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Hundreds of bands pop into existence every day, but what does it take not to get lost in the shuffle? Is good music nowadays still enough, or is it all about connections and enough money to pay the right people? Questions all new bands will have to ask themselves, but still they don´t give up an fight for what they most love to do. Music! This is what SuperPuma does, the band from Athens just released their record “Big Cats on the Prowl”, which they made autonomously. We talked with the band to find out more about them as well as the metal scene in Greece.
Hello there, could you please first of all introduce your band?
We are a four member band from Athens, Greece, and we play loud rock ´n´ roll with experimental heavy / blues and alternative / punk elements. We are: Lefty (vocals), Danny (guitar), Billy (bass) and Nodes (drums). In 2009 we recorded a 4 track demo called «Speed The Plow» in a mini cdr format with a d.i.y. packaging (using a pack of cigarettes as a case, including a mini story drawn by the guitarist). In 2011 we completed the recordings of «Big Cats on the Prowl». It contains 9 new tracks and a 36 page comic booklet.
How did all began with SuperPuma, where did you meet each other and when did you found the band?
The 3/4 of us (Billy, Danny & Nodes) are friends since 1997, after high school. We had common interests, liked (pretty much) the same kinda music, and shared the same passion about records, gigs and arts in general (films, books, comic culture etc.). We founded the band in 2007 and started rehearshing some songs that Danny had written. In 2008 we met Lefty, the singer, who had just came from Australia, and... voila! The band was ready to roll!
Why did you choose the name SuperPuma for your band? Do you like helicopters?
There is a story behind this... In the summer of 2007 in Zakynthos, a Greek island, after consuming a great amount of ouzo, Danny was about to drink the final glass that would lead him to his doom. The only way of rescuing him would be a Superpuma chopper landing in the front yard of the house! Eventually he didn´t, but we had a good laugh and, being drunk as we were, we thought that SuperPuma was a great name for the band that we were about to form. It is also related to feline species (we are fond of cats, as you can see from the name of the album!).
You released your album “Big Cats on the Prowl” in the end of 2011. Can you tell us more about it, what can the people expect from it?
We began recording it in June 2010 and finished a year later. It took so long due to financial difficulties and because we all had day jobs at the time. It was produced by us and Panos Faropoulos, who also recorded, mixed and mastered the album at studio 2, Exarheia, Athens. We also had valuable help from friends/musicians: Kostas P (bagpipe & clarinet), Vasilis F. (accordion), Super Mario (electric sitar, electric tampura & hapi drum) and Labros Tsolakos (grim vocals). The album came out in 500 hand numbered copies.
We guarantee it is a life-changing experience for the listeners and a true masterpiece! Just kidding, it´s simply an honest rock album which we enjoyed making and so far people seem to enjoy it also.
You released the album yourselves. Didn´t you find a label to release it or did you want to release it yourselves anyway?
We didn´t search for a label because we wanted to do this first album in our own way, without any time schedules or any other pressure (artistic, finance enforcement etc.) and to learn many things during this d.i.y. process. It was very helpful that we knew a lot of people from the local underground rock scene who contributed in the production and the promotion of this work, each and everyone of Oanticipated, thank you!)
The booklet is something very special. There is a comic inside; can you tell us a little bit more about it? Who drew it and what´s the story behind it?
The booklet was designed by our guitarist Danny, who is a graphic designer and a comic freak! So the band´s concept, in his/our perception, is about pretty basic R´N´R stuff like social- human relation-self struggling issues and the importance of „getting ahead“ and simply having fun, but with a surreal/sci-fi twist to it.
So the „SuperPuma“ is, eventually, a six eyed divine creature incarnated as a cat/human being, meeting this female cosmonaut, destined to be his match while, in the process, a bunch of weird men (a cowboy, a pilot, a vigilante and a priest) set out in a spiritual/physical quest to finally form a team and play their parts in the birth of this god/human mating, duality offspring.
