The Last Internationale was a huge, pleasant surprise for all of of us who were lucky enough to attend the spectacular Guns N’ Roses concert at the Olympic Stadium in Athens. This opening band was a real juggernaut on stage with songs that were captivating and rightfully left the best impression on the crowd. We get in touch – via Zoom – with singer Delila Paz and guitarist Edgey Pires to find out more about this extraordinary band… Interview: Sakis Nikas
Rockpages.gr: All right, guys…are you in Portugal, right now?
The Last Internationale: Yes, We are in Portugal. Well, we’re staying here because it’s like a base or something. So we’re going to Cyprus (ed.note: the interview took place via Zoom on the 31st of July).
Rockpages.gr: You should also make another stop in Greece. You were absolutely phenomenal in Athens. You put on a great show and the fans loved it…but I guess you already know that because you have read the messages and the comments all over the net. Did you expect such a positive feedback, especially for a support band, like yourself?
The Last Internationale: You know…we always hope for that…like the best scenario. I think it was a magical moment. I don’t know. I felt that with the crowd too. It might be our top concert ever, like definitely among the top three. The whole feeling of it was unbelievable. I mean, it was such a beautiful venue…looking at the people, the arches, the heat, everything!
Rockpages.gr: Well, there was a terrible heatwave in Athens that day! You know…hard rockers here in Greece are really…how shall I put it…most of the times, they can be really narrow-minded and won’t give a chance to the support band. They didn’t know what to expect from you. And when you started playing, everybody was frozen and started looking at each other…like: “what is that?”. And I mean it in a most positive way.
The Last Internationale: You know why? Probably, because they were expecting something less and they received the best. So let me tell you that you were great. And we thank you. When we first saw the crowd react positively, we were like, oh, thank God, we’re not getting booed (laughs).
Rockpages.gr: You know, the coolest part is that you put on a highly energetic show, yet at the same time you retain a close connection to the fans. Personally, I’ve seen that only in Bruce Springsteen concerts and maybe in the early Pearl Jam shows. Is it chemistry…rehearsals? Does it come out naturally for you?
The Last Internationale: Well, one of my favorite artists, I think maybe my all time favorite artist, is Bruce Springsteen. I love him. I think the ultimate goal is to be able to play 4-hour shows. I can’t. I do like artists that it’s like…almost like Janis Joplin. I want to be able to breathe, sing, smile and, like, give them like, I don’t know…a great show. Artists today…I don’t know if they want to do what Bruce Springsteen was trying to do on that level. I think because Bruce Springsteen was influenced by the same people that we were. So it’s like, I don’t know, it’s kind of it’s almost like I try to take the crowd to church. Let’s sing it together. Let’s do this together. Tell me your name and I’ll tell you ours. And it’s a different kind of thing…I don’t know. It’s just a different way of performing as opposed to like, how you paid to see the show.
Rockpages.gr: So it’s just safe to say that the crowd response is an integral part of your show.
The Last Internationale: Oh, yeah, definitely. We just did a club tour. We were having a club tour around Europe for our new album “Running For A Dream”. The interaction in every show was unique, like we would have people on stage or something. I always felt like there shouldn’t be a stage, like we should design the gig.Like why are we playing in a club? Like we should do our shows on a lawn or something…but anyway, we did it in a regular club. We wanted the feeling of like, You’re not in a club. You could be anywhere.You can imagine how much of a nightmare soundchecks are when Delila’s like…maybe we shouldn’t play on a stage, Do something else. Do something different…a show with an acoustic guitar. We didn’t plan it. She just grabbed the acoustic. She would say: I want to start with this! The sound guy has a freaking heart attack; a meltdown (laughs). Go into the crowd with the guitar. It’s fine. Don’t worry about it. And she didn’t even know it was going to work out.She does it. It’s that element of uncertainty, I think, that excites I know what excites you, excites me to certain extent. It’s also a little scary, which is part of the excitement.
Rockpages.gr:…and if the show wasn’t enough, another pleasant surprise was seeing you guys upon exiting, you know, the venue…the stadium…I saw you guys meeting and greeting the fans! That was really cool and you should carry on with that attitude.
The Last Internationale: That was a little more tiring (laughs).
Rockpages.gr: Yeah, but it was cool for the fans.
