No need to actually introduce the legendary Athenian garage band, The Sound Explosion. After the band’s two new songs’ release, ‘Bring Back Your Love‘ and ‘In My Grave’, they are hitting Gagarin 205 Live Music Space’s stage on Saturday, April 28th, when they will present their new album ‘The Explosive Sounds Of… The Sound Explosion’ being released this month by Lost In Tyme, 24 years after their last album! For sure, we are happy for this interview and more than impatient for their upcoming gig!
So, The Sound Explosion welcome to Last Day Deaf!
We are really excited that on the 28th of April you will perform live at Gagarin 205 Live Music Space. It’s been two years since your last performance in Athens at Fuzz Live Music Club’s stage. How do you feel about this upcoming gig? What are your expectations?
John Alexopoulos (JA): We feel fine. We don’t have any special expectations. We are going to have fun and we hope that people who will come to see us will have fun too!
Dimitrios Dimopoulos (DIM): After the concert at Fuzz Live Music Club, our first priority was the recording of a new album and not so much a concert. In the concert we’re going to present the new album and meet with some friends there. I hope we all have fun and we feel perfect to be on Gagarin’s stage again!!
The Sound Explosion was the supporting act for names such as The Fuzztones, The Marshmallow Overcoat, The Others and of course Dead Moon… How would you describe those gigs? Please, share some of your experiences with us.
JA: Every gig was different. All of the bands you mentioned were cool. The Fuzztones‘ gig was our first one in front of a big audience and when we played with them, our band was like 4 months old. We were a bit nervous because some of us were very young (19 years old) and The Fuzztones were (and still are) legends in our eyes. But we managed to pull it off. We had great times with Tim Gassen of The Marshmallow Overcoat. Before the gig we spent hours talking about unknown 60’s garage 45s, lost The 13th Floor Elevators tapes, old vintage gear etc. Dead Moon and Fred Cole were really something else. I remember I had some issues with some cables during our gig and suddenly I heard a voice from backstage. It was Fred waving a cable and trying to help me. Here was a guy who had spent all his life playing in legendary bands recording masterpieces, giving a helping hand to a young kid from a new unknown band. What a great guy, musician and personality! We were very sad when he passed away. A true LEGEND.
DIM: It’s very strange to share the stage with some of the bands that occupy a perfect place in our mind and our heart like the bands that inspired us to start playing this music. One of those were The Fuzztones. Back in 1988 we saw them in a great concert at KYTTARO Live Club and 3 years later we shared the same stage in Rodon Club, something unbelievable for a teenage band like us those days!! Great guys!!!
As for The Marshmallow Overcoat and Timothy Gassen, John told you our private discussion for 45s and LPs before the concert. The Cynics, Sick Rose, The Others and of course Dead moon were some of the fantastic persons that we met on stage with a special mention to Fred Cole a legend of the 60s. One story of our meeting is that when we ended the sound check at AN Club he asked me about my age and when I told him that I was born in 1967 he told me that in 1967 they (The Lollipop Shoppe) opened concerts for The Doors!!!!
Back in 1992, you recorded your first 45’’ single ‘Hangover Baby / Some Other Guy‘, released a year later in 1993 by Pegasus Records and was a sensation for garage revival scene in Greece and abroad. How did this debut success contribute to the buildup of the band’s progress?
JA: There was a worldwide underground circuit where all garage fans, labels, fanzines shared news and records. Remember it was the time before Internet. When our first 45′ came out, people in this circuit learnt about us almost instantly. People into garage sounds were and still are very hungry to learn about new bands and releases etc.
DIM: I think that this single went out in a perfect time for us, but in a wrong time in the music world because at that time most of the people were on the lookout for grunge music, Manchester style or other styles. The garage punk revival was already out of fashion and so many bands had changed their style. We went out as a classic garage punk revival band and people from here, Greece, and other countries supported our attempt and we want to thank all of them for this.
Following your first single, in 1994, ‘Teen Trash Volume 14: From Athens, Greece‘, your debut album was released by Music Maniac Records, a legendary German label. How did this collaboration arise?
JA: We had sent a demo and our first 45′ when it came out to Music Maniac Records. Some months later Hans Kesteloo, the owner of the label, came to Greece with Droogs (who were on his label) for a gig and he visited the record store where Dimitris (our bass player) worked at that time. Hans asked us to send him more stuff and after some time he sent us the contract for the LP.
DIM: Yes this is the story of this. They (Droogs and Hans ) came to 7+7 record store in Monastiraki with some people of Hitch-Hyke Records and he asked me for a tape of some rehearsal recordings. I gave to Hans one tape with 20- 25 songs and after a month we had a contact with him!
What are the main sectors that contribute to the band’s creative process and inspiration?
JA: The main sector is our love of music. The process has been pretty much the same since the beginning of the band. I bring the main parts of a song, the chords and the melody line, and the other members of the band contribute ideas on their instruments and in a few cases some part, like an ending or a middle eight.
