When we started Metal Jacket Magazine, we wanted to somehow bring our readers closer to bands that might have a harder time breaking through to listeners in the sea of bands and music.
To begin with, it would be best if you introduced yourself.
Hello. My name is Dimitris Skodras and I am the founder,composer and guitarist of the band Valiant Sentinel. We are a power metal band from Greece that began as a solo project of mine and we released our debut album on April through No Remorse Records.
Is it hard to keep all the members together since this music has no income?
It is hard to find band members to begin with and yes it is also difficult to keep them together so you need to stay focused on your goals and learn to not be disappointed easily.
What made you start playing metal music? Who were your role models in the beginning and has that changed over time?
I started composing music after watching the movie “Lord of the Rings : The Fellowship of the Ring” which had a huge impact on me. It gave me the inspiration to compose my first melody. James Hetfield from Metallica was the role model that made me want to buy a guitar and learn how to play. When I started having conversations with guitarists who could play better than me back then, I learned more about the world of guitar and about guitar prodigies like Rusty Cooley and Buckethead. At some point, I decided that I wanted to become a complete guitarist, so i took guitar lessons that got me to the level of playing that I am today. To answer your question , my role models never changed , i just added more musicians as my role models and I kept the best elements of their skills to form my own playing style.
Is it hard to find a publisher or is it better to self publish considering the internet?
When you are at the early stages of your carreer it can be hard to find a publisher , so maybe someone could consider publishing their music online and upload it for sale and when they gain a following , then they could seek a record deal. However, if your dream is to release an album through a record label like my dream was , then you should definetely get in touch with record labels until you find someone to publish your album.
What have you published so far?
Like I mentioned before I released the same-titled album of Valiant Sentinel in physical and digital format and I have also digitally released an instrumental EP of 4 songs in 2020 which was very poorly promoted and as a result only a few people know about it.
How do you create songs, how do you record them?
Most of the times , it starts either with a cool riff or melody that i come up with. Then i record it in my digital audio workstation and I start building it by either developing the original idea further or by writing other parts that could possibly blend well with the existing idea and help the composition to expand. If it is meant to become something interesting it usually shows from the early stages of the composing procedure.
Where do you get inspiration for the lyrics?
Films,series,books and videogames. The album contains various themed tracks talking about already existing fictional characters like Jon Snow and Smaug. Real life is also inspiration fuel since good or bad experiences can be a reason to write music and lyrics. However, I rarely compose music if I’m not in a good mood.
What is your favorite song you’ve made so far and why?
It’s hard to choose but if I had to pick one that would be ”Forelorn” because it contains the first melody I ever composed and because it features Fabio Lione on vocals which was a dream come true for me since I am a huge Rhapsody of Fire fan.
Where can readers listen to you and maybe buy your material?
You can either listen it on Youtube or Bandcamp for free and you can buy it either by sending a message to the official Valiant Sentinel page on Facebook (facebook.com/valiantsentinel) or by visiting the website of No Remorse Records. If you want to buy it digitally you can do so by purchasing it on Bandcamp.
How do you organize concerts, is it difficult for you and how many people come to such concerts?
All of us in Valiant Sentinel are currently rehearsing for our first concert which is not announced yet and neither is our live line-up but the first time is difficult for anything you do and this is no exception but I do believe that once the ”wheels” start to ”roll” things are going to become easier.
What do you think about the digital release and is it serious like CD or LP?
It can be if it is well-presented and promoted properly. Technology has evolved,the internet has evolved , so we cannot ignore it as a means to publish music. We should always keep in mind that there are people who do not possess any means to listen to a CD and they only listen to music via the internet , so digital purchase is their only option.
Was metal music more honest than today?
No. I think that it’s the same situation but different times. The numbers in comparison might differ but I don’t think that metal music ever stopped being honest. I think that that’s a thing you see in other music genres where people start making and singing songs just to make money out of them which is not a bad thing but it takes away a lot of the essence of what we call art.
How do you comment on this bunch of sub-genres in metal and is it good for metal or is it destroying it?
I think that there are way too many sub-genres right now and at some point I just felt lost since I couldn’t catch up with every new sub-genre that would emerge from time to time. I understand that people use sub-genres to be more precise when describing a band’s sound but I think they might be too many.
Do you support this commercialization of metal music and how about the wearing of metal t-shirts by some “exposed” people who do not belong to this philosophy of metal music?
Yes , I support it and if that’s a way to bring in new fans of the metal genre , so be it. People are free to wear whatever clothes they want anyways , so if for example someone wears an Iron Maiden t-shirt because he likes the t-shirt but he never listened to them , that’s ok.
What would you change in the world of metal and would you like to go back to the time before the internet if you remember it at all?
I would like metalheads to stop rejecting the newer bands. Iron Maiden and Metallica are great but they have gained the recognition they deserved. I would like the audience to stop praising the past so much and start giving a chance to the new bands who are the present and future of metal. I remember how being a metalhead was like before the internet and I think that I was more passionate but I also spent my money on highly-praised albums that I never really liked. In general , I think that things are better with the internet and more bands are given a chance to shine.
How important is supporting the local scene and can you single out a band from your area that you would recommend to our readers?
It is the lifesblood of metal music. To say that it’s very important would be an understatement. When you support the local metal bands you give them a good reason to keep creating music despite the odds being against them. I would recommend Wardrum. They are a great band.
How do you see this situation in the world and how do you think it will develop? Will they imprison us again, scare us or maybe send us into a big war?
We have learned to watch bad things happen in the world while in apathy and politicians use it as an advantage. They control us through fear and the threat of consequences but I believe that people still have the power needed to be something more than a pawn. Fear was always their weapon but the weapon they fear is knowledge and our will to act. Some say that World War III is in the brink of happening and I really hope that’s not the case because that would be catastrophic for every country involved.
Finally, what would you say to our readers and why should they listen to you in the sea of bands that are offered to them every day?
I hope that you, the readers, will listen to the album and if you like it that would be a huge accomplishment for me as a musician. They should check my music out because it comes from the heart and I spent a lot of effort,time and money to make it sound as good as it can get. I also think that Rob Lundgren’s vocals are phenomenal and that the two other guest vocalists Tim Ripper Owens and Fabio Lione will surprise you with how great they sound after so many years of singing. Thank you for reading this interview.