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An Interview with Chris Lorey of Ivanhoe and Cave

An Interview with Chris Lorey of Ivanhoe and Cave

Ivanhoe – Photo Credit: Uli Lack

An Interview with Chris Lorey of Ivanhoe and Cave

Ivanhoe are underground progressive metal legends whose latest magnum opus Healed By The Sun has been released via Massacre RecordsCave also recently released an album entitled Out Of The Cave via Metalapolis Records, featuring the one and only Ronny Munroe (ex-Metal Church, ex-Vicious Rumors, Between Worlds) on lead vocals.  And what both amazing bands have in common is the phenomenal sonic artistry of guitarist Chris Lorey.  And while Chris may be the newest member within the Ivanhoe brigade, he’s known the band throughout the years.  Ivanhoe’s vocalist Alex Koch was in a band called Scenes with Chris Lorey, and released their only album to date in 2005!  Highwire Daze recently interviewed Chris Lorey to find out more about Ivanhoe’s glorious new album, his work with Ronny Munroe and Cave, Scenes covering Such A Shame by art rock mavens Talk Talk, and other topics of intrigue.  Read on…

We’re here with Chris Lorey from Ivanhoe and from Cave, actually. Let’s talk about Ivanhoe first. How did you end up joining Ivanhoe, a long-running band?
It’s funny because I known the guys since the early ’90s. I think I played for them as a guitar player in, I believe, ’95 or ’96. I was still in school, and my dad had to drive me to that rehearsal. It didn’t turn out, and they had someone who was already at an age to travel alone and whatnot, but I was always hanging around with them. I was in a band called Scenes, and so we were playing together occasionally. I was touring with them occasionally, and so we knew each other for years, and we’ve been friends with Giovanni (Soulas) for years.

In the last 10 years, he asked me twice, I believe, if I want to join again, and I was busy with my own projects.

During COVID, he asked me once again, and I thought, “You know what? Maybe the time is right now, and I have some time to prepare because no one could play a show, anyway.” I said, “Okay, why not?” Also, the cool thing was that we could start the writing process right away for the next album. I was not only joining, I was also immediately in the creative process of writing and preparing a new album. It just felt like a good fit and good timing.

Before we do more Ivanhoe questions, let’s talk about the previous band, Scenes. What happened to them? I think there was one album.
Yeah, that’s right, there’s one album. Funnily enough, someone asked me the other day about a re-release of the album because technically, there was more material, but we were splitting, basically, on the way to the recording studio for the second album. There were a number of reasons for it, but… yeah.

I think, in general, the first album didn’t run as great as some of us expected or anticipated or it should have been, and then there was this little, micro crack in the band, those who said, “Okay, we’ll try,” and the other ones said, “No, let‘s do it once again.” It was really good reason in a weird situation.

I had some health issues, and I couldn’t focus so much on the band anymore. It somehow broke off, which was really a pity because Scenes was really a bunch of friends being musicians that are playing in band for almost 10 years or so.

There is material left, and someone asked me the other day if I was ready to release it, and I talked to the other guys, and we actually had a quick meeting. We had a barbecue a year and a half ago, all the old guys.

That was then. It was one album, and we played quite a bunch of shows and then it split. It’s funny because Alex is also in Ivanhoe. Alex, the former singer of Scenes, is actually the singer in Ivanhoe. I think that he talked to Giovanni at some point if they should ask me to join Ivanhoe again.

Healed By The Sun by Ivanhoe

The one Scenes album was entitled Call Us at the Number You Provide in 2005. Back in the ’80s, I was a big fan of Talk Talk, and I was surprised to find a Talk Talk cover on that album, Such a Shame – and it was amazing. What made you guys decide to cover a Talk Talk song, and did Talk Talk ever hear or comment on the cover?
I actually never heard a comment from Talk Talk. It was basically a decision because, let’s face it, we were a pop-metal band, and back in the day, we said that if we need to have one dance of a song which may enter us or which may pave us the way to nightclubs or to maybe a radio station or something.  I was never a big cover guy. I never played cover bands or tribute bands or anything, but I like to work on stuff because I started to develop my own ideas, and when someone brought up Talk Talk, I had this wrapped in my head, and I thought, “This would really be pretty heavy.”

I think I still like it. I heard it the other day. It’s a couple of months ago that I heard it once again. Actually, funnily enough, it’s heavier, but it’s slower than the original. Never thought about that before that it’s, actually, timing-wise, slower than the original.

Let’s move on to Ivanhoe. The new album is called Healed by the Sun. What does that title mean to you?
Well, first of all, it’s the name of the title track, and I think it’s because there’s so much stuff going on. When we started to work on this, we were still in the middle of Covid, and that was a very dark period of time for a lot of people. There was a lot of psychological diseases, and psychosomatic diseases increased, at least in Europe, I’m pretty sure it was the same in the US, because people couldn’t interact with each other. Now, we have the Ukraine situation. I don’t want to call it “Dark Age”, but we are having a lot of trouble. But we had Covid, where we couldn’t interact with one another, so we thought about this light at the end of the tunnel thing, just go back outside, and that would heal our souls in a way. I think light at the end of the tunnel pretty much nails it, that you have to go back to a normal thing, go back to the sun, and just let it shine to your face, and leave all those dark years behind us. And I think that drove us to have Healed By The Sun the title track on the album.

