--On Monday, December 2, 2002 4:09 AM -1100 Chris Hill <chillout@...
> http://www.tonguemaster.co.uk/newreleases.htm Some nice
> photos at the follow-on link inside the blurb. No track
> listing that I saw, aside from "Jenny", "Last Harbour",
> and "Western Sky". But the last one alone merits a buy,
> for me.
The general idea of it merits a buy for me! Here's an interview with the
guy who got Eitzel to do the album, courtesy of the site Chris cited.
MANOLIS FAMELLOS THE GREEK CONNECTION BEHIND MARK EITZEL'S " THE UGLY
TONGUE MASTER caught up with arranger and composer MANOLIS FAMELLOS who was
the man behind the scenes. FAMELLOS had the huge responsibility in
preparing his motley crew of Greek musicians, ensuring that they
familiarised themselves with an alien (to them) material and orchestrating
a project fit for a world renowned cult singer songwriter. So without ever
having met MARK EITZEL, it must have been a daunting undertaking for a
musician far removed from the UK/US alternative music scene. To expand
things further we asked him all about the recording of the " Ugly American
" (which has already been - lazily - dubbed as the " Greek Album " by the
industry hacks) and the chemistry between him and MARK EITZEL.
TM-HOW WAS IT WORKING WITH MARK EITZEL? WAS THERE A MAJOR CULTURAL /
MANOLIS FAMELLOS - Our English (my band-mates and myself) might not be so
great, but in the end we got along fine! Mark is unpredictable but also
hilarious and from an early stage he got the central gist of things. Our
aesthetic approach to the material - I could say - was quite close to what
he had in his mind?
TM-HOW HARD WAS IT SITTING DOWN AND SELECTING TRACKS FROM 13 OR SO ALBUMS?
DID YOU AND EITZEL HAVE A MUTUAL AGREEMENT FOR WHAT TO DO OR WAS THERE A
BEHIND THE SCENES TUG OF WAR?
MF- We started with the intention to record an EP, the idea of album
materialised during the proceedings. I want to believe we had a " smooth
operation " and a good interpretation with the 5 first tracks we tackled
before we met Mark Eitzel. When the final results started to emerge during
the rehearsals we decided to proceed towards an album status, just because
there were numerous ideas for many more songs and it would have been a
shame not to try them out.
TM-OBVIOUSLY MOST PEOPLE IDENTIFY THE BOUZOUKI INSTRUMENT WITH GREEK MUSIC.
HOWEVER YOU HAVE DELVED FAR DEEPER INTO THE GREEK MUSICAL TRADITION BY
INTRODUCING AN ARRAY OF DIVERSE " ROOTSY " INSTRUMENTATION. HOW HARD WAS IT
FOR YOU TO PLAN WHAT TYPE OF " GREEK STYLE " TO PAINT YOUR CHOSEN TRACKS?
MF- I think that each song in its own way dictates which instrument is
suited as long as you provide the freedom for it to " talk to you ". We
were lucky because we worked with some musicians who had an abundant
knowledge of different instruments and the construction.
TM-THERE WAS A RUMOUR THAT THE ALBUM WOULD LEAN TOWARDS A REMBETICO [Heavy
Blues 1930's] STYLE ADAPTATION, BUT IN THE END YOU ADOPTED A FAR MORE
TRADITIONAL AND LYRICAL APPROACH. HOW DO COME TO THIS DECISION?
MF- Look, for me traditional or revolutionary music does not exist, neither
as a conventional or anti conventional approach. All kind of music
constitutes these concepts but they also refute and overtake them. Each
music style is revolutionary as long as it reflects its inner beauty and is
traditional in the sense that it doesn't root at zero level but at its
chosen time. So we did what we felt like - and that is as simple as that.
TM- YOU HAVE RE-RECORDED " JENNY " & " LAST HARBOUR ", WHICH TO MANY EITZEL
FANS ARE SONGS THAT HAVE A - ONE & ONLY ONE - ULTIMATE ORIGINAL VERSION.
