13 September 2013
COUNTRY IN CRISIS. AS UNEMPLOYED YOUTHS REVOLT, ART UBER ALLES. QUESTION: WHO THE HELL IS MAJOR TOM? MAJOR TOM LIVE is a definite blow against the ‘Barbie Doll’ lifestyle cult's toxic waste which insults thinking individuals.
Experience the "other side" of artists you won't see or hear anywhere else, as MAJOR TOM takes a "day in the life" look into his guest's mindscape, putting you in touch with their human/alien side.
I found a parking space in downtown Athens. So, I took it!
After parking my star ship above the Acropolis about a quartercentury ago (Earth time), I began my Hellenic Trek, and ventured down the same streets that were walked upon by some of the greatest minds and monsters in human history…this time around.
Many winters later, I floated into a strip club, which was turned into a live rock venue for a couple of months, near this city’s center. Not exactly Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Titty Twister Night Club’, mind you, but I think you get the point.
The place was packed with wall to wall, dark leather clad feline creatures of the night, dressed/undressed to the QT with stilettos. The DJ thrashed back and forth, as lasers pulsated in sync with the sweating, concrete crushing subwoofer beats and bass lines.
And then, the band began to play. The Flowers of Romance. Their sound was studio crisp and clear. Were they miming with play back audio tracks? No. These were seasoned Vets, and they were pulling it off… live. Impressive. What I saw and heard that night set the bar up several notches for groups performing in clubs…anywhere. It was an aural force to be proud of.
Fast forward. Time for a change. The Flowers of Romance were no more. But a renewed energy was coming together, and NEW ZERO GOD was formed by Mike Pougounas on vocals, and Dimitris “Sidheog” Steves on drums. The four piece band released their debut album, “FUN IS A FOUR LETTER WORD”, after opening for The Legendary Pink Dots and Christian Death in concert.
Later, Flowers bassist Harris Stavrakas joined the band. Known for his unique bass techniques, the group exploded on stage during their new line-up premier. The year was off to a great start! Muen Magazine (USA) gave them two thumbs up, and the band continued their live performance tour.
Mike was later invited to take part in an international cover release of David Bowie’s “Everyone Says Hi” for England’s ‘The Sophie Lancaster Foundation’ (S.O.P.H.I.E.). Google it. You won’t believe the horror story behind it.
The summer winds of 2011 blew New Zero God onto the UK radio charts with their song, “KISS THE WITCH”. The band stayed on the charts for two months, which is next to impossible for a DIY band. They scored a number of interviews and reviews in English, American, German, Italian, and Spanish magazines. These Greek artists are taken very seriously by the international press.
In December, the song “SECOND CHANCE” was released as a Special Edition single under the moniker of NEW ZERO GOD & FRIENDS. A number of international musicians joined New Zero God for a charity fundraiser to benefit the American foundation, H.A.W.C. (Healing Abuse, Working for Change). “Second Chance” held the #1 spot on the USA’s CD Baby Goth and Glam charts throughout January, 2012.
From then, to this day, New Zero God has new releases, and performs their special brand of dark, powerhouse music.
New Zero God is managed by Deadfall Management - United Kingdom
The line up:
Mike Pougounas – Vocals/Keys, etc.
Dimitris “Sidheog” Steves - Drums, Loops
Harris Stavrakas - Bass
Apostolos "Mad Tuxedo" Takos - Guitars
° YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/newZEROgodGR
° Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NewZeroGod
MT: Thanks for doing this interview with me, Mike.
Although you’ve been in the music biz for a long time, your ‘day job’ is in the shipping industry. What do you do, and how’s the shipping business doing during these insane times from your ‘boots on the ground’ perspective?
MP: Well I’ve been on the dole without benefits since January 2013. I was working for a shipping company, but since 2008 when the crisis started, everything went downhill till the shit hit the fan… With North Africa on fire, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece in big trouble, it was just
a matter of time. Although everyone believed it would last just a couple of years…
MT: So, in light of all this, you’re in the music business full time? What’s that like? What are some differences and similarities that you see in both sectors?
