Success stories like 1000mods’ are worth relishing. The Greek stoner rock band are one of the foremost examples of independent artists developing a loyal and expanding fanbase on their own terms, with their blend of desert, psych and much else besides capturing admiration with each passing release. Their latest, Youth Of Dissent, reveals a band comfortable in their ability to experiment whilst rooted in familiar terrain, maintaining their grit and flair for melody simultaneously.
We caught up with their drummer Labros as he took a break from band practise to discuss (of course) the impact of Covid, the economics of Greek independent music and more…
We’re assuming Covid would have disrupted practice and such fairly significantly. Have you started coming back to practice recently?
When the lockdown started, of course we didn’t practice for about two or three months, but the last month we’ve been trying to get back to normal – of course that’s not 100% possible, but we’ve managed to do some.
And has there been any impact on upcoming tours for the new album?
Yes, actually we had two tours – one was supposed to happen in May, and the other in June and July, including a lot of festivals. And of course everything is cancelled now, postponed until 2021.
So your new album has an interesting fusion of shoegaze, grunge and stoner rock. Was the expansion and progression of your sound something that’s been planned long-term?
Well, our third album [2016’s Repeated Exposure To…] was already displaying these influences and aspects, but since then we’ve listened to a lot more music of that era, late ‘80s post-punk and grunge. All of this was happening when we were growing up, so we’ve been revisiting these styles – we’ve always had elements, but on this record they took the same importance as the hard rock sound we’d already worked on.
It’s a really mature sound, it suggests a whole world of possibilities for you to travel to in the future. When you say post-punk, which bands are you referring to, like Minutemen and so on?
Yes, and Hüsker Dü as well. As we’ve grown older, we revisited a lot of rock – you know how people have eras in their lives, we’re taking time to look back at the moment. And all of this ultimately combines in the final result.
Talking about desert rock more generally, why do you think that the stoner/desert scene is so big east of the old Iron Curtain? I’ve thought it might have to do with Americanisation before…
I think there are more factors, and I’ll talk mostly about Greece here, but also for the rest of Europe. As Greece was never part of the Soviet Union, so imitating American culture (and I mean that in a bad way) has been part of Greek culture for a lot longer. In general, all the eastern countries in Europe had a little bit of latency with the rock movements through the ‘70s, ‘80s, grunge as well. The American bands that had blown up in the West didn’t come to Greece or the eastern part of Europe, and I think this was a huge factor for musicians from this country – they weren’t heavily influenced by western popular music as much. After that, of course, we have the internet, and perhaps it was too easy to discover new music, and especially bands that weren’t in the mainstream. I think this is the reason that a lot of bands now are influenced by smaller bands. Back in the desert scene days, lots of bands didn’t even tour globally, but in the ‘00s it became so much easier for us to discover them.
So is the internet the driving force behind the Greek independent music scene?
That’s a part of it, but there’s another factor. I think in Greece and Eastern Europe we’re more passionate, and more laid back, and I think that applies well to desert rock.
Right, so it’s an effect as well. Do you reckon the environment plays into that as well? Greece has got some desert-like features.
Yeah, it’s really common to be close to nature in Greece, and that works with our kind of music too.
Staying on Greece here – after the financial crash, the Greek middle class basically disappeared. Did that pose an issue for musicians who needed equipment or venues to play at? This issue is touched on in Greek Rock Revolution.
Fortunately, we started about six years before the crisis, so we’d already accumulated a lot of gear and the band was already on track, basically getting to the point where it’s more than a hobby when the crisis started. But more generally, there were multiple solutions for the Greek scene. An important factor is that most of the scene were in their 20s, and pre-crisis, the most common dream amongst the youth was to finish university, maybe do a Master’s and then find a good job, and live their lives.
This dream was completely destroyed after the crisis, so a lot of people jumped out of this mindset and realised the future is not so bright. People took the attitude of doing something they loved more often, and music is something so many people love but never had the chance or the time to invest in that. So the crisis helped a lot of people to realise that life can change, you know, we can get out of the common route because it can’t be done anymore. And it was also a way to express themselves during the crisis, because a lot of people were affected financially, but also emotionally. So I think another factor was that music is a nice way to express themselves.
It comes like an avalanche. When a band starts to do well, then more people realise that it’s possible, and that makes it easier for more people to focus on music, and gives people a reason to write and record really good music. Although the crisis affected a lot of people, it also made it a bit cheaper to record an album or find used gear, because lots of people wanted to sell their equipment on. All these different elements helped the scene to explode, and as I think I’ve mentioned before, it helped us to book tours and get out of Greece. Ten years ago it was really difficult for a Greek band to go on a European tour, but until Covid, we were getting more and more bands coming out for full tours.
So overall, the ruination that the crisis brought actually allowed you to rebuild and invigorate the culture?
It’s true, especially for the young people – it offers them a way to have fun, gives them an opportunity to do something. Before the crisis, clubbing was the main way young folks spent their Saturday nights, but during the crash lots of people turned onto the Greek bands. They saw that there were thriving scenes just in their local towns, and they changed their perspective and started going to gigs instead.
It sounds like a genuine grassroots culture you got there!
Definitely, the way that we discover new music has focused on Greek bands, not just stoner rock but pop and other underground Greek cultures too.
In a previous interview you’ve mentioned your desire to see a redress of the balance of power in the world – you said you hope for “a more humanistic society powered by solidarity and respect for each other, using all our knowledge and wisdom in order to make people’s lives better”. Is that a common perspective across the band?
Definitely. It’s a common perspective among us, but not amongst the world sadly.
Do you guys identify with a particular political philosophy?
No, we prefer not to think in small boxes, we try to think outside of that. I think labelling your ideology is the same as over-categorising your music, we’re not a fan of either.
You’d rather have the beliefs speak for themselves.
Yeah, for us I think some things are so based in subculture, but others should be globally prevalent. Like we can’t understand how there can still be racism in the world, how can we have evolved this far as a human race and still believe in racism?
Do you feel like Youth Of Dissent, which carries a fairly politically-minded title, has lyrics which directly address these issues?
Usually, Dani [G., vocalist/bassist] writes most of the lyrics but we all contribute. The last album was definitely the most collaborative one, but we’re not so much directly criticising society through our lyrics, rather talking about personal experiences and thoughts, which of course come from the society we live in.
With Covid still raging it makes it a bit difficult to ask about future plans, but do you have anything at all in the works?
Actually we do have two festivals coming in August and September, both small events. One’s in Switzerland and the other is in Bulgaria, but these are the only events that we have this summer, although in Greece a lot of gigs have been and are happening. We think it’s not so smart to play in front of so many people, so we decided to play these two festivals where we think everything is going to be as safe as possible, open air and a really small number of attendees. Of course we want to play the new album live, as fast as we can, and of course financially, for maybe every band, it’s been the worst year ever! But health comes first, so we won’t play events where we can’t be sure they’ll provide the safety and security.
Youth Of Dissent is out now on Ouga Booga and the Mighty Oug Recordings. Order here.
Words: David Burke