Interview With Greek Musician & Activist Kostas
The following interview is with Greek musician and activist Kostas and discusses the current music and political situation in Greece. It was conducted by Label 56 in June 0f 2012.
- Greets Kostas and thank you for this interview. You have many great projects I am famiiar with from your blog to your musical contributions and I`d like to give you the opportunity to tell more people about them. Can you first give us an introduction and how long you have been active in this worldwide movement? Also a quick background as to what bands you have played with?
Hello Rick, thank you for this opportunity. I am involved in the movement at about 13 years. I come from Greece and I try to spread the political and musical revolution in my country and abroad. As far as the music concerned, I have played in the past in many bands, such as Pogrom, White Pride Rockers, Red.Lock, Legion Hellas, Humanity has Failed etc. Currently I sing for Straightline and my solo project is named “Mind Terrorist”. I also participate in the great efforts of Skinhouse Hellas, and politically I am active in the Autonomous Nationalists of my country.
- You also run the Terra Patria music blog which is a great catalog of current and past musical productions. You give nice reviews for cd`s and also post a “Video of the Week”. Can you tell us more about your blog and why you started it. You also have posted an excellent statement titled “Music Is Our Identity”. Could you expand on that some?
Yes, of course. Terra Patria has been in existence for over than 5 years as a webzine. It has three main goals: mainly, especially in the first years to externalize the Hellenic scene and its bands to as many comrades abroad as possible. For sure, our political music has not the history of others, like the German, the Italian or the American one, and most of our bands are even now unknown to the people. So, that’s why I started this page. Secondly, Terra Patria is here to bring everything that concerns nationalistic music to the people in Greece. Comrades in Greece must understand that except from the fact that they listen to some well known bands of the scene, there are many others behind them and the whole scene has been developed itself a lot last years. So, that’s why we emphasize all the new stuff, because our music is not only 1980 stuff, but also great 2010+ melodies, sounds and of course …lyrics! Last but not least, Terra Patria wants to make sure that it truly helps the movement by not stealing the music, but promoting it. The difference is that there are so many webpages today that provide cds for everyone to download, some even post the whole discography of bands, even from todays’ releases. I personally think that downloading negatively affects the efforts of the bands and the labels to develop the scene. In our webpage you can find news, videos, promotional pages, upcoming releases and concerts, and feedback from everything that is about our music, but not downloading, because we respect so much the work of everyone who loves what he makes.
Let’s talk now about “Music is Our Identity” statement. It is about some clear words about the message of political music, on how it should be nowadays. It refers to its political affection, which stands against the “wannabe” character of many bands that stand at the borders of the scene and also it refers to the way of “promotion” of it to the people. “Music is not only about having fun. Its purpose is to controvert, to raise concerns, in order to highlight the Values and Principles that are important and reflect the creator. Within this framework, Hellenic bands are attempting, through lyrics and music, to put forward a different way of living and thinking that is often put on the margin. On a margin just behind the showcase of modernity and of the whole “culture” that is fostered by the New World Order to befuddle people and consciences. The notes are a means of propaganda, yet another weapon in our arsenal, thus we will continue to externalize ourselves, our thoughts, our lively revolutionary spirit. We are singing for our Motherland, for the Eternal Ideals, for Memories that do not fade over time. Because it’s our Duty to keep them alive. Our music is consciously used as a weapon against commercialization and capitalism. Thus it has nothing to do with companies making profit, just as it has nothing to do with their managers, and the system of the music industry, in general; it’s beyond all of that. So distribute material everywhere hand in hand. Buy cd’s, promote songs through the internet and support the efforts of the Hellenic groups. This reinforces the Hellenic scene so that it can continue spreading the message…”
- The Greek music scene has really taken off in the last few years it seems. I remember 10 years ago or so the only band I was really familiar with was Iron Youth. Today there seems to be many more bands. Is the Hellenic music scene blooming now or has it always been big and is just now getting worldwide attention?
My opinion is that even now our scene is not big. Actually it was always about less than 10 active bands, but now I think that there are bands among them that make better music and write lyrics for the many people. They try to socialize their point to view, and this is very hopeful. Except from that, now we have some more “weapons”. Certain methods to spread our music, a good network that connects us with the other countries, our place, the labels and of course much more experience which leads the quality. That’s why now we are more “into things”.
- Among the newer bands is the band “Straightline” which you noted that you sing for. I have to say this is an excellent cd on all levels. Ths sound production is top quality and it is very easy on the ears musically with a melodic yet aggressive RAC sound. It has a sound that can reach many people easily. Can you tell us more about what led to the founding of Straightline and the decisions behind writing the music and lyrics?