MP: Yes, it’s music “business” full time. It is not new to me. I was running a record label going by the name Cyberdelia Records during 2000-2005 after I quit The Flowers Of Romance. Today I play with New Zero God, I do interviews and write reviews for the music blog tribe4mian, I manage the band, write music and lyrics… it is a full time job just like I did with the Flowers Of Romance and Nexus. In both sectors you deal with a lot of people. Good people and bad people. If you think there are a lot of fuckheads in what you would call a “real job”, like shipping, wait till you see the music world. It is a zoo of personalities… In both sectors people look friendly in order to get to your pocket. The only difference between them is that if you fail in music, it hurts. If you fail with a “real job”… you wait for the next day to come…
MT: You come into contact with many people, from teens on up. What seems to be their feelings and views about what’s going on locally and globally?
MP: I think everyone is scared. Everywhere. Talking to people from just about all around the world, I hear the same thing. “What is going to happen?”. In Greece you can spend your whole day talking to people about the same issues. “No money”. “No job”. “Lots of taxes”. I am sure some continue mumbling the same stories while they sleep…
MT: In addition to the charities and foundations you’ve contributed the band’s music to, is there anything similar happening for Greece and the Greek people? If not, why not? How about ‘LIVE AID HELLAS’…?
MP: LOL… aid for Greece…
MT: You guys had done some work in a British film. What was that all about?
MP: I was introduced to British director Paul Druce by The Hiram Key singer, Gary Clarke. Druce already had a documentary about Nepal running the festival circuit and wanted New Zero God for some scenes for his forthcoming movie, “Athens Drift”. He had this idea of presenting the ideals of Alexis Zorbas about freedom, life, purity, passion, etc. He found the 1964 filming locations of Zorba the Greek (the Anthony Quinn movie) and he went to Crete. On his way back, we did the New Zero God scenes and made an acoustic version of our song, “In Dreams We Trust”. It is an avant-garde movie about Greece, death, and the joy of life… This is how I see it anyway. Everyone should watch it…
MT: OK. Let’s play ‘what if’. What if New Zero God was a political party, you won the election by a landslide, because you said you could fix ‘this mess’ in 48 hours. What would you do in those 48 hours?
MP: Did you ever watch A Clockwork Orange? Do you remember the scene with the eyes? I would take my droogs to do the same to all politicians, bankers, and corporate CEOs. I’d have them watch all they do to the world for 48 hours non-stop… and maybe a few thousand hours more…
MT: Tell us about the new things the band has on the market, and what new surprises can we expect down the road?
MP: 2013 appears to be one more very productive year for New Zero God. We released the album MMXIII in January, then we released the S.O.P.H.I.E. fundraising single “The Night Calls your Name”, and then we joined an English compilation with bands from the roster of our management. The compilation goes by the name “Deadfall: Darkness Descends” and we just finished recording and mixing our forthcoming single, “Destination Unknown / Forever Today” which will be released during October as a 7” multicoloured single. “Athens Drift” is on its way now to world festivals but this is something we did last year. An Australian compilation will be available on the internet by October and around the same time we will have one more track of ours featured on an English internet compilation. The rest will be gigs…
MT: I’m sure you’ve learned a lot on this journey. If you could go back in time and change one thing from your past, that would make a difference in your present and future, what would that be?
MP: It is a nice ride. I enjoyed everything so far. It had its ups and downs but that’s life, I guess. I value my experiences and the people I met. Good people and bad people. They made me who I am and I like who I am. I wouldn’t change a thing… I worked with Wayne Hussey of the Mission, opened for The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, New Model Army, met Robert Smith, had beers with Gary Numan, I played in football
stadiums, and I played in tiny shitholes. I played for audiences of four and audiences of thousands. I slept with pretty ladies, I made friends I’ll never meet, from parts of the world I’ll never visit, I went stoned on national TV, I played my heart out and I had some real good laughs. I also lost friends and met the ugly side of that crap but… this is why they call it rock’n’roll… Why would I change anything? It is 35 years of my life…
MT: When you were a kid, what was it that turned you on to music and performing? Who/what ‘lit your fire’?
MP: Hahaha… my mother told me never to get involved with music. But music worked for me as psychotherapy. It took a lot out of my system. Punk rock helped me think differently, do my thing, have a mind of my own. Still helps me in my hours of need. So my mother gave me the push without knowing and punk rock made a man out of me.
