[Interview] Cockblockers [GR]

Cockblockers band photo
Cockblockers is a band from Kalamata, Greece. that has been around since 2011. About 1,5 year ago (February 2018) they released their debut s/t album (read a few words here).

A couple of weeks ago we had the chance to chat with Panos, the band's vocalist and we are now presenting you this interview so that you get to know them better.

1.-Hello and welcome to Downtuned. First of all, give us some info about the band's background just to let people know you better. When and how did you all meet?
Thanks for having us! We are Cockblockers, and we are currently enjoying the blasting heat of southern Peloponnese. We play music that makes us feel good, and allows us to exteriorize our thoughts and feelings. At that moment, it translates to metal.
I've known Takis (guitar), since we were young, and we had all met, kinda, in the past. It's Kalamata, so people who prefer our kind of music, usually hang out in the same places, same bars, so you know, everybody knows everyone. It's a small but caring community.

2.-Did the members of the band participate in other projects or bands in the past and what kind of music did they play?
We have pretty diverse backgrounds, and I think that shows, in our work. I was a guitarist for prog/instrumental band during my studies in Patra, called DEM153 [1]. Takis had a pornogrind project called Vibrator Failure [2] (a lot too take in, bear with me...). Lefteris (drums), had participated in more extreme metal bands, death/core and such, and Kostas is more of a Heavy Metal guy, but he studies classical music, and plays the cello.
We're spread all over the place when it comes to music, but that gives the band an advantage if you ask me. Sure, it makes things harder when composing, because each one has a different approach to it, but in the end, we create something that we’re satisfied with, and being able to satisfy five people with such a diverse musical background, says alot.

[1] video - If you care about the *family* tree, I moved on with Cockblockers, Harry (guitar) created Dala Sun, Xenofontas (keyboards) plays bass in Monovine and Vasilis played as the drummer of Potergeist for a period. Small world, I know!
[2] video

3.-How did you come up with the name "COCKBLOCKERS"? Does it mean something particular for you?
I should probably come up with something witty and intriguing at some point, but… The name had already been decided when I joined, but the story takes place in front of a fireplace, on a cold winter night. Lots of booze, lots of fun, and that was the outcome. It started as a joke, but it stuck.

4.-How big or active is the underground music scene at your place of living? How easy or difficult was for you to make your first steps as a band? Was it easy to find an audience and venues for your music at your place?
Cockblockers photoIf you take into account the population of the city, the scene is doing pretty good! Almost the whole metal (I'm using metal vaguely here) community here participates in the making of music, with bands such as Mr. Booze, Minerva Superduty, OYD, and more. We have lots of events during the year and even local festivals.
It was pretty easy (regarding venues), because there are people that care about what we are doing. First of all we have Rodanthos Bar, and its owner Giannis, who gives us an awesome stage, to us local bands and has been a host to huge bands of the Greek Scene (Nightstalker, Septic Flesh etc). Then there's "our" studio, BandApart and Giorgos, which has a live event almost every other Saturday, with one out of town band and a local one to support it. It's lots of fun and more laid back, people are really enjoying that as well. And finally we have a big event almost every summer, Kalamata Street Festival. We were in the news last summer, and you might have heard, because our Mayor decided to put an abrupt end to it, saying, people living near the premise of it, complained. Of course that was just an excuse, and hopefully this year it will be back even greater than it usually is.

5.-Almost eight years have passed since "COCKBLOCKERS" came into existence. What has stayed the same and what is different today in the band and in the way you work?We have a much more relaxed attitude about all things regarding them band. When you start something new, you always feel like the sky is the limit and you can do anything. And that is true for the most part.
The difficult part is trying to make things happen a certain way, when they’re outside of your control. And that hit us a lot. We didn’t know how the whole “industry” worked and when something didn’t go as planned we were bummed out. But as times goes by, you grow as an individual within the band but a group as a whole.
So with a new approach on things, we have a much better communication between us and a better approach to all things. I can’t stress this enough, communication is key, not expressing yourself and your opinion within the band is catastrophic. We now know how each person feels and where he stands, and we are able to create and act as a band in much healthier environment.

6.-What were the biggest difficulties that you encountered in producing and releasing your debut
album? Are those difficulties going to affect the way you'll handle a full album release in the future?
As I mentioned earlier, we all had bands that we played with before Cockblockers happened. That being said, none of us had any experience with recording in a professional environment. We were totally overwhelmed by it. At times it felt this would never end. We backtracked on everything, we wanted to make everything perfect. But you get so fixated on the details, you lose sight of what your actual goal is. Getting your music out there, and having fun while you’re doing it. The biggest difficulty was letting go of our expectations and be satisfied with what we were creating. When we finally did, things progressed so much better, and so the light at the end of the tunnel. For sure, this whole process has changed our perspective, and we are much more prepared of how things are gonna happen. But it was an awesome experience both at a personal level, and a musical level.

Cockblockers photo
7.-Your debut album was released over a year ago. What is the feedback that you got so far?
People truly liked it! The music press had great things to say, and journalists that took the time to listen to it, and actually got what we were trying to do (both musically and lyrically) were as excited as we were about it. We even got added in some lists with the best releases of 2018, which was an honor! The bad thing is, that we have set the bar already high enough, so, not sure if we’re gonna keep it up there for the next release or let everyone down…

Cockblockers album artwork
8.-What's your relation with religion and is it really St. George on the album cover?  What was your source of inspiration for creating the album's artwork?
Well, I’m not a religious person. I won’t force my opinion on people, but from what we see happening to the world, it tries to make people numb. I’m more on the practical side of things (scientology confirmed!).
In one of our nights out during the recording period we were up to our noses with tsipouro and were discussing about what all those things that are depicted regarding saints and what they’ve done. Why should the dragon be the bad guy? Maybe he was minding his own business, just chilling. And all of a sudden St. George wants to be a bully. Enter the Cockblocker. He didn’t have any of it, so he taught ol’ Georgie there a lesson!
Most of the ideas we had that night, were hideous, but since we remembed this one the other day, we rolled with it...

