Articles from Johnny Bacolas' career
Full Article here (Greek)
(translated from Greek)
A full-length interview on the career of the
remarkable guitarist / producer
Johnny Bacolas: The musical connection of Seattle with Greece.
To many people in Greece, the name Johnny Bacolas might not be known. But what has experienced the guitarist/producer of Greek origins in Seattle and the names that he has collaborated and interacted with, are irrefutable witnesses to his musical path! From the early years of Alice in Chains and of Layne Staley, to the personal glory with the Second Coming... with the career behind the producer’s console, but also with the collaborations with names of the Greek scene! Read a delightful interview with him, featuring Monster Magner, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Stratos Dionisiou, Harris Alexiou, Sofi Alexandrou, even Notis Sfakianakis!
-Read the interview below-
P: You have had a long career in Seattle and the rock/grunge scene, being there from the beginning. How did you get involved in that genre?
Johnny: When I was 12 years old, I got my first electric guitar and started straight into hard rock. About a year later, we started a rock band in the neighborhood, which I am sure you know, as it evolved into Alice In Chains! I guess like most musicians, I loved music so much that I almost felt compelled to learn to play a musical instrument. Later, I learnt to compose music and make productions. So, I just started out that way, and things evolved from there.
P: Looking back in the past, what is the strongest memory you have of the musical scene in general and the band you were associated with?
Johnny: I have wonderful memories of everyone! In the early incarnation of Alice In Chains (spelled Alice ‘N Chains back then), we were teenagers, just kids. You can imagine the joy we had as 4 teenagers in one of the most popular rock bands in Seattle. It was amazing! The space we had for rehearsals was like our own personal home. We hosted parties and hung out every weekend with our friends and with our girlfriends. Our shows were always sold-out, and we had a lot of great times. Those years are some of the most memorable of my life. I feel that as a rock band, what we lacked in musical knowledge we made up for in personality and artistry. Great memories...
Then with Second Coming, I feel like everything came together – the musicianship, the composition, the production, the perception of the music industry, the artistry, etc.... Then I started to feel very rewarding being an artist. Several of those performances are worth remembering. We were performing 300+ shows per year for several of years, all of it somewhat blurred now, but I can still remember the adrenaline rush that flowed through us when we were performing. My best memories are of performing live, being on stage for sure.
P: What was it like living with Layne Staley?
Johnny: That’s a difficult question... In many ways it was very nice. I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him, we did a lot of things together. We had a lot in common and I really loved him like a brother. On the other hand, it was a sad and dark time as well. We had a lot of good times, but again, to see someone you love, a childhood friend, have his health deteriorate so drastically and so quickly is very difficult to live through on a daily basis.
We lived together in 1994-1995, in a very nice area of Seattle called “Queen Anne Hill”. We lived on the top floor of a two-story house. Layne asked me if I wanted to move in with him one night during a camping trip we were on. He was not in a good health and it was already starting to be visible on his appearance. He looked frail, very thin and weak. I have many videos from that 7-day trip, and I can’t even watch them, it’s very sad. I moved 2 weeks later, as I recall. I think it was the summer of ’94.
During that period, although we had the darkness of heroin hanging over our house all the time, we had many good times. We always had friends visiting us at home, musicians, and other talented people. At that time, Layne was recording the Madseason album at Bad Animal Studios. So, Mike McCready (guitarist, Pearl Jam/ Madseason) was always at the house, as was Baker Saunders (bassist, Madseason) and many others who were friends of Layne and/or mine. I loved being surrounded by such talented people all the time, they were a source of inspiration.
But eventually I had to move, because this dark cloud was starting to affect my mental health too much. There was nothing I could do to help him, unfortunately no one could do anything at that point. I really tried to help him. To this day I have never found anyone with such charisma and personality... and of course talent.
I have wonderful memories of everyone! In the early incarnation of Alice In Chains (spelled Alice ‘N Chains back then), we were teenagers, just kids. Can you imagine the joy we had as 4 teenagers in one of the most popular rock bands in Seattle?
P: To change the mood, one of your songs (Second Coming) was included in the blockbuster movie “The sixth sense”. How did the deal for “The Unknown Rider” come about?
Johnny: The management called me one day and said they received a call from a music editor, asking to include one of our songs in a new Bruce Wills movie, called “The Sixth Sense”. We found out a little more information and finally approved the deal, simple as that! It happened quickly after we signed with Capitol Records in 1998 (the movie came out in 1999). The song is somewhere in the middle of the movie, during a birthday party. It was awesome to listen to it loud through the theater speakers when the movie came out!
