M: Well, we didn’t play some regular big tour, actually. It just was several shows to promote our last release. We plan to play this mini tour in few parts – the first one is done now. Anyway, it was OK, nice and fancy. Mostly we played with bands who we know since ages, so we spent good time together. It was also great to meet old guardia under the stage, drink some beer with them, to talk about distant times and not only… Gigs and meetings with fans is what we like the most and this is always really huge pleasure for us.
B: On the very beginning let’s talk about band’s history. You were born in 1988 under the name THANATOS, but after four years you changed the name. Why?
M: That’s truth. We started in May 1988 as THANATOS. We recorded two great demos (‘Deo Optimo Maximo’ and ‘Out of Sanity’) under this name. We were promoting our band intensively in the underground by giving as many as possible interviews to several zines and playing a lot of gigs, of course. Consequence was that THANATOS became one of the leaders of Polish underground scene of those days. But there came the time when the fact that there existed much well-known band from Holland with name THANATOS became a little like tight shoe. Our dream was to spread wings and sign some deal with some so called big label. That’s why we decided to don’t use the name THANATOS anymore. Dutch already had good mark and released two albums, so it pure nonsense to use the same name in our opinion.
B: Yeah, but as I know there is only one THANATOS exist in the world. In contrast number of ensembles with name TRAUMA is really huge. Wasn’t there at least a moment when you thought about coming back to old name?
M: Right, there’re really many TRAUMAs around the entire world. But in times when we changed the name we had no idea about it. Well, it seems that we jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. And frankly we don’t care about this. Reason is it doesn’t disturb in any way in our activities. We also never had any troubles coz of that. So the conclusion is that any of these bands didn’t copyright it (anyway, in my opinion if someone does such thing in Metal then doesn’t understand what Metal is about! – B). We do what we should and anybody disturb us in that – at least when it’s about the name. These who wanna know who we are, where we from and what kind of music we play since so many years know this and that’s it.
B: You’re one of the oldest Polish bands who play continuingly. That’s why I wish you’d try to compare somehow the scene from those distant times and nowadays’ one. I’m not sure, but quite often I meet people in our age who complain on everything: on gigs is coming less maniacs as before, moshpoint is not as huge as it used to be, scene isn’t as strong as it was, etc. What you think? Isn’t it symptom of becoming old of individuals saying such words?
M: Well, it seems that there’s something in our genotype what makes that we complain and bellyache about everything. And the fact is that as older you’re as stronger this tendency is (smiling). I’m absolutely not such individual. Times changed, whole the world around us changed and first of all, we changed. So what’s the problem? Stagnation isn’t good idea for life because in our nature is to improve and it doesn’t matter if someone likes it or not. Anyway, backing to the essence of a matter. This is impossible to compare scene from the end of 80’s with what we have today. This is like you’d like to explain someone what is difference between bicycle and F1 car when we speak about speed. 30 years ago there were no internet, mobiles, computers, etc. Actually we could write a book about this. To cut long story short, reality was totally different, so Metal scene (and probably every other one) looked like differently. I dedicated whole days to writing letters, stay in the line on postal service office to send or get packages with demos. Information had its price – we could be in touch with each other only thanks to writing letters, every letter meant stamp(s) and it cost. Today everything’s almost for free. You can write SMS, e-mails, talk by mobile or on chat and so on. It costs a little or even nothing. Once if some promoter who was treating his work professionally (and there were very few such individuals) didn’t notice you then it was practically impossible to make your band well-known for some bigger number of listeners. Of course also today this is very hard to do without good management, booking etc. agencies, huge budget on promotion. But if you work really hard on this then it’s possible. Now this is any problem to record stuff even in your own apartment, to release this on CD or vinyl, to promote it using several social media. And you couldn’t even dream about such possibilities these 30 years ago. The only problem today is huge number of bands and first of all to get quite lazy fans who only look at Facebook, YouTube and others. Today you have to do almost nothing to get to know, to see something; you don’t have to go anywhere to buy something. It changes us, make us lazy, but this is no sense to fight with this. Instead we need to accept this and that’s it. I think you should do the best if you really love something and conditions don’t matter.
