SAINT JUDAS: Riders In Black

Cyprus is the home base of SAINT JUDAS. If the sound of this band, which was shaped in 2011, is a blue print of the average metal band over there, then Cyprus could become an important player in the fast growing heavy metal scene. The band joined the stage with bands such as WOTAN, MANILLA ROAD and MEDIEVAL STEEL, but their sound is less epic and more a good mix of classic metal, thrash metal and progressive rock. I see, that we’ve got your attention right now. Well, let’s introduce this fivesome a bit closer to you. Find out more about their 2016 release “War Within”, which was actually our first introduction to SAINT JUDAS. A band, that took the torch of the traditional heavy metal and is ready to set the world on fire. Ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present you SAINT JUDAS from Cyprus....

When did SAINT JUDAS get together as a band and how did you meet up?
"Hi and thanks for your kind words, Rita and Toine. The band was formed in 2011 by Marios and Maria and they performed locally as a cover band under a different name. After several line-up changes, they started writing their own material along with Kypros, Savvas and Vasos, that joined in and brought their ideas and freshness to the new songs. We changed our name in 2015."

Who are your most important influences and maybe you can also tell us about the main influences of each band member individually?
"The band takes influences from a very big spectrum of music coming from the each individual member’s background. It covers from rock, heavy, extreme, death, classical music, seventies progressive rock, blues, even jazz. The main influences and if we can call it direction, are thrash bands, like MEGADETH and METALLICA, TESTAMENT, DEEP PURPLE, YES, BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW, etc. Maria's influences are BLACK SABBATH , DIO, OZZY OSBOURNE and she loves MEGADETH. Marios is influenced by Richie Blackmore, Marty Friedman, SRV, Jimi Hendrix, Toni Iommi. Savvas background comes from DIO, DISTURBED, TESTAMENT, ANNILATOR. Kypros is influenced by BLACK SABBATH, DREAM THEATER, FREE, BAD COMPANY, IRON MAIDEN and DARK TRANQUILITY. Vasos brings the progressive side in the band with YES, RICK WAKEMAN, VANGELIS, CIRITH UNGOL and SAVATAGE. Of course the list is endless as you understand."

How would you describe the music of SAINT JUDAS yourself?
"Our music is a mix of many genres. Our first album is a fusion of thrash, classic metal, stoner rock with a progressive touch. Some people even called us "Meta-Purple" (lol). Through experimentation, we form our own sound and we don’t compromise the quality or length of our compositions, as long as the outcome sounds like what we have in mind."

Why did you pick the band name Saint Judas? Does it have any relation whatsoever to the Holy St. Jude, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus, who is the Saint of hope and impossible causes?
"We needed a fresh start after the member changes and the musical direction for our own material, so last year we changed our name. It is a name that encloses the substance of the band. It gives us a touch of occult, evil vs. good concept, that matches our lyrics, so why not? It's the first thing fans observe, before they even listen to a note we play. It draws attention."

Who writes the lyrics for SAINT JUDAS and what are they about?
"The lyrics were written by Marios and they are written in a way that they reflect each individual’s point of view. They deliberately have many meanings. The way they are written and the general concept is about the war that happens in our heads each and every day. People losing their lives for religion, money that control lives, jealousy, sinners and sins, urban legends, etc... But as I said before, they could have different meanings for each person."

What’s your favorite SAINT JUDAS song and why?
"I think, that we have formed a special bond with the album and it's difficult to get a straight answer. But a favorite song that every band member agrees on is “Bleed”."

Your debut album “War Within” has been released independently. Has this been done in your own consideration to keep ‘things’ in your own hands or are you still looking for the right record label to get signed?
"We have been working on this album for nearly two years. We sure are looking for a label, as we already started writing new material, but we thought it was a good idea to self-release it, in order for things to start running immediately while we seek for a label. We`ve had some very promising feedback and we are very impressed by the follow up till now."

What was the biggest gig, that you played so far and do you have any plans of coming over to the rest of Europe in the near future?
"Difficult question, since we`ve played with bands like, MANILLA ROAD, ORPHANED LAND, GRAVE DIGGER, MEDIEVAL STEEL, etc. But the most important moment I think was when we were invited in Crete for the 1st ‘Over the wall’ festival. It was a first one out of our island and the people’s response was quite overwhelming and the experiences and memories we brought with us back home are worth every second. Europe is in our plans for the winter and next year: yes!!!"

