The financial crisis in Europe hit Greece like a ton of bricks. But while Greece’s economy is a shambles, its rock scene is thriving. Coincidence? Maybe. Outspoken Greek psychedelic punk band Bazooka is part of this rock movement that started around 2008. We interviewed them while they were on tour to promote their second album: Useless Generation: “I think this generation is maybe the first one who has such a big repulsion for politicians and organised politics in the last hundred years or so.”
You’ve already told me you guys are on tour and we all know it can get pretty wild on the road when you’re in a rock band. What’s the craziest thing that has happened so far?
“Our van broke down 60km from Madrid on our way to play a show there. We were waiting for four hours in the cold for the car repairmen and the van was on the side of the highway in a really hazardous position. At night we had to flash our phones to the coming cars, because there was a serious possibility of them crashing our van. It was terrifying. Eventually after hours of waiting, the roadside assistance came and they called us a taxi to get to the show. The worst part is that there was a holiday in Spain and they couldn’t get our van fixed for a few days. We had to do Madrid to Zaragoza, Zaragoza to Barcelona and Barcelona to Valencia with the intercity buses while carrying all our gear.”
That doesn’t sound too good, so let’s get to something positive. What is the best part about touring?
“The best part is playing a good show and getting people excited about what you do and see them buying your records. That’s the most satisfying thing in the world. That’s the whole purpose of a tour really.”
Some of the gear the band had to carry with them to the shows after the van broke down| Photo: Bazooka
You’re doing the tour to promote your second album Useless Generation. Can you tell us something about it?
“I had some home demos, where we worked on a lot in the studio and some songs came from us jamming. We played a lot the songs before we recorded them. When we were OK with everything, we booked a studio for a few days and we record the songs live. After this we did the overdubs in various studios in Athens. After touring in the U.S. and seeing the American bands singing in their own language, it seemed natural for us to do more songs in Greek when we got back. We didn’t do that only because we wanted to sing in Greek, but we did it also for the sound of it. I would like to hear more bands around Europe and the rest of the world singing in their own language. It’s kind of boring everything has to be in English.”
The title Useless Generation is pretty bold. What inspired it?
“Of course our generation is not useless. No one has has the right to seriously say something like that. The title is taken from the title track, which is ironic in a way. You have all these older people talking about how their generation used to be better and telling us that we are lazy and that we should get proper jobs. But if you look around the world, the world that these people help built, it’s becoming scarier and gloomier every week. The song is about a guy who grows up slowly and goes to his mother to eat and to his father to get some money and if he tries to go out into the world, he feels scared and goes back to his family’s coziness again.”
Do you feel our generation is is a victim of politics and financial failure in a way?
“Things are way worse now, especially in a small country like Greece, which has been constantly exploited for the financial interests of stronger countries and its corrupted governments. In situations like this, no matter how hard it is, we have a chance to see that the politicians around the world only serve their own interests. There are no exceptions, anywhere on the planet. The illusion that we had in the past, that politicians can change things for the better, is going to be dropped soon. I think this generation is maybe the first one that repulses politicians and organised politics so much in the last hundred years or so.”
Can you describe the situation in Greece at the moment?
“For the majority of young people it’s difficult to find a job, and if you find one the state is taking half of your income and even more for taxes. And the taxes are increasing every three months on all products. Politicians are totally corrupted as I said before. Without exception. They all work in the same sick system. But the majority of Greek people are extrovert people and they always find a way out. And I’m very happy that the vast majority of Greeks have accepted the refuges and they commiserate with them, even in the middle of an economic crisis.”
You guys essentially started the band while the financial crisis was unfolding. At the time you were part of a sort of movement in Greek rock music. Is it a coincidence that a lot of bands were starting at that moment in time?
“I know how people like to link the economic situation and the frustration we feel with a rebellious form of music and yes, this is the case some times. But it is mostly the pure passion for the music that leads the way. There has always been a rock and roll scene in Greece. There were many good bands, but most of the good bands were singing in Greek, so it was difficult for them to find foreign labels and tour extensively outside our country. The underground scene in Europe in our genre nowadays is big enough and it’s easy to find people around Europe to book you shows and eventually do tours, which lead to media exposure outside of Greece. So I don’t think it’s a coincidence in that way.”
Alright, so how did you guys got together?
“We’ve known each other since school. We all had a passion for music and that is what really brought us together. We were rehearsing a lot and we were really serious about it. In the beginning we were two bands and from these two bands Bazooka was born. We always wanted to do shows, tour and make records. But in Volos, where we are from, it was impossible to do so because it’s a small town. Eventually we all moved to Athens and started playing shows here and there so people start to hear about us.”
Is music kind of an escape for you guys?
“When we were teenagers it was an escape from school and the boring everyday life of a small town. It also gave us an identity that separated us from the other kids. But gradually as music became our life it’s not just an escape but something far more important than this.”
Last one. What kind of changes would you like to see in Greece?
“There are plenty of things really, but I would be happy if I just see a change in peoples values. Right now it seems in most cases that it’s only about money. Whole nations are being destroyed because people are obsessed with it and of course with the power it brings. Money was supposed to be a means to make life easier and not an end in itself. Another thing that we have to remind ourselves that we are humans and not consumers like the governments and the media like to call us. You can do what you want with a consumer but with a human being, there is a lot more to it.”
The video for title track Useless Generation