Outloud are in the making of their sophomore album, and Rockpages was in the studio to listen to a couple of songs, and talk with Bob Katsionis, and Mark Cross, who were ready and willing (does that sound familiar?) to feed us with all the juicy details. Also, check out the video interview for RockpagesTV on the bottom of the page, where you can listen to some stuff you won’t find on the interview, plus you can watch it on HD too!
Interview: Sakis Nikas, Yiannis Dolas
Rockpages.gr: Υou are in the studio for the second time working on the new album… what are your thoughts and feelings?
Bob Katsionis: First of all, I have to say that we are very glad that we are back in Basement Studios, where we’ve created a family atmosphere with the guys that own it, and actually they’ve made me a special t-shirt! We trust these guys. We made our first album here. Even though technology has progressed quite a lot, and everyone is making their albums at home, we chose to go to a studio, where we like the feeling, being away from home… I live across the street though (laughs)… and work.
Rockpages.gr: Can you give us a couple of song titles, how many of them are ready, and how many you’ve written so far?
Mark Cross: Well, they are all working titles yet. There is one song called “Underworld”, and a couple more, but I can’t remember them… It’s all too fresh! We begun recording on June 21st, and we finished the pre-production, and now we will be recording the drums. We have 14-15 songs, but yet we don’t know which ones will end up on the album.
Rockpages.gr: How long did it take you to compose the songs?
Bob Katsionis: One year. Actually, Tony began bringing his ideas before we even finished the first one album. We ditched around 15 songs that were written for the first album, and we thought we’d use for the second, but we changed our minds. Thank God we had a lot of inspiration, and we didn’t want to wait for too long before entering the studio. We didn’t want our ideas to mature. We thought we had good songs so, let’s go make the album.
Rockpages.gr: Are you satisfied from the first album? Is there something you don’t like, and maybe you’d wished you could change?
Bob Katsionis: The first Outloud album was like a school to me. I’ve done several albums with several bands, and I have to say that I am totally satisfied, because I realized that something which is not perfect actually brings perfection! For the first album we were pretty loose, but in the end the result made you go “Wow”!
Rockpages.gr: Having a singer who lives permanently in the States, how easy it is for the band to work together?
Mark Cross: I guess, we’d have to thank technology that gives you the opportunity to communicate via phone, videophone, Skype, etc. There are a lot of conversations and meetings over the internet while working, where we get lyrics, work on melodies, and so on. That is the way we are using when we need to work as a group. On the other hand, we always manage to take some time for the band in order to work. We bring Chandler over, for 5-6 weeks to rehearse, write new material, and record. Just like what happened earlier this year. We combined some gigs with work time for the new album. Of course, the distance is an obstacle, because you can’t bring him over a lot. Unfortunately, the airplane tickets are very expensive, and we decided that we’d find some time to work together.
Rockpages.gr: Would you consider getting a Greek singer?
Mark Cross: Well, probably not. And that’s why I couldn’t find any Greek singer with a good English accent…sometimes it’s also a matter of experience. Greek singers working in Greece have different attitude, and different approach. It’s much easier for an English, or American singer who grew up getting used to sing that style to adopt to the needs of a band such as this. Unfortunately, Greece is not a country that grew up on blues, or rock, and that’s something that affects the music scene a lot.
Rockpages.gr: You mentioned technology a bit earlie… both of you have revorded several albums, working with both analogue and digital media. Would you say that that technology is a blessing, or a curse, when it come to make music? Does it really help, or does it kill the rock’n’roll feeling?
Bob Katsionis: Well, I see your point… using a computer when you are making music can be a blessing, and a curse. Someone who is getting started now might use freeware music software as a professional tool. On the other hand, if you don’t know how to use it, then you might lose control, and the software might entrap your music on its own frames. I grew up using 4-tracks, and I have seen the old way of recording. If someone has used to have an electronic sound, being totally precise, he or she is trapped. Playing with a band in a studio, or on stage is totally different than recording music with a computer using Guitar Pro, where all you have to do is put the notes you want to get a flawless result.
Mark Cross: That’s a usual trap a lot falls into ending up with a production so perfect that cannot be performed live. We wanted –and that was a conversation I had with Bob- to make a rock album, that was simple, and spontaneous. We recorded quickly, played what we know the way we can, maintaining our personal freedom, without being totally squared, making every chorus, and bridge exactly the same. We wanted to keep the liveliness, so that there is a punch in our music, and we achieved it. It seems that we got really close to analogue recording using computerized technology.
Rockpages.gr: Outloud are consisted of very busy musicians involved in several projects, and bands. Can Outloud become your main occupation?
Mark Cross: That’s not easy for any of us, because it’s very hard to live off music. The only thing that keeps us alive is our love for music. As you said earlier, I’ve made a lot of records, I am “the old captain on the ship” (laughs). I can’t imagine myself doing anything else, so I am working with international musicians, touring, recording, either as a session player, or band member. The Outloud team was created totally spontaneous. It was an idea that started from Tony, who approached Bob his guitar tutor… he had great ideas, and Bob suggested we worked on them and make an album. We had a change in lineup with Sverd stepping in for Jason Mercury who played on the first one. I didn’t know him that well, he was a friend of Tony’s… but he was a guitarist, who took the place of the bassist. There’s a big difference! It’s two totally different instruments, and each one has it’s area. That was a weak spot for the band and we decided that we needed somebody else for bass. We ended up with Sverd, who plays for Bare Infinity. He is a great talent, although he is young, he is a great musician. It’s the first time I see a kid having the right grooves, being interested in other good music stuff apart from rock, and metal, and being a great player. That helps me a lot on the rhythm section. So, everybody gelled perfectly, and Outloud works as a team…