Do you also play covers on stage or do you just stick to your own penned material?
"We enjoy covers and we think that they connect us with a crowd that don't know our own material. It's a bridge that connects the crowd with us in a way. And we enjoy doing it as it's like paying small tributes to our heroes."

Are there any funny stories, you want to share with our readers? Maybe something happened on stage that you weren’t quite prepared for or perhaps something else?
"Ouch... While we were tracking the drums, the engineer was away all day, leaving us with his intern that forgot to set up the console like the previous day. We ended up re-recording the whole set next day. It was funny actually, because we found out about it the time we finished (lol)."

What’s the metal scene like in Cyprus and are there many clubs, where you can play?
"The metal scene in Cyprus is alive since 1980s, but these days it really exploded. Many bands came up, doing European tours, with many albums in their cases. The crowd is a bit difficult, to attend all gigs, cause there are many bands gigging but, each year it gets stronger and stronger. We also have a couple of metal festivals in the summer and bigger bands visiting our country, as well, as clubs that promote this music in general."

Maria, we are a webzine focused on the female musicians in the (hard) rock and (heavy) metal scene. Do you feel, that women still need the attention, that we like to give to them or do you think that you already get the recognition that you deserve?
"As a woman, I believe that a big piece of what we call metal followers didn't feel that women belong in metal, but I think it's not the case anymore. And I’m not only talking about myself. There are several bands with a main female singer, that deserve the appreciation and the recognition. But I also believe, that things started happening as there are bands that already went big and we hear more and more every day."

Copyright by: AMN Photography

Maria, when I googled your name, I came across a Greek cross country skier with the same name. Are you into any sports yourself or just the sport of being a heavy metal singer, which is terrific sport of its own?
"I have no time for many sports, except regular jogging here. No time at all actually - hehe."

Our webzine is based in The Netherlands (or Holland, if you like). What else do you know about our country besides the fact that we have colorful tulips and beautiful windmills?
"You mean other than the coffee shops? hehe, We know about the strong musicianship, that exists in Netherlands and the famous conservatories, that breed fine musicians. Ehm, VAN HALEN, KAYAK, GOLDEN EARRING, FOCUS, AYREON, just to name a few."

What are the future plans of SAINT JUDAS for the short and long term, please?
"Right now we concentrate on promoting the album, as well writing new songs. Things started happening and we're excited for the future. Our fan base is getting stronger and we're in the middle of signing a deal for distribution. Long term plans are small and stable steps for our music to spread around the globe."

What makes SAINT JUDAS so outstanding from the 795,373 other female-fronted metal bands?
"Our opinion on music is that there`s a gem in each and everyone, so every band has something good to offer. Our strong point though is that we have a strong live performance from our front woman with a distinctive and powerful voice, that we compliment with our music. Our music is diverse and diversity is what we're after."

Where can people buy your CD, if they’re interested? Do you have a website? You can advertise here for free, if you like.
"Our CD is distributed by us, so an email, a message in Facebook, Reverbnation or Myspace would be a good start for the moment. Our site is on its way in the near future."

Maria, do you play any instruments next to singing? And did you take any singing lessons?
"I`ve taken some bass guitar lessons that I didn't continue, due to time unfortunately and nope, I haven't taken any singing lessons. I’m actually self-taught."

Do you want to add anything to this interview? Maybe we have forgotten something, that’s essential for the story of SAINT JUDAS so far?
"As every band, we believe what we offer is exceptional and we truly believe we have to find the means for our music to be spread around the world. After all, we do it for the love of music. I don't think there`s a band that's living off music nowadays. We're in it, because we love doing it!"

Do you have any messages for our readers?
"Keep the metal flame up high, visit your local pub and hear the local bands. There`s always something good that's worth of your attention!!"

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Rita van Poorten, / September 2016.

Check out the official lyric video by SAINT JUDAS from 2016 on You Tube:

Check out this live video by SAINT JUDAS on You Tube:
"Magica (live in Nicosia)"

Go to the Facebook page of SAINT JUDAS at: