By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Whether it’s with Peculiar Three, Redeye Caravan or The Magic Bus, it can be concluded that Valantis Dafkos kept himself occupied in 2020.
The Magic Bus – the rock band based out of Livadia City, Greece – recently delivered a new song from their upcoming album ‘To Kastro (The Castle),” which was recorded and produced by Ektoras Sohos at Locomotive Sound Studio in Lamia, Greece.
Formed in 2017, The Magic Bus are lead/backing vocalist Dafkos, guitarist/backing vocalist Ermis Soultanopoulos, bassist Dina Argiriou and drummer Paris Gatsios.
The Music Bugle had the opportunity to chat with Dafkos about ‘To Kastro (The Castle)’ and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Valantis Dafkos – Thanks for having us! “The Magic Bus” is a reference on a beloved song which on its turn is a reference to the Greek brunch of the Greg Williams’ travel agency of the same name, back from the ‘60s! We love the sound of it and what it represents too! Since we began as a Greek-voiced rock cover band, back in ’17, it seemed appropriate, euphonic and we went on with it!
Music Bugle – What was it like working on your upcoming album?
Valantis Dafkos – It was a really interesting procedure, especially given the fact that, for the most of it, we worked from three different cities – Katerini, Livadia and Atalanti – due to the quarantine! It amazingly worked very well and right after the restrictions ended, we went straight to the studio for the recordings! It was the first time any member of the band recorded like this and since the pandemic is far from over, it seems that we’ll do it again sooner or later!
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you feel the need to escape?
Valantis Dafkos – Putting aside music as an obvious escape shelter, I love long road trips in the countryside – especially when it’s by the sea! There’re always picturesque places “asking” to be photographed and I enjoy doing so in the company of my family!
Ermis Soultanopoulos – Swimming, trips to places and cities in close or far distance from home, walking and summer vacations.
Dina Argiriou – There are lots of things to choose from when I need to escape, such as trips or reading books, but the most important shelter for me is a huge hug from my little baby!
Paris Gatsios – My real escape is the drum-throne and the live sessions. Apart from that, I do like trips, watching football and any moment with my beloved ones.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Valantis Dafkos – Last month was a jazzy one for me! I try to read as many books as I can and now, because of the quarantine, it’s a perfect time to do something like that. I always read while listening to music and usually there’s ‘20s and ’30s jazz in the background these days!
Ermis Soultanopoulos – Not something in particular. A little bit of everything….
Dina Argiriou – I love Italian, so right now, I am listening to Andrea Bocelli. His voice calms me.
Paris Gatsios – Right now, I feel that I want to rediscover many Greek rock bands that inspired me so much musically and drum-wise.
Music Bugle – How would you define the year 2020?
Valantis Dafkos – In the “Last Week Tonight” season finale, John Oliver pushes a button and a huge “2020” sign just explodes… well, that’s 2020 for most of us, I guess! (Laughs) Still, we were at least able to produce music, so in that case, there’s a light at the end of the 2020 tunnel after all!
Ermis Soultanopoulos – A very bizarre and bad year with, thankfully, a few good moments.
Dina Argiriou – I’d say like “long cold winter,” but somewhere in the dark is my little sunshine!
Paris Gatsios – 2020 started with some exceptional highlights, such as successful lives and composing music. Unfortunately, 2020 turned out as an extremely bad year for many personal and non-personal reasons.
Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for a band to stand out these days?
Valantis Dafkos – It’s certainly easier for our music to reach everyone willing to hear! Of course, it’s easy for every band to do so and thus, it’s hard to stand out. Information overexposure has always been an issue on everything, not just on music and the listener may become indolent and stop experimenting with new bands and sounds, but as long as we, as listeners, remain adventurous, no harm can be done!
Music Bugle – Are you working on any new music at the moment?
Valantis Dafkos – Our album is almost ready and since there seems to be no live gig activity in the near future, the first ideas have already come to mind!
Music Bugle – If you had the chance to sit one-on-one with one of your musical influences, who would you choose?
Valantis Dafkos – That would be Colin Meloy from The Decemberists! I especially love his lyrics!
Ermis Soultanopoulos – If he was still in life, Randy Rhoads. Nowadays, I think a great teacher and electric guitar player, although not a particular musical influence, is Guthrie Govan.
Dina Argiriou – Definitely Steve Harris!
Paris Gatsios – Drum and lyric–wise, Neil Peart! His talent, ideas and finesse are everywhere! One more reason not to like 2020…
Music Bugle – What has been your biggest memory involving music?
Valantis Dafkos – It’s always the “firsts,” aren’t they? The first rehearsal, the first gig, the first recording… every time is different and I cherish it, but there’s always the frisson of the first time!
Ermis Soultanopoulos – There are so many! Lives, rehearsals, places, recording sessions and various moments with friends and bandmates.
Dina Argiriou – Every memory is unique, however… I expect the biggest one!
Paris Gatsios – There are so many memories, but I can still recall some big festivals with thousands of people singing along with the band.
Music Bugle – Which of your songs were the hardest to write or compose?
Valantis Dafkos – The album’s title song turned out to be the hardest! While the music stayed pretty much as it emerged from Ermis’ head, because it was great as it was and we didn’t want to change a thing, lyrically, well, it took a while! I always wanted to write about the transition to manhood, so I made a scenario where a man’s all childhood memories are in the form of a tree house castle, which decays season by season up until his kid takes his place and it is brought back to life! That was really emotional, considering I had my own sons and myself in mind while writing it…