Thanos Grigoriou of Phase speaks to NE:MM ahead of the band’s Music Lounge, Stockton gig on 16th May 2015

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Our Editor was recently approached by a Newcastle based rock band ‘Phase’ about the possibility of featuring them on our blog. He tells me that he hadn’t heard of the band so looked them up on Wikipedia. This is what he read “a UK-based rock band formed in Larissa, Greece in 2003…. According to Reverbnation’s charts, Phase is ranked 1st nationwide in Greece. Phase climbed on #12 of Billboard’s fastest rising acts powered by Next Big Sound in the week of June 14th 2012.”

I think he was a little intrigued about why the band had made Newcastle their home so I was asked to have a chat with vocalist Thanos Grigoriou ahead of the band’s upcoming gig in Stockton on Tees at Music Lounge.

I first asked whether all band members hailed originally from Greece.

“We are Damos, Adam, Vasilis and myself Thanos. Phase used to be an all Greek band until recently. Our drummer Marios Papakostas was encouraging us to find a replacement for him rather than occasionally using session drummers; his schedule became so demanding and was overwhelming him. We are still good friends as we were before he joined the band and we still consider him as a part of Phase. We all grew up in a few mile radius from each other apart from Adam who was raised in Throckley.”

The band have a traditional rock sound, perhaps verging on prog. I asked Thanos how he would describe their sound.

“Our music is dark for one… I don’t know… We are being constantly told that we sound unique which is the biggest compliment any band can get, especially today that music got really saturated with the multitude of bands that walked the earth since recording was invented, especially after the big bang of mainstream music media in the 80’s and 90’s. Lately we’ve concluded that we can tagged as Post Punk Revival, with elements of Art Rock, Progressive Rock and so on…”

The band formed over ten years ago and in 2014 released an impressive second album ‘The Wait’. I asked what the title referred to.

“Thank you so very much for the nice words… The Wait’s central idea stems from conversations we’ve been having at that time about how our lives are always on hold and you’re always your waiting for something and when there’s nothing you set something to look forward to. We conclude that wait is what shapes you to what you are, or shows you who you are. Judaeo-Christian religions believe life it self is a waiting room to something else… We couldn’t but name the album after it, and it acted as a self fulfilling prophecy as the recording sessions lasted for a bloody long time.”

Thanos continued – “We are currently recording new material and we’ll release a single off from it soon. We are very satisfied how certain parts work in the rehearsing environment and we are really eager to see how the result will sound… we’ll wait and see I suppose…”

Amethyst by Phase

Now for the question my Editor had pondered; Newcastle isn’t always the number one choice for bands to set up camp as a band. Although the local scene is in a flux at the moment with some really great bands popping up, what made Phase choose Newcastle as a base over traditional locations (London, Manchester etc)?

“Everybody I know in London was telling us that we must be crazy for seeking artistic asylum in Newcastle and how nothing happens there and so on. But we don’t regret it at all… we love the place to bits. You need to be able to live in the place you are based and London is horrible for that. Newcastle is nothing like they want to depict it. And there’s much more to it than the Geordie shore culture.”

Thanos expanded, “The scene has great potential, and it can become really vibrant soon… All it takes is more outlets like yours giving opportunities to bands, band’s befriending other bands and so on…”

I wondered if Thanos had any recommendations for Greek music that may not have made it to these shores?

“Greek bands are doing alright lately in contrast to what was predominantly happening back there in the 90’s. Rebetiko is the equivalent to the black blues created out from the struggle day to day life was to the artist’s environment… Our favourite rock acts are Trypes, Giannis Agelakas and Xaxakes but given the weight the lyrics have as opposed to the music, I wouldn’t recommend it to non-greek speakers!”

The band have a Stockton date looming. I wondered what was the favourite show Phase had played? And had there been any disastrous gigs?

“Oh boy… we had a few disastrous ones… the worse in general are those where you don’t get to touch anyone as they’re not open and receptive enough, being unique enough we were struggling since day one to find a niche, and we made some really un-matching team ups being desperate to take our material out. Once we opened for an epic power metal band having people in animal skins and chain-mail booing at us for being so mellow I guess.” Thanos recalled a happier occasion too’ “The best one to date is playing in a venue in the center of old Damascus in Syria and it has multiple significance to us.” Indeed that 2011 gig made the band became only the second rock act after Gorillaz to play Damascus.

