Ivory Tower Project
The phrase ‘Ivory Tower’ has long been a metaphor for a place of refuge from the rest of the world. For singer/songwriter Mark Regula of the critically acclaimed modern vintage rock band Ivory Tower Project, this figurative ideal resonates deeply. The New York City-based band has functioned as a safe haven for its members to process and, ultimately, triumph over trying times.
The group’s greatest victory is its rousing and emotive sophomore album; ‘How Much More?’. It’s an album that bids farewell to a key collaborator, co-founder and dear friend while it also welcomes a new era as Ivory Tower Project gears up for more recordings and fresh creative partnerships.
“For me, the name Ivory Tower always conveyed a feeling of escapism,” reveals singer, songwriter, co-founder and multi instrumentalist Mark Regula. “The music has been where my heart and mind can live when everything around me goes wrong. It’s been my savior.”
Ivory Tower Project specializes in the majestic power rock of the 1970s and early 1980s. The songs burst with stirring vocal melodies, soaring vocal harmonies, polished musicianship, heartfelt lyrics, and imaginative arrangements. The band is part of a new breed of Classic Rock purists preserving the traditions set forth by masters such as 1970s Styx, Queen, Foreigner, and Boston. ITP has garnered praise from a variety of sources, including The Entertainment Bank,The Ripple Effect, Mossip, Indie-Musician.com, and Boom Boom Chick, among others. The group’s debut: 2008’s ‘Red Hot’ (Guerilla Records), has received rave reviews and airplay on over 800 radio stations in 33 countries. As a result, tracks from that CD earned them nominations in a few categories in both the 2015 and 2016 Nashville Universe Awards.
Much like Boston and Steely Dan, and other purveyors of exquisite pop-rock, Ivory Tower Project is not so much a band as it is a collective of songwriters. Mark Regula and lyricist Johnny Jace have been the creative core since the 1980s. In 2003, Johnny passed away, and the lyrics on ‘How Much More?’ are some of the last he’s written. In 1983, original drummer Sal DiAngelo also passed away. And in 2009, Mark Regula survived a car accident that has since left him barely able to walk, and currently battling chronic pain. In the face of it all, Regula has valiantly upheld Ivory Tower Project.
In the wake of all the loss, longtime friend, collaborator and, hotshot studio guitarist, Tony Novarro has emerged a central creative force. Currently, Ivory Tower Project is: Mark Regula on vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass, and percussion, with Novarro functioning as recording engineer, guitarist, backing vocalist, and co-songwriter. A stable of guest studio musicians have, and continue to work with them on their various recording projects.
The title of ITP’s sophomore CD; ‘How Much More?’, references the band’s own challenging journey. "In life, you sometimes find yourself waiting for a good thing to happen or a bad thing to end,” Regula says. “It’s like ‘How much more can we take?’ That sentiment resonated with me and Johnny [former songwriting collaborator].” He continues: “The struggle can be tough, but it can also be important in that, if you don’t give up, you learn something.”
‘How Much More?’ posits a query and provides a comforting prescription of answers in song. The album manages to be soothing, seething, and stirring. The title track unfolds from a boldly vulnerable piano ballad with smoldering emotionality to an anthemic climax with burly classic rock guitars. “That’s a song about being frustrated with a friend. In it, I ask, ‘How many times must I be a victim of your lies?’ The feeling is how much more can I take or should I take,” Regula says.
On "The Ides of March (Et tu Brute)" ITP manage to create their own niche of Shakespearian rock through melding classic texts with Classic Rock in the grand theatrical tradition of Queen. Guitarist Tony Novarro turns in the touching soulful rock gem, “Please Tell Me,” a tribute to a long lost friend, original drummer Sal DiAngelo. The tracks “Ring Around Rosie” and “Way Too Late” are visceral and uplifting. “Ring Around Rosie” is a stately love song overflowing with amorous vibes and lush production touches. The invigorating “Way Too Late” is a hard driving pop-rock song with galloping guitars that evoke 1970s Styx, Billy Idol and Survivor.