B: I agree! As you said, world changes and we need to follow these changes, even if we’re not huge fans of them. Especially that there’re some irrefutable pluses of technology! However, I was always wondering what are about these quite often come backs of bands from “our times”. It happens not only in Poland, but… Just in case I number such names like MAGNUS or SLASHING DEATH. What you think, is it about the will of showing to “youngers” how to play Metal or something else?
M: Yeah, I’m really old ass, but since 30 years creating music in TRAUMA continuingly is what I love. So frankly I have no idea how it is to come back on the scene after many years. I never even thought to leave the scene, gave up in face of all those “surprises” given by life to show me that it’ll don’t be so easy and merrily to play in the band anymore. So I’ll unfortunately don’t answer your question. You should ask about it people from ensembles who decided to come back after really many years of non-existence. I guess as many bands as many reasons and there’s no some universal one. We all become older and there come moment when it comes clear as day that time goes quickly. So you want to realize your dreams from youth before you’ll become really old man. But this is only what I suppose.
M: That’s truth. In October last year DEFORMEATHING PROD released re-issue of our first full-length ‘Comedy is Over’. This is really nice experience to give a new lease of life to spirit of music we composed more than 20 years ago. Frankly this is something incredible to fell again by fingers these great riffs and energy. This is like to take a seat on teeter-totter where you lost your milk-teeth at the front and ripped your first pants (smiling). For me this is like a time-machine – several memories from those times come back: how we were, what we felt. Anyhow, the main reason, of course besides these personal ones, of releasing this album again was the fact that it was impossible to get this. There were two issues of ‘Comedy is Over’, but it was really long time ago. So, frankly, it was fans that collect such things that were bringing and even forced us to do it. And I have to say that I’m very happy coz of this fact.
B: In my opinion ‘Comedy is Over’ after all these years still sounds very freshly and originally. Let’s be honest, this stuff even today is visionary. I know that you as a creator can’t be truly objective in this case, but… What do you think about this?
M: You’re absolutely right. I’m not objective because all my feelings and energy from this period are in this stuff. These songs are like a tattoo. I mean, they are a mirror of who I was, what I thought, and felt those days. I don’t like to listen to my own music and do it rarely when stuff is out. Then it just lay on the shelf with other releases of TRAUMA. Maybe it’ll sound strange, but there’s specific reset in my mind then. Of course all experience still is there, but whole my energy and all my emotions are refreshed rise again from zero while creating of new stuff. By the way, I listen always my own music with huge dose of incredulity. Man, this is really fucking great! However, I was listening to different music (everything what sounded nicely for my ears) while creating of ‘Comedy is Over’ was in progress. And mostly it wasn’t Death Metal. I tried to transpose into the music I created everything what I thought was interesting and original. Well, more than 20 years passed since album was done and it still delight me, still is fresh, up-to-date and edge-cutting in my opinion. I’m very proud of this album and happy that it’s out again.
B: Just like that: personally I adore ‘Comedy is Over’!!! Anyhow, once I was reading reviews of ‘Crash Test – Live’ in Polish zines. Quite often there were not too flattering if it’s about sound. Mainly editors didn’t like it because it was too “polished” and made impression of another full-length recorded in studio, nor during the gig. How are our feelings about this after all these years?
M: Well, I know that this is impossible to make happy all our listeners. That’s why we even don’t try to do it. We just do everything in our own way, just like we want and thing is right – it was always like that. Personally I just love ‘Crash Test – Live’ and this is because of several reasons. Firstly we recorded it on really great tour with VADER and DECAPITATED. We played in all big clubs in Poland and there was huge crowd on every gig, by the way. Now you can only dream about such (or even near) frequency on tour where you play gigs day by day and not only on weekends. Secondly, label gave us budget which was enough to record three concerts and we still had money to work on it with the best specialists in Poland – from HERTZ STUDIO. Anyway, we worked with them many times during recording of several our albums. So, we did this album in the best possible way and, frankly, I wouln’t change anything after all these years. I was always dreaming to record live-album with TRAUMA and I’m really happy that it was possible to do just in those times and just during this tour! Anyway, I think recording of live-albums in general is like tilting at windmills. Why? Well, when you stay in crowd, headbanging or even mosh, see not too much because of lights, you feel smell of sweat and alcohol and from time to time you become a little deaf because of decibels. Yes, there’s no way to feel all these emotions when you’re seating comfortable in your armchair and drink green tea. This is impossible even if you’re listening to live-album as load as possible and even if you have the best on the world equipment. That’s why live-albums have sentimental value for collectors, are keepsakes, mementos for people who was on this or another event. That’s what I think about it.