DIM: The most important thing is to have great ideas or to have a great songwriter and work on a main tune or a melody theme that gives us a good vibe!!!
The Sound Explosion have been a synonym for the Greek garage revival during the early 90’s. How do you feel about the garage scene in Greece nowadays?
JA: There are still a lot of people interested in 60’s garage sounds in Greece, but, as time goes by, fewer and fewer bands play this kind of music. And new garage bands that appear are usually formed by members of older bands. I think young kids are more interested to play stoner rock or “nu-psych” or whatever they call it nowadays.
Dim: I’m not sure that many young people are interested to play this kind of music (garage punk) and as John said most of the new bands that play garage punk music were members of old bands. I’m very disappointed with this but I hope that this will change. They are several of people who try to keep this style alive, but every year they are fewer!
Which bands would you consider as most influential in regards to The Sound Explosion?
JA: Our sound is based into all the American garage bands of the 60’s like The Music Machine, The Chocolate Watchband, The Sonics, The Seeds, The Standells, The Electric Prunes and so on. Also more obscure 60’s punk bands that are on compilations such us Pebbles, Back From The Grave, Boulders, Chosen Few, etc. We like also non-US mid 60’s bands like The Pretty Things, The Missing Links, The Master’s Apprentices, The Outsiders, Q65, The Ugly Ducklings, The Zombies, etc. A huge influence for me personally is The Beatles, especially their 1964-1966 era, but a certain member of the band hates them! Hahaha. We love all the “garage-revival” bands of the 80s of course, because we were pretty much raised on them. Apart from garage sounds we like trash rockabilly, surf, KBD punk, 70’s raw funk etc.
DIM: Who? The Beatles? Thank you but no… I prefer more the revival garage bands like The Fuzztones, Miracle Workers, The Creeps, the Chesterfield Kings etc. 60s bands like Screaming Lord Sutch, Τhe Music Machine, Τhe Chocolate Watchβand, Larry And The Blue Notes, The Standells, The Sonics and more and some of trash rockabilly, punk and even some metal bands !!
Back to the past now, what was the reason for the band’s dissolution in 1997? What happened during that period of time until your reunion in the early 2000’s?
JA: We just got fed up with each other. After the break up Stelios Drissis, our first organ player, left for Belgium. After a while, I formed a band with some ex-members of The Walking Screams. We called ourselves The Inner Mystiques and we were active for a year or so. We only did a gig in 2001 opening for The Fuzztones (again!) and then we broke up. I don’t know if the other members were active back then.
DIM: There was not a split between the band members. It was just that time passed by and nobody took the initiative to set a date for the next rehearsal. We all played in bands in that period that we did not play as The Sound Explosion.
After your reunion, were there any changes in the band’s synthesis and instrumental gear that you use?
JA: As I mentioned earlier Stelios Drissis, our first organ player, had left for Belgium. He was replaced by Stelios Askoxylakis. He fitted in the band musically and spiritually and that was a very difficult task. A couple of years ago in our last gig all members of The Sound Explosion, old and new, came on the stage for an encore and that was a very moving and emotional moment for all of us! The gear we use is the same: Vox and Farfisa.
DIM: Stelios Askoxylakis in Farfisa and Vox organ has been with us for the last 15 years (a gift from God to the band for a second comeback). One of the happiest parts of our last concert is that we all (5 members) were on stage for a few songs.
At this time, we are happy to read that you are in a recording process and soon your second album after 24 years named ‘The explosive Sounds of… The Sound Explosion‘ will be released by Lost In Tyme. Please tell us more!
JA: We recorded 14 songs for the LP. We hope that people who either have been following us all those years or learnt recently about us will appreciate our sound and like our new songs. It was recorded mainly live with a few overdubs (vocals, solos, tambourines etc). It took us all those years (decades!) to record a new LP, although in the meantime we had released some 45’s. The main reason is that we were always breaking up and we are not very disciplined as people!
DIM: Great experience to be in studio after all these years with the brothers. The hardest part to do was to capture the ‘frenzy’ of our sound. We managed this with some great help of our good sound engineer Nikos Trigkas and the cover art by George Paraskevopoulos, a very good friend from the past (the band’s logo maker and a great graphic artist) and with the production that we made, so we are happy with the final result! Hope you all enjoy it!
What holds the future for The Sound Explosion?
JA: We really don’t know. We don’t make plans so I guess anything goes!
DIM: A will to make some concerts with the brothers in the band and, why not, to record a new album or some 45’s.
Thank you so much for your time! Please, close this interview the way you wish.
JA: Many thanks too! I’d like to say to all the people reading this interview to keep trying to find cool sounds, old and new, by bands that are not in the mainstream media. There’s a whole interesting world out there!
DIM: We thank you ….and for the people who read this interview …so much music my friends and so little time … try to hear as much as you can …you don’t have a second chance!
Photo credits: Tasos Tsoukalas (3rd one)