By Nicholas Jason Lopez
A product of their own influences, passions and virtues, Livadia, Greece-based prog rock trio Peculiar Three unleashed their latest album ‘Leap Of Faith’ earlier this year, a sign of maturity and progression in sound since their 2014 self-titled debut EP.
‘Leap Of Faith’ was produced by Ektoras Sohos at Locomotive Sound Studio in Lamia, Greece.
Peculiar Three is lead vocalist/bassist Valantis Dafkos, guitarist/keyboardist Panos Karkanas and drummer Paris Gatsios.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Dafkos about ‘Leap Of Faith’ and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Valantis Dafkos – Thanks for having us! “Peculiar,” as a word, has a strange ring to it, also meaning “strange/special,” just like the ideas we like to put in our music and lyrics. In addition, we love pop culture and books and “peculiar” is one of Sherlock Holmes’ favorite words to use! Therefore and since we’re a trio… “Peculiar Three”!
Music Bugle – How would you describe Livadia City, Greece to someone who has never been there before?
Valantis Dafkos – Livadia is a small city near Athens, with all the pros and cons you can imagine of such a place! It has a few beautiful spots, nice people and good food! Close to Livadia, one can also find ancient monuments, like the well-known Delphi – the ancient religious sanctuary dedicated to the Greek god Apollo, home to the Oracle of Delphi and the priestess Pythia. Despite its low population numbers, Livadia’s music scene is alive and strong, way better than anyone could probably anticipate! New bands pop up frequently and many of them consist of young people, thirsty to rock!
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your type of music?
Valantis Dafkos – In Greece, rock and metal music was – and still is – far from popular, especially in earlier years. However, there’s an upside to every downside and in this case, it’s the musical and lyrical freedom in composing, something that you may not be able to maintain in pop genres, since – usually – the mainstream audience is not too keen on experimenting and discovering new music, sound and lyrics.
Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your album ‘Leap Of Faith’?
Valantis Dafkos – Most of the times, it all starts with a melody. Panos or myself start the musical idea, which will inspire me to write the lyrics. After that, we jam the ideas in the studio where Paris chips in and we form the song little-by-little. Although it’s not standard procedure per se, this is how we work the songs most of the time! As for the album itself, the recordings took place in 2019 – Summer and Autumn, although the songs were ready long before that. Vocals, guitars – distorted, bass and drums were recorded at Locomotive Sound studio in Lamia, Greece by Ektoras Sohos. Guitars – clean – were recorded at One Take Recordings in Thiva, Greece by Vagelis Katsampekis. Keys were recorded at Saint George Studio by Panos Makoulis. It was mixed, produced and mastered at Locomotive by Sohos, who also produced our first release and its remastered edition. There are also two special guests – Makoulis for orchestration and arrangement on “Caliban’s End” and Mantis Savvidis on “Innermost.” Artwork and Layout were made by Sotiris Kotsonis, who also edited our photo that Dimitris Matsotas took. As for the gear we used, the bass is a Fender Jazz Marcus Miller signature, customized with DiMarzio Ultra Jazz pickups and John East preamp, playing – mainly – through Tech 21 SansAmp RBI and a Marshall MB4410. The guitar is a Washburn Nuno, modded with EMG pickups – for the clean parts – and Seymour Duncan Alnico II pro Slash pickups – for the distorted parts, playing – mainly – through Laney Ironheart 60H and Mesa Boogie TriAxis. The drumkit is a composite set with Tama/Pearl toms/kick and a Black Panther snare, all drums were birch and all cymbals by Paiste – 2002 & Rude – and Remo drumheads.
Music Bugle – Away from music, what’s something people might be surprised to know about the band?
Valantis Dafkos – Well, away from Peculiar Three’s music, but still in the array of music, there’s the fun fact that Paris and myself juggle between three more bands with discography! With no desire to appear cocky, we’d like to introduce these bands and hopefully you’ll give them a listen – Redeye Caravan is a dark country band with a wild west atmosphere and dark-themed lyrics. Beyond This Earth is a heavy rock/metal band with a raw sound and energy-filled live shows. The Magic Bus is a rock band with Greek lyrics, soon to release their first album.
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest challenge lately?
Valantis Dafkos – Due to the virus outbreak, we’re not able to play live and that’s really challenging! Not in economic terms, but in psychological. Playing live and gigging is our way to express ourselves, apart from composing, so we just hope that we’ll get through with it fast enough and get back to normal!
Music Bugle – How else have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Valantis Dafkos – The Coronavirus has affected everything, so music and arts in general took a hit too. The challenges for every musician are great, especially for those who live from it. We are not professional musicians, but we have professional perspective and care for what we do, so we overcome any challenge and focus on our ambitions, which are nothing more than creating music and sharing it with the world – something that we can do via internet, COVID-free!
Music Bugle – What are your goals for the rest of 2020?
Valantis Dafkos – We recently completed a video clip shooting and are also working on a lyric video, so hopefully it won’t be long until we’ll be able to share them! We’re currently promoting our LP, but in the back of our heads, new ideas and melodies have already begun to wake, so you’ll surely be hearing from us soon again!
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Valantis Dafkos – If we’re being honest, we’re not really into that “motivational quotes” thing! That being said, Steve Martin once stated during an interview, “Be so good, they can’t ignore you”! Words that are not meant to inspire per se, but hit you right in the gut when it comes to self-evaluation.
Music Bugle – What’s something you wish happened more in the music industry?
Valantis Dafkos – It’s more like wishful thinking, since realistically, we can all agree that music is an industry, but we all really wish that labels and press gave equal chances to every band! That way, the music spectrum would be really wider than it already is! Thankfully, there are independent webzines just like yours that give the opportunity to new bands to have a voice! These are not plain words. The underground scene needs you and this is how we’d like to end this interview – by prompting everyone to discover and support the underground scene! There’s a lot going on there, you shouldn’t miss out!