July 27, 2021
Tune-In Tuesdays #113: Rascal Whack on Creating Maliveni
A group photo of the Athens-based heavy rock band Rascal WhackSource: Rascal Whack
Rascal Whack is a heavy rock band hailing from Athens, Greece who share a passion for creating music that caters to the local grunge rock and “Greek stoner” music scene.
Following the release of their latest album, “Maliveni,” we spoke to Rascal Whack band members Spiros Ladas and Stathis Skaloubakas via email to learn more about their history as a band and their album.
Tell us a little about yourselves. Who are you and what roles do you play in the band?
Hey! First of all, thanks for having us here! We are Stathis Skaloubakas and Spiros Ladas. Stathis is the singer while I (Spiros) am the lead guitarist of the band. We have been bandmates since around 2013 and have created a deep friendship through our music adventures so far!
How did each of you begin your musical journey? When did you realize that music was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
Both of us started early on. At around 15-years-old, we were already playing in school bands, where we played mostly covers of favorite rock and metal songs.
We don’t consider ourselves to be pros, as we aren’t making our living through music (though Spiros is teaching guitar as a side job). The deal since 2013 was that we are going to make music for fun and not necessarily for becoming pros. Still, after the release of our first album called “GAMEROLLER” in 2015, we’re trying to be as professional as we can — and if it’s meant to be, why not pursue a music career through our band
Who were some of your biggest inspirations growing up, whether it be people who inspired you musically or people who inspired you personally?
Stathis: Through my adulthood, I have been a typical rebel punk/rock kid, drawn to bands such as Bad Religion, Pennywise, and Rise Against. The power chords, the liveliness of the music, and the crunchy voices were everything I needed at the time!
In college, I started acting classes, and my teacher, Leandros, was a big inspiration, helping me to broaden my musical boundaries! Still, my favorite singers, who inspired me through their music are Tim Mcllrath (Rise Against) and Neil Fallon (Clutch).
Spiros: Since the age of 12, I’ve been wasting hours on my Walkman listening to metal bands. My only inspirations until college were bands like Savatage, Dio, Nevermore, Anthrax, Annihilator, The Haunted, Death, and many more. My true development as a musician though came by the age of 20, when I started to embrace other music genres such as blues, rock, soul, and funk.
Having been a band since 2013, how would you say you have grown as individuals from playing and creating music together?
“Rascal Whack” means a rascal shock wave to others. But to us, it means family. Even members who aren’t in the band anymore due to personal reasons, we all are and remain really close to each other.
Through fighting, discussing, laughing, doing gigs, going on vacation together, rehearsing on the beach through the summertime, we have helped each other mature not only music-wise! We are here for the long run!
Give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse at your songwriting and producing process. Do you work on the melody first or the lyrics first? Do you all write songs, or does one of you work on lyrics while the rest focus on the instrumentals?
Compilation of clips of Rascal Whack in the studio while their song, “Space Cowboys,” plays in the backgroundSource: Rascal Whack – Space Cowboys (Studio clip) | Rascal Whack
The whole songwriting process takes place in the studio. The ideas can be shared through media, yes, but only when we sit down and listen to a riff or a drum beat, we can produce ideas that can modify the idea and bring the best out of the original concept.
The most beautiful part of the process is that everyone in the band is engaged, so the problem isn’t really being short of ideas, rather than picking the right ideas to create a soulful song that means something to us!
Lyric-wise, Stathis produces the most part with an extra hand (since it’s written ) by Spiros. The melody usually comes first, though the lyrics afterward can lead to several changes.
What have been some of your favorite moments in the studio together and why?
The best moments are surely when we are in the process of songwriting. The thrill of creating something new with your friends is awesome! Especially when some idea comes along the way and connects the whole song!
Another favorite period of the band was when we rehearsed and played live for a year or so, a list of acoustic covers of favorite metal and rock songs, which was really embraced by our local music scene!
Tell us a little about your latest record, “Maliveni.” What’s the story behind the album?
The album came four years after the first song of the album was written. By the time it was released on June, 24, 2021, the band had changed two members (drum and rhythm guitar) and the other songs were written in between.