What was the experience like recording your first album with Ivanhoe?
It was interesting because we recorded it partly at the Ivanhoe studio and partly here at my studio, which is called The Cave. To me, it was the first time that I recorded my own album in my own studio. That was quite interesting. Also, Giovanni had a pretty clear vision about tightness and how we would work on it, and sound-wise, the bass is much more dominant than in the other bands that I used to play. I had to find a way where the guitar sound would be still heavy and yet find its way somewhere between the predominant bass and the drums and the keyboards somewhere. I had to really work on my guitar sound for that album.

Other than that, the recording itself was actually pretty smooth. Since I know the band for so long, I think I could share and anticipate Giovanni’s vision about the album pretty quickly and the idea of how we wanted it to sound like. The process itself was actually quite smooth, other than the fact that I was handicapped for a couple of months because of an accident. I couldn’t play guitar for almost three months or so, so there was a delay in the recording. Other than that, the recording itself went actually pretty smooth.

Ivanhoe – Photo Credit: Uli Lack

You guys re-recorded a song, Awaiting Judgement Day, that originally came from a demo, I believe, from 1989. What made you guys decide to re-record a song from that time period?
I think it’s a song from the Written in Stone demo, and that was one of the few songs that has never been recorded on an album. This one was a song that he always loved, and he actually even reached out to the original lineup. Markus Britsch was playing the keyboards and Lars Hörnig wanted to do the drums, and then he was reaching out to Scott Anderson, who was the singer for Riot back in the day. He couldn’t get on hold of him, and then one day, we are in the rehearsal room, and our drummer Micha actually starts to sing that song. We were like, “Oh, that sounds actually pretty cool.” Micha actually recorded the vocals for the song.  It was weird at first. I was like, “Are you sure you guys want to do that?” The more we listened to it, we thought, “Yeah. He nailed it actually pretty well.” I think it was something that Giovanni wanted to do because he wrote the song back in the ’80s, and it was on that very first demo, and he just wanted to have it as a bonus track on the album.

Tell me about that song, One Ticket to Paradise, and what it means to you. Why is there only one ticket?
Well, I think that’s a very good question. I said One Ticket because I think the first approach that I did on that lyric, it said Ticket to Paradise. The idea of the song was derived from another song, Moments in Time. When we had some stuff left, and I still had these ideas in my head when Moments in Time was finished.  I told Giovanni, “Give me a week. I will work something out.” I came up with the idea for Ticket to Paradise, and I like the idea of having a very short song because back in the day, when I was hanging around with the band on the album, Polarized, there’s another very short song, which was called Whipping the Flies, and live – I think the audience really loves it when we play it. I thought, “Maybe should go back in time a little bit. We’d do something really short.” When we had the theme and the atmosphere of that song, for some reason, I had this Miami Vice vibe in my head… it was just the harmonies and the keyboards and the verse. I really felt a lot of seeing gunshots coming around the corner in a white Ferrari. That was when I actually started to write about the drug situation. I think it’s pretty actual and pretty up-to-date here, and the same thing in California, an issue where you live from that one ticket to the next ticket and check in for that little trip to paradise, and then wake up with even more issues than you had the day before, and you wait for your next trip. I tried to do it with a Ticket to Paradise kind of thing.

Your other single Headnut, is actually about Covid. You already touched on the horrors of Covid and everything, but just tell me a little bit more about that song.
Headnut was actually a song which we started writing before I even joined the band. It was something where I was hanging around with Giovanni in their studio/rehearsal room. It’s actually very cool. We met occasionally, and he showed me the song, and we were working a little bit on it. I wasn’t even a member of the band back at that time. With the lyric, it really came down to the situation of what Covid did to all of us and how we can get out there and what was done wrong by the people, sometimes also the leaders, how it wasn’t really necessary to really disturb or to shrink us in our possibility to move and interact and stay home and all that. Was everything of that necessary, and what did it do to us? Even if it was necessary, not judging right or wrong, but what did it do to us?

There are personally two cases of really fatal things to what happened to kids and how it affected the development of kids when it comes to sports. People couldn’t do sports anymore because of the lockdown, and then they somehow came in connection with drugs, and it totally changed. They totally wasted their life from being a really sporty, healthy person, and then you can’t do sports because of lockdown, and you really drift into a complete wrong direction. I think that was something that we wanted to express with the lyrics of Headnut.

Is there any chance of Ivanhoe maybe coming over here to the States for some shows? Is that something you’d like to do?
That’s something I would love to do, to be honest. I think it’s more a question of is it affordable or doable, or is there a festival asking us to do so? I think it’s not so much about us. It’s about the demand there that I’m probably not close enough to judge, but I think many years ago, there’s this ProgPower USA festival in Atlanta where a lot of bands from Germany played that I know, and I even was in contact with these guys for some years for Scenes. If that would be the opportunity to come to the US and play, I think we would definitely be there.

