Artist Interview: “By The Fire” by George Katsos

Q: You have had quite the musical journey dating back to the 80’s, tell us a little bit more about that.

GEORGE KATSOS: In the 1980s, I participated in the last night jam at the famous Cambridge Music Complex outside of Boston the night before it was demolished. Local bands and members such as from the band Boston, Aerosmith, The Cars, and The J. Geils Band, previously practiced there and that association peaked my interest to become a performer in clubs and the studio. A few years later I was in a band selected for regional exposure by MTV where a famous U2 producer harshly critiqued our performance in a pre-American Idol-like setting stating that emulating Beatles’ harmonies would go nowhere. I can’t remember what happened after that but I do remember one band member trying to redirect my energy in a positive way. A few years and bands later one song I wrote was recorded as a 7-inch vinyl 45 entitled “Johnny Save the World”. It was highlighted by Billboard Magazine as the Critic’s ’Choice of the Week’ with Led Zeppelin and Stone Temple Pilots. Radiohead and Jewel were also called out for their new releases so I thought the music and its implementation was in good company. Performance wise I experienced moderate exposure through the Boston music scene and northeastern United States. I took a break when the fun meter collapsed. Approaching a 20-year hiatus, I paid homage to Liverpool, England during Beatlemania and upon returning home I recorded and prepared five songs that now make up the 2021 independent release The first song “How Would You Handle This” is out on sound and video. The second “By The Fire” is gaining traction now. Thanks for your support in that.


Q: What is one of your favorite songs you have ever written?

GEORGE: The one I am still chasing. It’s the reason why many of us keep writing songs. You build a song. You have the drive for bettering the music and maturing the vocal melody and lyrics. But when it’s close to being done, the mind plays funny games and says there has to be the next one written which is still floating around to be caught and developed out of thin air.

Q: When did you start writing music?

GEORGE: When I told my Mom and Dad I was no longer interested in playing other folks songs on the piano and having them pay for my lessons, probably around 1980 Writing music comes in many ways, music first as a thought or working out on a physical instrument, and the melody first which you always convince yourself you’ll remember when waking up or experiencing a spur of the moment event. No set template needed, just the ability and flexibility to react to an established arrangement and have the instruments complement each other while being open and adaptive to that arrangement changing.


Q: What is your top five favorite songs of all time? Why those songs?

GEORGE: The first is Minuet K2 by Wolfgang Mozart. That was the first song I learned to use both hands on the piano in the late 1970s. I’ve been listening to it my head ever since and recently heard in on the TV series Hanna, where one of the main characters practiced the song at her special boarding school. It was the first time I ever heard it not played by me and 40+ years later, and yes, I had an ah ha moment and everyone who was watching the TV show with me thought I was a bit off in my excitement. The second is Count Basie’s Band live version of Shiny Stockings. I use to play in a Jazz band and this song was hot whenever we rehearsed it. Made me get up in the morning. Third is the cancion Guadalajara Guadalajara usually performed by Mariachi bands. Are you kidding?.. you have to have this song performed everytime you go out and eat Mexican food with live music. The fourth is the Beatles Sgt Pepper and its flip side reprise tied with the Who’s Can’t Explain. Pep was great to begin with and then book ended at the end with a reprise that led into a A Day In The Life and the Can’t Explain’s clear recording always gave me the focus on how I wanted to mix material. The last is the Supremes You Keep Me Hanging On tied with the Ronettes Be My Baby. Both positive energy that expects more. All these songs have an element which I try capture in recording and mixing which is to be closest to a live energetic feeling that embraces emotion over perfection.

Q: If you could pass on a nugget of wisdom to the next musical generation, what would it be?

GEORGE: Balance is nice and prep necessary but timing is everything.


Q: What should we expect from your upcoming release?

GEORGE: Three more songs individually released to round out the EP all with their own video. If you all like what you hear then songs will keep coming. For performances, I’ll leave that up to folks like yourself to deem them worthy.



Interviewed by Stephanie Pankewich



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