Well it may not be Damascus but Stockton on Tees is the band’s next port of call on 16th May so if you like your rock just a touch the lighter side of heavy why not head down and check out Thanos and the band.

Interviewer: Graeme Baty

Phase Back on Track #4 ~ Transcendence

Transcendence came into being, out of the first bunch of ideas I’ve been hoarding and for a while there was just the first progression standing there lonely along with the first verse…

Touching ground, held by an unseen bound / for western star drags me way to far / to find you my love, to build a connection above / feels so strong, can΄t be wrong

Although it was on of Phase΄s friends favourites, I quickly abandoned the song, it being unable to express me really, even-though I have put these things on paper.

 

In hindsight I΄d say the song revolves around the highs from idealising and the lows from degrading some long distance romance, something that I didn΄t find quite appealing to identify with, so I never really strongly believe in it maybe… I don¨t know…

We would include the number regularly on our practising routine, but it only made it once on a live set-list, in Syria the month after the album was out, and I remember a bloke talked to me out of the venue after the gig and said it¨s a great song and it΄s so Porcupine Tree of ours and I was like ¨This is rubbish, we are not doing it again!¨. I still love the solo and the accompanying bass line to be fair…

Speaking of Syria we΄ve created a TEE for our 5 years anniversary of the gig and we run a fundraiser. The design was named ¨Western Star¨after the song΄s opening line.

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Like I mentioned people loved this song and one of the talented admirers of it, Anna Papyan, is including it regularly on her live sets… You should check her out because she is really great!

Phase – Amethyst review by Tom Hollingworth

 

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Phase – ‘Amethyst’ –  Review

Phase – ‘Amethyst’ –  Review
[2014.06.03] Tom Hollingworth
For NARC Magazine Demos – July Edition



Phase’s song Amethyst creeps across the ears like an arachnid’s silhouette; a king of fear. Thanos Grigoriou’s vocals snarl over slow mixolydian chords as brutish drums march the beast forward. Though the purple stone of the song’s namesake traditionally protects against intoxication, the various distortions colouring the mix, as well as overlaid discordance, creates the effect of the nemesis. The bass enforces these tensions using surprising notes to underlay the chordal harmonies before falling back to the root. The track recoils in a swirling break before a thrashing snare reignites the rage to the finish.

It is unfair to compare a solo bedroom-studio effort against complex projects involving a team and multiple stages of production, and this month’s submissions originate from these disparate worlds of support, but the end result must be my only guide, and this month, it is Phase’s revelling in magnitude with their track Amethyst that warrants the most attention. From the weighty metal riffs, to the spacious reversing acoustic instrumental; from the ghostly chorus harmonies to the intense arabic strings, this track charted a great panorama.

A Dim Western Star and the Red Crescent

It’s our five years anniversary of our concert in the Syrian capital… Right in the heart of Old Damascus… Although we’ve been observing the situation there closely, regardless of the media’s intermittent coverage, from the very beginning; we’ve never used our audience’s emotional response to drag attention, or internet micro-fame on us by making sentimental statements of how deeply we feel for our Syrian brothers and sisters from our comfortable couches like some slimey daft C@%^$ have done provocatively…

From beautiful Helen’s golden stare to Franz Ferdinand‘s assassination and the first blood on the protests against the Syrian regime as part of the “Arab Spring” in early 2011, people have been very inventive on initiating bloody conflicts when it comes to power exchange and control… We are not political analysts so we won’t bore you more with our “big -lay- opinions” citing thing’s we have half read in papers between metro stations. The thing is people are dying and children have been brutally murdered while they were having lunch with their parents, and the civilised west would fairly denounce them with full conviction, as “horrific war crimes” and they’d sleep in clear conscience, or they’d really care for a week because of a viral twitter post… Bollocks…

