How much sunshine can a world-wide album release give from a talented creative group of four musicians, three Greeks and one Canadian?
«Odyssey Desperado” rocked the modern AOR / melodic hard rock world as a thunderbolt out of the blue with their excellent debut album «Do not Miss The Sunset». This is undoubtedly the soundtrack of this summer and one of the best releases in 2018 in the area of AOR. We contacted directly Odysseus Karapolitis, and the other contributors to find out more about his project and how much sunlight can a global release give, coming from a talented creative group of four musicians, three Greeks and one Canadian.
Odysseus, introduce us yourself as a musician.
I used to listen to music all day long since I was a child. One day I felt the need to express my feelings, words and images and turned to the guitar to make it happen. I started guitar classes quite old, at the age of 24 and I had several guitar teachers, until I met Theodoris Ziras, whom I consider an important part of my life as a musician. Above all, I am fan of the genre and a simple hobbyist who uses music as a therapy tool!
Why and how did you start the “Odyssey Desperado”?
The project started more than 4 years ago when I left a band I had with my good friends, the «Dream Alley», in order to deal exclusively with my ideas, to put the final touch and write songs just the way I wanted and had them in my mind.
What is the origin of «Odyssey Desperado», the name of the band? Where does it derive from and what is its symbolism?
I was obsessed with that particular word and especially with the concept of “Desperado” from a verse I had read and liked in Benny Mardones’s same album, where he says: ‘We all share some things in common, our belief to the music and the fact that we all go against the grain….But it’s the fighters who survive and we all will together. Desperados waiting for the train’. If you really think about it, we are desperate in this life, waiting for a train to come. This train of course, is different for each and one of us, it can be love, money, dreams, glory, reputation, health for some people or any desire we may have. The bravest and luckiest will make it.. So, I was eager to embrace this particular name, because aside from the fact that I liked it, it also symbolizes the effort I put into it to get the project done. Unfortunately, however, a band called “Desperado” already existed, so I added the name “Odyssey» and that was it!
Which were the criteria that determined the choice of the other contributors and how easy was this to accomplish? ManouFatsi – vocals, (Session Singer, ex-Devilusion, ex-Dark Nova), Bob Katsionis – keyboard/bass, (Firewind, Outloud) and Paul Laine in backing vocals?
When I started to work on my ideas, I intended to accomplish them so I was looking for a good keyboardist, but I was basically looking for a good producer. Thodoris suggested Bob, whom had heard of, so I came into contact with him only to find out that reputations are not always deserved as one talks the talk but another walks the walk! Bob is resourceful, multi-talented and knows everything about music. Apart from playing music, he also does many other things, so everything got easier for me, instead of having 4 additional people or even more people to work with. We buckled down to work immediately. When I started looking for a lead vocalist, my original idea, or rather…one of my ideas was to approach a big name in the business. At the beginning, I thought about Paul so I looked him up and found him on Twitter, bombarded him with messages so that he would be forced to answer. He probably got the message that I would not stop molesting him unless he responded (laughs)! In the communication we had, he told me he would not be able to be the lead vocalist as he was running many projects at that time but he would be happy to help me with backing vocals, on condition that he liked the songs. The truth is I didn’t feel so enthusiastic at that moment, so I gave it up and kept on searching for a leading voice. In a conversation I had with Manolis Tsingos, he suggested Manos, who has been living in Germany for the last few years. I listened to some of his work, I loved his voice and I came into contact with him. We had good chemistry from the very first moment. I sent him a song titled «Dreams Die Hard» to see how it would work, he just sent it back to me and it was then that I truly understood the meaning of the Greek proverb «every obstacle is an opportunity”. We settled financial issues and we buckled down to work.
