The Rock n’ Roll figure George Zervos, mostly known as the founder of Penny And the Swingin’ Cats (now The Swingin’ Cats), has released his debut solo album ‘For Your Love’ (2017, The Lyst Records). On March 1st he performs live at Faust Bar-Theatre-Arts.
Your debut album is already out there since last June! Based on your musical background, I guess this album is a result of your main influences. Can you tell us a few things about the album?
Musically I wanted this album to showcase my musical influences and to encapsulate the energy that I exude as a performer. Lyrically I wanted the songs to speak about that particular period in my life which was very very adventurous. A lot of changes had occurred. I had just gone through a difficult breakup. I was meeting new people and beginning a new chapter in my life. It was a very bittersweet period. One that I look back on with great joy but also sadness. Me and my friend and songwriting partner Costa Toulantas started writing these songs with all this in mind. He knows me well. I would describe my thoughts and experiences to him and he would put them to words. Also, it didn’t hurt that I surrounded myself with a bunch of great musicians and a producer who understood my vision.
Looking up more information about you, I’ve noticed that some compare you with Elvis. Is there more to that?
This happens because of the show “Elvis Alive & Looking For Trouble”, a tribute show on Elvis’s music that I organised 3 years ago. I was not a huge Elvis fan till then. I knew only 5 or 6 of his songs and mainly I knew him through other artist’s covers. Now I am for sure a big fan because I familiarised myself with his music and understood what the guys of the 60’s and 70’s (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin etc.) were listening to. And as John Lennon said “before Elvis there was nothing”. Even if there were, people didn’t know it. Elvis, his voice, his amazing performance skills and his strong personality brought it to light.
What fascinates you the most regarding the musical era and genre you belong to?
I don’t feel that I belong to an actual musical era, and I like it. If you listen through the whole debut album of mine you will see this in the songwriting too. Lot’s of Rock ‘n’ Roll, americana, surf even indie spices but not a pure rockabilly bunch of songs. I’ve grown up with records from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. In my head it is like I have a lot of musical spices that should be combined in a proper way in order to have a delicious dish. And you should do this in a stylish way… The 70’s were on my mind a lot during the recording ‘For Your Love‘ as far as the sound that I wanted to create in the studio is concerned. I may continue like this a little bit on the second album but who knows what will happen on the third one…
You are also a main member of The Swingin’ Cats, a retro swing band which performs old famous melodies. Are there plans to present personal material in the same atmosphere in the future?
The Swingin’ Cats are getting into the studio this month in order to record some covers of songs that we perform years now and we like them. After that, there are 4 to 5 songs that we wrote and we want to record. We are still in the process of songwriting and orchestrating in order to create a full album. I believe we will be able to display new original stuff recorded till this summer.
Your musical influences include the – let’s call it – ‘golden era’ of the greek and american rock n’ roll scene. As a musician, in which way these two scenes are combined?
In my experience I hear a lot of american influences in the recorded greek music of te 50s and the 60s. I find great similarity between American blues and Greek rebetiko music. They are both the music and stories of the outlaw and the immigrants and they both became the root of popular music of the 50’s and 60’s in both countries.
A lot of people still listen to music of previous decades. In your case, what people tell you? What do they enjoy most in your performances?
I am very pleased to hear that people like the songs, the energy of the show, and the fact that I lay my heart and soul on stage every night.
Are there artists and bands from the contemporary musical scene that you like?
Oh yes there are, and a lot of them. My favourite band lately is Khruangbin. I also love this guy Alex Turner and both of his projects (The Last Shadow Puppets, Arctic Monkeys), Vulfpeck and Yo la Tengo. I do admire also Greek bands such as The Voyage Limpid Sound, Takim and Planet Of Zeus.
On March 1st you perform at Faust Bar-Theatre-Arts. What can the audience expect from you?
I will play songs from ‘For Your Love‘ and 2 new single songs that I will record in the near future. Also, a lot of my personal rock ‘n’ roll and pop personal favourites. Do expect to be entertained and dance a lot!
Thank you very much for your time! Close this interview as you will!
Take care, eat well and listen to good music!
Photo credits: Pinelopi Gerasimou (1st one), George Geranios (2nd one)