P: You have shared the stage with famous bands and artists. Who would you single out?
Johnny: Some of the most memorable shows were with artists like Motorhead, Lenny Kravitz, Van Halen, Kidd Rock and Fuel. But my favorite band to see after our show was Monster
Magnet. It was the first tour that Capitol put us on. Their album “Spacelord” had just come out and was very often on the radio.
I really enjoyed playing a lot of “House of Blues” places around the country with them, as well as places like Harpo’s in Detroit and various clubs on the East Coast and the Midwestern part of the United States. When they started “Dopes To Infinity” I would grab the best spot I could on the side of the stage (or in a balcony, if we were playing at House of Blues) and enjoy their performance from there. This was one of the songs we played on the tour bus 15 minutes before we were due to go on stage to get our adrenaline pumping!
P: Second Coming had a great reputation in the 90’s and 00’s. How was their reunion decided? Is it just for gigs or are there plans for new music?
Johnny: We had a meeting and discussed it, but we don’t have any definite plans yet.
P: You have also covered Greek songs, such as “Afilotimi” and “To Agalma”. How did you
choose these particular ones?
Johnny: When I was a child, my parented only listened to Greek music. I remember these songs playing at home, at the bouzouki that our parents would take us to in Seattle and in the car. My father’s favorite singer was Stratos Dionisiou, so these songs were very much present in my childhood.
“Afilotimi” came about after the lead singer of Second Coming listened to it playing in my Jeep for a long time – as we drove to our concerts. I always had Greek music playing in my car and he really liked a few songs, with this being one of them. Eventually, he memorized the words, unbeknownst to me, and one day when I went to the studio, I was surprised to hear him recording them on one of our songs that already had a Mediterranean part in the middle (at the time, our song was still intitled). We hadn’t planned it...
“To Agalma” on the other hand, has always been one of my favorite Greek songs and melodies. I started with the idea to prepare a house/dance version of the songs, but it evolved into something much more. I asked one of my favorite 90’s singers, George Sarris (Zig Zag) if he would be interested in participating. He listened to the song as I was preparing his production and he agreed. In fact, I am currently in the process of re-recording the guitar parts of the song with my new guitarist and giving it a Gypsy Kings style sound. I love creating these international collaborations and I love the technology that allows me to do it.
P: Would you say that your main role is that of a musician or a producer in your current phase?
Johnny: I would say they are both equally so, as they are both evolving. I play several instruments – the guitar, the bass, bouzouki – I’m constantly writing music and producing, so I’d say I balance them. But I am very happy with the experience I’ve gained as a producer over the last few years as I focus on my own productions.
P: How did you get in touch with the INK? You produced “Ophelia” and appeared in the video clip!
Johnny: Christos (Tsalantis, Vocals) approached me through Facebook several years ago. He was a fan of Second Coming, from the time he had watched us on MTV in Greece while he was doing his stint. He contacted me to produce an obsessive, dreamy and epic love song he had written with their guitarist, Kostas (Apostolopoulos). They sent me the song, I think at the time he only had guitar and vocals, and I thought it had a lot of potential. I liked the feeling of it very much. In my mind, I was making a lot of music, a lot of layers that could be added to the song.
I did most of the production in my home studio and then the mixing and mastering at the famous London Bridge Studios here is Seattle. Both Christos and I believe that we achieved the desired result. Then, when they were preparing the video, the guys asked me to make an appearance in it, so a friend of mine shot the footage here and we sent it to Savvas (Karampalasi, the video’s director) in Alexandroupolis.
I worked closely with Christos during this period, and we got to know each other well on a personal level. I consider him one of my very close friends, and so does my mother who also met him and loves him! With all due respect to their new album, I think it deserves a label deal, it’s very good. They have grown both as a band and as songwriters. There are very strong songs, and the production is very nice throughout the album, as are their videos. I’m very proud of them for this album.
P: Are there plans for further cooperation? Christos recently told me about thoughts of working together more.
Johnny: Yes, we will work together again in the future. Christos and I have had several conversations via Skype, and I look forward to working with them again on the production of their songs. Also, we have spoken to the very well-known Pamela Moore (known for her work with Queensryche) about working with us at some point and she is interested. I would love to do something together and we are looking for the right song.
P: Is this the music we expect from you or do you have other plans in the works?
Johnny: The new album I’m working on is for my new group, which is currently anonymous. That’s my priority right now, to record this album and get the band ready to perform live. The music is almost all recorded, 13 songs in total.