It seemed that everything had been sorted out but I wanted something more. To put it in other words, I believed there was a piece missing from the puzzle and that very piece would make the whole effort take off, so I contacted Paul again. This time he responded straight away. We agreed to send him a piece of work titled («Dreams Die Hard» again) mainly to see if the two voices combined well, but also to see if he liked it. He was excited, he sent it back to me, I listened to it and I was thrilled to death with the result! Once financial procedures were settled, we buckled down to work.
“Odyssey Desperado” are playing a world class AOR / melodic hard rock that comes from Greek musical minds. What is the contribution of each member in the composition of music, orchestration and lyrics?
First of all, thank you for your kind words. The tracks are my own original ideas and the same applies for melodies and lyrics. «Dreams Die Hard» (to which the very good friend Manos Tsitsigrones of Farraday group has also contributed) and «Wings Of Silk» (the only song without my own lyrics) already existed, to a certain extent since the times of “Dream Alley”. The guys contributed to the rest of the songs to a great extent. As regards Bob, who helped me a lot in composing, we talked about all the ideas, he played keyboards (of course), he did a fantastic job with his bass and drum programming, he did the production… the guy is a band on his own, I have not met anyone else who can do so many things so well. I’ve learned a lot from him all these years by working by his side. Manos really got into the songs and apart from his voice which is great anyway, he improved some melodies, changed some of them and made additions to others. He also added parts and bridges in musical compositions and even lyrics. Generally speaking, he made everything easier and more beautiful. Of course, Paul had the absolute freedom to do what he wanted in backing vocals, and there were only a few times that I told him to make additions or change something. I want to emphasize that I am very lucky for these collaborations and for the chemistry between me and the rest of the people involved. Had it not been for their help, the result wouldn’t have been so impressive.
I ‘d like to take a moment and talk about the excellent interpretation, the expressive and melodious voice of Manos Fatsis. Given that Manos is a multi-talented singer who has sung a wide range of genres from power to heavy, from speed to thrash and hard rock how did you know he could fully support your own musical sound?
I didn’t know it but I found out when he sent me the first song (laughs). Manos can sing everything as you say, he has a deep, warm and very expressive voice. Those who have listened to his previous metal music works, will be pleasantly surprised. Every time I listen to the two ballads, I feel shocked by his emotion and his interpretation.
The release of the album took several years. What was the reason it took so long;
First of all, it’s not easy to release an album even if you’re a professional musician with a band, let alone if you are a hobbyist without a band just like me (laughs), especially if you want to be fully satisfied. The distance and the commitments of the other guys should also be taken into consideration. But the most important reason was funding. I had to go step by step.
What has been so far the response to your album from Greece and abroad?
The response has been very good. This makes me really happy because, among other things, it is a very nice feeling to see that your songs, which are straight from your soul, touch people from all over the world. I have received incredibly flattering comments and messages. Reviews so far have been positive and are the best reward after so many years of effort.
Technology is a curse and blessing at the same time for the music industry. An album like yours can be performed by musicians in every part of the world, while on the other hand, as usual, and within a short period of time, all of a band’s hard work is depicted on an inanimate link with illegal downloading. What do “Odyssey Desperado” aspire to, given that their live concerts, which are part and parcel of the business, are probably a very difficult task to accomplish?
Technology is a blessing indeed, the problem is with people and the way they treat it. Technology helped me a lot. Downloading is now a reality, especially for younger generations. People buying CDs have become a romantic minority. I aspire to these romantic people who will love the music they listen to, even if it comes from the inanimate link as you’ve mentioned, and they wish to have the album in their collection, to read the lyrics, the «thank you» section, see the photos, smell the booklet…I am interested in those people mostly.
What would you say to those who find AOR / melodic hard rock outdated?
This music excites me so much, it makes me dream and travel. So I personally do not consider it obsolete. But even if this was the case, I am not a fashion victim!
What are your own musical influences?
My favorite band is Bon Jovi. Apart from that, I also listen to all AOR / hard rock spectrum from Foreigner and Survivor to Ratt and Poison, even metal.
