[Magyar verzió ITT]
It’s not your first time to play in Budapest. How do you like the city and the venue?
From purely music prospective, the crowd is always amazing. The first time we can with Animals [as Leaders], the crowd was insane. The venue is beautiful, and we came back, and it was just as beautiful, and now we’re back again and it’s still beautiful.
Do you like the architecture of Budapest? Have you had any chance to take a look at here?
Yes, we are only here about a day, but always trying to walk around. Like this morning, we went across the green bridge [Szabadság-híd] into the town a little bit, and the drummer [Chris Allison] playing with me tonight…it is his first time here, so I was walking with him and just see his reaction to it. It was funny because he was just like…’holy fuck, this is beautiful’. Yes, it is an incredible city.
How you started to have any kind of connection or relationship to music? What was the start?
When I was growing up, I guess when I was 5 or 6 years old, my family was to listen to The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, Michael Jackson and like that, and I just started to tap along, and then eventually that turned into me wanting to play drums. And then I finally started playing drums, but it’s too loud because we lived in an apartment, so I played ukulele for a little bit until it broke. And then I got a guitar to replace the broken ukulele, in that kind of set this whole thing off.
Have you ever learnt playing guitar, or just managed to grab it, and started to play?
Yes, I just picked it up. I tried learning some scales, but I found it really boring. So I just started to learn songs by bands I like, and then techniques from guitarist I like.
What do you think, in the life of a guitarists or a guitar player, how important the role of the talent, and how important the amount of practicing is?
I think talent doesn’t necessarily matter because I know a lot of guitarist, and I know that they all have different talents, like some people are just naturally really good at playing fast or really good at learning music, and others are terrible at playing fast but they play really expressively. I guess the most important thing is to figure out what you’re naturally good at, and then work on that, because you can become more unique and expressive in that skills.
You told that drums were quite loud, and you told a bit about the broken ukulele, and later on you ended up with guitar, but why guitar was the next one, why not say piano or something like that?
I’m not sure. I can’t exactly remember, but it might be that I started getting into metal music around that time and so I was getting interested in the stuff that metal bands are doing. I guess the most interesting part to me if not the drums is all the riffs.
Where your inspiration is coming from? I know about cheese, but what else is inspiring you?
Totally stuff like this [around me]. Traveling around, getting to see different places in the world, getting to meet different people and starting to think about writing music. Sort of the same way as people who write books. The only way that they get continued inspiration is by doing things and meeting people, so they have stories to play with and I think the same with music.
I had the impression that touring all over the globe is quite a tiring job and most of the musician are simply trying to survive it without getting inspired.
I guess it can be but I never was in a band until I started doing this. So I’m sort of invented my own idea what touring should be, I think it should be totally fun, surrounded by friends and that’s not tiring. We try to sleep as much as possible, walk around and eat.
How are you writing music? You are the only person who is responsible for everything, or you can get inspirational or input from the other band members?
Usually I recorded demos, so that includes some bad bass playing and programmed drums and then send it to them and see what they think. Hopefully they like it and then from there, we can work on it together and they write their own parts to be more interesting.
In your mind or in your practice, writing the music or writing the song is a step-by-step work or it’s quite a spontaneous one?
It’s a bit of both. There are parts of it that are quite logical, like arranging a song or layering different instruments, but a lot of the time it’s random sparks of inspiration that make the song that I end up finishing and releasing.
Your main occupation is to play in a band, manage this band and do studio works, tours, whatever else. Do you have any time remaining over that?
Not really. Even today we were driving from Bratislava which was about two and a half hours, and I spent most of that time messaging somebody that I’m hoping to collaborate with next year, so just talk about how we can make it work, and when he’s free and started getting the logistics of that. It’s a kind of…like a non-stop [job], just planning ahead and head and ahead. But then I guess I have free time like when we got here, we walked around for two-three hours, so it feels quite balanced.
If I’m right, in the past you used to use Primetone pics, and I think playing fast music you need a sharp one.
I started using the same pick that Jakub Zytecki using which is the [Jim Dunlop] Jazz III, I’m not sure exactly which one it is, but it has a grip on it, that’s not like the standard one. I found that just the slightly thinner pick is a little easier for the fastest stuff.
