Creating a bridge between then and now, Felony Case is right at home delivering riffs and grooves inspired by the 1980s. The Ioannina, Greece-based band taps into new old school ideas with a strong contemporary presence. Enthusiasts can even order the Felony Case guitarist’s official distortion pedal and the bass player’s overdrive stompbox. Add the power and rhythm of the drums, prog rock-ish keys and soaring vocals and the sound quickly becomes Felony Case.
The debut EP from Felony Case, Strangers Give More, is a four song collection ranging from melodic with the gently moody, atmospheric opener “Still Not Me,” to the more raucous 5:40 “Whiskey Night.” In between the two, the EP’s title track exhibits clout by way of a brief “La Grange” retro style intro. Meanwhile, the band is currently working on a full length album. But that is only half the story. Outside the recording studio, Felony Case’s music translates well with live audiences, especially that irresistible raw, edgy guitar tone. But make no mistake because this is a team effort. Check out the live version of “Strangers Give More” on YouTube. Watch what the band also brings to cover songs, including “Danger Zone,” from the hit Top Gun soundtrack.
Felony Case is Faidra Potsika – lead vocals; George Gousias – guitar; Antonis Adam – bass; Vangelis Goulas – drums; and Alexander Papanastasiou – keyboards. For a closer look, Felony Case recently shared some questions and answers with musicinterviewmagazine.com.
Musicinterviewmagazine.com: Why has hard rock from the 1980s been so influential with Felony Case?
Antonis Adam: To answer this let me give the backstory behind Felony Case. The band is the follow-up to a previous project of mine so it is built around my music influences, which one way or another were the music influences of the rest of the band. I was born in 1977 and at the age of 10, I came across what became my introduction to rock music, the album Appetite for Destruction. And of course, after that I started digging into the 1980s hair metal sleaze rock scene with bands like Mötley Crüe, Cinderella, Bonfire, Scorpions and others. So, I always wanted to have a music project along these lines. This project was a cover band named Wild Drive. As always in such projects, people were coming and going. At some point Vangelis, our drummer, came along, who had more or less similar tastes in music. It must be something about our ages, since we are the “seniors” of the band.
Next, I brought along my dear friend George [Gousias] who always wanted to play guitar in a 1980s hard rock band, even though he was not born during that time. George was a replacement to our first guitarist. And when we were looking for a singer, Faidra came along. And as the song goes, “She’s only 17,” at the time. We had no trouble convincing her [Faidra] that she had the voice for the genre and it seems we were right. And as all initial members of Wild Drive were gone, we decided to change our name to Felony Case and turn it to something more than a cover band. Just for the record, Alex [Papanastasiou] was introduced to the band in late 2018, so he is the junior member of the band.
George Gousias: For me, the decade of the 1980s has been more of an idea than just a musical influence. People were happy and carefree and as a result this was widely shown in the music. Bands like Twisted Sister, Mötley Crüe and Cinderella really had great musicianship and a huge impact on people’s ideas and minds. So, as someone who did not live in this great era, I would like to have just a small taste of this energy or force. I don’t know how to describe this. Antonis, a good friend, with whom I had co-operated some years before on a rock band, offered me the position of the guitarist on the band. The answer was yes.
Faidra Potsika: As the youngest member of the band I have no connection by age to this era. I am 20 years old. So, when I got the offer to join the band, I was very skeptical because I was not into rock at all. I just never had the chance to experiment with rock, so I decided to take it. Being three years in a rock band, I have come to love rock music from the 1980s just as much as I love any other genre. It is just so influential to me and gives me the chance to express myself. In kind of a joke we make, every time I listen to rock music just for fun and not for a Felony Case project, the guys act all surprised and ask me what happened.
How have sleaze and glam metal also influenced the music of Felony Case?