B: Except ‘Comedy is Over’ you recorded and released seven full-lengths (including mentioned live-album). I don’t think so we should speak about all of them – especially that this interview would become a book in such case. Compare your debut with for example ‘Imperfect Like a God’ and ‘Karma Obscura’, if you can.
M: Well, maybe I’ll disappoint you, but this is nonsense. The very first reason is that I create music, but I never analyze it like journalists do. After so many years “in fight” this is not as easy as anything, but I still and all the time try to follow what my heart says to me, create music spontaneous and never to calculate what will be better. It means that music mirror my feelings and thoughts in specific moment. When I feel this fire inside then I just create and record another album with TRAUMA or some another project. If I don’t feel this I just do something else and wait for inspiration like a farmer on germinated seed. That’s as clear as day that during all these years I got a lot of experience. But I suppose that thanks to my approach to the matter I avoid routine and some cliché in creating process. That’s why I still just love this and shows are something really special for me. Every TRAUMA‘s album is different; every album has other element of energy and several emotions. Every full-length was recorded in different times and our emotions, thoughts were different then. In my opinion all of them don’t talk only 30 years of TRAUMA‘s history, but also personal histories of every musician. So our discography is musical diary or family’s photo album.
B: First of all, this is exactly what I wanted to hear what you said. So I’m happy of that, not offended! Music is good only if it comes out directly from the heart, I think. Since ‘Karma Obscura’ was released, there passed more than four years. The fact is that in meantime (2015) split with OFFENSE came out. But both bands’ participation was only one song on it. So I’ll ask in plain English: When we can expect a new album?
M: This split was result of totally spontaneous decision. There’s a song which was lying in my drawer many years and there was anybody who could enjoy it. So when we got opportunity to release this split I was like “yeah, that’s great ideas!” – especially that I already had a song for TRAUMA’s part. New album is another story. Inspiration didn’t want to come long time. So I made other things instead. We worked on new songs of course, but it went very slowly. But since some time there’re some ideas and they’re very solid. Lion’s share of new tracks is done. This year we want to enter the studio to record it and then release what hopefully will be also this year.
M: Well, any of these options. Originator was Maras, vocalist of OFFENCE, in this case. It was him who proposed this to us. It was also him who found a label and generally took care about everything. My role was only to give a song of TRAUMA and create lay out + cover art of TRAUMA‘s pages. By the way, OFFENCE is a band with very good perspectives. They present totally other school of playing Death Metal than TRAUMA does and for me this is something great. We know each other since few years and idea of this split was very interesting for me. Another aspect which made us interested in it was the fact that we never before released any split. We had anything to do with choice of the label, but it was good choice and our cooperation didn’t take the end after releasing the split. This is just this label who released re-issue of ‘Invisible Reality’ in 2016 and then re-issue of ‘Comedy is Over’ in 2017.
B: For some time past I observe stronger and stronger tendency to release stuffs only electronically – I know groups who release like that everything. Is it the future of the sound and about some time physical copies of several sorts will disappear?
M: This is always impossible to say what future will be. If I knew a dozen or so years ago that archaic formats like cassettes or vinyl will be popular again then I’d have teeth of pure gold and make video clips on Bronx and not play gigs in some little, foggy clubs (smiling). Of course I’m kidding because I love to play Death Metal in such places! Well, it seems that when it’s about pop and so on it really can be so and for few or more then dozen years teenagers will have no idea what it was CD and even more tape or vinyl. There’ll be no records and no performers, some music platforms will serve some playlists and people won’t be interested anymore who plays it and so on. The only what will matter will be fact that something is “in headphones” when you’re going to school, are in gym or jogging in the park. THIS IS FUCKIN’ SAD PERSPECTIVE!
