- Official Facebook Page - http://www.facebook.com/desolatordeathmetal
Jonathan - What makes a good Death Metal band?
Marek - Yeah, first question and I need to think hard already There's no easy recipe for a good band of any genre. The attitude is essential. If you are true with what you create, improve your skills, gear, try to give people the best you can, you have the basis to go forward. But the band is not only the music. Interpersonal relationships and characters are equally important You need to gather the team willing to go in the same direction. Also, if you take a look at the most successful death metal bands - you need to be consistent and you need to be persistent. And there's one more important thing: there can be only one leader and decision-maker in the band. If you dream of democracy in a band, you'd be better off doing something else believe me.
Jonathan - What's your opinion of the DIY movement?
Marek - Well, if you mean underground, as we called it in the '90s, I think it's essential for the music development in our times. Especially with the opportunities that current technology gives you. This is basically what enabled Desolator to release the debut album almost 20 years after splitting up.
Jonathan - I really believe the only passionate way to do music is with your heart. But sometimes hard times and trouble can get in the way. Why is it so important for you to be in a band and do you have any funny stories to tell?
Marek - Well, to be honest, as of now, Desolator remains a studio project. The paradox behind the answer to your question is that now you don't need to be in a band to make a good music. However, I also truly believe that still after so many years and in the years to come the group of people that want to play together and do it together is the foundation of this whole thing called rock&roll. As far as being passionate and doing music with your heart, yes, that is true, otherwise "Last Wish" would never be released. However, if you want to be a professional musician, especially in such a niche genre as death metal, you need to be aware of the fact that it is more hard times, trouble and disappointment than success. If you want to make a living out of playing death metal, well, just a few manage on such a big market as the US market. It's even a smaller number beyond USA. So, yes, you need lots of passion and heart to do it. Of course, being with great guys, playing gigs, seeing happy people is also that fuel that makes you try harder, be better, crossing your own limitations. There are lots of great situations, people come to you, tap you on the shoulder, don't want you to leave the stage. You feel you're doing a good job. That's why I decided to record "Last Wish" - for all my band mates (with whom we have been in touch for those 20 years), all our friends and people that used to come to our gigs and listened to our music in the '90s. And sorry - there are funny stories, but the Desolator guys, and not only them, would kill me for revealing them. I can only tell you that it is good to know you have proven people behind your back when things go in a wrong direction.
Jonathan- What's the origin of the band name, Desolator?
Marek - I made it up in 1989. I don't remember the exact reasons why I chose to name a band Desolator. It needed to sound metal and be scary in some way. The funny thing about the name is that I remember that letter I got from someone saying "there's no such word as Desolator, you need to change the name to Desolation". I think it would be even more interesting to ask them why they thought so at the time. Unfortunately, I don't remember who it was.
Jonathan - Have you changed the band's name before?
Marek - Nope. Never. I think we are the first Desolator ever in this world. All other bands formed later than 1989 under this name.
Jonathan - Who are your major influences? Or do you just write what you like and that is the result?
Marek - You never write a song thinking "This one should sound like band X, and that one should sound like band Y". But surely, especially in the beginnings of any band the influences are well heard. Then the character of band's music begins to shape up and as you gain more experience and skill, you catch yourself doing what you like, just adjusting it later for a genre or convention your band exists in. For us and for me personally as a songwriter, the first influences were Benediction, Entombed, then Napalm Death and Bolt Thrower. I think it can be heard in a few older songs.
Jonathan - How long have you all known each other?
Marek - For around 30 years.
Jonathan - How did you meet?
Marek - We met in primary school. I set up Desolator with Arek, we were in the same class. Then another guy, Wojtek, from our class joined us but he quit soon after. However, his brother, Tomek, joined us some time later on the vocals and later he also started to play bass. Meanwhile, another guy from our primary school was our bass player. His brother played in a band with Tomek before Tomek joined Desolator. So it was all like a neighborhood company. We were all metalheads, very young, I would say we were children then. But look at early photos of Decapitated. They look even younger.
Jonathan - When did you form your band?
Marek - It was 1989.
Jonathan - What inspired you to make music together?
Marek - Of course, ladies, alcohol and dope were the most important factors that made us play music But seriously, the bands we liked. We wanted to play music just as they did. Also, a very important factor was that Vader comes from our town. We saw their career almost from the beginning. It was very inspiring and motivating to us.
Jonathan - I'm sure some countries or crowds are more enthusiastic than others, do you have any particular anecdotes to tell us? Any funny moments? Disappointments?
Marek - We played in Poland only and we had the last gig like 20 years ago so what can I say? What I have noticed, however, is that back then we had much bigger crowds as a starting band than really great, known bands sometimes gather today. 300-500 people was something normal, now everyone is happy if there are 150 people in the club. Of course, it's different when we're talking about the biggest names, but it's a different league, really. But, to be honest, there were gigs when the audience was almost empty, because the promoter organized the concert on the day when all high schools in the city had the prom. On the other hand, we happened to have venues so packed that promoter carried the money from ticket sales in a few bags - all of that was spent on booze, of course. And getting to the venue is another category of fun, like for instance being robbed by skinheads going to some football match in the same train or not noticing your hometown station to hop-off after the gig and going all the way north when the first train back is in 5 hours.
