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Purple Overdose with Costas Constantinou

Purple Overdose formed in late 80's, but their roots spread way back in the late 70's. During the years they released several albums; all of them inspired by psychedelic pioneers of the "hippie" era. They still managed to stay original. We had a special opportunity to do an interview with Costas Constantinou, who managed to take his time to share the story of Purple Overdose. We would also like to take this interview to promote their brand new release of the Gemineye - The Last Ever Recordings album. The quantities are limited so make sure to visit wonderful Anazitisi Records.

Band formed way back 1987. Before we begin I would like to talk about the time before Purple Overdose. Were you in any other bands?

I began to play music in the late 70's and I formed some bands in the high school, to mention one of them was the "Poison Pen" and we're made some gigs in 1979. At this time we were a cover band but we also have a track of mine which was instrumental then, and later I used the riff in the "Shady Reflections" and the "Magic Forest" song from our second record.

How did you first came in contact with "psychedelic" music and what was the turning point for you?

Magic touched me first with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, then I became a very hard "Who" fan. My first contact with the psychedelic music was the Jefferson Airplane's "Surrealistic Pillow", Hendrix's records, Iron Butterfly, The Doors, Country Joe & The Fish etc. But I really shook up with the 1st Electric Prunes, and the 1st 13th Floor Elevators albums. So these records really inspired me to start the experiment in psychedelic music in the early 80's. I've written many songs in the time between 1982-1984 from which many at them later became songs for our 1st album "Exit #4".

As I already mentioned, the band was formed in 1987. How did you guys came together and decide to form the band?

In the time between 1984-1986 I was working as a DJ in the "Mad Club" which was a dancing club but also was LIVE club for many Athens bands. There I met the "No Man's Land" and I became friend of them. I've played guitar in many jams with them as a guest. I formed "Purple Overdose" with the bass player and the drummer of "No Man's Land"  Giorgos Papageorgiadis and George Nikas, and we began to make noise in 1987 as a trio. Meanwhile the psychedelic thing was trend.

Was there any scene at all in Greece when you started?

Yeah, there were bands for all kinds of Rock'n'Roll, Punk Rock, Hard Rock, New Wave etc. I think that in the 80's it was a rock explosion in Greece as in every corner was a new band.

In 1988 you were signed to a label called Pegasus Records and you started recording what would be later called "Exit #4". Tell us about the material, that appears on your first LP.

As I mentioned before the first songs played were "Holes", "Still ill", "Elevation", "Are you there" and "When you talk about me". We recorded them as a trio in 1987. Then they came "Yellow mole", "Rooby go round", "Blue torture", and "Orange journey" with Christopher as a new drummer and added keyboards. "Exit#4" composed as one song and later we made the intro, outro thing and we recorded them in the beginning of 1988. Pegasus was the only label who show some interest in us and released the stuff.

Your debut received some nice reviews and the follower "Indigo" made you a cult band. You are one of the very rare bands, that are really on the same level as the best from the late 60's as far as psychedelic music goes. The album is very inspired by different magic and fairy tales. Tell us if there was some original concept to it? Was any concept also on the first album?

Thanks, that is very flattering to me. The truth is that we received great reviews but the sales were poor. The second album was very provoking to us, because we changed our style into more breezy lyrical progressive thing and some complex and jazzy moves, with the addition of flute in our sound with more British influences than our first album. Something we improved in our next albums.

Greece had in the 90's some loyal scene as far as psychedelic music goes with you and No Man's Land and Jack of All Trades. What were some other bands?

Some other very good bands, I liked were "The Sound Explosion", whom their first single I produced. Also the "Cardinals", "Voyage Limpid Sound", "Willow the Wisp", and the "Green Onions" and the very new "Lemonade Influence".

How about concerts? Where all did you play and did you perhaps do any tour out of Greece?

No we didn't play any concert out of Greece we didn't make it although we wanted very much. But inside Greece we played as much as we could. In every place you can imagine.

Any favourite shows?

