Interview with a Greek Vampire: Panos Pilatos
This interview will be presented in parts due to the fact that is very long and needs to be translated.
Panos Pilatos is a self-identified vampire from Athens, Greece. As a musician, he is the frontman of ΝΙΠΤΩ ΤΑΣ ΧΕΙΡΑΣ (Washing My Hands, Pontius Pilate infamous words), a rock band which Panos describes as “the first Greek progressive crossover band”, from 1996. He is the founding member of groups such as Oxymoron Schema, Divine Tragedy (Theia Tragodia), Urban Syndrome (Astiko Syndromo), Snake Within, etc. As a comic artist he has published comics and participated in exhibitions. He has also worked in various magazines as a journalist, editor or publisher. Some of them are the Greek versions of magazines such as Penthouse and Metal Hammer, as well as other ones such as U-Man, Music Cafe and Pop & Rock. He has published his first book in 2003 entitled Summers are Lies and in November 2009 The Dark Side Project about vampires, werewolves, ghosts, aliens and UFO.
Panos has told me that he is not giving interviews anymore, preferring to work on his art and books through which he can express his views. His last interview was six years ago in relation to his rock band ΝΙΠΤΩ ΤΑΣ ΧΕΙΡΑΣ (NTX). He avoided interviews about The Dark Side Project and he clarified that this interview is exclusive since he has never before talked about vampirism or his involvement in vampirism with so many details. I very much appreciate his generous offering and I hope that the interview will draw attention to real vampirism in countries other than America or Britain.
I first became aware of Panos Pilatos, when I saw on my dad’s desk a black book with gothic lettering. I inquired about what the book was and my dad playfully said, “he is one of us”, meaning that the author of the book was interested in paranormal phenomena and mysterious creatures. Of course Greeks are fascinated with paranormal and esoteric subjects, evident in such magazines as Mystery, in which Panos has written an article about vampires, characterised by his very individual literary style. So, I opened The Dark Side Project to find that the author was talking about real vampires and “antisocial vampirism”. Later, I contacted him to find out more about his idea of antisocial vampirism. Panos, I realised, was not only an author writing about real vampires, but a real vampire himself. What follows are nothing more but the words of a vampire…
(I have tried to closely translate and remain faithful to the original interview in Greek, in order to reflect Panos Pilatos’ linguistic style).
AS: When did you become interested in vampires? In particular, have you read/been influenced by gothic/vampire literature or did you have a specific experience with blood, supernatural, etc. Were any of your friends self-identifying vampires?
PP: My interest began around the age of nine. Before that I had metaphysical experiences, and later I read appropriate books. Many years had to pass however, to realise my Vampiric condition/essence, and that, I did on my own, through internal processes triggered by my individual, unique character and my need to disentangle from the welter of the mass around me. No, I didn’t have any vampire friends. Although, one of my childhood friends qualified to become one.
AS: In what way is your band ΝΙΠΤΩ ΤΑΣ ΧΕΙΡΑΣ related to vampirism? Usually real vampires are artists.
PP: I have to say that I am not restricted in only one form of art as a creator. I am a multi artist, and this has been the result of many years, of not being satisfied with one-dimensional expression. I personally consider that an artist should investigate many paths of expression and leave his mark. I began as a comic artist, then I dedicated myself to writing, later I got involved with any form of artistic approach, with painting, creating images through photographic production or video clips, for many years I worked as a journalist, I’m also working as a DJ, while I turned to creating music in order to dress my lyrics with sounds and melody and in order to render with my voice my nightmares, and later in order to give shape to mystical music forms. ΝΙΠΤΩ ΤΑΣ ΧΕΙΡΑΣ (NTX) is not my only band, but is the most– let’s say–“famous”. In the beginning, NTX was my most urban expressive path, since musically, I directed the band towards the creation of a crossover style, where diametrically different forms (hard rock-rap-heavy metal-gothic-electronica) co-existed to serve the aesthetic of urban, multicultural decline and express the anger that comes from pain. While NTX were evolving and new members entered the band, we metamorphosed into a collective of ideas for a long period of time. The truth is that NTX, despite their “popularity” were an avant-garde group within the context of Greek music, and this is evident in our first full-length album (“Anger is the Key”, 1999), which was understood after a whole decade and has come to preserve whichever myth surrounds the band. NTX have not participated much in vampirism. Only an apocryphal aesthetic found in our latest songs is related to vampirism. With Vampirism and Mysticism I have been involved in one of my side projects, THEIA TRAGODIA (Divine Tragedy). I haven’t released any albums of THEIA TRAGODIA, although I have one almost ready with my collaborator. To close the subject of “Art”, I want to say that beyond what I have done or do, I personally consider myself a writer.
