GEORGE TSALIKIS: “With Each Passing Show I Get Better And Better Both As A Singer [And] A Showman”

George Tsalikis

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Just look at that picture above.  When I see a picture like that, I have to find out what that guy is all about.  There are not too many people that can ooze so much Metal confidence and pride in just one photo, but George Tsalikis sure does.  Some may already know Tsalikis from his stints with Gothic Knights, Overlorde, and Zandelle.  Others may know him on the New York tribute band circuit.  Tsalikis is about to release his second solo album Return to Power through Pure Steel Records on March 26, 2021.  If by chance you don’t know George Tsalikis (how dare you), you will now.

Metal Express Radio:  If I knew absolutely nothing about George Tsalikis, how would you describe your music to me?

George Tsalikis:  I would describe it as the best music in the world that everyone should have in their collection regardless of what type of music they like.  Okay, in all seriousness… my music is a blend of traditional Heavy Metal and Power Metal.  My earliest influencers include (but are not limited to) Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Helloween… just to name a few.  My music consists of catchy heart-pounding riffs combined with powerful vocals which range from moving melodic mid-range tones to awe-inspiring high screams.

MER:  Your second solo album Return to Power is set to be released on March 26, 2021 though Pure Steel Records.  Can you talk about meanings behind the songs….

“Live to Ride” – This song is basically about the joys of motorcycle riding.  It’s something I’ve been into for quite some time and I love very much.  I figured, why not write a song about it and share my love of riding with the world?

“The Chase” – The chase is about an inescapable entity that will catch up to you no matter how fast, how far, or how hard you run… and that entity is time itself.

“Dehumanized” – This song is about a character (who in the song represents two people from my past) who manipulated and hurt me through lies, deception and a complete lack of human decency and how they came back to do it again, only on this occasion it was payback time.

“Burden of Proof” – This song is about various groups who try to push their beliefs down everyone’s throats and refuse to take on any debate when asked to provide proof for the ridiculous claims they make.  The song basically restates the fact that the burden of proof falls on the one making the claim, not those who are not convinced and therefore don’t believe the claim to be true.  It goes on to say how many of these groups use logical fallacies to “prove” their belief systems rather than applying logic, reason or, demonstrable facts.

“Together We Rise” – This is your typical Metal anthem.  I wanted to include a song on this album that was about unity and brotherhood amongst the Metal community.

“Stand My Ground” – This song is about standing up to people who want you to live the way they deem to be “correct” and the hypocrisy they display by claiming to be oppressed victims by the very people they themselves are victimizing and oppressing.

“In Memory” – This song was written “in memory” of my friend David Zablidowsky who was tragically killed in an automobile accident while on tour.  Not only was he an incredibly talented musician but an incredible person who was always positive, encouraging and one of the kindest people I ever had the pleasure of knowing.  To this day I still find it hard to believe he’s gone.

“The Demon Barber” – This song is my take on the story of Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street which is now a famous musical that has also been made into a major motion picture.  The song takes the story from the perspective of Sweeney Todd, a man who was unjustly convicted and sent to prison by a corrupt judge who wanted to take the man’s wife.  (Spoilers ahead) The judge tricks the wife into coming to see him.  The wife, being innocent, thinks she’s going there to speak on her husband’s behalf in hopes to get him released from prison.  Instead, she is gang-raped by the judge and his friends.

This leads her to take poison to end her life… but the poison did not end up killing her, but instead caused her to go insane.  Sweeney Todd and his wife had a daughter who was then taken to be raised by the judge and when she reaches adulthood, which at the time the story takes place (mid 19th century) meant she was just past 15 years of age, the judge meant to marry her.  It’s around this time that Sweeney Todd is released from prison and vows to kill the judge.

As he waits for his opportunity, an old beggar woman enters his shop.  Desperate to be rid of he before she ruins his plan to kill the judge, he slices open her throat with his shaving razor which he’s used numerous times to kills many men up until this point, not realizing that the woman he just killed was in fact his wife.  How’s that for a dark story?

