środa, 10 grudnia 2014

We are full of secrets - Interview with musicians Transparent Human Creatures (Łukasz and Maciek speech and all the questions translation - Mick Chwedziak)

- Bishops Stortford – a small market town situated upon the river Stort in Hertfordshire! Gentlemen, with great satisfaction I have the pleasure to announce that you are the first winners of the TOP20 Polisz Czart that come from my own charming Hertfordshire. Congratulations from the radio presenter from St Albans. You are genuine evidence that you do not have to live in London to create a successful rock band. What is your secret?

Maciek Gazda
Łukasz: We are full of secrets and this I think is our biggest secret ;-). We function on the same wavelength and have enormous and unrestricted musical imagination.

- You met for the first time for the purpose of recording the acoustic version of the song „Prison” by the band Error 24, which is Maciek’s and Jonathan’s other band. However, quickly you got to like jamming together with Lukasz who was engineering this recording and is also a drummer. Was it like a lightning strike or did the decision about forming THC come over time?

Łukasz Makowiecki
MaciekAfter first few conversations we realised that there is a connection. During our first jam I went crazy. The freedom with which we were playing took me completely by surprise. To me it was an indication that this could be a lot of fun.

Jonathan: My decision to play with Maciek and Lukasz was instinctive. We had an initial session that worked out so well that a decision to pursue working together was inevitable.

Łukasz: I really liked the fact that Maciek and Jon are full of ideas. It was an initial reason for us to meet up and try to find out whether we’re able to spend time in a pleasant and productive way while confined to the walls of a small room.

- Error 24’s „Syria” finished 4th, „Saport” was 2nd, and THC’s “Amnesia” climbed all the way to the top of PC chart. I sense that you approach the promotion of your music with all due seriousness. Have you got any specific plans about how to get through to an ever wider Polish and British audience?

Jonathan: If we continue to integrate our creative ideas, working decisively whenever we have the opportunities, I believe we have a chance to reach an appreciative audience.

Łukasz: We are at the moment finishing working on the material for our EP, which will contain no more than 5-6 tracks. I think that if we play a bunch of gigs presenting this material, it will all gain “force” and we should be able to record a proper LP.

- The abbreviation THC is associated with tetrahydrocannabinol – the psychoactive substance in cannabis. Does the name of your band have anything to do with this association or is it truly only about Transparent Human Creatures? Similar questions were posed about a once charming song by the Beatles – “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”.

Jonathan: What is cannabis?

Łukasz: Transparent Human Creatures – I reckon it makes you think. Finding a name wasn’t easy, we didn’t want to be associated straight away with a criminal activity. In fact THC is just an abbreviation. But maybe one has to look at the name more carefully ;).

- Transparent Human Creatures formed in June 2014. You only needed 5 months to conquer our chart. Do you feel that, despite your vast experience, you have created the most important band in your lives?

MaciekIs it the most important? Time will show. We are comfortable working with each other and this, I hope, is a good sign. I think that being in a band is a lot more than just playing music. Although we all have our private lives to attend to, we meet not only during the practice sessions. We feel good around each other, and this is reflected in the emotional side of our music.

Jonathan: I wouldn't say I have vast experience but THC certainly feels as though it could have future prospects right now.

Łukasz: Taking into the account the experience and time I’ve gone through, I could compare it to riding a bicycle. We know how to do it because we’ve already been riding real fast at some point. But… with forming this band, it all seemed like I had to learn to walk again. I found it to be an incredible re-discovery. At the same time the experience gathered allows you to quickly go from the place where you treat it as a way of escaping the daily grind to it becoming the most important project on which you focus your entire attention.

- Jonathan first started to play guitar aged 9 and Maciek was 12. Who would you say you owe such a quick start in music to? How is the awareness of playing rock music being conceived at such young age?

Maciek: I was watching some of my older mates playing blues while they were sitting on park benches and drinking the famous cheap wine “LaPatik”, then returning home and trying to copy anything I heard and remembered. I got some help from my dad who was great at playing country music, but unfortunately his ability to teach guitar wasn’t that good :-). However one of my friend’s dads kept playing us the records of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. To this day I remember Zeppelin’s second album or Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” spinning on the player.

Jonathan: My dad playing classical guitar forms some of my earliest memories but my propensity for playing rock music is just a persistent repercussion of an adolescent phase.

- Jon, you started with the classical guitar. Bass has become a feature slightly later. How many instruments can you play and why has bass become the first choice? Who is in your opinion the perfect bass player?

Jonathan: My transition to bass guitar came from necessity; it's easy to find an abundance of guitarists. I appreciate the apparent simplicity but subtle ingenuity of a well-integrated bass line. I still play classical guitar for composition and some piano also. I would strive to play bass with the technical expertise of John Myung.

