Interview of Deus Ex Machina
An interview of Deus Ex Machina to Kostis and Marios Atsalis for the magazine Palinodiae
Α.- After the last album “time expires” of 2007, comes the new “sound of liberation”; the sound of liberation must be aggressive, right, Stavros?
Σ.- I don’t think so, freedom is freedom by itself. Freedom is not violence.
Α.– Is freedom available just like that?
S.- Freedom is something you win, our days are violent but every change must involve violence in it. But the violence that others cause to us is different than our violence. Our violence means creating. We try to change, and what we are trying to change is what we have inside us, to kill fascism in us, as human beings, individually. Only like this I believe that we can change all the rest. If we change ourselves we can change the world. If we are assholes what will we change from this world full of shit?
T. -Sometimes yes, it depends on who attacks you anyway. This is a defence sometimes in what happens, a defence of a whole world that cannot stand this situation. We partially recommend -we attack through music- that you can accentuate some things a little more strongly than an abstract concept by being creative. Let’s say that we do it in a “violent” way through music, okay. Besides, the soundtrack of our times cannot be with flowers in hand – nor for falling asleep.
S.- There was never freedom anyway. The existence of capitalism quashes the idea of freedom. It is unrealistic to support the opposite. So this is what always happens and if you ask me again in 20 years you’ll see that it’ll still be topical. That’s the problem, and many songs are also topical, not ours, in the world of music generally. And that’s because they talk about problems of the world and this world has never changed to something better.
Α.– You mean songs that people were hearing e.g. the May ‘68, the “give me shelter” for example, is too topical?
DXM.- Of course! Most of 60s’, 70s’, even those of which we play covers e.g.“state of bastards”; it’s what we are living and they have been written 25 years ago. And you say eh motherfucker the same thing now?
Α.– Your relationship with the punk scene of the 80s’?
DXM.- We had a direct relationship with bands – we had been created from the ashes of Adiexodo (Deadlock)-Mitsos, the former singer before me, Tsouloufis who was playing bass to Adiexodo, and Yiannis Venardis, the drummer of Adiexodo. Three members of Deus were also members of Adiexodo and that was actually a sequel, the one with Greek verse and the other with a stranger one. We are children of that time anyway, so we are influenced by then.
Α.– In the sound;
DXM.- Not that much in the sound but as a way of life. Then there was no sound, it was like playing amid the garbage, like playing with pots, there was no technology.
Α.– What bands you were listening to in your room when you were a kid?
S.- Personally I was listening to Dead Kennedys, they influenced me very much in terms of music, attitude, ideology. Generally I was listening more American punk. Spiropoulos and Mitsos were listening English punk. And we were also listening all these we refer now Adiexodo, Naftia (Nausea), Genia tou Chaous (Generation of Chaos), but you regard it as music – I listen e.g. a lot of “black” music, Funky, Blues, many kinds, Alternative..
Τ.- The first I was listening was Grunge, “Faith no more” and such. Getting older I started listening more extreme things, against the norm (laughs), Grind, Punk etc. Besides music can affect us, even a fairground in culonia.
Stavros: I believe that popular music in any expression is the anarchy of life, is something like place of refuge for people who want to escape from anything affected.
Α.– On these: this feeling that a live of Deus gives you I’ve never seen it; this communication between band and people, watching you doing stage diving and not losing a lyric, in combination with sincerity and simplicity! How can you explain this?
S.- We remain ourselves, we put on our working clothes on stage and we don’t put the mask of rock. Mitsos is coming with his dirty clothes of construction. The others are tired, anxious, as normally, and as characters all the five of us have the same view“let the music scene go well”, the existence of one essential function and not to show something more than interactive music. We are nothing more than what we play for as long as we play. Actually we are nothing; we are those who listen us and what they do listen. Exactly this… The point is that there has to be a collegiality in the music, one purpose so that we enjoy, not do the bullies or…
Stavros: The pretentiousness is getting on our nerves. We cannot stand it and this mainly exists in rock and is becoming more and more in fashion. It’s the image that counts and we lose our minds; we are as we are every day. A guy has played drums in a song of ours, son of a friend in Agrinio who was 16 years old and listened and liked Deus – he knew a song “Chase me” and we told him come on.
Α.– You have supported by playing very big names…
DXM.- These times are not many. The support groups were always underestimated, the Greek ones. You can’t imagine the burdens of the bands in order to play. They had to bring their instruments, amplifiers, drums, to set up everything without being paid a penny, and with no one paying their costs or anything. And I was always arguing and saying I don’t like this kind of logic, watching the others not giving a shit about them. “Either you support this thing or we don’t play.” It’s just that there are these few bands with which we were fitting and enjoying playing with them. Public Enemy, Jello Biafra, New Model Army.
