One day I found myself in Australia.
Don’t ask me how, I just found myself there…
People seem to believe that this is an isolated land, far away from the rest of the continents but I am sure for one thing: a lot of Aussie artists of all kinds and sizes are well known to most of us.
To name but a few: AC/DC (the top export of this country along with a brand of beer), Nick Cave, INXS, Dead Can Dance as well as tall artists like Nicole Kidman or short artists such as Kylie Minogue or green peace artists like Midnight Oil.
Australia had always a very vivid underground rock scene.
Bands such as the Radio Birdman, Hoodoo Gurus, Ikon, The Saints , Men at Work, the Church, the Moffs and many others .
One of the most interesting underground acts was Lemon Avenue and we have the pleasure t have here their bass player Valerios Calocerinos.
Valerios is not only a musician but as you will read, he is also active from several places when it comes to music.
But lets start with the questions:
Lemon Avenue is a weird name for a band. How did it come up and in which city ? Did the members play in some bands before that ?
Lemon Avenue is another term for a place full of mad people. For example if you saw someone walking naked in the snow you might say ‘That guy belongs in Lemon Avenue’ The drummer, Stephen Metcalf, actually came up with the name one night when he randomly opened a thesauraus. As far as I know there isn’t actually a Lemon Avenue anywhere. If there is I would like to go there, not as a mad person of course (or maybe) Both Neven and Steve were playing together for a while but neither had been in any serious bands before that. I played in a band called Idle Clerx before this band which was basically a punk band that moved into the post punk sound after a while. Idle Clerx played a lot live. We released a single and a video clip which I cant watch now because I had the worse Mohawk you have ever seen.
How hard is it for a band from Australia to make it to some European country ? I mean, the use of English language is helping a lot…
On an independent level it is difficult as we are so far away and it is difficult and expensive to tour. Obviously the world is smaller now thanks to the internet and is easier now to have music heard. I think Lemon Avenue, and other bands I have played in, were lucky as we were playing music which was not really popular in Australia and accepted more over seas. Australia had (and in a way still has) a very Rock culture and being alternative in an eclectic sense was hard in the early days.
…but Lemon Avenue had some releases. I loved the track “Cancer come Cancer” by the way. Can you tell us about the band please ? How did you ended up with Hieronymus Bosch’s work on your album cover ?
We rehearsed for 18 months before actually writing a song. We wanted to trust eachother as musicians and create interesting, challenging music. Both for ourselves and the listener. We were a 3 piece band and we each played varied instruments. Our gigs would sometimes be acoustic, electronic or traditional with guitar bass and drums. We had no interest in being part of any one genre. I think Bosch’s art encompasses visually what we tried to convey musically. They seemed to match in an odd way. His paintings are estremely complex and the more you gaze at them the more you will see. We tried to create that sonically and I think for the most part we did.
What’s the story with the often accidents in the band ?
I think it is all because of a strange energy which surrounded Neven. The day he arrived in Australia (from Croatia) he cut his feet open on the beach. He also had been hit by lightening, twice. There were many car accidents while we were touring, even when we were not driving. Once we arrived home from a few shows and my car which had been left behind was smashed. Our cars would break down, we would fall over, injur ourselves, break things. There was a cloud of clumsiness which hovered over us as a band. Most people found it very funny but we were sure we had upset someone who pulled the strings.
What made you pick Tom Kazas as your producer for the album “Love and Necromancy” ? Did it matter that he is a Greek-Australian too ?
I was studying audio engineering at the time and Tom was teaching. I knew of the Moffs and liked Toms approach and attitude not just as a musician but as a person. Tom offered to produce the album for us in a series of graveyard shifts at the studio. I think the fact that Tom also had a Greek background helped as there was a familiarity amongst us. There are different elements of ethnicity in Lemon Avenues music which maybe some one of an ango Australia background may not of understood. It just seemed to click. Tom is making some amazing films at the moment. His latest THE TOPOLIGIST is in the process of being translated into Greek.
How were your releases received ? Better in Australia or…?
Initially our releases were received much better overseas, Our first single ‘THE AXEMAN’ sold out in Sweden! But as we continued to play tirelessly we reached out to fans in Australia and became noted for what we did. Love And Necromancy is still highly regarded as a part of Australian eclectic history.
What did you do after Lemon Avenue ?
After Lemon Avenue I formed Meridian with Sloth (Peter Zantey – who is by co incidence a Kytherian too, our Fathers went to school together!!) and Karl Zeleny. Sloth replaced Steve on Drums at the end of Lemon Avenues days and was friend with Karl. I then moved to Melbourne and played with Ikon as well as continuing to release a few things through the label. I also formed THIS GENTLE FLOW. I was working as a live sound engineer as well as running a small studio from my home.
Lately you re-launched your own record label, Left As In Sinister Records. You started this label during…what, the early 90’s ?
Yeah, Our first release was THE AXEMAN 7” by Lemon Avenue in 1990. We have continued to release interesting music including some great compilation CANDLES AND INTRIGUE VOL 1 and 2.
