Bog Art were formed in 2003 and their music is a hybrid of rock, punk and blues sounds which is defined by the band as “container rock”. Highly theatrical, both musically and lyrically, Bog Art perform live at ILION Plus on November 16th, along with The Athenian Phanerothyme Conspiracy.
“Container rock”. Does this mean that instead of putting a particular sub-genre label with this one you are going to experiment with various sounds as much as possible?
“Container rock” started as an inside joke on the fact that for a period of time, in the band’s first steps, we rehearsed in a container-turned-into-a-home-studio that belonged to a good friend of ours, George, and was given to his family by the state after the big earthquake of 1999 that shook Athens and left many people in the west suburbs homeless. So we insisted that instead of “garage rock”, we played “container rock”. One might say that we’ve gone “post garage” now. However, the “container rock” self created label also worked as a statement of our intention to keep a distance from most popular genre labels of rock music, tired as we are of watching bands using them to get aboard trends in order to promote their music more effectively (sacrificing any special character they might have), and tired of listeners that follow them –mostly– out of laziness to search and out of lack of personal taste.
In another description it is mentioned that you are an eclectic band, yet you openly experiment in different ways? With a first reading this seems contradictory. Can you explain how is it achieved?
Eclectic, at least according to most dictionaries, means electing from various sources˙ it also has to do with not following any particular system, but selecting and using what are considered the best elements of all systems. That’s what we believe we are doing. There are no strict rules about what sound or influence is acceptable in Bog Art and what is not when we’re working on songs. We are open to almost any genre and sound, and we love the element of surprise. Of course, we adore contradictions in music as in general! After all, I believe we’ re all full of contradictions. Having accepted that, we just try to be functional, creative and useful to ourselves and others, in a complex and ever changing world, picking the right pieces every time to offer something interesting, sincere and consistent with our basic principles of taste.
Were you busy with other projects before and what made you form Bog Art?
We had all played in other bands when we were (much) younger (blues bands, rock bands, manouche jazz or rebetika). Bog Art were formed in 2003 out of a strong need to express ourselves and our feelings towards the world, by creating original music, like all the great bands and artists we admire have done before us. Once the whole thing was on track and the first songs took shape –no matter how raw they were, or just because we all liked that rawness and truth in them– we knew there was no way of turning back and do covers e.t.c, in the same way it is impossible for a man that has crossed the oceans to spend the rest of his life away from the sea. Coming to today, only the two of us are involved in other projects, Themis Vasileiou, our gifted new guitarist (Themis joined the band almost a year ago) is a member of Sons Of Zevedeus (a band you should better check soon), while Panagiotis Trikatsoulas, cultivated guitarist and beloved human, still swings, whenever he feels like it, with Swing A Zoo.
You have already released two albums: ‘Bog Art‘ in 2012 and ‘Insidecide‘ in 2015. The latter, as it is mentioned, was recorded live in the studio in about 8 hours. Were you under a specific effusion or is this the way you usually work?
Both of our albums were recorded live in the studio and produced by Alex Bolpasis, with minimum overdubs, since we decided that we wanted to capture on record the energy and the sound we get on stage, and avoid offering a milder studio treated version that would be impossible to reproduce at gigs. That, of course, meant that we accepted we could get along with certain limitations, as we couldn’t enrich our sound with the use of second or third guitars, nor did we have the chance to have a 20-piece orchestra filling the empty space…
Which are the main themes you get inspired to write the lyrics?
Love, hate, life, death and what lies between the lines.
Would you like to mention some favourite bands and artists? Do all members of Bog Art share the same musical taste?
The first artists and bands that come in mind when one asks this particular question are Nick Cave, Joy Division, Roxy Music, David Bowie, Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits and Charles Mingus, probably because I try to pick the most obvious influences that one can trace when he listens to Bog Art. Still, the list of influences can go on forever and dive in all different and diverse kinds of music, from free jazz to nursery rhymes… It seems that the four of us share the same taste for all kinds of interesting and, sometimes, a bit strange sounds. Although we have quite different musical background we always find a way to build bridges, try different approaches and end up being all happy with the final result. There has never been a plan on what the band should sound like. Each one of us had a pretty not-so-common style from the beginning and as a result, bit by bit, we’ ve built our own sound which I think is quite unique –something that nowadays seems to be more of a problem than blessing, but we are willing to carry that cross as well…
Do you work on new material and when will there be a new release?
Yes, we do! As a matter of fact we are always working on new material. There are more than 50 songs waiting for their turn to come, and hopefully our third album will be ready before 2018 expires.
On November 16th you will perform at ILION Plus. What will the audience experience by your performance? Do you tend to go theatrical on stage?
What the audience will experience is a fine blend of electricity and strange stories that will –hopefully– give everyone something to remember when they return home. New versions of songs from our two albums and new material that will be presented for the first time ever. Music to urge feet to dance, make hearts beat faster and help minds travel free in faraway places. Yes, we go pretty theatrical on stage, but you won’t see our faces painted white or anything like that, even though one of our new songs is titled ‘The Clown‘.
We are also very happy to share the stage of ILION Plus with The Athenian Phanerothyme Conspiracy, who –apart from being very good friends of ours– are a delight to listen and see, as they’re successfully and tastefully blending so many different musical elements and reach out with so much love and sincerity that it is hard for one not to be moved!
Thank you for your time! Close this interview as you will.
Thank you! Well, I’d rather leave this interview open, if you don’t mind…
Photo credits: Marios Gampierakis