Antonis: As I said before, these are my main influences. George and Alex are more influenced by the classic hard rock sounds. If it was up to me, we would be heading completely in that direction. I would also love to introduce some puro on stage, more sleazy lyrics and etcetera. Yet, you definitely can find the glam metal attitude in our riffs. “Whiskey Night” has that raw power and “Strangers Give More” has exactly the energy of the genre. I definitely can feel the early 1980s Van Halen, Crüe and so on’s mojo during the guitars in both songs.
George: Antonis is correct, even though I am huge fan as I wrote earlier, of the 80s, my earliest influences are from the decade of the 70s and hard rock guitarists. Mainly Ritchie Blackmore, Bryan May and then Eddie Van Halen. But I believe the glam sleaze attitude is reflected in the sound of the guitars, the performances and the fact that I love Mr. Mick Mars.
Faidra: I just follow the guys on this and try to adjust my vocals to the more sleazy and glam metal styles.
“Still Not Me” is melodic and moody with great instrumentation. Did the band get together in the recording studio or was this strictly a digital endeavor?
Antonis: Well and this goes for all our songs, “Still Not Me” was composed way before we recorded it. In fact, we played the song in our live shows for more than two years. This was the first original song from Felony Case. Before recording it, we played the song many times. When we wrote it, we had no plans to record it. Maybe this song is the main reason why we brought along Alex. We needed the keyboards to introduce the extra melody that the song has.
When we recorded the song [“Still Not Me”] we were all together in the studio bringing ideas and our personal tastes to the whole thing. Of course, none of this would have been possible without our friend George Tzachristas, who mixed and mastered all the songs from the EP and brought many creative ideas, in terms of instrumentation, to the project. All recordings were made in our personal studio and George’s studio, using real amps and real instruments and not digital ones.
George: Antonis has it all covered. This song has a place in my heart because it is the first original Felony Case song. I really love it, both performing live and listening to it.
Faidra: “Still Not Me” is a special song to me, as it refers to a personal experience of mine, even though Antonis pitched in on the lyrics. As he said, this was our first song, so it something we are proud of. We sat for hours in the studio discussing every little detail. Every time we played it, the song would be slightly different, slightly better. Now, it is surely one of my favorites on the EP.
According to Facebook, Felony Case was born as a revival from the decade of decadence, a reference to the 1980s. But how did the band members first meet and get together?
Antonis: I gave you the backstory of Felony Case. Now, I will tell you how I met the rest of the guys. Vangelis came to the band after a recommendation, when we were looking for a drummer. George was a good friend of mine and we collaborated on a project in the past. The only good thing that came out of that project was meeting George. Faidra was brought in by Akis Economou, who was playing rhythm guitars in Felony Case from 2006 to 2018. Alex is an old friend of George’s who came along when Akis left the band. We decided that we didn’t need a second guitar, but instead, definitely needed keyboards.
Faidra: I knew Akis, a former member of the band as Antonis mentioned, from a previous project of ours. I was only 17 when he asked me to join the band. I had never been in a band before. It was nice having other people to share a stage with, so I said yes. I met the other members during rehearsals and now they are all people I consider close friends.
The title track, “Strangers Give More,” rocks with full amplitude and raw energy. What types of guitars and amps were used in the making of the song and the EP?
Antonis: George will give you the details for the guitars. I recorded the bass using a Bacchus Jazz Bass in an Ampeg micro-CL amp. I use a lot of effect pedals, at least more than the average bass player. But for the recording I used my two all-time favorites: an mxr80+ preamp/distortion and a TC Corona Chorus.
George: This is my favorite question. In every interview I give, or I am planning to give, I expect this question and this is the first time it really comes up. So, for the solos and leads I used my Jackson Gus G signature, which has a very nice warm sound on the neck pickup. For the rhythm parts I used my Kramer Baretta 84 Diver Down, an aggressive guitar with a big sound, which is a shrine to glam and sleaze. My amp was a Bugera XXL Infinium with a tube screamer up front. I also used the Tc Electronic Dreamscape pedal for the flanger and chorus sounds.
When the band plays live, are the songs from the Strangers Give More EP part of the concert set list?
