Are you self taught or classically trained?
I studied music at Carleton U for 4 years. I got my B.A. in Music, but I still need one and a half credits for Honors. Before that, I took guitar lessons pretty much from the get go.
What are your musical influences?
As far as bands go, I grew up listening to Rush, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Def Leppard and bands like that. Later, I got into prog bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X. They’ve had a noticeable influence on me, but I don’t want to be like them too much. We’re more traditional than progressive. Guitarists that influenced me include Rik Emmett, Alex Lifeson, James Hetfield, Marty Friedman, Randy Rhoads, Van Halen and Yngwie Malmsteen.
How did you get into Metal?
My cousin got me into Iron Maiden with "The Number of the Beast" album. I also got into Judas Priest around the same time. A few years later, I got into bands like Def Leppard, Metallica, Anthrax and Megadeth.
What inspires you to write?
I always enjoyed the process of creating something out of nothingness. It’s a real power trip in some ways. My thing is that I like to take something typical like a certain chord progression or lick and put my own spin in on it so that it becomes something new. Although we play a very traditional style, I’m really not into rehashing the same ideas over and over again. There always has to be some new twist in there.
Walk us through your writing process.
John and George split the lyric duties. With regards to music, it’s a lot looser. Sometimes one of us has a skeleton for a song and we elaborate on that. Other times, we just jam and see what comes out. On "Unconscience", I even wrote one song "Eleven" using a notation program called Guitar-Pro. Once I was happy with the song, I presented it to the band as a midi file and we learned it from there. Turned out pretty well if I do say so myself. I am writing some more stuff like that. Even for songs that we write the traditional way, I always write out the tab so that I am clear on what I am playing come recording time.
How would you describe your music to a newcomer?
It’s classic Metal, but people have said that it’s got a lot of Thrash and prog influences in it. In fact, we are apparently one of the few bands who mix those genres in that way. It really wasn’t done on purpose. We just like different types of Metal, with John being a traditionalist at heart, George being the Thrash and Death Metal guy and Steve and myself representing the Prog end of things.
Are you satisfied with the reactions you have had to "Unconscience" so far?
Absolutely. The response we’ve received from critics and fans has been very encouraging. There have been many surprises when the album would climb the college and Internet radio charts to really high positions, like number 2 or 3. What was really amazing is that we actually fared better than a lot of "big name" acts! A lot of the time we were the only independent band on the whole chart! Our goal was to show people that we could compete with any band in terms of quality and professionalism and we did it.
What do you think of the current Metal scene?
There are a lot of great bands out there. I find there is always a good number of bands carrying the Metal torch, whether it’s in at the moment or not. It’s a known fact that Metal acts have been selling consistently since the late 60’s. I’m not a fan of Nu-Metal though. I find that they all sound alike and there is no emphasis on tasty solos. Some bands have solos that are 4 bars long and don’t go anywhere. What exactly is the point of that??? Why waste 4 bars with meandering notes? Either have a solo or don’t is what I think. You ever hear what Van Halen or Randy Rhoads could do in 4 bars? They could make your hair stand up is what!
What are your thoughts on the different genres of Metal?
I appreciate all kinds of Metal to varying degrees except for some of the Nu-Metal, as I mentioned earlier. A lot of Metal bands today come across like Pop bands that heavied up their sound to appeal to a young male demographic. When I was a teenager, real Metal bands hardly ever got any radio play or video rotation. They earned their fans through heavy touring.
What do you think of the Internet as a method of promotion?
The Internet has been an invaluable promotional tool for us. It’s allowed us to get a lot more international exposure than we would have been able to otherwise. The only problem is that there is a large portion of the population who are not web subscribers. We have pretty much saturated the web as a form of promotion, I think. Besides CD reviews and interviews, I have posted guitar lessons & tabs on many sites and we have links with a number of similar bands. Just Google us and you’ll see it’s not very hard to find us on the Web. Having said that, we have a lot less exposure in other media. That’s something that we’ve only begun to work on. We have beefed up our merchandising efforts in recent years. We’ve got shirts for both albums, and we’re even getting pins made as we speak!
I hear you opened for Sonata Arctica recently. What kind of experience was that?
That was a blast! It turns out that we had more fans in Ottawa than we thought. They just needed the right kind of "concert" to come out to see us. That was the most enthusiastic audience I’ve ever seen. They were even chanting "Ivory, Ivory" before we started playing! The band are nice guys too. I, for one, sure hope to get more gigs of that caliber.
What are your goals for Ivory Knight in the future?
We are talking about re-recording the original "Voices In Your Nightmare" demo. At the same time, we are working on new material too. We’re heading in a more grooving direction, riffs-wise, but I’m also writing some classical style stuff. Should make for an interesting combination!
Any final words for our readers?
Keep the faith! Request Ivory Knight from your local college radio stations!