When you watch a video clip or listen to a song on your streaming devices, you only witness the finished product. When you visit a concert or a festival you witness the live music and the stage performance or your favourite artist! But before all that can be enjoyed, there are a lot of things taking place to make it all happen. Artists, musicians, bands, venue directors, they all have their own story to tell!
In this series I’m going to talk to several different people, to find out what the stories are behind it all! From a “big shot” artist, all the way to promotion and record companies. In this episode The Magic Bus!
Greece has built quite a name for itself as it comes to metal music. Some well-known names have emerged from this Mediterranean country but it also has proven a healthy breeding ground for new and upcoming bands and artists. The Magic Bus is a band you can put in the latter. Founded back in 2017, this four piece outfit has been working hard on their own material and along the way played in numerous cities across Greece, sometimes sharing the stage with some of Greek’s best known bands and names. What started out as a cover band, has grown into a full-fledged band with an impressive debut album released in 2021. The Magic Bus brings Old School Rock to the block but with several influences from other genres! The time has come for me to sit down with leadsinger and lyricist for The Magic Bus, Valantis Dafkos!
Hey! Thank you for making the time for Maizter Underground! It’s a huge honour for us! First of all, how are you all doing?
Greetings from Livadia City (Greece), Patrick, and thanks for having us! The honour is ours, it’s a pleasure to have this interview!!! We’re good and looking forward to getting to know each other better through Maizter Underground – since surely… There’s More to Metal!
Thanks! That feeling is mutual! The Magic Bus originated back in 2017. How did the band came to be and how did you guys came up with the name?
We actually knew each other for a couple of years before we boarded The Magic Bus, since we shared the stage with our other music projects and we’ve been friends ever since. The engine started when we jammed together at a live party and felt like there’s a whole lot of chemistry between us, leading us to form the band literally with no further discussion, haha! We started as a Greek rock scene’s cover band, played many gigs and soon enough we realized that we wanted to create something new, something from scratch and here we are now, with our debut album already released!
Our name is a reference inside a reference – kind of an ‘inception’ style, haha! It’s mentioned on a beloved song from Tripes (one of the most prominent rock bands in Greece) and on its turn it’s a reference to the Greek brunch of the Greg Williams’ travel agency with the same name, back from the ‘60s! We love the sound of it and what it represents too! Since we were a Greek voiced rock cover band at the very beginning, it seemed appropriate, euphonic and we went on with it!
The Magic Bus hails from beautiful Greece and Greek is the language you guys sing in. Is there a specific reason you guys sing in Greek instead of for example English?
As mentioned earlier, this project started as a greek rock scene’s cover band. Thus the first reason is that we felt like we should continue contributing to the scene with fresh material, honouring it and at the same time hoping to leave our small impact somehere beside all these great bands that influenced us when we were younger! The second reason is that we desided to play outside our comfort zone. We used the language as an instrument and tried to reach out to a global audience in our native tongue. We’re certainly not the first to try something like that, but it was an aspect of our musical and (mostly) lyrical character that we wanted to explore! Hope you’ll enjoy the ride nonetheless!!!
Well, I honestly can say that singing in Greek gives the music an extra layer!
The Magic Bus brings us “rock essence, intriguing lyrics and interesting compositions”. What can you tell me about the inspiration (if any) that you guys had when making your music?
The inspiration is a strange and beautiful thing, since it can occur unexpectedly in the oddest of situations! A huge part of our inspiration, both musically and lyrically, comes straight from our influences, carefully filtered through our personal prism so the band’s character remains intact! As four different personalities you can understand that we have a lot of different influences in general. Of course, regarding our band’s style specifically, there are many musical influences and inspirations coming from our country’s rock scene of the ‘90s.
Lyrically, although there is no concept behind it, there are many references on ‘time’ in our songs and how it affects our lives, emotions, thoughts and feelings. Other than that, depending on the theme, may it be a social phenomenon, a literature interpretation etc, we wanted the lyrics to be interesting and well-written, to become a motive that makes the listener to look further into them, understand them and maybe even learn something new along the way, if he or she chooses to unravel the references! We deliberately dissociate our lyrics from politics and criticism since we want our album to be a getaway from reality and we feel that we share this idea with a lot of people!
That’s a nice approach! Especially now, with all the turmoil in the world, a little “escape from reality” is a nice thing!
On September 1st, 2021 The Magic Bus released its debut album named To Kastro (The Castle). What can you tell me about the album itself?
Our album consists of 11 songs and was recorded and produced at Locomotive Sound Studio in Lamia (Greece) by the producer Ektoras Sohos. The beautiful artwork was made by Dinos Adamopoulos, while both the band’s logo and the album’s layout were made by Sotiris Kotsonis. There’s also a guest musician (Mantis Savidis – a good friend and a virtuoso) playing bouzouki in one of the tracks! An interesting fact is that the album was actually composed while we were scattered in 3 different cities during the quarantine! Hopefully, we won’t have to do something like this again, haha!