B: INDEED!!! But fortunately there’s an underbelly. There is more and more bands who decide to release stuff on vinyl (and this is not only about EPs) or tape. You’re very good example of it because mentioned split with OFFENSE was released just as 7” vinyl. Is this only phenomenon and just a trend which will die soon or maybe it’s something what we’ll enjoy long tome?
M: It happens first of all on Metal scene as I know. And here we have some other realities. There’re not so many listeners in comparison with hip-hop, techno or dance. But contrary to them Metalheads are, on the vernacular, more valuable. Why? This is as easy as pie. Metalheads are just conscious listeners. I mean, they’re interested in not only in music of one specific band, but generally in scene. I’ll tell you what. They’re integral part of the scene – go on gigs, buy merchandises and records of favorite bands are like relics for them. They collect them, are seeking first pressings and very often pay for it fortune. And this is really beautiful, gives a hope for a future. Hope that traditional formats releasing still will do matter.
B: Me too! In my opinion physical copies have one more very good side – you can feel them, feel musicians’ emotions and stuff like that. Since we’re talking about scene, in Poland we use to call Silesia “Metal capital of Poland”. But in your region of our country (north-east part) there were always great bands, too. Can you recommend some of them, especially these underrated to our readers?
M: Well, I see this question in other way. In whole Poland there’re really many great bands and it doesn’t depend on geographic position on the map, I guess. Probably population density is important factor and as we know the most of world’s population live on Silesia (smiling). By the way, without special wondering who is underrated and isn’t I say whose music I like (of course list isn’t complete). Let’s go! MASAHIST, DEIVOS, BANISHER, REDEMPTOR, ANTIGAMA, CALM HATCHERY, CENTURION, DORMANT ORDEAL, SHODAN, THANDER BIRTH, KINGDOM, MRNYOR, ULCER, OFFENCE, KRIEGMACHINE, INSIDIUS, SLAUGHTER OF THE SOUL, IN TWILIGHT EMBRACE, ETHERITUS, PLANET HELL, HORRORSCOP.
B: Ok, now we’ll turn our roles and it’ll be you who ask the question.
M: Why you’re active on scene?
B: Well, I could answer with only one short sentence on it, but I think the reason of our so long (longer in your case) activity is the same – we do it because we feel strong imperative which “forces” us to do it. And it’s stronger and stronger after all these years when it’s about me. Well, I know that it’ll probably sound pathetic, but I guess and even am sure that I just was born Metalhead and to give a support to worldwide scene. I always loved to get to know new bands and their music. I need music to keep me alive! So the fact that I have opportunity to listen to tons of bands from all holes of this world, write review, make interviews. It means even more than a lot to me. Here I need to thank to Alex who gave me this opportunity! As you know I was editing a ‘zine, but life decided that SEPULCROS’ zine died. So to cut long story short, I’m active on the scene because I love this most on the world!
Ok, but let’s back to traditional division of roles where you answer the questions. During these 30 years the band didn’t change its name and musical style only. Over the years there played really many musicians in ensemble, too. What were the reasons? Is it so hard to stand you, in the band you’re changing your face and are a tyrant or what?
M: Hahaha! Yes, 30 years is acres of time. When we started a band we were 17-18 years old. All of us were living with their parents then, of course. It meant that we could live merrily and had no problems, didn’t must worry about practically anything. But when we came to an adult life then, it made many things more complicated. Anyway, some of us lost the will of playing in the band forever, other ones decided to emigrate and there were also people who just didn’t fit our team. This is not too easy to be consequent and determinate enough to manage to fight with daily life which isn’t idyllically as we all know and play in the band. Am I a tyrant? I don’t think so, but this is question I can’t answer. I mean, even if I was a tyrant I’d don’t know about it (smiling).