The most difficult part of finally deciding to proceed with the recording of the album, was the fact that some of the songs, being written by different people, needed readjustment, which came after four years of rehearsing them and playing them on live shows. It was extremely demanding to change these songs without hurting the soul of the song, its center, the reason it was made in the first place.
I absolutely love the meaning of the album’s title and the relevance it holds to the release, “This is Maliveni. The escape, the sacred place of redefining and distancing oneself from ignorance and deception,” as the press release states. Did you know right away that “Maliveni” would be the title for the album, or did it take you a long time to finally decide on it?
“Maliveni” was always a work in progress. It took us several years to finalize the songs and the concept, and the final touch of the album was its title! Stathis’ lyrics in each song draw a dark concept, from which –in accordance to the music vibes – we tried to find the deeper connection that binds these songs together and bring out a meaning that each song can serve!
So, Maliveni is this serene place just outside of Athens, a place of reinventing oneself, a deep breath after an urban daytime. In the album, the city represents our darkest fears, our everyday struggle. So it’s not really about getting away from the city, rather than taking a deep breath and returning to the struggle.
What was your favorite track to produce on the album and why?
And the Oscar goes… to “The Fly”!
It may not be our defining song, but surely it took a lot of ideas and a lot of struggle to create this one! From an amateur idea of Stathis on the guitar and the bassist (Chris Ladas) ingenious building of the song to the drummer’s (Akis Delaportas) acoustic idea for the outro and the guitarists’ (Grigoris Tourvas and Spiros Ladas) excellent ideas to serve that purpose, “The Fly” is a song where every instrument has space to be heard, and at the same time, is needed to be regarded as a whole.
What was the most challenging track to produce on the album and why?
Definitely “Raging Groove”! As Jack Black says at the end of Tenacious D’s – Tribute: “And the peculiar thing is this my friends, the song we sang on that fateful night, it didn’t sound anything like this song!” And it really didn’t.
The song has changed dramatically due to the counseling of our producer who felt there is something missing! So we changed it a lot, but it sure was exhausting!
You’ve released some visuals along with the album, as well. I thought the studio clips with “Space Cowboys” were great, and the visuals for “Pennies from Heaven” were awesome! Were there any artists or movies in particular that helped inspire the visuals and aesthetic of “Maliveni?”
Lyric video for “Pennies from Heaven” by Rascal WhackSource: Rascal Whack – Pennies from Heaven (Lyric video) | Rascal Whack
The studio clip of “Space Cowboys” wasn’t really organized. We just took our cameras to the studio to record the whole process and hopefully get a good laugh after some years. It was only after our bassist (Chris Ladas), who loves cameras and video editing, took a look at the footage and made a studio clip out of it.
What the clip really does, is just capturing some authentic moments during the recording of the song!
On the other hand, the lyric video of “Pennies from Heaven” was an excellent and professional work from the Greek designer Manster Design, who has also designed our logo and the cover art of “Maliveni.” We love his work and we too think he has done a fantastic job on capturing the concept of “Maliveni”!
What do you hope listeners take away from “Maliveni?”
We firstly hope they love the music! And by loving the music, they can hopefully connect with the lyrics and by this whole process, we hope they can maybe understand where we’re coming from, our ideas and personalities!
“Maliveni” is a part of our collective heart and soul, and we want listeners to get a glimpse of that — nothing more, nothing less!
Overall, how do you hope to impact the industry and/or the music scene in Greece through your music?
The Greek Stoner, Psychedelic, Grunge rock scene is a really difficult one to create an impact on, as it is full of young and aspiring bands that create soulful music!
We hope our music is recognizable by the first melody creeping to the listener’s ear! When you create something so personalized and specific, that’s when you are able to make an impact!
What’s next for you guys? Do you have any music videos, live performances, or additional song releases in the works?
We are currently working on our next album, and the ideas are overflowing!
Regarding “Maliveni,” we are preparing an extra gem, which will hopefully be released in December 2021, concerning our song “Carved Ignorance”!
Live performances are not yet scheduled due to the pandemic.
Do you have any additional comments or final thoughts to share?
We really want to thank you again for the interview and hope we all leave the pandemic behind us and get back to concerts and live shows!
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