It’s always wonderful to meet new musicians and chat with them. Even better when your find some Greek ones abroad and you can communicate in a whole different & better way due to the same culture. This time it was K’noup the mastermind & vocalist of Viza who talked to Grande Rock about this band, his Greek roots & music in general… Go check this very intriguing interview below.
Viza band pic

Hi K’noup. Your new album “Aria” is truly magnificent! Thus, it now holds a place in our “Gem” category! Congrats!
K: Thank you! It was quite the album to record.
Hence, what the story behind Viza? What does this band mean to you?
K: The band began as a project in 2000 when I lived in NY as a Mediterranean/Middle Eastern outfit of folk-music, it turned into a band in 2006 in Los Angeles. It’s safe to say it’s my baby now all grown up.
I’m also glad that you’re a Greek dude! How has the Greek culture and background helped you in your music vision concerning Viza?
K: Being raised in a strict and traditional Greek family helped truly bring forth the spirit of the old sound, you can’t help but feel part of my roots in much of the music we do and in many regards with my band mates there is also the Armenian flavor that runs through its melodies. We are a group where family comes first, heritage comes second and passion third therefore our music is a reflection of our community itself.
Once again you wanted to do things your own way and be independent. Why’s that? I’m sure that many labels have proposed co-operations over the years. Why do you keep going independently? Can you say that it is better after all these years?
K: Yes once again we’ve gone ahead and worked under our supervision and it’s mainly because it is a different era in the industry. Long gone are the days of development, so by that token there is a sense of security when a band does it itself. I can’t say if its better but I will say we are still ticking!
I guess using a fundraising platform to release your new album was a one-way thing. You reached the goal and even more. I guess that thing is like “the moment of truth” for each band in order to see their fans’ real “love”. Were there any back-up plans in case things didn’t go the way you wanted them to?
K: Our fans are the best as they didn’t let us down. They wanted to make sure we put out the album because our back up plan was to not put one out.
You produced the album on your own for the first time, didn’t you? The cooperation with Warren Huart (Aerosmith, James Blunt, Korn, Brendan James etc.), the engineer Phil Allen (Adele, Aerosmith, P!nk etc.) & Adam Ayan (Queen, Rush, Sammy Hagar, Def Leppard, Alter Bridge etc.) has given the album a full sound, don’t you think?
K: I personally have produced previous Viza efforts but for “Aria” it was a unified effort with the band as well as with the help of Warren, Phil and Sam Martin (engineer) who was immensely involved. Adam gave the album the punch it needed in the end.
So about “Aria”… what are the new or different elements this albums bears in comparison to the previous ones?
K: “Aria” I think has a little but of all our previous efforts, there’s so many moods you can choose from which makes it quite unpredictable and therefore enjoyable, at least to my ears!
How did you come up with the album title “Aria”? What does it talk out?
K: The album name was mostly composed by unifying our efforts in writing this record as one voice, much like an aria. In previous efforts the songwriters of the band would have the ideas already sketched out; this time we all had our input from scratch.
I’d like you to tell us a couple of things about each track…
K: “Never Feel”: Our most modern sounding song of the album.
“Quicksand”: Our most metaphoric.
“Midnight Hour (Dingle Rock)”: At first not one of my favorite songs but it has grown on me and sure enough is our first single.
“Vanished”: Violins, riq, doumbek and exotic melodies with a punch. Perfect Viza.
“Viktor’s Vanguard”: The third installment of a character I created named Viktor.
“The Girl That Doesn’t Exist”: Orbel wrote this gem, one of my favorites of the album.
“Forward March”: Alex’s first ever Viza song that he has written, quite the riot starter.
“Beneath the Waves”: Drift into submission to this number.
“C’est La Vie”: Another perfect Viza number that has all the ingredients of our old and new sound.
“Alley in Tijuana”: I like to call this the sister song of “The Uzbek Brothel” all because of its visual wackiness.
“Take Over the World”: The message in this song is meant for the disobedient.
“Brunette”: I sure love my Brunettes... 
What about the “zeimpekiko” rhythm at the end of “Brunette”? It was a bit of a surprise to me. Probably, those who are not familiar with Greek traditional music will find it enchanting as well. How did you get the idea to do so?
K: “Brunette” is a song I wrote obviously just off its Greek influence. When I wrote it I wanted it to climax in a very festive manner and thought a zembekiko would be quite perfect to contrast along the clarinet/oud and vocal lines.
