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Dimitris Theodorou (The Ivory Tower)

Interview with Dimitris Theodorou from The Ivory Tower
by Grigoris Chronis at 05 December 2006, 12:21 AM

The Ivory Tower is a not so known band even for the Greek Metal scene. Still, their loyalty to the band itself is more than obvious to those following their steps these fifteen (!) years, plus their obsession in achieving their goals is widely expressed in their first-ever full length same-titled debut. Singer and founding member Dimitris Theodorou was kind enough to share his feelings regarding their impressive first album, plus we had the chance to discuss some extra stuff regarding Metal music in general.

Well, first of all let’s share a little bit of info concerning Ivory Tower’s history. The band breathes life for many years. Which were the crucial ’cross borders’ in your bio from 1991 ’till now (2006)?

Indeed, the band counts almost 15 years of life with a few breaks in between due to military service and studying obligations. For sure, the first critical moment was the creation of the band by me and Kostas Haralampidis and the continuous search for members with the difficulties of that season. Also, the first season of our rehearsals and our first demo recording A Few Days Make Eternity and Society, the whole unusual contact with the studio you know… such a big school, I have to say. Another critical moment was the decision of Kostas to stop playing the guitar and start dealing with the bass. By that time I was totally disagreeing with this. You know, Kostas is an excellent guitarist and a real musical talent.

Later on of course and with the additions of Giorgos Papantonis and then Dimitris Kourmousis in the guitars, all things took their course and today I see that this was finally for the best. The band now acquires three really good guitarists-musicians, each one with his unique style not only in the songwriting part but even in playing. Finally, the most important moment for the band is the presentation of our CD. That’s a 15 year old dream that finally came true!

Are you satisfied from the band’s current lineup? Are all members capable enough so as to achieve the Ivory Tower goals?

Satisfied? There’s only one thing I can personally say about this: each one of us that constitutes the band is because he deserves it and if some day somebody, even me, starts to think that he is above the band or if he starts to ignore the band he should leave by himself. The Ivories are a family, friends between friends and only under these conditions this band functions.

The Ivory Tower marks the band’s first full-length studio release. Let’s chat a little bit for it. First of all, how much time have you been sculpturing the album’s tunes? Who are the creators regarding the songwriting?

Most of the songs counts roughly 2 years of life, except from A Few Days Make Eternity, Society, Fake Reality and I lied To Me in which only the central ideas are from the decade of the 90’s. The rest of the songs were composed from the current line up and this occurred in the last 2 years. Now, as for the compositions, certainly some of the central ideas came in the studio from each one of us but never as a whole final piece. The credits for the songs are for the entire band, it was a completely team effort. You know, The Ivory Tower is not the kind of the band where one or two persons write everything and the others just perform it.

Saving a question for the lyrics, The Ivory Tower sees a concept lyrics story based on the aims/beliefs of village boy who wanted to achieve everything in his life - no matter the means and the cost - and how eventually his own status ’choked’ him to the point of no return. Who gets the credit for this idea and how did you manage to ’build up’ the whole story (influences, experiences etc)?

Giorgos Papantonis had the basic idea for the concept and the history of Steven was written by him and Kostas. Most of the lyrics, which are also the continuity of Steven’s history, were written by me and Giorgos Papantonis and the rest by Dimitris Kourmousis and Kostas. The concept came out in the course; we did not have any specific influence for that. I would say that the history was made along with the songs and not the songs because of the history. What finally came out, it was with the most natural way.

The truth is that the music - a fine mix of ’classic’ Heavy/Power Metal with some ’melancholic’ prog elements - fits like a glove to the lyrics. Or is it vice versa? Really, what was written first, the music or the concept?

For the most percentage of the songs I would say that the music was written first and then the lyrics. As a lyricist I prefer to have the whole music done before I start writing the verses. This way I have the ability to express my feelings better, depending on each musical theme or style. The way I choose to sing a part is not only by the music that accompanies me but also by the lyrics that accompany the music itself. Of course, some times it happened that I had a very strong verse and we had to write the music on it, as for example, the chorus for the Ivory Tower.

The Ivory Tower - starting from the cover artwork - sees an attempt for ’skeptic’ Metal music. I could easily bring Queensryhe’s philosophy, Fates Warning’s ’mood’, Conception’s depression and Iron Maiden’s ’wandering’ spirit to mind throughout the whole track listing. Would you categorize these bands as major influences or it just happened to coincide?

Yes indeed, Maiden and ’Ryche are some of our influences. I could also mention some others like Helloween, Megadeth, Metallica, Priest, Ozzy, Dio and in general the representatives of classic Metal. We are fans of the 80s, I believe this is obvious, don’t you think?

