Winterview with Bandage

bandageIt is often difficult to explain why you may like a band or a song so much. It is a strong feeling that shows you that this band or this song is really good. You wanna dance, you wanna bang your head and scream your guts out. Bandage is the only active SoCal punk rock act in Greece right now, and is definitely an example of such a band. Of course there have been many bands all around playing similar style of melodic punk rock but if you’ re really into Bad Religion, Nofx and Lagwagon stuff then these four big kids from Athens are definitely your band. Sincere in every single aspect they know exactly how to play fast melodic music and raise your fists up in the air. Just before the release of their brand new 7” EP we had a great discussion about punk rock, the message behind it, their releases so far and loads more. Sincerely Yours.

 

Winterview: Hello Bandage and hello my good friend Drossos! Instead of introducing yourself in the very first question, I would like to tell me at first how is it to start a punk rock band in the age of thirty, when the majority of people start to think of family, permanent job, a sweet home with a sunny living room and boring stuff like that? What can lead someone, with increased obligations in his life, to take a car, travel hundred of kilometers, and play a show in the dirtiest basement of the dirtiest city?

Bandage (Drossos): Hello Winterview!! The truth is that me (vocals / bass) and Nikitas on the drums, are in the band for quite some time now. We used to rehearse a lot, never playing any shows. We were a trio back then but with a long time friend on the guitar, who’s not in the band anymore. The three of us decided to try some more things with the band, like maybe recording some of our music and playing some shows and the third party wasn’t really interested in that anymore. That’s when Takis came along in 2010 and everything went in motion. Now that there are four of us -Nikos on second guitar-, we all have our priorities, the three of us work, all of us have bills to pay and stuff to worry about, but playing together is an outlet for everyone, something to look forward to in order to have a good time with three of your good friends and play the music you love. When that music is your own and not only cover songs, some kind of creativity gets added to the fun and things get even better on a personal level. What playing shows and driving far away is concerned, I think that when you decide to play music “in public” you always want to make steps forward, discover new places, make new friends, interact with people who share maybe some same views as you do and definitely the same musical taste on a broader level. For me meeting new people, seeing great bands, seeing old friends, having a good time and sometimes being a small part of a general effort, aside from the live show, is what makes me get off my thirty-one year old ass and do things, band related. In the end, all of the above always keep us in a good mood and help us forget about everyday matters that can trouble anybody.

Winterview: It seems that being in this band is an antidote for you! It is wonderful that you show such devotion and passion about the things you love, like rehearse with friends, record and then release your stuff, because something like that does not exist for the majority of youngsters out there. Of course it is a bit disappointing at the same time. I mean there are twenty year old people that spend a whole life in front of a PC screen playing bullshit or other who are addicted to poker, card games and sick passive things. However, same mentalities can easily someone see in our scene also. “Punks” who have never supported a band by buying its record, and only attend shows for the cheap beer and the beautiful girls around. What is your opinion about all those?

Bandage: I agree 100%. On the youngsters that waste their time on the computer, not really interacting with people, I guess it’s really a symptom of this day and age where everything is crazy difficult for almost everyone and young people have to find a way to cope with it. It’s much easier to talk to someone over the internet than in person, it’s much cheaper staying at home, believing the internet is a hobby. The internet is really great, but there is always a limit and you can have a much better time actually doing something with other people in the same place… The way I see it with “punks” regrettably is: things were always like this. At most shows in past, where there were a lot of people, a good amount wouldn’t even bother going into the venue. It was simply another night out. It sounds crazy that you have to be really interested in music, bands etc., to really invest your time in it, but it’s true. I get why people have a preference for the cheap beer and the girls. It’s a good time and they see it as a party everyone’s invited to. No-one even buys music anymore in general anyway. Someone has to really like a band to attend shows, buy some of their records and, in the end, even take the time to listen to the music. On the other hand I’m sometimes really surprised as to how involved in the punk scene some people get, so there is a small positive side to everything too!

Winterview: Of course there are always exceptions. I believe that these few people are essential in all this thing and we must always give them the chance to “open their wings”. As for the others, are they this view that burns your eyes, as you state in track “Working Title” of your first ever release, your self titled album? Would you like to explain some things about this title?