AS: Do you believe yourself to be a vampire? And what do you mean by that? Were you born a vampire and with this, I mean whether you discovered you are one later in life (awakened model) or became one following some ritual (initiatory model)? How did you discover you are a vampire? For example, did you have in mind the American community of vampires? What vampire communities are you aware of and what is your relation to them?
PP: From an early age, I was obviously different from those around me in regards to the ways I understood the world. I felt Estranged, not only in the sociological sense, but more in an intellectual, as well physical sense. I saw and perceived everything with a strange perspective, unusual for most people, and my desires went beyond the trite desires of people who were, or not the same age as me. I usually felt that my thoughts were more mature than others, and every discussion I had was not compatible with my age, education or my family’s social status. For example, when I was eight years old, my school mates were concerned with what kind of food their mum would made for them, while I was wondering if planet earth was a particle of the Universal Body of an infinite and elusive god, and that we were micro-particles, pieces of his body. At the same age, my sexual instinct was already developed and complicated, including fetishistic elements. I found it difficult to communicate in a substantial level with my convivals, and I was tired of the predictable and mundane behaviour and mentality of the people around me. At the same time, an attack by the Occult began against me, as I started to witness paradoxical events, the presences of entities and even oneiric hauntings. At the age of ten, in order to interpret the events and understand what was happening to me, I turned to every source that refer to Occult or metaphysical activities. Cheap films, pulp prints, cult magazines and fanzines, literary texts, ostensibly incomprehensible treatises… Slowly, I became totally absorbed in a long-standing quest of Knowledge, putting aside temporarily, the question “what is happening to me”, and striving forcefully to comprehend what is happening in general around us, behind the shadows. At one time, after puberty, realising the potent lie that the clergy has erected, and understanding the plague of indoctrination, I decided to shake off any remainder of human intervention and break any bonds with my blood relatives, renouncing in this way my family, a dogmatic understanding of any religion, and the pettiness of the race I was born into but don’t belong to. To succeed in this, I used Esoterism but also some initiatory paths. Through painful and strenuous spiritual practices, I made it, and became something more than human. I moulded a new Ego, re-invented my self. And then, the awareness of my new existence, in combination with certain characteristics of my physical body (long-term insomnia, sensitivity to sunlight, anti-aging tendencies, sexual extremism, etc.), made me realise that the question I had put aside a long time ago, the question “what is happening to me”, had at last an answer. I was an Other, and what was closer to my kind, was the developed archetype of the Vampire. And that is exactly what I am. A creature that is a far cry from the so-called “normal human”. In fact, I don’t use, for many years now, the word “human being” to define my existence. The word I prefer for myself is however, Nightwalker. With the word “Vampire”, I define that personality that has understood it is part of a new link in the chain of evolution, that has renounced –painfully at times– the remnants of ancestral fears, that is aware of its ability of apotheosis, that follows a stance against life, that belongs wholly to the Night, and has adopted de factopractices which point towards vampiric archetypes or their development. In relation to your question about vampire communities, during my transformation, I was aware of their existence, but I tried not to let such knowledge interfere with my own course of metamorphosis, since I never wanted to be part of an existent worldview, philosophy or path. I have always desired independence and I had (have) the belief that all of this should be a lonely path.
Interview by by Aspasia Stephanou on May 02, 2012 University Sterling
www.myspace.com/nekrosnake (personal MySpace) / www.myspace.com/pilatosmusicprojectsroom /www.myspace.com/niptotasxeiras /