Demetris "All Around" Katsikis
Well, is there any relationship between cinema and progressive rock? A great one we'd claim and this is more than the truth if you immerse yourself to LEBOWSKI's "Cinematic" (2010). Marcin Grzegorczyk, guitarist of the band, guides us through the musical journey of one of the most prolific contemporary Polish prog bands with the mastery of a cinema director! One of the most dreamy crossover bands of our rejuvenated prog era is unfolded below by serving us the soundtrack of our prog life! And the prog oscar goes to...
Well, dear LEBOWSKI, thanks a lot for your participation in that interview! It’s our honor to host your point-of-view in our radio (www.justincaseradio.com)!
Dear LEBOWSKI, we welcome you in that interview! Where are you now? Where this interview finds you exactly?!
At this moment we are working on our new album. The 8 compositions have been extracted out of 16 and are currently being refined. During the summer the recording process will begin and in late Autum the new album will be released! :)
According to our info, you founded LEBOWSKI in 2002. Tell us some info concerning pre-LEBOWSKI and the first LEBOWSKI years.
Our music journey started in a thrash-metal formation called No Way Out featuring 3 out of 4 „Dudes” ;) Krzysztof Pakuła (drums), Marek Żak (bass) and I (guitars). The band released 2 studio albums and was quite successful in the Polish scene. As the band was disbanded, we've meet Marcin Łuczaj (synths) later on, and that how Lebowski was established :) The first years have been spent on discovering our own style and a vocalist which would fit in. Unfortunatelly we havent been able to maintain a longer relationship with any singer, so simply we have decided to stick to the instrumental convention and started to work on the „Cinematic”.
How did you come up with that name? Is there any meaning behind it?
The name of the band is pretty much self-explanatory :) It was inspired by the Cohen Bros “The Big Lebowski” movie; the Dude's philosophy was very charming for us. Add the polish sounding name to the mix and you will have your answer ;)
We observed that it took about eight years from your foundation as a band to release the “Cinematic” album. What are the reasons for that? Did you have any other musical collaboration in between?
None of us is cooperating with any other band, since Lebowski satisfies us in 100%. As mentioned before, we've spent a lot of time looking for a suitable vocalist, it took time to make that crucial decision to quit playing with the rock song convention and move toward the more sophisticated instrumental side of the music. We also had to record, produce, mix and release the album by our own, not mentioning the time spent on getting the right knowledge.
Your music covers a wide spectrum of progressive music genres. What’s your influences as musicians and, further, as artists? Influences that you have as role models in your life?
We are quite lucky because every single one of us listens to a different type of music, which is filling the gaps and motivates us to consider more possibilities. As a child i listened to Electric Light Orchestra, Bee Gees and Barry White from borrowed vinyl records of my father :) Later on I have discovered Mike Oldfield, Pink Floyd, The Police and Led Zeppelin. The biggest music event in my life was Metallica's concert after which I have decided to become a musician :) After some time I discovered the world of jazz, currently my most beloved genre. My favourite artists are Mike Stern, Pat Metheny, Esbjorn Svensson, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. It's hard for me to tell which one has the biggets impact on me.
Your “Cinematic” album moves between [crossover] prog, touches of soundtrack film music and some experimentation-improvisation. How did you manage to put all this with so much harmonized integrity?
To be honest, I can't really define the genre of “Cinematic”; it's a chaosful mix of improvisation. Usually, the one of us brings a few notes with him and the rest of us keep throwing more and more notes, it's hard to control this beast and you never know the final effect :)
Is “Cinematic” a concept album or not? If yes, how would you describe its concept to the listeners? And, what concepts do you stick with usually? If not, how would you characterize the “Cinematic” album?
This question haunts me all the time and I can't really give you an unambiguous answer. It wasn't our intention to label it as a concept album. The are significant spaces between the compositions and every single one is like a different whole. However the fact that we've used the quotes from the old movies makes it somewhat „conceptual”. I think that it's up to the listener to decide.
