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THESIS: Sounds inside the head

From Warsaw, Poland, comes Thesis who impressed our crew with their atmospheric rock music full of fantasy and inspiration. You can find our review of their first album "Channel 1" here . Naturally we wanted to find out more about the band, and indeed guitar player Jerzy Rajkow-Krzywicki was willing to answer our questions.

Welcome to the band THESIS from Poland! Please, could you introduce yourself and your members?
Hello! We are called Thesis and we play psychedelic progressive post-rock. The band is a five-piece: Lukasz Krajewski on vocals, Jan Rajkow-Krzywicki on lead guitar, Jan Kaliszewski on bass, Pawel Stanikowski on drums and me (Jerzy Rajkow-Krzywicki).

When did you found the band and what kind of inspiration brought you all together?
Thesis was formed in early 2007 basically as a natural evolution from our previous band April Ethereal – we took ¾ of the line-up from AE and this was the core of early Thesis. The main reason for forming a new band was that our musical ideas and the artistic path we wanted to follow were so far from the music created at the time as April Ethereal, that we decided to abandon the old name and to close the AE chapter before starting a new one. The singer Lukasz Krajewski, once departed from Licorea, joined the remaining AE musicians and we started to create more psychedelic and less metal-alike music, so the need for a new name was obvious. There was really no inspirations to form the band, besides that we wanted to cut ourselves out from anything we’ve done previously and start with a “tabula rasa”. When we started jamming together, the music started immediately to form a distinct shape.

What exactly makes the difference between the former bands and Thesis now? In which way Thesis is a development of your musical cosmos, a next step on your creative way?
Our previous bands played heavier music :). When we learned to sing and to play well, we started to focus on songwriting and we started to play less heavy, less metal. Maybe we’re getting too old to bang our heads? I think that Thesis is the music we always wanted to make but we never met the right people and never were technically able to actually play the sounds that were inside of our heads. Then we grew older, we accumulated experience and we met the right people to start Thesis. Voilà.

Why did you name your band "Thesis" - has it to do with the Greek meaning (first track called "Persephona"...), the academic or the meaning in music like a strong beat?
We were looking for a name that will be simple to spell and will have no references to the metal scene – you know, no blood, no satan, no corpses etc. :) From countless ideas we have finally chosen the name Thesis, as it was short, simple to spell in English and in Polish, and was also not a straightforward name, but had a mysterious side. The “Persephona” track has nothing to do with the name of the band, but if you extrapolate the meaning, it’s more Thesis-the-Greek-meaning than the musical one. Actually, you are free to associate the name with anything you want, if you like.

You offer your debut album "Channel 1" as a free download on your website (www.thesisband.com). How are the reactions on this album and would you call it a successful idea to step into the "market" with a free release?
The reactions to the album are exclusively positive and enthusiastic, from the fans and also from the magazines and websites, which is giving us the energy to focus on writing even better music for the next release. We decided to release “Channel 1” as a free download on our site, but we’re also selling a collectors CD digipack, which features 5 unreleased unplugged live tracks. The idea was that we’re a new band, so we have to step out to the audience and offer them the easiest way to know our music, and then if people like it, they’ll come to our concerts and they will probably want sooner or later to own the physical release. A digital release is the best way to achieve that, and it’s a success, as the MP3 release was downloaded 1000 times in 6 months, and I’m sure that a lot of people copied those tracks to their friends and the friends of their friends, so the music is spreading like a virus. I’m sure that with the condition of the music market today it would be very difficult for us to reach the same audience the traditional way – by selling our CDs in stores and on the internet, without the huge marketing effort that is reserved only for big, well known bands. Who would like to buy our music without knowing what kind of band is Thesis. I mean, do you really think that 30 second samples on record-label’s sites are enough to make you buy the music?

Why is the album called "Channel 1"? What is the meaning?
This is Thesis’ first release, so we called it “Channel 1”. We don’t know yet if the second album will be called “Channel 2”, probably not, as Lukasz is writing a lyrical concept for the next album, but if we don’t find any better title, “Channel 2” will be just fine :). The idea was born when I was preparing the cover for this album and I took a photo of my guitar amp (this photo was later-on replaced by the actual cover, but it’s present inside the cover of the digipack release) – under the “bass, mid, treble” knobs was written “Channel 1”, as my amp is a two channel device. I thought that it’s a good title for the album, and the rest of the band members liked the idea. If you start thinking about it, this title reflects very well the contents of the album – it’s a strongly emotional music, and a channel is a mean to communicate, just like the music – our music is a way to communicate emotions, the album is a channel for our music.

Which kind of music from other bands come most close to you and your work? And what makes the difference between you and them?
We try not to compare our music to other bands, as it’s useless – when you start to write music, you want to express yourself, not to copy someone’s music, right? I’m sure there’s a lot of influences in our music, but we’re not aware of many of them as it’s not a thought-out process. We don’t start to write songs by saying “hey, let’s make a track that will sound like Porcupine Tree”. People who listened to our music said that you can find influences of Katatonia, Pink Floyd, Porcupine Tree, Anathema. Most of those bands are legends for us and we’re very proud of the fact, that people associate our sound with those great bands. What makes us different? Well, we’re Thesis, and we sound like Thesis. I think that the label “psychedelic progressive post-rock” describes very well our music – it’s a complex, very dense and very emotional sound. You have to be careful listening to our music and you have to pay attention to details, our songs are not based on a classic rock template – verse, chorus, verse, solo, chorus – the music flows and takes you in the direction you want to follow. You can focus on the rhythm or on the atmosphere, on the lyrics or on the different guitar sounds. Actually I think that we’re more psychedelic and more post-rock than progressive.