I also deal with the composition and production of songs for Greek singers. In 2009 I gave Harris Alexiou a song I had written for her. She liked it a lot and recorded 2 different versions with different conductors in Athens. Unfortunately, she was not satisfied with the result and she is a perfectionist, like me. She is a master. I have unreserved respect for her, and her work and I was honored that she worked on one of my songs for her album. In July 2013 she invited me to her performance at the Herodesio, it was one of the most magical nights of my life!
We met in person after the show, and she was very polite and very pretty. I’m also currently working on 2 songs for Notis Sfakianakis – although he doesn’t know it yet. He’s my favorite singer, perhaps he is the best of all! It’s my dream to record with him and maybe share the stage with him. I’m working with a singer/songwriter, Sophia Alexandrou, on Greek songs. We just
finished composing a Zeibekiko song – with another composer, George Stevens – that I’m excited about, called “Stahti” (ashes).
P: You have been working on other musical themes recently though, like the OST of the movie “Drag Hell: Zombies (Meat Lovers)”...
Johnny: I was the music editor and the producer, as well as one of the composers. Initially, I was approached by the executive producer to do a remix of one of the songs in the film “I Need Your Love”. That conversation led to discussions about taking on the positions I eventually took on. That’s how I ended up working on the film for 4 months. I gathered material from various artists I knew, such as The Crying Spell (of whom I was a member from 2006-2010), INK (with the song “Ophelia”), Pamela Moore, Len Hotrum and others. I composed a lot of the music myself.
P: Are you working on other productions at the moment?
Well, I am actually working on the production of the debut album of my new band, The Rumba Kings. We started last June.
P: Do you visit Greece at all, do you have any favorite places here?
Johnny: Yes, of course. During my childhood I spent the summers mainly in Athens, where my father comes from, and in Lamia, where my mother comes from. As a teenager I spent my holidays with friends on the islands, with Mykonos, Santorini and Naxos being my favorites. I also have many fond memories of a village near Lamia, Mili, where many of my mother’s relatives live. The most recent visit was in 2018, when we shot videos in Mykonos and Santorini, and I hope the next time will be next June.
P: It was my pleasure to do this interview Johnny! Please add whatever you want for the readers of Afternoiz and the Thrace Observer.
Johnny: Thank you very much Paschalis for the interest and the interview! I really appreciate the opportunity to make my work known in Greece, especially through such respected media and people like you. I had heard the best from our mutual friends and thank you again!
I would like to mention a Greek song that I’m producing and I’m excited about it. It’s called “Den tha se ksexasw“ (I won’t forget you), a wonderful love song by The Rumba Kings. I’ve been working for a while now with a talented singer from Athens, Sophia Alexandrou, who I mentioned earlier. She is the daughter of a well-known singer from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, Lakis Alexandrou, with hits like “Egw tha zw na tragoudw” (I Will Live to Sing), “Kalo mou oneiro” (My good dream), “Adio spiti mou” (my empty house), “Prosefhi” (Prayer) and others. His characteristic voice and his beautiful melodies captivated audiences in Greece and abroad. I met Sophie through Facebook when she was touring with Stelios Dionisiou last summer. I thought she had a wonderful voice when I watched the videos, she reminded me of Natassa Theodoridou and Harris Alexiou at times. I sent her the song “Never Forget you”, she liked it a lot and I asked her if she would be interested in working on a Greek version of it. She translated it from English, changed some lyrics and sang it in her passionate and soulful voice. The first time she sang it in Greek to me and George Stevens via Skype, we were speechless! Takis Damaschis from C:Real has helped us record her vocals in his home studio (Thanks a lot Takis!). A mutual friend, Annita Damaschi, sister of Takis, has helped me a lot with the music industry in Greece and we are very close as a family. I am also looking forward to new collaborations with Greek artists and I am always looking for new talents from all over the world. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sadness for the sudden loss of Pantelis Pantelidis, one of the young singers I liked a lot. Great tragedy, my thoughts are with his family and the 2 girls who were with him during the car accident.
As I mentioned before, I am preparing my new album in the near future, an album that I think will define my style. I really think it will be the best thing I’ve done in my career. I hope everyone will listen to it and enjoy it. I can’t wait to come to my beloved Greece this summer and meet everyone who is reading this article right now.
You can find me on Facebook and on my new band's site
johnnybacolas.com (now changed to the following website address>) www.therumbakings.net thank you very much!!
Special to The National Herald
November 7-8, 1998
NEW YORK – Yanni “Johnny” Bacolas, a Greek American who plays bass for the bands Second Coming, the Seattle musical sensation that has broken into the music world like few bands before it, has been known to drape the Greek flag over his amp, and on occasion, wave it around at the audience, getting a roar from the hundreds of Greeks who are in attendance in his Seattle concerts.
