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Progressive Rock Interviews

Lebowski

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Marcin Grzegorczyk of Lebowski from 2013
MSJ: Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – both individually and as a band?
Together with the Lebowski’s rhythm section, Krzysztof Paku?a (drums) and Marek ?ak (bass), I’ve been a part of a heavy metal quintet No Way Out, which resulted in two studio releases, accepted by the wider audience and critics. But after some time the band disbanded, however we’ve still maintained our music activities. That was the moment when we met Marcin ?uczaj our keyboardist. Empowered with new possibilities we’ve started to look for vocalists, trumpeters and saxophonists, but the spiritual link wasn’t established with any of them. A day before entering the studio to record Cinematic, we’ve said “goodbye” to our last vocalist. Our decision was to take the risk and try our skills with a monumental music. After some time, it turned out to be the best possible decision, which opened the doors to endless possibilities; we’ve been no longer limited to the typical song structure: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus. The result exceeded our expectations. Cinematic gathered many fans as listeners and audience. We’re very grateful for that.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
That’s a hard question, because since I’ve been 16 I didn’t dream about anything else than becoming a professional musician. I’ve had a great time attending two Metallica gigs in Poland, which visited our country for the very first time during the communist period. I had a great luck to talk to James Hetfield and Lars Urlich. We were staying in the same hotel. That was an experience, which influenced my entire future life. I already knew what I wanted to be. And alternatives? As a kid I wanted to become a sailor just like my dad. I also wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t have enough talent. Maybe I would become a photographer, which is also my hobby. Who knows?
MSJ: How did the name of the group originate?

It won’t be a surprise if I’ll mention Cohen’s “The Big Lebowski” movie.The Dude, his philosophy and non-problematic life mesmerized us. The other decisive factor was the fact, that the name “Lebowski” sounds very “Polish.”

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
There’s a wide variety of artists that have put a little brick into our musicianship. As I mentioned before, my first and the most powerful inspiration was Metallica, but there was also a lot of music from the 70s: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Mike Oldfield. I loved the Peter Gabriel’s “film” albums (like “Passion”) and I’ve been spending countless hours listening to David Sylvian. After that, came the jazz fascination, Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Mike Stern and my personal favourite, Esbjörn Svensson, whose sudden death has made a big impact on me. I think that we’re mature enough to avoid the direct inspirations and sail the seas of artistic freedom.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Year 2013 will be spent on recording the second album, which we would like to finish by late Autumn. We will surely play a couple of gigs but our priority is the recording process. We already have over a dozen of new compositions. We still need to reconsider the arrangements, tones, plan the financial side of the project and the overall presence.
MSJ: I know artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
The label commonly stuck to Lebowski is “prog rock.” Journalists and listeners like to keep their collections in a familiar setup. We have no influence on that. Personally I think that we stick-out from that drawer. “Prog rock” is not really a label that we’d like to be associated with. Art rock and prog rock is not what motivate us or inspire. We’re playing instrumental music, narrative, rich in content, moods, emotions, story telling. But who would have remembered that?
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Musicians with whom I’d like to play are Lebowski. Playing together, composing or simply getting along with each other is bringing us a lot of joy, and I believe that there’s still a lot to be done together. As for now my mind is set only on Lebowski.
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
In my opinion we’ve all got over excited with the Internet, noticing only its undeniable good sides, but at the same time we’ve disregarded its threats, which can be observed even today. The social acceptance of downloading “free” cultural goods have demolished the financial source for many current and upcoming cultural activities. This doesn’t only apply to musicians but also photographers, journalists, writers, filmmakers, etcetera. It seems that we’re a part of a social minority, which wasn’t even asked if this model is good or bad for us. The result is as follows: it’s getting harder and harder to maintain the usual activities of an independent artist on positive balance. Of course there are big figures who are filling stadiums with audiences, who release bestsellers/blockbusters, and at the same time the independent and ambitious acts are rather treating their actions as a hobby. Unfortunately this is having a negative impact on the quality of music or books today. To stay in game you need to consider the taste of a mass consumer, and this is not an art but rather a craft.
MSJ:

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

If they’re uploading them on YouTube and share with the audience for free, then it’s not a big concern for us. Some times it’s even a great form of an advertisement. But if someone is uploading them only to make some cash, then the right word would be “theft.”
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
I would bid on Marilyn Manson as a synonym for kitsch.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
There are a lot of bands that would fit into my mix. Esbjörn Svensson Trio, which I absolutely adore. Sadly I didn’t even have a chance to listen to their music live. It would be nice to listen to the original ensemble of Led Zeppelin and Alice in Chains… Maybe Mike Patton with Alice in Chains would be a good idea?
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
If I have had such an opportunity I would vote for artists representing different styles but the same musical sensitivity, like Jeff Beck and Pat Metheny, Mike Patton and David Sylvian, Steve Vai and Mike Stern, Kate Bush and Mari Bojne, Cassandra Wilson and Björk. That would be an ultimate music adventure.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
I’m experiencing a Re-fascination of vinyl records, which I buy the most now days. My newest purchases are Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman, Mike Oldfield – Ommadawn and Sting – Nothing Like the Sun. Rather old releases but the quality is timeless. While answering your question I’m listening to Pat Metheny Trio – Day Trip – excellent sounds!
MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
I’m addicted to books and I read them every day. My last finished title was “The Prague Cemetery” by Umberto Eco and Mark Twain’s “Autobiography” - both worth recommending.
MSJ:
What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
I’ve had an undeniable pleasure to attend on Scott Henderson’s (on guitar), Jeff Berlin’s (on bass) and Dennis Chambers’s (on drums) concert last year. That was a feast! I’ve also took my twelve year old daughter to Sonisphere Festival so she could see Metallica live. When I saw honest tears in her eyes, I knew that she’s a “daddy’s girl.”
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
I believe that I have many “weird” music sympathies, like Bee Gees, which I adore for excellent musical arrangements and sound production, ABBA for their melodic feel and “smash hit skills,” Barry White for his incredible voice tone and atmosphere. I would find more of these.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
If we’re speaking about the movie, then it was definitely the “These go to eleven!” scene! I’m considering to build such an amp in the future.
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
I would invite artists responsible for my spiritual development – my favourite writer – Kurt Vonnegut, musician – Miles Davis – and Dalai Lama. Probably I wouldn’t have enough courage to “put my two cents in,” but I could at least listen to the most interesting conversation.
MSJ: What would be on the menu?
I’m a vegetarian for many years, so the menu would be the same. I’d also consult it with our band’s “master chef” – Krzysztof Paku?a (drums) – I’m sure that he’d throw in some nice menu items.
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Dear friends, love your artists, imagine how hard and sad our life would be without them!

Best wishes from Poland.

 

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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