Interview with Portuguese sleaze rockers AFFÄIRE

INTERVIEW WITH PORTUGUESE SLEAZE ROCKERS AFFÄIRE
Date: April 15, 2019
Interviewer: Olivier

PORTUGUESE SLEAZE ROCKERS AFFÄIRE CONSISTING OF DRUMMER J.P. COSTANZA, LEAD VOCALIST DIZZY DICE MIKE, GUITARIST RICK RIVOTTI AND BASSIST TAWNY RAWK WILL BE RELEASING THEIR THIRD STUDIO ALBUM ‘LESS AIN’T MORE’ VIA PERRIS RECORDS IN TWO DAYS (ON APRIL 19, 2019). THE GROUP HAS ALREADY RELEASED THE FULL-LENGTH ALBUM ‘AT FIRST SIGHT’ (2015) AND THE EP ‘NEON GODS’ (2017). SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH THE AFFÄIRE BAND MEMBERS WHO PROUDLY CONTINUE TO WAVE THE FLAG OF ’80S INSPIRED SLEAZE TYPE HARD ROCK / HEAVY METAL.

Sleaze Roxx: You have a new studio album called ‘Less Ain’t More’ which is going to be released on April 19th. How did you come up with the album title?

J.P. Costanza: Well, I’m sick of the saying “Less is more” about this and that. We are all addicted to ’70s and ’80s hard rock and heavy metal. Part of the ’90s grunge and alternative takeover was based on this premise, which sometimes is only an excuse for lack of talent and laziness. The showmanship, musicianship, even the swagger, the rebellious attitude and — why not — the fun side are part of rock and roll even if the industry tried to tell us otherwise. On what depends on us, we won’t take that bullshit, so the album title is obviously a statement against those lame guidelines and political correctness that resulted in the boredom and lack of authenticity of today’s trends in rock and pop music.

Sleaze Roxx: How is ‘Less Ain’t More’ different than your previous albums ‘At First Sight‘ and ‘Neon Gods‘?

J.P. Costanza: Our motto is the same from day one. You won’t see many changes in the band style. In terms of line-up, our debut album was entirely written by [guitarist] Rick [Rivotti] and I, and the bassist and singer only joined the band when we were starting pre-production. This time and for ‘Neon Gods’, we had a full band working and contributing from scratch. Besides that, this time we had a quite good studio to record. It’s the same we used for ‘Neon Gods’ but this time, we also brought a new producer who worked closely with us even before pre-production. Rick and I had already worked with him in a previous band and we always thought he could be a good choice to produce AFFÄIRE. He totally understood what we were looking for. We even tried to scare him, warning him that we’re not looking at sounding modern like the majority of the bands do here, as our songs this time are even more ’80s inspired, but that didn’t work. The backing vocals on this album are a proof of that and he definitely did a great job.

Sleaze Roxx: Your new album is getting released via Perris Records. How did you hook up with them?

J.P. Costanza: Right when we started recording the album, we were contacted by Perris Records president, Tom [Mathers], showing interest in listening to our new stuff. When we had our first rough master ready, we showcased it to some labels, including Perris, of course, and the same day they listened to it, they invited us to join their roster. We had other serious offers on the table, but we had this good feeling about Perris Records since day one. I mean, they are a hardworking label that has been in business for over 25 years and you can tell there is genuine passion for this genre, not to mention the professionalism and great communication with the band. Besides that, it’s always a good sign when you’re in a label that has released stuff that you own in your personal collection and influenced you, like Dirty Looks, Babylon A.D., L.A. Guns [1999’s ‘Shrinking Violet’], just to name a few…

Sleaze Roxx: How did you come up with your album cover?

J.P. Costanza: The starting point to draw the album cover was that it had to meet a compromise between the stubbornness of our message and our graphic imagery. There is this chalkboard where you read the album title written countless times, just like Bart Simpson’s punishment in the intro scene of every episode of ‘The Simpsons.’ You will also find this graphic icon on the album cover that our bassist Tawny came [up] with. Finally, the album title is written in the good old punk rock collage way. We love this type of urban art and many of our concert posters are designed this way, just like so many flyers from the Sunset Strip golden era.

Sleaze Roxx: What are your favourite tracks on ‘Less Ain’t More’?