Where can people find the L.A.I.S. releases ? How many are they ? I like the S.N.D. “Wasabi” track (so I’ll put the vid here) but I know nothing about them…
There is at the moment about 20 LAIS releases. Some have sold out. LAIS releases are primarily available via mail order from our website. We do have a number of small distributors helping us out in different parts of the world and this is also growing all the time. Our releases are not hard to get though if someone wants to order them from a store.
SND, it’s a long story! SND is a project based on a comic book I have created which is based on a much more complex story I have written. There is also another side to this project called THE BOOK OF VILAH which is totally opposite in so many ways. This band is very theatrical and their live shows are are scripted performances. With this I want to create something original and quirky with every track being different to the last. I have crazy things recorded for this like a Christmas Album. It is very tongue in cheek but quite complex when you get into the little world and story I have created.
As Ikon seem to be well known to the goth fans, how long were you with them ?
I was with Ikon for about 2 years and played on quite a few recordings.
The Gentle Flow sound very interesting and your name appears here also. Is this post-gothic ?
Yes, THIS GENTLE FLOW is my band. This Gentle Flow was labelled as post Gothic in Germany. I have tried, with my last album, to add some cynicism to this and have the title track NO ART and another MR ROCK STAR PANTS as a way of questioning this label. I like to set my self tasks like this when I am writing. Many of my songs come from different personas and characters I have created in different situations. Up till now I have been producing all the THIS GENTLE FLOW material myself and occasionally calling in other musicians. You can hear this on the last album (NO ART) where I have a number of different people appearing. I now have a solid band and the live side of This Gentle Flow is becoming a very important and exciting element. I am really interested in pushing the boundries. As a band we are writing new material for a new album.
I have also been working with WADE from Australian metal band HERRATIK on a very black ambient release for This Gentle Flow. This is being mixed as we speak and will be available soon. This release is interesting as it is one long piece of music rather then songs.
How is the Australian gothic and industrial scene now ? Any names worth checking ?
To be honest the Australian scene has gone down that strange road where Goth has become fashionable and accepted and I find a lot of the feeling has gone to a strange place, Some interesting bands although maybe not traditionally Goth or Industrial would be PIANO IS DRUNK, THE WALK ON BY, THE DEEP FIX, GUNS ARE FOR KIDS, SONIXTRIP, SHADOW TAKE FLIGHT. All these bands have an element of darkness but each is unique.
Are you just the producer of the band Recur or also a member?
Originaly, yeah I was the producer. As we were recording the album MERCURY, their guitarist left the band. I played the remainder of the guitar on the album and then joined them on a short tour. Not long afterwards the front man PAUL SIMMONS moved to the UK. He recently visited Australia. He stayed with me and we called the bass player HAYDEN OBRIEN from Melbourne to Sydney and welocked ourselves in the studio for a few days. The result is a new single which will be available soon. There is 2 mixes, one by Paul and one by me. Incidently there is no guitar on these songs, just 2 basses, Both tracks were recorded totally live with no overdubs, including the vocals. There is an interesting summary of the recording process on www.leftasinsinister.com
You will play live during October in Greece. I know you’re in contact with the people of Playhouse Gotique. Are you coming with the Gentle Flow or the Recur ? Any gigs scheduled in other European countries ?
Yes, I will be playing in Athens at the Playhouse Gotique as well as at the Genesis Underworld. I will be playing solo although Paul from Recur will join me on a few songs as will Mike from NEW ZERO GOD. I will be playing tracks from different bands in my career. I could possibly be doing a show in the UK but this is not confirmed yet.
What is your record label L.A.I.S. planning for the future ? Is the label open for bands out of Australia ?
The label is growing. We are now operating from a popular studio in Sydney and have the resources to move forward confidently. We are interested in working with bands on many levels, both Australian and international. We are keen to help out where we can. We have a few releases planned as well as the ones we are currently working on. We still like the concept of releasing CDs in this digital age and even have some plans for Vinyl and other forms of art. Distribution is getting harder and harder for small labels such as LEFT AS IN SINISTER but we are developing our own means of distribution and happy to remain totally independent in Australia. Saying that though we would like to secure solid distribution in Europe. At the moment we are relying on a small network and although effective to a point it is getting harder to manage as we are growing.
How different are things now from the days that you started playing music in Australia ?
For me I am totally obsessed with creating music and experimenting with anything and everything, which is the same as when I was younger, so in that respect nothing has changed. In a way I think that because of the digital age things have turned around in the sense that to stand out you must be a great band live which is what it was like when I first started playing. I have no real respect for the dominance of the multi music companies that saturate the media with shit, it has always been that way so again not much has changed! One thing which has changed is the ease of which people can create music now, even non musicians. Is this good or bad? I don’t know.
Anything else you might like to add please ?
I am really looking forward to coming to Athens to play and hope that I get a chance to meet some of the great people in Greece who have helped me in the past.
Thanks for this interview Val.
I wish all the best to all your activities as I know it’s hard to survive in the music business even if it is for the underground and for sure we will see you in Greece during October.