[Interview] Comacozer (AU)

comacozer band photo
"Comacozer" is an instrumental, psych, heavy rock band from Sydney, Australia. Last August they released their debut album "Astra Planeta".

We had the chance to talk with them and we present you this interview. Enjoy!

 Band Members:
Rick Burke - guitars
Rich Elliott - bass
Andrew Panagopoulos - percussion

Hello and welcome to Downtuned. First of all, give us some info about the band's background just to let people know you better.
"Yia sas paidia"! (Greek salute)
I, Rich Elliot (bass), met Andrew Panagopoulos (drums) through an online forum; I’d moved to Australia from the UK the previous year and was itching to get back into a band. We jammed a couple of times with a friend of his back in late 2013 playing desert rock but with a trippy element, but things died down after that. It wasn’t until early 2014 that he got in touch again asking if I’d be interested in jamming with him and a new guy, Rick Burke (guitar), on some “dark slower heavy psychedelic stuff” as he called it. From our first jam together everything just clicked. The rest, as you say, is history.

Did the members of the band participate in other projects or bands in the past and what kind of music did they play?
I played in what could probably be considered a stoner rock band in London before I moved to Australia, alongside the odd side project. Rick played bass in various death metal and hardcore bands, and Andrew was similarly in grind and hardcore bands playing guitar before he switched to playing drums. I tend to think the variety of the bands we’ve played in and our musical backgrounds have helped diversify what we create in Comacozer.

comacozer logoHow did you come up with the name "Comacozer"?
I remember Andrew sending me a list of about 20 band names that he’d thought up. Comacozer was #15 on that list, and it apparently meant “phat fucking joint”. In the end, it boiled down to either ‘Comacozer’ or ‘Fogout’ until someone pointed out that ‘Fogout’ could be mistaken for a rather derogatory word if you read it too quickly. I think we made the right choice…

How big or active is the heavy 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 for your music at your place?
Sydney is an interesting place. For what can be considered a vibrant city, it doesn’t offer much in the way of live music now when you compare it to Melbourne. We’ve seen some epic venues close down or stop putting on bands, so the options of where to play haven’t been plentiful in recent years - that said, venues like Frankie’s Pizza and the Hideaway Bar are great for Sydney’s live music scene and really help bands like us to get our name out there. Our first gig was at the Valve Bar, Sydney in December 2014 and as we were only just getting our name out there I don’t think people knew where to place us, which I think was the case for many of our first few gigs and a hurdle we had to get over; building relationships with bands at gigs coupled with some great whoring out of ourselves on Facebook has helped us get past that.

Almost three years have passed since your first EP release. What stayed the same and what is different today in the band and in the way you work?
The number of guitar pedals has grown, as has the number of broken drumsticks…
Joking aside, quite a lot has happened in those three years. We’re tighter, and we’ve really learned to feed off each and get a feel for where we’re all at when we jam or play live. We have an unimaginable number of musical influences, from bands in the '60s/'70s to home grown Australian bands from the last year that play a part in how we perceive what we play - perhaps because of that we’re more critical of what we play, with a little bit of perfectionism thrown in.
Our recording experiences with the first EP didn’t quite meet the mark when it came to mixing, and it took some help from Dav Byrne (Iridium Audio) to get us to where we wanted to be. From that, we’ve gone into recordings with Frank Attard (Frank St Studios) behind the desk and a clearer mind when it comes to the sound we’re looking for. As a result we’ve experimented more, which has opened so many new doors for us and adding new dimensions to our music that we hadn’t thought of; we’ve introduced more instruments into our jamming and recording sessions such as the baglama and tabla (as heard on ‘Navigating the Mandjet’) and we’ve experimented with more effects - Rick can attest to the number of pedals he’s played with in the last 12 months alone.
That said, we’re still playing jokes on and making fun of each other. We’re all still Comacozer brothers looking out for one another, I don’t think that’ll change anytime soon.

What were the biggest difficulties that you encountered in producing and releasing your first full album "Astra Planeta"? Are those difficulties going to affect the way you'll handle things in a future release?
To be honest, I think one of the main difficulties we faced was controlling the number of ideas and riffs that we worked with. We can jam for what feels like hours, and come up with a lot of good material, but developing them into fully fledged tracks that we were happy with was another thing altogether. It’s safe to say that we’ve got some riffs saved up for a while to come, but I don’t think it’ll hold us back.
Because we had worked with Frank Attard on the Deloun EP, we learned a lot during that recording and mixing process that we were able to carry over to Astra Planeta; he really understood what we were going for and he captured our sound and tone in a way we were all really happy with. We’re already in talks to get back in the studio with Frank soon, so I think we’re in safe hands when it comes to our journey towards the next release.

