Greek Blues Scene: Interview with The Yesterdaze Blues Band - They stand loyal to this timeless music

"The Blues is the only music which shows how real life is without fake dreams."

The Yesterdaze Blues Band: Present Truths

The Yesterdaze Blues Band is a blues band from Loutraki, Greece. The band was formed by Kostis Boznos (lead guitar, vocals), George Boznos (bass guitar) and Takis Likomitros (drums). “Yesterdaze” was the name of a column in a Greek music magazine and describe the music style that play. They came together because of their love for the blues and rock’n’roll. Having their own songs, they also play covers by great blues and rock’n’roll artists like B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Eric Clapton and Elvis Presley. "We just try to play the music that we love well." 

"We just try to play the music that we love well. As a band we try to have a good sound because sound is the most important thing in music, isn’t it?"     Photos by Nikos 'Porcupine' Pavlou

They stay loyal to this timeless music which touches the heart and soul of every human being. "The blues is a type of music with passion and authenticity, music of the soul and people in our country live their joys and sorrows with strong feelings and passion. This is definitively a type of music that can express us." Kostis, George and Takis talks about the band, the past and future of Blues, Rembetiko and local scene.

Interview by Michael Limnios

When was the first time you felt the need to play the blues? And what does the blues mean to you?

Kostis: We always liked Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. We cover some of their songs on our gigs. When we “dug deeper” we found out that those two were influenced by bluesmen like B.B. King, Albert King and Muddy Waters. That’s when we discovered the blues and soon it became our favorite music.

The blues means to me sincerity and feeling. It is real life set into music.

George: The first time that I felt the need to play the blues was when I listened to a blues anthology which had the best songs by Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. It was the first time when I felt the energy, the passion and authenticity which blues music has. The blues is the best way for me to express my absolute feelings. It is the only music which can allow somebody to express a bad or even a happy feeling with the same power and energy.

Takis: From the very first time I listened to it, many years ago. I felt the blues expressed me and I wanted to get to know this music. The blues is a way of life.

What characterize the Yesterdaze Blues Band philosophy and sound? Why did you choose that name?

Kostis: There’s no great Yesterdaze Blues Band philosophy. We just try to play the music that we love well. As a band we try to have a good sound because sound is the most important thing in music, isn’t it?

“Yesterdaze” was the name of a column in a Hellenic (Greek) music magazine called “Pop & Rock”. That’s where we got our name. Later we found out that there was another band called “The Yesterdaze”, so we changed it to “The Yesterdaze Blues Band”. With this name we also describe the music style that we play.

"The blues is about reality. It knows no boundaries, no nationalities and no skin colors. It is an international language which everyone can speak and understand."

What are the most memorable jams and gigs you’ve had? Which memory makes you smile?

Kostis: We had our most memorable gig in our hometown’s central square a year ago. It was February and it was freezing. I remember I couldn’t feel my fingers but we played a good show. There’s a video of that gig on Youtube, with us playing “Born Under a Bad Sign”. The memory of that day still makes me smile.

George: I believe that the most memorable gig which we have had was when we played at a small club in Korinthos. The club with a capacity for 80 people was full. In spite of the club being small the atmosphere was cozy, which allowed us to play comfortably without any stress and we were able to arouse the audience to the point where everyone was up and dancing the whole time we performed.

The memory which makes me smile is when we played at a local festival last winter. It was a very cold and windy night. My fingers were so frozen but we played all our songs with twice the speed because we needed to warm up. It was funny because we didn’t want this, but all the songs we played sounded correct and even more beautiful. To this day we continue to play our songs with the same tempo with which we played that night.

Takis: Every live has its memories. You always remember your first live because you see the audience’s reaction for the first time. Because the reaction was positive, we knew that we were doing the right thing.

Are there any memories from recording and show time which you’d like to share with us?

Kostis: My memories from the recording session we did last August are memories of hard work, excitement for being in a studio for the first time and joy for playing the blues.

"The Blues is the only music which can allow somebody to express a bad or even a happy feeling with the same power and energy."

Make an account of the case of the blues in Greece. Why are the Greeks so enamored with the blues?

Kostis: The blues reaches the heart and soul of every human being because of its simplicity and sincerity. It is very straightforward music and describes the real problems, worries, hopes and feelings of all people. It’s not only about heartache, it is joyful music too.