First, it was “Viktor”, after “Viktor’s Sister” and now “Viktor’s Vanguard”. Will you keep delivering story-news about Viktor in the future as well?
K: That all depends on my pen.
A lyric video has already been released for “Midnight Hour (Dingle Rock)”. Are you planning to release a proper video for any other song in the near future? I guess a video for “The Girl That Doesn’t Exist” or “Brunette” would be great!
K: We are planning to make a music video for the newest version of “Midnight Hour”. Those other two would be great visual videos!
By the way, I wanna ask you… how did you manage to stay so young?!
K: Haha beauty sleep of course, with brunettes! (i.n.: Hehehe it also works with blondes & redheads!)
What is the best way to define Viza’s music according to you?
K: I would say Viza is a fusion of various cultures from the Eastern side of the world with the emotions that embody us as people.
Viza band pic

What are your thoughts about Viza being compared with System Of A Down? I do not think it is that accurate now.
K: I’m used to it, I’ve been compared to Serj Tankian even when I was in my metal outfit Neurobox long before Viza the band kicked into gear and honestly it doesn’t bother me, but the science I think behind it is simple, we are a cultural band that mixes traditional eastern melodies with an edgier rock sound and so do they. Add the fact the band is mostly Armenian and one is safe to assume we are a byproduct of SOAD. In truth we are influenced by them, yes, but we are so beyond different just by sonic color and message. Is Metallica and Slayer the same? Is U2 and INXS the same? Is Mercedes and BMW the same? (i.n.: You’ve got a point here dude!)
After almost 15 years in the music industry what are the things that you favor and despise?
K: Hmmmm I definitely don’t like to be bossed around that’s for sure and the industry is all about control and that is why mainstream music is currently flooded with puppet that are so not dangerous which is everything an artist should be. What I favor in it? Probably what it’s given us as dreamers.
How has the people’s reaction about the new album been on your live shows so far? Any new dates or any plans to give some gigs in summer or fall?
K: So far so good. I can’t really say anyone hasn’t enjoyed “Aria”, or at least they don’t have the balls to tell me they don’t. (lol) New tours are always on the horizon, just stay tuned!
Time for our weird questions!!! In 2010, Visa became Viza… why? And what does the name declare?
K: Evolution! The “Z” has so much more swagger.
Do you think that funding platforms like Kicksatrter, Indiegogo etc. can give any kind of solution to the “legal downloading” matter? Can bands/artists only be supported by their fans in order to make music?
K: It’s a fantastic way for independent bands to continue standing on their feet. People fail to realize that if a band cannot financially stand then there is no music for their listeners to enjoy, making music is expensive, studios and engineers don’t come cheap. This way these platforms allow bands to cover their costs and still put out for their fans, it sure worked for us!
How do you see the “free downloading issue” of our time? In a world where people easily download music for free and hardly pay for it what can we do in order to change things? Is it different now that you can see things on the inside?
K: I can’t stand it, I’ve been very vocal about it and I will always be. I’ve sacrificed my life to learn how to make good food or in this case music. Why should you come into my restaurant and expect to eat it for free? And if you do how long will I stay in business? One day some kid genius will invent a new medium of music and when it does we will be rid of the Napster generation that has ruined this industry.
Sex, drugs & rock & roll! Do they have any influence on today’s new bands or things are totally different? What should the rock music motto be? Views, tweets & Likes?!! 
K: Man, I dunno about the rock stars you know but I’m quite the bore. I love being on the stage and performing from the soul. I can care less about the cliché, in my eyes rock music is defined by its passion and not the leather jacket one would wear.
Have you ever used your “music identity” to throw a chick into bed? Do musicians get it easier and faster than the other ordinary guys or not?
K: Honestly I’m not Billy Idol, but I guess what you’re gathering is what is we have that others don’t and I think the answer is passion in our art. Women find that stimulating I guess.
Best pick-up line that has worked for you several times in the past?
K: Kiss me I’m Greek. Just kidding, I don’t pick up women, they pick me up. (i.n.:Sureee… but since you’re Greek it’s in your blood to pick up women dude!)
Imagine that your girlfriend/wife is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react? J
K: I would say that’s one cheap ring.
I guess this is where the interview ends. It was a great pleasure talking to you K’noup! Any last words? Take care dude…
K: Thank you Thanos for having me, go PAOK! (i.n.: I’m sure PAOK’s fans will fancy this last statement!)