We won’t bore you with how great humanitarian beings we are, so if you happen to like the music and wanted a piece of merchandise, you can order our anniversary TEE designed by Mohamed Osman, All of the money we make will be donated to the Syria Relief, Refugee Crisis Appeal! Honestly though… If you feel like donating directly by yourself, you’d make lots of people happy, so use this link here or any other organisation you have previously researched on and it doesn’t look like a scam…

 

P.S. The two-week campaign has finished, if you want a T-shirt with the Western Star design you should go to http://phase.gr/merch/product/western-star-82705/

 

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Phase Amethyst Handwritten Lyrics

Phase Back on Track #15 ~ Amethyst

The main riff to Amethyst came into being during an evening we’ve been staying in a friend’s house with another mate of ours, chilling while the exam period was on for the course we’ve been all attending at the time (all three of us dropped out of, but that’s another story). I was digging my mate’s guitar as we were chatting, basically trying to remember a part I had previously come up with, to be used as an interlude to “Homeseek Dark Blues“. Messing around with a strange tuning (F# A F# G B E), the idea was for it to match the song’s root note, while the guitar would resemble in a way, an instrument from Ionia (Asia Minor).

The song lyrics are about the human condition’s tragedy again and the drama turbulent relationships bare, focusing on the hope of “making it work”, despite of the damage-done, rather than crying over a long lost relationship like “Remnants” does.

Amethyst’s title comes from the greek myth that wants the homonym virgin getting crystalised to be protected from the Persian imported hedonist god of intoxication, Dionysus.

Marios who was a fan of the debut album long before he ended up playing with us, was encouraging me to write a song that could match “Ibidem” on a songwriting level, contradicting his former idea of us avoiding having previous songs as blueprints or following recipes, so I guess I subconsciously granted his wish in a way with it. Having similar hooks for outbreaks where the song climaxes and ending up to a totally different outro after an instrumental bridge that transforms the tension that is created throughout the verses…

I had brought in the rehearsals the two parts and Damos came up with these fantastic bass lines, making me ashamed for thinking I used to be a good bass player for years, like he always effortless does, and figured the rest of the parts in the rehearsal space.

Although we weren’t satisfied with the production -again-, having so much going on on the same bands of frequencies, the song still managed to draw rave reviews and it has a brilliant lyric video accompanying it, created by Afsoon Shahriari who is also responsible for the single’s artwork along with loads of art, of all sorts for Phase. It’s a real shame that Amethyst never made it to any of our setlists as of yet, as I think it is a huge song…

 

The Wait reviewed on Noizy.gr

During an interview we conducted with Phase a while ago, they were telling us a bunch of things about “The Wait”. They said it was a “Phase” of recordings and various procedures, that it was basically a concept album in its own unique way and that they were actually… loving it! Well, it’s a good thing to talk about an album, however, the real story starts off when you are listening to the songs. We can work on possible scenarios as much as you like, yet when it comes to music, the main concern is music itself.

When I got to listen to it… Actually, when the first notes blasted out, I caught myself thinking like “Oooooh, that’s good, it’s more Paradise Lost-ish this time”! Yeah, right! This album is so multi-leveled, you can’t help but admit it’s some sort of a collection, featuring a bouquet of bands! The way of expression and songs presentation is amazing and it will occupy your minds and souls for quite some time.

One could say that “Magical Thinking” is the bastard child of Paradise Lost and Monster Magnet… Sure, why not? And then, when you are convinced you have the label ready for the boys, “Point Of You” hits the speakers and… What now? Kyuss flirting with Goth? And then “Sowing Scorn” is on… Black, poisoned, filled with a theatrical extravaganza. And that voice colour… With that nose-y touch… Is it me or the way it sounds is driving us to Smashing Pumpkins? That’s another story I guess…

Amethyst” is greeting us directly from Seattle! Yes, sir-A, the association is that simple! As for “Remnants”… Amazing inspiration, indescribable feeling and a dreamy shade of darkness! And when “Reprise” is on… Losfer words for this one; the accordion intro is exquisite, the Phase mobile is leaving ground as we speak… Voice is a Floyd pilgrim and the method of words coming out is most impressive.

