Name: Yiannis Papadopoulos
Location: Athens, Greece
Band(s): Scott Stapp, Royal Time Machine
You started playing guitar already at the age of four. Where did your musical interest come from and who were some of the guitarists that initially inspired you?
My father was my first teacher and inspiration, he showed me the basics until I enrolled in a conservatory around seven-eight years old. My first inspiration was Slash, but as the years went by and I started digging more into technique, I fell in love with Yngwie Malmsteen, John Petrucci, Steve Vai, Frank Gambale, John McLaughlin, Bireli Lagrene and all the great guitar players of that era.
There is a vast amount of talent out there today. To you, which guitarists do you think stand out in today’s scene?
That’s true, there are a lot of very talented people out there! In my opinion, Plini is a great guitarist, he has a great touch and amazing skills. Not only his guitar playing is exceptional but his compositional skills are fantastic as well. On top of that, I love the fact that he’s very artistic. Another player that I really admire is Josh Meader, I like his playing a lot. I find it very modern and intriguing.
On top of having managed to become a spectacular player, winning multiple international guitar contests and more, you’ve found time to get two bachelor’s degrees. Ambitious!
Fortunately (or not) I love working, reading, practicing etc. I’ve always been with a guitar in my hand for as long I can remember. As I was working my way to get my music degrees in guitar, harmony, and counterpoint I also found interest in the field of economics, and that led to two bachelor’s in accounting & finance and financial economics. Although at first glance music and economics might appear as a strange combination, it goes without saying that the knowledge I gained by doing these bachelor’s has served as my compass on the professional level and helped me see and understand the business side of music.
Aside from that, you’re also a published author with two books out so far. Are you planning more?
Actually, I am working on two new books as we speak, but the creation process has been rather slow so far. Whenever I’m not on the road touring, I’m teaching full-time and I’m also doing a Master in Music (MMus) at the same time. Imagine these, plus being a husband/dad, you understand that sleep is a luxury, let alone finding time to work with consistency and focus on writing books!
In 2015, you joined Creed lead singer Scott Stapp’s band. How did that come about and how has it been so far touring and recording?
In 2015 I got in touch via social media with Scott Stapp, the voice of Creed! I successfully auditioned online and joined his band. We’ve been together since 2015 and it has been an amazing journey so far! Touring has been such a joy, the touring family is a great team of people! I’ve been blessed to see most of the US until now and we have also toured internationally, visiting places like Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Africa and Mexico! On the other end, being in the studio has been a unique experience as well! It’s amazing to experience first-hand how some of the leading people in the music industry work and compose! The fact that I was able to exchange ideas and create songs with them was definitely a dream come true.
Looking back on your musical journey so far, what stands out to you on a personal level? What are some of your most memorable highlights so far?
I believe the fact that I made it this far is a personal win. It didn’t come easy at all, on the opposite, but it was definitely worth investing the time and the energy. Since I was a kid I dreamed of being part of a band, touring and playing in front of big crowds, which is something I can cross off my list now. I always believed in “dream big” with your head looking down. I still have big plans for the future, and I’ve been working silently nonstop for the past few years. Time will show how many of these plans are going to be fruitful, but I do know I enjoy the process. As far as memorable moments, many shows with Scott Stapp have been magical, but I vividly remember a festival in Peru back in 2016 as a very special one. As a soloist, one of my favorite moments dates back in 2018 when I joined Kamerata orchestra (Armonia Atenea) as the lead guitarist to perform the Concerto for Group and Orchestra by Jon Lord (Deep Purple) at the Megaron-the Athens Concert Hal.
Do you still practice your instrument on a regular basis? What does your routine look like?
I try to practice every day for as much as I can. Usually, that varies between 1,5-4 hours a day. I usually start warming up by revisiting scales and arpeggios, and then I start working with a metronome on legato and hybrid picking. After that, I practice alternate picking and then I usually alternate between practicing sweep picking and improvisation depending on the day and the time I have at my disposal. I have different practice routines for different scenarios, i.e. when I’m touring or if I’m on vacation, but the one above is the main skeleton.
Walk us through a regular day “in the life of” Yiannis Papadopoulos!
Generally, I like routines, they keep me focused and they help me calculate with more precision how I spend my time in order to be as efficient as possible in all the roles of everyday life. Pretty much a regular day looks like this: family, guitar practice, lessons, family, research study, sleep, repeat. The studio sessions that I do usually substitute either the practice or the research depending on the day, and for that choice I consider if my hands are in shape or not. Your most recent endeavor is Royal Time Machine, an experimental trio featuring you, George Kollias and Michael Evdemon. What’s next on the agenda for you guys? Let me start off by saying that I really believe in this project. It has been something that George and I had in mind since 2014 and when we finally met Michael and we completed the lineup, the project got flesh and bones. Few days ago, we received our first album mixed and mastered! The result is beyond our expectations, we are extremely happy and satisfied with how the album came together. As a next step, we are preparing for the release and are evaluating different proposals that are on the table. I’m confident we’re going to have exciting news soon!
Finally, which Toontrack products do you use and how do they help you in your creative process?
I use Superior Drummer 3! It’s one of my go-to tools for songwriting and practice. All the drum tones sound so natural and I find it really inspiring since I can choose different kits or different parts of kits according to my needs. I can edit everything in any way I want to and mix the sounds. I love the built-in grooves, they are really helpful if you want to record an idea on the fly. I also use the program as part of my practice routine whenever I’m working on timing. I lay down a groove (or choose a built-in one) and then I practice on top of it. I find this more inspiring than using a traditional metronome all the time. Finally, I also use it when I’m recording song demos or instructional material!