Cave – Photo Credit: Michael Vetter

Let’s talk a little bit about Cave. How does your other band, Cave, compare to what you do in Ivanhoe?
I think it’s more straight ahead, it’s less progressive. I think it’s probably more approachable from a first listen, while for Ivanhoe, you probably might need a second listen in some of the songs. The start was a little different. When we started to work with Ivanhoe, I knew that there’s a band with a heritage, and I knew that there’s a certain style expected even though you develop and you try to bring it further, but there’s a heritage in your backpack in Ivanhoe that you have to somehow carry with you and fulfill and meet expectations. Cave was a bunch of songs that I wrote here in my studio for the last, probably, 10 years, and I never wrote those songs for a particular band or a particular setting or a particular singer or something. I actually never thought they would fit in one album until Roberto came in, and we met here in my studio, and I showed him these songs, and he said, “Those sound pretty cool.” Once we found Ronny Munroe as our singer, he really glued it together. Now, to me, the crazy, when I listen to the Cave album, it sounds like a whole unit, and it’s very versatile, but it still sounds like one band. When I wrote the songs, they were never intended for a particular band. Now, they sound like from one band. That’s mainly from how Ronny sang over them. He really glued it together as a tight band. It’s really a surprise to me. I think that’s the major difference to me between the Cave and Ivanhoe.

Ronny Munroe is an absolutely amazing vocalist. I love the work like he did with Metal Church. How did Ronny become involved with Cave?
That’s funny because Roberto said, “We need to find a good singer on this,” and then he had a connection with Ronny from a festival… because our bass player, he used to organize a festival, which was, back in the day, I think it was a benefit festival for the tsunami in 2004, but he met Ronny before. He actually called Ronny, and Ronny listened to the stuff. He said, “Guys, first of all, if I’m doing this, I’ll only come to Germany. We are not another project which sends back and forth tracks, and you have a band together, which never met before. I want to come to Germany, I want to do it together,” which turned out to be a superb decision because we worked so much on the lyric, on the vocals, on the singing here in my studio, we had so much fun. My daughter said she never saw her dad laughing that much. Ronny, we really became friends.

The second part was that he said, “I’ve been in so many bands, but I’ve never been a founding member of a band. If we are doing this, I don’t want to do it as a job. I like this tune so much.” It was what he said, and I think that was a great compliment that the Cave songs really touch every era of songs or bands that he really loved when he was younger. He really feels great singing those tunes.  And he said, “If we do this, I want to be a founding member. I’m not a founding member in Metal Church. I was not a founding member of Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I’m the number X singer in Vicious Rumors.” He wanted to be a founding member of a band and be part of the creative process from day 1. I think that’s pretty cool. Even though we are separated, we are really a bunch of friends, and we hope to have him over here as soon as possible for some shows.

Obviously, the same thing for Ivanhoe. If there would be a show for Cave in the US, we definitely would be there.

Out Of The Cave by Cave

What’s up next for Cave, and then what’s up next for Ivanhoe?
Starting with Ivanhoe, the album will be released in May 10. Right now, we are extremely busy with the promotion of the album and all the interviews and all that stuff. Obviously, we want to play live and bring that on stage as soon as possible. In Germany, it’s a little difficult for the next development because in June, we have the European Soccer Championship, and I don’t know if you’re familiar, but soccer in Germany is like baseball, American football, basketball, and hockey at the same time. There’s not much going on, and no serious club will book you for a show during the European Soccer Championship. There’s the festival season in July and August, so I think we’re looking forward to Fall to bring Ivanhoe on stage as quickly as we can.

For Cave, to be honest, it’s pretty much the same thing. I don’t know if you heard about it, but we had to cancel three shows with Cave in March because some weird guy stole Ronny’s passport and wallet on his way to Germany. He was flying from Rhode Island via Philly to Germany, and someone stole his passport in Philly, so he couldn’t go in either direction. He couldn’t go back home, and he couldn’t come to Germany, so he was not there. That was really bad. We are finding a way how we can get those shows back on track, but again, due to the situation in Europe with festival season and soccer championship, it’s probably going to be Fall.

I think with both bands, we want to bring them and the material on stage as soon as possible.

With regard to future, when it comes to Cave, we are already working on the next album, while in Ivanhoe, we are still busy with the promotion for release on the 10th.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Alex Koch – Vocals
Chris Lorey – Guitars
Giovanni Soulas – Bass
Richie Seibel – Keyboards
Micha Krebes – Drums

CAVE is:
Ronny Munroe: Vocals
Chris Lorey: Guitars, keyboards
Roberto Palacios: Bass, cello
Chris Schwinn: Drums
Steffen Theurer: Drums on album

Ivanhoe on Facebook
Cave on Facebook

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