Q&A with Greek drummer Theodore Vlachakis of Magic de Spell, one of the most known Greek rock (inspired punk) bands

"I think that rock music was, is and will continue to be intertwined with social, political and cultural movements and currents. Through them, the inspiration of rock artists emanates and then they communicate this inspiration to their audience, with the result that many people, through music, join them and shape their way of thinking. I think that will never change."

Theodoros Vlachakis: Rock n' Roll Magic

Magic de Spell is a Greek alternative rock band, formed back in 1980. They began as a punk band with English lyrics. In 1981 released the ep Nightmare and in 1982 "A Body In A Snare". They released two more new wave records, but the following years changed their music style to rock and since 1993 their songs are having Greek lyrics. They supported various bands like Stranglers, the godfathers, E.M.F and Fall. Magic de Spell, is probably the oldest rock band in Greece. They were created in 1980, and in their first (English) decade they appeared at festivals next to legendary Greek and foreign names of the genre. They were then established as genuine speakers of Greek-speaking rock and of guitar sound. Five English-speaking and eight Greek-speaking albums, collaboration with JJ Burnel of the Stranglers, music for covers and poems and many concerts in Greece, Cyprus and Europe. Magic De Spell's original line up featured: Theo Vlahakis on drums, George Scarlatos on bass, George Alahouzos on guitar, and Alex Kiriakides on vocals.

(Theodoros Vlachakis / Photo © by Elias Moraitis)

They released their debut EP on Happening Records in 1982 and this record is a pure killer! You can download it here and after listen to this record it was reason enough for me to post this album. The band moved then more into a darker wave sound with no fuzzy guitars at all and they make it good. Much keyboards and a gloomy atmosphere accompany the whole album, slighty dreamy and simply charmin' and I hear the platter now for the fourth time in a row. Their first records are in English but after 1993 they chose Greek lyrics for their songs. Magic De Spell is described as one of the most known Greek rock (inspired punk) bands and they're still active. Magic of Spell line up: Theodore Vlachakis, drums; Dimitris Botis, keyboards; George Archontakis (sound engineer), bass; Vagelis Theodorakis, guitars; Giorgos Lagouretos, vocal.

Interview by Michael Limnios        All Photos © by Elias Moraitis, Athens Greece

How has the Rock n' Roll Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Long before Magic de Spell was formed, from my adolescence, I discovered Woodstock, along with the anti-war and anti-conformist movements at that period. Afterwards, punk was a normal sequel for me, taken in consideration the social and political developments. If we add my experiences and my endless concert trips with MDS in Greece, Cyprus, and Germany, you can understand that without all the above, I would of been a simple different person.

How do you describe band's sound and songbook? What was the hardest part of writing rock songs in Greek?

We started in 1980 with British punk as our main influence, but then also a Greek band called "Parthenogenesis", in which their guitar player Tommie Bouzianis, is my personal friend. Quickly after Magic de Spell formed into a dark wave band, with many synthesizers and not at all guitars. We maintained the certainty for over ten years, that rock music is not compatible with Greek lyrics. But as soon as we tried to put Greek lyrics, in 1992 it seemed easy and quite compatible to us. The following year, we had one of our first successes in the Greek market, with producer JJ Burnel, bassist player of “The Stranglers”. Of course, our sound was transformed again into a guitarist.

"A rock musician is at the same time an ordinary, but also a special person. The art of rock ‘n’ roll has always been revolutionary and to some extent activist. As for us, as long as we continue to have open horizons and understand the modern social challenge, I think we will have a reason to exist as a band." (Theodoros Vlachakis on stage / Photo © by Elias Moraitis, Athens Greece)

Why do you think that the Magic De Spell music continues to generate such a devoted following?

We continue to love what we do; we experiment and reintroduce ourselves to the public, adapting our sound to each season. We do not like to be stuck in the past. We also believe that the audience continues to express themselves through the content of our lyrics.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

I remember our episodic concerts in Athens, in the early 80's, when there was a great war against us, by the fans of 70's rock. It was a really episodic live clashes and unexpected situations from fans. I remember from the 90's, the great anti-war concerts we took part with our song "Sarajevo". Our live concert at “Kyttaro club” in Athens, for the "40 years of Magic de Spell", in November 2019, was also very incredible.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I think a lot of things are missing. Such as the vision for a better world, hope and truth. I'm afraid that the great era of music is over. In any case, I still hope in the sense of the word man and in every form of rebirth.

If you could change one thing in the local rock scene and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I would change the mentality of Greek rock musicians, for a more correct professional goal and duration.

"Long before Magic de Spell was formed, from my adolescence, I discovered Woodstock, along with the anti-war and anti-conformist movements at that period. Afterwards, punk was a normal sequel for me, taken in consideration the social and political developments.  If we add my experiences and my endless concert trips with MDS in Greece, Cyprus, and Germany, you can understand that without all the above, I would of been a simple different person." (Theodoros Vlachakis / Photo © by Elias Moraitis)

How does activism affect your inspiration? What do you hope people continue to take away from band's songs?

A rock musician is at the same time an ordinary, but also a special person. The art of rock ‘n’ roll has always been revolutionary and to some extent activist. As for us, as long as we continue to have open horizons and understand the modern social challenge, I think we will have a reason to exist as a band.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

My musical course taught me that nothing is given away. It takes perseverance, great patience and faith for a musician or a group to realize their dreams.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want it to affect people?

I think that rock music was, is and will continue to be intertwined with social, political and cultural movements and currents. Through them, the inspiration of rock artists emanates and then they communicate this inspiration to their audience, with the result that many people, through music, join them and shape their way of thinking. I think that will never change.

 

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Magic De Spell / Photo © by Elias Moraitis, Athens Greece

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