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The Interview with IVO Posted by Thor on April 07 2008
The success of Therion has been achieved thanks to its bandmembers and Chris (of course!), but there have been also many other people who can be called "silent heroes". One of such people is Ivo Elezovic, ex-webmaster of the Official Therion Webiste, about which, alas!, most young fans have no idea, and many older ones have forgotten. To protect such man (who devoted many years of his life to promoting the band and delivering information about it to the world) against eternal oblivion, one night, sitting with beer in my hand, I decided to react. One cannot forget such people which are, in fact, the part of Therion history, especially that if it wasn't for Ivo, you wouldn't be able to visit this website!

"Old" Ivo

For those who don't know you, say something about yourself, and for those who remember you, say what do you do at present times?

Hello everyone at Thor's excellent site, honored you show interest in reading about me. Name's Ivo Elezovic, currently 28, employed, married, and mostly calmed down. Those that never heard of me might be asking "who the hell is this guy and where did Thor pull him out of?" The correct answer would be "he's the ex-Therion Webmaster, and Thor pulled him out of his own drunken stupor, after one beer too many on a very good night out". If you continue reading you'll be (fortunately) reading far more about Therion, their website, and the nostalgic view of "those early days" than me. Yet, he said I nonetheless should introduce myself so here it goes.
I'm living in Zagreb, Croatia, and you should visit sometime, if only when passing through to the Adriatic. It's wonderful there, trust me. My hobbies and work fortunately are karma-alligned, as they both deal with extreme amounts of computering, typing, administering and more computering. (Yes, "computering" is a word describing spending 14 hours a day infront of a screen.) Jolly good fun, trust me. Believe it or not, I'm still formally a student, having never left the university, and such life is a source of constant amusement for me and my peers (who share my interests in being eternal students). If I were political, I'd be forming a party with the motto "From University to Pension", while skipping all the nasty bits in the middle like actual work. Then again, I managed to get employed in my own company that deals mostly with publishing some very boring things, like schoolbooks, and from the fields of mathematics and physics, if you can imagine! Then again, that's not my real job, what I do mostly has to do with computers, networks, cables, arcane black command prompts and occasionally screwdrivers and power-drills.
My musical interests are very varied. On the one hand we have the golden bands from "my youth", like this certain band starting with T that I
can't remember the name fully... And on the other hand there's a plethora of "things" (in a lack of a proper word), bands that noone's ever heard of yet play most interesting music ever, and more different things like Soundtracks for example. You may ask "how can anyone listen to soundtracks?!". Well, if you _exclude_ any soundtracks made by Hollywood, you may find that many many very talented musicians, composers and writers do incredible works on independent films, games, even TV series, that you could just listen to for YEARS, which is in a way something I do and enjoy doing it. Ever listened, really listened, to C64 games soundtracks? Called "chiptunes"? Google it.
When away from computers I deal a lot in roleplaying games. Alternity's my favorite and I'm even writing a second book for the long-dead system. Some people never quit eh? Or never stop playing games. (laughs)

How did it happen that you started working on the Official Therion Website?