Jonathan - Which songs do you perform most frequently?
Marek - The most frequent song is "Last Wish" - the title song of the album. It's one of the oldest Desolator tracks, actually. However, we played all tracks released on "Last Wish" album whenever we had time to do so and play the full setlist.
Jonathan - Do you ever play any covers?
Marek - We used to play Napalm Death's "Scum". People were going crazy to that stuff. We should publish the video on our Facebook profile soon. You'll see yourself.
Jonathan - Who writes your songs?
Marek - It's always been me with a little help of other band members. But most of the stuff, music and lyrics, are written by me. With some tiny exceptions, like I said.
Jonathan - What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
Marek - The first and golden rule in Desolator: steer clear of satanism. Basically we touch upon social, political and religious matters. These are always the most important to listeners if they wish to understand what we are talking about. We leave all -isms to the others.
Jonathan - Do you think these topics will change over time?
Marek - It doesn't seem likely. The topics have not changed over 20 years or so. People write about things that involve them directly through their everyday life or about things that are of some interest to them, be it corporate activity of the church or LaVey's satanic commandments.
Jonathan - Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
Marek - I think it's similar with all bands, amateur, indie or professional with the difference that the pros often create music already in the studio when recording a new album. Normally, I would sit at home and play the guitar. Then, when I had a few riffs, I developed that to a draft song version and shared with the band mates on rehearsals. Then we played it together adding or removing things and working on the arrangement. At the end, we added lyrics and solos and the stuff was ready. Music production process is quite a different thing, though, so perhaps I will spare you the details. It's really hard work recording a demo or an album.
Jonathan - What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?
Marek - As I mentioned before, Desolator is now studio-only projects that involves only me, although I am in constant contact with other Desolator guys, they know what I am doing and they are happy. When we played together, we rehearsed twice a week for 2 or 3 hours. Sometimes, before gigs, we added 1 short rehearsal to play the setlist. You cannot be in a band and do spontaneous rehearsals. Either you treat it seriously or not. You may be an amateur but your attitude needs to be professional. Rehearsing only when you feel like rehearsing, "perhaps tomorrow and the next time I'll call you", without any schedule, is a simple way to see your band split up very soon. How can that chemistry that's essential to anything in a band work without regular being together? It's impossible.
Jonathan - How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
Marek - Simple answer is: from grind core to death metal. We started out as a grind core band and had like 70 songs ready. All in the type of Napalm Death's "Scum" stuff. All was great if we played them one by one, the problem was when we tried to play them at random, you know what I mean. Then we heard Morbid Angel, Benediction, Entombed. Their music struck us so hard. Vader released "Morbid Reich" and that was an absolute punch to the head. We thought "Hey, let's play this way". However, the strategic decision was not to play blast tempos, but go slower. You can hear that on "...without anaesthetization..." demo from 1992. Then our music developed naturally.
Jonathan - What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
Marek - As you can see now, the biggest challenge was to keep the band together. At some point, we started to look somewhere totally outside death metal, going more hardcore, funky and stuff. That and ordinary life decisions like my relocating to another town for university led to our splitting up. In this music only the strong survive. Look at Vader or Behemoth. Peter and Nergal kept their bands alive no matter what. And there were hard times and it was not so long ago. But they kept pushing on. The biggest challenge is to survive despite unfavourable conditions. What is the most important thing in such conditions is the leader that holds it all together. This is what the majority of the bands find impossible to achieve. And I am not surprised. There's life beyond the band. People have families to support. People need to take care of themselves, too. It's not easy to remain a successful band throughout the years.
Jonathan - What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
Marek - Be professional and never give up. You can record the debut album 20 years after your band split up. Look at Desolator However, when you don't find the enthusiasm in going to another gig or entering the studio for another record, when you have no money from your music and you have a family to take care of, think it all over and perhaps choose other way of life. Who knows - it might be a way better. Always use your brain and make wise decisions. There's a good life beyond music, believe me.
Jonathan - For those who don’t know you, How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?
Marek - You should visit our Facebook profilewww.facebook.com/desolatordeathmetal. You will find all info, photos and link to our music there. Our "Last Wish" album released on 5th December is available through iTunes, CDBaby and other leading music sites. Please also check our Bandcamp profile often. From time to time, we make whole "Last Wish" available in streaming and it's in a very good .wav quality. The address is http://desolatordeathmetal.bandcamp.com. For now, we do not offer CDs and vinyls - that's the sad reality of the music market nowadays. We may, however, press some copies in the future. Stay tuned - all info will be available on our FB. Also, the single "Born of Sin (9)"is available for listening here (with a little surprise - check it out):https://soundcloud.com/desolatordeathmetal/born-of-sin-9.
Jonathan - And the last question is all yours, you decide what to say here!
Marek - Where are you answering to this interview? At work, of course, hahahaha!
If any of you are fans of Death Metal and really want to support the underground scene, check out these guys and show them some respect!