Dustbowl is undoubtedly one of the most respected Athenian bands of the last decade. 2016 has been a very important year for the group, since they celebrated their 10th year anniversary, released their long awaited third album ‘The Great Fandango’, and of course, are returning at Ilion Plus for a live celebration fest on Friday 28th, in collaboration with Merlin’s Music Box . Guitarist Nick Fysakis successively undertook the task of answering Last Day Deaf questions, so…There you go!
Hi there! Please introduce the band to Last Day Deaf readers.
Hi. The band formed in Athens, Greece (May 2006) and we have had some line-up changes since then. The formation of the group was not something that happened systematically. It happened very naturally. We just jammed together one night at my basement. And the very same night, within ten minutes after we had gotten our thing together, we played some traditional stuff like ‘This Train (Is Bound For Glory)’. In fact this was the first song that we’ve ever played and we kept on playing it for some years. You know it was very naive at the beginning…
What should we expect from your 10 years Anniversary show on 28th October? In addition, how did the collaboration with Merlin’s Music Box come about?
Merlin’s Music Box is a bunch of friends…they belong in the scene and we’re together at this haunted ride. As for the “10 years night” it’s gonna be a “Mother Earth Rock” night. We’re sort of building this ‘The Great Fandango’ sound the last two years and we’re thinking of blending the old stuff with some new stuff and play some other songs we like into the “Great Fandango” set. It’s not gonna be a retrospective kinda night though!
Your latest, third full-length ‘The Great Fandango’ was released a few months ago. Could you tell us some words about this?
‘The Great Fandango’ came as a the completeness of our identity, we wanted to make a great rock record, and we wanted it to sound enormous, we wanted it to be a “grower” thing full of our personal elegy, we wanted to be mother earth’s music as well! As for the sound, we payed a hell of attention to the vocals this time. Panos is an excellent singer, you know, and we stuck to that vocal harmonies here and there along with the contribution of friends like Panos Priftis and Jennie Kapadai. The sound of the “flaming” guitars and the pedal steel thing is always there. John Hardy with Thanos Kaleas did a wonderful job on the album’s production…these two guys are awesome, they’re true professionals. ‘The Great Fandango’ was and still is a big responsibility. We were putting everything we had on. And we needed our stability level and we needed to get rid of our history in a way to be able to put it in any kind of perspective. It was just all that there is and all that there was gonna be. Anyway it was great fun and we still tango!!! Ha ha…
Why did it take you so long to record the successor of ‘Goin’ Down’ (2009)? Hope that your 4th one will not be released in 2023, right?
We don’t make such serious, long term plans. In fact, since ‘Goin’ Down’ we have released 2 Cd singles ‘Suicide Avenue / Winter’s Almost Gone’ and ‘Black River’s Chest / Flamin’ Rose’. We have a 7’’ single ready that we would like to release it in early 2017. It’s a hard time’s job man and we must have something new to say for ‘The Great Fandango’ successor… The idea of Great Fandango’s successor sounds huge by itself and it seems a hard task and a big mountain to climb!!! We want to make new records as long as we have something new to say…you know, only new and different things matter to us. We became a good live band these pre-fandango years and we will keep on working this thing on stage!
‘Troublebound & Lonesome’, your awesome debut, was recorded in just 4 days. Why this rush?
Well, I can’t recall all the details. I think we were in a strange rush by then…I was in a rush myself! At first, we wanted to look fancy and we wanted to give Dustbowl a status, a trademark sound! I don’t think we managed to make it until ‘Goin’ Down’, but I believe that the album has 2-3 good moments, mostly on our original stuff.
Could you reveal which artists, films and books are among the most influential for the band then?
We’re big fans of Sam Peckinpah! Movies like “The Wild Bunch” or “Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia”. I like Warren Oates and Dennis Hopper a lot. Authors like William Faulkner or Jack Kerouac gave us a lot of inspiration too. At first we’re keen on country music but as soon as we found our style we took it to artists that we had always loved like Green On Red, The Dream Syndicate, The Grateful Dead’s ‘American Beauty’- era, Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young And The Crazy Horse, The Band, the whole-Byrds tradition: The Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons, Gene Clark, along with some ‘Exile On Main Street’ riffs and ‘Bakersfield’ sound like steel intros. Things come and go into the band but we just like to play music. Music is all that matters.
Alternative, country, rock or Americana? And why?
I don’t really know. Guys like John or Mike and girls like Lydia seem like they’re bound to it…me too in a way. We also love the psychedelic guitar-rock sounds…60’s like or the whole Paisley Underground era but although we’re a bunch of city slickers, we’re very close to this country-rock stuff. I think Panos found a wide open field there of putting down some real lyrical vocals. As for me, I consider the band as a rock band, nothing more or less…
Apart from Dustbowl, which other music projects are you involved with?
Nick Panayiotou our drummer plays for Penny Dreadful, a band we love – you ought to give them a listen. We love the guys, they’re our brothers. John and I are members of the most notorious band I ever hoped to join, Thee Holy Strangers. John has his John Hardy And The Birds of Paradise pedal steel orientated thing and Panos Birbas has his own project. He’s a really good songwriter, this cat writes and sings real songs if you know what I mean by the term “real songs”!!!
On your official Facebook page you describe your sound as Mother Earth rock! Would you like to be more analytic?
We wanted to escape from the whole “tag” thing and we also believe that the americana genre sounded dull and outdated to us. What is americana anyway? ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ or ‘Gas, Food And Lodging’ was Americana? We are living in Athens, Greece and we consider our music rock music. The “Mother Earth” term came just to justify our “bread and soil” guitar-rock form. At a second level, we wanted to express our beliefs. We believe that mother earth is one land, a land for all the people without borders or frontiers.
A flashback to 2014 now! How was the experience of becoming the first Greek underground band who played at Megaro Mousikis Athinon presenting “Johnny Cash: The Tribute Show”? Would you like to do this again?
Ha ha…it was a great night…Since then we’ve had a lot of requests of doin’ it again. But we will never do it again! The main plan was to present a homage to the “man in black” himself just for one night and escape with loads of money in the sack…We already dumped country music once more after the show! And we went on venturing into our own music once again. It is already an old Dustbowl story but, as far as I know, we were the first and only band who played at Megaro and I don’t mean the garden stuff! Great honor or not, we’re still waiting for the check to come…ha ha ha…
2017 is fast approaching! What should we expect from you next year?
We have a 7’’ single ‘The Boat / Refuge’ ready to go in 2017. The whole thing is about the refugees and the immigration. We’re very sad from what’s happening to our brothers and sisters from foreign countries. We don’t like what’s happening to their kids and families and we cannot view the whole situation with apathy. No more, man! Solidarity is the word…
Photo credits: Pavlos Fysakis