Thank you for your great words, we really appreciate that. Actually, the band was founded before three years so as to make music for the many people. Despite the fact that we have certain beliefs, we did not feel like making another RAC project for the nationalist people. We wanted to speak to as much people as we could reach through our sounds and lyrics. The cd came after not so hard work, because there were the first spontaneous feelings, and many fresh ideas. We wrote music and lyrics in short time, so in almost seven months we were ready to record. As for the recordings, we chose a professional studio that could give us a good production. The recordings took at about 3 months, from summer of 2010 to October. So, “Act for a new generation” came at the end of 2010 and now we have to say that it is sold out. We are very happy and proud of that because it was a total “do it yourself” release and we managed to pass the borders of the scene by taking good reviews, even from mainstream sources.
- Aside from Straightline you have a solo project coming soon called “Mind Terrorist”. You are releasing this through OPOS Records (who have been releasing many great cd`s lately). How did your relation with OPOS come about and when can we expect the cd?
Yes, “Mind Terrorist” is my solo project. Αfter 4 months of recordings, “Once upon a heartbeat” will be available from OPOS Records next Monday, 4th of June. I am very satisfied, because it is a work that the people of the label liked from the very first time they listened to it, and they really make a good work with the people that they collaborate with. They give respect to the music, they know how to produce and promote a cd in all levels and of course, they make it because they love political music. So, I just sent some short rehearsals and they accepted to release the cd.
- Now for a few questions on your project: Please tell us your motivation and direction for Mind Terrorist. I assume the name is a throwback to the “thought crime” as in George Orwell`s book 1984? What inspired you to create MT? Also what are the lyrics about and what style of music do you create with this band?
Of course, there is a connection between the name and “1984″ and I have to say that I am impressed from this book and story. It is a novel that describes to us the current situation that we face. Written so many years ago, it keeps its importance, as it would be if it is going to be released tomorrow. So, Mind Terrorist, as you can see also in the front cover of the new album, is a person who feeds people with negative power and feelings. He takes life from peoples’ misfortune, he controls and rules their freedom. Thoughtcrime – that you mentioned before – is the criminal act of thinking thoughts held to be unacceptable, and in this story every thought – not only action or speech – that was against the rules was a crime. That’s how today governments act…
So, let’s speak about the project. I felt like making a personal project because I wanted to give a certain direction to the listeners, both in music and writings. Lyrics refer to the economical crisis in Greece, so let’s say that the album is thematic. The point is that I would like to speak to everyone, not only to the members of certain subcultures, and make it through a modern way that could give to our scene a certain importance. Musically, it has to do with “alternative metal”, it gets crossover with influences from many kinds. I think that the sound is very familiar to everyone. The songs are 9 plus one already released in a compilation cd and there is a variety in style, from acoustic ballads to rock and metal songs. I hope that you like it.
- For people worldwide who do not know, can you say some about the financial collapse in Greece. It is true that most, if not all European governments are controlled by international banks. They all are pretty much draining economies worldwide, but Greece seems to be a bit further down the pike than other countries right now. How did this come about and what is the current situation?
You are right. Most of the economies sick today, there are many countries that have their backs on the wall. This is the situation that capitalists were afraid of some years ago. The end of the line. But I would like to start from the human’s behaviour. We face the era when people have no values and no respect for their lives. They like to earn money and make life through it, and it is capitalism that takes their time. Other priorities are set aside. People now are getting so empty and greedy, wanting more and more, but they rarely give to the others sentiments like love, sympathy, solidarity, togetherness, and friendship. They tend to not appreciate a voluntary action, because capitalism destroys a no-money society and makes people like thieves who steal from one another. It is about a whole decay of humanity, I cannot describe it with more words, I am just afraid that in some years we will see terrible things. In Greece we face one part of it. Politicians who ruled the country the last 20 years destroyed every hope for a better future. They are the ones to blame because they created the situation that we try to solve today. But it is not solved, because we talk about the same political background nowadays. Nothing has changed, democracy stands on its feet, the elections prove its strength, people still wait for political parties to recover and Greece is bleeding everyday. No one from the people that guided us here has gone to jail, no one was sentenced for crimes against society and people. On the other hand, many people committed suicide last months because they had no desire to continue their lives. They had families and children but they could not pay their taxes, they did not just have the strength to face the problems. So now they are dead, and maybe their children have nowhere to live. These words are not a joke, it is the way Greece is dying nowadays. I am sure that it is not only us, it will be the turn for many other people to face such economical issues like ours. It is not only about money. It is about a whole code of values.
- I have seen there have been many riots and protests in Greece due to this. Are these attended by the majority of people or just the more radical? What has been the response from politicians and do you see any positive changes?
