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New Zero God - Interview

Interview with: Mike Pougounas
Conducted by: T.V.

Words from New Zero God's website: "In March 2006, four established musicians met to talk about their musical experiences. After a few drinks and a long journey down memory lane, these performers thought it would be fun to play together again..." The rest is history as the new jewel of post-punk/gothic rock was born. But if we uncover the curtain we find that New Zero God were founded by a legendary Greek musician Mike Pougounas who is active as a musician since early 80's when he at the age of 16 formed the band The Gift, later renamed to The Flowers Of Romance. After disbanding The Flowers Of Romance in 1998 Mike formed the first industrial band coming from Greece, Nexus. In 2005 Nexus disbanded, and a year later Mike Pougounas formed New Zero God along with Nexus members Costas Spanos and Dimitris “Sidheog” Steves. (more info about Mike can be found HERE). After many members changes the current New Zero God line-up is: Mike Pougounas - vocals, keyboards, tambourine, Dimitri "Sidheog" Steves - drums, loops (ex Nexus, ex The Drops), Harris Stavrakas - bass (ex The Flowers Of Romance), Apostolos "MadzTuxedo" Takos - guitars (ex The Drops). Under the monicker New Zero God the band released so far two full-lenght albums: Fun Is A Four Letter Word (2009) and MMXIII (2013), plus some EP's, singles and compilations. Their last single "Destination Unknown" was released in October last year. We had a chat with legendary musician, film director, actor, and dy Mike Pougounas who revealed us many interesting things about New Zero God, his former bands, his life and much more.

T.V.: Mike, lets start with this... You are in the music business for more than 30 years. Where do you find the energy and inspiration to keep going on with it?
There are lots of sources of inspiration around us. The world we live in is made mostly by a criminal fabric and less by kind and gentle deeds. It is a very interesting world, indeed, but it is also a scary one. Scary and fascinating. I am having a wonderful time exploring it. We all should. It gives you the power to go on forever.
T.V.: Last year a new album from New Zero God saw the light of the world, still, how are you satisfied with it?
Mike: I believe MMXIII has great tracks. It served its purpose and we were all happy with it!
T.V.: This year you plan to re-release it as a Greek edition with remastered tracks and one bonus track. Any words about that and why have you decided to remaster those tracks?
Mike: Voe Saint Clare, owner of Secret Sin Records, decided the time had come to focus more on his band, Angels Of Liberty. He explained that in closing the SSR label, we were free to work with another label. A few phone calls later and an agreement was made with B-otherside Records (Greece) for a Greek re-release. One has to know my opinion about album production:  When we were recording Fun Is A Four Letter Word I wanted it to sound raw. We did the same with MMXIII for the English edition of the album. Now, a year later, for the Greek re-release, we had the opportunity to refresh the album production, tweek some knobs, and remix the songs. Our long time friend, musician, and sound engineer, Chris Manolitsis did all that. We changed the front cover, added a track, and made a few changes on the tracklist,...
T.V.: Can we expect to see you on B-otherside Records in the future and are you already working on new album?
Mike: I think we should take one step at a time. The music industry is not as it was in the past and bands are not signing long-term contracts with the labels anymore. On the other hand, we have new songs but they are not recorded yet.
T.V.: Can you reveal us when are you going to start recording new album?
Mike: We will start recording later this year.
T.V.: Just recently a new single "Destination Unknown" was released. Is this the kind of music that we could expect from New Zero God in the future?
Mike: I haven't a clue. Really.