George and Pat Bacolas are the parents of Yanni, the former from Athens and the latter from Lamia. They have stood steadfast by their son, and have attended all of his concerts in the Seattle area. “I couldn’t have done it without their support,” Bacolas says, referring to his parents. “And I couldn’t have done it without the support of the Greek community in Seattle, for that matter,” explaining how people approach him after church to congratulate him.
If you’ve been tuned-in to the latest in the US rock scene, you would know about Second Coming. In a fierce bidding war involving behemoths such as Capitol, Columbia, RCA, Elektra, Virgin and others, the band finally signed a mega-deal with Capitol Records for an undisclosed amount. Such a battle is a testament to the promise Second Coming shows for becoming the next lasting rock band on a par with big name groups before them, such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.
President and CEO of Capitol Record, Gary Gersh, who is known for having taken-on bands like Nirvana, was instrumental in bringing Second Coming over to Capitol. He paid close attention to the band from the get-go, nurturing a relationship which he believes will give both his company and the band, the opportunity to make money and be successful. Gersh, talking about Second Coming, said in a recent interview “I think they have a good idea of who they are in the marketplace, where they can fit in and what their strengths are… and they know what it’s going to take to (succeed).”
(continued from above)
It is easy to understand how Second Coming has gotten where they are after speaking to Bacolas, who is one of the two original members of the band, together with James Bergstrom (drummer), a friend since the age of four. Although he modestly credits the efforts of each of the band member for their success, “the best musicians I have ever played with,” it is because of his determination, hard-work and level-headed business savvy that the stage was set for their music to be recognized.
In an interview with The National Herald, Bacolas discussed the evolution of his band. Together with Bergstrom, Travis Bracht (vocals, guitar), and Dudley Taft (guitar, programming) –a descendant of former US president Taft- they performed as FTA (“Funding the Album”), playing Top 40 rock covers in the outskirts of Seattle. For about a year and a half, the band gigged 7 nights a week, 320 days a year, in an effort to put together money allowing them to fund the production of their first album. They would bank their earnings and spend most of their days writing lyrics and composing music in a grueling routine that has paid-off dearly.
While performing with FTA, each band member was responsible for different areas in developing their success. Yanni worked more on the business end of things doing taxes, arranging bookings, and negotiating with manufacturers and distributors to get their compact disk out. Finally, in December of 1997, after having co-produced their own eight-track with Kelly Gray (Candlebox), the band began shopping it around when only a few months later the bidding war began among the major record labels.
Bacolas admits that the deal with Capitol has allowed him to focus more on their music. “This has been a dream come true,” says Bacolas, whose Second Coming is now touring with the major rock band Candlebox. “This is like a continual vacation. All I’ve ever wanted to do is play music.”
Ever since he picked-up his first guitar at the age of twelve, Bacolas knew that playing music was “the missing piece off the puzzle in my life.” With great passion, Bacolas played guitar in every spare moment of his time, honing his craft, sometimes at the expense of his grades in school. But, he says, “my parents realized early-on that music was my thing, and they’ve showed incredible support throughout. They believed in me.” He will readily testify that he has never done drugs, or gotten drunk out of control, something one might associate with the young, hard-core rockers and something which made it easier for his parents to understand just how serious he was about his music. “I just like to play,” he remarks.
Unlimited in scope, Bacolas plans on introducing the bouzouki to their music when they return from a current national tour and start working on their new album. He points out American acceptance of the mandolin by the success of songs such as “Losing My Religion” by REM, and he believes that the bouzouki is “a much deeper and more passionate” instrument.
Bacolas learned to play bouzouki about the same time he started playing guitar, and has always listened to Greek music, remembering how often his father would be playing Stratos Dionysiou at home. In his car, Bacolas plays Greek music exclusively, even while travelling with his fellow non-Greek band members. In fact, Dudley Taft, impressed with the song “Afilorimi”, by Stratos Dionysiou, decided to write his own version for the band using the same title, and it was eventually produced as part of their debut CD.
Some of Bacolas’ favorite Greek musicians include Dionysiou, Mitropanos, and Sfakianakis. And while at a Zig Zag concert in Greece six years ago, Bacolas remembers that, out of the blue, one of the dancers in the performance approached him and invited him backstage at the request of one of the band members. Ever since, he has remained a good friend to Zig Zag’s lead singer Dimitris Zbektos.