B: Can you tell us something about bands you played in? I’m talking about GALEON, AGRESOR and LAFAYN.
M: GALEON was my very first band I joined in September 1986. I was guitarist and vocalist there. Rehearsals took place in High School no. 2 in Elbląg. GALEON was an quartet and we tried to imitate METALLICA who we adored. After some time line-up changed and it was reason why we also changed the name for AGRESOR. We continued playing something like Death/Thrash, but there was much quality and abilities in our music. Anyway, in May 1988 me and the drummer of AGRESOR joined just created band, THANATOS. And I’m still in that – we changed the name to TRAUMA in 1992. What takes LAFAYS it was a band who created mixture of Heavy, Progressive and Power Metal. There was period when except me played two other musicians of TRAUMA in LAFAYN. It existed since September 1998 to September 2006, by the way. We released two albums and EP. It was really fine playing, but there came time when everything crushed and I concentrated on TRAUMA only.
B: We all know the superstition of Metalhead. But at least my experience shows that in general listeners of our beloved music are (again rather grandiloquent word) just human. What you think?
M: Personally I think all generalizations are icky. You can’t say that all Russians are pissheads, all Polish are lifters, all German women are ugly and all Ukrainian ones are beautiful. The same unfair is to say that all Metalheads are good, honest and all sweetness and light and all fans of hip hop are junks and fuckers. People are different and it doesn’t depend on what subculture they belongs to. That’s my opinion.
B: Well, mine is the same and that’s why I used “in general”. However, let’s talk a little bit about such stuff. What is in your opinion phenomenon of Metal (not only, I guess) that it unite people around the entire world, people who listen to this music feel some emotional connection with each other, with few exceptions support gratuitously each other’s activities, etc.?
M: Well, I think this is natural that people with the same interests, hobbies or points of view are closer to you than individuals “out of your planet| who absolutely don’t understand it. World works just like that. But of course it doesn’t mean that we can generalize. You know, I met Metalheads in my life, who just were fuckers and thieves, I also met people from outside our circle who were great ones. It depends on person and what kind of human being it is. But the fact is that underground is pure phenomenon, especially it’s about 80’s and 90’s in my opinion. You know, in those times there were practically no perspectives for even the best and the most ambitious band who came from “wop-wops”. Today there’s internet and it changes a lot. But, of course, help in promotion is always something noble what I have very big respect for – especially if this is honest and gratuitously.
B: Agreed! But I think bands especially from so called exotic countries still need our support a lot! Internet makes communication easier, but even today you have to dig a little to find some interesting band from for example Dominic Republic, Cuba, Botswana or Nepal. Anyhow, what means Metal for you? Is it only music or something more, way of life?
M: Well, after so many years this is not only my hobby, passion anymore, but lifestyle for sure! This is way of thinking and way you perceive world around you.
B: And underground? If bands like VADER, IMMOLATION, VITAL REMAINS or KRISIUN are still underground ones? I think TRAUMA even if it’s living legend of Polish Metal scene surely is underground group, doesn’t it?
M: Well, frankly we can say about Metal in general that this is underground. You know, this musical style is rather niche one. This is topic for another dispute what makes band underground one and if and when it stops to be underground. I guess status of the band depends more on how fans see it, not musicians.
B: YEAH! But this is in my opinion feedback effect. By the way, let’s totally change a topic. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
M: Since ten years I have a doggy, but once I had cats, too. Generally I adore all animals and I don’t think like “these are smarter and another are more ugly”.
B: Are you fed up with my insistent, pesky questions?
M: Frankly since longer time I’m answering several interviews entire time, so on more or one less… I’m not pissed off too much, by the way (smiling).
B: But a little tired for sure, I guess. That’s why we’ll finish our chit-chat right here. It was really great to talk with you again after all these years. Thanks a lot Bro! Would you like to add something on the end?
M: I’d also like to thank you very much for nice talk, contact and showing interest to my band. Visit our profiles, Bandcamp and write if you’re interested in the band. See you somewhere on tour, hopefully. STAY TRAUMED!!!