("THE HOLY GRAIL OF AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB SONGS"). AREN'T YOU WORRIED ABOUT
PEOPLE CRYING " SACRILEDGE "?
MF- Oh, thankfully I am oblivious to this, otherwise I would have rethought
everything?. Haha! Now I think it is too late for things to change.
TM-HOW DO YOU THINK FANS WILL REACT TO THIS ALBUM? AN UNNECESSARY EXCURSION
OR AN EXOTIC DELIGHT?
MF-What can I say? I have not met Eitzel fans abroad apart from the ones in
Greece. Nevertheless any excursion - even in the worst case scenario -
isn't unnecessary. I believe that for all great artists, even their "
mistakes " are interesting!
TM-YOU HAVE A CAREER OF YOUR OWN IN GREECE HAVING RECENTLY WORKED WITH
RESPECTED COMPOSERS GEORGE DALARAS & MIKIS THEODORAKIS. WHAT DO YOU THINK
THE GREEK PUBLIC - WHO ISN'T FAMILIAR WITH MARK EITZEL - RECIEVE THIS
MF- The Greek public, it seems, greets with a cautionary attitude anything
that is new and anything that cannot be pigeonholed at a first listen. Like
every public it believes it has the need to feel secure in what it has
dished out to them. I from my side do the best I can to maintain the
element of surprise but time is always essential for new musical efforts.
Thankfully time is with our side.
TM-YOU ARE OBVIOUSLY AN AMERICAN MUSIC CLUB / MARK EITZEL FAN. WHAT DO YOU
THINK IS HIS MOST UNDERRATED ALBUM?
MF- I do not know what level of success each of his albums has had in the
past apart from what Mark Eitzel himself has told me. Here in Greece, the
known " few & blessed " fans, always eagerly followed his progress, but
thankfully they only focused on its content and not on what critical or
commercial appeal it had abroad. From the 1980's when I first bought
American Music Club until today, Eitzel for me, is still a secretive, well
loved and undoubtedly an influential artist keeping his loyal public
entranced. I do not really pay much attention to reviews. I believe most
reviewers love the reviews more than the music. I prefer the music!
TM-DO YOU THINK YOUR BAND COULD PERFORM THESE SONGS - WITH EITZEL - AS A
LIVE PERFORMANCE? ANY PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
MF-Yes, it is undoubtedly an interesting challenge. I would like to expand
on other compositions and different versions as much as we already have, I
TM- UNFORTUNATELY MANY PEOPLE THINK OF GREEK MUSIC & THINK OF THE AWFUL
DAYS OF " CHEESY " MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD DEMIS ROUSSOS & NANA MOUSKOURI. THIS
HAS STIGMATISED ANY POSSIBLE CREDIBLE IMAGE OF GREEK MUSIC. DO YOU BELIEVE
THERE IS A HEALTHY MUSIC SCENE TODAY IN GREECE THAT COULD INTEREST AN
MF- There is definitely a scene. In a certain way I believe that somebody
has to be national to be international. As long as there is agony, soul
searching, and an open mind. And that we don't keep re-hashing a sterile
and uninspired " tradition ", but we always search for ways to bring this a
step further to our current day, to our daily life, open to all sorts of
influences. That is how - I believe - music essentially survives.
TM- APART FROM MARK EITZEL, WHAT OTHER MUSICIANS FROM THE UK OR US ARE AN
INSPIRATION TO YOU?
MF- There are too many! As I stated before in the Anglo-Saxon world it is
so simple and natural to extend your history within the boundaries of the
current frame and happens so many times with spectacular maturity without
any self doubt or hesitation - like i.e. Beck. Here (in Greece), the music
(and not only) our history is full of gaps, turbulence and divisions which
makes the game a much more difficult affair. Sometimes it can be
interesting challenge for us but without any doubt a much more difficult