Reuniting As One; An Interview with Achilles Charbilas and George Malamidis of 2 by bukowki

It’s been over twelve years since the duo 2 by bukowski released ‘Yzordderex’.  For current members Achilles Charbilas and George Malamidis, it marked an incredible run that began when the twosome joined forces after playing together in various outfits and configurations since their early teens.  2 by bukowski felt that with the release of ‘Yzordderex’, it marked the conclusion of the transition their early sound towards experimental proto-metal.  Both Charbilas and Malamidis saw it as a perfect time to move on and pursue other projects.  As for any sightings of the twosome, it has been pretty sparse; both have between towns in the United States, Greece, Germany, and the UK.

2 by bukowski have now reunited and have released the first of three 7” singles they will be releasing this year titled ‘Hot Summer / Beast’s Breath’.  The droney “Hot Summer” features the hypnotic vocals of Los Angeles-based singer/actress Kid Moxie.  As for “Beast’s Breath”, the song signifies 2 by bukowski’s return to cinematic side of electronica and experimentation of sound.

We recently got a chance to catch up with Charbilas and Malamidis as they took a break from recording.  We talked about how they met, what makes their paring work so smoothly, and whatever or not they felt they would ever worked together again.  Here’s what they said:

Having been together in several bands since 1997, what would you say makes the duo work so smoothly?

George: The 2 by bukowski lineup has changed many times since the band’s inception, now’s one of the few times there’s only two of us in the band and that might not last long, there’s no pact to stay a duo. Then again, with just 2 members, you only have to split the money two ways but you still get to have a giant fight, break up and reunite 20 years down the line and play stadiums. A duo is the best profit maximizing band configuration if you absolutely must have the breakup drama.

How did 2 By Bukowski come about?

George: I remember the day I met Achilles, it was in our early high school days and via another friend when we were trying to start a band. We played in several bands together after that day, before we took a break during which myself with the other original 2bb members, Nik and John, wrote a couple of songs and gave Achilles a call. We devised a way to record at home via a tiny 4 channel mixer Nik’s uncle had given him into a MiniDisk recorder, playing everything live in Nik’s childhood bedroom. That was a catalyst because it enabled us to record without having to pay for studio time. All of the releases that came before our first album were recorded that way and the first ones happened after having sent demos to record labels and a few of them getting back to us.

You have been scarcely visible within the public eye over the years.  Do you find it difficult to be in the spotlight?

Achilles: I wouldn’t say difficult. We just don’t chase after it, it’s not really what we do this for. We used to avoid publicizing our identities and speaking to media that we didn’t feel would reflect the band’s beliefs accurately. We are now doing a little more of that as we feel we can manage it better. Of course, the expectation of information availability people have now because of social media is totally different as well, so we adapted like everyone else.

George: We did spend a disproportionate amount of time arguing over whether we should have a 2 By Bukowski Facebook page or not… Slayer wrote a melody on “South of Heaven” and we’re on Facebook now, and if Slayer sold out, it’s ok we did too.

Residing in many other countries over the years, what influences have you picked up on?

George: When I lived in Chicago, I’d say “Hi” to people and they’d say “How’s it going?” and I’d start answering but they’d already started to walk away. The other night at our Berlin show, I said “How’s it going?” to a guy from one of the other bands and he answered, which I found momentarily awkward because I’m used to the rhetorical “How’s it going?” now.

Achilles: Living in many countries will affect your whole personality and worldview – if you decide to immerse yourself in the cultures you live in. I never felt at home in London, but Berlin did touch me and it did change me. I got to meet and play music with great musicians from around the world here, picking up musical morsels from all of them. Got to listen to music old and new, which was interesting because I found much common ground between our previous work and Kraut rock and German electronic music, and I think that’s what led to me to start writing music that felt like 2 By Bukowski again.

‘Hot Summer’ was the first single released in twelve years.  Was there ever a point when you thought 2 By Bukowski was done?

Achilles: Sure. Me, George and Nik all lived in London for a while about 10 years ago. We kept playing together, but what we produced did not feel like 2 By Bukowski, so we retired the name. We sporadically played together over the years, but until now we never thought of bringing 2 By Bukowski back, it just didn’t feel right.

What was the driving force behind recording together again?

Achilles: It happened out of the blue last summer. I bounced some ideas off George over email. Didn’t think it would be a 2 By Bukowski thing, but then he sent me his input and some recordings and we realized the band is back.

When should we expect new material to be released?

Achilles: We have 2 more singles scheduled to be released in the next few months via Inner Ear records.

George: Then there’s the secret project. But you’re not hearing about it from us due to its secret nature. Like those documents that have “Top Secret” stamped on the envelope. Do you ever wonder why they feel they have to do that? Is there evidence it keeps spies from reading what’s in there? “Guess it does say ‘Top Secret’ so I better not…”

Any plans for touring the US?

Achilles: We are planning to head down to Austin next year for SXSW, I did that last year with a band called Sun and the Wolf and enjoyed it despite the stress.

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