Due to the fact that my high school years are inextricably linked to the city of Thessaloniki and its cultural treasures, I was already familiar with the names ‘The Vipervikings’ and ‘Grain of sense’. In fact, these names are written all over promotional EPs and concert t-shirts in my bedroom because yeah, I was 16 and they were two of my fave bands on MySpace. When I discovered they are back with an all-new collaborative project entitled ‘Woolbear’, I was both excited and determined to find out more about it. After spending some good time on their Soundcloud page, I had a lil chat with the artists themselves where we discussed their new album ‘Lunar Operator’ as well as what goes in their current lives.
Everything happened so fast: in almost a year you formed ‘Woolbear’ and you recorded your first LP. Is there any reason for such a rush or just a huge doze of inspiration that had to be expressed?
We would say that it’s kind of both. Our bands, ‘The Vipervikings’ and ‘Grain of Sense’ were planning to enter the studio – we had the same one which we built in 2012 – so it was only a matter of time until someone suggested we do something together, under a new name. All of us were really excited to make a record and as you say, there was a huge doze of inspiration that had to be expressed, so the situation could not be more perfect for the creation of ‘Lunar Operator’. It was very important for us to do this because nobody knew what we were doing the entire year but our families and closest friends and since none of the other two projects were active, we had to somehow earn back the audience before it was too late.
It would be fair to say that, looking back at your work as ‘The Vipervikings’ and ‘Grain of Sense’, the musical fields you guys explored were somehow different. How did you manage to bring together two different musical tastes into such a coherent LP?
We have worked together in the past for various individual projects so the chemistry was there. Also each band was fan of the other so it didn’t take much. When we got together, we didn’t aim for anything in specific, we just wanted to make an album. Somehow we managed to inspire each other in a unique way and as a result we didn’t face any difficulties regarding the composing, producing or mixing of our songs. We guess that through the whole process we subconsciously found a way to communicate and mix our musical backgrounds.
Some of your tracks introduce brand new composition elements (ex. The piano solo in ‘In Coma Berenices”\’), when compared to your previous works. Tell us a few words about that.
We are always trying to evolve as musicians and listen to as much music as we can, though it’s not just music that has an influence on us. We are inspired by many little things in our everyday lives and maybe some of these have helped with these creative decisions. Finally, as mentioned before, we had not been very active with our bands for some time so we didn’t get the chance to show the world how we gradually got from point A to point B.
Mid-twenties, music as a profession, experimental music scene, Greece 2015: how tough is this combo?
Actually, it is a pretty tough combination. The Greek music industry relies solely on local music. Unfortunately, no musician that represents something other than that, can easily survive here. Things are especially difficult for artists like us, with lyrics written in English and music that doesn’t highlight the Greek culture. We love what we do and the difficulty to support it financially in Greece, ails us. In the near future we aim to try our luck somewhere abroad with the United Kingdom being our first choice.
Recently, you performed live at Club-CANN in Stuttgart. Was it the first time you performed for a non-Greek audience?
It was the first time that we performed in Europe, if you don’t count Greece. We had the chance, however, to perform at the ‘Viper Room’ in Los Angeles a couple of years ago with one of our previous projects but our gig in Stuttgart was a completely different experience. Club-CANN is an amazing venue that meets all the necessary requirements for any musician to perform there. Plus, we had the chance to meet and share the stage with great artists from all over the world including Prynum from Germany, Tomy Wealth from Japan and SITE from Czech Republic.
Are there any major differences between Greek and non-Greek audiences of your music genre?
The biggest difference is the analogy of the people that are active and willing to support bands and musicians like us because as we said, the Greek audience of our music genre is not big enough and it is located mainly in the two largest cities of Greece, Athens and Thessaloniki. Another thing that we noticed back in Germany is that people were more willing to buy our album. About half of those who came at our gig bought it even though they paid an entrance fee. Of course we cannot blame Greeks for that. We don’t intend to derogate them but to highlight the economic situation in which we live in, and how differently people behave due to that.
Let us get the inside scoop for Woolbear’s future steps: what should we expect next?
We are soon to announce the release date of our debut album in digital format as up until now it was only available in the form of physical copies which could be bought at our concerts. In addition we are currently putting together a live recording and filming in our studio as well as a tour around Greece to promote ‘Lunar Operator’.