You know, we do not have the need to experiment much more than we do in our music, we believe that Metal has suffered enough with so much experimentation. We play what we love the most, although it’s not in fashion; we don’t care. We always do what pleases us; I have to say we are little bit stubborn with this. For sure we are not trying to copy some of our favorite tunes from the past, we respect our musical past and that’s enough for not doing this. I believe we have our particular identity even in the narrow limits of classic Metal.

Releasing the album as a self-financed effort, it’s crucial to talk about the difficulties you had as regards financial needs, time in the studio, technical difficulties etc. Would you give us some details for the atmosphere during the recording period?

Firstly, I would like to report that I am a professional sound engineer and the recordings took place in, a home studio I own. Everything was recorded there except for the drums of course which were played live in the studio and then Kostas did the whole processing. In any case, the technological means that I own in are not enough as in a professional studio but I truly believe that with a lot of love we accomplished to put out something satisfactory enough.

You know, if someone contemplates that everything took place in a room, I believe that he would give us an extra credit for this sound result. In the recording period I only have to remember good things. For example, the jokes of Kostas, the endless hours I had with Giorgos Konstantakelos in order to find the suitable kind of sounds but also the suitable kind of playing in the keyboards, or the way which the guitar parts, mostly of Dimitris, changed from the rehearsals to the recordings and totally transformed our songs.

How satisfied are you from the album’s production?

According to our first time recording experience and to what I have already mentioned, I would have to say that I am 100% satisfied with the whole production. However, when the right time comes for recording our second CD, some things will be handled differently.

Which of the album’s elements would you propose as crucial for a potential fan to be ’attracted’?

I would say for all the melody lines but also for the changes in tempo and time.

So, which are the plans regarding inking deal with a record label? Have you so far approached any? Which are your plans for promoting the album the best possible way?

We have made some careful movements for the record labels subject but I cannot say something for this right now. The only thing that is for sure is that this year we will try to do as more concerts as possible. I believe that the frequent contact with the audience is the most important thing in order to establish the band’s name.

Really, which is the thin red line - in your opinion - that separates the ideology of a band from the ’any way’ will to success? In the long history of Hard Rock/Heavy Metal music many were the bands that started out as uncompromised heroes, later on to behave like slaves to the label/Media/(even) fans requirements.

You are absolutely right in this. Personally I always admire bands, even if there are few of those that had never been slaves in their record labels so as to change for example their identity or musical style. I believe that this ’thin red line’ is a very important matter for a Metal band. You know, I think that Metal fans are a wise audience with their eyes wide open for such matters. They are also the only real musical fans. If they see you as a label ’slave’ or maybe a fashion victim then there is the proportional price you will have to pay.

What would you like to see Ivory Tower heading to in the next e.g. 10 years?

Be sure that I would be absolutely satisfied if after 10 years the band will continue to do exactly what we are doing today with so much love and devotion. You see, none of us sees this band as another wallet. Of course there’s no doubt that we would be happy if tomorrow brings us a bigger audience and recognition.

Heading ’onstage’ now: have you lined up any series of dates yet in the wider area of Athens/Greece?

We are still in the beginning of this planning and I do not have a ready program to present. Each fan interested can keep in touch with our sites for our live dates: or

Some of the The Ivory Tower tunes may be a little bit difficult to be presented live, in terms of instrumentation. In addition, due to the conceptual continuation a certain atmosphere will need to be created. Have you planned precisely how to ’unveil’ the album’s track listing onstage?

No worries about that, everything is ready. We have done enough rehearsals playing our songs in the last year and the 100% from what you are hearing in our CD you are also going to hear it live, even some of the samples that you keep in mind. There is a possibility in some gigs to present live the whole album, but of course by adding in some of our favorite well known Metal tunes to the setlist that we like to perform on stage.

Greece - unlike other countries - sees the special ’problem’ of limited Live Clubs, plus little support from native fans. How can the Greek (and in relevant countries) Metal scene be ’upgraded’ in the eyes of domestic Press and Promoters?

The problem with the Metal clubs is big enough and well known to the Greek Metal audience. I believe that certain things are difficult to change. Among these however, I would prompt and unconditionally propose to every single Greek Metal fan to supports the Greek bands because, believe me, they deserve it and even more. Perhaps then, some day, things in the Greek Metal scene will become better.

Thanks a lot for your spare time. Your wish for your first full-length release?

Thank you, my friend! I hope for the Metal audience to listen and like our work and via this we take some more strength to carry on. I believe that this album deserves some attention. And as we say strength is all that you need for your life to escape from that dream. Shine on the Ivories!


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