Well snow is falling heavily outside here in Stourbridge which means it's a perfect opportunity to stay warm and cosy inside while we write up another short instalment of the Raw Silk journey...
..beginning with the only member of the group to be involved from the start - Kostas Kyriakidis - who was also the original drummer with another renowned Greek heavy rock band: Spitfire.
He recorded drums on their album First Attack before leaving to form Raw Silk as he was keen to have his own material performed and recorded. One of the keyboard players on Silk Under the Skin, George Velentzas, was also a member of Spitfire, which is how the two first met.
Panos Kondilos was originally lead vocalist with Raw Silk. There's a rare demo of him singing on Street Girl here .
We're hoping to find some other early demo recordings to upload at some point. Panos was replaced early on though by George Florakis who was introduced to the group by his friend and keyboardist Rory Christopoulos.
Soooo... let's continue with a bit of background to the 3rd track from their first album Silk Under the Skin:
This song has LOADS of keyboards in it - in more ways than one - there are actually not one, not two but at least three keyboardists playing on the recording! Why? Well, bearing in mind that recording the album took a long 4 years to complete the players weren't always available when the recording session was booked. For example, George Velentzas began tracking the keyboards for the album but was then called up for army service so producer Kostas Kalimeris called upon Vasilis Ginos a brilliant session player who tracked the majority of the keyboards for this piece.
As the band didn't have a full time keyboardist at that point any suggestions for additions or alterations to the song such as 'How about an arpeggio here?' required finding a player who was available at short notice to come and add it to the recording.
So, the names of the three players who created such a great sound for the piece?
George Velentzas, Vasilis Ginos and Haris Papadopoulos.
As for guitars, Kostas says: 'I don't know how we persuaded Apostolis Bakopolous to play a melodic solo for the piece as he usually insists on more virtuosic playing. But we did and he made a brilliant job of it'.
This is the only song from the album that the late Makis Kolias played bass on, the remaining tracks being laid down by Yanis Plagianakos.
Incidentally, it is the first song that Kostas Kyriakidis tracked the drums for, so basically the recording of the whole album started with this one.
Kostas also says 'At the time I was really enjoying a close relationship with the 3 chord chord-progression (fa-so-la) and there isn't a better song than Irene to display that'.
And who is the song about? Hmmmm, I guess the current trend would be to say it's an autobiographical piece and we should make up some story about a girl called Irene who broke the heart of one of the band's members. Sorry to disappoint, but composer Kostas says 'Irene' just sounded nice.
HEROES DON'T CRY
The ballad of the album was written as an anti-war comment.
We had great fun doing the sound design for the opening of this piece (running footsteps and gunshots/battle sounds) in collaboration with producer Kostas Kalimeris using the magnificent E-mu System Emulator II.
All the orchestral samples and sound effects for the album (on this track and on Journey of No Return especially) were done using this.
The famous Greek composer Dimitris Papadimitriou - who later became a permanent collaborator with lead vocalist George Florakis - did the orchestral arrangement for us. He generously lent us the expensive Emulator, leaving it at the studio while we worked on the album.
A bit of techy stuff for you: due to the fact that we were tracking drums in the Sierra mirror room - which is a very reflective space - we decided not to use hi-hat or ride cymbals on this piece to avoid the bleed into the mics of the rest of the kit. Only crash cymbals were used.
Then Kalimeris did a brilliant job working his magic by using the Lexicon 224XL to create delay and ambient reverb effects that enhanced the groove of the piece.
Next time we'll talk about Street Girl which should no doubt have a page all to itself as it became the most popular track. You can check out the video to it here if you've not seen it before.
We also fancy doing a short write up as to why the album took so long to complete. Considering Raw Silk's recent second album The Borders of Light was recorded, mastered and manufactured within 10 months it'd be interesting to say something about what goes into the making of an album and how things have changed since the early 90s.
Click here for the Silk Under the Skin album lyrics