We think that the “Cinematic” track is one of the most magic moments of that record. How did you come up with that track?
It's also one of our favourite compositions. We're performing it live with a pleasure. The „Cinematic” track was also raised from sweat and pain, a troublesome composition in the field of arrangements and the final structure. The track had many versions, one of them was even with a vocal (maybe one day we will release it as a joke :) ), the other used only brush sticks. I like its details, the „hiddedn” sounds etc. There's much to discover!
We like all “Cinematic” tracks and it’s difficult to distinguish betwen them. Yet, my preference (Demetris” All Around” Katsikis) is a little bit stronger for the “Cinematic” track. What’s your favorite track(s) from your album? Why is that?
It sounds like a question: „Which child of yours do you love the most?”, but if I really had to pick one track I would go for 137 sec. I love its atmosphere and tone, the voice of Kasia Dziubak, which ideally read our intentions, the sound of contrabass in the swing-moment. But I'm really proud of the entire album :)
It’s more than obvious that your music would perfectly fit into a cinema movie. Also, your lyrics are based on classical Polish and other international films. Give us some info concerning the films you included as an inspiration vehicle for your lyrical themes in that record.
Our main intention was to give a tribute to the big figures of the polish classic cinematographyfrom 50's and 60's, which were golden years. Those were the times when the actors didn't really think about their revenues or being a celebrity. The most significant polish movie of all times is the „The Saragossa Manuscript” by Wojciech Jerzy Has – this film is approved by the biggest movie directors worldwide. We're aware of that the polish cinematography is almost always associated with Roman Polański and Krzysztof Kieślowski. That's why we have decided to introduce other great polish directors to our listeners.
Have you ever found (alternatively, considered) any access to a movie company for the promotion of your music to the cinema? And, are there any plans for that?
Unfortunately we're quite anonymous to the very hermetic film industry. We've tried to get some interest from Film Festivals and even Film Companies, but in their minds, the „Cinematic” didn't fit too well. That's just too bad. But we also know that some tracks from the „Cinematic” will be featured in a movie about Polish Cinematography.
As far as we know, last summer you were back in the studio and recently you released a previously unpublished track as a video. Should we expect an upcoming album for 2013?
The progress on the Single was extended beyond our plans but we plan to release it any moment. The premiere of the 2nd album is planned in late Autumn 2013.
What about your live performances? How are they going for you and what are the people’s reactions before, during and after them? (Please include some info from the Pomeranian Dukes Castle live experience!)
The live shows take a very important part in our music activicies, we always spend weeks on preparations, to give the best of us. We don't play many shows, that's why we care about the quality aspect. The visual arts take a big role in our performances. The audience (especially the one that meets us for the very first time), doesn't really know how to behave at the first moment, the multimedia mix that we serve might be a quite confusing at the first moment :) We play lound and with the rock claw, but at the same time we maintain the melodic and soft atmosphere. Some of our listeners are swaying while listening, the other are closing their eyes to focus on sounds. We are grateful that they always come to our shows in big numbers, especially in these hard times for live music. We have had a chance to play in a few magical places, like Castle, Church or even the Antique Train Station in Wrocław. The places like these are quite troublesome when it comes the sounding but the sound engineers did a great job so far. These are magical moments hard to forget.
According to our info, you haven’t released a live DVD yet. Any plans for that in the future? Our 5.1 is waitin’, you know!
We had a few propositions from the biggest Polish labels to record a DVD, but there were always some problems in finalizing the project. We will surely come back to this once the new album is released.
We recently read that you joined forces with Legacy-Records label. Tell us a few things about this.
We've signed the distribution contract with the Legacy Records label, they're also releasing the „Cinematic” on LP, we're waiting for the final effect!
What’s your personal philosophy in life? How do you cope with barriers? And, simultaneously, how do you build your strengths?
