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The Godfathers: "We will calm down when we're six feet under"

The legendary frontman of the Godfathers, Peter Coyne, speaks to Summer Rain in a profundis interview about and around rock 'n' roll, the band's legacy and the part that music plays both in their lives and as a mirror to the society

Greek version here.

When the question is "which band comes first to your mind when you hear the phrase rock 'n' roll attitude", many answers can be given, but surely one of the first bands you would think of comes to the name of the Godfathers. 'Born' in 1985 by the brothers Peter and Chris Coyne, the Godfathers are one of the bands that made a statement in the rock 'n' roll scene since the 80s, but also in genres like punk rock and new wave, which they have influenced and have been influenced by as few bands have. Records like Hit by HitBirth, School, Work, DeathMore Songs About Love and HateUnreal World are considered as classics, while their more recent pieces of work since their reunion in 2008 follow the flow of the times staying always loyal to the roots of the band.

The Godfathers visited Greece in early September as headliners at the 10th anniversary of Street Mode Festival, in Thessaloniki, with their legendary frontman, Peter Coyne, talking to Summer Rain about everything: For Street Mode Festival itself, for the bands legacy and their part in the global music scene, but we also 'dived' in a profundis discussion around the musical genre they worthily represent: rock 'n' roll.

The band was created during a time that punk had already been 'evolved' to new wave, so it's safe to say that you have witnessed the so-called rise and fall of both of those genres. But have they really fallen?

Well the Godfathers are not a punk band, we're a rock 'n' roll group, but punk rockers definitely like us. I think because we play quite hard-edge stuff & we have a rebellious persona -we are authentic, the real deal! With punk festivals like Rebellion in the UK (which we played last year in a beautiful opera house in Blackpool) the punk scene in the UK, Europe & America is still really strong. Punk music or new wave will always be a massive influence on all kinds of new bands or scenes.

We would say that modern 'alternative' music has a great debt to both punk and new wave. Do you agree with this statement?

Yes I definitely agree. Everything new has to come from something older that went before -that's how music works. If you ignore what went before you are a fool.

Despite your origins, you always keep on evolving your very own sound. Do you think that constantly following the same steps eventually gets you to a dead end?

We always try to stay true to our rock 'n' roll roots but keep expanding that as we move along. Rock 'n' roll to me is glam rock, psychedelia, punk rock, blues, country, rockabilly, pop music and lots of other styles of music that I love. So there is a lot of different forms of music to explore and discover and twist around and draw inspiration from. We definitely put all those influences and more into the Godfathers' most recent album A Big Bad Beautiful Noise -it's full of great songs and different musical  textures on each track, so hen you hear it for the first time you don't really know what is going to happen next. It's an album that I'm really proud of. It's the Godfathers but with a harder, modern sound.

Was it a dead end when you decided to cease activity back in 2000?

Yes, sadly there were too many arguments and not enough song writing for me so we decided to finish the band. Except, of course, that was not the end!

What led you to the reunion, after eight whole years?

Personally I missed performing live, travelling round the world and writing songs -it can be very exciting being in a group. So we reactivated the original line-up of the Godfathers and released a 2 CD expanded version of our debut album Hit By Hit and toured round the world to promote it. And when that line-up had reached its own natural conclusion my brother Chris and I decided to carry on with the band. You only live once and you've got to make the most of it, right?

Since then, you have released two full length albums, about one every five years, instead of one almost every year. Would you say that you are more calmed down now, is the pressure of having to constantly write new music gone?

There is no pressure to write new songs -it's always a pleasure. The trick is to try and write much better songs than you did before and I truly believe the tracks on A Big Bad Beautiful Noise are more than equal to songs on albums by the Godfathers like Hit By Hit, Birth School Work Death, More Songs About Love & Hate and Unreal World that some people consider to be real, classic records. And I have definitely not calmed down as anybody who seen me onstage over the last few years could tell you! I will calm down when I'm dead and six feet under!

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you watch photos or videos from the glorious '80s and '90s?

Happy times! I have some great memories of those days and I got to meet and hang out with or play with some real idols of mine like Iggy Pop, The Ramones and David Bowie. I have enjoyed a pretty good life and I have no complaints.

Your latest piece of work, A Big Bad Beautiful Noise, is exactly what its title says. A bit more electric and one could say darker -at least the videos that you have released are darker- than what we were used to when thinking of the Godfathers. Would you say that your music follows the more electric -in terms of the rhythms of everyday life- and darker times that we're living now?

Oh yeah, for sure! The best rock 'n' roll music is a mirror to society and should reflect that society. These are dangerous times for everybody right now and the Godfathers' music and songs now try and capture the mood of the age. But it's got to be exciting and fun, this is rock 'n' roll music, this is entertainment after all. We are all products of our environment -especially bands like the Godfathers.

Your rock n' roll attitude remains the same though, so would it be correct to say that rock n' roll is a way of life and not only a musical genre?

Yes, yes, yes. The Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham wrote on their debut album back in '63 that they are not just a band but a way of life and that is absolutely true. Rock 'n' roll has got me through times of no money much better than money has got me through times of no rock 'n' roll. It makes me feel so alive to sing and scream and perform on stage with the Godfathers - you can't beat that feeling. Rock 'n' roll always says fuck the bosses and the politicians and so it should!

Where does rock n' roll really finds its meaning: Is it in the studio, on stage, or is it out in the streets?

Everywhere! I really don't know what I'd do if I didn't have great music to get me through the day -either creating it myself with the other members of the Godfathers or listening to someone else doing it. I really would be lost without it -there would be a big, big hole in my life if it was not there.

Speaking about the stage, you always give such energetic shows. Where does all this energy comes from?

I'm actually quite a shy person but I do get very, very intense on stage. Someone said "what's up with your singer? He looks like he wants to kill somebody" Haha! In the Godfathers we try and play each concert as though it is going to be our last and one day it will be our last. We are like vampires in that we draw some of our energy from the audience and then transfer it back to them times a hundred. We like to leave the people who come to see the Godfathers play live completely energized, totally satisfied and above all happy. It's such a great job doing that for a living.

* The main photo is taken by Lambros Loco Papaefthimiou during the Godfathers' show at the 10th Street Mode Festival. Read more here.

Lambros Loco Papaefthimiou

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Thank you, and may the force be with you.