Bandage: That song is actually about how I had to deal with some things at my job. But I suppose some of the lyrics stand on a wider level. I work as a lawyer and even though it’s a cliché, lawyers are the worst kind of people. While being in the university I had a small idea of what was headed my way, but it was nothing compared to the actual image. I have come across lawyers who are really corrupted, arrogant, unwilling to cooperate on any level, knowitall’s… I dislike criticizing people for their lifestyle but with lawyers things are close to extreme. Appearances are all that matter, a lot of people have a certain toupe for no reason, they try and support a wealthy lifestyle without it being possible. Okay, not everyone is like that, but I was really unpleasantly surprised as to how different of a world there exists between people of the same profession. The song used to be called “I Have The Worst Job In The World”, we still name it “Job” on the setlist. But I didn’t like the title so we changed it to “Working Title”, which means temporary title and has the word “work” somehow incorporated in it, so we played a bit with that title. For the record there are also some things I like about my job…

Winterview: I find Bandage lyrics amazing. I can totally identify with the majority of the things and situations you describe in your songs. Your lyrics are personal but at the same time affect social issues in a supremely honest view. Sometimes you “radiate” a pleasant mood, but others you show also some bitterness. You express yourselves with this helping hand and that is obvious. I find it quite gritty to talk about such things in a public level. Do you find it difficult?

Bandage: That’s a very nice compliment, thanx very much!! I do have a difficult time going into the meaning of lyrics, but on the other hand, when receiving any kind of feedback and interest in them, it’s a really good feeling. I suppose most of the lyrics have an ambiguous touch to them, so that even if a third person reads them it’s not always absolutely clear what’s going on in the song. Most of the songs have a bitter side, because for me punk rock is emotionally driven on an “angry” side. It’s a way to vent some frustration on a number of topics -personal or not- accompanied by some fast and sometimes heavy music. There actually was a time I thought we didn’t have one positive song… I think our first somewhat positive sounding song was “The Hardest Part”, of the Awakenings compilation we were a part of a while back.

Winterview: “The Hardest Part” is probably my favorite song of your first releases. However, I will continue a bit. Some people when they listen to a band with a pleasant mood in general -as I said before- they sometimes pass easily the lyrics because they cannot probably conceive that the music may contain interesting thoughts behind. I mean some people involved in punk, have never read Bad Religion lyrics for example. This band sounds happy but their lyrics are full of bitterness and realism in my opinion. You also explained me before a whole story I didn’t know, behind your track and that was fucking wonderful! It is wrong to separate the lyrics from music, they are one. What do you think? By the way, have you heard Bad Religion’s amazing new album “True North”?

Bandage (Drossos): It’s funny you mention Bad Religion, I think they are by far the best punk rock band ever. Strong lyrics, great music, amazing melodies, I could go on and on. It’s very true a lot of people don’t give a shit about lyrics. Sometimes people sing along and don’t even give the time to go into what the song is about. I think that has also something to do with what we talked about earlier. Sadly you have to be really interested in music to give a band your full attention and for some people this isn’t the case. To be honest I don’t always have the time to read every single lyric sheet of every record I listen to, but on the other hand Bad Religion’s and so many other bands’ lyrics have shaped a big part of how I see things in general today, on a number of issues, and of who I am in general also. Some songs are a great starting point to get involved with educating yourself on so many things and that gives the song a much higher rank in my head.

Bandage (Nikos): The good thing about Bad Religion is that from their beginning as a band, up until now that have their own style of music, they have kept it real and bettered it over the years, unlike other bands. To me the “new” drummer -okay, for over ten years now- gave them an even more stronger shift to a better musical direction. I love “True North” because it reminded me of a “newer” “No Control” on some songs, cleaner, but still old school punk rock -like “In Their Hearts Is Right” and generally all the short fast songs on the record-, and also has some songs that show the band’ s ability to write music on a more laid back level, like “Hello Cruel World” reminding of their not so classic records like “The Grey Race”. A great record indeed.

