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Re: Eitzel greek album details

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  • Carl Abraham Zimring
    --On Monday, December 2, 2002 4:09 AM -1100 Chris Hill ... The general idea of it merits a buy for me! Here s an interview with the guy who
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 2, 2002
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      --On Monday, December 2, 2002 4:09 AM -1100 Chris Hill <chillout@...>
      wrote:

      > 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.

      Carl Z.

      ***

      MANOLIS FAMELLOS THE GREEK CONNECTION BEHIND MARK EITZEL'S " THE UGLY
      AMERICAN "


      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 /
      LINGUISTIC BARRIER?

      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
      COLLABORATION?

      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
      hope.

      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
      OVERSEAS AUDIENCE?

      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
      task?
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