Which are your favorite albums from the field of AOR/ melodic hard rock;
They are too many to mention, the list is huge but since I don’t want to forget any, I will mention one of my favorites: Jon Bon Jovi’s «Blaze of Glory» is one of the albums I always have with me and a piece of work I always long for no matter if I am very happy or very upset (I do not know how this can be happening). It’s an psychotherapy album for me.
Do you listen to other musical genres?
Of course, I listen to pop, metal, blues and country music. I really like Enigma, and atmospheric music in general, including new bands like «30 Seconds To Mars». I also find new things that I like in bands that I wouldn’t listen in the past like Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Generally speaking, I listen to all kinds depending on my mood. All genres generate good music and songs, it’s just that most of the times I feel like listening to hard rock.
What are the main thematic areas that lead the universe of Odyssey Desperado? What is it that awakens your creative instinct and who writes the lyrics?
The lyrics are mine except for «Wings Of Silk», which is by Nikos Giannoulopoulos, a good friend and singer at Dream Alley at that time. But as I have already mentioned, Manos also added lyrics. I like mainly pleasant themes, anything that makes you get away from the miserable routine and the gray of the city. It is no coincidence that most of the lyrics have been written in summertime on the beach.
It is beyond any doubt that your debut is this summer’s soundtrack. The album sparkles the notions of summer, optimism, exaltation, light! How do you manage to keep sunshine in your soul amidst the dim Greek reality? Is music the way out? Just like your song «Dreams Die Hard» suggests?
I’m glad you say that. I love the summer, the blue, the sea, surfing, summer lovers and all that. I think that this is reflected in the album from the cover to the last note. Now as regards life … life is difficult, good times are much less than bad times, but that’s how it always was and that’s how it’s gonna be, the same applies to all people, the same applies to me, it’s not always sunshine. I try to live every day, to fill myself with things I like, I chase my dreams, I enjoy the pleasure that comes with it and above all, I face the difficulties and challenges, because that’s what makes you mature. Music and dreams, of course are the way out and this is the reason why they always evolve.
Is there any possibility for the band to play live?
Look, the band «Odyssey Desperado» is a project created for a specific purpose that I think was fulfilled. Beyond that, bands require dedication and time, which unfortunately does not exist, at least for the time being. And although we should never say never, I just find it difficult.
What are we to expect in the near future from «Odyssey Desperado»?
It will show, it is still early, I will not just force myself for a second album. When I have things to say and especially when there is time, this beautiful process will start again and of course with the same successful method and the same contributors.
Thank you very much for your time. The conclusion is yours!
This was an amazing journey for me, I met and worked with amazing musicians and people to make my dream come true. When you have a goal, a plan, perseverance, patience, little luck and the right partners, nothing can stop you. I really enjoyed it and I am very proud and happy for the final result.
So, hold on to your dreams cause your dreams die hard.
Thank you very much.
Bob Katsionis/ Odyssey Desperado
Bob, how did you experience your cooperation with Odyssey Desperado?
The truth is that from the very first day that Odysseus came to the studio and presented to me his ideas and his whole vision, I already had a clear picture of how exactly the album would sound and how the music would turn out! Along the way, the more we watched how the songs progressed both in terms of quality and production, the more he would realize that this is not just about an album of a non-professional musician with repressed desires, but a collection of compositions that can both stand out and make the difference at a global level. And I think we made it! Odysseus was totally cooperative and was listening carefully to what I was saying. I, on the other hand, was also open to all his remarks, since I never forget that what is «another day at work» for me is another man’s dream of life. And this is what many of my colleagues tend to forget when they welcome an inexperienced artist.
You have collaborated with bands of different sounds when it comes to hard music both as a musician and as a composer/producer. How can one manage not to repeat himself, to produce such melodies and add value to every project at the same time? Is this the so called “Bob’s touch”?