Dizzy Dice Mike: I think “Southbay Blues” delivers the goods. This song has a strong vibe as it tells us something about the real world we’re living in and the main riff is a killer. I think girls might like “Girls Nite Out” and hopefully it turns [into] a classic amongst them, especially when they go party at night [laughs]. “Breaking Point” might feature the best chorus on this record. I really enjoy the way it goes. It’s actually funny, because, when we started to write this song, we had this strange feeling that the song wouldn’t fit the album, it sounded kind of strange, but it turned to be a great track. Anyways, and besides all this, “Paradise Café” got to take the gold. It’s a pure rock n’roll fucker.

Rick Rivotti: I’m really digging “Nasty But True” right now as well as “Paradise Café.”

Tawny Rawk: My favourite tracks from our record are clearly: “Japanese Teaze”, “Breaking Point” and “Unsung Heroes.”

J.P. Costanza: As of this week, “Paradise Café” since it has the kind of chorus that fullfils me, “Nasty But True” where we maybe took more risks and ”Girls Nite Out” which has an irresistible mood, beat… and chorus.

Sleaze Roxx: You just released an animated video for the song “Paradise Café.” What prompted you to do an animated video this time?

J.P. Costanza: Yes, we’ve just released a video for “Paradise Café”! The song and the video are totally inspired by an ’80s Spectrum video game developed in Portugal, with the same name. Back then, it was rated as an adult game and restricted to anyone under 18, but the truth is it became a classic for a generation that grew up here, since the ’80s to mid ’90s. There are some emulators online if you want to find out more about it… I will just add that, if it’s forbidden or politically incorrect, then it’s in there [laughs]. Our “Paradise Café” is not your typical music video or lyric video. In an era of 3D, state of the art special FX and what not, we decided to go the opposite way and that was not an easy task. The video was produced by Bang! Bang! Animation, a company that specializes in animations and cartoons and they pretty much replicate the graphics of that game, with some add-ons, featuring AFFÄIRE band members looking as sophisticated as an ’80s computer game would allow!

AFFÄIRE‘s “Paradise Café” video:

AFFÄIRE – Paradise Café (Official Video 2019)

First single from the new Album “Less Ain’t More” released worldwide on April 19th by Perris Records. Pre-order your copy now: http://perrisrecords.com/new_releases/affaire___less_aint_more/ Music & Lyrics by JP Costanza Video produced by Bang!Bang! Animation: www.bangbanganimation.com Inspired by 1985 ZX Spectrum videogame “Paradise Café”. Engage with AFFÄIRE: http://www.facebook.com/affairerocks http://www.instagram.com/affairerocks http://twitter.com/affairerocks http://www.affaireofficial.com Don’t forget to subscribe our channel @ http://www.youtube.com/user/AFFAIRETV !

Sleaze Roxx: How long did it take for you to record the album?

J.P. Costanza: We started recording it in July and by October, it was being mixed. Although we were satisfied with the way the album sounded on that first promotional master, we had already in mind doing the final mastering elsewhere and this time, we worked with Phil Brewster from L.A., who had previously worked with bands like The Darkness, Sebastian Bach, Halestorm, etc. He was referred to me by Boa from the great Alleycat Scratch and managed to put the album sounding one step higher.

Sleaze Roxx: Your previous EP ‘Neon Gods’ had a cover of The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There.” Why did you decide to cover that song and will there be any covers this time on ‘Less Ain’t More’?

J.P. Costanza: I can’t exactly explain why, but to me, an EP between albums requires doing something new and different. I mean, if you’re recording less tracks, then you have to throw in some new ingredient. We also decided to release it in digipack format and the label behind it, RagingPlanet, agreed on that. Recording a cover version was unanimous but it had to meet two requirements — it couldn’t be a “safe” cover from a band of our genre. We had to take risks and it had to sound like our own version of a different band. We also didn’t want to do the obvious Guns N’ Roses or Mötley [Crüe] thing so, although we picked a mainstream classic band, the song is not one of the most well-known from them, but we saw potential in making it our own, both lyric and music wise. We used to play Vain’s “Secrets” live and we still do it from time to time but we needed to challenge ourselves a little more on that recording to make the final product more interesting. The new album has no covers.

AFFÄIRE‘s cover of The Beatles‘ “I Saw Her Standing There” song:

AFFÄIRE – I Saw Her Standing There

From the NEON GODS EP Get your copy now: https://tinyurl.com/yaduudmy (Digipack CD) Also available: Bandcamp: http://affairerocks.bandcamp.com iTunes: https://tinyurl.com/yddtx3n6 Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/0uQebYpz0NP4GRHf5DOthz Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/y7t3twyz (and more platforms…) Engage with AFFÄIRE: http://www.facebook.com/affairerocks https://www.instagram.com/affairerocks http://twitter.com/affairerocks http://www.affaireofficial.com Don’t forget to subscribe AFFÄIRE channel @ http://www.youtube.com/user/AFFAIRETV !