Winterview: I absolutely agree guys. I can proudly say that “True North” is one of my favorite Bad Religion records and that “Robin Hood In Reverse” is the best song I heard recently. I am really into hardcore punk stuff but Southern California (SoCal) punk rock is one of my favorite punk rock tastes. I am a big fan of your music because I believe that it is the most similar to this sound here in Greece and of course you play extremely well. This kind of music needs powerful drummer, technical strings, and demanding vocal abilities and it seems that you have it all. Do you feel lucky about this? Tell me how these four different personalities that form the band, managed to find a same musical “axis” and decided to play SoCal punk rock.

Bandage: Thanx again! It is very hard to start a band and keep it going with everyone involved being equally into it and able to play decently to the very least. The more demanding you are from yourself the harder it gets. The music we play is not extremely hard but it’s kind of fast and that takes some getting used to, if you want it to sound okay. We pull that off sometimes. There’s always room for improvement, but considering it can be difficult getting to a certain point where you feel good about not sounding like shit, I feel pretty lucky. Everyone in the band listens to all kinds of music, mostly surrounding SoCal punk rock. I think SoCal punk rock is mostly identified through the rhythm of the songs, the melodic guitars and vocals. Things can go a bit more punk or a bit more rock, but that is the basic structure of most songs. When we work on our songs we usually have some kind of guitar riff, a drum rhythm and maybe some vocal melody that’s close to that SoCal style ’cause we love it and it is what comes out more natural. If we all like it, we finish it, if not we toss it away and work on something else. We try putting some different elements in some songs, but it has never strayed too far from that initial structure so far. Me and Nikitas played for a while as I said. Takis listened to some of our earlier stuff and loved it, so he knew what he was signing up for and we loved him back straight away, and lastly Nikos found out about us, after listening to our first EP, and said he liked it a lot too, so he started playing with us a while after. I guess for us it works because we simply all like it and none of us has to compromise with his main preference. I can maybe sum it up like this: Imagine being in a four person band and you are playing in a town four hours away. You get in the car and you hate everything on the radio. You have ten CD’s with you. Six of them are in the SoCal genre and each person has brought a CD only that person likes. You all have the most fun in the car when listening those six CD’s. When listening to the rest it’s usually okay and sometimes there’s whining and arguing… That is how it works for us.

Winterview: That was an interesting approach ’cause car trips are one of the best things on touring. You, your best friends, your favorite music, and a car! Priceless. In my opinion it is really difficult for four persons to find the same style of music they like to play, so you probably are between those few groups that manage to make it and I’ m really happy about it. I would like to ask you something else! Isn’t it difficult to toss away an idea? How do you come to know when a song is going “wrong”?

Bandage: That’s a really difficult question. You know that feeling you have, when you listen to a song you like a lot, or become to like a lot? It makes you want to dance, bang your head, scream your guts out to it. There’s no logic way of explaining it. Listening to music and playing music are two very different things. When you play music you appreciate some things a whole lot better or simply “differently”. It’s not something technical, it’s just that the feeling I was talking about is stronger. This is how I felt when I first played a random cover song with a complete band. Even though it didn’t sound anything like the original, quality-wise, there was a strong feeling of playing something good. When you write your own music sometimes the outcome gives a somewhat strong feeling. When you play the song over and over and the feeling stays the same, the song is a keeper. I’m not saying that playing one of our songs is as good as listening to a good Lagwagon song, but if it’s close then it makes the final cut. I hope this makes sense…

Winterview: I understand and you definitely pass the exams (laughs)! But let us go now from backstage to the stage. You are about to release your first ever release on vinyl, the 7” EP called “A Glitch On The Hive”. I had the chance to hear it before its official release, and instead of giving you for once more my congratulations, I would like to ask you, how do you feel about all this? Would you like to give some more information about this forthcoming release? I must admit that I did a “google translation” research in order to find the title’s meaning!bandage2