First and foremost, I ‘d like to thank you for your remarks. I am glad that my personal style stands out from the get go even in different projects. And this is something I have been fighting for from the very start and for many years: my personal sound, a sound which can be identified. On the other hand, production is something that captivates me and I find it totally challenging that is, get 100% of what an artist / band has to offer, while showing a whole new perspective to other directions where he might be afraid to tread.
This is an everyday situation for me: new artists are afraid of facing a mauling, they are afraid of criticism so they follow stereotyped patterns. If, for example, I happen to suggest «to play the tambourine in a refrain», everybody will look at me as if I were nuts but then just sit and watch, speechless, the Ghost videos with pop backing vocals and ballets!
What are your future plans?
To continue improving my work in all areas so that I can help as many new artists as possible to live even for a while their musical dream, the one they had when they were 15 years old. I have experienced most of what I had dreamed of, maybe even more than that, and my biggest challenge is to make this happen for others.
Manos Fatsis / Odyssey Desperado
Manos, what was your experience with Odyssey Despereado?
It was exceptional. He was always open to discussing my proposals in song orchestrations but mainly in the melodic lines of the voice, which is not always very easy for someone who has already in mind how he wants to sing his song, something that I absolutely understand and respect. Through this collaboration I made a very good friend and I am really proud of this small diamond that the whole team created together and I thank him for the trust he has shown.
You have collaborated with bands of different sounds when it comes to hard musicfrom power / heavy to fast / thrash and from melodic / hard rock to Odyssey Desperado. How does the same person manage to make such melodies, vocal lines and interpretations every time? How do these Manos’ transformations shape?
Haha!!! I love the way you put it, “transformations”! I had never thought of that before. Personally, I do not see it as a transformation, I just include the melodies that come out of me in the material I have to work on.The bands that I started singing in as a teenager, involved stoner, hard rock and metal, therefore interpreting different styles was not a big issue for me. Maybe I wanted this to be this way.
I have countless influences from hard rock and metal music, and that’s what I think plays a huge role in understanding the interpretation needs of each song.God bless my friend Vassilis, who has immersed me all these years in these great kinds of music!
What are your future plans?
A year and a half ago I left Devilusion and I am no longer a member of any band. Now I have more free time to offer my services as a session singer and I can assure you that I enjoy it more and maybe I feel like doing it more. I ‘d rather be in a studio instead of rehearsing and doing lives with a band. I am currently recording the voices for the album of the Greek hard rockers “Hideaway” and I hope that they ‘ll be able to release their album in 2018. I’m sure this album will also be loved by fans of the genre because we have really did a great job!
Paul Laine / Odyssey Desperado
Paul, how did you experience your cooperation with Odyssey Desperado?
Odyssey and I started talking over social media first and then when I played a show in Athens, We had a chance to meet and talk about music..When I heard what he was working on and the quality of the songs, the music and the singing…well…I couldn’t say no!! Its a great album and I’m very proud to have been able to contribute some backing vocals to it..
What do you remember from your last year’s visit in Greece, your concert here and your first meeting with Odysseas?
First of all…The people.. The people in Greece are very warm and friendly..They treat you like family. I was excited to come to Greece, as it was my dream from childhood to one day be able to go there. I cried a few tears of happiness flying into Athens..I couldn’t believe that I was finally here!! Meeting Odysseas was a giant highlight of my trip…we had been discussing and listening to music for so long, it was great to finally meet the man behind it all!!
Do you believe as a surfer that “Rush of the wave” could make us ride the waves more easily? Could be the soundtrack of this summer?
When I first hear that song, I was thinking..” this is the perfect soundtrack for a surf film” as well as a great song to just turn up as loud as you can while driving to the beach for the day..My kinda song!! Definitely should be in everybody’s summer playlist this summer…and next summer…and the summer after 🙂
What are your future plans?
Simple. Make music. Tour. Surf…. in any order you like!
Arhondo Zografou (translation from Greek)