : Depeche Mode, Bon Jovi, Evanessence, Doro….just to name a few
FH : What is Achilla’s slowest song ? And what’s your approach to singing it ?
MK : The ballad called ‘Pain’ which we’ve played live only a few times and only acoustically. This song goes deep..I am really proud of it..so my approach is putting all my passion into every single word that  am singing
FH : Name an album that you can enjoy all the way through – listeners now seem to be slipping away from listening to an entire disc in the original intended sequence
MK : I really enjoy listening to ‘Images & Words’ by Dream Theater, that album is a masterpiece. Unfortunately you are right…people listen a lot less to complete albums but rather songs…it’s a rushing world where you get a quick snap from everything
FH : More and more I find fellow musicians are inspired by films  - your thoughts  / stance?
MK : I agree.  Consciously or subconsciously we are all inspired by films, movies.  I love the BBC series about new discoveries, how colours work on people or how the human brain works. I am reading a lot but I would like to read more and write meaningful lyrics. Some of the movies that have influenced me are ‘The Guardian’, about lifeguards’ life, ‘Anvil ! The Story of Anvil ‘ and ‘Almost Famous’ about musicians. Also a relatively new Science Fiction series ‘Flashforward’ and naturally ‘Spinal Tap’ as a comedy..they all speak for themselves.
FH : Over the ages, band scenes have often been riddled with rivalries (the original Mod Scene , for example) HOWEVER the more melodic metal bands I meet, the more it seems to me that they have a great cameradarie – what do you think ?
MK :I don’t think there can be a real competition in music…to me it’s like ‘What is the nicest colour ?’ It’s a lot about your individual taste
( Martamaria is by the way full of praise for the way Delain treated Achilla and advised them on tour – it’s this that I pick up on when talking to these melodic metal acts, there’s a lot of mutual respect rather than sneering. Also she is in awe of the kindness of Lahannya, a fellow metal act – PS)
FH : Name an Achilla song that put over your intended sound/ feel
MK : ‘ Timeless’ – if you are in the audience and a music lover you will enjoy it as it has a flow and a catchy melody..but if you are a musician you will be thinking  ’Wait a minute…how many bloody time signature changes can yu put in a three-minute song ??’ so, the song talks to everyone in a way…
The above leaves out a lot of Martamaria’s thoughts on other worldly matters ( including men and the media), but what you need to know is that Achilla are champing at the bit to get out here play more live music, keep honing their songs AND that they are an intriguing mix of Hungarian, Greek and Italian rock styles plus a lot more besides…..
Pete Sargeant       www.fairhearing.co.uk
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