Α.– They say that artists depict thoughts that we make (the public), but we don’t express. We just listen to them through their work…
S.- Have you seen next to «running» the date I have written?
S.- It’s the day of Grigoropoulos’ death. We were playing it then, I had written the lyrics and it expresses this season. I wanted this date being written next to the lyrics because it was then that I wrote it, I just didn’t want to say it. I didn’t want to take advantage of an event.The “38 mm”e.g. is for Kaltezas and everyone knew it without me having ever said anything, so I didn’t want to say “For Alexis”. It is meaningless, I don’t like these things.
Α.– For Pavlos Fissas?
S. – History repeats itself, it makes no difference, many incidents like this have been taken place and they still do. The only reason this issue has been blown out of all proportion was because he was Greek and well known. Actually, it was just perfect for others to take advantage of it. That’s why it has been wide-spread. For our own people that would be just as important.
T. – I think that the fact that he was Greek plays a major role as well as that he was a kid, scion of a middle class family and not a street child. There would have been another dimension. It’s the value of human life, it’s different. But this is the point. For me it’s the same, when 10 days ago a Pakistani had been killed, is exactly the same, with this situation now.
S. – And media is not the same also. They can show it otherwise, as they want. But what Tolis says is important because some wanted to keep the fact alive so that they get votes from Golden Dawn. This problem wouldn’t exist if G.D was at 3%. Maybe nothing of all these would have happened. Yes, they have stabbed several children both Greeks and foreigners and it’s a miracle that some have not died, still some have already died. I think last year 4-5 immigrants had been murdered of non-State fascists. We have to stop it.
Α.– From the side of people who are against this beast what should be done?
S – Isolate them, so they have no space to act nowhere. Everyone change attitude, individually. Maybe just this might change the situation. Thereafter, everyone shows dissatisfaction in any way: by music, by going to a protest march, by a more activist way…
Α.– I want you to tell me a few things about the neighbourhood of Exarchia. How it was then, how it is now, how would you like it to be, what thanks you, what not…
DXM.- It’s too many. There are some people, libertarians, who believe in a better world and some that what existents there, suits them. This neighbourhood has always been libertarian. Just once it became fashionable and other people came there, too.
In the 80’s we were a few here. I don’t know about it, earlier. It has not the same character, of course. There are still people who keep this character alive, like the social space of VOX. In Europe it’s not possible to occupy a property and act. These things happen only here, because there are people who do have the balls to do it.
And they try to keep a character in the area but there are some bad points here, since there is a plan to spoil this thing over the years – they have tried also in 80’s with the operation of “Virtue”, in 90’s with the purges and all these, and now they try anew by sending cops every turn around for raids, chasing world at night – there are many dealings, even when drugs had started to leave from Exarchia. You see, gangs selling drugs have now come around and they use guns. Between them there are Albanians who saw that they can act here. Noone chases them because they are immigrants and here we are all one. They found the place here, put out the guns and sell… They are pimps, the ones who pass money to Pakistanis who sell CDs, cigarettes…
Α.– What do you think about the motion of people some time to prosecute drugs?
DXM.- There are also responsible people in this region who live here and have a more specific aspect, but unfortunately they are not enough. It is difficult; the same people have to defend themselves in their own region. Cops may come only to repress, but they exploit the fact that this is the only area in Greece with no cops – they don’t care about dealers, besides they are cops’ children. It’s a plan to degrade the region and present it in the channels over the years as the evil hand that puts fires throughout Athens, that everything starts and ends up there, so that they cause fear, and people not to go for a walk and join collectives in Exarchia. Indeed, from 2008 people actually stopped coming. Beyond all this, Exarchia is very important for the music it has born. Its music history is very significant: Asimos, Sidiropoulos…We were coming to their concerts. And for us, who have played three times, these three concerts are of the best we’ve ever given, feeling we are home and imagine that in 2 of the 3 power was down, the sound was awful, there was a problem with everything, yet it was nuts out!
Α.– The DEM how imagines the future for its members and society in general?
DXM. – We have to be optimistic. I am optimistic, I know I will lose, but I don’t care, I don’t give a fuck. Pessimists are dangerous allies. So we have to be optimistic, have energy to act. Now we as a band, we are friends, we play music and we will continue playing music even if we do not put out a new album. We’ll do it as far as we can.