T.V.: MMXIII is quite an unusual name for an album, but at the same time very significant... Is there any deeper meaning in that?
Mike: No. It has to do with 2013. The year that the album was released.
T.V.: How were you satisfied with your previous label Secret Sin Records?
Mike: I believe Secret Sin Records was a very honest label. Like I said we stopped working with them but I am glad to see Voe's band, Angels Of Liberty, doing great.
T.V.: Tell me where do you find the main difference between your first album Fun Is A Four Letter Word and the new one?
Mike: Fun Is A Four Letter Word was more of a post-punk album. MMXIII is Goth-oriented.
T.V.: And how would you compare New Zero God with your former bands The Flowers Of Romance and Nexus? 
Mike: The Flowers Of Romance had an 18 year story with lots of memories, including working with Wayne Hussey and playing with The Sisters Of Mercy and New Model Army. With Nexus I toyed with industrial goth and put out four albums. And now, with New Zero God... we are free to cover every field my former bands covered and even more.
T.V.: If somebody asks you how would you exactly define the musical style of New Zero God?
Mike: I would say that New Zero God is a rock'n'roll band with a very dark twist to it.
T.V.: I'm always interested in how somebody who's making music for such a long time sees and fells the difference between 20 or 30 years ago and now...
Mike: Things changed a lot and things changed fast in the music world. But even with all that, the problems that the songs themselves deal with are still the same. I don't really care if a song I write about people's suffering is going to be released on vinyl, on CD, or as an MP3. The message of the song is still the same and this is where the listener should pay attention: That some people suffer somewhere. Vinyl records, punk rock, cassettes, new wave, post punk, videos, MTV, mini disks, CD players, drum machines, electro music, grunge, rave, trip-hop, hip hop, MP3, internet, the decline of the music industry, yes these were the differences of the vessel that carried the music. But mankind never changed. So many very interesting new technologies but the problems on the planet became bigger. Music didn't change as many people as it should.
T.V.: Tell me, what are your lyrics mostly about?
Mike: My lyrics deal mostly with life and death. Love and hate. Freedom and honesty.
T.V.: Which song from your long career means to you the most and why?
Mike: I think "Reptile Dance" from The Flowers Of Romance album Brilliant Mistakes is my favorite. I clearly described back then the state I am still in.
T.V.: Beside beign a musician you are also a film director. Can you share some words with this occupation of yours?
Mike: I studied as a film director but never made money out of it. To be honest, I acted in more films than I directed. I like cinema. I like a good story. It is nice to see people's dreams take shape.
T.V.: And in which movies have you acted? Any plans in the future in that direction?
Mike: Last year I played in the English movie "Athens Drift", which was directed by Paul Druce. The first movie I ever played was directed by me, back in 1986 and it was titled "Vlad The Demon". In 2008 I was in "Back in Black: The History Is Made By The Bands". Plans? Nah... No plans.
T.V.: I think that somebody could be interested in this... Which movies that were made lately caught your attention?
Mike: I watched "Rush" recently and liked it very much! I loved the South African documentary "Searching for Sugar Man". I believe every music lover should watch it!!
T.V.: How it is with goth and post-punk scene in Greece?
Mike: The Greek scene, for some reason that I can't explain, blossomed during the crisis. There are a lot of interesting bands that cover a wide range of Goth, post-punk, minimal electro, new wave. Last August I decided to release digital compilations of Greek underground bands. (With the confirmation of the bands, of course.)  I released two so far and you can download them for free on Bandcamp from this  link: I am honored that these musicians liked my idea. It might be because I had a record label of my own in the past and they trust me.  Whatever it is, though, it works. So far there's been two compilations with 30 bands being featured. Check them out. You might find something you like. I often put these bands into rotation on my radio show at Wicked Spins Radio, which airs every Thursday night.
T.V.: And how do you see that the future for post-punk and gothic rock will be?
Mike: I think we have a long way to go as these genres are revisited. Maybe a new pathway will be discovered.
T.V.: We hear a lot about the economical and political crisis in Greece and as well in the rest of Europe. How do you see and feel all this?
Mike: Well, 3 out of the 4 members of New Zero God are unemployed for more than a year now. We will never find a job again. This stands for all my generation. Shops are empty and closed cause people went out of business. Greeks are paying so many taxes that they are losing their houses. There are no protests, there is no social security, no health, nothing. Most of the people who work are not getting paid. They all hope they will get paid when things get better. That is the general idea... A change is needed!
T.V.: Beside beign a musician and involved in film industry, what else do you do in life?
Mike: I am DJ-ing for bars and I also host the Blackout Radio Show on Wicked Spins Radio every Thursday night.
T.V.: We are already having a competion for dark album of the year on Terra Relicta, so, please tell me which albums released last year were your favourites?
Mike: I loved the album of Partly Faithful Lazarus Under Glass. The Atrittion album The Unraveller Of Angels is absolutely gorgeous. Between Dog And Wolf by the New Model Army is also a grand album. One of the best of the year.
T.V.: And most important is that You are in the finals of Terra Relicta Dark Music Awards 2013! How do you fell about beign in the competion for Dark album of the year?
Mike: We are honored to be among so many great artists. We are grateful for the love of the people that voted for us. Thank you all very much!!!
T.V.: The last words are yours...
Mike: Thank you very much for this interview. A big hello from New Zero God to all you readers out there. Take care and be safe!!

New Zero God links: Official website, Facebook, ReverbNation, Bandcamp, YouTube

Photos by: Georges Lambrou