Sleaze Roxx: Going back to AFFÄIRE’s beginnings, how did the band form in the first place?

J.P. Costanza: This type of band was something going on in my mind for quite some time, but the opportunity to do it never happened before. This was also because I had played in some bands before and was totally overwhelmed by the hard work in them. Eventually, it became clear by the late 2000s that my heart and inspiration were turning me more and more back to my roots, like a full circle. Every time I tried to write music at home, it wouldn’t fit the band I was playing at all so it was a sign that it was time to make a move. Rick was playing with me already and, in 2010, when he heard I was putting a new band, he offered to join. Actually, it was easy to find the remaining members at the time — although they are not in the band anymore — they helped to shape it. In the summer of 2011, we were officially “born” with our first show, releasing our debut single “Born Too Late.” This record was only released as a 7” vinyl.

AFFÄIRE‘s “Born Too Late” song:

AFFÄIRE – Born Too Late

From AFFÄIRE debut single released Sep’ 2011 7″ Single “Born Too Late” – 45 rpm Vinyl. Limited edition of 300 handnumbered copies! Side A “Born Too Late” Side B “Japanese Teaze” Only 6 € + shipping! Orders: affairerocks@gmail.com http://www.facebook.com/affairerocks More AFFÄIRE music also available: AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/At-First-Sight-AFF%C3%84IRE/dp/B01DN9ZO78/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1488621686&sr=1-1-mp3-albums-bar-strip-0&keywords=aff%C3%A4ire SPOTIFY: https://play.spotify.com/album/2y9dOsV6pCKOvMQ4v19IC2?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open ITUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/pt/album/at-first-sight/id1096045177

Sleaze Roxx: You mentioned the change in bassist and singer. The last member to change was your bassist between ‘At First Sight’ and ‘Neon Gods’. What prompted that change and what has Tawny brought to the band that’s different?

J.P. Costanza: Our former bassist, Herr Mathïas, actually recorded ‘Neon Gods’ but that was his final contribution to us. He was and is one of my best friends and stepped in in a difficult time for us in 2014, line-up wise, when we were looking for a new singer and also needing to find a new bassist. So, he joined us at the same time as our singer Dizzy Dice Mike did and just in time to record ‘At First Sight.’ The thing is he already had his main band Sinistro going on when he joined us and they really took off in the scene, signing with a big independent label and touring Europe with big names of their genres like Paradise Lost and Cult of Luna. They are probably the most successful act coming from the Portuguese scene in the last 20 years. They are our mates we are really glad for them. So, after the ‘Neon Gods’ recordings, in late 2016, everybody was foreseeing scheduling problems. It was such a natural change and I think there was never even an “official” serious conversation about it. So we did a soft and totally friendly transition to Tawny Rawk, who was already a fan of the band. Besides, he can sing and play the harmonica! Since then, and for the first time, we have a unit of four guys that look at this band as their priority.

Sleaze Roxx: How did you come up with the band name Affaire?

J.P. Costanza: When I started looking for people to form this new band — and I knew this would be my priority in a near future — I was still playing in this metal band for years that was starting to fade away. Although it may sound stupid, at first, it felt like I was married for years and starting to engage in a double relationship situation [laughs]. I’ve got a thing for double meanings and the sexual side of the word makes it more interesting. On the other hand, I wanted a name that could be common to many languages. I think the word is of French origin, hence the “e” at the end.

Sleaze Roxx: Were there any concerns about using a generic word such as “affaire” for the band name?

J.P. Costanza: I don’t think so. It’s a pretty graphic and strong word. And just naughty enough [laughs]!

Sleaze Roxx: What are Affaire’s plans for the rest of 2019?

J.P. Costanza: We have to keep doing all we can to make our music reach as much people as possible. I won’t lie, playing more dates in Europe and, who knows, overseas, is also in our plans for the near future.

Sleaze Roxx: Hopefully, Canada and specifically the city of Toronto is on one of your future itineraries [laughs]. What is the hard rock / heavy metal scene like in Portugal?