Bandage: (Laughs) Takis came up with the title. In the movie “The Matrix” there is a mention of “A Glitch in the Matrix”, meaning a flaw or something like that. The Hive is a region in the center of Athens where we practice translated in English, so we, a punk rock band, and the outcome, the seven inch, are a glitch in the hive. We hadn’t released anything for almost two years and didn’t have enough songs for a full length. We wanted something new, so we decided to record three songs and release them on a seven inch. We did the recording at Matrix Studio in the Hive, our friend Dimitris Misirlis mixed and mastered it and three more friends helped with making and finishing the artwork. Andreas the photographer, Maria the skater and Ultragrim the Dis-signer. The songs are, “House”, “Now That You’re Gone” and “Making Friends”. We are thrilled with how the whole thing came out and cannot wait ’till we get our hands on the final product. Oh, vinyl is the coolest thing ever, but for those who do not have a turntable the seven inch is accompanied by a CD version of the three songs.

Winterview: I used to live near the Hive but I would never have thought such thing (laughs), it’ s quite imaginative and I think it fits completely to a punk rock band like you. It is really beautiful the way a release can be a place for so many people to work and realize their creations and I appreciate that you mentioned all the names featured in this release. I can also see in your new songs the “filtering procession” you described above. Every single song can stand as a whole and I am really happy that this release will see “the vinyl light”. Yes! Vinyl is the coolest thing ever. Why didn’t you also press your first EP on vinyl?

Bandage: Well, for one the CD version of our EP isn’t sold out. We get that the physical format of the CD is practically dead, and that people who still get out of their way to buy physical formats of music tend to go for vinyl, but the “bad” thing about vinyl is it has gotten really expensive. So as long as the CD version is still around and not a lot of people ask for it -which will not happen- we won’t be repressing it on vinyl. Also, I think we want to aim for new things so we’re leaving the EP in the past, we’re keeping some songs to play and are headed for new releases on vinyl. To be fair though, the CD version isn’t that bad, it is okay. We paid attention to pressing it in good quality -not all CD’s are the same- and went for pressing the best booklet we could think of at the time. It was a good start.

Winterview: I do not really like to drag you from present to the past, but sometimes I can become easily a fucking nerd. Why did you choose your first EP to be mastered by a guy in Australia? The whole work was of course excellent, but “A Glitch In The Hive” has also a perfect production which is ideal for your SoCal standards. How do you expound the tend of modern Greek bands to mix and master their stuff abroad? I believe that we really have capable engineers in this field and that the band has always to be “above” this procedure.

Bandage: To be honest and in retrospect all of us greatly regret mastering the songs of the EP in Australia. The guy did an amazing job, I’m sure -I understand very few things about mastering-, but he thought he was dealing with professionals and we are far away from being that. He charged a crazy amount of money, which to bigger bands might sound normal, but not to three kids who recorded six songs for the fun of releasing a record. Not knowing what to expect at the time and being advised by the person who engineered the recording and mixed it, to go with his friend in Australia to master the songs made us cave. When in doubt, ask around, is all I’m gonna say. I agree that we have some really capable engineers and that some Greek releases that were mixed and mastered in Greece sound solid to say the least, but when you’re a kid who’s into music and has listened to a lot of records of a specific genre you think that engineers who have worked on a ton of records of that genre -like punk rock for example- know better what they’re doing. This sounds simplistic and immature but partly it’s not far from the truth. We do have some really good and talented engineers here but I wish we had a really experienced punk / hardcore person who could know what to expect from your music and what to do with it. Things are faster and easier this way. And sometimes better. We have been pretty lucky so far to have worked with cool people who aren’t punk rockers but know what they’re doing.

Winterview: It would be great to have such a guy, indeed. But I would like him also to be professional ’cause sometimes you have to chase these few punk-related sound engineers of our country and this really bothers me. Anyway, the start, as you said, was really good and the sequel is even better. It seems that nowadays the Greek bands of our scene pay pretty much attention in every single aspect of their work, the lyrics, the production, the artwork, the shows, everything. I feel really lucky that we are here and live this newer golden age of our Greek scene. Can you also feel it? Can you mention some Greek bands that you think they belong in this modern high quality scene?

