Recently, Last Day Deaf hosted a beautiful interview with Evi Hassapides Watson’s She Tames Chaos. Now, we are honoured to have Echo Tattoo answering our questions, just before their Friday’s gig (November 24th, AN Club) for the 30 Years An Club + 15 Years Gagarin 205 – 4 Days Of Celebration! Pure joy…
So, Echo Tattoo, so glad that you’ll be a part of the “4 Day Fest” for the celebration of An club’s 30 years and Gagarin 205’s 15 years anniversary! It’s been quite a long time since your last performance. How do you feel about this upcoming “party” night?
I FEEL GOOD, I knew that I would now, I feel good… So good, so good, I got YOU!
We are working on making it a great night by joining forces with the other bands.
Ask me a week after the show, that’s what I always say.
Echo Tattoo has been a legendary Greek underground band, formed in 1989, with a relatively limited discography of four released albums. What was the best period of time in regards to your discography?
All of them were great. Each had its own peaks and valleys.
The first album was our debut, we were starting out, our sound was raw. We were really happy to finally have a record out!
Then came the Big thing, which took us to England. We worked with producer Bryan New who flew over to Greece and stayed with us for a while. We played the songs over and over again, while he was tending to the details. He guided us through pre-production, in our studio, in the basement of the house I was renting back then. Then Bryan returned to the United Kingdom and we followed. We stayed in Bath and recorded at Moles Studios with Bryan and assistant engineer Darren Nash. It was amazing! We were in the same studio as some of the greatest artists and bands! And Bath was a dream of a town, it’s no wonder Jane Austen found inspiration there.
We mixed in Matrix’s studio 4, which was housed in an Edwardian Church Hall, a hundred yards from Kings Road, in London. Let me give you a short list of some of the other artists who have used Matrix:
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tears For Fears, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Tricky, U2, Paul Weller, Björk, Radiohead, David Bowie, the list goes on and it’s mesmerizing.
Our third album, was sorta homemade. We were lucky enough to have SCA studio offered to us for a very long time for a very low price, due to its owners’ great generosity. Production was mainly Evi’s job except a couple tracks on which Aris Christou did a lot of the work.
There is no 4th album in the regular sense. Our 4th release was a vinyl reprint of ‘Mind Your Step‘ with an added track as a bonus.
At this point, it should be noted that your last album in 2014, ‘Mind Your Step‘, a remastered work with mixes alternative to the album version of 2008, was released as a vinyl edition in just 200 copies and each album cover is a unique copy of Evi’s original painting “In the Deep”.
All those were hand painted by you, Evi… What was the purpose of this concept?
The mixes were not at all different from the ones on the original 2008 CD release of ‘Mind Your Step‘ with Recycled Recordings/Music Mirror.
The concept started out as a means of avoiding the high cost of printed covers. At the same time, I was making an intriguing artistic statement, adding to the value of the release. The re-issue would surely catch the vinyl enthusiasts’ eye, making it easier for the label to sell it.
The funny thing is that the hand painted covers cost more than regular prints would.
But I recently found out it sparked Greg and his band Mr. Highway Band’s new album puzzle covers. There’s something to be said about artistic chain reactions.
Evi, in a recent interview of yours with your current band She Tames Chaos for Last Play Deaf, you mentioned a fight between an E.T band member and the label owner that became the obstacle in recording a new album. So, obviously there is some Echo Tattoo’s unreleased material…
Is there any possibility that this might change in the early future?
I’m not sure what “this” is! If you are asking whether or not we are going to release a new Echo Tattoo album… well, there are many songs which have never been recorded but the band is not active at the moment, in the sense that we are not working on new, or old for that matter, material. We do not go to band practice; we are not rehearsing or anything of the sort.
So, I think it is safe to say that there is no such plan for the time being.
EchoTattoo was the opening act for names such as U2, The Fall, Giant Sand, Ian McCulloch, Soup Dragons, Bad Company… How would you describe those experiences?
