“We could learn a lot from the spirit of the Greek people,” says Lionize frontman Nate Bergman, “and take that back to America.” He’s talking about Fire In Athena, the band’s new single, which was inspired by a visit to Exarchia, a neighbourhood in downtown Athens that’s played an important part in Greek politics for more than a century.
“It’s there that the Athens Polytechnic uprising of November 1973 took place,” says Bergman. “The neighbourhood is made up of artists and political activists and young people who have fought against racism, fascism and government corruption since 1970. It’s been a hub for that kind of activity since the 1800s.”
Fire In Athena comes from the band’s Nuclear Soul album, which was released in September. The album saw the band take a step away from their reggae-rock roots to embrace more of a classic rock sound, and Fire In Athena is a perfect example of that approach, beginning with a tumbling acoustic guitar riff before mutating into something that bares distinct traces of Thin Lizzy or Deep Purple.
In 2013 the US State Department issued a Travel Advisory aimed at US citizens, suggesting they avoid visiting Exarchia, but Bergman was energised by his time in the neighbourhood. “While we were there we really became inspired by how this neighbourhood was a beacon of light for how all democracy should be. It’s not that it was a solution to anything - but really inspiration to start thinking about our own neighbourhoods and how to take small steps to stand up to injustice. In this place no cops or soldiers go because of the social repercussions, it’s almost self-governed. It really sparked something inside of us.”
The artwork for Fire In Athena was created by Long Island artist Manzel Bowman, whose Afro-futuristic work combines Egyptian symbolism and science-fiction and is inspired by the cover art of Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix. Further artwork, direction and production came from Dan Jackson.
“I’d really love to leave the interpretation of the video up to the viewer,” says Bergman. “We hope you like it!”
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