Noizy.gr Webzine Interview (EN)
Mary Zarakoviti from Noizy.gr interviewed the band. Read the entire interview translated in English!
Ι was present at the pre-listening session, last April. Impressed with the whole project. A concept album, an album you could listen to from head to toe without getting tired… It was playing non-stop in my player quite a few times. I wanted to talk to them for a long time now, really wanted to “interrogate” them. Had a bunch of questions that demanded respective answers. Thus we got in touch and the boys accepted my invitation.
Your “initial” band name was “Ivory Tower”. How did you think about it? What was the band’s line up at the time and how did you decide to adopt that particular name?
Dee Theodorou: It was around 1992 when we decided that “Blessed Death”, our current name back then, was not suiting us, so we started looking for something better. We’ve had quite a brainstorming regarding that issue and then one day… I was reading the lyrics of Iron Maiden’s “Be Quick Or Be Dead”… “Parading your bellies in ivory towers”… I got curious, didn’t know what it meant and looked it over a very “scientific” dictionary. You see, the actual meaning of these words is not just “A tower made of ivory”… So I explained it to the rest of the members and they loved it. And so the story goes… The members of the band back then? It was me on vocals, Kostas Charalambidis on bass and guitar, Nikos Aravanopoulos on keyboards and Thodoris Pitsikas on drums. It was the end of 1989, when we decided to form a band, me and Kostas at the time. We were swept off our feet with Metal, with some of the legendary Metal bands and decided to try and see how far we’d go. We didn’t have a clue it would lead to this whole new experience. Kostas was learning to play acoustic guitar, I was playing keyboards, a bit at least and could actually sing, then we found a guy who wanted to be a drummer and we hit it off! The building’s roof top was our studio at the time; we were using an acoustic guitar, a Casio three-octave keyboard and drums made out of boxes and buckets! Our families and some poor tenants happened to be our very first audience.
What happened during 1992 and 2013?
Dee Theodorou: Everything! Rehearsals, new members, demos, new members, hiatus, new members, new rehearsals… Until we had to call it off in 1996, due to military and academic obligations. In the end of 1999 we did a project, along with Kostas, Nikos, Apostolis Koskinas and George Papantonis… It was the song “Time Stands Still” that made us wanting to revive the Ivories! We started composing and recording demos and stuff. We had a good thing going by 2003 and with Dimitris Kourmousis joining in, we set sails! Found a good drummer, Spiros Kypriotis, did a lot of gigs and began recording our first promo album. It was actually recorded in my home studio in 2006, with Vasilis Mastoris on drums being the only line-up change. We have received many good reviews and it was then when we started looking for a label, in order to release our songs on a professional basis. In a gig we did in 2009, one of the current owners of our label had approached us, said he was interested in us and we decided to work together, with him being our manager. At the time we were finishing up recording, he said he was launching his own label. We didn’t need to think about it twice. Signed up with The Leaders and the rest is history…
Why did you have to change your name to ILLUSORY?
George Papantonis: Well, that’s one painful story… When we changed our name to “Ivory Tower”, we did not trademark it.We were really young, we didn’t know much about that stuff… anyway… A band from Germany came along, with that name, and they released albums under it, thus they had the name registered. We switched to “The Ivory Tower”, but such a thing is not satisfactory enough for a label, in order to promote our music. Not with a band name already existing in the market. We gathered around, we talked it over a lot and decided to become ILLUSORY.
You chose to create a concept album… A bit risky, don’t you think?
Dimitris Kourmousis: The making of a concept album is not an easy task by far… There is no standard recipe regarding the ways to fill a story with music. We chose to work “backwards”. Wrote the music initially and then put each piece inside the respective story gap. By doing so we achieved making every song being able to stand on its own, regardless the conceptual set consistency. Thus we were able to present a concept essence and the “freedom” of listening a non-concept album.
What is the audience feedback so far? How about the messages you’ve been getting by reading the album reviews?
Costas Koulis: The crowd’s feedback can only be described as positive. Apart from the album release party and the massive attendance, album sales have surpassed our most optimistic expectations. We don’t have any digital sales figures yet, however the first thousand copies of the “physical form” were sold out via pre-ordering; second thousand is being distributed for the past two months and “The Ivory Tower” Japanese edition was released on August 21, featuring the infamous ΟΒΙ. Press “reaction” was also positive. So far we have not read a review not considering our album less than really good or good, we have not seen a review giving our album less than seven out of ten. All those who have listened to our record keep saying it’s highly professional and they like our songs, apart from their own personal favourites.
What is the band doing as we speak?
Niki “Icon” Danos: We have already started recording songs for our next album! We compose, orchestrate and record. Such a procedure is keeping us on our toes, creatively and artistically. We are also discussing the possibility of making a video clip in January 2014.
What about concerts? When will get to see you?
Niki “Icon” Danos: We are discussing our options, yet there is no official announcement for the time being. You will definitely see us on stage, it’s something we have been talking over with our managers. You will be posted via our official website and social networking.
What about your expectations as ILLUSORY? Your targets?
George Papantonis: The band’s main target is to create. Like Niki said a while ago, we have already began composing and recording our new songs – our “children” as I like to call them – and we continue moving through steady steps. Surely we are game for a live gig, it’s something we really want as a band. We look forward to get on stage and present to the world what they have been listening to so far.
In terms of the hard work needed to make it in the music business… how far can you go?
Costas Koulis: Should we start with the clichés? Music industry has become one of the worst forms of human exploitation. Additionally, music has always been an expensive “hobby”. As a band we have spent a lot of money, a lot of effort and lots of hard work and sweat. And we are willing to spend a lot more! We promote our album and our band with every possible way and we are ready to hit the stage whenever that occurs. ILLUSORY rehearse and record solidly. We are solidly ready.
How determined and attached to music are you guys?
Dimitris Kourmousis: Music for us is not some sort of enterprising… It’s purely a need for expression and creation. It’s the joy of meeting each other for practice, it’s the live gig enthusiasm and the satisfaction of acceptance. Thus our attachment to music is immediate and natural, as it covers a big part of our personalities and every-day lives. Due to that fact, the band has been around for all those years, the album became a reality and we all have a natural thirst for more!
Click on the icon below to read the entire interview in Greek