Well, it’s always nice to share stage with other bands and musicians. We have met some great musicians who were also great people and that right there is the combo you desire in friends. It’s a shame you don’t get to spend more time with them and you definitely don’t get to share a stage with them in their country.
There’s always the one thing that makes you sad: you are treated as the lesser one by the Venues. That is to say, up until Rockwave with She Tames Chaos, we’ve never had access to the same menu, booze and quarters as the Headliner, for example.
Also, we have never been paid as support acts.
It’s not as if we are Richie Rich gone Rockstar. We do need money for our strings, rehearsals and tons of other things you’d have never guessed play an important role in the making and performance of music.
This one is for Evi, one of the most important and all time greatest artists of the Greek underground scene. Besides being a singer, you are also a producer, a composer, a writer, a painter…What are the sources of inspiration for this diversity of talent?
Alcohol? Ha, ha. Well, I don’t know, I’ve always felt anybody can be an artist, it all comes down to paying attention to the world around you and the world within you. Maybe what separates the ones who persist in occupying artistic realms is the desire to be heard, some unmet primal need. Maybe it’s something completely different for each artist.
I started drawing when I was one and a half years old. A painter friend of my mom’s, Ellie, was astounded by it. What was that baby’s inspiration? What is it that drives a baby to grab a pencil and start a single line that ends up being the shape of a bird?
When I was three I was already singing, so I can’t really see inspiration.
What I do recognize tho, is the sheer pleasure of it all. As a kid that’s what makes you tick! You are actively seeking pleasure! And the arts, especially music, gave me so much pleasure, my brain was in grey matter heaven!
I never got over it! And in a lot of ways I am still a kid, thank God or whatever it is that needs thanksgiving.
Should a Greek band be ambitious and optimistic in regards to the current alternative scene in Greece?
There is a vast sea of points to be made in regards to the Greek Underground. One of which is the fact that as the economy plummets the ones who suffer the majority of the consequences are those who do not comply with the mainstream and what the establishment –be it the music or any other industry’s preset network – pushes to the masses. And let’s look at the numbers, shall we? How many artists can the mainstream sustain in order to continue, “same as it ever was”, making profit? What kind of artists are the ones making it big? Are they similar to each other?
On the other hand, there is a whole planet of listeners out there. How can we reach them? How can little old Alternative Greece make itself known to the rest of the world?
Artistically, you can be as optimistic as you please, you can be immersed in joy, pain, awe, hilarity, just about any emotion there is, because creation is flight. Over uncharted or well-known territory. In any case it is elevation. The creative process is also the epitome of instant karma in the sense that you reap what you sow. You create your own reward.
When it comes to audiences, well, that’s another story. If you want real connection you will be well served by small crowds. But if you are out to overcompensate for something else, in the times of sci-fi come true, branding and exposure are key.
Ambitious. You should always be ambitious but there is ambition that requires compromise.
Ambition could be esoteric. “I want to surprise me” and that sort of jolly thing.
There’s a lot of talent in this battered old Greece of ours. What we are short on is alternative artists’ representation and management.
What we should aim for is sustainability.
Record companies that do not go out of business and bands that stick together. People who continue against all odds. So, in order to answer your main question my dear Vasiliki, we should answer this one first: are we capable of sticking together? Can we make use of our best qualities? Can we be altruistic?
Any new alternative greek band/performer you suggest we should pay attention to?
I have the memory of a goldfish when it comes to names, I really suck at that. But I never forget a face. Um, in our Radio Show on radio.polygyros.gr we recently played Electric Litany, Dustbowl, Terrapin, Penny Dreadful, Panos Birbas, but they are not that new, are they?
I am not the best person for this job. Sorry.
What are your plans for the future?
Echo Tattoo don’t really have anything planned right now. Other than the night at An Club.
We’ll see what the road brings. The plan is to be here and enjoy life!
Anything else you would like to share or add?
Come see us play live!
And follow our bands on Facebook, Bandcamp, Spotify and everywhere!
Mescaline – Μεσκαλίνη
She Tames Chaos
Robert Sin & The Huckleberries
Thank you for the beautiful questions!
Best wishes to all!
We are all connected!