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Northwind's Thodoros Doulamis: "People here in Greece don’t care that much to learn the history of their own country and at the same time the whole world praises the ancient Greek civilization. It’s really sad."

Interview with Thodoros Doulamis from Northwind
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 30 May 2020, 10:38 PM

It takes a spark of motivation, and plenty of will to get started again. Sound familiar right? Like every story of a comeback that is pure out of the love for the music rather than running for financials and selling out. At times, there are bands that channel a kind of integrity to the whole thing, as if they were just looking for the right time and place, and from there on, magic happens. Renowned in Greece, the 80s Metal band Northwind returns and in full. Coming up with a new album, "History", a long overdue offering is now revealed. For the occasion, Steinmetal had a chance to talk with vocalist, Thodoros Doulamis, about the band's return, the new album of course, musical direction, new generation and more…  

Hello Thodoros, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine? How have you been doing in these strange, and yet challenging times of the pandemic?

Hello everyone, the pleasure is all mine. Patient like everyone else. I’m waiting like all the other people around the world for things to get back to normal. Strange times indeed but I’m doing fine so far.

It may as well be possible that the return of Northwind is actually the return of the one of the very few first ones left in the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal scenes. After things went abrupt in 1992, with a probability of never to be heard from again, Northwind returned. I think it is logical to ask first, what led to your hiatus, especially with the band being on a tidal wave of its own accomplishments?

First of all, I was out of the band after the “Mythology” album came out though I was a founding member of the band along with Kostas Papadimitriou. The ex-singer (Nikolaidis) and Kostas (guitars) moved to London because a great deal came in and they recruited new members for this new start. They recorded few songs but I guess some personal issues and disagreements led to the bands dissolution. I wasn’t there so I can’t say more things about it. I’m excited that we are back and that’s what really matters to me right now, not the past.

Your recent support shows eventually led to your return, yet to be honest, there has to be more to it as playing shows has a different vibe than in actually writing material, recording etc. What led to your return to action? What were your sources of motivation to be back in the game?

We did a few reunion shows the last 15 years supporting great names such as The Yardbirds, Blue Oyster Cult, Diamond Head but always after the gigs nothing more was happening. We also tried a few times to get in the studio for a new record but things never worked out for different reasons every time. So three years ago Thanasis came back to town, he found Kostas again then they called me if I was interested to get back in the band. I wasn’t doing anything at the time so I said to myself why the hell not. Then Dimos came along and I think that’s when we actually realized that the four of us could actually do something great. It was enough to get us back in the game.

Northwind’s new released album, “History”, had been in process for nearly three decades until it was finally released, as a signed band to the local No Remorse Records. I understood that a third was partially done back in the day, was the already written material used for “History” or it was rather a starting from scratch kind of thing?

Everything’s from scratch. The only song that comes from that era is "Soldier’s Pay". Kostas came with these new songs and the whole “History” concept and after a few changes through the last three years we ended up recording the new material at Papas studios. The Metropolis sessions have never been officially released.

Being one of the early bands in Greece, how does the younger generation of Metalheads and Rockers perceive the band’s new efforts and also its older legacy?

They respond great, with much respect and appreciation for our past and our contribution to the whole scene. More and more young Metalheads tell us what a big influence we were to them and that makes as happy and proud and at the same time. It’s amazing and we thank them for their support, it means a lot to us.

It has been quite a while since you guys wrote songs and recorded together, how did it feel to get back to it? Would you say that the same energies that drove were still at the same level while “History” was being made?

Absolutely and maybe sometimes in a higher level than before. That’s why the rockers stay young forever.

Though you guys were all over the place with the mighty old Greek legacy and heritage on “History”, it was also my impression that the chosen title for the album was perhaps due to your return and the continuance of the band’s legacy, other than your country. What is your input on that notion?

It’s a combination of these two things I guess. We all thought that “History” was the best way to tell everyone that we are back and of course it is the continuance of our previous album “Mythology” but I also have to say that Kostas, and I as well, are both huge fans of the Greek History and this is another reason why we were so excited with this comeback and the new album.

When reflecting upon the past of the Greek empire, upon its stories, do you think that there has been a fine line that has been paved to our very own present? Do you believe that the lessons of the past are being learned nowadays?

