Greece. The birthplace of democracy. The home of the Olympics. Idyllic islands drenched in the Mediterranean sun. We all have our own particular images of Greece but home of some fine rock and roll is probably pretty far down on the list. I was curious about the rock and roll scene in Greece so I asked Nikos Panakos of Green Cookie Records (a label I have featured in the past) if he could point me to anything of interest and he sent me back a wack of sites to check out. Here is a small sampling of what there is out there. Keep in mind that a lot of them are in Greek (go figure!) so it might take a bit of Google translating for things to make sense (although a lot of these sites have English sections) but hey, where’s your sense of adventure? And make sure you have your operating system disc handy, as you will be constantly prompted to load Greek fonts on your computer. Do it once and be done with it.
We will start our Greek odyssey at The Greek Knights of Fuzz, a very cool site specializing in “the modern Greek beat scene.” Nikos particularly recommends The Last Drive as a band that inspired him when he first got into rock and roll. The article “Modern Greek Beat Scene” is a great overview of cool Greek garage rock and roll and a fascinating read.
A great way to get your bearings in any scene is to read some of the local e-zines and magazines and Greece has a couple of interesting ones. The biggie is Babylon Rock and Roll but it’s typical of a run of the mill, although exotic looking rock mag. More interesting to me is Butterfly, Sonic Playground and Thee Cave (specializing in Garage Punk and based out of Athens). All really cool. I was clicking madly on every link, downloading Greek fonts and MP3s and having the time of my life. Sense Magazine is also pretty cool but it is being discontinued so enjoy it while you can.
As far as bands go there are some really cool bands that I have added to my global rock and roll jukebox (alright it’s just my iTunes playlist but it sounds cooler). First up is The Earthbound which Nikos describes as the “sound of the desert.” Really cool and exotic, this Athenian band’s choice of covers for their self-titled debut album were a song by Kyuss, a traditional Cuban song and “Aint Got No Home” by Woody Guthrie! Very eclectic and very cool. Broken Seals out of Thessalonica are another band that I am enjoying. They have a bunch of MP3s on their site from their “Kings and Queens” album which are great. And get ready to break out the Ouzo when you hear the pump of the Farfisa organ of the Frantic V who are an absolute Grecian garage rock and roll blast. I could just imagine listening to them on a hot summer night on some Greek island. That would be unbelievable! Finally, you cannot talk about Greek rock and roll without experiencing a band which sings in Greek and that’s where Xaxakes come in. Even if you don’t speak Greek, the universal nature of rock and roll will make that less of a problem and more of an opportunity to experience something a little different. It’s what makes listening to music worthwhile but at its core Xaxakes is still rock and roll. Really fun, cool stuff.
Finally, here is a quick list of some Greek rock and roll record labels. I have already mentioned the fine folks at Green Cookie but Nikos also suggest:
· Studio 2– Only Greek bands but hey, this post is all about Greek rock and roll!
· Cannonball 666– Greek indie punk!
· Pop Art– Interesting pop and electronica
· Wipeout Records– Cool indie rock and roll
· Action– 60s revival records and Greek bands
If any of this has whetted your appetite for Greek rock and roll then I urge you to go and visit Green Cookie Records and peruse their bands and the links on their site. There are some really cool bands and labels operating out of Greece that I plan to spend a bit more time investigating and I have really only scratched the surface of Greek rock and roll but it is obvious to me that the Greeks like to rock so I will be paying closer attention to this part of the world in the future. As a matter of fact, I think we should organize a Rock and Roll Report Greek Travel Extravaganza to visit this amazing country and experience their rock and roll delights first hand! And while we are there I suppose we should check out some of their other amazing cultural history. Until then, grab a Souvlaki and pop some Greek rock and roll into the CD player and have a ball. Isn’t this fun? It puts a whole different spin on what you thought Greece was all about.
Thanks Nikos for the tips. Keep up the great work and keep Greek rock and roll alive and kicking!