Χαοτικό Τέλος (Chaotic End) is a metallic crust band formed in Athens, Greece around September 1989.
The original line-up consisted of Alekos on guitar/vocals, Stefanos on bass, drummer Pantelis, and Thanasis taking on the main vocal duties. With this line-up the band played their first gigs in Greece and recorded their first demo tape “Πόλεμος Του Μίσους” (War of Hate) in 1990.
The second demo “Πέρα Από Τα Τείχη Της Σιωπής” (Beyond The Walls of Silence) came out an year later with Stefanos (not to be confused with the bass player) replacing Pantelis on drums. More line-up changes followed (Alekos took the vocals and Nikos changed Stefanos on drums) and finally, in the Summer of 1993, the band released their legendary “Μπροστά Στην Παράνοια” (In Front of Paranoia) LP through Wipe Out! Records in Greece. More gigs have followed, and the band paved the way for the crust/stenchcore style in Greece until they eventually disbanded in 1996.
In 2013, Chaotic End got back together with Alekos guitar/vocals, Stefanos bass, and Vangelis on drums. With this reformed line-up, the band started to play shows around Greece and one in Berlin, at Köpi squat’s 28th birthday party in 2018. In the Summer of 2016 the band recorded their second LP “Υπόσχεση” (Promise), which was released through the band’s own Chaotic End Records in February 2017.
Today, the legendary crust band from Athens is still active with Alekos [Alexandros Sismanidis] being the main force since the late 1980s. This interview with him was conducted via letter in May 2019 and follows both the band’s history and endeavors in the current Greek DIY scene.
When did you get interested in punk? Can you walk us through the history of punk in Greece and its connection to the political movements that opposed the military junta in the 1970s?
I’ve got interested in punk in 1987 when I was around 15-16 years old. I was listening to some of the old Greek punk bands like Ex Humans, Stress, Panx Romana, Ανυπόφοροι, etc. I think punk has always been connected to the political movements in Greece and when there are any kind of solidarity gigs, there’s always punk bands playing on them, even nowadays. Another thing that I remember from that time is that most of the people that were part of the punk scene were also very politically active. We were seeing each other quite often and were going to the demonstrations altogether. Something that you couldn’t see that much in the years after 1998.
I think we can’t talk about punk music in the years of the military junta that ended in 1974. The punk scene here started around the end of 1978-1979. But it was in the 1980s when the punk became very political and really active. The most of us were very poor kids coming from the working class, so we all had the strong feelings of class war.
Your bands Χαοτικό Τέλος (Chaotic End), Ξεχασμένη Προφητεία (Forgotten Prophecy) and Χειμερία Νάρκη (Hibernation) were among the first to introduce the sound and aesthetics of British bands like Deviated Instinct, Amebix and Axegrinder in Greece. How did you get into the whole stenchcore thing and why do you think it became so influential for generations of bands to follow?
Yes, you’re totally right that these were the major influences to all my bands, especially Chaotic End, but also many others. Personally, I was totally blown out when I listened to Amebix for the first time—my way of thinking about music changed totally. I loved that kind of sound mixing metal and punk in an unique way, and creating this gloom atmosphere with the use of keyboards that we call synth-driven crust. I think this sound express our feelings of sorrow and anger in the best possible way, it’s so dark but also so angry at the same time.
It’s the sound to express my inner world, and I guess also many other people’s worlds. It speaks directly to your heart!
Let’s dive into the message and lyrics of Chaotic End, what are the main themes that we can find within your songs? Did you try to emulate the lyrical style of the British anarcho-punk bands in the beginning? Do you have lyrics that are specific to the political climate in Greece?
Our lyrics are more about personal feelings, expressions and frustrations about the world. We write about our experiences in daily life, about the fake human relations, about the human misery; about how weak we feel sometimes in our life. We wrote about friends we’ve lost, we are the screams of the weaker people who don’t have a voice.
We write about loneliness and how abandoned we feel most of the time. We write about this rotten society that doesn’t care about anything, even if somebody is dying next you. How they just want you to consume to fill your empty life with useless crap.
We write about people who suffer in psychiatric clinics and prisons. We wrote a song about the thousands of women who become victims of sex trafficking. We write about the violence and pain some people may experience every day in their lives.
Of course, if you go deeper into our lyrics and analyze them, most of them have some political meanings but in a more personal, experiential and poetic way.
You’ve been playing this music for more than 30 years now. Are there any interesting stories you could share from touring and playing shows with your bands?