Pheeeww…that´s mainly the core of the story, complete with shooting and screaming, ugly monsters, heroic efforts and a pulp sci-fi flavor, but if you give it time and pay attention to the panels you will find symbolisms and details to „unlock“ and interpret for yourself .
He/We wanted it to interact in a personal way with everyone, thats why there is so very few texting in it. The story ends with major unanswered questions… the continuation is gonna be quite more specific.
If you are looking for a label, what do you think is the reason that you haven´t found the right one until now?
If we were to look for one, we would make sure this label lets us handle everything that has to do with how the band sounds and all the visual matters (graphic design & layout , videos etc.) and takes care of the other things that a record label should care about (distribution etc.) We know what we want to do and we´re not willing to compromise with anything else, for the sake of money or anything that goes with it. It´s not a job to us, it´s mainly about having fun.
Nowadays the music business faces huge losses because of all the downloading, what would you do to get people to buy your records? And what do you think in general about the downloading situation?
We definitely are not against downloading. It´s an easy way of getting in touch with interesting bands and share music. Even free downloading is a good way of spreading the word about a band, with no cost. Besides, there are websites like Bandcamp, for example, where artists have the opportunity to give away their music at a very low price, so the audience will be able to support directly the band without paying extra money to major companies.
We also believe that a person who really likes a band, will try to support them directly, either by buying the physical product, going to a gig, or buying merchandise. Now, about the Music Business, they had it coming! There are hundreds of examples of bands being exploited by the “suits”. Expensive cds, control over their music, minimum promotion and no credit for the band… Everybody loses except the companies.
As for our own album, people can buy it at our gigs at any price they can afford. It´s also available on Bandcamp both as a digital download and as a physical copy too.
We wanna know more about the Rock/Metal Scene in Greece. What “insider advice” can you give to us when we go there to experience the Greek Metal Scene?
There are lots of bands all around Greece, old and new, of many different genres that somebody should check their music, and who could make an impact in a worldwide level. Most of them are from the underground scene, so one needs to look thoroughly and deep in bars, small clubs, specific radio stations and record stores to get in touch with their music as well as several fanzines and mail-orders. Fortunately there are many places like these here in Greece (mostly Athens and Thessaloniki).
How is the situation in Greece for local Rock bands , do people support you or do they prefer bands from abroad?
There is a political extension to this matter. You all know more or less of what´s happening here over the last four years. People are frustrated and disappointed and this has affected their point of view on their way of life. Inevitably this changes people´s priorities. This system has managed to deprive people of their hope and pleasure that comes from simple things, such as a live gig from a band they like. In addition to the financial state of the average Greek, people choose to attend only a few concerts, mostly by achieved and well known bands, rather than a local underground band. Fortunately there is a group of people that have remained untouched by this situation and they refuse to give up on the things they enjoy. So, hope is not lost!
What´s coming up next? Do you have plans for gigs or? What goals do you wanna reach within this year?
We are currently working on some new songs with the valuable help from Katerina who plays the violin and is also a good friend and we are planning to record a 7” vinyl by the end of the year, including a couple of these new songs and an old unreleased one. We also hope that we´ll be able to shoot a video clip for “Viva Renata” from “Big Cats On The Prowl” by the same time. We´ll probably play a couple of gigs till June and then we´ll pick it up in October. It´s gonna be full throttle from there on!
OK finally, tell the people out there why you are the band they should listen to?
Because we are really good looking, a real catch! Seriously now, we are really good looking! Ok, really seriously, we think that our music is fun and not strictly categorized, making it reachable to people who like various genres of rock. But it would be better this question to be answered by the audience, because their perception of music is quite different than the musician´s, and this matters the most, after all. Just give it a try!
Thank you very much for the interview and all the best in future!
Thank you for the support! It means a lot to bands like us to get the opportunity to promote their work like this. Keep up the good work!
Author: Sandy Mahrer photos: Band Date: 2012-04-30