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The Entire Band (Raw Silk)

Interview with The Entire Band from Raw Silk
by Eleni at 09 September 2005, 12:23 PM

Raw Silk are Greece's most legendary band in the Melodic/Hard Rock domain. They have always been very popular between rockers and metalheads both in and out of Greece although shortly after the circulation of their masterpiece, Silk Under The Skin (1991) they practically vanished. It was a great surprise for us all the announcement of their participation as a support band in Pink Cream 69 and Jeff Scott Soto's show in Athens (September 10th). There is even the case of people who are going to this show only for Raw Silk - personally I'm aware of one such case.

So, there were many things to talk about with them when I went to Costas Kyriakidis' house for this interview. Apart from the drummer and composer of their hits I also met Yorgos Florakis, the initial vocalist, and Dimitris Bizos, the newcomer guitarist, there. Here's what they had to say (and you wouldn't be able to read it if it wasn't for Orpheus who transcribed and translated the interview from Greek to English at the same time. Thanks Orfy!).

First of all I’m sure there’s a lot of people out there that have probably heard of Raw Silk but don’t have sufficient info concerning the band like when did you guys form, how did it happen etc. Could you give us a few details?

Costas: How detailed do you want me to be?

As much as you want.

Costas: I’m just saying that because this might take a while…

It’s ok, I’d really be interested in hearing all this since I for one couldn’t find much about the band when I was preparing for this interview.

Costas: In the beginning we - I and some other guys - started off as an other band and with those guys we did Street Girl; well, basically what we did was a demo at Sierra Studios with Costas Kalimeris as our sound engineer who also did the production later on. We did that recording with a plan to take it to various record labels.

Costas liked it very much and suggested he produced our album instead of some record label since he - and eventually we - felt there were many people working for those labels at the time that we wouldn’t describe as quite appropriate folks to be dealing with. So, we agreed and we started the recording sessions for the album. As you know, when you’re in a studio, recording, it’s a completely different kind of thing than when you’re just rehearsing. It’s that point in time where you realize who’s good for the job and who’s not. That means that the recording sessions were not an easy thing to do and at the same time there were changes in the band’s lineup. The lineup started morphing into a more solid form during the recording of the album. We got a keyboardist - since we didn’t have one anyway - and he knew Yorgos Florakis which was great because we were looking for a new singer too. Therefore Yorgos joined the band. We also changed our bassist since our previous one had written a song but we didn’t like it at all. All that is the reason why the credits on the Vinyl release are different than those on the CD.

Oh, I must admit I hadn’t noticed that there were different credits on the CD.

Costas: Yeah. Well, anyway, the band slowly got a steady lineup and the record was finally done. So, Yorgos sung, I played the drums, a keyboardist we had back then, our bassist who was just a session musicians and never got involved in any of the band’s live performances and two guitarists - one of them was the same guy who had played on our demo recording. The correct credits are those found on the CD release.

So it’s Yorgos on vocals, you on drums, Christopoulos on keyboards, Bakopoulos and Tsoukalas on guitars and Playannakos on bass.

Costas: Yup! Those are the right credits for the album. What happened with the credits was when we finished the production of the album (which was self financed as I mentioned before) we took the record to various record labels. We got a deal with EMI who later released the album and was in charge of the distribution. So, because we wanted to present a solid lineup as a band - with the release of our album - we hired that guitarist and bassist I mentioned earlier just to show up on the credits even though they weren’t involved in any way with the recorded material. We gave the others who didn’t want to be really involved just credit as additional musicians, we just didn’t emphasize it a lot. So the lineup on the record was basically our live lineup. We later felt that was not right so when the CD came out, we gave proper credit to the musicians who had actually been there with us during the recording of our album.

The album came out in 1990, right?

Costas: Yes.

Since when did the band exist?

Costas: Well, I already had a few songs (that went on the album) ready since 1986. Then when Kalimeris proposed to us, he asked me if I had any songs ready and I said yes, let’s do it. There were just a few and we sat down and went over them real quick because we wanted to grab the chance that was being given to us since he worked for a multinational record label. So, we pulled our act together, it was tough but we managed to pull it through.