To Kastro has been released both in digital and physical form. How was it received?
The album was released in both physical and digital form: a limited run of 300 digipak CDs with a 16page booklet and, of course, is available to stream and/or download from every musical platform! Based on the responses at our live shows, as well as the messages we receive on our page, we’re happy to see that people liked our record a lot and this is a great thing for an upcoming band!
I have to admit that the album is an impressive one to say the least with some true gems in there.
How does the process of song writing go by The Magic Bus?
We found out that the method that works for us, goes like this: Ermis (the band’s composer) will record the basic idea, the rest of us will listen to it and try to hoke it up with our parts and ideas, while it will somewhat ‘guide’ me for the essence of the lyrics I see fit in esthetically and regarding both the atmosphere and the meaning! After that, we jam in the studio and almost end up to the final version. It’s always ‘almost’ since we found out that a couple of our brightest ideas rise up just before – or better yet, during! – the recording sessions, haha! A special thanks to our producer for his patience is in order, I suppose…
Haha! Always a good thing to let that creativity flow! Musicians always have loads of ideas and melodies in their head and body, screaming to be translated into music. How do you guys decide if a song is a good fit for The Magic Bus? In other words, what kind of criteria you guys use?
The criteria are, in fact, one and only: do we absolutely like it? If yes, then it’s in! Just like that, haha! It’s not supposed to mean that we’re somehow sure that people will love it – that isn’t and never will be the point anyway. It just means that we feel that we record a part of our soul in our songs and thus they’re true, innocent, hearty and pure. Whomever listens to the tracks, will hear them just as we wanted them to sound and if they indeed like them as well… then it’s a beautiful thing to happen, a special communication between the band and the listener!
Is there a story behind your album’s artwork?
Our album’s artwork is actually combined by two different pieces of art, one for the frond and one for the back of the CD package! On the frond piece there’s a kid leaving the pale urban place back, ready to go out and play. It’s somehow dressed as a knight, bearing wooden sword and shield. On its leg, there’s a chain ending on a ticking clock. On the back piece there’s a dream castle, as we see it from the kid’s eyes and the kid is running towards it, playing. As you understand the whole artwork is about the childhood years, when we could easily leave the boring reality and play everywhere with anything, being limited only by our own imagination! The clock has been always there though, with every tick getting us a bit closer to manhood, because childhood cannot last forever…
In addition, there are a couple details referential to the band and album itself, like the bus stop sign (since we’re The Magic Bus!) and many words on the city walls, shop signs and hotel names which are actually our songs’ titles – a small tribute to Iron Maiden as we’d like to see it!).
Very cool! I personally always find it very interesting if bands have an idea with things like an album cover and succeed in translating that into physical form!
Are there any other projects you’re currently playing in, besides The Magic Bus?
We feel the need to… feed our different musical personalities, so you’ll find us also playing in other projects, with recordings and live gigs! You’re welcome to check us on Redeye Caravan (Dark Country), Peculiar Three (Hard ’n’ Heavy Rock / Prog), Beyond this Earth (Heavy Rock / Metal) and Nox Die (Rock & Metal cover band). Hope you’ll like what you’ll discover there, too!!!
With the covid pandemic behind us, what are the plans as it comes to live shows and gigs?
It’s quite simple really! Play as many live gigs as we possibly can, sharing our music and lyrics with everyone that cares to ride with our Magic Bus!
Is there any new music in the works than we can and should know of?
Our debut album is relatively quiet new yet, but there’s a few ideas already forming in our minds if we’re being honest, haha! We’re in no rush, we’re taking our time with every new melody…
Is there anything you guys want to add or disclose to your followers and fans?
We’d like to thank you once again for having us on your site! Until we meet each other on some live show, you’re welcome to find us on our Facebook page, YouTube channel, Bandcamp, Soundcloud and almost every other music platform! Come say hi!!!
Thank you! It was an honor for me to talk to you and learn more about The Magic Bus. I love the debut album (To Kastro) and I truly can’t wait to meet you guys somewhere and see The Magic Bus in action! For now, I want to thank you, Valantis, and the rest of the crew at The Magic Bus for your time and making fantastic music! On behalf of everyone at Maizter Underground we want to wish The Magic Bus the best of luck with all you guys take on in the future!
The Magic Bus:
Valantis Dafkos – lead & backing vocals
Ermis Soultanopoulos – guitars, backing vocals
Dina Argiriou – bass
Paris Gatsios – drums
IF YOU DONT WANT TO MISS ANYTHING THE MAGIC BUS RELEASES OR ANNOUNCES, PLEASE FOLLOW THEM TROUGH THE FOLLOWING LINKS!
IF YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO MORE THE MAGIC BUS, PLEASE CLICK THE FOLLOWING PLAYLIST!