J.P. Costanza: Next question, please! Just kidding… In terms of bands, speaking of heavy metal, there is, at least, a handful of really good bands in Portugal. I’d stand out Tarantula, who’ve been around for over 30 years. I don’t know if they are the oldest heavy metal band still active in Portugal, but I’m sure they’re the best. And great guys too, by the way. The hard rock scene is not so abundant in terms of bands. There are some acts that blend hard rock with alternative or stoner rock. I’m not saying they suck! It’s just not our thing. For us, it’s all or nothing. In terms of fans, I’d say 90% of them are today in their late ’40s-’50s. I’m not criticizing. It is what it is and they only care about the same mainstream bands that they have been listening for the past 30 years. So, for us, the gold lies in the more open-minded 10% and in the kids attracted by this new breed of European hard rock bands.

Sleaze Roxx: What are your thoughts on Gene Simmons’ now infamous words “Rock is dead”?

J.P. Costanza: In this band, we all like KISS. They played in Portugal last summer and the four of us were there. And Gene did great on stage. But, honestly, I don’t think Gene Simmons has done anything really positive for rock music for ages. He’s one more old rocker who seems to focus, first, on profiting in all possible ways such as coffins, toys, whatever… Second, it looks like he’d rather take this music to the grave one day when he won’t be around to make more money of it rather than to contribute to the future of rock, by helping upcoming bands or supporting an emerging underground scene. With some exceptions, rock became underground. That’s true but it’s not buried at all.

Sleaze Roxx: Have you ever thought of relocating from Portugal to another country to potentially get better opportunities?

J.P. Costanza: Of course, we often wonder how it could have been had we not been born this late and in a country that’s not relevant in rock history. If this was 1989, we’d surely do that with no second thoughts. Being 2019, there is no rock mecca anymore to move to. On the other hand, internet shortened all distances and, after all, we are only a two-hour flight away from the center of Europe!

Sleaze Roxx: Last question for each of you — what is your three favorite albums of all-time and why?

Dizzy Dice Mike: AC/DC is my all-time favourite band, so I won’t mention any of their records. I’d like to start with a release from Slash feat. Miles Kennedy & The Conspirators. I’m talking about ‘Apocalyptic Love.’ I’m a fan of everything written and performed by Slash. The guy is kind of God for me, you know? That record, is probably the best rock n’roll effort from the last 20 years. Miles might sound a little bit boring at first, but damn, the guy is definitely a hell of a singer. Maybe a little too melodic for my taste, but one of the best guys in business. That’s a fact. The songs on this record are absolutely amazing, I can listen to ‘Apocalyptic Love’ over and over again and I can’t get enough of it.

My second choice goes to Van Halen and their monster ‘1984.’ I love these guys, both Dave [Lee Roth] and Sammy [Hagar] eras despite the differences between them. Van Halen were able to manage a great career with two distinct frontmen, sort of what happened with AC/DC, and I think that’s an admirable thing. To me, Sammy Hagar is one of the greatest rock singers ever, and he put something new in the Van Halen sound, but Diamond Dave had what it takes to be probably the best frontman in history. ‘1984’ — it’s not only Van Halen’s best selling album, it’s a piece of art with a sequence of songs that makes you conquer the fuckin’ world. It’s definitely something special.

For my third choice, it was 1987, I had skipped school on a sunny morning and I was at this friend’s place when he told me that he had something new that I should listen to. I asked the guy, ‘So what you got?’ He didn’t answer me. Instead, he started playing that record… and I started to hear the first chords of “Welcome To The Jungle”, and then when the song really kicked off, that changed my life forever… I asked him, “What the fuck is this, man?” “Some new dudes from L.A. — Guns N’ Roses is the name”, he told me. Well ‘Appetite For Destruction’ might be my favorite record ever, and why? Because of everything. I mean, that album turned me on for what I am today. It’s a gem that provides what I think to be the biggest middle finger ever emerged from the Sunset Strip to fuck the whole world apart. They just did a complete record concerning the rock n’roll decadence philosophy, beating the shit out of every other band, taking no prisoners. I’d say not even the mighty Aerosmith could ever be able to deliver such an awesome record, and they have some of the best records in history like ‘Rocks.’ So, that said, I guess I’d take ‘Appetite For Destruction’ to a desert island. 