After the album was released, what happened next? A few live concerts?


Costas: Yeah, a few live concerts. I actually remember a gig where we played as support act for Saxon. Then we played a lot of gigs for an entire year at a place called Bobbie’s here in Athens. That was great. Good times. People seemed to enjoy seeing us play more and more. Then the video clip was out (Street Girl) through Channel 29.

Yeah, I’ve seen that video clip been played at a few places like Texas Club and Wizard…

Costas: Yup, that’s right. That’s the one.

Was that video clip entirely shot here in Athens?

Costas: Nah, wait, I’ll explain it to you. As you can imagine, back then, our budget was kind of short. The video clip of Street Girl was shot by people working at Channel 29 just because they loved that song. They just went guys, we love this song, we’ll shoot the video for you. And so they did though the editing that had been done was a bit slow. They had done a montage that was of course not as fast as nowadays’ montages are. We wanted to enhance it a bit so we took it to a good fiend of ours at VideoSonic. What we did with him was we took some scenes from other video tapes (movies etc…) and added them to our video clip to make it a bit faster, a bit more interesting. Of course we first asked the guy who had the rights to these movies if we could use some scenes and he said it was ok, so no problem.

And after that, what happened? You guys just split?

Costas: …and after that, yes, we split. (Laughs)

Why?

Costas: Well, after playing at Bobbie’s and playing in Hios \[Greek island] and a few gigs here and there… Basically everything we did, we owe it to people who wanted to help us out because they really liked our music. Anyway, the album was out and a year later we were booked to play a gig with Scorpions (in Athens) at the Eirinis & Filias basketball stadium.

Oh, the one that Winger played instead of you?

Costas: Yes, that’s correct. Just two weeks before the show we found out that Winger would be touring with the Scorpions which of course meant that we were out of this. Personally I but also Yiorgos as well though so what because that’s just the way things are in life. Some things happen, others don’t but that’s how it is. No big deal. Unfortunately the rest of the members didn’t feel that way. There was a strange atmosphere within the band, a strong disappointment.

At that time we had to start working on our second album which was a hard task because it required we worked hard, be fully concentrated etc. Until then it was all fun, with a record out and live gigs, with people enjoying seeing us live… And at that point in time some of the guys started grumbling, if you know what I mean. That’s when the problems started. I can’t come for rehearsals, I have to go do this other thing of mine, this, that…Problems came mainly from two band members. We tried to replace them with other musicians but you know, that kind of thing - trying to find replacements - had an emotional cost on us, an effect. Having two brand new members in your band when you’re about to put together material for a new record isn’t the easiest thing in the world. To teach them everything, to have their minds align with the band’s attitude and mentality. Not an easy thing, not at all. We had no energy left inside us at all, so that was it, we gave up.

Were there any arguments and fights over all this?

Costas: Yeah, of course there were.

So, two guys caused problems. And the rest of the band…

Yorgos: The rest of us just disagreed with each other. We tried to fight it off a bit but we didn’t make it…

Costas: Yeah, truth is we did try to fight it off a bit. We brought in a new keyboardist but he wasn’t good for us. We even called in our old guitarist but his mind was completely elsewhere.  So without any strength left to carry on, we split up.

And carried on just with your day jobs, right?

Dimitris: … and they say rockers don’t have an ordinary life. \[All Laugh]

Costas: Right on, Dimitri! (Laughs)

Yorgos: Dimitris Bizos, a kid quite different from the usual. \[All Laugh]

Costas: So, that’s how it happened. That’s our past. Thanks for asking because there’s a lot of people out there who are unaware of our past.

It was good to hear all this because there’s not much info out there about the band. Practically nothing.

Costas: I know what you’re saying and you’re right.

I couldn’t even find an official website…

Costas: That’s because we actually just put one up. It’s www.rawsilk.gr and it’s going to be fully functional before our gig on the 10th of September. There you’ll be able to find anything you need about us. A bio, news etc…

So how did the concert come up? Did you have any other proposals for a live appearance in the past? You must have, right?