- Have you been aware of your ability to sing, or is THC the first band where you believed in yourself fully as a singer?

Jonathan: I have always been aware that I enjoyed singing, even at my first school, though I'd never have admitted it, but I can't say I have ever believed in my ability as a front man.

- Not so long ago, one Englishman joked to me at one party, that the greatness of British Rock is largely rooted in the miserable, rainy weather. Would you agree that weather-related lack of motivation to leave the house could have been the reason behind extensive practicing that fired to the top all the brilliant British musicians such as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, John Mayall, Mick Taylor, Jon Lord, Jack Bruce, Brian May, Roger Glover, Robert Plant and many, many others? What in your opinion is behind the British Rock phenomenon?

Jonathan Eynon
Jonathan: I regularly have conversations with Maciek regarding the differences of our cultures. I get the impression that English people tend to be quite inhibited, but I think we use our musical expression to facilitate a means of overcoming our sometimes overly restrained character. This is my idea. I'm not sure how the weather affects this.

- What caused your exile to the UK?

Maciek: Better future for my children, adventure and the need to „breathe”. There were many reasons but most of them have no meaning now. I’ve been living in the UK for three years now and I’m feeling great here.

Łukasz: I’ve always struggled to stay put. The need for change, a challenge, new possibilities and experiences, studying… Should everything go to plan, in 2015 I will graduate from The Institute of Contemporary Music in Cambridge.

- Fingers crossed then. You came to the world during the 80s rock revolution. When Grunge music was being born you were about 10 years old. Your adventure with music started in the year 2000. What musical influences of yours could you name and why did you choose drums?

Łukasz: When I was 15 years old, I think completely by accident, I found myself in a practice session of one of few rock bands using the room in our local Cultural Centre. The impact of it was so huge, that I signed up for lessons in there the next day. I used to spend whole days there listening to music and trying to play drums with tracks played on a big HI-FI unit. Back then I was inspired by the drummers of my favourite bands: Zbyszek Kraszewski (a renowned polish rock drummer [edit.]), Lars Ulrich, David Silveria… mainly rock.

- Your former band Quqa isn’t doing at all bad on our chart. Previously they finished 44th, and most recently 29th. You also worked with the group Carrion, who finished 16th. Is the current success with THC a fruit of experience that you gained with these other bands? What other projects have you been involved with and who was most instrumental in helping you to believe in yourself?

Łukasz: I reckon that to keep up the development, the musician cannot limit himself to one genre or one band. The most important part of it is to extend your reach and view, as well as pushing yourself further and harder. It is thanks to playing various genres with many musicians – best if they’re better than you – that you achieve the greatest growth. What I see contributing to THC myself the most is the sum of all these experiences from the previous bands. If there was one person I could thank today, it would be Darek Piwowarczyk, an incredible musician, drummer, a man with an outstanding talent, who helped me believe in my own abilities.

- How did you acquire the difficult skill of sound engineering?

Łukasz: In a very natural way, apart from playing drums, after a while I got interested in the matter of creating, composing and recording. When for the first time I recorded the drums with Carrion in a professional studio, I had a chance to have a peak at the work of the engineer and producer Marcin Limek. I liked it to the point that I decided to gather some knowledge and get some practice. Through working with some local bands I gained my first experience, while recording their demo records. Then it was the live work during gigs of bands such as Carrion and Closterkeller.

- Maciek, I remember well the moment when you appeared in my consciousness. You were asking about musicians looking for a band and it can easily be said, that you started from nothing. Soon you formed a couple of great bands that have always graced the top of our chart. Where did you gain these solid music foundations? It can be heard that you draw your inspiration from the best and you create those juicy rock compositions with a heavy dose of psychedelic progression. Where have this ability and, more importantly, the necessary imagination come from? Who’s your inspiration?

Maciek: My inspirations… It’s a difficult question for me. Generally I view music in two ways: it’s either good or shit. As far as guitarists are concerned it would be: Jimmy Page, Tom Morrello… And the bands that enriched my musical discoveries? Led Zeppelin, Tool, Korn, Primus and our home-grown Coma (which I love unconditionally).

- On the poster advertising the gig in Half Moon, that will take place on December the 13th, both your bands are listed. It will surely be a great opportunity to celebrate the Polisz Czart victory. How do you go about playing in two bands at the same time? What is the future of Error 24 and THC?

Maciek: A little correction here: the gig on the 13th of December is only played by Error 24 with our friend Ryan Thwaits. With “Error” I think we would like to take a break. We have however been invited to play quite a big festival Stortfest, taking place in May next year. It would be unreasonable not to take the opportunity to play such a big event. We keep in touch with the guys from “Error” and we do not rule out any movements. However, now all our energy and time goes into THC.

Three quarters of Error 24
- Error 24 recorded their first two tracks in a very reputable studio – the same in which the British group Archive recorded their albums. What are your memories from the time spent in sessions there and will you be recording any more stuff with them?