The Last Internationale: Yeah, well, you know, we like to take inspiration from a lot of things.. Muhammad Ali is one of them. He was like the people’s champ…he would stay in, sign autographs and he would never say no to anybody. We’re like, how are you going to make their day better? If I’m tired, I want to…well, there’s another story…I was going to miss the plane. I don’t know how to tell a story. It’s a long story, but I’ll try to make it short.
We had a festival show booked last summer. It’s always like taxis, trains, flights with very, very little sleep. At that time, she (Delila) has slept maybe one hour and it’s been two days or whatever with barely any sleep. So our flight kept getting delayed. Eventually it was canceled! So we rushed to get on another flight and there’s only one seat left for her. She takes it. Yeah. We’re waving at her and encourage her…like, go do this! Do the show yourself. And we don’t know if they’re going to allow her to do the show herself. She’s going to go there and see what’s gonna happen. And this is opening up for KISS! So anyway, I’m running to the flight because I’m going to miss it. I’m like, if I don’t get in, it’s like 8 a.m. where the flight was. I got the I’m running and running to the gate. I feel like I’m in a dream because I couldn’t sleep. And then a girl comes up to me like, Oh my God, are you Delilah from The Last Internationale? And that doesn’t really happen often at all. That summer was happening a lot.
So this girl says: “Can you take a picture with me”? I’m like, I don’t know. I’m going to miss my flight. But I didn’t want to say no, so I did it. And then we took a picture and she ended up posting it, which was cool, like, Oh, she’s going to miss her flight. And then she texted me from the plane. I made it on the plane and I think I just hallucinated a person that asked for my picture to Instagram to see if it’s real because I might be losing my mind. I was like. I really thought I was like, Did I think that was like a weird. I feel like there’s no one else in the airport…but it was! But then a few hours later she posted the picture and she had proven I didn’t hallucinate her (laughs)!
Rockpages.gr: You mentioned KISS and you have shared the stage with such legendary acts like Guns N’ Roses, Robert Plant, The Who etc. How cool is that?
The Last Internationale: Opening up for major bands…it teaches you a lot to just see how the crew works and how they perform. It makes you wonder: “will we ever headline an arena in our lives?” We’re like…”how can we do that?”! So opening up for these bands, it’s super exciting, but at the same time, you’re like…what are we going to do? So, let’s do it.
Rockpages.gr: The music industry has changed but if you keep up with that, you know, same style and same kind of work ethic, I’m sure you’re going to do it, guys. I’m sure about it.
The Last Internationale: We will…We can. Maybe one country…let’s see if we could just do that.
Rockpages.gr: Well, I can definitely name one country (laughs). You started like, what…16 years ago or something like that. And this is your brainchild, right? I mean for both of you…
The Last Internationale: Yeah, but we started with folk music. It wasn’t like a full band thing. Our mindset was to…like, going to protest like Pete Seeger. Yeah.
Rockpages.gr: When did you become a full-blown electrical band?
The Last Internationale: It wasn’t long after that. I mean, it was organic because we just wanted to play. I don’t know…we just had the acoustics and then we started playing electric…because we love the blues and folk. So yeah. I think we saw the documentary. Dylan when he went electric with the whole blues band. I was like, It’s kind of cool. And it was also out of necessity because back then, especially like bars didn’t want to book a folk band singing “We Shall Overcome” or something…they wanted like “Smoke on the Water” or whatever. So I learned all these cover songs and whatever, just so we could make like 300 bucks at the end of the night so we can put gas in the tank. Those were like 4-hour show per night. But we played “House of the Rising Sun” like three times the night.
Rockpages.gr: Did you approach the whole thing professionally right from the beginning? I mean did you say, okay, let’s try and make a living out of it?
The Last Internationale: Yeah. Well, I remember the day I was…I did music therapy, like, healing with music. I was working at a nursing home and I remember the day when Edgey booked the first tour. In the beginning, we didn’t have any shows. And someone offered us a gig…I remember asking him: “how much”? And you know, the guy said $300! It was like $3 million for us (laughs). But that’s when I quit my job on that first tour and I was like, I’m not going back. And then I remember saying goodbye to all the my patients. The old ladies that were so cute. They’re like, Go follow your dream. So I’m still doing that little bit.
