Greek post punk rockers New Zero God continued their charge last year with their EP Under the Influence of Captain Pan Ikatac, featuring the Tomatrax’s runner up for song of the year ‘Shadow of wealth’. Tomatrax caught up with Mike Pougounas, the band’s lead singer, to talk about his latest musical projects.
Where did the EP title Under the Influence of Captain Pan Ikatac come from?
Well, under the current financial circumstances, a lot of people are having panic attacks. Lots of friends of mine are popping pills in order to function… Panic attacks also have to do with the decisions we made in life. When we realize that we didn’t dream of doing what we do today… We wanted something else for ourselves. This is how the title came up… I just added the word captain and changed the spelling a bit to make it look more… adventurous… more fun
What was the inspiration behind the track ‘Shadow of wealth’?
It’s the letter of a soldier dying in a foxhole, in a battlefield of a war made by rich people that live far away, in their safety and their wealth. In the lyrics the soldier realizes that he is dying in vain and his casualty wouldn’t mean anything to the people that planned it
You said that your intention with your last album was to do something completely different to what you’ve ever done before, was this intention present in your latest EP?
With our album “Short Tales & Tall Shadows” I wanted to give a cinematic atmosphere to the listener. “Under the Influence of Captain Pan Ikatac” is different. It is more of a political statement than an atmospheric album. It sonically covers a range from punk rock to industrial goth so I guess we are testing our boundaries
Do you have any ideas on what musical direction you will take for your next release?
We already started recording our next album. It is what I would call “open-minded”… I am sure people will love it although I can’t describe it in a few words
You’ve been about for over a decade, and put out four albums, a stack of EPs and various other releases, is it hard to keep coming up with new material?
Unfortunately the world is falling apart. There is poverty, war, grief, destroyed lives, destruction of the planet… We live in such a shitty planet pretending we, humans, are the sensible creatures… As long as all these bother me I won’t have a problem coming up with new material. I suppose even if the world changed tomorrow and we all lived happily, that would be a good source of creation too
Late last year you played the Flowers of Romance Tribute concert, how did this event come about?
It did very well. The first one took place in Athens and then we had a string of gigs in the country-side that went great. I formed The Flowers of Romance in 1981 and we put out three albums, one EP, and two singles. We played with the Sisters of Mercy and also with New Model Army, and Wayne Hussey (of the Sisters of Mercy / The Mission / Dead or Alive fame) was our producer. We decided with New Zero God to do these shows ‘cause in 2018 it would be 20 years since the Flowers of Romance split
How does playing a concert full of covers compare to playing your own material?
Oh! The Flowers of Romance tracks that we play are all written by me… So it is like revisiting my past… We will add some of them to the New Zero God live show… We even recorded a new version of our “Winter Waltz”…
If you could be on anyone’s tribute album whose would it be?
Never gave a thought to that really… The Cult pops right up my mind now
You host the radio show The Blackout Radio Show with Mike Pougounas, how does hosting a music show compare with making music?
These are two completely different things… Hosting the radio show is listening to what other artists do, pick what you like and present it to other people. It wasn’t my dream to host a radio show. I had been asked if I’d like to do it and thought it sounded like fun… My dream was to make my own music, express myself and publicize it… Making the radio show is fun in different ways than writing my own music
Are there any new artists that have caught your attention courtesy of your radio show?
I like the album “Nothing Feels Natural” by The Priests. Mark Stoermer’s “Filthy Apes and Lions” is my fave these days and I wouldn’t listen to him when he was with the Killers ‘cause I don’t listen to mainstream artists… Lusterlit is a duet from Brooklyn that I discovered thanks to my radio show, and the same happened with Captain of the Lost Waves, a great English troubadour… There are so many that I could go on forever… Savage Cut is a great band from Scotland that they got in touch with me regarding the show and I ended up singing on one of the tracks of their album… Other bands: Panophonic, Eyeball, Buzzbomb, Murderbait, Ummagma, the excellent SPC ECO that anyone will fall in love with on the first note, The Veldt and many others
When writing what comes first, the words or the music?
Sometimes it’s the music and sometimes it’s the words… Most of the times, music comes first
What do you have planned for 2018?
In 2018 we will release a 7” single. We did a cover version of a classic song that I won’t reveal yet, and I am doing a duet with Funkcutter, the singer of the English band Anarchistwood on it… We might put out our new album by the end of the year too… Tomorrow we are having a show for the Greek national TV and then we will play some festivals…
Check out New Zero God’s website to find out more!