Costas: After we split up, there was a time period we had lost contact with each other but we never stopped being involved in music, in our own separate ways. Then we were asked permission for the album to be re-released on CD (which happened) and so we did. We basically gave the rights to a magazine to print 3.000 CD copies of our album but only as a bonus of the magazine; not to be sold separately. But as you probably know that’s not exactly what happened. What happened was that the CD got released all over the world, separately, not just as the magazine’s bonus giveaway. This was both good and bad for us. I had my e-mail address in that CD’s info and all of a sudden I start receiving tons of e-mail from Japan, the U.S., Sweden, Portugal, Germany…everywhere! And I’m like what the hell happened? First thing I realized was that we had been cheated. Then various situations followed but nevermind, let’s not go into that. The good part was that all of a sudden there was a massive interest in the band from all over the planet, which still keeps growing even till today. I just received an e-mail from Germany a few days ago. I discovered there were fan clubs out there we didn’t have a single clue about their existence. People were asking us where’ve we been, if we’re gonna do any live shows etc. At that point in time (after the re-release of the album) we weren’t really thinking of doing any live shows or a reunion.

As time passed by though, Yorgos and I had started hanging out with each other again yet we still didn’t have any thoughts of reforming the band. Only thing we did was we were working on new songs because we both felt the need to get out there and do something new, play, be in the vibe again. But there was an ongoing interest from the media. Like for example a radio station in Munich, Germany, included Street Girl in one of its compilations that came out this year - and that has never been done before, to have a Greek band’s song in a foreign Rock compilation (it’s usually the other way around). Then there German magazines that even wrote entire articles about us. Some amazing stuff!

To us the music we had written back in 1990 was something we had gotten over it, we were done, we wanted to move on and do something completely different but after seeing such a massive reaction from people everywhere we started rethinking about all that. At some point I remember we both said we have to try and make a second album since there’s an entire fan base out there craving for more. And then one day Dimitris Chronis, owner of Texas Club, called us and told me he’s a fan of ours and that he wanted to contact him. So, I went and spoke with him and he asked me if we were interested in playing at a gig with Jeff Scott Soto and Pink Cream 69 and I said yeah, of course. And so, here we are now… (Laughs)

Do you only rehearse now or do you also record material for a new album?

Costas: Now we only rehearse in order to be ready for the show.

And after the show, are you going to start working on material for a next album?

Costas: Absolutely! From the moment we decided to reform the band with Yorgos under the same name, it was bound to happen and the show we booked through Dimitris Chronis simply sealed that idea in a most decisive way.

Will the new album sound anything like your debut release?

Costas: Well, Silk Under The Skin was written in 1986.

Ok, so the new album will have a completely modern sound?

Costas: It’ll be in a new style but it will share relating elements with our debut album. Because for instance Dimitris is practically a new member - a permanent member - of the band…

Dimitri, in which bands were you before joining Raw Silk?

Dimitris: Well, I played for about a year together with a band called Make My Day but they were a Funk band, they played stuff like James Brown etc and there I was playing Van Halen riffs and they would stop and stare at me in a strange kind of way but eventually people liked that. It didn’t last though for more than a year as I said and we split up.

Costa, weren’t you annoyed by the fact that until the re-release of your album, on CD, your album was kind of rare to find and all of a sudden anyone could find it anywhere?

Costas: If someone’s looking for your album which is let’s say rare and he can’t find it anywhere, well, that sort of gives us a mythical kind of status, you know, a mystery band but on the other hand that’s not what you basically want. What you want is to put out music and have people listen to it. Thus meaning that if someone wants to find your music to listen to it, to be able to find it.

Yeah but don’t you also want to make some money out of a deal you make with someone for a re-release of your one and only album?

Costas: Of course. We did make some money out of that deal though we hadn’t agreed for what eventually happened

To change the subject, I’ve read lots of articles hailing you as the next Van Halen or the next Bon Jovi etc. What do you have to say about all this? What were really your influences back then?

