Mike Pougounas of New Zero God Interview

January 8, 2011 by: admin

Mike Pougounas, VOX of New Zero God
By ~BC Blonde

New Zero God CD: Fun Is A Four Letter Word
Athens, Greece

New Zero God is:
Mike Pougounas – VOX
Dimitris “Sidheog” Steves – Drums
Michalis Christou – Guitar
Harris Stavrakas – Bass

Their sound is: Punk/Gothic/Post Punk

MUEN: Hello Mike, it’s a pleasure to have this opportunity to make your acquaintance. You are from a far off land from me in Athens, so it’s always an amazing feeling when you can connect from across the world.

NZG:  It’s nice to talk with you too, and yes, the 10 hour difference and few thousand miles are thrilling things…

MUEN: What is the scene like over in Greece these days for your genre? Can we talk about what it’s like now versus how it was say several years ago, in the underground music scene?

NZG:  There was a boom in the underground Greek scene during the 90’s.
It was sparked by the Greek punk rock and new wave bands of the 80’s
that attracted the interest of the major record labels.It all started with the indie labels but when the biggies saw the
sales of the bands, they started signing everyone up, good or bad, it didn’t matter.  This lead to the downfall of the scene since a lot of bad bands were coming out of all this and the audience turned the other way.  Hip hop grew big during this last decade.  The artists were using Greek lyrics and this caught the attention of the younger
generation. The internet provided an opportunity for many Greek bands with English lyrics to release/distribute their music abroad and we come to this stage today of having a vivid live scene with bands sometimes
traveling around Europe.  There is also a big Gothic scene, as well as a post punk scene, but Greece is known for their black metal bands abroad…

MUEN: You had another band, one that had quite the following and was quoted as “The greatest Gothic Rock band” in Greece, namely The Flowers of Romance. What happened to that band and was it due to outside sources or personal ones?

NZG:  The Flowers Of Romance was the first Greek Gothic band that made it abroad.  It started as a punk rock act and developed into a Gothic Rock band, releasing albums through foreign record labels, mostly German, and worked with international rock stars such as Wayne Hussey of the Sisters Of Mercy and The Mission UK.  After 18 years of playing with the band and dealing with the frustrations of the band’s promoters and internal strife, I decided to move forward to work on an industrial Goth level.  I put an end to it in 1998 and formed the industrial band Nexus.

MUEN: Do you hold any professional regrets in closing the doors on one band for another? (Actually two if we also include Nexus as well.) Or has it been a positive experience for you?

NZG:  I don’t know how many positive experiences you might come up with when you become part of the music industry.  Leaving The Flowers Of Romance put me, professionally, at the start again but I felt I would expand my personality as an artist. I remember asking King Crimson’s leader, Robert Fripp, who is running
DGM, if it would be a good idea to start my own record label as a vehicle for my own music and I received a positive reply.  So, I ended up seeing the music industry from a record label’s point of view for five years.  I then put everything on hold, including the label.  I just couldn’t stand the surroundings behind the scenes.  I split Nexus
and a year later I formed New Zero God, just for fun. That was the only positive thing I received.  The fun of going back to the root… A rock’n’roll band with straight-to-the-point lyrics.

MUEN: Between Flowers of Romance and New Zero God, I personally favor the sounds of New Zero God. I listened to the tracks from Flowers of Romance and the sound is different than what you produce now. The pace
and the energy is more prominent and your vocals are more powerful and unique sounding. How do you find the difference? Is there one for you?

NZG:  Yes, for sure there is a difference.  New Zero God is not a band with romantic lyrics.  The Flowers Of Romance was developed from a punk rock band into a group with a well-crafted Gothic rock sound. New Zero God’s music calendar covers the 1978-1984 eras.  New Zero God’s sound is not shiny, it is dirty.  Its loud rock’n’roll from the
darkest corner of one’s soul…

MUEN: And now in leading New Zero God, you have a 2010 debut album titled Fun Is A Four Letter Word. The day you had finished recording in 2009 you were offered a record deal from Puzzlemusic Records. Timing “is” everything isn’t it? How did that all line up for you?

NZG:  We recorded the album in the same studio they use for their productions.  The sound engineer asked them to listen to “what Pougounas is doing now” so… we found ourselves a record label.  It wasn’t our intention to release the album and it wasn’t our intention to go out playing live…Our sound engineer posted on some forum that
“The Flowers Of Romance are back together” so we had to come up with a name for this new band.  We suddenly had a string of gigs and supported Christian Death and The Legendary Pink Dots.  I guess everything happens when you don’t care a lot…

MUEN: Now I can’t recall where I read it, but was there some sort of problem with the band putting lyrics on the CD leaflette? Was Puzzlemusik not down with it? I see you have it for your fans on your Myspace page. A personal thank you for that!

NZG:  Steves, our drummer, did the artwork but Puzzlemusik turned down the booklet cause “the budget would go too high…”  It would be a pity for people not to have it, or to pay extra money to get it, as some asshole advised, so we made it available as a free download.  I am glad you like it. Thank you.

MUEN: And in your music you say that you have been influenced by “cinematic, reality and music in your heads/ears.”  Can you elaborate on that?

NZG:  Aren’t we all like that?  I studied as a film director.  I have a thing for movies…

MUEN: What does New Zero God represent?