MaciekIt was a really great time and we had a lot of fun working on this kind of gear. Personally I was disappointed with the final result. We recorded four tracks and with hindsight I can see we weren’t ready for this. But the atmosphere was top notch and we’ve learned a lot. Are we planning to record there again? You never know. Out of two methods of recording that I got to know recently, I chose Lukasz :). It’s more precise. But as I said, it could’ve been different if at the time we knew for sure what we wanted to record.

- On April the 25th, together with Bright Color Vision, as Error 24 you played in London before Carrion, on May 18th you took part in the concert near Battersea, on July the 31st Error 24 played in Windsor. On September the 30th on “home ground”, alongside Bright Color Vision and Error 24 in Half Moon Pub in Bishops Stortford, the THC had its debut. On October the 24th both bands played together again in Harlow. In comparison to other bands you gig quite a lot. Which of these performances you remember the best and what are your plans for the nearest future in terms of gigs?

MaciekI have this memory in my mind, of us playing an acoustic set in Battersea. Rafal Wrona, the basist from Gabinet Looster, sat with us next to the stage and sang along to “Dream”. But I think my fondest memory will have to be of the Half Moon where Error 24, according to those present, “lifted the roof”.

We and the audience, all had a great time, but Error 24 played their first gig after a year of hard work in practice sessions. It helped us to avoid many (though not all) mistakes made by the bands that start playing their first gigs. I think that with THC we are now finishing off the material that we start preparing for the live shows. Our practices have become endless musical orgasms :-). We love playing live and we will do this as often as possible.

Łukasz: As soon as we’re done working on our EP we’ll try to play live as often as possible to promote this material. Maybe a joint tour with our friends from BCV? Who knows?

- I’ve noticed you have a good rapport with Bright Color Vision. What is it about them that causes you to draw to each other.

MaciekThey are amazing live and on top of that they are great to be around and talk to. I really think that it is important what people really are like. It seems we have a good connection.

Bright Color Vision
Łukasz: Their music is awesome. And they really are great companions to party! ;)

- Maciek, you started playing aged 12. You formed your first band in Primary School. When you were 18 years old, together with the band “No Name” you entered the Nationwide Youth Song Contest in Sandomierz, Poland, where you received a special mention. Tell me more about your beginnings. You are one of the best guitarists that I play on my show. Are you born with it or is it acquired?

Maciek: Can you see me blushing ;-)? I reckon it’s a slight exaggeration, but thank you Slawek. When it comes to my skill, I am very critical. I lack some of the theoretical knowledge. I am entirely self-taught and can’t do anything else.

- Yet again we see humility paired up with greatness :-). You can also sing. I really liked one of Error 24’s songs featuring your vocal. Have you not thought of doing few songs sung by you in Polish?

Maciek: I would really like to record the Error 24’s song „Dream” in Polish. These are my lyrics and although Monika S. Jakubowska translated it brilliantly, it has a stronger expression in Polish. I’ve never thought about singing; just want to focus on playing guitar and writing lyrics.

- Who is Kasia Glowacka and how did she get in the band? Does it mean that Jon will now stop singing for THC or will they share the vocal responsibilities?

Maciek: We met Kasia through our mutual friend Jagoda. At the moment we are trying to merge the two vocal forces of Kasia and Jon. It starts to sound interesting. However, I cannot imagine a scenario where Jonathan stops singing. It is not an option. Jon, on the other hand, doesn’t feel comfortable as a frontman. Also, in the studio you can do anything, but to sing and play his bass lines live, it becomes a right challenge. I wouldn’t want to simplify the bass parts just so it can be played along with singing. It would reduce the value of our music. Because we are a three-piece live, we all have to work hard to match our studio recordings. But as I’ve already said, Jonathan’s voice is THC’s signature.

Łukasz: At the start we didn’t think that we’ll need someone else. It was while we were working on our material that we felt like it would be worth to try and enrich our sound. Here instead of an extra guitar we went for additional vocals. We are now trying to make it work together. What will be the final result? We shall soon find out.

- Is there something that you would like to get across to your fans during this interview? What else do they need to know about Transparent Human Creatures?

MaciekThank you for being there. We would wish for you, while you listen to our music, to feel what we feel when we’re playing it. :-)

Transparent Human Creatures: Jonathan Eynon - bass, voc
Maciek Gazda - guitar
Łukasz Makowiecki - drums
author: Sławek Orwat

Łukasz and Maciek speech  and all the questions translation:
Mick ChwedziakMick Chwedziak

He is a singer songwriter from Wroclaw, Poland, living in London. His music sits somewhere between blues and folk-rock with a hint of country. For sometime Mick has been exploring his other passion and has become a co-writer for the Music Journey blog, reviewing music releases.


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