Costas: Problem is that when you’re the creator of the material in question/discussion, you can’t be the absolute judge of your own work. What I’ll say is this is it, this is what I created, it. So, it’s hard to judge my own material, really, because it’s mine…

Did you write all the songs on Silk Under The Skin?

Costas: Yes, I wrote all of them. To answer what you previously asked me, let me just say that we all interpret what we hear differently. You might like something I don’t or a band’s music might sound to you like X band’s music but to me it reminds me of Z band, if you know what I’m saying. But up to a point, yes, we did listen to a lot of Bon Jovi, Van Halen etc back then and I think it would only be completely natural to be influenced by these bands even if it was just a bit. If something’s just a copycat of other bands’ records then it just comes and goes…But seeing how people still dig Silk Under The Skin, it makes us believe it might have it’s own personality after all.

I don’t think we could ever compete with bands like Bon Jovi though because they’re a band born in the country of Hard Rock music and what they do they do it real good because they’ve been around for quite some time now.

What’s a fact is that for the Greek standards of the early 90’s, this record was a rarity compared to what the Greek scene had to offer back then, both production-wise and performance-wise. From all that, after so many years, what I always keep in mind is that there are many people out there who still like this record.

Yorgos: Any form of art you do with passion gets transmitted onto other people.

Do you keep in touch with any of the former members of the band?

Costas: Sure, we’re in touch but just as friends. It’s been a long time, I don’t know what all of them are doing. Some might have stopped playing music, who knows? Thing is with us that we feel pretty united as a band right now. Even Dimitris who just recently joined us, he became a friend of ours and a solid part of the band real quick. There’s chemistry in the band. He had something to offer to each one of us…

Unlike some ex-members…

Costas: Exactly.

So the current lineup of Raw Silk is…


Costas: Me on drums, Yorgos Florakis on vocals, Yorgos Aspiotis on keboards, Dimitris Bizos on guitars and Leonidas Petropoulos who’ll be handling the bass duties just for this - first - live appearance of ours. I don’t think he’ll stick around furthermore for the recording of the second album. He’s an experienced bass player despite his young age, so we’re thankful he’s helping us with this live performance.

And now for something different. What music do each one of you listen to?

Dimitris: Nickelback? But they’re not really that new, are they? Then there’s so many bands I listen to, what to mention first? I like Perfect Circle’s music because of their own personal atmosphere they have, Rammstein…

Costas: I think that Perfect Circle is a common place for all of us here in the band. I also like Deftones and Cult Of Luna a lot. There’s a whole bunch of new bands out there that are really inspired and inspiring. Take Radiohead for example or bands not that Metal…

Yorgos: Yeah, but Radiohead are not new, man. (Laughs)

Costas: I know but I happened to get into them on their latest album.

Yorgos: I listen to all sorts of things. From really weird bands to really known ones. Like Radiohead for example…

Costas: To be able to be in the vibe of the times you’re living in is a very important thing to me.

Are you signed to any label for the new album?


Costas: There are some offers on the table. But we first wanna complete the recordings of the album before doing anything else because we don’t believe that there’s anyone in Greece (as far as labels go) that could contribute to that process in any proper way. What we’d like though is to work with a label from abroad, to get our music out there since we saw what happened with our first records, what still happens with people liking it and all. We want to try it this way this time. I don’t think there’s any label in Greece who could get our music out there. So, we’ll start recording on our own, then probably send a demo to labels abroad and act according to what answers we’ll get, we’ll wait and see.

If we don’t find a deal abroad and we don’t get a good deal here either, we’ll release it on our own. We want good material, well produced…we want a good product. If we accomplish that, everything else will follow. That’s what happened with our first album and that’s how it is. If you do a messy work, you won’t see the light of tomorrow. We trust in good work. Everything else - as I said - will follow…

Thank you for this interview. We’re all looking forward to seeing you play live on September 10th at Club 22.

Costas: Thank you so much for this really in depth interview. See you all at the show!



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