The majority of people in these protests are like you and me. There are common people and not members of political parties. Left parties have a strong connection with a part of them, they hold them because they have a better program and steady structures. Among these people, there are some of them who try to get the situation in a more radical way. It is not only about anarchists or nationalists. It is also about common people. People that have lost their jobs, men and women that are sick of certain politics etc. All these demonstrations and riots had the power to externalize to many other people that were afraid of expressing their ideas, to feel free to say “I am fed up, I can change it”. This is something positive that develops other political parties to push further some kind of resistance. But it is negative too, because many people, as I wrote before, remain pathetic and passive, just waiting from politicians of smaller parties to solve the problems. They have to know that only themselves can push their resistance and of course, against the system and not with a system of different political colours.
- It was given to Germany “bail out” the internatonal bankers in Greece and I have seen how this has created a fued between the German people and the Greek country. I think if people look through the smoke they will see that this is nothing more than international banks stealing money from Europe as a whole. It is also a divide and conquer strategy pitting one European country against another. Is there anything you would like to say on this?
We are not against German people. It would be a disaster. I know that the common people in Germany think that we are some kind of “poor thieves” or lazy people. I have to say to them that we work much more from others, even from them. But there are also many people who know that Merkel and these fucking politicians from Germany want to separate two countries and their people. The problem is not the people, the problem is the bankers, the politicians, the democracy, the new world order and the globalisation. Everyone has to know that in reality, not a single penny goes to Greece! The money goes to the banks. We are witness to an ongoing raid by banks of the taxpayers of EU member countries. It is not normal to think that we – as Greek people – want the money of Germany. We want our freedom, the same freedom that many German people want for their lives.
- There was a story that set off anti immigrant attacks a few years ago when a man was stabbed and killed while going to the hospital to see his wife give birth. What is the immigration like in Greece and how has this affected the country?
Yes, it was about a sad story that proves that immigration kills the diversity and all its values and principles. I am from the people who believe that an immigrant is like a victim, he is not the problem himself. The problem is the globalisation, which leads poor people to other countries to find a better future. This is my point of view. These countries cannot afford them because they are something strange, something that holds different history, different racial background, culture and behaviour. They are more close to crimes, they steal to survive and act like gangs. Greece – especially Athens – has many problems. These people have become a ghetto in the historical center of the city, they push Greek people to leave their shops, their homes etc. Politicians do not take measures against these issues and more and more greek people become victims of murders like the one that you mentioned above. We cannot handle them anymore.
- To circle back around to the music, you mentioned your involvement with Skinhouse Hellas. Can you tell everyone what Skinhouse is and what you guys are doing?
Skinhouse Crew is about a group of nationalists who are gathered to spread the message of their thoughts and beliefs through political music. But Skinhouse Hellas is not only that. Skinhouse exists for over than 5 years with many actions to present, not only as far as music concerned. Now in Skinhouse there is the bar for everyone who wants to take his beer there, the recording studio, the label “S-Crew Records”, the gym, the place where we can make a political event or watch a movie. It is a multiarea. If we talk about concerts, at Skinhouse many events took place until now and several bands played these 5 years of its existence. To name those who joined from abroad: Brutal Attack, Kommando Skin, PWA, Faustrecht, Mistreat, Before The War, Vinland Warriors, Fear Rains Down, Kill Baby Kill!, Sleipnir, Steelcapped Strength, Bully Boys, Legittima Offesa, Short Cropped, Moshpit, Razor, Civico, Les Vilains, Whitelaw…
- What shows do you have coming up and what are some of your best shows of past?
At the end of May we had a great concert with No Prisoner and Green Arrows from Italy, you guys have to see them live. They kick ass and they are really good people too. We have not something “on schedule” for the future, we will just take a rest for the summer and then we will see. As for my personal best shows? Surely Moshpit, No Prisoner and Green Arrows, Kommando Skin, PWA, Timebombs and The 4 Aces, Brutal Attack and Bully Boys.
- You also post updates on Terra Patria for Autonomous Radio. I know this is very popular in Europe but since I am limited to the English language I have never listened much. Can you tell us some more about that and your participation?
Of course. Autonomo Radio was founded from Autonomous people from Central Greece before 2 years as an alternative method against the mass media propaganda. Currently we have 6 radio shows, every day except from Wednesday. There is a variety of themes and music, there are shows that are more musical, and other that have to do with politics. Every show is in our native language so it is difficult for someone from abroad to hear, but we are open to anyone who wants to make a certain show in english. He has just to contact us. Personally, I make my part on Sundays, with the “Terra Patria” show, at 21.00. It is a two hours show with music from the latest albums, news about the scene and has always a second part to do with politics.
- It looks like many great things in Greece and I`m sure everyone thanks you for your efforts and great contributions. Best wishes and thank you for a great interview. Please leave some closing words for our readers.
I also follow your news and your projects, keep up the great work, so I have to say to your readers: “just support Label 56″.