10 April 2012

[Interview] This Is Nowhere [GR]

This is Nowhere
As far as I'm concerned, This Is Nowhere were one of the greatest surprises for 2011. I hadn't heard about them before and when I checked their 7"....Baaam! Then I learned about their awesome live performances (I still haven't the chance to catch them live. 1000mods/This Is Nowhere gig would be the perfect opportunity but it was canceled...). A while ago my good friend Panagiotis volunteered to make an interview with them. Of course I accepted. I kept the interview for a lot of time in my "drawer" waiting for the right time to post it, before the afore-mentioned gig... But since it was cancelled I postponed it.... The time has come since they're going to release a 12" split with De Sades in less than a month. Panaotis had a talk with Jay, This Is Nowhere's guitarist, so here it is.... Jay's views from nowhere.
A big fat thanks to Panaotis for arranging/making the interview. 

Panaotis: Hello guys. First of all, tell us a few things about the band. And of course about your upcoming release.
Jay: We formed the band 3 years ago, we have recording sessions always in process, never enough money to process or publish our work the right time or the right way.. Above all we're really good friends (though we would easily "kill" each other from time to time!)
The upcoming release is a split 10" vinyl between "This is Nowhere" and "De Sades". I play the guitars with both bands. "This is Nowhere" side is a little bit heavier than the 7" release and is the verge between what the project was and what it's about to be. "De Sades" side serves as a preamble to our upcoming album; dirty bluesy garage punk!

Panaotis: It's quite strange for a new band to make their debut with a soundtrack. What exactly happened there?
Jay: Well, actually the soundtrack was recorded after the recording sessions of the 7", but the play had a premiere in Thessaloniki before the official release of the soundtrack. As you can see there has been a misconception about the whole debut thing. Anyway, the catalogue number for the 7" is 0001 and we consider the soundtrack to be a kind of a bootleg/non official release,so..
Now, about the whole "Frozen" project, it's been a challenge to "dress" a play like that. Great, though too claustrophobic at some points and with totally different aesthetics than the whole "This is Nowhere" concept. We had a great time in the studio. It was actually a jam with guest musicians, some kind of no form freedom, a chance to try completely different settings to almost everything etc. Really nice process but to be honest we're not into this kind of stuff anymore.

Panaotis: Most of the public considers the 7'' to be your ''regular'' debut. Are you happy with the outcome so far?
Jay: As I said before the 7" is the first release so far. It was limited to 300 copies and it's almost sold out at the moment, so I guess we're happy. Personally I find the 7" a little bit hasty and crude but on the other hand, it addresses the situation we were at the time: raw, a little bit lost, still trying to communicate almost helplessly... Perfect Helpless ;-)

Panaotis: Lately there is a turn in underground bands doing the production themselves instead of hiring a pro. Did you do yours? Do you feel the fact that most bands can't afford a producer could have a result they haven't thought of as the maximum or that it may broaden their perspective?
Jay: We did produce our work on our own. We can't afford a producer so doing the production by ourselves is a one way street. Personally, I really enjoy the process and I'm about to produce the next two "Hands in Sand" releases. I'm still learning but the field is fascinating; it's as creative as composing music. Now, about the maximum results, there's always more if you want. More expensive gear, more time in the studio, better producers e.t.c. But the real challenge is to play with what you have, rather to long for things you'll possible never have. The idea is the only thing that counts. Many of our favourite records were really low budget. So, we're trying not to be stuck with all those consuming, fetish like, quests for the best sound, though sometimes we relapse ;-)

Panaotis: During your concert, we noticed some special instruments [tambourine, four string guitar, analog guitar pedal] that give you a distinguished sound. Tell us a bit about that. Where/when did these ideas come from?
Jay: My 4 string reso guitar is a custom, unique instrument made from an exceptional luthier in Czech Republic (www.amistar.cz). Based on the plectrum guitars of the 20's and the 30's and evolved for a downtuned, heavier sound, it's the best cross between bluesiness and heaviness. Our pedalboards are made with more "modular synth - style" aesthetics than the usual guitar pedalboards (both me and Manuel were into experimental and electronica from time to time). Now the tambourine is not really special but it's a tribute to the garage-psych sound we occasionaly enjoy. Our gear is a conclusion of our various influences. We all were into completely different musical styles when we first met. I think we still are. All these new languages led to a new sound (new for us). We're lucky we didn't lose ourselves; or have we? Time will tell...

Panaotis: Hands in sand collective.. is it an circle of friends or an association on a more professional level? How would you like to see the future of it?
Jay: I wouldn't consider us pros (though we'd like to be at some point). First of all, "Hands in Sand" is a group of friends. It's all about supporting our artistic projects in a way that none of us could support alone. Maybe it's a need, but the whole process led us to a completely different way of thinking. We're not as selfish as we were and that's good for everyone. I don't know about the future. We're still on our very first steps. There are good signs though..

Panaotis: Lately we have seen several Greek bands releasing both inspired and professional works and being exceptional on stage too. However, they haven't received the same recognition internationally as bands coming from countries with tradition in the heavy rock sound. How does a relatively new band feel about this?
Jay: It's all about management. I don't believe that a "pro" would invest in a market like Greece. The musicians are trying hard, but the whole structure in music business is wrong. And man, you sure need a strong fan base. If some Greek musician attempts to try his luck in a more "friendly" country, he'll probably meet success. But on the other hand, he would need lots of money and/or guts to make a decision like this. It's not easy anyway.

Panaotis: There has to be a deep connection with the American south. Could you name a few albums you think of as monuments?
Jay: The Fire Of Love by The Gun Club.

Panaotis: What about concerts? Do you have any arrangements for the near future? Any highlights from past concerts you wish to share?
Jay: Nothing really special. We occasionally play in venues here in Greece. We have a strong core of fans in our hometown. That's the highlight after all. (by the way, "We're very grateful guys, thanks a lot!"). We enjoy though living on the road. We do it seldom. Someday...

Panaotis: What is your dreamplace of a gig? You can also mention the bands you'll be along in the lineup.
Jay: We prefer small venues. 150-200 people is always the best. The heat can be easily transferred from both sides and the sound is as close to the "truth" as possible. Now about the perfect gig... Bardo Pond, Dead Meadow, Brightblack Morning Light, The Entrance Band and many other bands of the time would be on the line up. We must organize a "Hands in Sand" festival one day.

Panaotis: Most of you, if not all, are musicians having jobs related to music. Do you find it tiring sometimes to be around all those sounds or does this keep you alerted?
Jay: It's always a pleasure mate. As Nietzsche says: Life without music would be a mistake. I'm tired to death sometimes, but overall I'm thankful.

Panaotis: Can you name us some new releases that drew your attention lately?
Jay: Super Van Vacation by 1000mods! Man, this was way much better than anyone expected. Brightblack Morning Light / Lungfish split 7" was also astonishing. The new Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble by Amorphous Androgynous (though it's a comp), Burning Mirrors 7" by Lumerians, the new Endless Boogie album, Smokescreen by Religious Knives, the last Broadcast album (with The Focus Group), Brain Soup by Sonny Touch (you should check this noble weirdo), Crazy Clown Time by David Lynch, Where they Go by Minor Mine (one of my favorite bands in Thessaloniki), Trust The Witch by Big Sexy Noise (hellish!) and many more...

Panaotis: Thank you for the interview and good luck with all your plans. The last words are yours.
Jay: Thank you! Downtuned Mag is exactly where it should be. Keep on mapping the Greek underground and someday, somehow we'll all be rewarded :-p Hahahahaha! Love, Jay.

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