Rockpages.gr: Were you afraid back then when you quit your job and follow your dream?
The Last Internationale: Not really. I know I was gonna miss a little bit of something there because I’d formed a nice relationship with all the people of the nursing home. But we were both of us very excited for this new beginning. It was the most insane tour. Yeah, everything happened on that tour. The band broke up on that tour like the drummer quit and the bassist was left in Texas or something. I think he’s still there. It was just a disaster in ways, but also very thrilling. The gigs wouldn’t make enough money for the road, so we’d have to, like, pick receipts from the garbage and call like fast food places. We were like…they messed up our orders, you know, at McDonald’s or whatever. So we eat like shit and we’re very health conscious people. We very healthy like, but we like total shit on that. But on the road, you couldn’t do much…right? There were pizza deals with $5.
It was disgusting. It was nasty. And Delilah, before this interview, she was like, What if I tell them what happened to on that tour? I’m like, Fuck whatever you want. And she was like, I’ll never say that in public. I’ll tell you right now, a 70 something year old man, he tried to molest me. We were crowd surfing on that tour. It’s whatever. It’s fucking happened. Like, if you want me to say to you, go to that. Totally. She dared me. So, like, you’ll never say. And I’d say, right now, There you go.
Rockpages.gr: All in the name of rock n roll. Alright. You know, guys, I’ve been listening to your albums a lot since, you know, the gig with Guns N’ Roses and I got to say that I love the the organic approach in your productions. You know, it kind of reminds me of Led Zeppelin, Heart and Fleetwood Mac that kind of artists with that “warm” seventies production. And I got to say that your style, as I described it, is modern 70s rock. Do you agree?
The Last Internationale: Well, I just think that it’s hard when you’re in it to see what it’s like, what you are or, you know, like what genre you go about. Βut I think that our influences are quite obvious…I mean, the early blues for sure. And we always geared towards like the warmer sounds. I love Fleetwood Mac or like everyone you said.
But it’s weird because on this last album, she was listening to a lot of, I guess, pop music. Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin. I mean, these are pop artists of their time. So yeah, Whitney Houston a lot, so she started writing. It influenced the melody of the new record…one song in particular is called “Ghettoway Driver” is very pop-oriented…it has that pop melody. We wanted a song that would stick out. And that was the perfect song because of the vocal melodies. So pop-ish, but modern…it was accidental. It sounds like a modern pop song. But what we did was we wanted the record to have influences of like, I guess the seventies. We love that old style, warm song music, but sonically we wanted that modern kick snare. We also wanted that huge sound. So that song “Ghettoway Driver”, if you hear the production, it’s huge. Miley Cyrus come to mind.
You could use that as an example…the drums are so huge. I love huge drums.
Rockpages.gr: You know, you should do that because you have to be current and approach a wider audience. You know what I mean? Because I can surely appreciate 70s music but I am almost 50 years old. I can relate to that. The younger generation doesn’t have that connection; there’s an age-gap. So you do the right thing by approaching the modern kind of production value, as you said.
The Last Internationale: Yeah. I guess that’s why “Ghettoway Driver” is the most played song next to “1984”. They’re competing with each other on Spotify streaming services. I guess that was a shock, but not totally, because we were afraid to put it out thinking that people will accuse of selling out. This sounds very fucking modern. It’s like I don’t give a fuck about from the heart. I like it. If they don’t like it, Just go to the next song. Don’t overthink it. It was cool because we bought during the pandemic a synthesizer, so that’s like also the sonic thing, like learning that instrument. She’s on that thing every day since the day.
Rockpages.gr: You know I’m glad that you mention this because I wanted to tell you that maybe you should incorporate in your music some of these, you know, melodic sonic elements.
The Last Internationale: By the way “Ghettoway Driver” has that 80s sound, like Yes or something. There’s a few new songs here that’s like all synth; very focused on the melodic side…that 80s kinda thing. The song “Hero” on the new album and the guitar solo sounds like a videogame.
Rockpages.gr: Let me tell you that finding your albums in a physical format here in Greece, was a nightmare. Only “We Will Reign” was easy to find because it was issued back in the day from Sony. I guess the best way to find them is from your official webshop, right?