ITP had commissioned cartoonist Tim Ross (of the indie band Apology None) to produce a fully animated cartoon music video for their single: “Ring Around Rosie”. In 2018 – Two tracks from ‘How Much More?’ were nominated for the 2018 Nashville Universe Awards. Additionally, ITP was nominated in The Josie Music Awards for BAND of the YEAR (Rock) * ALBUM of the YEAR * and in 2019: VIDEO of the YEAR.
On November 5, 2019 ITP will release a digital 4 song EP. Three tracks will be cover songs ranging from R&B, Blues and Classic Rock. A fourth track will be an original Jazz/Rock/Fusion instrumental.
However reflecting back on ITP’s journey thus far, Regula says: “Music is what has kept us going. It’s been our light during the darkness of loss. This album 'How Much More?' is a memorial to those no longer here with us. I hope this music is as healing and cathartic for others as it has been for us. I hope it gives people achance to escape their pain and fears, and feel hope.”
Written by: Lorne Behrman
Ivory Tower Project has received rave reviews and airplay all over the world; here is a small collection of some of the most current reviews:
“['How Much More?' is] an ambitious rock album with overtones of the classic period of the 1970s and 1980s… this is as close to major label quality as an area release ever gets.” -- Good Times Magazine 1227, Long Island, NY
"[ITP's] latest recording 'How Much More?' really is a tour de force encompassing a variety of music styles around a core theme of Classic American AOR...At times you are listening to a reinvention of classic American Rock before being taken on a journey back to the days of extended 12" remixes or an adventure through inspired guitar solos that shout out 'Prog Rock!'...an album that is a credit to their talent and creativity. Elobeatlesforever (Elobf) recommends 'How Much More?' by Ivory Tower Project to those enlightened folks who enjoy the music of ELO, Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, The Move, The Idle Race, 'Brum Beat', The Beatles and related artistes." -- Keith J. Sinclair, ELO Beatles Forever (ELOBF), United Kingdom
"Ivory Tower Project's album ['How Much More?'] promotes and rekindles the classic sound of 70 and 80s Rock/Pop… you can find elements of the Corporate Rock that gave the band Boston great success… as well as a mixture of the R&B and Soul style of the east coast, Surfer Rock from the west coast, and yes... even a little Tejano from down south. Their ability to mix styles and influences gives a unique sound to their genre and, although it may sound familiar, it's completely new." -- Cat, Cat's Doghouse, British Columbia, Canada
“[ITP’s] shared love for the music of Styx, Queen, Foreigner or Boston has helped shape this album; ‘How Much More?’…The title track, that starts life as an emotive piano ballad accompanied by crying guitar lines. But it does not take that long before those Melodic Rock references are coming to the fore...Next is the Shakespearean tragedy made into a rock song: ‘The Ides Of March (Et tu Brute?)’. It is also nice to hear the band infuse some prog keyboard influences into their songs…Personal highlights for me are ‘Burning (Full Length Remix) ’, ‘Way To Late (Full Length Remix)’ and the beautiful ballad ’Always’… With 14 tracks and a playing time of almost 70 minutes, there is a lot to offer”. -- Peter Cox, Your Music Blog, Netherlands
“This ['How Much More?'] is a nice album that takes you back to late 70s and early 80s. There's lots of influences from bands such as Boston, Reo Speedwagon, Styx, Cannata and Kansas…The opening song ‘How Much More?’ with a slow start, but turns out to a nice rocker in the chorus and it's a good one. ‘The Ides Of March (Et tu Brute?)’ is great with a sing-a-long chorus with a touch of Boston mixed with Reo Speedwagon. ’Please Tell Me’ is a great mid-tempo rocker with layers of melodies and a strong chorus." -- Juha Harjula, Melodic.net, Sweden
"The title track from the forthcoming album ['How Much More?'] opens with a piano accompanied by a dreamy guitar which leads to the vocals that build up the track before it ramps up with a 70s/80s classic pop/rock feel that ties in beautifully with the lyrics. 'How Much More?' is certainly a track that has been well produced with love for the sound that fans of ITP have come to love over the years that they have been producing some brilliant tracks. This track is certainly one that opens up the albums and sets you up for the rest of the tracks to enjoy." -- Karen Woodham, Blazing Minds, United Kingdom
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