My philosophy is quite simple, you can put it in the words like: „respect others as you respect yourself”. I focus on being diligent, responsible, trustworthy. I expect that from myself and others. My family gives me the strenght to carry on – I have two wonderful daughters and a fantastic little son – they're the most important to me.
Is there any specific compositional approach from your part that you follow through from a musical point-of-view? Does music come first? It’s all about the lyrics? Or, both?
The urban legend says that Metallica is inventing the title first, after that, they compose the music to it :) If it comes to Lebowski, we always compose the music first, mostly because we're playing an instrumental music :) Marcin Łuczaj (synhts) has a fantastic harmonic feel and he composes melodies at ease. I focus on riffs and the grooving aspect of our music. We fill each other excellently, we work fast and without conflicts. We also have a great support from our rhythm section, they give us a big inspiration.
The progarchives.com platform labels LEBOWSKI under the Crossover Prog genre. We partially agree to that but we also believe that it’s easy to make such simplistic descriptions. We will leave it up to you to describe your music to someone who's never heard of your music.
I think that the most accurate word in this term is „crossover”. We don't consider ourselves as a representation of a particular genre. Our work is an effect of music that we soaked with during our life. We are lucky to play instrumental music, there are no boundaries, we can mix styles, bring our work on the brand new level.
What is prog rock for you? And prog music in general, anyway? We think this is a concept and not a genre, as many believe.
In my opinion, the progressive rock is an attempt to give a deeper meaning to the music. That's also a way to tell a story, to play with an imagination of its listeners. Sometimes the progrock artists are mostly focusing on the technical aspect of this genre, which sometimes can be pretty harmful for prog.
Also, what do you think about the future of prog rock and prog music in general? Are there any ways for the betterment of its promotion through Internet and other means?
What bugs me in todays prog rock music is a syndrome of a sieged castle, building walls and overreacted efforts to keep the purity of a genre. The Internet opens a wide spectrum of new possibilities to progrock. It's a good opportunity to open to the wider audience, to reach new listeners with social portals. A huge revolution awaits the entire music industry. What will be the effect? Time will tell.
What music do you listen to this at this period? What are your musical inspirations at present?
I mostly rest and look for inspiration while listening to jazz. I don't look only for new releases, I'm trying not to follow the trends. While answering to your questions I'm listening to David Sylvian from the „Gone To Earth” album. David is one of my most favourite artists. I also love to listen to Jeff Beck, his nuances and softness.
Is there any possibility to record with a major symphonic orchestra? We strongly believe that this would be a completely “must listen” experience!
I'm afraid that it's beyond our financial and logistic supplies. But if we'll have a chance in the future, then of course...
Tell us a few things about some of your plans for the future.
Currently we're focused on the new album and organizing a tour in Autumn. We're also thinking about recording a music video.
Is there any possibility to see you playing in Greece? Greece is not a prog music paradise, so actually what should a Greek organizer do so that LEBOWSKI could reach Greece for a live performance? [Maybe JustIn Case Prog Radio could mediate about that! It’s in our future plans, actually!)]
Playing in Greece would be a great honor to us. Since the beginning we're planning our first European tour (Germany, Netherlands and Italy). If we will have a chance to visit your beautiful country, then we will definitely go for it!
A message from your part for the listeners of JustIn Case Prog Radio and for all prog’n’rollers out there is…
Dear JustIn Case Prog Radio listener – thanks to the people like you and your passion, our work make sense. You are giving us hope and a huge load of energy. We owe you one!
Anything that you might add?
Thank you Demetris and Thomas for a chance to tell this story to your listeners from your exotic country. We apologize that it took so long. All the best from the band. Prog On!
Dear LEBOWSKI, thanks a lot about answering those few (lol!!!!) questions!
Demetris “All Around” Katsikis
Founder and Progducer of JustIn Case Radio
Progducer of JustIn Case Radio