“Master of the Sky” – This song is more typical of the traditional Power Metal genre.  This is the first part of the story of a dragon that is a guardian of a nearby kingdom.  When that kingdom discovers a large invading horde advancing to destroy them, they send out a crew to waken the dragon which flies off to destroy this invading enemy.

“The Dragon Has Fallen” – This is the second part of the story from “Master of the Sky”.  The people of the kingdom live peacefully when all of a sudden, they realize that they are under attack by a large invading horde.  They wonder what happened to the dragon that was supposed to protect them.  While preparing to defend their homes and their very lives, they send out scouts to find out what happened to the dragon.  The scouts return (spoiler alert) and inform the people of the kingdom that the dragon was slain by the invaders and now the people of the kingdom have no choice but to defend themselves with no other help.

MER:  Are you planning to release any music videos?

GT:  I am!  In fact, I’ve already filmed some footage for the three songs I’ve selected to make videos for.  Those songs are:  “Live to Ride,” “The Demon Barber,” and “Together We Rise.”

MER:  It has been nearly 5 years since your last solo album, was there a reason it took that long for a follow-up?

GT:  Yes.  After the release of my first solo album, I hadn’t planned on doing a follow-up.  Part of the reason was that I joined the band Overlorde and we began writing a new album together.  But as we worked on writing songs for this album, I realized that I will not be able to write songs in their entirety and the only way I can write, record and release songs with creative autonomy would be to do another solo album.

So, while still writing and recording songs with Overlorde, I also began writing and recording my own solo material.  Part of the reason it took so long was because I was dividing my time between the two projects and part was due to the fact that for my solo album, I was doing all the work by myself… until it was time to record live drums… that’s when I enlisted the help of my good friend and one of the best drummers I’ve ever met, Joe (Jofu) Cardillo.

MER:  How did your record deal with Pure Steel Records come about?

GT:  I had a prior history with Pure Steel Records.  They had released three of the albums from my first band, Zandelle.  So when I was recorded my first solo album, The Sacrifice, I reached out to them first and they signed a distribution deal with me.  It was only natural that I would give them the first shot at releasing my new solo album as well.

MER:  You also front two tribute bands.  What led to the formation of…

Sinner, a Judas Priest Tribute band – I was always a huge fan of traditional Heavy Metal especially bands like Judas Priest.  One day, out of nowhere, I got a message from my ex-Zandelle guitarist Paul Duthil indicating that the Judas Priest tribute band he was in was looking for a singer and wanted to know if I’d be interested in trying out.  To me this was an easy decision.  Rob Halford is one of my favorite Metal vocalists and having the opportunity to sing Judas Priest songs in a tribute band sounded like something that would be incredibly fun to do.  So, I auditioned and landed the gig.

Circle of 4, an ‘80s arena rock tribute band – Circle of 4 is a band I’ve been in for over a decade.  Besides Heavy Metal, I’ve also been a fan of 80’s Hard Rock.  One day I saw an advertisement for an 80’s cover band looking for a singer.  They listed bands like Journey, Styx, Whitesnake, Def Leppard and many more that I always enjoyed listening too.  Being that these were the type of songs I normally wouldn’t get a chance to sing live with a band otherwise, I auditioned and got the job.

At first, we would just dress normally and play at various venues.  We found that although people enjoyed the music, they treated more as a background band.  So, I suggested the idea of dressing in the style of that era.  From the very first show we tried that, we noticed an immediate difference in the way the audience responded to the band.  Suddenly, we were seen the main attraction.

MER:  Have you toured or do you plan to tour on your solo material?

GT:  I have not toured yet for my solo project, but I welcome the opportunity.  I would love to get out there and play many of these song in front of a live audience.  Maybe if this album does well enough, perhaps that opportunity may arise.

MER:  Do you have a live performance that you consider your greatest? Why?