9.-You created two videos for your songs "Enemies" and "Be My Valentine". Are there any
particular reasons or stories behind those two songs?
The band touches on all topics. We don’t have a particular theme. A discussion can go from total trash and nonsense fun, to politics in the span of 10 minutes. That totally reflects to the tracks and lyrics.
Enemies, is a depiction of our day and age. How everything is commercialized. Companies want to sell as much stuff as possible. We are semi detached from the TV, but they have infiltrated every social media, with the curse that is influencers and life coaches. There is an awesome me that reads: “BE PART OF AN ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME! WORK, BUY, BE SILENT, CONSUME, DIE”. The song describes the whole situations and tells those people that we’re not friends. We will never be, because they stand for something that is totally wrong.
Be My Valentine, on the other hand… It takes you through the adventure of one of our band members. We made things more dramatic and exaggerated for it to make it look more intriguing, but trust me when I say, it’s true. To some extent...

10.-How would you describe your music to someone who doesn't know you yet? Is that the style that defines the band or is there room for further experimentation?
That is the bane of our existence. When you tell someone you’re in a band. The first question is, “oh, cool! What style do you play?”. And the worst part is, that it’s a totally valid question! Those people are right to ask. But when you’re so close to the reactor (just wanted to say reactor, ‘cause I saw Chernobyl, sorry), you don’t have a definitive answer.
The good thing is that, now that the album is out, you guys in the music press sites, did the job for us! So, we are categorized as Southern Metal, with Desert/Stoner additions and a bit of prog on the vocal parts. Which works for me, I think it’s spot on.

11.-What were the main reasons and influences that made you adopt this music style?
The band started out, mostly as an excuse to get together, chill, drink and eat. We do that a lot, might as well jam while we’re at it. Takis (guitars), was already working on the parts of the album before I joined, but they were not arranged or built in a way to house vocals. This style is more relaxed and is usually created in a studio/jam session. The twist is, that he wanted to be based on riffs and not rhythm section parts. So, if you hear the album, you’ll hear tons of riffs! We had to make new arrangements and change things around to make it work, and be at a place that sounded good for all of us. That’s why parts of it are purely riff based, others are more jammy and others have been built to put everything together.

Cockblockers photo
12.-How does the whole songwriting process work for you? What are the emotions you want people to receive when they hear your music? What are your lyrics about?
There’s not one sacred way to do things. I work completely different from Takis. He usually sends us ideas or sections of the song for me to try vocal lines over and we take it from there, building it step by step. My approach is, I go silent for a week, do not say anything to anyone, and then, voila, hey, I got a new song. Lefteris is a major player in my writing as well, because I have him over slaving away, trying ideas on the drums, but he’s great and rarely complains. The only one that can “break” his spirit is Takis. So we try to keep the sessions that those two try out beats and jams to a minimum.
We do not set out to make people feel a certain way, because each song has a different feel to it. As I mentioned earlier it can be about some funnny crap that happened to us personally, something political, or something even more serious as personal loss. I don’t like things to be a certain way, so we don’t put stop signs when it comes to that.

13.-During a gig, is the communication with the crowd important for you? Does the positive feedback from the crowd motivate you to perform with more passion?
Absolutely. Feedback from the crowd can make you or break you. There are times when you didn’t have time to do the whole soundcheck, or something breaks, there are too many variables during a live performance. And when something goes wrong and people keep cheering you on, it’s the only thing you need to soldier on, and give it your best.
Now, when people are apathetic, we try our best to win them over, and make a connection. Because not everybody is expressive and he might need that nudge to feel part of the show. Because that’s what a concert is. People coming together and having fun as a whole. We don’t get on stage to “present our work”. We get up there to have a good time.

14.-Are there any "special" bands or artists that you dream to share the stage with?
Cockblockers photoWe’ve been lucky enough to play with most of the big names in the Greek scene, and it’s been amazing for us. Of course it would be amazing to play with bigger names from abroad. A band that I saw this year that completely made me stare in awe was YOB. I mean, I spent most of the show phazed out, like I was listening just standing there and I only remembered I was at a show, ‘cause some girl tapped me in the arm because she wanted to get over the other side. So, that’s a personal wish.

15.-How do you imagine "COCKBLOCKERS" in 2029?
Hopefully we’ll be able to keep making music. Make new friends and have fun with them, on stage and off stage. That’s all that really matters.

16.-What are your plans for this year? Is it a priority for you to try and participate in gigs outside your country? Are there plans for a second release?
Currently we’re taking things a bit slower than usual. Me and Lefteris are producing our first album for our project, SALOS. But we’ve been working on our new Cockblockers release already. We’ve actually been working on the material that will be in it, even before the first one got released. We put shows on, as often as we can. It’s difficult for us, since we’re not in Athens and we need more effort to arrange things. A gig outside Greece would be amazing. We’re more interested in finishing our next release, and we will have more info for you soon, hopefully!

17.-We wish you good luck to whatever you do in the future, the epilogue is yours...
Thank you so much for having us. This is my first interview for the band, so you bastards better bring us luck! Keep doing what you're doing, and giving bands such as ourselves a way to reach people out there, that don’t know about us yet!

cockblockers band photo
Cockblockers are:
Pãnoș vocals
Takis guitar
Leonidas guitar
Kostas bass
Lefteris drums

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