Greek Blues Rock band of Phoenix Spell talks about local scene, their dreams, and the legacy of Blues

"Blues Rock is the combination of the soulfulness and heart of the blues with the freedom of rock."

Phoenix Spell: Renewal sounds of past

Phoenix Spell were formed in the fall of 2011, by guitarist Jimmy Liapojim and drummer Nick Kottis, in Athens, Greece. After the arrival of bassist Kospal, the band started its rehearsals to find their own sound. With the add of a fellow singer their first songs began to take shape, but in a few months the frontman's position was open again. After a long research for a new frontman, they ended up with Edi. With Edi's expressive vocals, Jimmy's riffs and solos, Nick's and Kospal's groove and power, Phoenix Spell were complete.

Phoenix Spell's sound is a combination of Rock/Blues with elements of Folk/Country/Alternative music, reaching from smooth and soulful, to hard an' heavy. At the time, the band is focused on live performances, as well as recording demos of their material for an upcomin' LP. The Greek progressive blues/rock band just signed with a Wales music company.

Edi (Lead Vocals); Jimmy Liapojim (Guitars, Backing Vocals); Kospal (Bass, Backing Vocals); and Nick Kottis (Drums). Phoenixs talks about their dreams, Greek Blues Rock scene, and the legacy of Blues.

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was your first desire to become involved in the music and from whom have you have learned the secrets?

Edi: I was too young when I first desired to become involved in music, with many doubts. I liked classical music, I liked theatrical and rock too. Soon I realised singing came natural to me, easy at the beginning, but full of challenges.

Jimmy: I remember listening to Rolling Stones 'Satisfaction' on the news, after their concert in Athens, in 1998. It was the moment that something moved inside of me. But it was 5 years later when, almost by coincidence, I started taking guitar lessons. At that time, I just wanted to learn how to make a single note sound clear! It was later, after listening to the greatest rock and blues artists, when I wanted to learn more and find out what was that made their music so unique. I don't know if there are any 'secrets' in music, but I sure owe a lot to my two guitar teachers, John & Dimitris, who helped me build up my technique and passed on me their knowledge of blues and jazz, first, and then, of rock and metal.

Kospal: Ever since I was a kid I always enjoyed listening to music. When I was about 14, I convinced my parents to buy me a guitar so that I could play my favorite songs. Then I started taking guitar lessons from a blues guitarist, a very good one I think. He taught me all about blues rhythm and jazz patterns that are essential for every musician, I think... He is one of my great influences.

Nick: When I was 15 saw a video of Led Zeppelin performing live. I was so impressed that I began searching for other bands to hear. That's when I realised I wanted to do the same! Listening to Billy Cobham, John Bonham, Dennis Chambers and Buddy Rich helped me improve myself.

"Blues Rock is happiness, sadness, peace, anger, love, pain... It's a way of living."

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does “Blues Rock” means to you?

Edi: Listening to the blues, you always find something new about yourself. I consider it to be very much attached to the troubles people have, but it also gives you the motive to fight, and an exit for your mind.

Jimmy: Playing the blues helps me find answers for the questions I have in my mind. It has been always a way to see things in my life from another perspective. To me, Blues Rock is the combination of the soulfulness and heart of the blues with the freedom of rock.

Kospal: I get the feeling that nobody's perfect and of course I'm not the exception. What I'm trying to say is that by listening to the blues and by playing them, it makes me a better person and a better musician too. This music gives me a certain feeling of freedom and the motivation to change something in this world, and I think blues rock is the band's way to show it.

Nick: It's been a unique experience that helps me build character both as a person and a musician. For me, Blues Rock is happiness, sadness, peace, anger, love, pain... It's a way of living.

How do you describe Phoenix Spell’s sound and what characterize your music philosophy?

Edi: Phoenix Spell has a clearcut sound, fresh and straight. Strong riffs and a sharp voice, our music philosophy.

Jimmy: Phoenix Spell's sound is Blues-based Rock, with elements of Country and British Folk. Some tunes are harder, others are softer. But I really like to hear from others what Phoenix Spell's music sounds to them. We always try to pass the energy of each song to the listener.

Kospal: Well, I'd say it's all about rock n' roll! I think our sound is full of emotion and passion, all our feelings combined. You know, we just love playing our music, even if we're in a basement and we're jamming, just the four of us.

Nick: Raw, powerful, and joyful, with a free groove in it! We want our music to come out naturally and just enjoy it with our souls.

What experiences in your life make you a good musician and songwriter?

Jimmy: First of all, it's the artists I 've been listening to all these years, that have shaped my taste in music and of course the many hours of practicing, that helped me get to the point where I could express myself through the 6 strings of the guitar. We all have experiences that shape us and make us what we are, but it's when you are able to project your personality and inner feelings to your music that makes it special.