The blues is about reality. It knows no boundaries, no nationalities and no skin colors. It is an international language which everyone can speak and understand. That’s why people in our country are also enamored with it.

George: Nowadays, fortunately, we can see an increase of groups which play the blues. Moreover, there are a lot of radio programmes, sites on Internet and clubs which support and promote the blues. Furthermore, there are two groups, Blues Wire and Blues Cargo, which can inspire a musician or a group to play the blues. My opinion is that these groups are not only the best in Hellas but on an international level.

In my opinion, people in Hellas (Greece) are so enamored with the blues because it has the same social roots with our traditional music “rempetiko”. Moreover, the blues is a type of music with passion and authenticity, music of the soul and people in our country live their joys and sorrows with strong feelings and passion. This is definitively a type of music that can express us.

Takis: There was always a blues audience in Hellas but in recent years it has really increased, partly because there are new bands in our country that play the blues really well.

What mistakes in local blues scene would you wish to correct? What are your hopes and fears for the future?

Kostis: Every blues band in Hellas has to help and support in every possible way the other bands that exist. This doesn’t really happen nowadays and it is a mistake we have to correct. We have to make a strong Hellenic “blues bands” community. When you are on your own you can’t do a lot of things. When you are working with other bands you can do anything.

My hope is that we create music that will be fresh and original and will express the worries, problems and hopes of people nowadays. People need musicians who will speak for them through their songs. There are no fears of mine about the future because I do believe in what we are trying to do as a band through our music.

George: The Hellenic blues scene is very new and small and I cannot find anything wrong. The only thing that I can wish is for all groups to support and help each other which is the only way for the blues to advance.

My fear for the future, in music, is that somebody who has the power will continue to make money by promoting “bad” and “tacky” music. I want to believe that at some point in time people will wake up and fight against this downgrading and will find the quality in music.

Takis: Many mistakes were made in the past. The blues groups were not getting the promotion they deserved and every blues band was trying on its own. This fact is changing little by little. Rempetiko music has the same social roots as the blues. That’s why we, people of our country, feel the blues close to our heart.

"Rempetiko music has the same social roots as the blues. That’s why we, people of our country, feel the blues close to our heart."

How difficult is it to be a blues band outside USA? What are the lines that connect the legacy of Blues?

Kostis: It’s not. We play the blues because we love this music and that’s why people like us. If you are sincere to yourself and you do what you really want to do, people everywhere are going to like it. We wish we could play outside our country, but we know it’s difficult and it’s not only up to us. If fate has plans for it, so be it.

George: It is very difficult. In my country, it is difficult for an audience to listen to a group which plays a kind of music that has lyrics in a foreign language. Moreover, I believe that racism for the blues has not faded yet.

My opinion is that the line that connects the legacy of blues is the necessity to express with sincerity those feelings in your heart and soul.

Takis: Surely it’s not easy. People here listen to different music styles and there are few opportunities for us, but we feel good because we put our effort on the Hellenic Blues scene’s formation.

Why did you think that the blues music continues to generate such a devoted following?

Kostis: The blues is ageless because it is so original, simple and straight to the point. It may change through the years, because the people who play it change, but it will always be and it will always have a devoted following.

George: Because it is the only music which shows how real life is without fake dreams. The songs are sung by their creators because they want to sing about the difficulties of life. It is music which comes from the pain and soul of people. It is authentic music.

Takis: Because it is music that comes from pain, worries, joy and sadness, everything that we all have felt through our lives. The blues is timeless and it is an inspiration for all the following musical movements.

"My opinion is that the line that connects the legacy of blues is the necessity to express with sincerity those feelings in your heart and soul."

What do you miss most nowadays from the old days of blues?

Kostis: I cannot say that I miss anything because I wasn’t there in the old days of the blues. I don’t have a complete picture of what was happening back then. Those were hard times but people created something beautiful and unique through their lives and music. It’s up to us to create something equal, if not better, having them as a guiding light.

George: I didn’t live in the old days of blues so I don’t know, but I believe that nowadays bands which play the blues lack the energy, power and authenticity.

Takis: Unfortunately we weren’t there in the old days of blues when all those great bluesmen still walked on earth, but like those people we believe in blues music and we’re trying for it.

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day?

George: If I took a trip with a time machine I would go to either London or Paris in the sixties because there was a vast revolution on culture and arts, especially on music.

Takis: I would go to the days of Jesus Christ to see the Man who gave me the gift of life and the gift of playing music.

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