One of the most outstanding bands in the Greek music scene, mixing traditional music with rock, is by all means Babel Trio...
We literally caught the band in the studio, while recording the successor to their great debut ‘Roots Electrified’ and hopefully in the next lines, you will find some really interesting stuff to read!
So Babel Trio, we are really glad for this interview. Would you like to introduce the band to Last Day Deaf readers?
Hi everybody! We are a band from the Island of Crete, Greece formed in 2012. The band is consisted by Dimitris Sideris (electric lute), Michael Avlonitis (bass) and Trikalero (drums). We come from different regions of Greece bringing together at least three different influences of that traditional Greek music. Dimitris, whose family is from Crete, Trikalero from the North-west part of the mainland and Michael from Ionian Islands. We were all involved in music in very early ages, being influenced by traditional, classic, jazz and metal/stoner rock music styles.
How would you describe your music and what are your sources of inspiration?
Our music is a mix of seemingly counter diametrical opposing musical influences. Progressive rock, along with a psychedelic musical code that uses a variety of aesthetic references based on the music of Crete and the Aegean islands. Foremost, we get inspired by the tradition itself, not only from melodies but also from the lyrics and the stories this music speaks about. Finally, major inspiration of ours derives from other forms of arts such as painting and poetry, mostly through Hellenic poets like Nikos Karouzos and Dionisios Solomos for example.
Now, about your debut album ‘Roots Electrified‘, recorded from March to August 2016 in Crete and released last August; Would you like to share more about the recording process?
‘Roots Electrified‘ was basically recorded in Rethymno, at a home studio called Headroom Studio, by Telis Aristotle, who is our sound engineer. The place is a two room studio with stone walls that gave clarity in the album’s sound. Especially, we use VOX, Fender and Markbass amps and Tama, Gretsch, Yamaha drums and Istanbul Cymbals to produce the sound of ‘Roots Electrified‘. The end was not as difficult in our sound as we knew from the beginning what we wanted. The bet was to do it with the means we had! Through the recording process we have gained more experience on technically relevant issues. Certainly we have learned a great deal and we will continue to learn, which will help us especially in our next steps.
Last November, Babel Trio was on tour all over Greece. What was the best moment from this tour? Were you satisfied from the Greek audience?
We believe that our best moment was our last live performance at the historic The Residents Bar for many reasons. Filled with enthusiasm from previous gigs due to the love we have received from our fans until then, we hit the stage of Residents full of energy and passion to play our music once more. That particular gig is also special for us since this is where we first met Titos Karyotakis, a very talented and well-known sound engineer-producer, in the Hellenic music industry. We are pleased to accept his offer on recording our 2nd album to the Royal Alzheimer Hall together with Christos Harbilas on production. It was an honor meeting George Christianakis, one of the owners of the famous Residents bar, in Thessaloniki. George is a music composer and a member of the historical band Trypes.
Why did you choose ‘Pacharde’ to record and capture live on the rooftop of the Headroom Studio? Do you consider it among the best tracks from your debut album?
We believe ‘Pacharde‘ is a catchy/hit song demonstrating the main attributes of our music style! A crusty easy listening melody that makes you bang your head which also includes Babel Trio’s music roots in a very straight forward way! We therefore believe that ‘Pacharde‘ is a great representation of our music. By that, we do not mean we do not believe in and love our other tracks of our first album, since each of it has its own story.
How would you explain the last years’ trend from Greek bands using traditional elements with rock music? Two of the best examples are Villagers Of Ioannina City and Gravitysays_i. How did you decide using electric lute in your recordings?
We believe that it is mostly triggered from the need of the artist’s to contact with the familiar, the genuine and the experiential. This branch of the music industry in Greece consisted by artists who have been “exposed” to sounds from our tradition but also “extravagant”. The combination of the above is expressed through the creation and inspiration of the young music artists in our country. The folk/traditional music in Greece has always been a basic building block of our culture and identity. With the “globalization” and the introduction of new melodies and sounds, it was anticipated, in our opinion, the creation of this new trend, a scene in our country. The idea of electric lute arose when Dimitris began to disturb the sound of the acoustic lute and deform it with pedals and various effects. Also, through jam, experimentation, decibel and sweat, we finally realized that the acoustic instrument could not cope with live conditions. On the other hand, an electric instrument could better capture the new sound that emerged.
Are you self-taught musicians or conservatory ones?
Michael: I have attended Musical High school focusing my studies on the piano and classical guitar. I am studying and working with traditional/folk music, mainly of Eptanisa through my very early stages of my music career. Finally, I am self-taught in electric and acoustic bass.
Dimitris: Having attended classical guitar classes along with my influences of Cretan traditional music, it was not a difficult decision of mine to initiate self-studies on Cretan lute. I have further enhanced my knowledge and understanding on the above through collaboration with other local artists in Crete.
Trikalero: I have started my multiannual studies in drums and music theory through conservatories and later attended several seminars in different music style. Today, I continue work toward improving my skills mainly through individual self-studies and seminars. Study of music is an endless voyage…
Any new Greek bands/ performers you suggest we should pay attention to of you think of as influential?
Right now, in our minds are Villagers Of Ioannina City, 1000mods, Folk n’ Roll, Xilouris White, BAiLdSA, Puta Volcano, Naxatras, and The Halay Lamba! Remarkable bands we appreciate and have also the pleasure to meet some of them personally. In addition, Yannis Angelakas is an artist we consider to be timeless, and Rotting Christ band is definitely a band that we admire for in its career and achievements. We are happy to live and get inspired in a country where there is such a variety of bands, artists and music styles. All of them collectively, create a unique aggregation of music influences were the Greek audience is exposed.
Which are Babel Trio’s plans for 2018?
Our priority for 2018 is to record our second album in the beginning of March at Royal Alzheimer Hall in Thessaloniki. After that we are planning to have concerts back in Crete, rest of Greece, as well as Berlin, and London.
Since you come from Crete, would you like to end this one with a traditional Cretan quote (“mantinada”)? In English please…
We would like to say a quote that is included in our song ‘Xenos‘ from our upcoming album. The quote says: A stranger here a stranger there and wherever I go I feel stranger, and if I go to my home I feel a foreigner there as well. This “mantinada” is trying to express the loneliness people feel although they may be surrounded from their loved ones. It Is also implying that feeling seclusive is a personal rather a social issue.
“Xénos edó xénos ekeí kai opoú kai an páo xénos kai an paó kai sto spíti mou kai ekei xeniteménos”.
Photo credits: Vassilis Dimitriadis (1st one), George Zampakas (2nd one)
Christos Doukakis – Vasiliki Nousa