Q&A with Greek guitar hero, Tommie Bouzianis - his most characteristic feature is his thick oriental sound

"Music in general has a transferable relationship between humans conveyin' messages, incentives, moods, sentiments etc. Therefore, is visible also in this new social-community with exactly the same implications as they were conducted within' the media. In the old days we had a transistor. Nowadays we are facin' a screen."

Tommie Bouzianis: Rock On The Astrodot 

Tommie Bouzianis is a guitar hero, born in Athens, Greece, but raised in Ottawa, Canada and then moved to London, England, where he spent twenty years of his life. Tommie began his axe saga at the age of seven. His classical studies made a tremendous guitar explorer out of him, one who plays the mighty instruments without using a pick. A brilliant guitar student, studying, amongst others, under Giannis Spathas & Johnny Lambizzi. Being a world-renowned session artist, he has performed with numerous bands, from Dynamitte Inc. to Naughty Naughty to Bad Karma Becons etc., taking some of the biggest and most legendary stages of the world by storm. Marquee, Astoria, Paradiso, Valvet and more. Tommy Vance introduced him on BBC' and the one and only Soundhouse Grand Maitre Neal Kay was his producer. His most characteristic feature is his thick oriental sound.                         (Tommie Bouzianis / Photo © by Elias Moraitis)

Bouzianis' new project, Astrodot is a rock band located in Greece. Having a long courtship with virtuoso musical expression and featuring solid and immensely gifted musicians, this super-group in the making is connecting the dots between anthemic NWOBHM variables and today's sophisticated melodic expedition & Featuring a bouquet of dedicated to music individuals, Astrodot are here to prove that Greece is the actual Rock capital of Europe For starters. The band consists of Chris Toumanidis on drums, George Matt on bass, and Billy Knight is the piano/keyboards maestro in Astrodot. 

Interview by Michael Limnios          All Photos © by Elias Moraitis, Athens Greece

How has the Rock n' Roll Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

The term ''Rock N' Roll'' is by itself so powerful & solid that inspired me on the very 1st hearin' since I was a kid in Ottawa! I guess it always had revolutionary potentials which matured enough & expanded worldwide durin' the Hippies period. Surely it affected my beliefs and thinkin'. It's the musicians’ weapon to fight the rotten governments. I've travelled a lot & gigged immensely throughout many countries. Rock N' Roll opens your mind. It's a way of life and you learn it best when you live on the pavement.

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

I play classical guitar since I was 7 years old. Through the years I've developed a unique way of playin' the electric guitar only with the fingers (without a plectrum). This enables me to have a better feeling in hittin' the strings instantly with a fuller & thicker sound and also with a very fast slide. Distinctive and unpredictable melodies are always my goal. I use a black Gibson Les Paul Studio & my sound is very rocky, melodic and psychedelic at times with certain personal adjustments on my Zoom pedal. All past music styles from Ragtime & Blues to New Wave & Heavy Metal have left their mark on me. The main thing of course is to be original.

"I'd like at least the Rock music that I follow to become more melodic. Since '92 it has become very aggressive. In many cases you cannot even distinguish the lyrics. Until then it was Top of the Pops & in all the music charts." (Tommie Bouzianis / Photos © by Elias Moraitis, Athens Greece)