Antonis: They are definitely on the set list. We always want to try our songs live before recording them. It is nice to have some feedback to see how things are going with the crowd. It helps both the production of the song as well as the promotion. We try to mix and match. We put them in places so that when people are leaving the shows, they remember. Even when we play an acoustic set, the songs on the EP are out there. They may be different, yet we always include them in the set. And again, this is what we do with the rest of our material. We put our songs to the test at our shows, one at a time. It gives us the opportunity to work with the songs and see what people think about them.
Faidra: Of course, our own songs are part of every live gig. A live crowd is the best way to put our songs to the test, as Antonis said. Most times we have already played our songs live before recording them.
We understand Felony Case is working on a debut album. Will the musical ideas generally be similar to the EP?
Antonis: We are working on the full album by beta testing all our songs, one at a time. The ideas are pretty much in the same direction. There will definitely be more energetic, up-tempo songs and I am sure that we are going to have some good outros.
Faidra: Even though we have one musical direction and genre, we all have different influences and different sides that add to the group and the songs. As a result, our songs are a mix of everything. And be assured, you have seen nothing like this before. Every single one is different. We are currently working on more upbeat songs, but yes, the musical ideas will generally be similar to the EP.
Will any cover songs be on the upcoming album? Are the songs on the EP all originals?
Antonis: Yes, all the songs on the EP are originals. What I have in mind and also discussed with some of the others, is for our next release to be a single with a “B-side” cover. We have many ideas for covers and most of them are coming from our acoustic shows, which made us change the instrumentation of the songs to the point that they become something new. Given that Faidra brings a more modern vocal style to the old songs, I believe that a cover song is something to look forward from us.
Faidra: I love putting out original music of ours, as in the EP. But I also enjoy covers very much. We try to put our own style in the covers we make, so I believe it would be a nice idea to include a cover song as part of our debut album. We have already discussed it and have some ideas.
Does the band plan to release any acoustic tracks to listeners?
Antonis: That’s a good question. “Let Me Go Love” was composed to be played in our acoustic sets. We then adapted it for our electric set, adding a piano and a light distortion in the guitar. I don’t know why we have not recorded it fully acoustic. That’s a mystery to me. We love acoustic tracks and have great fun playing our acoustic shows. The cover that we are considering is definitely going be acoustic. Maybe we should also release the acoustic version of “Let Me Go Love,” because after all, the original composition by George was acoustic.
George: I would actually like in the future to record all of our songs as acoustic. I really enjoy the acoustic versions of our songs. I think we are doing a good job, both with the covers and the originals.
Faidra: I love the acoustic versions of songs. I always think they give me better opportunities to showcase my vocals and express myself. I’ve had the most fun during our acoustic live performances. So, of course I would be down for releasing acoustic tracks.
What’s next for Felony Case?
Antonis: No one knows what the future will bring. Four years ago, we started a band just for the fun of getting together once a week and doing our thing. We played some gigs and we said we love playing live shows as well. After that, George brought some riffs, Faidra and I brought some lyrics and the rest of the guys started to jam along and we created our first songs. We played in a major festival here in Greece; we recorded the songs and here we are now giving an interview to you. So, I don’t know, we can either go for the Grammys or return to obscurity just like many other talented bands did as well. Whatever the future brings one thing is for sure, we are going to get together and play the music we love.
Faidra: We usually go with the flow. Make plans and carefully consider all the musical opportunities we have every step of the way. We want to keep going and make some great music that people can hear, jam and relate to. We love being part of live shows and having the opportunity to connect with people through our music, including the covers we make. One of our top priorities is the debut album, for the time being. I think we’ve come a long way, but there is a new step to take. You can always expect something new from us.
George: For the time being, we are focused on the promotion of the EP. Next we have some live appearances and hopefully some interviews and radio time. After that, we have the new single and then the album. I think that’s just enough long-term planning for us.
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Paul Wolfle, the publisher of musicinterviewmagazine.com, is a web-based journalist who has written for several popular sites. Paul has a passion for connecting with a diversity of musicians who are looking to grow a positive presence on the World Wide Web.