Athens’ noise rockers Last Rizla’s European tour takes off from Sofia in a few days, so we caught them for a brief chat about the rising DIY music scene in Greece, printing your own merch, gardening, fine dining, and hot springs.
Hi, guys! What’s the best thing to do when you really get to the last Rizla?
But of course what MacGyver would do… But, we quit smoking, doctor’s orders.
How would you describe your music to someone who never heard a second of it?
It’s like high protein oat milk really…
How long have you guys been together and what happened in the meantime?
We’ve been playing together probably more than fifteen years either as a band or just jamming and later as Last Rizla. We started the band when we were still university students at Syros, a small Greek island which for countless reasons we still feel connected to and has played an important part on who we are as a band and persons. Last Rizla has been the vehicle for us to have fun as friends and travel (and drink) all around Greece (and recently parts of Europe) and we managed to release a couple of stuff in between.
But of course it hasn’t been and it can’t be always like that; there have been times that we were not playing music at all or haven’t seen each other quite some time. There was a period that unfortunately we had to sort out our everyday lives and all the rest came second. We missed chances that nowadays feels bitter indeed and there are no precious naive dreams anymore but then again we are now doing it out of pure love and fun and most importantly down to earth.
Tell us more about the place where you live & operate from.
It’s been quite peculiar the last couple of years as Kostis, our bass player, has moved to London. It’s funny but we’ve been a lot more active ever since! Probably because we need to organize everything well in advance, rehearsals – gigs – recordings, and really commit to it whereas when we were all together in Athens we’d just postpone everything because we’d been hungover. Maybe we just grew old. Or should we say matured?
Anyway, we feel Athens as the place where Last Rizla belongs. You know Athens, it has its ancient relics, Parthenon, and stuff but mostly it’s concrete, pollution, junkies and assholes.
There are no parks and the only park in central Athens is a heroin den. Great bars though, good friends and family. Well, that would be a better answer to describe our sound than the lame one we gave you.
London is rainy.
Seems like the Greek scene is blooming in the last years with dope bands from many genres touring and releasing top stuff like crazy. What is the situation from your point of view?
Yes, the Greek scene is in the middle of its Renaissance. There always has been a really great scene, probably since the early 80s, there were always many bands either DIY or underground and some of them exceptional. An issue of the past might have been the quality of the actual recorded stuff which has actually completely changed! New stuff is well produced and sound amazing! I guess that the few bands that went through and did it the last decade, like 1000 Mods and Planet of Zeus, paved the way for the younger generation of bands to see that all is possible if you are really committed.
Also, there’s this change in mentality, in past bands cared just to do it the cheapest way possible but nowadays they’re looking for the best way possible and that includes of course recording but also artwork, merch, music videos and most importantly songwriting. It’s inspiring to see so many young people in already successful acts that actually don’t copy a foreign band but do their own original thing. We kinda lost this train, we didn’t commit when we were supposed to and now we have more back pain issues than new songs but it still feels great to be part of this scene even as middle-aged tourists.
Recommend your favorite Greek bands active at the moment.
But you wouldn’t expect much from these drunks so lately we’ve been really into Krause and Stereo Animal. Both experiment with different idioms of noise rock, which is, of course, re-emerging as a genre everywhere but it has been vitally refreshing for the greek underground…
The Curf have made a dynamic comeback and their album “Death and Love” is pretty dope. There’s this band from Syros called Monk, their drummer used to be a porn actor, they’re pretty groovy as well.
New release. What? Two of them?! Let us know more about this…
Ha! Yes, we outdid ourselves.
So, there’s a split release coming including Sadhus “The Smoking Community”, Rita Mosss, Friends of Gods and ourselves in form of a double 7” record. It was supposed to be called Jazz on Bones but when you have to deal with emotionally unstable simians it’s hard to get it right, man. Haha…
We are actually really happy about this release. It’s like a compilation of fart jokes. We are releasing it on our own labels, Fuzz Ink Records and the inferior ROUFA Records, and we’re also doing all the design work and stuff. And all songs, although different genres are killer. Apart from Rita Mosss’ one which is inferior.
And… We’re also releasing “Mount Machine”. Our second full(-ish) length after Seamen. We are really proud of it, it actually sounds as we think we sound like. Again, we’ll be releasing it on our own, through our label Fuzz Ink Records and of course designing and printing everything ourselves. As with our current situation, Mount Machine is a bit peculiar as well.
Songs were mostly written when we were still in Syros, but aged in Athens, like good wine turning vinegar. They carry the careless times fused with all the dark times that followed but were recorded just this year, with a different mentality and a certainly different point of view. Anyway, we’d like to say more but maybe we should wait until we actually release the darn thing. Who the fuck knows…
You’re coming to Bulgaria for the first time very soon. Have you been around before? What do you expect from the show?
We’ve never been there for gig but last year we did our sole rehearsal before going on the Creative Dentistry Tour at Sofia because that’s where we met. So, some annoyed sound guy and some annoyed neighbors have actually listened to Last Rizla live in Bulgaria.
We’re really looking forward to playing in Grindhouse with Bleak Revelation and Empiria. In a halfpipe! We’re expecting people doing Benihanas and 900s while we play and we hope nobody gets hurt as usual.
What’s the best tour story you have until this moment?
Well, we haven’t toured that much to tell you the truth. Apart from countless single gigs, a few greek mini tours and last year we did our first Europe tour. It was one of the most amazing vacations we’ve been on. The whole “routine”, driving and hangover in the van, not just the gigs. I think the funniest moments were after the shows we supported Bongzilla in Timisoara and Budapest.
We don’t remember much but judging from the photos it must have been good fun. It’s pretty interesting to see people from bands from two different continents and totally different levels (I mean they’re fucking Bongzilla) connecting and communicating so easily and effortlessly just because they share the same, let’s say, habits and love of what they’re doing.
What’s the worst-fucking-nightmare tour story you have until this moment?
Stavros’ (our vocalist) and Dimitris’ (our sweet soundguy) experimental noise set while sleeping.
What do you do in the time when you’re not playing/recording/touring with the band?
That’s most of our time actually… Well, we all work full time of course. Greg and Choko have Fuzz Ink, a screen-printing studio designing and printing mostly record covers, posters and merch for bands in Greece and all around Europe. Kostis is a print technician/designer and Stavros is a tennis coach/successful businessman. We enjoy gardening, fine dining, and hot springs.
Any side projects?
Well I’m not sure which is the side project anymore, Last Rizla or these mistresses of bands, but Choko plays in Half Gramme of Soma and Greg and Stavros play in Sadhus “The Smoking Community”. Both great, give them a listen!
What is Fuzz Ink?
Fuzz Ink is a bank.
Good luck on your tour! What’s next?!
Thanks! And thanks for having us! What’s next? Let’s see if we make it through the tour…