Interview with Marcin Konieczny of Pandemic

Interview with Marcin Konieczny of Pandemic

- in Written interviews

Hi! The title of your debut full-length album, “Crooked Mirror,” is intriguing. Can you shed some light on the inspiration behind this title and how it relates to the overall theme or concept of the album?
We wanted a title that would encapsulate and bind the whole theme and atmosphere of the album. It all came from observations on how the songs and the whole album was developing. “Crooked Mirror” as a title appeared to us when we noticed our lyrical tendencies, generally revolving around individual & social lows. Also, I adore grotesque aesthetics in general, which is, I hope, audible to a certain degree on the album. “Crooked Mirror” resonated with that perfectly.

“Deaf Nite” was a memorial release dedicated to your late frontman, Sebastian “Sharp” Wikar. How did the experience of creating that EP influence the songwriting and creative process for “Crooked Mirror”? Did it impact the overall direction or tone of the album?
“Deaf Nite” was certainly a big, although early, milestone of our activity as a band and direction we’d like to pursue. It’s important to note though, that all of the songs included on the EP were written in the most part or solely by Sebastian himself – including the lyrics. As such, as a band we did not have as much input in the development of these songs – we simply wanted to record them and release them as certainly this is something that “Sharp” himself wanted to do. That being said, “Deaf Nite” certainly resonates with the type of thrash/speed we all always wanted to perform, and as such I don’t think we strayed very far from the EP with our recent debut full-length. I think that “Crooked Mirror”, although maybe slightly different due to having other people involved in the creative process still follows the direction Pandemic was set on by “Sharp” back in 2015.

It’s been three years since the release of your single “Where the Devil Says Goodnite,” which signaled a new chapter in the band’s history. How does this single tie in with the overall sound and themes explored in “Crooked Mirror”? Can we expect a continuation of the musical style or any noticeable progression in your sound?
I think that “Where The Devil Says Goodnite” was a bit of like a forecast of what is to come next from our camp, you know? Composition-wise it very much resonates with the LP – we always wanted to balance technicality, aggressiveness and melody within our songs. Both the title track of the single as well as “Exegi Monumentum” reflect that from my perspective. It certainly wasn’t perfect, but it needn’t be. Songwriting is a skill that I think develops and changes throughout life and at that time, this is how we wanted to sound. “Crooked Mirror” was based on similar foundations, but I think we took it on a higher level in terms of quality here. Same goes for the songs we’re currently working on – I hope – for the next release. We simply try to stay true to our principles but improve at every next song attempt.

The thrash/speed metal genre has a rich history and a passionate fan base. What elements of this genre do you embrace in your music, and how do you incorporate your own unique style and sound into the songs on “Crooked Mirror”?
Generally I think we are much more aligned with the American Thrash/Speed Metal scene than, for example, the German or Brazilian schools. We never strived to be brutal, super-fast or generally extreme within any area, be it the technical complexity, speed, lyrical content and so on. Main point is to make well-balanced songs that maintain the core aggression so characteristic within the genre, but go beyond that by implementing melodies, grooves, unexpected twists and turns and so on. Our varying backgrounds facilitate that, as each of us pulls the band in a bit of a different direction. Filip (drums) has that punkish groove and aesthetic in his drumming, Wiktor (guitar) comes up with great blackened-thrash/punkish riffs, Gniewko (bass/vocals) I’d say is more traditional and conservative in terms of thrash riffs, and as for myself I love complicated song structures and good melodies. This is what in my view makes this band unique in style – our music is very diverse and we draw more from our differences, than from our similarities.

Lyrically, what are some of the recurring themes or messages you explore on “Crooked Mirror”? Are there any particular stories or experiences that inspired the lyrics on this album?
MK: Generally this album revolves around individual and social lowpoints. The recurring theme here, however, emerged spontaneously. It just came to be, when we put all of the ideas together the whole picture emerged. There are few exceptions though, such as “Exorcism of the Exorcist” as well as “Necessary Insanity” which do not touch the subject, but revolved around such great concepts that we did not want to leave them behind or change them. With reference to particular inspirations, some historical atrocities are present such as the Holocaust or Tiananmen Square Massacre, as well as narratives based more or less on the experiences more or less tangible in nowadays society. I also tend to draw some inspiration from my psychological background.

