CULTURE

Band’s experimental intentions

Raining Pleasure scored their first major hit in 2002 with the album «Flood,» a fresh-sounding release that distinguished the act among the country’s mostly sidelined clutch of English-language rock bands. Yet despite the album’s overwhelming local reception, some suspicion regarding the act’s true worth did side with the fame, mostly because of the way Raining Pleasure gained it. A track of theirs, lifted off the «Flood» album and incorporated into state television’s heavily aired TV campaign for its mobile telephony services, provided Raining Pleasure with considerable nationwide exposure. The band’s new album, «Forwards + Backwards,» its fourth, which was released recently, comes as solid proof that fame has been no fluke. Radiant and interesting, the album embodies refined pop, cool jazz, experimental sounds, and electronica, all vocally delivered in perfect English, which makes the listener wonder whether the band really is from Patras, in Greece’s west. Originally calling themselves Rest in Peace when they embarked on their musical journey in 1990, the act soon opted for the more luminous name of Raining Pleasure, taken from a song by the now-defunct ’80s Australian band The Triffids. Of the act’s four members, Vassilikos, the act’s singer, songwriter and bassist, and Jeremy, the guitarist, have been there from the start. Five years ago, the founding members were joined by a second guitarist, Spiral, and Jay on drums and percussion. The pseudonyms, the band members say, are an ongoing joke that has been maintained. In an interview with Kathimerini, Vassilikos discussed the course of these four provincial youngsters who now find themselves at the forefront of Greece’s English-language rock scene. The band shot to fame in 2002 thanks to a TV advertisement. For a while Raining Pleasure were referred to as «those guys who sing the song for that phone company’s ad.» Did that annoy you? We were a little hesitant when CosmOTE first came up with the offer. But, after thinking about it, we couldn’t find one good reason not to go ahead. It’s not a bad thing to lend a song of yours for an ad. After all, if the song itself isn’t good, nothing happens. Is your choice of English lyrics a matter of preference? Yes. It doesn’t have to do with aspirations for a career abroad. Ever since we started, we wanted to play like The Smiths, The Cure… We went along with what we admired most. And everything we admired at the time was in English. Greek music entered our lives much later on. Our listening experiences, though, are diverse, and stretch from The Smiths, Radiohead, and Stereolab to Lena Platonos – who I believe is a great musician – Savina Yiannatou, and Manos Hadjidakis. You’re from Patras and live there on a permanent basis. Does a rural life help one be more creative? Yes, you can definitely be more creative. Patras serves us well because we’re not part of the big-city rush and all the fashionable trends. I don’t think that all that goes on in Athens would have been good for us. It would have broken our concentration, which is fundamental in getting creativity going. The fact that we’re based in Patras has provided character to our music. Also, we’ve grown up by the sea, on small streets, hung out at two or three cafes during our teenage years, two or three bars as we got older, and have become used to what are known as hangouts. Even when we’re in Athens, we go to the same place. How do you view the prospects of a career abroad? We’ve already begun promoting the CD abroad and sending it to labels. But it’s still early to make any comments. Achieving something abroad is extremely difficult. But I do believe a lot in that moment. Suddenly, somebody who likes what we do may appear, and if he or she takes it personally – because there’s no other way – something may happen. Listening to your albums released to date indicates changes in style. «Nostalgia» (1998) was more melodic, you used more guitars on «Flood» (2002), and there’s a lot more experimenting going on on «Forwards + Backwards.» The latest album borrows from all its predecessors, but also goes a step further. The jazz element, for example, did not feature on previous work, but it does now. Also, the album is more improvisational in terms of arrangement, which was done deliberately. Until now, we would all go into the studio knowing exactly what each of us would play. Everything was planned. This time, however, we loosened up because with «Flood» we realized that some ideas that hadn’t been fully stabilized from the beginning ended up offering good results in the end. So we decided to experiment a little bit more. Musical character How would you describe your material? At one point, we’d decided on the term «experimental» pop, because the pop element is there as an openness to the public, an extroverted quality. But, on the other hand, it’s not totally customary. I’d say it’s probably pop with experimental intentions. Do you follow British pop models as a guideline? Generally, they’ve identified us with contemporary English pop, but we don’t accept that tag. We’re not Brit Pop. We don’t even listen to this type of music. Very little of what goes on in contemporary English pop stimulates us. Does English-language pop, as a musical style, have a future in Greece? I think so. First, there are some very good bands, like Matisse and Closer, as well as many other smaller acts that haven’t had the opportunity to present their work. I can’t say that a scene has been created, but, with some support, this will happen.