81 db’s start is rather hopeful. With “Evaluation”, the three Italians and Greek Costa Ladopoulos set the standards high early. One day before their appearance in Athens, Greece, Costa, mastermind of the band, is talking to Rockpages.gr; a man with an aspect regarding everything he does.
Interview by Dimitris Kazantzis.
Rockpages.gr: Costa, first of all I would like you to explain to us what the name of the band stands for, I’m really curious...
Costa Ladopoulos: db stands for decibels. Which means that the name is 81 decibels actually. I was working in this studio in Italy and there was this warning sign at the door that sound should not exceed 80 decibels, in order to avoid disturbance. I liked what I saw, however 80 was “inside legal boundaries”, so I made it a bit... illegal, changing it to 81. One way or another it’s an international name; it’s a number and you can translate it in any language you want. We liked it so we kept it, it was something totally accidental, as most bands come up with band names.
Rockpages.gr: What is the feedback for “Evaluation”?
Costa Ladopoulos: It varies and it is what we wanted. There are people who listen to it although they are not into Metal or Hard Rock, people that may listen to Pop Rock and happen to like some of the songs. There are people who listen to it and they know more, people writing for magazines for instance. I like reading their analysis on the subject, I can always find something new there. The fact that we are compared to bands from Faith No More to Depressive is incredible, as these bands don’t seem to have something in common. In general we have progressive elements in our music and those into progressive are receiving it immediately. They will not just listen to the single, they will go to the rest of the songs, the more difficult to swallow. Feedback is positive in general and that is most satisfactory. What I like more is the positive feedback during a live show, from those who have already listened to the album. We change some of the songs, like “Argonaut's Dance”, which we present with a lot of improvising. Imagine that last night, after the concert, somebody asked me if we played this song! It’s an album containing lots of stuff form someone to listen to.
Rockpages.gr: When playing these songs live, do you think you should have changed something?
Costa Ladopoulos: No. Honestly no. I have personally produced the album and I’m a perfectionist regarding all this. I changed a lot of things a lot of times before the final outcome, I paid attention to a lot of details and I believe I reached a point where no other change could be made. However, I’m saying all that now. I don’t know what will happen in five years.
Rockpages.gr: The production is the sort we encounter more and more in contemporary rock / metal, it looks meticulously rough. How meticulous is it really?
Costa Ladopoulos: It sounds like a technical question...
Rockpages.gr: I don’t want the technical side, I just want to know how hard it is to create a sound seamingly easy.
Costa Ladopoulos: I’m sure that lately you see a whole bunch of bands come out with a plastic sound. I don’t want to blame anyone, it’s all a matter of taste, everybody have their own sound... I just don’t like that plastic sound. It’s more difficult to create a non plastic sound, like the 80's, with the analogue recording and all that. When we recorded the album, we tried to make it as rough as we could, like you said. I wouldn’t want to use technical terms, we simply wanted the instruments to sound as authentic as they could. Which is not easy. We had the time to do this, you always have time for your debut and we achieved to have the sound we wanted, which, I believe, it’s closer to the 90's.
Rockpages.gr: Is it an ingredient which binds with a theme, with rage as its basic characteristic?
Costa Ladopoulos: I have never thought about it that way, to tell you the truth; I like it that you mention it. It binds with the fact that everybody can find something different in this album. It is also one of the reasons that this album is called “Evaluation”. Anyone can evaluate it based on personal criteria. No, I can’t say I thought about bringing out rage that way.
Rockpages.gr: What have you gained from this mini tour in Greece?
Costa Ladopoulos: First of all, we had a great time. My band members are excited about the food; we played with some fantastic bands, despite the fact that roads are not that good here. The city of Volos was amazing, as well as the city of Kavala. The club was a bit small, however the people were warm. Agrinio was interesting last night; I’m not sure that all these people came to listen to classic metal only, I got this impression, I’m not sure though. The people of the club were very nice to us. The best concert was in Volos though.
Rockpages.gr: Italy is your base, a big country with a powerful name. However, regarding Metal bands, it’s zero with the exception of Lacuna Coil and Luca Turilli’s bands?
Costa Ladopoulos: Italians have better structure in Metal than us. However, it’s not that better, in order to be able to compete with Northern Europe. There are some splendid underground bands in Italy. People are focusing on their traditional music, something which is happening here as well as in Spain, and they are blocking Metal, which initially sounded irrelevant. Lately we listen to local sounds combined with Metal, like folk metal in the North, we listen to “weird” instruments; we added bouzouki, yet it came not on purpose, it was something completely natural. However, structure is not that powerful to be able to compete with the American or the English scene. The matter is also financial, a country like Italy does not support this kind of music. It’s totally different in Sweden. For instance, in Australia they have named a street after Bon Scott! I can’t imagine a thing like that happening in Italy.
Rockpages.gr:What is the one thing a country should offer a new artist in order to help them to contribute to the country’s cultural aspect? To even promote it abroad?
Costa Ladopoulos: Very good question. First of all they must accept that music is an inextricable part of culture. It must be considered that way. Why do they give such huge amount in sports, to build stadiums? I’m not against it but they should give respective amounts to musicians as well. They create sports field for people to train, they should also create rehearsal facilities. The official state should stand for the musicians morally as well as financially. In Italy or Greece or Spain you say you are a musician and they reply “Okay, but what do you do for a living”? It’s unbelievable! Being a musician here is considered as being lazy, have nothing to do with your life. There are many children trying to support it themselves because the country is not supportive. About Rock specifically, they can promote it media-wise, although I don’t really fancy the idea, but it’s the only way. It is okay for a sports TV show and not for a music one? There should be a music show, so one can listen to music and talk about music, not like reality shows. Thank god for webzines; they bring out information about music.
Rockpages.gr: How about your future plans in 81db?
Costa Ladopoulos: We have already started composing material for the second album; we are going to play four of these songs tomorrow in Athens. There is a fine proposal for our next album, it is something that hasn’t been announced yet. Our goal is to finish the album, to record in the winter and finish up till next summer and then play live. The album will be out the year after that. From then on, we are going to promote the album, based on the things we can do about it. We have the conditions to go, but we must work hard and sacrifice a lot. We want to evolve and, since we started, I think we have moved a few stairs up. There are people who have appreciated what we did and they help us. What we want is distribution for the new album, globally, not just through the Internet. We will give some concerts in between, not a tour though, as we want to focus on the new songs.