In 1989 Mykonoj Festival and the support to the "Sky Saxon's Dragonslayers". In 1999 the Rock Wave Festival, in 2000 Mylos Club Thessaloniki, and just before we break up the support to our legends "Electric Prunes" in 2002.

Why did you choose the name Purple Overdose?

Well it was something like a joke just because from a child yet my favorite colour was purple and in the teenage years one of my favourite band was Deep Purple. So you can figure out.

This might be a bit odd question, but still I want to ask you if you were inspired by any hallucinogens. If so, please tell us on what level and what in particular did you like to experiment with?

Still I'm in love with Mary Jane, and I did several times all the other psychedelics, and I dropped acid I don't remember how many times. Thank you! Wow! Those were the days, man!!

In 1994 you released self titled album, which is really great crafted with beautiful arrangements. A good year later another album came out titled "Solemn Visions". Tell us what are some circumstances behind this two releases?

Well, it started on "Indigo". It was the big turn in our sound as I told you before. We took a new organist and we arranged the flute as one of the lead instrument along with the guitar and keyboards. We stepped much further into the progressive music, with more complex arrangements, and lyrics. I think it was like a trilogy the "Purple Overdose", "Solemn Visions" and "Reborn" albums and I consider them as the best we ever offered.

In 1999 your last studio album was released titled "Reborn" and it's really considered by lots of fans as the best album you've done. Would you like to share some memories from recording and producing it?

Well, in that period of time I had many problems with the members of the band. You know, like which way we'll follow after that, about the sound production and many others. So in the Reborn album actually I worked alone with the presence of the other members of the band only in the sessions of each other. But I think that the "Reborn" helped a lot by the producer Jim Spliff who gave a great job in the sound. So I consider this as the best and the most mature of all our albums.

What happened to the band after this album was out? I know you've released some live cuts and also some early recordings…

After "Reborn", we've made many concerts to promote the album, and very successful I might say. But the problems inside the band became bigger and bigger  We decided to release a live best of album. So we recorded about 5 hours of live material and released it as a double album and a CD version with other tracks each all in very limited numbers. Then our last organist left the band and we took a new organist but the glass it was broken. I wrote some new stuff and we made demo recordings live in the studio with six tracks. And then came the end of the trip. After that I think in 2004 I made contact with Najoni records in Germany and we released the double "A tirp to Purpland" with live material to meet and play in some rehearsal jams together. So our last live performance was a reunion in an open theater in September 2005 in Tripoli.

One thing I need to mention is, you had a really great psych sound. What gear did you guys use?

I used vintage sound effects all analogy, Cry-baby wah, Vox fuzz box, Electro-harmonix fazers, Gibson Les-Paul guitar. Our bass player had a vintage fender. Pressicion bass, we used hammond, forfissa, cory organs and Rogers drum set.

What currently occupies your life?

Sell and buy. Also I'm a devoted collector of Psychedelic original records, and I'm listening music many hours, every day.

Anazitisi Records are planning to release your last recording from 2005. Would you like to present us what will be on the album? Are you excited about it?

The new and ever-last album will be called "Gemineye" and is the demo recordings we recorded from 2002 till 2007 and never released till now. So the production quality will be poor. But after that I love this stuff, which is more improvised and instrumental than all the other works. So yes I am really excited about it.

Are there any future plans for the band getting back together or did you all go on different paths?

No. We're going different paths.

Before we end our interview, what's on your turntable and what are you reading right now?

I love the beat. Writers Jery Rubin, Carlos Castanenta (science fiction), Abbie Hoffman, Timothy Leary. And now I'm listening to Joe and The Fish, and the new bands Paperhead, ARON, Cosmic Trip Machine, Obscuria and Cherry Choke.

Thank you very much for taking your time. Would you like to send a message to It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine fans or say anything else we didn't discuss in our interview?

Purple Overdose members (organ+percussion), old manager and two Electric Prunes members (when they were in Greece on tour where Purple Overdose were the support group).

Many thanks to you and to all the Psychedelic Baby Magazine fans. Keep on rocking guys and let the doors wide open!!

P.S. Some very talented friends and a very talented girlfriends!!

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar/2013
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