I just read in one of your interviews that your opinion was to have very little change with the instruments, with the guitars, but nowadays we have many-many virtuoso guitar player, so what’s the reason behind if not the instrument?
I guess I’m not actually that interested in the guitar. I mean have one what I really like, it is enough for me because I want to make music not make guitar noises I guess.
How important part of your music is based on improvisation?
In the beginning I guess it all comes from improvisation because I start up just playing whatever happens, but then there’s quite a large amount of work between the original thing that I play and the final product.
Vast majority of your songs are more or less continuous or ‘endless’ solos. How easy is to learn them, to remember them?
It’s getting easier and easier I guess. I have decent muscle memory so if it comes to playing a song that we haven’t played for a year or two, usually it comes back quite fast, and I think it helps that I played it in the first place.
Do you need any kind of warm-up before starting a gig?
If the temperature is cold then definitely. But I find the best warm-up for me is just being relaxed and in a good mood because none of the music is too difficult and I’m not too worried about making mistakes. Usually if I make a horrible mistake I find it funny, and people in the crowd will find it funny rather than…I don’t think it will ruin the song, unless I were ruin three whole minutes of the song but that hasn’t happened or that maybe happened once. So the best warm-up is just getting into it, kind a good friend of mine, I can just go and have fun.
How many time do you have for your family, how they can tolerate this lifestyle?
I guess they are very supportive and excited for me. And it works out that I’m maybe home half of the year or maybe a little less than half of the year, which is still quite a lot. I mean I live with my family so I see them more than a lot of people would see their families anyway.
What was your impression on the Brutal Assault two years ago, and now?
The first one that was by far the biggest show that I ever played in my life and then to have such a positive crowd response was amazing. This time, I kind of had high expectations as because I’ve done it before, I knew that everything’s great, the catering is great, the production and all the crew are really nice, but then isn’t exceeded my expectations this time. It’s an amazing festival.
I have seen the half-moon on your guitar tabulatures, on the CD’s and also on your guitar. Does it have any kind of specific meaning for you?
Not that I remember. I think the artist who did my first EP just put one on there on a whim and then I really liked it so it ended up being on the next album artwork, and then just became a sort of logo. I guess in a loose way I like space and planets, but nothing specific about that.
Your guitar tabs are available in different kinds of shops. Are you writing them on your own? How they were created?
That is a guy that works for Sheet Happens who published them all. I send all the individual parts to him and he transcribes and then sends to me and I make sure it’s all correct. It’s kinda crazy how good he is, like he knows which fret it will be in on which string even it’s the same note. He can usually get to that 95% right straight away, and then I make the changes, and that’s it. Sometimes he transcribe in a way that’s easier to play than the way I originally played it and I end up learning that.
You are running your own band from Sydney from Australia but you are also involved in Intervals from Canada. Where the relationship has been coming from?
I guess from the internet. We are both people who play guitar and write music and sort of in a similar way. We got to know each other just because of that like ‘hey man, your project is cool’, and then started chatting eventually Matt, and got along really well as people as well, and that’s how I kind of just crossed over.
Is it possible to make any kind of practicing together because you are living on the opposite side of the globe?
Before we did those couple of tours, we would get together for a day or two before the tour started, but I guess because the quality of the musicians we play with is just so good, that everyone learns their parts, and we just come together and everyone kind of logs in quite quickly.
So you don’t really need long practicing sessions or to train together.
No, I mean in an ideal world, we probably would have a week or something but usually the first show will be pretty good, the second shall be good and then from there it’s hopefully really good.
If I’m right then you are doing different kind of workshops during tours, but what about teaching?
Teaching…it’s something that I like doing…I’ve never done much regular teaching so having a student that I see every week or anything like that. When I’m on tour I really like meeting people who were working on similar things or interested in what I’m doing…it’s a fun thing to do.
Are you doing workshop now here in Budapest, or not at the moment?
No, this is the first tour in a while when I haven’t done anything and I actually really like, because I have more free time. So right now I would normally be doing a lesson and then going to be rushing to have dinner and play the show. It’s nice to have a little bit extra time.
What the music does mean for you?
That’s a big question! I don’t know…I guess it’s the one thing that I enjoy everything about. Like if I go to a restaurant, I’ll be listening too what’s happening in the music, or I’m going to go to a concert or I’m thinking about like how can I make this river into a song, or something like that. Just a kind of like a worldview.