Interview: Theodore Ziras

Dan McAvinchey: Theodore, how did you develop your tastes in music and who influenced your guitar style?

Theodore Ziras: As a teenager I took my first electric guitar and piano lessons, also I was into listening to Heavy Metal/Hard Rock music like Iron Maiden. Then, at the age of 16 (1992), I listened to Dream Theater for first time. By that time, the way I was approaching music changed forever. I started paying attention to my technique ans also I started listening to guitar orientated music (Yngwie Malmsteen, George Lynch, etc.) I was fascinated by musicians with a high level of technical ability, regardless of style. At the age of 17, music became my first priority. Now after 11 years of playing guitar my main influences are Steve Vai, George Bellas, Vitalij Kuprij, Greg Howe, Shawn Baxter and Vinnie Moore.

Dan McAvinchey: What guitars, amplification and effects do you favor to achieve your sound?

Theodore Ziras: I have a lot of guitars and effects, but generally I am trying to keep everything simple, so mainly I am using my Palm Bay Custom Guitar, POD for the Studio and Digitech GSP 2120 for live applications.

Dan McAvinchey: What are you hoping to achieve musically?

Theodore Ziras: First of all, I would like that my music and my abilities are recognized world-wide. Secondly, I would like to influence other people with my music and my approach to playing the guitar.

Dan McAvinchey: What is your most recently completed project and do you plan to continue writing and recording instrumental music?

Theodore Ziras: Of course I will continue recording instrumental music! My most recent project is my debut neoclassical instrumental CD called "Trained To Play", released in April of 2001. Also I released a transcription book for this CD.

I completed the pre-production for my second instrumental CD (13 tunes, 48 minutes of music), it will again be in an advanced neoclassical style. When I complete all the recording, I'll start searching for the best possible record deal.

Also I am working on instructional material, so in few months I will release a CD-ROM on Sweep Picking (beginners to advanced). Another long term plan is to start working on a project with vocals (progressive/neoclassical) - this will happen after the release of the second instrumental CD.

Dan McAvinchey: How do you compose your original music?

Theodore Ziras: Mainly by listening a lot of music, e.g. if I want to compose neoclassical metal, I would be listening and analyzing all the CDs that I've got in my collection. Then I am ready to absorb all these influences into my playing and my compositions. The good thing is that the final result is totally different from the tunes that I listened to for inspiration.

Dan McAvinchey: Do you usually record at a commercial facility or at a home studio?

Theodore Ziras: I'm lucky enough to have my own complete home studio, with all the essential equipment (hard disc recorders, samplers, effects, software, etc.) so I can record any time I want as far as I want and at a very low cost. And of course I am 100% responsible for the final result. Even if I've got the opportunity to record at a commercial studio, I would prefer my home studio.

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Dan McAvinchey: What went into the decision to form your own record label and release your records independently?

Theodore Ziras: Actually I didn't form my own record label, I found a record label in Greece (Steel Gallery Records). They believe in my music and they pay all the manufacturing costs. We share the promotion, I am responsible for the promotion through the Internet and they are responsible for the distribution.

Dan McAvinchey: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician?

Theodore Ziras: Advantages:

  1. Artistic freedom
  2. Total control of expenses and income
  3. Have your own schedule (recordings, release dates, image)
  4. Depend only on yourself


  1. Lack of world-wide distribution in record shops
  2. Lack of advertising in well known magazines (very expensive)
  3. Difficulties in organizing tour and gigs
  4. Limited budget
Dan McAvinchey: Do you have any marketing or promotion tips for musicians about to release their first independent record?

Theodore Ziras: Of course, here are some tips:

  1. Send as many promo CDs as you can.
  2. Give as many as interviews you can.
  3. Have a fancy/professionally made web site (Check my web site,
  4. Write instructional material for guitar related sites. Usually an impressive guitar lesson on a web site is an effective way to promote yourself and you music.
  5. Exchange links in order to entice many visitors to your web site - more visitors, more sales .
  6. Cooperate with as many online retailers as you can in order to have good distribution through the Internet.

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Theodore Ziras is a talent guitarist from Greece who plays in the neoclassical style. His debut instrumental CD is called "Trained To Play" - which also happens to describe Ziras' ability on the six-string. On his CD, you'll hear tremendous high-tech guitarmanship over original compositions influenced by classical artists such as Liszt and Bach.

Dan McAvinchey talked with Ziras about his plans for the future in the music world and his thoughts on competing as an independent guitarist.