Some time down the road, Bacolas would like to play for audiences in Greece where he believes there is a huge market for his music. And this for him is another dream “that is going to happen.” He chuckles recalling his experiences years ago in Greece when no one really knew that his hometown Seattle is in a state called Washington, and not in the nation’s capital. Only today, with the recognition that Seattle has gotten as a breeding ground for musicians, the city became known in Greece much in the way Hollywood is known as a movie-making town.
Bacolas was big fan of groups such as Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Kiss, AC/DC and others back when he was a teen, with the Beatles and the Doors remaining his two favorite. He describes Second Coming’s music as “the Doors mixed with what today’s technology has to offer,” which has been described by Capitol as a hard rock sound which has “blurred the lines between the grunge sound (of Seattle) and classical rock.” The band’s focus is on producing good music that will have a lasting quality much like the classical rock songs we still listen to today. The band’s song “Confessional” is over seven minutes in length, which makes it less commercially viable, but the group is determined to produce whatever they think is good.
And while Second Coming’s popularity continues to develop, being limo-driven from gig to gig touring with other major rock bands – soon with Aerosmith – playing for thousands of screaming fans and hanging-out with Gersh at his California mansion, Bacolas has maintained a very down-to-earth attitude where the only thing that matters is his music. He pines at the opportunities he gets to play in small, crowded and sweaty clubs where he could just jam. After all, it has always been about the music to him. He has had an unwavering passion, and he says he would never want to go back and change anything about his past.
The band’s current single “Soft” has entered the top 25 on rock radio with over 600 spins in one week. Bacolas expects a number of other songs from their debut “Second Coming” CD to hit the charts as top singles.
Second Coming, Bacolas believes, is a “powerful name that will stay around for a long time, like Black Sabbath has.” Although the band members might give you their varying interpretations of it, the name can be seen as a metaphor for the new, fresh sound of rock that the band produces. It is the second coming of music out of Seattle, which has overworked the grunge thing.
Whether a fan of their style of music or not, Second Coming’s self-titled CD is a powerful collection of just hard core music that is best listened to blasted from your stereo. The hard rock element dominates: with a small injection of techno and a grunge influence. The musicians beat out high-spirited tunes that are harmoniously kept under control by their enticing rhythms. And in their song “Afilotimi”, we hear the ingenuity of their music as Travis Bracht sings Greek during a deep and moody, Mediterranean- sounding interlude: “stin diki sou tin kardia, afilotimi.”
Unwinding the interview, Bacolas reveals what seemed to be building from the start: “And my ultimate dream is to build a small villa in Santorini with a recording studio.” This shouldn’t surprise anyone, and you can bet your bottom dollar, he’ll be there creating music someday.
By Gene Stout
POP MUSIC CRITIC
May 15, 1998
Seattle rock band Second Coming is about to capitalize on a new recording contract. “It’s a doozy of a deal,” said bassist Yanni (“Johnny”) Bacolas of the contract his group signed last Friday with Capitol Records.
“It’s beyond my dreams,” added lead singer Travis Bracht.
Though band members wouldn’t talk specifics, the multi-album deal follows a vigorous bidding war that erupted among Capitol, Columbia, Elektra and other major labels.
The winning bid came from Capitol, whose president and CEO, Gary Gersh, has worked with Nirvana and Foo Fighters.
“We don’t really comment on deals,” Gersh said by phone from Los Angeles. “But it’s one that gives them the opportunity to make money and be successful and gives us the same opportunity.”
Los Angeles-based entertainment lawyer Kim Guggenheim helped negotiate the contract.
“It’s a multi-album deal potentially worth many millions of dollars,” Guggenheim said. “But the record company and the band have to agree to do all those records together.”
Second Coming’s first album on Capitol will be a repackaged version of the band’s current, eponymous album produced by Kelly Gray. Three new songs, also produced by Gray, will be added.
“It must be immensely satisfying for them as musicians and performers to have recorded this album by themselves and have so many labels think it was so terrific,” Guggenheim said.
Gersh discovered Second Coming after members of his own A&R (“artists & repertoire”) department began following the group. Negotiations heated up when Gersh flew to Seattle to see the band’s April 10 performance at the Fenix.
Gersh said he was impressed by the group’s self-assurance and the quality of its music.
“I think they have a good idea of who they are in the marketplace, where they can fit in in and what their strengths are,” he said. “And I think they know what it’s going to take to (succeed).”
A key player in the group’s major-label signing was Greg Sorrels, “aggressive rock editor” for the Album Network. Sorrels, who lives in Los Angeles, began “shopping” the group’s album to big labels last December. “I think their songs are better than what anybody else is doing right now,” Sorrels said.
Second Coming’s hard-rocking melodic sound fits in with what other popular young bands, among them Days of New and Creed, are currently doing.