For all those of you out there… I don’t have a clue whether they’re gonna be the new The Mars Volta, I don’t know what’s in stock for these guys. What I can tell – and write down – is that we are listening to an album which will make pay attention, listen very closely and admire the boys for good!

Originally posted here: http://www.noizy.gr/index.php?option=com_muscol&view=album&id=850

Thanos Grigoriou of Phase speaks to NE:MM ahead of the band’s Music Lounge, Stockton gig on 16th May 2015

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Our Editor was recently approached by a Newcastle based rock band ‘Phase’ about the possibility of featuring them on our blog. He tells me that he hadn’t heard of the band so looked them u on Wikipedia. This is what he read “a UK-based rock band formed in Larissa, Greece in 2003…. According to Reverbnation’s charts, Phase is ranked 1st nationwide in Greece. Phase climbed on #12 of Billboard’s fastest rising acts powered by Next Big Sound in the week of June 14th 2012.”

I think he was a little intrigued about why the band had made Newcastle their home so I was asked to have a chat with vocalist Thanos Grigoriou ahead of the band’s upcoming gig in Stockton on Tees at Music Lounge.

I first asked whether all band members hailed originally from Greece.

“We are Damos, Adam, Vasilis and myself Thanos. Phase used to be an all…

View original post 815 more words

Phase Back on Track #2 ~ Perdition

The very first song we finished, the first to rehearse and the first to play live. The most discussed one and the most characteristic of our fairly unique style.

Just not to be repeated:

”Back in 2004, when I tried to form the band with my good friend Chris Gioldasis and decided to write new songs, I brought a few of my ideas some of which evolved to what “The Smile” or “Next Illusion to Fade” is nowadays or even more songs still to be recorded and in return he showed me a sitar melody he composed inspired from a video game we was playing at the time. I went back home and developed a song out of it and to make the story short the song was “Perdition””

(you can find the rest of the excerpt here)

I had finished the lyrics all at once while in the past I was finding the process quite overwhelming and up till then quite fruitless. I recall a saying a good friend and local hero, who everyone with aspirations around the music field looked up to, telling me back then; something like:  ‘don’t waste your time trying to write but use it to experience something to write about’. And fortunately or not it appears as if I subconsciously took the advice and stepped into that endless fire without taking the precautions. To be fair, the exact quote was more like you have to have experiences in order to write something but I translated it to its imperative form.

Having no previous experience in writing lyrics at the time, I just had let the song unfold itself, like David Byrne says songs do, and take me where it had to… Just like free writing on André Breton’s surrealism or Sigmund Freud‘s psychoanalytic theory. It comes out through you, so it must have something to say about you and your worldview. Then with art the questions are if can people relate to that or not ad if it can make their view fuller… If it’s the last case you’ve won…  Maya Angelou once wrote: ‘A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.’ but beautiful as this may seem, I’d say on most occasions birds sing because they are high and/or want to get laid. We are more than that… The modern Greek word for song τραγούδι (tragoudi) derives from ‘tragedy’ that according to Nietzsche it is the highest form of art. In these small brief works we are called to present the small tragedies of the human experience for people to compare themselves with and affirm and celebrate their existence through it. Not to mention what recent studies revealed about sad songs and get further carried away and make this even bigger than it was meant to be.

Not to kill the goose that lays the golden egg but the song is partly inspired by Pythagoras‘ analogy of life compared to a fair as in festival.

The song remained unfinished for quite a while, until I met Alex through the course we were doing together, and he added the trippy arpeggiators in the background as well as the lead solo.

