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Costas Zafiriou (Pink Cream 69)

Interview with Costas Zafiriou from Pink Cream 69
by Michael Dalakos at 28 September 2005, 6:49 AM

Just a few hours before the band's first show in Athens (Sept. 10), Grigoris and I managed to have a long discussion with drummer Costas Zafiriou. We discussed a lot of interesting things and a small part of this discussion can be found right bellow.

Michael: Costa, you finally made it to Greece. How do you feel?

It feels great. I am very happy for this event. What’s happening here today is one of my very few unfulfilled dreams. Yeah it took us a long time but trust me if we had the chance to come earlier we would have.

Grigoris: I guess you have informed the rest of the band what to expect from this show…

I happen to also be in the management team that works for the band. I know exactly how difficult it is to get to play in countries like Greece. Lot’s of fans leave messages to our guest book asking us why we haven’t played in this country or that country. I had told the rest of the guys that even if we don’t make a single euro out of this concert but only get paid for our tickets then we will come and play. They didn’t have any objection to that.

They of course knew that for me it was really important to make it one day back to Greece. We have managed to travel all around the world and it is always great to visit a new country and play in front of a new audience. They were very happy to know we will finally play here in Athens.

Michael: Is this show a part of a tour or is it a one night show?

No, this is a single show. We took 2005 easily regarding live shows. We played a couple of festivals, in England we did FireFest, in Italy, in Germany… yeah, that’s about it. Next week we go to the States for the ProgPower Festival. Thunderdome has been released in early 2004 and we are a little late I guess for our next album. Everyone is asking us when the next album will be released. Personally I was too busy but I am not a key element in the band’s composing process. Dennis \[Ward - bass] as a producer has been also really busy this last couple of years and since he is a freelancer he cannot also really turn down projects that occur.

On a financial level I have to say that we live in 80% from our other jobs and only this small 20% comes from the band. I wish it could all be from the band but that’s how things work. I am married with two children and one house so I can’t live just with the money I make from the band unfortunately.

Michael: How’s Alfred’s condition with his hands?

He’s much better. Surgery cannot take place because this was a nerve problem. This was a very difficult period for us. I think you may notice that Endangered was not such well worked album. That was because Alfred couldn’t play most of the things we wanted to play. At that time we didn’t even know if we will continue as a band. As you can imagine we couldn’t go on with Alfred.

In order to release some stress from him we took Uwe Reitenauer and we were very lucky on this call since we wanted someone from our area and not a complete stranger. We started as a small band and we are still friends. We don’t have typical relations you know. Uwe not only is a very good guitar player, he is also a good friend and a great character as a person. He fits in the band like a glove and that was very hard since the three of us have known each other for more than twenty years while David \[Readman - vocals] has been with us for more than ten years now.

Grigoris: David is from England…

Yeah but he lives permanently in Germany. He was one of the two vocalists that took audition for the band. He liked Germany that much so he stuck with us. He has a woman from Germany and he only visits his country for vacations.

Michael: Thunderdome has been released for some time now. Can you be more objective about it now?

Not really. As far as I can tell this was a great album and I think that the majority of the media agreed on that. We try our best every time. I think if you listen to all our albums since Electrified when we did a turn back to our original album only Endangered is a bit of a turn down but that’s because of all the problems we faced back then. SPV was satisfied with the outcome, sales are really good - we manage to keep our selling numbers steady.

Michael: When can we expect a new album?

Good question (Laughs). We need some time. The guys have written some great songs. Of course they are not ready but I can say that we have a very strong base of material. Everybody composes except me. It takes a while to make some decisions when a band has so many composers. By the end of 2005 we must finish composing and start recording in early 2006.

Michael: Thunderdome compared to your previous albums is closer to Rock. What can we expect for the future?

I honestly don’t know (Laughs). It always depends on the balance we will find upon the songs. I know we have written some songs in the past that can be easily described as Power Metal but then again we always had some very heavy songs in our albums. What I can say is that it \[the new album] won’t be so radically different than all our works. I think it will be closer to Rock.

When we played in Brazil I ask the label if we would have a crowd attending the show since most popular over there are bands like Stratovarius or Gamma Ray and they told me that the people are eager to listen to something different and I have to say that they were right!

Grigoris: You always had fans from both Metal and Rock…

I think we always stood somewhere between Rock and Metal. We never became an AOR band or something like Poison or Winger. Yes we had some light songs but we always had some really heavy stuff in our albums. All our songs included melody and power. But we never forced one thing against the other. I personally like songs like Spirits but at the same time I like Seas Of Madness.

Michael: What about Place Vendome…

I liked being part of this album, it is really melodic but not 100% my style.

Michael: How did you convince Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween singer) to sing on a full album?

We had nothing to do with that. The label did all the business part. Denis wrote all the songs and Kiske just sung in his own studio. We didn’t actually meet him. Frontiers Records organized the whole thing. I only played the drums as a friend. It took me about a couple of days in the studio.

Michael: After all those years, do you recall the early days of the band?

Yes. I actually remember everything and I am the one the other refer to when they want to remember something. If I miss anything… well, I recall how naive we were back then. We lived just for the present, back then it was music, parties, beer, women… Of course things have changed a lot since our early days.

Labels back then had a lot of faith in the bands and believed that with one band they can sell millions of albums. It’s hard and the budget is very tight even for the production. Some things are simply impossible to happen since the labels can’t offer millions of dollars. At least the last couple of years things haven’t turned worse. I guess what keeps the whole thing alive is the live shows.

Michael: When you started, Hard Rock was the bomb in the music industry. Then Grunge appeared and Rock took a beating. But the last couple of years things seem to be turning around…

You tell me. Can you take for serious a guy complaining how hard life is when he spends all day playing music, touring around the world and makes lots of money out of this? Life is hard when you spend it in a factory. No, these people were created by the music industry and like every trend it was obvious that a downfall would occur sooner or later. People got tired of this depressive stuff.

On the other hand techno was not a real music. Ok, maybe you like it when you listen to it on the radio but what about live. There’s no comparison when it comes to Rock music and live shows. Rock stands for live music.

I also think that most bands made up their mind. Otherwise I don’t think a band like Journey would ever sign to a label like Frontiers. We all know who Journey is but things have changed. The fall of sales numbers was an important issue on that matter.

Michael: The thing that bothers you the most in the music industry today?

Arrogance. I think that many people in the music industry stuck their nose way too high. That’s why they didn’t bother to deal fast enough with the whole illegal downloading situation. They always though they will sell millions of albums no mater what. I can say that if you get in touch with the music industry you will get to know people totally irrelevant to the music they are trying to sell.

Grigoris: Thanks for your time. Close this interview with a message to all our readers…

Thanks for the interview. I wanna thank everyone who supported us over the years. We will be back soon with a new album so stay in touch!


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