While the Polish group known as Stonerror is still in their early days as a band, with one single and an EP (the excellent Rattlesnake Moan
) to their name so far, they've made a great impression on our ears, so we were curious to know what was going on behind the scenes with this group. Bassist/lyricist Jacek Malczewski was kind enough to field some of our questions, while also sharing some extra info, including the very welcome news that the full album is on its way through the birthing process.
The Burning Beard: Hi, and thanks for giving us some of your time! To start things off, let's talk about the people in the band. The
members are Jarosław Daniel, a.k.a., "Faza" on guitar,
yourself on bass, Łukasz Mazur on vocals, and Maciek Ołownia
on drums, but could you give us some more detail on each of you?
Jacek Malczewski: We’re
all semi-pro musicians, long active on the local scene in Cracow,
Poland. We’ve played in quite a few bands, but also have our
"regular" lives, families, and trades. Faza – the driving
force behind Stonerror – is a former music club owner and manager,
currently pursuing his career as a graphic designer. I make my living
mostly as a university scholar and teacher (of political philosophy
and bioethics), while the rest of the gang also have their everyday
jobs and duties. But it is the overwhelming love for the music that
really drives our lives and makes the time worthwhile. Both Maciek
and Łukasz are very talented musicians and composers – not
formally trained, but gifted with an exceptional instinct and
sensitivity – so I feel really lucky to be in a band with them.
TBB: How long have you
known each other?
JM: Faza and Maciek have
played together in a band called ZOOiD since high school, so after
many years they comprehend each other musically on a deep, unspoken
level. I used to attend their gigs back in the old days, but
befriended these guys only a couple of years ago. Faza is actually my
best friend now, and we talk for hours every day. Music, beer, and a
very similar life outlook brought us together. I first met Łukasz
two years ago, when his band was opening for my brother’s show.
He’s a stubborn, gutsy guy, whom I liked immediately. Later it
turned out that he was a huge ZOOiD fan, so for him joining Stonerror
was like playing in a team with the heroes of his youth. He’s a bit
younger than the rest of us, but we all get along really well. The
atmosphere is friendly and challenging at the same time – we
motivate each other to improve and do what’s best for the music and
TBB: How did Stonerror
JM: Last spring my
previous musical project has reached a dead end, and I thought about
starting a new band to play some heavy, overdriven stuff. Faza and I
stumbled across each other at some gig, drank several beers and
decided to do something together. He wanted to return to making music
after a few years’ break, and had some cool riffs and ideas. We
recruited a drummer from my former crew, but he turned out to be
immature and unreliable – suffice it to say, he quit three days
before Stonerror’s debut gig, which had been planned and advertised
for weeks. An instant replacement was needed, so Faza called his old
buddy, Maciek. We rehearsed on Friday night and played the show on
Saturday. Somehow the audience loved us, so Maciek decided to stay in
Łukasz is another cool
story. He is a talented and inventive guitar player, who’s never
done lead vocals before joining Stonerror. My brother recommended him
to me, saying: "he’s got pipes, try him out". Well, we
did. We were jamming on a tune that later became our opening track,
"Jericho", when all of a sudden Łukasz yelled and roared
like his guts were on fire. Faza and I exchanged this meaningful
look: "hell yeah, the kid’s on board". Later it turned
out that Łukasz can also come up with stunning vocal lines, and
deliver them in an almost Maynard-esque fashion. So, as you can see,
Stonerror was born under a totally unpredictable, but very lucky
TBB: How did you settle on
the name of the band?
JM: Faza had it at the
ready, together with some band logo drafts and other related imagery.
We loved the name right off the bat. It sounds powerful and
majestically, it’s mysterious and catchy. Well, it also makes
people assume that we play stoner rock. Which we don’t, by the way.
There’s a lot more un-obvious, crossover "error" than
generic "stoner" to what we do. I even coined a term
describing our musical style, and it’s already taken root:
TBB: What made you decide
to cover "Tomorrow Never Knows"? Were there any other
songs you were strongly considering covering instead?
JM: We needed a cover song
for the debut gig, because back then we didn’t have enough of our
own stuff to play the whole set. It was a Kyuss tribute show, so it
would seem obvious to choose a piece from their catalogue, or perhaps
do some Black Sabbath anthem. But we’re "The Errors",
remember? Being a huge fan of The Beatles – perhaps the most
innovative band of all time – I suggested "TNK": a
powerful, psychedelic, trance riff with a beautiful melody on top of
it. This song is very special to me in so many ways, and playing it
on our own terms was like a rite of passage for the band: can we put
our own, original style and sound into one of the most groundbreaking
tunes ever composed? Well, we could, and so "TNK" has
become a staple of our live sets. On later occasions we’ve also
covered Led Zeppelin’s "No Quarter" (the best riff
ever!), and Kyuss’ "Demon Cleaner". But we’re not going
to record any more cover songs for release. We prefer to do our own,
original stuff. O.K., one day I’d love to play New Order’s "Blue
Monday" in a psychedelic stonerpunk version. We’ll see about
TBB: The notes for Rattlesnake Moan describe it as a "live" EP. Where was it
recorded? What sort of an audience did you have, and how did they
respond to the music?
JM: Yet another incredible
story. In December of 2015 we were opening for Ścianka – the best
and most renowned Polish alternative band of the last twenty years,
who were touring behind their new, long-awaited album. It was a real
honor for us to play with them. The club was packed with their
faithful audience (200 people), who obviously had no idea who we were
and where we came from. And it only was our 5th(!) gig together as
Stonerror. We drank a few beers, jumped on the stage and played our
hearts out. It was a short set: five songs, twenty-two minutes or so.