I’m not so sure. Trust me if we had the will to learn from our ancestors, many things would be different. People here in Greece don’t care that much to learn the history of their own country and at the same time the whole world praises the ancient Greek civilization. It’s really sad.  I hope this new album will motivate a few more people to get their history books out of their cabinets and give’ em one more chance.

What I liked most about “History” is that it is a conjuring of various directions within the classic Metal of the 80s, and I might add, classic Rock approaches of the 70s. It is an interesting common ground for AOR, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, even a little Progressive Rock, and Epic Metal, letting the listener bear witness to the long journey of the band. What is your take on that? I guess that it came only natural for this musical vision to pour out of you?

We grew up in the 60’s and 70’s so these are our musical influences. Of course we never stopped listening to new stuff but we always feel that we are closer to the classic rock sound. Don’t you also forget that we are an 80’s band and the heavy metal sound was already there when we started, so I would say that it comes out naturally because we lived all these musical changes.

No doubt, and other than your vocals, the keyboards played an immense part of the album’s dramatic element, letting that Uriah Heep atmospheric token sink in. What other elements in your music do you think that made the release theatrical of sorts?

I would say the concept itself gives you the theatrical sense you’re talking about, because it’s like reading a book and at the same time the music comes like a perfect soundtrack to excite your fantasy and travels you back in ancient times.

In regards to the fairly demanding Metal market of the present, and since we aren’t in the 80s anymore, in your perception, how do you find the relevance of the musical direction, or multi directions, of “History” to that somewhat technical driven Metal market?

What really bothers me is that there are so many bands out there with the exact same sound. Bands forgot how to write great songs and the only thing they care for is to play as many notes as possible and have plastic productions just because the Metal market wants it to be that way. On the other hand, what makes me happy is that there’s a lot of young people who do appreciate and support bands that don’t follow these musical trends. We will keep on doing things our way like the old days because in the end the only one who can judge your work are the people, the fans.

How would you describe the songwriting process of the new songs for “History”? What changes were made in your perspective of how to write a song in comparison to your early past?

Nothing changed. Kostas had the songs ready before we came together again, so we did a few changes, some musical parts, some melodies, some lyrics during the rehearsals for almost a year because in the meanwhile Dimos in first place and Panos later on had to learn the old songs. When we got in the studio we fixed a few more things and we started the recordings. That simple.

With early plans to record in England, eventually “History” was recorded in Greece, back in where your sophomore album was recorded. First, how was it to return to that place? Any recollections, or clashes, of the past that rose while recording “History”?

It was really great. We also recorded our first demo tape there back in 1981 so we have a real close relationship with Papas the owner of the studio and producer of “Mythology” and “History” as well. He was also a member of the band back in the 80’s and he is the one who actually plays the drums on “Mythology” album. He is part of the Northwind history and we have many beautiful memories together. I remember many things but trust me it needs days to tell you all these crazy old stories, maybe another time.

 “History” has that great vibes of both 70s and 80s, certainly sounding true to the roots. What is your appreciation of the album’s sound? Do you really think that it captures the spirit of the band?

I think the sound says…Northwind. It could be better? Maybe. It could be worst? Also maybe, but sometimes you just have to trust your instincts and that’s exactly what we did and we are more than happy with the result.

Talking about the material, I liked the AOR meets Heavy Metal of “Marathon March”, quite a catchy number, yet with a lot of feel. In a way, it is also different from the other songs. What is your input about it? Wasn’t it meant for such an iconic character to receive a heavier, perhaps epic in proportions, kind of song?

Really? I think Marathon March is one of the most epic songs in the album and despite the keyboard parts I don’t think it has that AOR feeling. This song and King Alexander have a different vibe compared to the other songs of the album but I think they both are fitting great to the whole concept. Maybe a live heavier version will convince you hahahaha.

With the Covid-19 still relevant, and with no shows for the moment at least, what are the band’s plans for the promotion of its music? Are you simply relying on the media reaction or will be turning to your fans via livestream?

For the time being we will rely on the media reaction. We will start rehearsals in a few days to get back in shape and when this nightmare ends we all going to meet again at the live shows.

Thodoros, thank you so much for this interview. I am glad that I was able to discover the band and take “History”s journey. Cheers sir.

As I said before the pleasure is all mine my friend, take care and keep on rockin’.


 



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