Hello Nicholas! "The Age of New Delirium" was released few months ago. What kind of feedback do you get so far from the fans and the press?
Actually a very warm and positive one. The reviews are very favourable and enthusiastic and we have to thank everybody dearly for that. The lp was included in many lists of the top Greek indie albums and the Greek internet media and the radio stations played and hailed many of our songs.
You guys seem to work The Bittersweet videos in every detail. What do you want to express when visualizing a Bittersweet song?
Thank you. Yes, it’s true, we always look very much after our videos because we want to visualize our inner thoughts and artistic expressions. We want our videos to be funny and arty, plausible but food for thought as well. I have to thank the very skilled directors who worked hardly to make this ambition materialize.
What do you prefer the most: playing live or being in the studio?
Oh, tough question. Both, I guess. They give me the same joy. The studio is creating and the stage is expressing, conveying, having fun and letting out.
Are you the only member of the band who composes music and writes lyrics for The Bittersweet and why?
Yes, actually I am the only one who does. It was a very conscious decision when I started the band back in 2007, because I felt I had many things in my mind and I wanted to express them the way I felt it.
Sometimes democracy in bands helps a lot, sometimes it destroys them. My opinion. Trust me, otherwise I’m a very democratic person! I’d been in many bands before deciding to follow my path. It was not an instant decision. It was based in experience.
I hate labels put to music, but at least it's a means of communication. So, how would you label your own band to someone who hasn't listened to your music yet?
I totally agree with you. I thoroughly despise labels and musical styles. Gun in head, I would say we are an indie psychedelic rock band with a strong adoration for progressive rock. But…it’s only rock and roll man!
Is “The Age of New Delirium” a concept album? Please let us know more about the lyrical content of the album.
It didn’t start life consciously as a concept album, but midway through I realized there was a strong thread connecting the themes of the songs. It has a lot to do lyrically with the financial and political crisis in Greece at the beginning of the previous decade. The songs of the album are composed nearly 10 years ago…don’t ask me why.
But I think the chaos, the turbulence, the mayhem, the agony and the fear expressed in the lyrics apply very successfully to the current Covid-19 crisis. By the way, sending our love and compassion to Italy. Stay strong fellas!
The album also deals a lot with isolation, abandonment and love. It’s a claustrophobic album I feel. And of course very delirious!
Why did you choose to use the English language in The Bittersweet? Why not Greek?
From a very young age there was a hell of a lot of Anglophone music in the house, due to my parents’ sonic preferences, especially my mothers’. So I was accustomed to singing in English and I built my singing style on the English language. It has something genuinely and innately musical, and sounds and rhymes fantastically. I also wanted our music to be heard universally.
No chance with the Greek Language.
It’s a matter of expression and personal decision. I do love my language very much of course. One of the first in the world!
How do you compose a song for The Bittersweet and what inspires you to do it?
Mostly it’s first the chords strummed on any kind of guitar or played on the piano. Then comes the melody and then the phrasing. And last come the words, based on the phrasing and the rhythm of the music.
The inspiration could be anything, from personal feelings to vague psychedelic issues and existential matters.
I have a love for the absurd and the trippy. But I crave mundane, everyday life feelings as well - love, pain, joy.
What is the message you want to spread to the people with your music?
An encouragement of thought and soul-searching. I suppose. Be arty, be conscious, be introspective, don’t always go for the easy choices. And be yourselves. Dig out and you’ll find treasures waiting for you.
How do you feel everytime you hold a release of yours in your hands?
I think you can imagine the feeling…ha ha ha. It’s unbelievable, lifts you in heaven, it’s the moment all you’ve been working for in life become palpable, worth for and true, your baby in your hands!
It is like a birth - and we , the proud parents , boast with joy!
Fantastic feeling, heals the soul.
What equipment/instruments do you use?
Fender Stratocaster, Rickenbacker and Gibson SG guitars, Fender Jazz bass, Roland piano and keyboards, Sonor drums and Paiste cymbals. Fender Champ and Orange amplifiers.
How did you meet the rest members of the band? Please introduce them.
Some of them where my friends and relatives, others colleagues of mine and some where my students (I professionally teach guitar and theory)!
The BitterSweet are :
Kontonikas Constantinos – bass guitar
Gkoufas Antonis – guitars
Mexis Costas – piano and keys
Zelelidis Chris – drums
Alavanos Nicholas – guitars and vocals
What is the progress you have made as a band since your first album?
I’d like to think that the progress is enormous. I’ve really found myself as a composer through the years and I’ve stabilized my composing approach, which I think helps the tracks sound more sincere, fresh and true.
Our first compositions where a little over - elaborate. With exceptions , of course.
There is an honesty in the new songs, an honesty that comes with age and experience.
Which bands/artists are your inspirations?
The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, Nick Cave, Radiohead, David Bowie, Caravan, The Doors, Fleetwood Mac early era, Genesis, The Cure, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Roxy Music, The Smiths, J.S.Bach, Bill Evans, Brian Eno, The Beach Boys, to name a few…
lease name us the best Greek bands, in your opinion, that we should definitely check out.
Verbal Delirium, Methexis, Theo Nt and Electric Litany are some of the new bands you should check out.
As for the older bands that I favor much more, I would strongly recommend Raining Pleasure, Τρύπες, Aphrodite’s Child, Dionisis Savvopoulos and Manos Hadjidakis.
What are your future plans for The Bittersweet?
We were in the process of recording our 3rd lp, entitled “September’s Sons”, when the disastrous Corona Virus crisis made us abandon all our plans for the moment and stay home and safe.
As soon as things get back to normal, we will resume recordings and live shows for the promotion of our work, in Greece and abroad.
Sending love and strength to all!