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Too many to list…Well the close encounter I had with Billy Idol in Jan. '80 at Alaska studios was fun. The concert with Parthenogenesis (Greek band) at Sporting Hall (Athens) was Hell. The Scandinavian tour with Dynamitte Inc was mega! Also, one of our shows at the mighty Marquee club where Lemmy showed-up!!! I stayed for 19 years in London. I've seen everythin' from Queen to Wasted Youth & I shook hands with legends such as: Alvin Lee, Joe Pass, Ritchie Blackmore, James Hetfield, Stiv Bators, Paul Di Anno, Mike Box etc. The Boycotts gig at the Crypt in Deptford inside the catacomb of the cemetery was unthinkable spooky! The Magic De Spell's 40th anniversary gatherin' at Kyttaro club (Athens Greece) is somethin' also to remember.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Soon after WWII there was a boom in all arts & culture and specially between the years '55-'75. It was kind of a romantic period. I have many nice memories though still I was very young at the time. Surely, I miss all the best songs that were ever written in that period (which you don't listen much anymore) & also the fashion that followed in all fields. Shake, Twist & Hully Gully were dances sparklin' everybody's lives. The Juke-boxes and the Cadillacs were also a great contribution to the Rock N' Roll era. Even the DJ's scratch on the Topaz record player is somethin' memorable along with the flares on trousers and the sideburns matchin' the long hair. My hope and wish would be for all that scenery to come back & prevail once again. There's globally an ugly society surroundin' us. Realistically I don't forsee it happenin' because the nowadays ''Decision Centers'' have other things in mind and unfortunately the masses obey to their orders without even providin' any substantial resistance.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I'd like at least the Rock music that I follow to become more melodic. Since '92 it has become very aggressive. In many cases you cannot even distinguish the lyrics. Until then it was Top of the Pops & in all the music charts. That kind of stuff went totally underground & gave space to an even worse type of ''music'' the so-called Rap. That is somethin' so unmusical that really bugs my ears... It may sound bizarre but maybe I would abolish YouTube. This kind of technology & easy access to multimedia has brought a decline in quality standards. You get billions of ''would be songwriters'' who don't even have a clue about music in total but still upload utter rubbish on their channels. There should be a serious committee examinin' every single entry if it's really worth for uploadin'. Of course, all what I suggest is too little too late...

"Insertin' the Timetunnel...I press the button & here I am trampled in the mud but it's worth it. I notice around me 400.000 people makin' the ''Sign of Peace'' with their fingers. Jimi Hendrix & Pete Townsend are walkin' next to me. I've finally arrived at Woodstock. A dream that came true. Please don't wake me up..." (Tommie Bouzianis / Photo © by Elias Moraitis, Athens Greece)

Make an account of the case of Rock in Greece. Which is the most interesting period in local scene?

For my taste during the '60s & early '70s was the period that some of the best bands emerged. Aphrodite's Child, Juniors, Blue Birds & Socrates could easily compete with name groups from abroad. Later nearly all local bands assimilated the Greek language in their singin'. That is somethin' that always sounds weird to me. Rock music doesn't sound right in any other language than English. Possibly Ι maintain that attitude because I was raised in Canada...

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Since I was little, I followed my father's words: ''Say less & hear more''. Although I was practicin' the guitar for endless hours on my own I was also goin' to the Jazz Bar of Barakos under the Acropolis to watch the 2 Johnnies (Lampizzi & Spathas) and ''steal' their tricks! Energy, drive, vision, ambition, creativity & inventiveness were the words that characterised me in the years to come. Havin' played live in major venues around the world (Marquee, Astoria, Markthalle, El Mocambo, Melkweg, Kyttaro) and participatin' in numerous recordings I have developed my own musical personality a clear vision of which you can see in the debut album of my new band Astrodot (FM records).

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

Music in general has a transferable relationship between humans conveyin' messages, incentives, moods, sentiments etc. Therefore, is visible also in this new social-community with exactly the same implications as they were conducted within' the media. In the old days we had a transistor. Nowadays we are facin' a screen. Surely the transition of music has been inserted in a different orbit of speed. So, what has certainly changed is the width of our choices. Let the people get affected by tranquillizin' angers & instincts, instructin' feelings of love and solidarity & by openin' new routes for advanced musical trends with ethos and culture.

"The term ''Rock N' Roll'' is by itself so powerful & solid that inspired me on the very 1st hearin' since I was a kid in Ottawa! I guess it always had revolutionary potentials which matured enough & expanded worldwide durin' the Hippies period. Surely it affected my beliefs and thinkin'. It's the musicians’ weapon to fight the rotten governments. I've travelled a lot & gigged immensely throughout many countries. Rock N' Roll opens your mind. It's a way of life and you learn it best when you live on the pavement."

(Tommie Bouzianis / Photo © by Elias Moraitis, Athens Greece)

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really want to go for a whole day?

Insertin' the Timetunnel...I press the button & here I am trampled in the mud but it's worth it. I notice around me 400.000 people makin' the ''Sign of Peace'' with their fingers. Jimi Hendrix & Pete Townsend are walkin' next to me. I've finally arrived at Woodstock. A dream that came true. Please don't wake me up...

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