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Costas Zafiriou (Pink Cream 69)

Interview with Costas Zafiriou from Pink Cream 69
by Makis Kirkos at 26 November 2001, 9:10 PM

Pink Cream 69 is one of the bands that I respect and appreciate. It was an honour for me to do this interview and I would like to thank Costas for giving me this opportunity. I am a big fan of theirs and it feels like a dream came true. Their latest release Endangered is what we mainly talk about with their drummer, Costas Zafiriou. Read here what he told us...

Hi Costa, how are you?

I’m fine! Shitty weather here in Germany, but we are used to it :).

The title of your new studio release is Endangered, how did this come up? What does it mean?

We were all talking about the title, but the actual idea was Dennis. It can have many meanings, Dave liked it, especially since it fits to quite a few of his lyrics. Our internal fun-explanation is that we, the Hard Rock / Metal people, are also endangered species. We are running out of new young members. At least in Germany they seem to prefer Hip Hop, Rap, Techno and shit like that.

A lot of fans say that this is a classic PC 69 album, though it seams to me more modern and catchy. What do you think?

I agree with both aspects. It definitely has the typical PC 69 style, with traditional hard rock elements, a lot of melody in the vocals and powerful music. Nevertheless we always try to progress with each record, take new challenges, make sure we don’t repeat ourselves and get boring.

Alfred Koffler and David Readman, seems to have the kind of chemistry the band needs as they are the main composers, but what part does the rest of the band have musically?

Nothing, we sit around and wait until they do all the work :).

(laughs) Seriously now, Dave and Alfred gather ideas and write songs in a basic arrangement form. Then the whole band gets together in the rehearsal room and arrange the songs, finalize the grooves, work on the vocal melodies and sometimes even re-structure the whole piece of music, depending on what the song needs and what kind of ideas we have. Besides song writing, Dennis is the producer of the band. This means, that during the whole recording procedure he will provide a lot of input. I am, sort of a manager for the band (within our management company Bottom Row Promotion) and I handle the tour management, personal management and every little detail which has to be arranged.

Would you like to tell us a few words about each song and especially about Shout!, Promised Land and Don’t Need Your Touch, that seem to be the highlights of your latest album.


Shout!: Powerful opener with a cool riff and a very fast up tempo chorus. Easy structured, just the right song to smack your face when you put in the CD.

Promised Land: A typical PC 69 song with a mellow beginning and a catchy chorus later on. Personally it has the best vocal performance of the record. It proves that David is a world class standard singer.

Don’t Need Your Touch: A traditional mid-tempo PC 69 song in the feeling of Higher Kind Of Life. Very strong groove and chorus, for me one of the best songs of the album.

Your lyrics are atmospheric and emotional but you also manage to include politics in (mainly talking about the abuse power). Who writes the lyrics?

Mainly David writes the lyrics, although we all give some input. We try to find our themes within the whole spectrum of daily life. The lyrics include our thoughts, fears, love or other emotions and even political statements are sometimes necessary, especially for us that we are a German band which consist of four members with four different nationalities. The only kind of topics we are not interested in is fiction and fantasy.

Can you describe us the feelings you had during the recordings of your new album Endangered?

It’s always the same: Strong emotional ups and downs, varying from Yes! This is a killer album we are working on and Is what we do good enough?. I think, it is very important to constantly question ourselves. This motivates us to give the 100% of the energy needed for a good album.

What about the cover of you new album? Whose idea it was? Does it fulfill your expectations?

The cover fits in the title and the music and has a high visual impact. It was an idea of our graphic designer. Our mistake was that we had no concrete ideas about the cover and we were waited for them. We will definitely get better on this on our next record.

Endangered was recorded, once again, at the House Of Audio studios in Karlsdorf with Dennis Ward taking over the production parts. Are you content with the result?

Yes! We record in a very nice studio near our hometown, so we can still sleep and live at home. Technically and sonically, it is on a very high level. For example, the room, that drums were recorded, has over 220 square meters. This way we can create huge a drum sound without any samples. I think that there aren’t many bands that can do this. With Dennis it is very easy. Who else could do it better? He is a great and talented producer. He knows better than any other producer on this planet the style and the history of the band and he is also aware of the abilities and the character of each band member.

Let me ask you some general questions now.
 What does music means to you?


When I was younger it was definitely individuality, lifestyle, freedom and a bit of rebellion, especially when my mother wanted me to cut my hair :) These days, since I am in the business both as a musician and organizer for many years, it is simply an essential part of my life, I could not imagine living without music.

Pink Cream 69 exists for about 15 years now (since 1987). Can you imagine the band for another 10 years from now?

Definitely! As long as we enjoy ourselves, stay good friends as we are now and still have the same fun after so many years, get yourselves ready for the 17th studio album of Pink Cream 69 in the year 2011…

Your success is really big in the resent years, do you feel that this have changed you as persons?

Definitely not. In the years 90-92, when we were a top 20 act in Germany, played tours and had big success in many countries. In the age of 22-25 we didn’t change, why should we change now?

I would like to know if you miss the old days. You might have had less success but you also haven’t had so many responsibilities and commitments that come along with success. So, how about those days?

Like I’ve just said, in the first years we were - at least in Germany and Japan - much more popular. Then we had a break with the albums Change and Food For Thought. With Electrified we started to gain popularity and increase the record sales again.
 To get back to your question: I just told my mother last week on the phone (they live in Greece since 91) that I enjoy very much my life with my family (I have two beautiful daughters in the age of 4 1/2 and 1 1/2 and a great wife) and my jobs in the music business. But the easiness and the lifestyle we had when we were younger will never come back… but that’s okay! Until today, I have lived every chapter of my life very intensely and don’t regret a thing.