Really a lot of stories to share and it will take hours to talk about this. When you’re touring and playing DIY gigs, you surely have a lot of interesting moments to remember. Some of them are nice, some really bad and you get really angry. I remember a funny story (not so funny for us, actually) of when we toured around Europe with Hibernation in 1998.
We were traveling from Germany to Poland around Gdansk or Sopot, if I remember correctly, to play a DIY punk festival there. We were driving for more than 10 – 11 hours, and we were supposed to play last. So after all these hours of driving and fatique, we finally arrived are ready to play at 4 in the morning. When we put up our guitars, bass, etc. a big fight started between drunk people at the festival, so we actually didn’t manage to play. You can clearly understand our disappointment.
But there also have been so many amazing gigs throughout all these years, and I shouldn’t miss the opportunity to write about some of the best things so far. It was for sure the gig in Athens in 2014. Our first gig as Chaotic End after the reunion. More than 3,000 people came to see us from all over Greece and even some of them from all over Europe. I felt so emotional about this and it made me understand how much people liked Chaotic End all these years. It was so big and heartfelt experience for me.
Do you think the DIY punk and squatter scene have changed in recent years? It seems that the whole concept of DIY punk is a bit more different in Greece compared to what we usually think of DIY punk in other places?
I think it’s no surprise, the DIY punk scene has changed as everything else has changed in the world. Of course, the ideas are still the same and the way of thinking also, but punk music is less revolutionary nowadays. However, I think the revolutionary spirit of DIY is still alive today, there are still a lot of places doing nice things and great gigs. There are still DIY labels, distros, etc., even though people buy less vinyl because of the new technologies and internet.
Yes, here in Greece you don’t have an entrance to pay when you go to a gig. Usually, people put a donation box and it’s up to everyone to decide how much to put in the box to support the bands. But sometimes you can see a gig at the university with a 1,000 people and in the end you have only €100-200 in the box. I think that this is not ok, this is not solidarity. In most places in Europe you have a fixed entry for the show, here we don’t have. This is a difference.
Is there anything new in terms of Chaotic End, based on the new dynamics within the scene? Do you still operate as a fully DIY and political band when it comes to shows, new releases, etc.?
You know that all these years that we didn’t play with Chaotic End, I was still part of the DIY scene. I’ve never stopped being active throughout the years and I was playing shows with Hibernation. So, personally I’ve never stopped to play and take part in the scene. So when we started again with Chaotic End, I already knew the scene and there are no new things for us. Everything is still the same.
Yes, of course, Chaotic End is a DIY band. We play only solidarity gigs and we have released our new record by ourselves. But we don’t think of our band as a super political band, we are just a band that want to express our own feelings and share them with the people around us. Of course, we have our political ideas. As a band we just want to be treated with respect, we ask for a good sound and to cover our expenses when we play out of Athens, and some good hospitality. Just the self-explanatory things.
I guess, you all have your own families, full-time jobs, etc. How do you manage to keep the punk spirit and run a legendary band at the same time?
You’re right and this is the reason why we don’t tour in Europe or anywhere else. We can just play weekend shows and only take a flight to play abroad. I’m 47 years old and I have two kids—18 and 16 years old. I’m working for 12-13 hours every day. Stefanos, our bass player, is 50 years old, also has a kid and works for around 10-12 hours a day in a factory. The only time we are able to tour is during some days in August, but that’s basically a dead period for tours around the area. So, as you understand, we are doing it in really tough conditions and, as you know, Greece is a country in an economic crisis for about 10 years. The government doesn’t provide any kind of help for families, so we keep the band alive with a lot of effort and personal sacrifices. And that’s why we ask for respect and to cover our expenses when we travel.
So I’m getting really pissed off when I hear young people who want to start a band say they don’t have time to practice, etc. Vangelis, our drummer, is younger than us. He is 34 and also has a full-time job working 10 hours per day. He is also in two other bands, but he has no family at the moment.
Your latest record “Υπόσχεση” (Promises) is absolutely killer and more metal than ever! What does an old band has to offer after 20 or 30 years?
If you’re keeping it real, you can offer a lot of things really, to the people and to the DIY scene in general. The thing is to be true and honest first and foremost with yourself, and then with the others. We offered a new record to the people with a new sound, with a very good production, with new lyrical themes and meanings. We want people listening to that record to find something for themselves within it.