“It’s a sound that’s really popular right now,” Sorrels said.
Second Coming features original members Bacolas and drummer James Bergstrom, plus lead singer Bracht (formerly of Seattle band Peace and Silence) and guitarist Dudley Taft (formerly of Sweet Water).
An early ally of the band was Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley, who recorded a song with an earlier lineup of the band and later sang it at several performances.
Seattle rock station KISW-FM has been a Second Coming supporter for five years. The station is playing three songs – “Vintage Eyes,” “Travisty” and “The Song” – from the group’s current album.
“Rock radio is really craving some new music,” KISW’s Cathy Faulkner said.
Seattle Post Intelligencer
What’s Happening section
Friday, October 9, 1998
By Gene Stout
PI POP MUSIC CRITIC
Travis Bracht, lead singer for Seattle rock band Second Coming, isn’t of Greek decent. But he sings a powerful and convincing version of “Afilotimi,” based on a traditional song.
The song, which includes Greek lyrics, as well as original English lyrics by Bracht, is on the band’s new Capitol Records debut album, “Second Coming.”
It was bandmate and bassist Yanni “Johnny” Bacolas, whose parents are Greek, who introduced the song to Bracht.
“When I first started hanging out with Johnny, he was always listening to Greek music in his Jeep,” Bracht said by phone from a tour stop in Columbus, Ohio. “And I thought, ‘Cool.’ I’ll listen to anything. If I dig it, I dig it. And Mediterranean music is rad.”
Bacolas made Bracht a tape of Greek music that included a version of “Affilotimi.” “I learned the Greek (lyrics) from listening to it over and over again,” Bracht said. Guitarist Dudley Taft suggested doing an original version of the song for the album, adding some guitar parts and English lyrics.
I added this deep Mediterranean Doors-y feel to the song,” Bracht said. The English words are what I thought Affilotimi was about. Because I didn’t know the meaning of the Greek lyrics and nobody could really explain them.”
Bracht’s lyrics begin with the verse, It was the strangest look I’ve ever seen/ All the stars had mischief in their eyes.”
Even if “Affilotiomi” became a rock anthem for young Greek-Americans, it isn’t the song radio listeners are likely to here in the coming weeks. The first single is, “Soft,” a heavy rocker that is moving up Billboard’s main-stream rock chart as the group tours the country. Other songs include the high energy, Confessional,” the delicate, “Vintage Eyes” and the hyperkinetic, “Electric Head.”
The Capitol album is a repackaged version of the band’s previous self-titled album produced by Kelly Gray. Three new songs, also produced by Gray, were added to the Capitol version.
This month, second coming – Bracht, Bacolas, Taft, and drummer James Bergstrom – joins Candlebox for a tour primarily of the South and Southwest.
After winning a vigorous bidding war to sign the band, Capitol has pledged plenty of promotional support, despite the departure of label head Gary Gersh. Gersh, who was involved in the careers of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, played an important role in signing Second Coming to Capitol.
“I think they have a good idea of who they are in the marketplace, where they can fit in, and what their strengths are,” Gersh said of the band after Capitol signed the group last May. “I think they know what it’s going to take to succeed.”
But reality didn’t set in until the group was out on its current tour. “It didn’t really hit us until we saw the bus,” Bracht said, referring to the group’s mammoth tour bus. Bracht isn’t sure if he’s fully prepared for mainstream success, should it come.
“I haven’t gotten used to the fact that we’re actually doing this, getting on and off the bus and performing all over the country,” he said.
Second coming is currently opening for other bands. Bracht said the band is looking forward to doing more of its own headlining dates
During its free “A Pain in the Grass” concert in July at the Seattle Center Mural Amphitheater, Second Coming performed one of its favorite set-closers, a bluesy, jam-oriented version of The Doors’ “LA Woman.” The husky-voiced Bracht is a striking facsimile of Jim Morrison.
“I think our record length on that song is 28 minutes,” Bracht said with a hearty laugh. “When we were a cover band we’d play that song for half an hour just to eat up time.”
Unfortunately the group’s Seattle fans aren’t likely to hear the song -- or the band -- live for some time. No Seattle shows are currently scheduled. “We really miss our home crowd,” Bracht said.
(translated from Greek)
A musical bridge connects Seattle with Alexandroupolis.
The American music producer Johnny Bacolas, a recognized personality of the world of music scene, is in Alexandroupolis.
Together with the INK for a few days, where they have been planning and considering a new partnership.
The American music producer Johnny Bacolas is in Alexandroupolis together with INK for a few days, where they are planning and considering a new collaboration.