Bandage: I was never a part of the Greek punk rock scene until we started playing shows and got in touch with some people we now call friends. Before that, I went to shows of a number of Greek and international bands, small and big. Nothing too crazy though. Even so I can see a difference. The record store I often visit to buy records and talk music here in Athens, Rhythm Records, now has a distinct section for only Greek vinyl. Unbelievable. So many Greek bands tour abroad, some of them have caught the eye of international independent labels, bands and festivals, promoters etc. More foreign underground bands tour Greece, shows are better organized, records are great in every aspect. Things are easier probably, than they were twenty years ago, but still the progress is there. I’d have to say that Despite Everything paved the way for touring abroad, bringing vinyl back for so many bands, and being the first to have real and quality merch. I think Antimob made a big step forward before them, releasing vinyl, touring Europe, “getting heard” by the underground. Vodka Juniors did and still do things completely on their own and have become huge now. They toured Europe years ago, when playing a show abroad was unheard of for most. They played Romania for over a week to big crowds singing the lyrics back to them. My Turn have done so many shows in the past couple of years, almost no-one would dare to think of. Ruined Families play Europe regularly, sell out records released by well known underground international labels. I could go on and on.

Winterview: So, do you consider all these bands, its releases, all the shows and the whole Greek scene a glitch in our society? A glitch that can bring however something positive? Life is definitely hard in Greece today. Poverty is all around and violence can be met in every single moment, when you hang out and see people starving on the pavement or when you surf on the internet and see twenty year old kids get tortured by policemen. Punk, as you said, can easily shape a big part of how we see the things in general and I absolutely agree. Do you believe that punk and all its activities is a good proposal in a world of apathy and unhappiness? Wouldn’t be this world -our world- crazy without it?

Bandage: Yeah things are bad in Greece. Still, creativity and initiative are a positive aspect of today’s life, I guess if people don’t start taking matters in their on hands or start making things better for themselves in any way possible depression is just right around the corner. Punk and hardcore music have so many positive messages and can strike awareness on so many levels, especially nowadays, when things tend to get terrible. For me being punk means thinking for yourself first and foremost. The music is associated with a ton of activities globally, provokes thought and sometimes action even on a simple but important personal scale. Looking at it like that in this day and age, where everything is far more worse than it used to be, or maybe has just come to the surface abruptly, I can definitely agree that most of the people involved in any way with punk and hardcore are trying to shape a better future not just for them but for more people around them, usually on a closer scale. It’s very simplistic to say that listening to punk rock and hardcore is a good reason not to be a total asshole by today’s standards, but sometimes that is very true. How can you not strive to be a better person and a more just and honest one when you listen to so many punk songs screaming at injustice and discrimination? In any case nobody’s perfect and again there is always room for consideration and improvement. It may sound cliché but I can easily imagine my life being much worse without punk rock, the music and the people behind it.

bandage2Winterview: Well, I believe that all the good things in this life have an end and I do not want the end of this beautiful discussion to have a dreary taste. Bandage play wonderful melodic music! They may talk about shitty jobs and unhappy women but they can easily tell you stories about relationships, things they like, and their friends. So, before we go, I would like you to tell me the story behind the name of the band. Drosso tell me also the things, You like about your job! Thanx a lot my friend! Punk is immortal.

Bandage: Dino, thank you so much for taking the time to find interest in our band and frankly for taking the initiative to start doing interviews with people revolving in and around punk / hardcore. We need to have more of that! This was by far our most interesting interview and we wish you sincerely all the best! The Descendents have a thing for putting words together with the second part always being the word “age”. Bikeage, Myage, Tonyage. We love the Descendents and thought “band” and “age” fit well together. The right age to be in a band is the meaning behind it I guess. The one thing we didn’t exactly count on is people would easily mistake the name for the other word that already exists. Bandage, as in a band aid. Good idea gone bad I guess… What I like about my job is that you can find solutions to a lot of problems that occur in everyday life. Sometimes you honestly help people. You learn exactly how some institutions work, how the state is wrong on so many levels, how complicated things are… Everything is law related and you interact with a lot of people from different backgrounds and thus have a broader view on social, economic and political matters. There’s a lot of reading in it, which can be really interesting sometimes. That’s about it…


Bandage pages:

http://www.bandage.gr/
https://www.facebook.com/bandagepunkrock
http://www.myspace.com/bandage

 

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