Before releasing your debut, you were influenced by multiple musical styles. Which were load bearing?
We absorbed them consciously so as not to become numb. However, the basis was blues, to which reggae was added. Once you touch the blues, you stay with it forever. But reggae has a completely different atmosphere. Not that we were playing classic reggae, but the feeling in the songs was no longer so strictly bluesy.
Why was your first album released seven years after the formation of the band?
We would have been able to release one, maybe two records earlier, we had enough songs. But we were going through development. In the beginning we played psychedelia. During the concerts, we had a luminescent image on the stage, we used our own light park, stroboscope and the like. We had two guitars and a keyboard player.
Then we remained four, and thus our repertoire and sound began to change. Three instruments plus a singer cannot offer the kind of sound variety that psychedelia required and that we would like. At three, it’s already true, so to speak. Either there’s an idea in the music or it’s not. And since the best ideas usually come like a bolt from the blue, there was no point in looking for them. We were waiting for them.
In the age we were in then, musicians tend to be in peak inventive form. Although they don’t know so many songwriting gimmicks and procedures, but because of that, something original can easily come out of it. That was our case. We always built on what we were excited about and what we were listening to. To this we added our invention and the feeling of how it should look.
Some sources say the Box album was released in 1982, others say a year later. how was it
We recorded it in the fall of 1982, and it was released in the spring of 1983.
What was the path to its implementation?
The Panton label released singles for us, but he didn’t want to put them on the album. Aleš Sigmund, its editor, always found a reason not to publish it yet. In addition, he cared more about the group Progres 2, which were Brno and he was personally familiar with them.
But then we got in touch with František Horáček, the editor of the music magazine Melodie, and he helped us push Panton a little. He also came up with the idea that it would be good to record something at Czechoslovak Radio, where Petr Hannig had it under his thumb. I went to Tom sometimes to record his songs, so we talked and he helped us too.
He also helped us with the text committee, which made sure that so-called objectionable texts did not reach the public. She was biased against us, but Petr was a friend of Václav Hons, who had a major say in the commission. So we managed to break through and in the end Panton gave the nod to our first album.
Some did a little, but it wasn’t that bad. And not everything we redid, we then recorded.
Later, you collaborated with Eduard Krečmar, who wrote lyrics for the top pop stars of the time. Was he a guarantee that you didn’t have a problem with the lyrics?
It is true that people from the industry advised us to hire renowned lyricists for the lyrics. They had confidence and were indeed a certain guarantee that the text would pass the commission. In addition, Eduard Krečmar writes the text for all genres, and he does it in ten minutes. He is one of the great lyricists on the Czech scene.
Before the release of the Box album, in addition to you, the band consisted of singer Miroslav Imrich, bassist Michal Ditrich and drummer Ivan Pelíšek. How did you get involved in the music?
Mirek and I composed mainly. Michal also carried something, but his compositions had maybe ten parts, so I had to cut it down a bit for him. Some musical ideas or even songs arose spontaneously during rehearsals. At that time, we liked to rehearse because we enjoyed it.
Which song from Box do you like the most?
It’s probably different every day. At the beginning of it is a talking box, a voice effect that was unusual at the time. That song is based on rock and roll, but it is conceived in our style. At the moment, our most played song on the radio is the World, but before it, according to the statistics of the Author’s Protection Association, it was Every day it’s different.
Was there a lot of interest in the album?
Twenty thousand copies were published in the first edition. They were sold out in three days, so another twenty thousand were released, and then again. Subsequently, however, Panton no longer wanted to publish the album, because in March 1983 Tribuna magazine published an article Nová vlna with old content, which was directed against the bands of the time playing the so-called new wave.
But you weren’t named in it?
They weren’t and I still don’t understand why. I can imagine that our record is already out, and if we appeared in that article, it would prove that the comrades had made a mistake. But after its release, we felt a pressure that we didn’t know much about. When we arrived at the concert, a secretary came to us and said that the comrade director of the cultural facility would like to speak with us.
And Comrade Director told us that if we don’t keep order during the performance, he will be the first to send a complaint against us. The postscript followed: And you know what that means.
It meant a ban on playing in a certain region or in several places. I remember that during the following years we were banned from playing in the North Bohemian region, the Bruntál district and in Prague 9.
Was there anything positive about that time?
It was very inspiring because new music was constantly being created. It was literally a rapid development. It didn’t stop until sometime in the nineties, since then it’s just been chewing on what was already there.
It was formed in 1976 on the ruins of the Prague band Abraam. In the first phase, he worked until 1988, then returned in 1994. In the eighties, he released the albums Box (1983), Manéž (1984) and Šťastnej blázen (1986). After 1994, the albums Sado-Maso (1996), Ritual (2000), Už je to jedno (2007), Head in the Clouds (2009) and Klid! (2015).
Currently, Slávek Janda (vocals, guitar), Ivan Doležálek (bass guitar) and Eduard Štěpánek (drums) play in the band.
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