Johnny Bacolas is a recognized personality of the Seattle music scene, known for his career with Second Coming, whose singles made a big impact on American radio and the Billboard chart and their song “Unknown Rider” is featured in the blockbuster “The Sixth Sense” with Bruce Willis.
Bacolas was also the original guitarists in Alice In Chains and is known for his childhood, brotherly friendship and cohabitation with the alternative scene legend Layne Staley. He has toured with Van Halen, Candlebox, Monster Magner, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz, Fuel, Sponge, The Goo Goo Dolls.
He has worked with Tiger Budbill of the American X Factor and Terry McDermot of The Voice.
INK are already selecting songs for their third album, while Ophelia from their album “Loom” released this year is the first collaboration between the two sides.
Ophelia was produced at London Bridge Studios in Seattle, where recordings of big names such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bon, Alice In Chains, Blind Melon, Zak Wide, 3 Doors Down took place.
(translated from Greek)
A few days ago, Johnny Bacolas was in our city. A Greek-American music star from Seattle in the United States, known to rock fans for his passage through Alice In Chains and his later great successes with his band Second Coming and their self-tilted album.
Bacolas, now a music producer, was hosted in Alexandroupolis as a guest of one of “our” bands, INK, as they are planning a great musical collaboration.
“360” met Johnny and had a delightful chat with him with stories straight out of a movie. From his first steps into the rock music arena at just 12, hanging out with Layne Staley of Alice In Chains, how a bartender can find you a top singer for your band by chance, and an adventure in a strip club where he sat next to a rock star for a long time without recognizing him, and offered to buy him drinks, thinking he wouldn't have any money!
One of the highlights of his career was his contribution to the soundtrack “Sixth Sense” with Bruce Willis, which almost resulted in an... Armageddon!
-When did you start playing music?
I started playing music when I was 12 years old. A year later I formed my first band, Sleaze, with my friends from school. On drums was James Bergstrom, a kid named Ed, and of course Layne Staley who was introduced to us by his brother Ken Elmer.
-Tell us the story behind the first album of Second Coming.
In 1993 to 94 and while we had already released our first album “LOVEVIL”, we realized that we weren't going to go ahead with Maxi on vocals, since he didn't have what it took to succeed. At one point, a bartender we knew told us about a guy who was rocking clubs in Everett, so we decided to go see him along with James Bergstrom.
When we saw him, we were shocked. We went up and played a few songs with Travis Bracht on stage, from what I remember of Alice In Chains and Metallica. I turned around and looked at James at the time and I knew it was exactly what we wanted. Later, and while we were having some court battles with Maxi, we found Dudley Taft on guitar, renamed ourselves “FTA” (Fund the Album) and started playing everywhere to raise money. When we finished the album, I sent the demos to our producer Kelly Gray. I knew we had a good chance of getting signed since I really believed the material and everyone who had heard it had told me the same. We finally made it and signed to Capitol and started touring. I would say our self-titled album is my favorite and the one that put us on the musical map, but there are quite a few songs we like from the next album, "13". My friend Eric Snyder who replaced Dudley on guitars wrote some amazing songs back then and is one of my favorite guitarists.
-What are your favorite bands?
I have a lot of favorite bands. I'll give some examples. I like both Radiohead and Lana Del Ray, also Monster Magnet, and from Seattle I would say the most distinctive album of the era and our city was Alice In Chains' Facelift.
-What was the biggest radio hit of “Second Coming”?
Soft and Vintage eyes. We put 3 songs on the Billboard. Two of them went to number 11.
-You are one of Layne Staley’s best friends, how would you describe him as a character and as a person?
Layne was very humble, it seems strange that such a big star could be humble and yet it was happening to him. On stage of course he was something very different, he would grab the microphone and mesmerize the crowd, he was very confident. But behind it all he was a very sincere, modest character. Clean and honest, there was nothing fake about him. Strong personality and very intelligent, very honest. You can understand how he felt about everybody, he didn't hide. If he was angry, he showed it, the same if he was happy. He didn't hide anything at all. I think he liked the fame, but it didn't alienate him at all he remained himself, he just liked to show that he could achieve things.
-What is your opinion about INK and their music? Are you planning a new musical collaboration?