The audience was cool, not booing or throwing us away from the stage.
After the show Faza says: "Guys, I’ve got a surprise for you.
The gig has been professionally recorded". He arranged
everything, but wouldn’t tell us in advance, so we wouldn’t get
too anxious and screw up. It only took a few guitar overdubs in the
studio and some basic mixing, and boom! – we had our debut EP ready
for release. Ladies and gentlemen – 100% live Stonerror! And here
comes the best part: Ścianka’s leader, Maciek Cieślak, offered to
release "Rattlesnake Moan" on his own independent record
label, My Shit In Your Coffee. Seriously, it was almost like being
knighted by the King himself! All the reviews so far have been
favorable – both at home, and abroad, in the UK, USA, Greece or
Spain. It’s so amazing and cool!
TBB: You have a music
video for "Rattlesnake Moan", done in stop-motion animation
by a Polish artist. Who is this artist, and how did the decision to
have that artist create a music video for you come about?
JM: Natalia Brożyńska is
a Polish female visual artist, who specializes in stop-motion
animation. She’s young, but already recognized and award-winning:
in 2013 she received the most prestigious honor in the Polish music
video industry for creating a music video to Devo’s "Blockhead".
Amazing stuff, you can find it on YouTube. Natalia is also a life
partner of one of our good friends, an artist and musician – Tomasz
Jerzy Tumidajewicz. Tomasz wrote the script for us and Natalia took
care of the puppets and camerawork. They built a post-apocalyptic
desert in their apartment, and created the characters of the
Rattlesnake, the Danger Man, and the Hangman. The final effect is
marvelous: a story about frustrated love, retribution, and death,
visually influenced by William Faulkner, David Lynch, and Tim Burton.
I almost cried when I saw the video for the first time, because it
has illustrated our song and the lyrics perfectly. Now, that’s what
I call a successful artistic collaboration! We’ll certainly work
with Natalia and Tomasz again in the future.
TBB: Between the imagery
of the music video and the cover art, there's a lot of desert
atmosphere to the presentation of your music, along with the notable
desert rock elements of the music itself. What is the landscape like
where Stonerror lives, and how does that contrast with the moods you
try to bring to life in your songs?
JM: Well, as you can
imagine, Cracow is quite far geographically from the Mojave Desert
and Rancho de la Luna. In our case the desert is more of an imagined
representation of desolate, untamed nature, and unrestrained creative
freedom. Our moods come from within, not from the outside. They’re
a reflection of our own wild natures. Stonerror’s music and lyrics
are very personal and cathartic. The dirty, heavy riffs combined with
angry, dark poetry help us to exorcise the inner demons from the
past, cleanse the wounds, and retain our internal liberty.
TBB: What are some
specific influences on Stonerror's music and imagery?
JM: Musically, we’re all
into Kyuss and the early-to-mid 1990s grunge and alternative rock
scene that has shaped our musical sensitivity as kids. Soundgarden’s
"Superunknown" is one of our favorite albums that we play
on the road. But there is much more to it. We love The Stooges with
their raw power and brutal punk simplicity, we cherish the dark,
mystical and psychedelic Tool. Seriously, I could mention dozens of
bands and genres here – but it’s pointless, since we’re neither
closing our music within any fixed stylistic boundaries nor trying to
emulate someone else’s sound.
The lyrics and imagery?
Well, you’ve already mentioned the desert. But the desert has many
faces. It’s not only California and Kyuss, but also the Sinai
desert of the Old Testament, the Sierra Morena wilderness of the
"Saragossa Manuscript" or the Mad Max dystopian
wasteland. As the band’s lyricist, I draw a lot from the scriptural
books of Exodus, Joshua, Apocalypse, and others. I also employ
visions and phrases borrowed from classic literary works, movies and
– lately – Native American mythology. It is an unending quest for
a symbolic, universal language to express my deep-seated emotions,
fears, and passions. The desert sky is the limit. Our imagery is also
influenced by the desert – from sun-scorched land and bare cattle
skulls, to rattlesnakes and vultures, to oil wells and muscle cars.
You must have noticed the
stunning B&W photograph on the cover of our EP: a beautiful naked
lady playing the huge skull. It was taken by an independent artist
from Chicago, O. Levent Eryilmaz. We found this image on the Internet
and were amazed, because somehow it perfectly matched our own
intuitions and emotions. So we wrote a letter to Levent, and he
simply allowed us to use the whole photo session for the visual
purposes of our debut EP and live shows. The model, Anna Rob, was
also very happy about it. You can find generous and talented people
TBB: What are Stonerror's
plans for the near future? Will we be seeing a full album from the
band anytime soon?
JM: The preproduction of
the studio album has already begun. We are working on the new songs
and preparing the professional photo shoot. The recording session has
been scheduled for early November. The album will be produced and
engineered by Maciek Cieślak in his private studio. He is also going
to contribute musically, playing the guitar, keyboards, and perhaps
doing some backing vocals. Another dream comes true – we are
working with one of the greatest artists in our country. The album is
due for release around Christmas of 2016. We’ll certainly send it
to The Burning Beard for review.
TBB: Is there anything
else you'd like to say to our readers?
JM: Follow your visions,
find the right people to collaborate with, work hard and
consistently. Always trust your instincts, and never let the bastards
grind you down. If we could make it, so can you.
TBB: Thanks very much for
your time and the excellent music!