To answer that, I'd need to explain how I got into Therion at all. 'Twas Summer '96 when a friend gave me a cassette with a copy of Theli. It was recorded, quite badly, over some dance/techno, quite common for the time, and the drum beats were still audible through Theli songs. Nevertheless I fell in love with the sound, never heard anything like that before, and having only listened to the run-of-the-mill trash and heavy metal bands like Maidens, Anthrax or Metallica. So I got the rest of the discography, through sheer luck I might add, and I was hooked. "Is that Egyptian?! Are they nuts?" was the first reaction when I saw the lyrics. And then curiosity got better of me. The web business started in '97 while I coped with Therion lyrics. I was more and more interested in "what the hell are they talking about", so I started doing research. The fact that Therion used a mix of Latin, Egyptian, old Hebrew, Akkadian, Enochian, and possibly some other arcane languages didn't quite help in a pre-google era, as you can imagine. I visited local libraries, scoured the net for dictionaries, and did whatever I could to catch heads or tails of their lyrics, all the while listening and being enchanted by the beauty of the music. Siren of the Woods was a special case. I think I spent a whole year translating that one, using extremely limited resources and a Dutch-Akkadian dictionary. That song remains my favorite Therion song to the day.
So, back on topic. While doing all of this I met Daniel, a Polish fellow, who had his own website and was doing pretty much the same thing. While I focused on translating the songs, he went after explanations of various phases and words that made no sense to a normal listener. Who is Lilith? What is Theli? That sort of thing. We got in touch and he left webmastering to me while focusing on research (he was admittedly a poor html coder). I had my own website at the time, Megatherion Website (which had all the common information at the time - discograpy, picture galleries, etc), and his was renamed to Therion Intelligence Page, and it contained the various translations, both mine and his. However after a while, he had a family crisis. From what I could gather his brother was in a terrible car accident, and Daniel withdrew completely from the web within days. I never heard from him again, so I hope he'd contact me (if he ever reads this) even though it's been a decade.
Well, I was left with two sites, so I fused them into Megatherion Intelligence Page. This was a landmark, as it happened around 1997-1998, and at the time the only two other Therion sites (that were big and frequently visited), namely the Russian Therion Website and Displacer's Page, were dying out. I assume their webmasters went to other projects, we were never much in contact.
Now, you need a bit of info on what those times looked like. Therion did not have a website at all, all they did have was a tiny bit of web space on the Nuclear Blast's site, basically a discography listing. Chris was probably the only band member who had an email address, but he kept it secret and no one could get to it. So, in order to get in contact with Chris, namely for the sake of the multiple ongoing translation projects which were stuck completely and needed a push, I pulled a stunt that I'm not very proud of even today. I put the entire Therion discography, every song ever published, in mp3 format onto the site. I must have used 20 old Geocities accounts to upload it all. Those were bad mp3s, yes, but the move was outrageous and Chris himself very soon learned of this and sent me a cease-and-desist letter. Of course I removed the discography immediately, yet I did get a hold of his email address.
After months of correspondence, (and a lot of boosts to our translation projects), I assume Chris decided the site was getting too popular and it ruined the mystic touch Therion had been developing by exactly using those very foreign and very ancient languages in their lyrics. He proposed that I modify the M.I.P. into a Therion Fanclub (and thus retain control an directorship over an ever-growing pre-wikipedia of Therion works, while he hires some other people to do a "proper" Therion website. I sort-of agreed to this, but fortunately the project flopped and I asked if I culd run the main website as well, having already proved the site has hundreds of thousands hits a year and that I was capable of running it. He agreed and that was the beginning of the Official Therion Website. The translation efforts were forked into the newborn Therion Fanclub, also managed by me, and by 2001 we were all set to go.

What problems did you have to cope with when you were in charge of the webiste?

Hah, I was restless. I redesigned the sites yearly. Spent months and months polishing and pruning the design, yet at the same time learning the art of web mastering a large project. I had issues with foreign languages, so I tried to build a multi-lingual website that had over 10 different translations for every bit of information it contained. The project failed, unfortunately, since not enough translators could be found. Yet today you may notice there exist French, Polish, Japanese sites that all bear the title Official, so it could be said that as internet grew more and more willing Therion fans joined the efforts and the critical mass for building a multilingual site was achieved. There were other problems, mostly technical in nature. I always hosted the site on my own server(s) and Croatia is still a pretty backwater country where internet is concerned. The bills were enormous, connection slow, yet we managed. I won't bother you with those things here. (laughs)

"New" Ivo :)

Did you have a free hand to do whatever you wanted or Chris somehow controlled you?

Well, I did mostly have a free hand, except on the issue of what should be in the fanclub. The translation projects, for example, had to go, that was non-negotionable, and I understood the reasoning. However, I was blessed with the opportunity to be in constant contact with Chris, so it fell to me to design and print the Bells of Doom CD for example. There wasn't much to control, to be frank. The community grew and I tried to accommodate in the best way I could. Chris was appreciative and helped wherever he could with advice and guidelines, so he was more of a guide then a dictating hand. From what I gather, he's that way still.

What other responibilities, except of dealing with the scripts, did you have?

One of main duties was email filtering. Chris never did want to make his email address public, for the same reasons you cannot get in contact with most of the other big band members. On the site I directed the potential press requesting interviews to me, and then after verifying they were official, I'd pass their letters to Chris, and shuttle the answers back.
One of the hardest duties, however, was Fanclub Store managment. When it hooked up I'd get daily requests for membership, CD or t-shirt orders, and it was up to me to deal with accounting, ship the merchandise and keep a constant watch over finances. It kinda detracted from my duties as the Webmaster so it was one of the reasons for my eventual resignation. Afterwards, Chris himself took those responsibilities and he runs (or delegates the work for) the store now.