Performing? If I could do it, anyone could do it. I still believe that we owe it to ourselves. Anyone should try lose that skin. The world would be so much better if you try to blow some steam every now and then…
MT: Is there any TV show (globally) that you’d like to burn all the tapes? If so, what, and why?
MP: Shows about pop idols, iron chefs, and all that crap. I hate them. The producers are literally using people by giving them hope when they ridicule them in order to make money from commercials. TV producers think people make a mockery of themselves but I think people should try whatever talent they think they have. Don’t take away their dreams. Some might not be that good but it is good for their own souls… You know? It is the worst thing one could come up with to make a mockery of someone else’s dreams… If the person next to you doesn’t offend or hurt someone else, why shouldn’t he do whatever he likes?
MT: In your opinion, is there any artist or band that should be recognized, but is not?
MP: Oh, the world is full of artists that should be famous. There is so much good music out there… For all tastes, all kinds of music… Lately my favourite band is called Sicknote and they come from Cardiff. They are fun with a true message. Look them up… Partly Faithful also released a great album this year. They come from London. Red Sun Revival, Attrition… a lot of artists. I could go on forever.
MT: Name me the best movie you ever saw and why it was the best for you?
MP: Since I mentioned A Clockwork Orange, which happens to be my fave, I’ll let you know my favorite documentary: “The Future Is Unwritten”. It is not only the music biography of Joe Strummer and his humanist views but also describes all the traps that a band like the Clash could fall into…
MT: In terms of the band’s live chemistry and audience feedback, what was the best show you’ve ever done?
MP: I think the best New Zero God show was on February 22, 2013 at Death Disco. We had a new album out, 3 out of the 4 New Zero God members were The Flowers Of Romance members (back in the 80’s), and the audience was anxious to see us on stage after all these years. The 3 of us together hadn’t been on stage since 1988… So it was a special night. We did a few shows with this line up before we ended up with
today’s line up…
MT: You are also a net radio producer on a station out of the UK. Tell me how you got hooked up, and what are some of your experiences that stand out.
MP: Well, we recorded a song titled “Second Chance” back in 2011. We worked with a lot of international musicians such as guitarist Will Crewdson (who played with Johnette Napolitano, Adam Ant, Tom Jones, and many others), Martin Birke (from the Sacramento band Genre Peak), and a number of musicians. I asked an excellent illustrator/photographer named Shaun Histed-Todd to design the cover of the single (it is a song for a Massachusetts based organization called HAWC, that helps thousands of people who have been physically, mentally, and sexually abused in domestic relationships…)
Shaun asked me a couple of months later if I would be interested in hosting a show on Wicked Spins Radio… I still remember the night that a woman from Portland, USA, started writing on the chatroom about a conflict between the cops and demonstrators outside City Hall. A couple of minutes later a guy from New York came up writing about the same thing happening there too. It was the “Occupy” movement and you were having people from different places from the States joining the chatroom to write about incidents. That’s the power of an internet radio station. While broadcasting from the UK, the whole planet can listen to your show…
About a year later I was asked to host a show on KWTF a community radio for Sonoma County, California. I politely passed on the offer although I could say yes now… hahaha… Well… one thing’s for sure, being unemployed keeps a man busy…
MT: If you had the power to bring any artist from the other world, back to this world for one week…who would you bring back and Why?
MP: That would be John Lennon. I’d do that ‘cause I think a lot of people would be happy with it…
MT: Is there anything else you’d like to add or cover that we haven’t talked about?
MP: I’ve got lots of things coming up that we can’t talk about yet, so keep an eye out. I’ll be back…
MT: WHAT DOES NEW ZERO GOD MEAN? HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THAT COOL NAME?
MP: Drummer Dimitris Steves was watching a U2 video one day. While Bono was singing, he saw the words New, Zero, and God blinking behind Bono. He liked the words and started toying with the idea of a band name. He slept on it and when he woke up he still liked the name. That’s all… The name has three powerful words. And they have an obvious message. Zero is the New God. Cause there is no God…
Thank you very much for this wonderful interview Major Tom.