GT:  Not really.  I don’t like to say anything is the “greatest”, mainly because it’s almost impossible for me to quantify something so subjective.  Of course there have been shows that were fantastic for various reasons and others that weren’t all that good for other reasons, but those reasons vary so to pick one live performance and say it was the “greatest” would be near impossible.

Another thing I find is that with each passing show I get better and better both as a singer as well as a showman.  Now, that doesn’t mean that every show is better than the last, but overall, they do keep getting better.  My favorite shows are those where everything goes perfectly from a technical perspective, a performance perspective and where there is a large audience that is full of energy.

MER:  Have you had a live performance that was just terrible? Why?

GT:  Of course… and any performer that says otherwise is lying or hasn’t had too many performances.  A variety of things can make a performance terrible.  Technical issues can definitely ruin a performance.  For example, I had one show where my microphone kept cutting out during the performance.

At first I thought it was the batteries (it was a wireless mic).  So I changed them in between songs.  But then it kept cutting out.  So I thought there was a problem with the microphone system itself, perhaps the signal from the transmitter was not getting to the receiver well.  So I switched to a wired microphone.  It still kept cutting out.  I thought perhaps it was the sound board.  Ultimately, it was a bad microphone cable.  By the time I figured that out, the show felt as if it was ruined.

Another thing that could make a show terrible for me would be a bad performance from me or one of the other band members.  Historically, bad performances from me tend to be the result of some illness, usually a head cold with congestion.  When shows are booked well in advance, you can’t predict when you might get sick and something the show must go on, as painful as it is.  My worst such performance was during my tour with Zandelle when I lost half my voice mid-way through the tour.  Fortunately I was able to recover within a couple of days, but that was probably the scariest experience for me as a singer.

GT:  Basically, the band was unable to find good dedicated guitarists throughout most of its existence.  I’m not going to mention names so as not to give anyone any free publicity or notoriety, but we had one guitarist whose ego was so big that he thought he was too good for the band and left right after the release of the last album as we were trying to put together an album release party.

This was the same guitarist who did the same thing during the recording of the 1st album he was involved with.  The funny thing is that he came back saying he was sorry and that he was a different person now and that he would be dedicated to the band (see the answer to what the song “Dehumanized” is about… hint, he’s one of the two people it’s based on).

MER:  Tell me a little about your acting rolls?

GT:  Acting was something I got into much later than music.  My passion for that started after I saw the musical Jekyll & Hyde and realized that singing isn’t limited to the young (as I stupidly though at the time).  I became obsessed with that production and made it my life’s mission to play that role on a stage production.  But, the only way to land a lead role in a play is to have experience.  So I began taking any role I could in any production and in doing so I not only learned a lot about acting and how live theater works (and sometimes, doesn’t work) but I also learned a lot more about singing.  The experience not only made me a better performer but also a better singer and I ended up applying a lot of my theatrical knowledge to my band performances.

That being said, I did eventually get to play the lead role in Jekyll & Hyde which to this day is one of my favorite theatrical experiences.  My other favorite is getting to play the role of Javert in one of my other favorite musicals of all time, Les Miserables.  Soon after, I turned to film work as well which in some ways is quite different than stage acting due to the closeness of the “audience”.  You’re no longer playing to the back of the house because the camera is right there in your face.  Once again, this taught me a lot and I got to incorporate it in both my live performances as well as in many of the commercials I filmed for my 80’s Hard Rock cover band Circle of 4 (which are still up on our Facebook page for those interested in seeing my more comedic side)

George – Georgio

MER:  Do you ever get confused with the Greek singer Georgio Tsalikis?

GT:  It happens.  In the beginning of the Zandelle years I would get messages from people wondering if there was any connection.  I think nowadays people know we’re not the same person.  Although, funny enough… a few weeks ago some girl send me a message through Facebook that was intended for him.

It was innocent enough.  I politely explained that I think the message was meant for the other George Tsalikis.  I think she may have felt a bit embarrassed but I told her not to worry and that it would be funnier if he ever received a message intended for me.


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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