Interview with Spyros Charmanis of NONE OTHER

Spyros Charmanis

Greek composer and multi-instrumentalist Spyros Charmanis runs the project called None Other, and he recently put out an album titled “Than The Common Plague.” In this introductory interview for Prog Sphere, Spyros tells us about the project, the album, and more. Read on!

Define the mission of None Other.

Probably write good and moving music! I am also very happy when I meet people through it. Now, if I get the chance to travel and look a bit around because of it, it would be an added bonus!

Tell me about the creative process that informed your album “Than The Common Plague” and the theme it captures.

Usually the creative process begins in my head and depends on whether I am receptive to new musical ideas or not. I think this time one of the first things I envisioned was the absence of drums and bass while there are fuzzy guitars at work on the chorus of a song (which eventually came to be ‘Torpor Serving’). Usually the music comes way before the lyrics, which can be a pain to stretch into form as the songs progress! This album in particular deals with the themes of disease, treatment and the mentality that goes along with them and took quite some time for me to be able and flesh out the details, the music, write the book etc.

What is the message you are trying to give with “Than The Common Plague”?

That is a difficult question. To be honest, I haven’t given it much thought, I never give this much thought – I always hope each listener can decide for himself. If I would be pressed to offer one, I  think I would have to say that one of the messages would have to be that every situation, no matter how dire, can always have a positive and creative effect on people. It might not be a very present and strong feeling in each case, but I bet it’s there every time!

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

I try to always carry with me a small recording device and if I don’t have it on me, I try to think about the idea over and over, at which of course I rarely succeed! Other than that, much of the music developed in the studio.

Than The Common Plague

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

I sincerely hope it is! I feel it’s one of the intricacies required for a good concept album and I tried hard to carefully plan the moods of the music to match that of the story, at least how it feels to me when I read it. I would be glad if even a little portion of that came across!

Describe the approach to recording the album.

I started off with the basics; I recorded a single guitar track for each song as a guide and then started putting down the drum tracks, then the bass, guitars, then various instruments and so on. The vocal tracks weren’t the last thing I recorded though, I believe that title goes to a dripping faucet!

How long “Than The Common Plague” was in the making? 

I think it probably took about a year and a half, from the time I started writing the material to when the mastering was done. The reason for that is that I found a lovely place filled with lovely people, now dubbed ‘UnderHouse Studios’, close to two and a half years ago which made me feel at ease and free to take as much time as I needed! Plus I could only work on the album on weekends in the studio, as I’m working two jobs through the week.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

I don’t know about that release in particular, I mean I always carry the music that I love with me and it’s only natural things might rub off on my own material. Regarding the book, there was ‘Summertime’ by J.M.Coetzee that had an interview setting and pace I really liked. That feeling about the chorus of the song ‘Torpor Serving’ I described earlier was something that inspired me from Therapy’s ‘Semi-Detached’ album, I forget the name of the song now, probably best to forget the record altogether! I also remember listening heavily to ‘The Raven That Refused To Sing’ by Steven Wilson prior to the recordings, along with ‘Wooden Arms’ by Patrick Watson. There were probably many more things I’m forgetting now.

Spyros Charmanis

What is your view on technology in music?

A useful tool, no doubt. I guess it depends on how one is using it, which is true of every medium. I do believe it has opened many previously unreachable horizons for the average (and poor) musician, but on the other hand I also believe it nearly destroyed music in the 80’s. It’s like a painting brush, what you do with is what makes the difference.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

Personally, venting of course! Once you externalize, stuff get easier and I bet it’s the first step to moving on to other things. I also love how I got to know people through music, it has that effect which I truly cherish!

What are your plans for the future?

I hope I’m well and continuously able to write challenging music, meet more people, maybe do some more live shows… Thank you for the talk!

You can buy “Than The Common Plague” from Bandcamp, and follow None Other on Facebook here.

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