astra planeta"Astra Planeta" was released 6 months ago. What is the feedback that you got so far?
We’ve had an overwhelming amount of positive feedback when it comes to Astra Planeta, and we’re grateful to anyone who has spent the time listening to it. We’ve seen people asking when we’re going to tour overseas, which we’d love to do if the opportunity ever arose. It’s always cool to see how our music is interpreted, and the genres people associate with it; I’ve seen us classed as both stoner rock and doom metal - it’s good that we’re creating something that resonates for many people. Comments on both our Bandcamp page and on the various Youtube pages for our tracks have talked about the journey it takes them on, which is how we want people to feel about our music - as we say on our liner notes and Bandcamp page: ‘Press play, close your eyes, take a journey through space and time…’. I like to think that people get that.

How would you describe your music to someone who doesn't know you yet? Is that the style that defines "Comacozer" or there's room for experimentation in the future?
It feels like the word “Comacozer” can be used to describe our style of music as a whole, and I think placing our sound in a particular genre is easier said than done; we have elements of psych, of doom, of stoner, to name a few. In a review someone once described us Psychedelic Space Doom, and if someone asks me what style of music we play I think it ticks that box reasonably well. Our influences and background, however, give way to much more experimentation - Andrew’s Greek background for one has brought something different to the table, even on our first EP on the track “Eye of Horus” you could hear us starting to develop our sound because of that.

What were the main reasons and influences that made you adopt this music style?
We take a lot of influence from Egyptian and Ancient Greek mythology. Time, space and the third eye all play a part in forming our style of music. Experimenting with different instruments and effects (especially with respect to Andrew’s aforementioned Greek background) has allowed us to develop our own diverse sound and develop a unique vibe that we can call our own.
In terms of musical influences, we’re big fans of The Doors, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. I think music from the late 60s/early 70s has a lot to answer for when it comes to where our collective minds are at. I feel like they’ve been essential building blocks for getting us to where we are now.

How does the whole songwriting process work for you? What are the emotions you want people to receive when they hear your music?
When we get together, one of us will usually have some riffs that they’ve been playing around with. We play with some of those, add some structure and see where it goes. Sometimes we’ll put a riff on the backburner if we’re not feeling it at that moment, and we end up coming back to it further down the track when we have another riff that compliments it (a lightbulb moment, usually). We’re open enough with one another to say whether a riff or sound is going to work or not, and that definitely helps the writing process.
Our music is there to be openly interpreted by the listener. For us, each track should take them on a journey; through the light and the dark, the highs and the lows, the quiet and the loud. For some that may be a journey of both anger and peace, for others it may be a relaxed, hypnotic experience - so long as they reach their destination, wherever that may be.

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?
Being instrumental we let the music do a lot of the talking. Rick may introduce us and say a few words, but we’re more focused on playing after that - especially when our sets may only be 3 tracks long! Seeing the crowd react to our music definitely motivates us, and it’s great when we see people getting the vibe and feel for what we play, whether it’s moving around or simply just nodding their head in time to the music.
I think that a lot of the energy we get during the gig comes from each other too; seeing one another get into the music and enjoy the moment gives us the drive to play harder and with more passion, and even pushes us experiment more - so we can give the crowd more than what they came to see. We want each experience of seeing Comacozer live to be different from the last.

comacozer logo
Are there any "special" bands that you dream to share the stage with?
We’d love to play alongside Blown Out, Colour Haze, Elder, My Sleeping Karma, Electric Moon…I could keep going. Seeing the line-ups for festivals around the world such as ‘Desertfest’ and ‘Psycho Las Vegas’ make us long for the day we can join some of the bands we love listening to up on stage.

How do you imagine "Comacozer" in 2027?
Still experimenting, still pushing the limits of what we’ve started, and still exploring the universe we’re in - we’re on a journey through time and space, there are unlimited possibilities along the way! Who knows what technology will give us, what effects we’ll have, what instruments we’ll be playing…
Other than that, I imagine we’ll be a tad older and maybe a little bit wiser (some of us, at least), without too much grey hair I hope.

What are your plans for this year? Is it a priority for you to try and participate in gigs outside your country?
We’re currently focusing on getting the follow up album to “Astra Planeta” completed, recorded and out there for the wider world to take in. We’d love to travel at some point and play for some of the fans who’ve given us so much support as we’ve grown over the last few years, but that’ll come down to how our lives pan out - never say never though.

We wish you good luck to whatever you do in the future, the epilogue is yours...
Grab a beer. Put on your favorite record. Press play and turn it up loud. Close your eyes and take your mind on a journey far, far away. Keep your ears open for new album coming later this year! "Efxaristoume para poli yia tin upostirixi". (meaning: "thanks for your support", in Greek)


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