Yes, the sound is a little bit more metallic, but it’s the way we want it to sound like. We want to sound heavy, strong and clear. We didn’t want to totally change our style, we still love this metal synth-driven crust, we just want to put some more atmosphere and the instrumentals in the last track are a short trip for each one of us. It’s the road that will lead us to the next release. And we’re happy that even when we didn’t advertise our record at all, didn’t send it for reviews, some people still loved our record and supported us. I want to say a huge thank you to all these people and zines for the feedback and reviews.
Do you listen to a lot of modern metal and punk bands now? In what direction is Chaotic End going to move further, sound-wise?
Yes, of course, I listen to tons of new bands and it’s great that there are really a lot to choose from. Also, in metal, crust, punk scene you can still find really good bands sound-wise with great message. We don’t have any new direction with Chaotic End, we simply don’t have any new songs after “Υπόσχεση”. We are working on a new song that will be a bit different, but we will see. We are always open to new ideas, and we want to experiment with new ways and sounds.
What do you think of recent reunions of older bands like Deviated Instinct? I think they are great.
If the bands are true and they really believe in what they are saying and doing, it’s totally okay. For me, it’s very important to support what you say on stage. Because it’s different to play when you’re 25-26 years old and when you’re 46-47. To play this music, you also need a lot of energy.
I see bands playing even better than before and it’s a great surprise to me, but there are also bands that are a big disappointment from what they were doing 20 years ago. But, in general, I’m happy for a lot of reunions of old bands. I just don’t agree with bands doing it all for money and fame, and if they don’t have anything new to say.
OK, I understand if you’re asking for some money now, when you have a family and costs, but not if you’re doing it only for the money without staying true to your beliefs. And I have respect for bands that have new records, because they show that they are willing to continue to offer new things to the people.
About us, I’m really glad that people who already know us, all say that we play much better now.
Moving away from the music-related questions, can you talk a bit about the political situation in Greece right now?
As you may know, we have an economic crisis going on for more than a decade now. Over these years a lot of things changed in Greek society. We really have some hard times and very hard laws for the working class and poor people in general.
Many people committed suicide because of economic reasons, all these people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their small shops, etc. We’ve had really big and strong demonstrations against the government and the European institutions when the government went to the IMF in the beginning of the crisis around 2011-2012. The social movements were really strong at that time and they drove the country to elections that were won by the “left” coalition SYRIZA. But sadly, they were not so left after all and continued to follow the rules of Germany and the EU. So, again we’ve seen strict laws against the poor during all those corrupted governments like in the last 40 years. Here in Greece, we’re still living in a fake reality where they do everything just for their pockets.
The whole system is corrupted and the result of all these years of crisis is also the rising of the fascist, neo-nazi party Golden Dawn. This is a shame for Greece, to give 7% of the votes to the Nazis and support these bastards! The good news is that there is still a very strong Antifa movement. The rise of far-right came to be also because of the war in Syria and the number of refugees who came to Greece, they were rejected from the rest of Europe. Of course, they are totally welcome! But the fascists always use the situation for their propaganda, spreading fear among the people about the refugees and migrants. The rising of fascism is a shame for Greece and all Europe. We have to stop them! Nowadays we don’t have so many demonstrations about the crisis, people get tired and the most of us try to survive and cover our basic costs of life.
Are there any new exciting projects in Athens that you think we should be aware of? Any great bands, zines, etc. we should check out?
We have a really strong DIY hardcore / punk / crust scene for the last 12 years. There are many autonomous places where bands can play now in different cities in Greece. It’s not that hard to make a tour in Greece, you can easily play like 6-7 gigs in a row and this is very positive.
In Athens, there are two autonomous centers that are very active and have gigs about every week—Ίδρυμα 2.14 and Υπόγα Κ94. About zines, there are not so many right now but we have a lot of good bands: Conspiracy of Denial, Sarabante, Molisma, Youth Crusher, Cold I, Chain Cult, Dirty Wombs, Dyspnea, Xamos, Ghostland, My Turn, Kataxnia, Bad Trip, Omixli, Sintrivi, Stigma 90, Pankreas, Procrastinate, Kalpa, Dead On Parade, Paroxismos, Horis Ikto, Mavro Gala, Injustice Squad, Chernobyl Attack, Arxi Tou Telous, Era of Fear, Los Pasados, Antimob, and many more. Sorry if I forgot someone.
Thank you very much for the interview and for the opportunity to express our feelings through your zine. We wish you good luck with everything you’re doing. You can contact the band for any reason at [email protected] and our facebook page.
Kepp the fire of life burning!