In a very, very distant past, there was something like a mailing list...

Ah yes, you're talking of pre-forum times. There were several in fact, and as a good and proper website, I had to have one too. Ultimately it grew to a thousand members if I recall correctly, but it died out rapidly with the first forums. I remember it fondly as a constant source of flame, not over music or content, or Therion at all, but over people speaking Spanish in caps most of the time. (laughs) No amount of effort could force people to read the rules about it being English-only I guess. (laughs)

You resigned from maintaining the website, why?

Many reasons, most of them having nothing to do with the site or the band. The only reason that was related to the site was the massive Fanclub duties (merchandise, subscriptions, etc) that I felt were pressing me too much. Basically, I fell into a personal crisis with my private life, the university studies were kicking my butt, I was failing years repeatedly, then there's the issue of living alone around other people's houses after having escaped from my parents, that sort of thing. Also I guess I felt I did enough and I should pass the flag to someone who was more like me when I started, young and enthusiastic. I started the Megatherion Page in '97, and passed the honor to Ole in '04. I'd say I earned the retirement.

Looking back, what were the advantages of conducting the website? What did it give you personally?

You have to understand, never did I receive a penny for my work, nor did I ask for any payment at all. My work was reciprocated by the honor of being able to get to all the concerts for free, getting to hear the new albums while still being burned on CD-Rs, and having free shippments of cool stuff like T-shirts or books sent my way from Chris. And that was more than enough, but the work did take a lot of time (as I sooo liked to tinker and redesign) and it didn't pay for the food. Then there's the eternal honor of sometimes being recognized as the "ex-Therion webmaster" by people I see at gigs, and it just gives me that warm fuzzy feeling. I'm damn proud of what I did back there and of the years I invested into both Therion and the site. And I'd do it again, were I 17 years old again. Hah! (Not to insinuate that its a job for kids and that it's not very serious, on the contrary, it's just that the "old" an cynical me would ask for payment first and then work at it 8 hours a day. Y'know, married and all, taxes to pay.)

Ivo with his wife Martina

Do you still have a contact with bandmembers?

Not so much anymore, I'm afraid. I see them once every year when they come near or to Croatia, and we have a nice chat but to be honest, no, I've withdrawn from the Therion world and just occasionally peep in to say hello or to fix some issue with the server if they or someone else like NTSMS asks that of me.

You still help Therion, for example by giving the place on your server to this Polish website. I've been always wondering why people selflessly help others, not demanding any profits for their help?

Well, to be honest, it costs me nothing, and feels good when I help someone. Your website was in a dire need of hosting when I took you in. I did the same with Non Therion Society Members Society. The question should be - why shouldn't I help if I'm able? As for Therion, did you know I still hold the rights to domains, and pay for them out of my own pocket? Know why? Because I'm the only guy in the world with a email address, that's why! (laughs)

You're from Croatia, so not far away from Serbia and Kosovo. What's your opinion about declaration of independence made by people living in Kosovo?

Oohh, touchy pointy politics. If I'm any single thing, that's apolitical. And atheistic. Yes, if I'm any two things that's apolitical and atheistic. And ... Oh I love Monty Python.
Now, back to your question. You're asking about a very delicate matter here that already got many people killed and will likely get even more people dead or wounded. But, as you may know, back in '91 Croatia too declared it's independence from Yugoslavia, and now 17 years later, basically the entire Yugoslavia has finally fallen apart. I'd say this is a good thing, if for one thing only - there are no more artificial states constructed after WW2 in the Balkan. You just can't expect an artificial state to survive, so if the mighty USSR broke apart, how wouldn't Yugoslavia? And taking USSR as an example, I'd have to ask, are they better off this way? Well, it's up to you to answer that.

Thanks for the interview my friend.

No, thank you for the interest, and I wish you all the best with the site in the future!

30th March 2008

357 #1 kevinhill
on December 15 2010 12:12:40
Thanks for sharing
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357 #2 kevinhill
on December 15 2010 12:13:33
Very nice site and article
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