NZG:  It represents the average person…
The moments when we feel like standing on the shoulders of giants…
The moments when we feel like the last in line…
When I am you and you are me…
When WE are forever just for a moment…

MUEN: Some tracks that caught my attention are “Bang Bang,” “Kiss The Witch,” “Winners,” “The Love Hate Song,” and “Fun Is A Four Letter Word.”  The two I would love to hear you speak of are “Bang Bang” and “Winners.”  Pretty intense material. One is about the eradication of world hunger which is a true issue for us and the other about a
violent hand, again a real life issue for many. Where did these songs come from?

NZG:  Well, it was a couple of years ago when that incident happened. There were some dealers on Wall Street who wanted to make quick money by buying and selling stocks of commodities…  Because of that, the price for basic commodities, such as rice, cereals, cooking oil, bread and milk, instantly rose on the other side of the world which drove people into hunger.  Protests started in India, Egypt, and other countries and hungry people started fighting with the cops.  Real people were dying because of that… This ‘Butterfly Effect’ became the need for me to write “Bang Bang”. It’s not that some people don’t know…it’s that they just don’t care…“Winners” deals with a completely different subject… It is about abusive behavior by your partner in your relationship… Doesn’t sound
good when it gets so personal, huh?  It’s hard to imagine the one you love would turn into such a violent monster… But it happens so close to us and so often that I decided to put down into words how these
(usually) women feel and that they should stand up and fight back…

MUEN: Not to sound like a broken record, because I have asked before but any videos coming our way in the future to support these great tracks??  The visual is always a nice touch to accommodate the music. I have seen the few made by your friend Julio Cesar and would love to see more work by him. I think he really captures your message and mood of the music.

NZG:  Julio Cesar caught us by surprise by making the “Bang Bang” video. It was very flattering that a man from Brazil would spend his time to make it, and then to make another video, as well, for “Kiss The Witch”.  He just sent us an email saying “I did this for you”… As it so happens, New Zero God never intended to do any videos but
people come to our gigs with small and big cameras, cell phones, etc.,and the next day they post parts of the show on YouTube.  It’s very kind of them and it helped a lot to promote the band. Julio was originally a fan of The Flowers Of Romance.  He never saw us live, never met us in person, and he put all this effort in for us…
What can I say?  It’s a wonderful feeling and who knows, he might find the time to do some more for us.  He has a natural talent.  He even put together a Brazilian blog about us…

MUEN: Do you feel that your audience understands the intentions of the band?

NZG:  Yes, I believe the audience understands. These people are our friends. The audience is a musician’s best friend. The language is not a barrier anymore and this is why the album’s artwork should be posted for everyone for free. You can’t get confused when the lyrics describe the reality you live in…
Life is short but we are all in it together…

MUEN: The band has been receiving reviews and interviews alike all over from Italy to Germany, the USA, back to your respected Greece counterparts all the way over to me here in Canada. Promotions are definitely working in your favor. Do you all spend much time working in this department or do you focus mainly on the music?

NZG:  We all have ordinary day jobs.  We just gather around some nights during the week and play music to express ourselves.  Then we are on the road during the weekends.  Interviews are… for having a good time.  It’s like chatting with a person you met for the first time with a lot of questions about what you do and who you are.  
Yes, it seems like a lot of media people like our music and put a good word in about us and we thank them for that.  It all started with Europe and then we got some exposure in the USA… (The ocean really makes places seem quite distant…but I guess the internet is doing the trick…)

MUEN: Your music is also being distributed in Latin America, Australia, USA and Europe. Any plans to extend to Canada? Any plans to visit to Canada?

NZG:  Canada would be a great place to visit.  Far away places are always great to visit, aren’t they?  Yes, it feels nice to have our music distributed in all these areas of the world, especially coming from such a small country…  For sure, if someone in Canada wants our music, we will certainly get it out to them with no problem.

MUEN: You have had some changes to the band as of late: Bass player Harris Stavrakas is the new member of New Zero God. Harris is a former member of the band The Flowers Of Romance. And B-abyss and E-raptor, who have been with you the last 3 years are retired from NZG and have a new band called Past Perfect. Why the changes?

NZG:  Past Perfect didn’t stop functioning while B-abyss and E-raptor worked with us during these last years.  But we needed to have steady members and they had to focus on Past Perfect.  The addition of Michalis Christou a few months ago, coupled with my past cooperation with Harris, was perfect.  He is a great musician and friend and the
news of him joining the band made a lot of our fans happy.

MUEN: Where is New Zero God going from this point? What can we look forward to?

NZG:  Right now, we have been focusing on doing gigs for the moment. We’ve been asked to play in Italy and Poland and some English fans asked us to play in England, but for the moment, only the Greek gigs are confirmed up through February.  We are also writing new material which needs “test driving” during the gigs… The point is, though, to have fun with music.  As long as we have fun, I guess our friends will have fun with us too.

MUEN: And for our readers if you would like more information on this band or to hear some of their tracks you can find them at:

MYSPACE:  http://www.myspace.com/newZEROgod

YOU TUBE:  http://www.youtube.com/newZEROgodGR

CD BABY:  http://www.cdbaby.com/artist/newZEROgod

FACEBOOK:  http://www.facebook.com/newZEROgod

MUEN: Mike, thank you for the opportunity to interview you and I wish you and your band all the best success out there!  And as soon as you have new videos in the making please let me know, love to see what you
come up with and help spread the word of NZG. Cheers!

NZG:  Thank you very much for your kind words and for giving me the opportunity for this interview.  I wish you, MUEN, and your readers all the best and may all your dreams come true.

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