Tell me a few things about the story of name. What does “Phoenix” in their music?

Nick: It's the title of one of Jimmy's songs. We found it was a perfect match for our band's name! I think is the immortality, through fire and rebirth, of the Phoenix that everyone is seeking, more or less. We try to achieve that through our music, and maybe we find the 'Phoenix Spell' in this trip.

Which memory from the band makes you smile?

Edi: Recording our first demo, Nick complained his guts hurt, because he was anxious. That made me smile.

Jimmy: The moments we jam together and feel all the energy flow through us.

Kospal: Playing our first gig. I was pretty nervous and I couldn't see the guys because of the lights, and I just kept on playing... and laughing...

Nick: Once we got on stage after having finished a few more drinks and we had some funny moments while playing...

Some music styles can be fads but the blues rock is always with us. Why do think that is?

Edi: Blues rock talks about everything a man worries about. Doesn't matter if he's young or old.

Jimmy: Blues Rock has been always true to its audience. Each song tells a story from the heart. It makes you think more, love more, feel more! That's what makes it so unique.

Kospal: I sometimes think that whatever is worthy of our attention, it will keep going. For example, it's been so many years but we're are still talking about the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry, Eric Clapton and we're still listening to their music everywhere. I don't think it's just a coincidence...

Nick: I believe that's due to its quality and this special feeling you get when you listen to it!

"Nevertheless many new bands choose to play the Blues, and with so many influences from the past only good things can happen."

When we talk about blues, we usually refer to memories and moments of the past. Apart from the old cats of music, do you believe in the existence of real blues rock nowadays?

Edi: The first real Blues bands did something brand new, something really special. They didn't do it to get famous, but to express their point of view. Today we can't say many do that. Nevertheless many new bands choose to play the Blues, and with so many influences from the past only good things can happen.

Jimmy: Sure, the Blues Rock scene is active. It's just the limited opportunities given to new artists to present their work properly. Hope this change comes the next years, and we will be a part of it.

Kospal: It's a tough question. You asked me before about music styles that can be fads. I think nowadays, it's more about what you see and not about what you hear. But, let's be honest, rock n' roll can never die. (Thank you Neil Young)

Nick: Blues are here and will always be. Maybe cause it's mixed with other genres, sometimes we forget what's the root of modern music.

What's the legacy of Blues in world culture and civilization?

Edi: The legacy is about freedom, taking nothing for granted, being everyday life hero and many others.

Jimmy: You see, Blues is all around us even we don't notice that. It affects music since the dawn of the 20th century till today, and music is always linked to personal moments, as well as historic events.

Kospal: After so many years of existence, I believe Blues are a part of our culture and our civilization. For example, blues music has been linked to historical events that shook the world, as there are songs which were linked with a whole generation. "Hey teachers, leave them kids alone"

Nick: Blues has shaped the world music, and still does, and music is linked to people's lives. So the world wouldn't be the same without the blues...

"Greek blues scene is... growing, slowly, but at least it's growing."

What is your music DREAM? Greek Blues Scene is…. Give one wish for the Greek Blues Rock scene

Edi: My music dream is to be able to climb my way up, and let the world hear what I can do. Greek Blues Rock scene needs more genuine ideas. But things are improving...

Jimmy: My dream is to affect people with our songs and inspire them to act for the better.

The Greek Blues scene is out there struggling to make it! I hope it gets to the next level and something good comes out of it.

Kospal: My music dream is to reach people with our music and make them feel what we feel when we listen to it. Greek blues scene is... growing, slowly, but at least it's growing. My wish for the Greek blues rock scene is to learn from its' mistakes and stay together as a whole, cause we need it. Am I thinking big?

Nick: My dream is to dedicate my life to music, and be able to pass the feeling I get while playing to the audience. The Greek Blues scene is hardly surviving! But I wish people would pay more attention to it

What is the “feel” you miss most nowadays from the old days of Blues Rock era?

Edi: Everything is so fast today, I miss the feeling to be able to stop time, have a smoke and listen to good old school Blues music. Not caring about anything else.

Jimmy: It was an era that people where enjoying everything more with their heart. And that passed on to their music. It felt more passionate and true! That's a rule I try to follow.

Kospal: The passion and the emotion that a simple guitar lick could offer you and make you see things from a different perspective. I keep listening to the same old songs and everytime I find myself thinking about something else. Things would be much easier for all of us! (or am I dreaming again?)

Nick: I think what's missing nowadays is the vibe of freedom, energy and passion from the stages. The spontaneity of people is what helped music reach the top!

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