On account of their upcoming participation in Plisskën Festival and their cassette release via Hominid Sounds, Kooba Tercu discussed with us their past, present and future of their music course. For those of you who are yet unaware, it is certain that with the initial listen you will be impressed by their titular 12-inch LP and in case you are in Athens on the 2nd of December, believe me, you will listen to something very powerful and original. The term they give to their music is ‘exotic noisy rock’.
‘Kooba’ means summary (in which language?), ‘Tercu’ is the surname of the mastermind behind this band. Associatively, I’m led to the conclusion that the band is a personal rebuilding and at the same time a psychoanalysis of your frontman; is this right? Or is it just a mixture of the many members of the band based on a fantastic persona, Kooba Tercu?
That’s right. This psychoanalysis is channeled through the crew, which he fully controls but also allows their creativity to flow through distributed systems of sub-organisations. (One could say that the band is formed by self-organised, highly intertwined systems that form complex interactions at multiple levels of musicality and expression).
If I’m not mistaken Kooba Tercu is the progression of Cube. What did you leave behind from sounds to dreams and with what thoughts did you move on to this new path?
Few members from Cube were enlisted by Johnny Tercu to serve his Kooba Tercu vision. Those are definitely two distinct bands in terms of sound, attitude and aesthetics. One thing that works as a thread between the two, is the heaviness of the sound and the devotion to groove. More than thoughts, it was mostly the reality in Athens, during the crisis, that moved Johnny to this new direction.
On the cover of Cube’s first album there was the depiction of a crazy monkey. On Kooba Tercu’s first album there is an iguana crossing something more technological (as I perceive it by its movement towards the colors). What is your relationship with the animal kingdom and what do these two animals represent for you either symbolically as cover artwork, or philosophically?
We like animals. We are animals ourselves, omnivorous city-dwellers. For us, music is the purest form of expression and as such, it is the closest one to our animal heritage. After all, all civilizations present affinities with the animal kingdom. It is not a surprise that new-born kids find it very easy to associate with animals nor that a new-born child’s brain is closer to the structure and capabilities of other mammals’ than a grown-up’s, but every kid loves music. Think about that.
I will keep you between present and past for a bit longer. Before going ahead with the recording of the titular album, I’m sure that you gave many concerts and slowly you found your orientation by taking some guiding lines concerning your sound. My question is: Do you think that concerts can be the experimentation and shaping ground and finally how much closer or further do you think you are to the sound you dreamt of?
Most definitely, concerts (and recordings too) give you the space to experiment on a different level from rehearsals and provide you with experience to understand and evolve your sound. It’s how you want to put it: whether for concerts and recordings, performance is in itself a continuous experiment, but at the same time, it is the expression of results of other continuous experiments. Even though we have a clear direction of where we want to go, we’re not there yet.
The band is a collection of people that participate to various musical groups, how much, do you think, this helps the communication amongst each other?
The bond in Kooba Tercu is unlike any other for all of us in the band. This group is a brotherhood. A lot of members are busy with other music endeavors (Johnny has been collaborating with Space Blanket and recently produced the new Puta Volcano, while his boys have been involved in Echo Canyon, Casual Nun, Masturbation Goes Cloud, to name a few).
Do you enter the studio having something almost complete in your mind or do you jam until you find something that satisfies you?
We jam econo like the Minutemen.
How much are Kooba Tercu influenced by stoner, grunge, kraut rock, the African rhythm and, by extension, the psychedelia, in a wider sense, and not only as a sound?
We grew up listening to likes of Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Soundgarden and the other MTV rock heroes. We were also shocked when we first listened to Kyuss in high school. These bands have played a role in our formative years and still give us a sense of direction in relation to the interplay between melody, heaviness, rock and originality. Add to the mix: punk, noise, no wave, sludge, African & Latin ensembles, kraut, techno, ambient and late 50’s jazz and you end up with a pretty ugly mess of post-everything. At the end of the day, we are just trying to make music that is Johnny Tercu; not just a good version of the bands we like. That’s not an easy task…
Where do you think comes your stimuli from, which is being coded through your music and your lyrics?
First and foremost, you experience life. You’ve got the “crisis” thing (if that hasn’t devolved into an empty buzzword already). Nevertheless, we have seen severe transformations of the Athenian “vie quotidienne” these past few years – transformations manifesting themselves simultaneously with our own transformations (those that happen before and during your thirties). On the other hand, you have the aforementioned “brotherhood” aspect, in the context of which, nearly anything can be prime material of play.
What is your relationship with foreign countries as a band? And how did you agree to your cooperation with Hominid Sounds?
We are having our first UK release this December with a new and pretty awesome noise-rock label, Hominid Sounds. It is going to be an ultra-limited cassette tape release. This connection came from our drummer who’s currently living in London. We like all people of the world.
What are the musical paths your sound could take in the future? Is there space for a rock sound in the future now that keyboards accompanied by computers are flooding the musical industry?
The first part of the question asks for many words or maybe a few new songs.
We don’t know or care if there is a rock sound in the future. Guitars, bass and drums are still pretty much around in a lot of non-rock music anyway and we’ve got our fair share of synths, effects etc. in our own rig so we’d say the lines are blurred.
What is Athens for you in its present form?
Our favorite shit-hole.
Are you affected by the political situation and the chaos that rules Greece mostly due to poor economy and unemployment? Would you consider immigrating either as a band or as individuals?
It is a constant struggle to keep your head above the water and this affects us sometimes when it comes down to our music. Also one of us is already in the UK, adding a few more obstacles to our creative process. Another relocated to Crete. In any case, the link between the members is still going strong…
A top 10 of the songs that have obviously influenced your album.
We composed them songs a few years back… back then those were few of the songs we really enjoyed listening and sharing with each other:
- Zu – ‘Ostia’
- Charles Mingus – ‘Moanin’’
- Boredoms – ‘Super Are’
- Melvins – ‘A History Of Bad Men’
- Deerhoof – ‘Milk Man’
- The Jesus Lizard – ‘Mouth Breather’
- The Dive – ‘Walking On Behalf Of’
- The Cows – ‘Chow’
- Minutemen – ‘Self-Referenced’
- SadhuS “The Smoking Community” – ‘Foondamentalist’
What are you working on presently?
We’re preparing new songs for our next recording in early/mid 2017.
What is Plisskën for you? Tell us a few things about your participation.
Plisskën is the festival that you don’t ask to play, they ask you. Our participation is much anticipated.
Photo credits: Vasilhs Sakkos (1st one)