Line-up changes can often bring new dynamics and influences to a band’s sound. How have the recent changes in your line-up impacted the overall musical direction and creative process of PANDEMIC, especially in the context of recording “Crooked Mirror”?
The most recent change we’ve had was the change of our drummer – Filip has replaced Tomasz, with whom we have parted ways after he laid drum parts for the debut. Generally it was a tough situation, but we’ve known Filip already as we had an opportunity to play for a short while together back when “Sharp” was still with us, so I’d say that the transition went really smooth and Filip learnt all of the songs on a whim. As mentioned previously, he has that punkish feel in his drumming which adds up a new quality to our material. Summing it up – the change did not influence the recording sessions at all, as it happened after the drums were already recorded, but it certainly brought in some new quality to the band.

Awakening Records released “Crooked Mirror.” What led to your collaboration with this label, and how has their support and guidance contributed to the making of this album?
We’ve been on a lookout for a Polish label willing to release our material for quite some time when we contacted Awakening Records. From our observation however, polish labels are currently not so keen on releasing albums other than blackened thrash/death/black metal. We’ve decided to contact Awakening Records because of that and also because we’ve seen how fruitful was their work with our mates from the Polish scene who already had a pleasure to have their albums released by the label, i.e., Frightful, Pandemic Outbreak and Species. Awakening Records put all their efforts into the album, and despite the release of “Crooked Mirror” being postponed to March due to covid pandemic still raging on in China in early 2023, they really did a great work in helping us bring the album to the fruitful end. One can only hope that with the next release we’ll be able to collaborate once again!

As a band with a strong presence in the live music scene, how do you envision translating the energy and intensity of “Crooked Mirror” into your live performances? Are there any plans for a tour or special live shows to promote the album?
We’re currently working on scheduling as many great shows as possible locally, in Poland with other great acts. Thankfully, we already have plenty of opportunities to perform across our home country. At the same time, if the finances allow that, we’ll be working on possibly crossing the borders in the near future to perform on foreign ground. It still is very much dependent however on many different variables so it’s hard to say with certainty what will happen with that idea.

Looking ahead, what are your hopes and expectations for “Crooked Mirror”? How do you envision this album propelling PANDEMIC’s career and leaving a lasting impact on the metal community?
Oh man, that’s an absolutely difficult question. Of course, we’d love to make a lasting impact on the scene with this album, however I wouldn’t say that we’ve embarked on this adventure with such an idea being our core principle. Let’s be honest, nowadays there are multiple hundreds of bands playing similar style to our own. We do not compare ourselves to anybody, we do not look specifically for public approval or acknowledgment of how we do it. Of course, we are absolutely thankful for every listen and feedback be it from the fans or the press, don’t get me wrong. But I think it’s safe to say that even if this album does not turn out to be a groundbreaker, which even ourselves we do not consider it to be, we’ll be happy to provide. If I were to say what we’d like to achieve is to send a clear message, that thrash metal in Poland is alive and well. The maniacs are here, good albums are released here, and with plenty of other great bands from our country, we are at the forefront of that.

Looking forward, how do you envision the future of thrash metal? Are there any new directions or innovations you hope to explore within the genre while staying true to its core principles? Thank you for your time!
From my perspective this type of music is eternal – once it popped out in the 80s, it will be kept alive even if in an absolute underground. There always were and I believe always will be people who enjoy that raw aggression and energy flowing from this genre. Of course some new ideas will probably intertwine with the genre, whether we like it or not. As for us, we are currently working on new material, and I’d say that we are pushing for an even more technically-demanding, melodic side of thrash. Whether that’ll prove to be innovative, time will tell, but I’m certainly happy with the band’s direction!

Thanks for the conversation, greetings to all of our readers from Poland – cheers!

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Quality music fan since '80s.

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