CULTURE

Raining Pleasure in‘Reflections’ mode

Currently preparing for a hectic summer, Raining Pleasure are back with a new album that might surprise their fans. Their latest project is a new take on Manos Hadjidakis’s classic and much-loved «Reflections,» which the composer recorded in 1969 with the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble while living in New York. With upcoming shows around the country to promote the new album as well as their own songs, the band is hoping for recognition outside Greek borders (already, recent shows in four German cities proved very popular) and looking forward to the international release of «Reflections.» Formed 15 years ago, the Patras-based act released two albums in the mid- and late ’90s with Lazy Dog records – «Memory Comes Back» in 1996 and «Nostalgia» in 1998. However, the breakthrough came after «Flood,» which Raining Pleasure released shortly after signing with EMI in 2001, and the band finally gained broader recognition when the album’s single «Fake» was used for a CosmOTE ad. The album «Forwards + Backwards» followed in 2003. With their distinctively «un-Greek» sound, they are one of the few English-speaking Greek bands that have made it in the local scene after simmering underground for almost a decade. Despite their well-deserved success, Raining Pleasure, who were recently prominently featured in a documentary about English-speaking local bands at the seventh Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival, are adamant about remaining in their home base of Patras, where they can maintain a more laid-back way of life. The band currently consists of founding members Vassilikos (vocals, bass) and Jeremy (guitar, keyboards) as well as more recent additions Spiral (guitar, keyboards) and Jay (drums). Jeremy and Jay recently met with Kathimerini English Edition to discuss the band’s new album and their plans for the future. How did you decide to record Hadjidakis’s «Reflections»? Jay: Elli (Paspala) invited us to join her in some live shows and play 45 minutes of Hadjidakis. We decided on «Reflections» because it is a complete work, it is in English and we like it a lot. It all started with these shows. We didn’t even consider a recording at the time. Then Giorgos Hadjidakis (son of Manos) showed up at one of the shows, really liked what we had done and encouraged us to take it to the studio. We liked the idea and so did the company. We recorded the album at a studio outside Cologne in Germany, where Elli and her husband David Lynch joined us for the recording of the last song, «Noble Dame.» Jeremy: We are very grateful to Elli, David too. Without them this would never have happened. What was it like working on ready material instead of writing your own? Jay: We treated «Reflections» as our own work from the very first rehearsals, back when there was still no prospect of recording. It suited us a lot and we didn’t need to work on it too much, some of the pieces we may have changed a bit but others we didn’t. Jeremy: We have grown up with that album, it is one of our favorites and it was not foreign to us. Did you think it was a risk, tweaking Hadjidakis’s work, especially «Reflections,» which is so popular? Jeremy: We wondered if there might be any problems, but Giorgos (Hadjidakis) was very open to the idea and actually kept encouraging us to play with it more and more. Jay: Because of the way things happened there wasn’t much stress. We worked on «Reflections» and played with it at first, when we were only preparing for the shows, so when the suggestion for a recording came up we had already done our changes. Any fear we may have had during these first rehearsals went away after Hadjidakis’s approval. Do you have a next project in mind? Jay: There are only ideas so far, we are not going into the studio yet. We are still in «Reflections» mode. What are your plans regarding a career abroad? Jeremy: That is our goal at the moment. The concerts we gave in Germany were the first step and they were very successful, we have been asked to go back, which we will do, in the summer. We want to play in other European cities too. Our aim is to travel around and perform. Jay: A lot of people showed up at our shows in Germany, and it was mostly Germans, very few Greeks, although they didn’t know us. They are a very open crowd, and they had a lot of fun. So did we. Would you attempt to break into the British market? Jeremy: The British market is very tough. There are so many bands already. We are not heading there. Their local production is so huge it would be very difficult for us. What about the English-speaking music scene in Greece, do you think it has a future? Jeremy: Very good things are happening in Greece right now, but there are no opportunities. I have listened to newly founded groups that sound great, but the companies don’t believe in them. Jay: There is no particular scene here either, meaning that there isn’t one city in Greece where all the groups can get together and play often, like you have, say, the Manchester scene. Athens, for example, lacks the necessary structure. Could it also be that the Greek public is not very receptive to that kind of music? Jay: The percentage of people listening to English-speaking music in Greece is clearly much smaller to that listening to Greek music. And usually, when local English-speaking acts play gigs, the audience only consists of other local English-speaking groups. Jeremy: No one is interested in promoting this kind of music here. If a festival was organized and there was a bit of movement then I think something could happen, because there is a lot of good material out there. It is a pity that everyone is only interested in Greek commercial music that the majority of people listens to. If you want to produce something here, you have to do it all yourself. It’s not like abroad where bands are taken on, put into a schedule and know how to move. Band managers that you have abroad do not exist in Greece. The term «manager» means something totally different here. So if you don’t have the money yourself, there is nothing you can do? Jay: That’s right, and even if you do produce something, where will you play if there is no festival to attract all like-minded groups? Despite your success you choose to remain in Patras, instead of moving to Athens where more things are happening. Jeremy: We probably wouldn’t exist in Athens. We would become alienated. Patras is where we grew up, we feel good writing music there, that is where our life is. And it helps us a lot being detached from everything going on in the capital, we don’t follow all that. Jay: Besides, it is not a problem, we come to Athens whenever we need to. All our promotion is based in Athens. How do you feel, being known to the wider public after having a relatively small following for such a long time? Jeremy: We feel justified after spending about 10 years not knowing anything, being insecure about the future and having given up everything else. We get a little bit more respect now. We may have more obligations but that was what we wanted, what we set out to do and we really enjoy what we do.