James Nock talks to The Defiled’s sound manipulator and keyboard terrorizer, ‘The AVD’ aka Alex Avdis about bereavement, sharing remembrance and breaking records.
Losing a loved one is one of the most challenging moments life can throw at you. It can be a very private experience, deeply personal and can make it hard for us to express our feelings to those around us. It isn’t often that remembrance and the healing process can be shared with strangers and fans.
While industrial punk metal band, The Defiled, were recording ‘Daggers’ in the states, Alex lost a huge chunk of his life in the passing of Gina. A bank of love and guidance he’d had since the dawn of his existence.
Gina was Alex’s Grandmother. Alex wanted to use her name because he didn’t want to say that Gina was just his grandmother, she was more than that. Gina’s name was her identity. He felt the title of ‘grandmother’ kind of lends itself to an inedibility of death, a normalcy that detracted from the importance she held in his life and the lives of others.
Devastated and unable to return home for the funeral, Alex wanted to pay a lasting tribute to Gina. He penned ‘Five Minutes’, a song that was so close to not making the final cut of the ‘Daggers’ record, as some parts of the song weren’t sitting right in the composition and studio time was running out.
Gina would say, ‘just give me five minutes’ before a sneaky snooze or brief cat nap. Her cheeky catchphrase gifted Alex the song’s title. It became a reminder for fond family memories and an instigator for conversations remembering the good times. The song’s title has also been interpreted in another way by many fans as, ‘just give me five more minutes with you, to say the things I never got the chance to say.’
With this partially in mind Alex and the band invited fans to share in their memories of their lost loved ones. Alex and the band wanted to make it clear that they weren’t exploiting the fans’ loss for a cool video promo. He wanted the fans to share in the catharsis he felt in playing the song and also in the creative process of writing music and filming videos.
Alex reached out to fans and a warm response came in return. He met a group of fans at the studio where they were to record this segment of the music video. They shared their memories and stories, tears and smiles, laughing through sleeve-smeared makeup, sharing warm hugs. The group wrote short poignant tributes on white boards and each took their turn under a hung camera to immortalise their loved one in film.
The band’s audio tribute soon became a shared visual record of remembrance. “It was nice to come together and celebrate the life of our loved ones. Every time someone watches the video they get remembered again, which is a beautiful thing,” reflected Alex.
The first part of the music video was filmed near Kulusuk, Greenland. It was one of two recordings that were filmed – the first being the location shoot for ‘Five Minutes’ and the second capturing the epitome of exploration and adventure. As part of the Jägermeister Music Programme, the band were to play the first ever gig on a free floating ice burg inside the Arctic Circle.
They couldn’t play on the kind of ‘classic’ ice burg we know for its solitary beauty, because they could roll the band into the freezing waters at any moment. So they had to use a flat burg that offered more stability.
Used to the mean streets of London, the band were out of their comfort zone. The odds of survival were against the four friends. Nature dominated and dictated the rules of life in this harsh Greenland environment. Experts and locals supported the endeavour and, once a stable-ish ice burg was found, the crew, which consisted of their safety team and guides, set up the band’s gear.
The band weren’t to know that once they took to the ice and plugged in they were about to make history. And so it was written. To the band’s surprise, the feat has recently been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records, no doubt wedged into the Christmas stockings of kids around the world: “I didn’t even think it was a thing. We just went there to play on an ice burg. I used to get the Guinness book of Records when I was little. I think as a band we’ve had a few awards but this is the coolest.”
The band have recently returned from LA where they have been writing and recording material for their new record. “We’ve written so many songs. We’re choosing what ones to use now. We have this new one called ‘Running in Circles’.”
The band are currently on tour with ‘In this Moment’ and intend to treat fans to a set list that includes a few favourites from ‘Daggers’, new songs and covers inspired by the bands tribute to Nirvana at 2014’s Sonisphere festival, and another dose of their furious live experience.
Whoever you lose, your grandmother, partner or sibling, son or daughter, that friend who was your family, it is good to try and share. Talk to friends and family because these people in life were, and in death are still, important.
‘Rest your eyes for just five minutes,’ Alex.
The Defiled are:
Stitch D: Vocals & Guitar
The AVD (Alex): Programming, Keys, Vocals
Vincent Hyde: Bass
Images care of: Adam Sagir and The Noise Cartel
About the author
James is a single parent, learning to write, so he jumped right in at the deep end, volunteering to write for CALM
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