The Last Internationale: Right now, we don’t have a distributor for the new album. We released it independently or we mailed it out ourselves from the merch. We send it out autographed to those who buy it. So yeah, probably the proper way is to buy it right from the website.We signed a deal for “Soul on Fire”…it was again with Sony but it was a nighthmare. Actually, we haven’t been paid in over two years. And every time I email them, they ignore all the emails about payment. So I don’t know how much they owe us, but it’s a lot of money because we paid ourselves for the vinyl. We manufactured it, we sent it to Sony, Sony distributes…it was a distribution deal in France.
It’s in all the record shops in France. They collect the money we have in two years. So a lot of money. And so again, it’s like any time we to sign a distribution deal…to get for example the records in Greece, we have to do a similar deal, pay upfront the money for the records and then get ripped off and not get paid back. It’s not a good business strategy unless it’s a good company that will distribute the record.
Rockpages.gr: So, you’re completely independent without even a management deal?
The Last Internationale: Yeah…correct! We have no manager, no record label…but we do have a booking agent who’s doing an outstanding job. But also, as a human being, he’s one of the greatest people we’ve ever met. Yeah, we’re very lucky. So if we don’t have a manager or whatever, we’re lucky to have a team like that. But we are looking for a manager and we’re looking to build a team.
Rockpages.gr: From my perspective, Delila’s voice is like a mixture of Janis Joplin and Ann Wilson while Edgey’s guitar owes a lot probably to Jimmy Page and Pete Townsend. Which are your respective influences? In other words which are your vocal and guitar Gods?
The Last Internationale: Well, I think both of them are obviously great singers. I’m still obsessed with both voices and singing. I’m always like, singing and trying to, like, improve my singing. And, like, if you’ve ever since I was little, I started, like, singing Mariah Carey songs when I was growing up and Aretha Franklin. I love Sam Cooke.
Rockpages.gr: My all-time favorite singer is Steve Perry. Guess who was his idol and greatest influence? Sam Cooke.
The Last Internationale: There you go. Joplin of course is another influence of mine, as you said.
Rockpages.gr: How about you, Edgey?
The Last Internationale: That’s tough…there’s a lot of them. My first guitar teacher and mentor, Cloud William is a blues musician in New York, so he got me really, really into guitar players like B.B. King, Albert King, Hubert Sumlin. I think Sumlin’s a very underrated guitar player. He played with Howlin Wolf. Some of the best guitar playing I heard is from Howlin’ Wolf. But Sumlin has some very simple sounding guitar parts but also very difficult to play as far as the emotion and the feelings behind it. Howlin’ Wolf was a huge influence on me, songs like “Smokestack Lightning”, the repetition of the riffs, you know, which is what I guess blues music is based on. It’s the opposite of jazz, where it’s like blues music is based on the repetition of the riff for a song, and then you depart from it and then you come right back. So when he’s playing a riff, it’s always repeating and then he’ll go off, repeat and it’s something I fell in love with.
After that, my biggest influence would have to be, of course, Clapton, every guitar player was influenced by Clapton but for me probably a bigger influence was Jeff Beck. I loved his work in The Yardbirds and some of his solo stuff too. I could go on forever listing influences, but certainly last but not least if I had to choose one of all these people, it would have to be Tom Morello, who’s now a personal friend. He’s a mentor. He’s one of the reasons why we’re still making music. Tom Morello for me, is obviously a departure from the blues. You know, it’s it’s not so much blues. I already have that. Every day I play blues. That’s my biggest influence. But Tom Morello reinvented the guitar. He’s just super innovative. I never gravitate towards the fusion players, the fusion bands, the fancy stuff, the Dream Theater stuff. It is what it is. It’s I’m not I’m not saying it’s it’s great for what it is, but not just for me personally. I never put it in my system. I never tried to play it.
It’s just not something that touches my soul. You know, the influences that I told you about, those are the ones that move me to the core. It’s not about how fast you can play. It’s about the emotion you put into it, into the music. And that’s what I owe.
Not that I also don’t play fast as you saw at the show. I do fast riffs. I try, you know, and I do a lot too. A lot of techniques, a lot of things to speed up my playing. So there’s certain songs. But the important thing to me is, is the riff. And I love riff-based stuff.