INK is one of my favorite bands in Europe and beyond. I haven't listened to anything so good in Rock bands in the last years, their music touches me a lot, the production, the lyrics, the vocals, the guitars, all of them. It's a band with soul and a lot of feeling, which is very rare nowadays. They remind me a lot of Alice In Chains while I hear something of the Doors and classic bands also in their music. I will definitely do stuff with them and I think they have all the elements to do something in America, they don't lack anything. I've changed rock now, it's hard to listen to records like Monster Magnet's Dopes to Infinity. Same with INK it's just that in this day and age it's very hard for radio stations to pick such quality music. Twenty years ago things were much better for all these bands, nowadays people are looking for the easy stuff. It's a real shame they don't have a contract with a multinational company today. The Ophelia we did together is a genre in itself, cinematic, it's not like anything at all, it doesn't fit in, it has poetry and image. I want us to continue on the same path, to try to touch people's souls with the new songs...
-Talk to us about the movie “The Sixth Sense” starring Bruce Willis. You were involved in the production of the soundtrack.
Apart from “The Sixth Sense”, we had been offered to sign with Columbia. If we had done that, we would have been in “Armageddon!”. It’s funny because it’s another Bruce Willis movie. This was all arranged by our manager. It’s a great feeling to listen to your music in the theater. The truth is, we didn’t expect the movie to be such a big hit at first. We felt really proud!
-What is your favorite memory from your tours? What stories would you live to share with us about the stars you’ve met?
I think it was in Toronto, Canada. After the shows, we met in a strip club. I was there with the guys from Monster Magnet, with whom we had been playing on tour for a long time. There was a guy with short hair sitting at the table, we drank together for hours, had a great time. I noticed all the women were approaching him and really wanted him, I thought it was probably someone famous, but I couldn't figure out who. I offered to buy because we had just signed with a multinational company and we always had money on us to spend. The women kept coming around. At one point our singer comes to get me to leave and he is left with his mouth hanging open! He starts yelling "you're the reason I'm an artist and I started singing!" He says, "do you know who that is? It's Ian Astbury from The Cult." I was really embarrassed and I apologized. I had offered to buy him drinks as I thought he might not have any money! He smiled and said “Don’t, please”... I'd been with such a great singer for so many hours and I didn't understand him because he'd had a haircut at the time. And I remembered him with his very long hair. In general, I had a lot of great times with Monster Magnet and with Brett Scallions of Fuel.
(Translated from Greek)
(published Aug 29, 2016)
There are people in music who no longer appear on the front pages of music magazines, nor will their poster be placed in a teen room. But for those who go a little deeper into the creative process of bands, they definitely know them. And they can easily tell the difference in the process. One of these people is the music producer. But some go from the role of rock star to the invisible to most side of creation.
So these days we have a very interesting visit to Alexandroupolis, that of Johnny Bacolas. Invited by the INK band, the big producer will participate in the recordings of this acritic band. As we read in e-evros.gr, Johnny Bacolas will be for a few days to a new collaboration with the band. "Johnny Bacolas is a well-known figure in the Seattle music scene, known for his track record with Second Coming, whose singles made a name for themselves on American radio and on the Billboard charts. Their song Unknown Rider is featured on the blockbuster" Sixth Sense "with Bruce Willis.
Bacolas was also the original guitarist in the first form of Alice in Chains and is known for his childhood, brotherly friendship and cohabitation with the great legend of the alternative scene, Layne Staley. He has toured with Van Halen, Candlebox, Monster Magnet, Kid Rock, Lenny Kravitz, Fuel, Sponge, The Goo Goo Dolls. He has composed songs for Tiger Budbill of the American X Factor and for Terry Mc Dermot of The Voice. " reports e-evros.gr.
We must remember that this is not the first time that INK cooperates with the big producer. They have already collaborated on the song Ophelia from their album Loom. As we read in the same article: "Ophelia was produced at London Bridge Studios in Seattle where recordings of big names such as Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Alice in Chains, Blind Melon, Zack Wilde, 3 Doors Down took place."
However, RockOverdose.gr - Rock Overdose Music Webzine personally contacted the band singer Chris Tsantalis, who told us a few words about this visit: "I feel very happy that a child hero came to visit us in our city. For me personally it is the fulfillment of many dreams together, the fact that in addition to being a great musician and a great person makes these moments even more magical, all I can say is a big thank you."
Asked about their third album being prepared, the singer replied: "As for our third work, we are choosing the songs, while Bacolas has already closed a new collaboration with a great and historic voice of the Seattle scene." How did this collaboration come about?
"The first collaboration was with the production of Ophelia, which I believe is one of our most important songs, Johnny's professionalism made us want to record with him again. "Our relationship is now very friendly and we are very happy that we have the good fortune and honor to consider him his good friends." Chris concludes.
We are waiting for the third album of the band and as it seems this collaboration will have very interesting results.
"Ophelia" by Ink.
Produced by Johnny Bacolas
(Cameo appearance by Johnny Bacolas at intro of video)