Rick Rivotti: Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Lies’ for being the very first album I ever bought. Bought it on tape back then… Iron Maiden’s ‘The Number Of The Beast’ — For years, I’ve listened to this record thinking that every song was a killer single. For a record literally as old as me, it sounds pretty darn good. Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force’s ‘Alchemy’ — For me the epitome of one of my favorite guitar players. The song writing, the lyrics, the guitar — everything is just there! If you’re into neoclassical power metal, this is a must have.

Tawny Rawk: Queen’s ‘Sheer Heart Attack’ which is my favorite album from my favorite band. This was when things really kicked in for them in my opinion. It was overshadowed by the two following albums, but still I think this is where Queen are at their absolute best! ‘Led Zeppelin I’ — killer debut by a killer band. Truly inspiring. There isn’t a month that I don’t listen to it at least once. It has my favourite Zep track “Your Time is Gonna Come” which is a really underrated song. Marillion’s ‘Misplaced Childhood’ — every time I listen to this album I always have to listen to it twice. That’s how great it is to me! Perfect from beginning to end!

J.P. Costanza: I’m not good at setting Top 3 and Top 5 sort of lists so I had to establish a criteria for myself here. I pick three bands and albums that had a strong influence to where I am today, music wise. Rainbow’s ‘Rising” — Rainbow were a supergroup before someone invented the word supergroup. I have to highlight Ritchie Blackmore’s unique and so influential style. Whatever Ritchie touches, it becomes gold instantly. Also Cozy Powell, one of my favorite drummers, and, of course, Ronnie James Dio, the voice of hard’n’heavy, if you ask me. I feel lucky for having seen him live three times — Wacken Open Air, Portugal and in London with Black Sabbath or, to be more, precise, “Heaven and Hell”. I felt rock’n’roll died just a little bit when Dio died [same feeling when Lemmy passed away) but not as much as Gene Simmons states.

Guns N’ Roses ‘Appetite For Destruction’ — I know this choice is a cliché, but justice has to be done. This album strucked me hard as a kid, made me question everything I had heard before and defines a genre. It’s just a pity that so many people — at least, in our country — love Guns N’ Roes, know all their songs but are too lazy to dig a bit deeper into this music style and get to know a little more of the endless offer of talented bands from this great era.

Shark Island’ “Law Of The Order” — It will always be a mystery for me why just a minority of hard rock fans appreciate this band as it truly deserves. Word is that, when they where a sensation in the Strip, Axl Rose would go to their shows with a camera to record them and then study Richard Black’s stage moves, including the later world famous snake dance. There is certain special energy, a tension, that flows through the record. I know they’ve been recording a new album so I’m looking forward to their new stuff. As far as I’m concerned, 1989 was the greatest year in terms of hard rock releases. I may sound crazy but, despite the competition, I can’t think of an album released that year better than this one.

You can order AFFÄIRE‘s new album ‘Less Ain’t More’ directly from Perris Records.

AFFÄIRE‘s “Devil’s Cross” (from album At First Sight):

AFFÄIRE – Devil’s Cross (Official Video 2016)

From AFFÄIRE debut Album “At First Sight”, released by Demon Doll Records. Also available: AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/At-First-Sight-AFF%C3%84IRE/dp/B01DN9ZO78/ref=sr_1_1?s=dmusic&ie=UTF8&qid=1488621686&sr=1-1-mp3-albums-bar-strip-0&keywords=aff%C3%A4ire SPOTIFY: https://play.spotify.com/album/2y9dOsV6pCKOvMQ4v19IC2?play=true&utm_source=open.spotify.com&utm_medium=open ITUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/pt/album/at-first-sight/id1096045177 Recorded and Mixed by Fernando Matias at Pentagon AM Studios – Lisbon, Portugal Produced by AFFÄIRE and Fernando Matias Mastered at The Groove Room – San Rafael, CA, USA Dizzy Dice Mike: Lead Vocals Rick Rivotti: Electric and Acoustic Guitars, Backing Vocals Herr Matthïas: Bass, Backing Vocals J.P.

AFFÄIRE‘s “All Messed Up” (from album Neon Gods):

AFFÄIRE – All Messed Up (Official Video 2017)

From the 2017 EP “Neon Gods”. Order your copy now: https://www.ragingplanet.pt . Also available at digital platforms. Music by Herr Matthïas, Lyrics by D.D. Mike. Video directed by José Dinis. Engage with AFFÄIRE: http://www.facebook.com/affairerocks http://twitter.com/affairerocks http://www.affaireofficial.com Don’t forget to subscribe our channel @ http://www.youtube.com/user/AFFAIRETV !