What can we expect in the future from Pink Cream 69?

As long as we enjoy ourselves and have creative ideas I can promise you lots of good music! I don’t know where our musical direction will go. We always take the challenge to check out something new, we don’t want to become boring for our fans and ourselves with repeating our style every time with a similar record. For sure I can promise you, whatever we do, it will be on a high quality level!

Can you tell me any news about Alfred Koffler’s health? I know he was suffering from an infection of the Carpal Tunnel of his left hand.

On this special question I want to give you Koffl’s own message to the fans:

Hi you Rock & Roll maniacs out there!

It’s about time now to write a few words here about my personal and band situation regarding my handicapped guitar playing.

I am currently under treatment by a specialist in Hanover who finally found out what the problem is with my left hand. He diagnosed what is called Focal Dystonia. It is not a very common but a known disease occurring in musicians.

Focal dystonia presents as painless muscular incoordination or loss of voluntary motor control of highly trained movements while playing the instrument. It’s like a computer virus in the sensory motor programs. As a general rule, complete recovery can not be achieved, but I hope at least I can get back to a better level of guitar playing. As a matter of fact, even if I got to play with my feet I am going to continue making music and hopefully performing and making records with Pink Cream 69.It’s difficult to say at the moment when we are able to hit the stage again but I hope it’s going to be soon because it’s just great to play in front of you guy’s!

As I got the chance here, I want to thank the band, the management and of course YOU for your great support and patience in this case. I also wanna take the chance here to thank my girlfriend Eva for here endless support & understanding (she definitely needed a lot of patience for me in this case). All this helps me a lot getting through this!

THANK YOU & I hope to see ya’ on tour soon

Koffl

Ok, let’s return to Endangered. How did you decide to record a cover version of Pinball Wizard? Do you like The Who? Or is it just because of the subject?

Actually David is a big fan of the old heroes like Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, Beatles and The Who. He made a demo of Pinball and played it to us. We thought his voice fits very good, it is a great song, why not recording it?

How do you plan to promote your new album? Any video clips on schedule? Any touring plans?

No video clips are planned. In most of the countries we sell records, there are barely airplay possibilities to justify the costs. We will tour as soon as Alfred’s health is doing better and allows him to play a PC 69 show 100%. We will not play a tour with another guitarist, neither we will play before Alfred is absolutely fit. We want to guarantee an 100% PC69 show for the fans.

Now that you are kind of more experienced with the music industry, what do you think the future will bring for our beloved music?

I strongly hope that new and young bands will come up to refresh the scene, Edguy for example. We need these young guys to attract new and young fans to heavy music, otherwise we are endangered!

You are also one of Bottom Row Promotion’s co-partner. Can you tell us more about it?

We are doing management, tour booking and publishing. We manage the bands Pink Cream 69, Gotthard, Silent Force, Axxis and Vanden Plas. My work is mainly management and publishing for Pink Cream 69 and Silent Force. Although it is an office job, it is the best office job I could imagine, simply because I have to deal with music and bands every day.

I want you to tell me some words about each one your albums, starting from 1989’s Pink Cream 69.


1989 Pink Cream 69: Some young guys with a burning ambitions brought out a great record…

1991 One Size Fits All: Until today our best selling album. Top 20 in the German Charts, good Chart positions in Japan, Switzerland, Austria. We played several headliner tours in Europe and Japan. For many Pink Cream 69 fans their favorite album in the era with Andi Deris.

1993 Games People Play: A more grown up sound and song writing, definitely an album from experienced and ambition musicians. After this album and tour Andi Deris left the band to join Helloween.

1995 Change: Definitely a mistake. Pink Cream is not an alternative band! I don’t want to blame our label Sony music for this, we took the responsibility.

1997 Food For Thought: A very ambitious, artful record with a variety of styles on. I personally like this record a lot! Although it sold better than Change, it was still too modern for the PC 69 fans.

1998 Electrified: Back to the roots! The fans loved this album. It brought us back in mid of the hard rock fans worldwide and was the base of the popularity we gained again through the last years.

2000 Sonic Dynamite: A traditional Hard rock album with great songs on it. For the PC 69 style quite a few metal influences.

2001 Endangered: The new baby is born!!! Make up your mind yourself by listening to the album!!!

Let’s change the subject again. What do you think about the new albums of other bands? Apart from PC 69 members do you have any other friends that are musicians also?

I try to keep myself informed to know what is going on in the music scene. Of course I don’t have the time to listen to all the new releases, but I definitely listen to the ones being important for me.
 I know many people in the music scene. I have great relationships with people that are in labels, agencies and of course musicians, especially the ones I am working with permanently. I am buddy to most of them, but as real friends, except the members of my band, I count 4 or 5 persons max.

Do you think that there is a song, that you could describe as perfect (whether it is yours or belongs to another band)?

No! There are a lot of great songs, some come pretty close to the perfect point, but the perfect one has not been written yet. This would mean to me that everybody who hears it would love it. Since people have different tastes I don’t think it is possible to write the perfect song.

Ok, closing this interview I would like you to pick up only one and unique word to describe your new studio album Endangered.

GreatPowerfulMelodicUniqueCatchyKickAssHardRockMusic!

(laughs) Finally, is there any message you want to send to our readers and your fans?

I want to play in Greece!!!!! I have travelled around the world, played concerts everywhere, but my dream to play in my home country did not come true yet. This sucks!!!!!!!!

We cannot wait see you performing live here. Thanks a lot for this interview Costa, stay heavy!!!



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