  • It was the first song we’ve rehearsed as a full band back in 2008 and it features in every show ever since. On our unplugged shows its opening verse features, often slightly altered, as part of the acoustic version of the Smile.
  • It’s the only song so far that was mixed and mastered by someone other than our-selves, since we thought ”fuck it, we can do it and take all the blame on us…” Namely it was Vangelis Yalamas who did it at Fragile studios (in late 2009), where the vocal tracks for the song were also recorded. Duncan Patterson that features in it’s parent album also has recorded some stuff for Ion there. This song’s version can be heard on Perdition single on Spotify.
  • Perdition was a part of a Microsoft‘s marketing campaign called Playlist 7 that used artist’s music to promote Widows 7. We just accepted the gig to make things more official teaming up with the software developing colossal and create further cross-linking that would discourage newer bands that would covet the band’s name from claiming it. Let alone the cash… Money isn’t a end itself for us, but a man’s got to eat! It was released under this particular program, on February the 15th, 2010 right after our second full-band gig ever, about 10 moths before In Consequence‘s release.
  • The cover Aris Liapis has done, features the beautiful Amber Jackson as another Alice Through the Looking Glass that features the min/max/close buttons on the top right corner and the frame and surface is blurred in the same fashion Windows 7 windows do when they are not in the foreground.
  • Even though my cousin Dim and drummer at the time is listed as recording the drum tracks as a sign of good-will for joining the band, it was me and Alex who thought of most of the rhythms. I was responsible for Perdition and we retreated to friend and old bandmate Spiros Anyfantis‘ help for a drummers touch i this one.

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Phase Back on Track #20 ~ Birthday Song

It all started an evening I was hanging out with the Saint on his folks’ basement where we used to play and I told him about an idea I’ve been having for a while, writing a Birthday Song that would be more like the introspective kind of thing more than anything and he came up with that amazing progression of beautiful chords and we finished the thing at that instance.

Recording the song was simply hilarious, since it took us like 20 minutes to record the whole thing and about an hour lighting up candles, blowing them out, applauding, cheering and chanting which went terribly wrong, hence the Lynchian effects in the intro. Not to forget to mention the hopes we’ve put on ending up with some lawsuit , for using happy birthday tune which still isn’t public domain, that would kickstart our career but it never happened… Just joking…

Damos, took over arranging some strings and putting down some killer basslines like always and here it goes Birthday Song, the last track on our second album, that made its way to the Wait even if it wasn’t to our original intentions to be a part of it.

Interview with Artistic Echoes [UK] – Phase / Ghost of Rockstars past

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Artistic Echoes Recently had the pleasure of interviewing Phase

Could you tell us a bit about the story behind Phase how did you get started?

Phase was based on an idea I had back in 2004, when I started gathering sonic and lyrical ideas which evolved into songs that were put on shows and record only 4 years later, when the first fully functional instance of Phase was put together. Line up changed for good in 2011 when real old friends joined, rather than people that hanged out with me seasonally and made the band their own.

Who influences you, who inspired you to get up on stage and perform?

Ghosts of rockstars past are a good platform to form our trojan horse into the audience’s consciousness. We are influenced by beautiful conversations, drama, philosophy and our own genuine way of thinking. It was 80’s metal bands that inspired us to pick up instruments and perform, but we’re keeping on being influenced, and influence significant artists we encounter with… And it’s a real blessing, we wouldn’t be able to predict that we’d be in such a position during our teens.

 

What is the most interesting venue that you have played at?

Every single one has a great significance to us, but I’ll say Zodiac in the old city of Damascus is the most important. It’s closed indefinitely, and I don’t even know if it’s bombed or not nowadays…

What has been your most memorable moment as a performer so far?

Each moment we have felt genuine connection with the audience is etched upon our memory. It’s really an honour when you feel embraced by people’s appreciation and/or love after some particularly intense sets.

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Your videos have quite distinct imagery, who creates them?

You are most likely reffered to the beautiful work done on “A Void” by an amazing artist called Afsoon Shahriari, after she fell in love with our output and she really added up in enchansing it with monumental artworks.

What do you have planned for the rest of the year? Anything big coming up next year?

We are planning to record at least a new album and an “EP”. We have already material, working titles and everything. Hopefully, if everything goes well, it won’t take us as long as it took us for the previous one… Eventhough its title was a great alibi for its big delay.

Where can people catch you live next?

On January the 22nd we are in Newcastle, UK. Some dates for the continental Europe are being cooked, as well as a small UK tour that’s on talks for quite a while now, but we are not planning to kill ourselves in order to get dates booked.

Where can people find out more about you?

On www.phase.gr they can find links to the most important social sites we are maintaining a profile on; Wikipedia I guess, and of course our interview and review archive at www.phaseship.com.

Michael Chisholm
January 2015
Aristic Echoes

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