What could be your personal Top 10 albums ever?
It’s really a tough job to limit the list to only 10 albums, as it can vary over time. For now it would be: Tool “Aenima”, Opeth “Morningrise”, Pink Floyd “Animals”, Katatonia “Viva Emptiness”, Stabbing Westward “Ungod”, Radiohead “Hail to the Thief”, Mansun “Six”, Mainstream “Mainstream”, The Opposition “Empire Days”, Dodheimsgard “666 International”.

Is there for you a special Polish influence, feeling or impression inside of your music or would you call it absolutely "international"?
I think that every musical scene has its own characteristics, but it’s the same story as with influences – we are not aware of it. I think that if there’s an “English sound” or an “American sound”, there’s also a Polish sound. But, as Thesis’ vocalist Lukasz is singing in English, people can understand us all over the English-speaking world.

How is the situation in Poland for this kind of music you play, lets say progressive rock?
There’s a lot of very good bands, but it would be hard to call it a progressive scene. The times are tough for independent bands, and every band is trying to forge its way on their own. I’d really like to see more solidarity between bands, like it was in the nineties on the death metal scene. But I can see some good changes, new bands are trying to organise concerts and create some kind of a progressive or post-rock scene, which is good. I hope they will continue that way.

Could you name - from your point of view - the most interesting bands or musicians from Poland (beside your own band and yourself)?
The Calog – they play some kind of The Cure inspired rock, they’re very very good. . Furia – a raw and furious black metal sang in Polish.

You are from Warsaw... Let me ask you, would you recommend to visit your city, is it a good place to travel to? And is there a place where you feel most comfortable and which you could call a special one?
There’s a lot of interesting places to visit. The Old Ochota district is very close to Paris, from an architectural point of view. There’s also a district called Old Praga, which is recently a place chosen by artists to live, create and make exhibitions, happenings, etc. I personally like the Old Ochota district, maybe because I lived there for the past few years and it’s there that Thesis started. Lukasz recorded some of the first demo takes for Leaving Physical literally singing in my closet :). A special place is for sure our rehearsal room – we have colourful Christmas lights all over, a Tunisia flag, a 605 night bus plate and a lot of empty beer and vodka bottles in there.

How do you create your music and songwriting, how do you work together? Do you generally work as a team or does somebody write the music or the lyrics?
Most of our songs emerged from jamming and improvising around a riff or a rhythm. The music is the result of a teamwork, but the lyrics are exclusively written by Lukasz, our singer. Usually one of us comes with an idea, and then the band is developing this idea. When we’re stuck in place with a riff or a transition, we improvise and usually something comes out of this improvisation. Once finished, the songs are played live and during the rehearsals and often later we decide not to include them in our live set or on the record, because they don’t fit the atmosphere of the record or are in a different mood than the rest of our program. We’re lucky enough to have an excellent line-up, made of people who are very creative – sometimes even too creative :).

Do your lyrics contain a message to the listeners? Do they add a meaning to the music itself?
The lyrics are very important, we don’t consider vocals just as an additional instrument, there’s a message in the lyrics and, as I stated previously, the next Thesis release will probably be a lyrical concept album. The lyrics deal with emotions, different situations in which everyone can be put at a certain moment in his/her life.

Is the passion music able to feed your hungry stomachs ? Or do you have other, may be regular day jobs beside?
No, the music for now is only an expensive hobby and a passion for us. Every member has a full time job. We’d like one day to become professional musicians, but we’re also aware of the fact, that the music we’re making is not the one which is selling extremely well.

You search now for a label and a management - what are referred to this your plans and hopes for the future?
We’re actually only looking for a management and a concert agency, as we don’t need a recordlabel to distribute our music – the Internet offers unlimited ways to distribute our music. We have recently created a Bandcamp profile (http://thesis.bandcamp.com) – it’s a site that offers hosting for music, you upload the record in WAV format and they convert it to every imaginable format: MP3, AAC, FLAC, ALAC – compressed or uncompressed, lossy or looseless formats. Even iTunes don’t offer such a broad spectrum of formats. I think that what sells the music nowadays it’s the live performances, so with our full time jobs we need a management and a concert agency to take care of the contacts with the venues, the media, etc., because we don’t have enough free time to handle it ourselves. Our plans are to record the second Thesis album this year in my personal recording studio that I built in my house (it’s called Studio 9Hz) and then to play as much live as we can. The “Channel 1” promotion was basically limited to concerts in Poland, so the next step would be to play in Europe, maybe on some summer festivals in 2011 if we get lucky.

If you think about playing concerts or about arranging a tour in future - in which country or city would you mostly like to play? And with which other band you would enjoy a tour together?
I personally would like to tour with Cult of Luna or with the excellent Swiss band called Leech. As far as touring is concerned, we’re not very picky about venues, we’ll play in every club that has electricity, a fair PA and people who come to see bands playing live.

Thank you very much for the interview. Here is now the space for you to mention anything else what you would like to…
I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to introduce Thesis to Stalker Magazine readers and I’d like to invite all of you to listen to “Channel 1” and to visit our websites: www.thesisband.com, www.facebook.com/thesisband, http://thesis.bandcamp.com – leave your feedback, send us messages, invite us to play live in your town and spread the word about Thesis!

Author: Andreas Torneberg, photos: Thesis
Date: 2010-05-16

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