Greetings over there, Tamás. Thank you very much for taking your time to answer this interview. It has been about four years since the previous one and I hope all is well with you and Thy Catafalque. Speaking of it, I heard Sgùrr and I was speechless. What a stunning album. I have read that, for you, it was a struggle to write it compared to the previous ones. Could you tell us the reasons as well as how you overcame them? The not private matters, if there were any, as I do not want to be intrusive, of course.
Hey Markus. Thanks very much for your interest. Basically I was not satisfied with the songs, with the sound, with small bits and bigger pieces. Probably I am getting more fussy about things and I tend to be very critical about my own work. However, it might have been the same when recording the older albums and I just don’t remember.
I like how the album sounds darker, colder, but still keeping a trademark. You know that it is a Thy Catafalque album, although not simply a copy of the previous releases. There is an epic feel throughout the release, but not in a pompous, cheesy way. What were the main reasons for you to explore a more of an “obscure” sound, with no clean vocals and the “less direct” folk tunes?
The main reason was the departure of Attila Bakos who provided all the brilliant clean vocals on Róka Hasa Rádió and Rengeteg. So I needed to figure out how to keep on moving forward without his talen. I also felt the urge to be more experimental this time. Rengeteg was more or less a direct, accessible, folky metal album and I didn’t feel like I wanted to repeat that formula again. Still I’m not able to deny myself musically so the stuff I do will always sound like me, this is normal. It was a different approach though now with the same tools used. Yes, it’s colder, the subject matter was colder, yet it’s a bit odd as for example Alföldi Kozmosz definitely conveys a the home-like warmness with the violin.
In my humble opinion, Thy Catafalque (and Gire for that matter, at the time of its existence) is a highly creative band, which blends different styles and create something unique, with that interesting atmosphere, brought from your childhood, memories, the Central-European culture and folklore, as you have stated on our previous conversation. I would like to know how your mind works when creating your art. Is it planned, a conscious decision, or do you go with the flow? Are you in any way influenced, or better, directly influenced by the present aspects of your life?
Sure I am influenced by my everyday experiences, possibly even directly. But the thing is that wherever I am, whatever I do, my inherited culture will always shine through. I was raised and nurtured in Hungary, lived there for 33 years and even though currently I stay in the ever-lovely Scotland, my first home is Hungary and the second one is the United Kingdom.
I have stated several times my admiration for the Hungarian language. It sounds, to my ears, very beautiful, but yet mysterious and very hard to learn. Not to mention the Gaelic when as well, when it comes to the titles. Obviously this is a question that you answer many times, but, please, bear with me and the readers of this particular website… in Sgùrr, what were the main aspects covered by your lyrics? I am aware about the water and mountains as well as the interrelations between them, but I ask you to, please, give us a more insight about them.
Thank you. Hungarian is a unique language, indeed. Let me translate you the very first song of the album to summarize the whole material to a degree: “Matter is never silent. Like a soft dynamo, it drones. It has been carrying the pure, clean cadence in its droning passages for millions of years and whoever heard it once, will never forget what is sang by the mountains and what is sang by the waters.”.
When I listen to your music, for obvious reasons, I remember my stay in Hungary (and planning my next one). The times I was on the road, sitting in a small café eating langós and drinking wine from the Villány region, walking around Budapest, getting to know the small villages, it was simply majestic. As well as Makó, the interesting bus station, the different architecture of the thermal bath, very organic. And I think that you must have some really interesting childhood memories from the town as well as the nation, since you are deeply influenced by them, I believe. Could you share with us what you miss most about these days as well as the city? Some of the childhood memories that influenced your music in Thy Catafalque…
Oh man, it’s great to hear you travelled in Hungary and even in Makó. Well, the bus station and the bath along with some other prominent buildings in the town were designed by the same well-respected architect. They are relatively new venues, built only recently, they had been nowhere near in my childhood years but most of the town has not changed. In Róka Hasa Rádió there’s the song Űrhajók Makón translates as Spaceships in Makó. There are actual street names in the lyrics connected to my life there. I go back two-three times a year visiting my family and they are the ones I miss most. Makó has this sleepy, slow, peaceful vibe, slumbering in the Great Plains. The autumns, yes the autumns are what I miss, too. We have hellishly hot, full blown summers, I mean proper summers, too hot for me, fun for a while but not for four months. Autumns however are the best part of the year in my book and I do miss those Hungarian autumns. The rain, the leaves, the soft reds, yellows, browns, the late September sunny mornings and the October fogs. The early, November dark. How exciting, thrilling, adventurous that is. Autumn in countryside Hungary is like a coat on your soul. It’s safe and feels like home. You are safe to experience the wonders of those old, late months. God, I want to go home.
Besides being a very intense and powerful form of art, music is simply part of our lives as well. As it is said, it is the soundtrack of our lives. Do you feel a connection between you and the admirers of your music? And how do you feel about when you get to know that your music has helped people in difficult times? I can attest you that Thy Catafalque, among a few other members, helped me to cope with having to go through five surgical interventions because of a lung problem and had to stay in the hospital for about forty-five days this year.
Oh, I hope you got better by now. It’s always blissful to learn I could help for anyone in any way, thank you so much for telling me about that. It’s weird because I never think about that when creating music. It’s only about myself at those times, it’s as selfish process as it could be. When I receive positive responses I’m always pushed a bit forward though.
Still concerning some other aspects of you, as a human being and not the entity Thy Catafalque, I would like to ask you what other forms of art do you enjoy the most? Back to the Hungarian aspects, sorry for being too repetitive when it comes to this, but I simply love the country, do you enjoy the cinema produced in your native land? Lately I have been watching many of the Béla Tarr’s movies and I think he is a genius.
Surely he is, I do agree with you. I love a bunch of Hungarian movies chiefly from the early 90s. Quality has gone a bit lower recently, I have seen a number of disappointing pieces in the last couple of years but I’m far from being an expert and I miss out most of the films so I shouldn’t really comment on this.
Now back to the album and a standard question. I believe that Sgùrr is a complex album that should be heard with attention to be able to be fully enjoyed. Having that in mind, what are your expectations for it? Do you think that with this release there might be new Thy Catafalque fans? I am sure trying to promote it, even with the little amount of power my website has, if any, as a matter of fact. Do you see yourself creating music outside Thy Catafalque?
Thanks very much for that! This album might be more exposed to the general music scene than the previous ones, Season Of Mist are trying their best promoting it but I don’t have expectations about that. It’s not primarily important in creative aspect. And luckily I don’t need to consider the expectations of the audience either, I just have to focus on composing music. Right now it’s only Thy Catafalque for me but you never know what happens tomorrow.
Related to the previous question, in a way, do you think that, nowadays, people take music for granted? Maybe not really for granted, but rather not giving its well-deserved recognition? I say this because everything is in a click away. Of course, this can bring a larger audience, but also many people listen to a few seconds of music and skip to another page because he/ she did not take the proper time to enjoy the songs.
Yep, you can’t do anything about that. The world is getting faster every day. You can complain rightfully but there’s no point. On the other hand I don’t need to consider this again. I make time for myself for creating music and for listening to music, the rest is not my business. Everyone has their own ways.
Still about music, I am aware that you have an eclectic taste. Could you tell us some of your main favourite artists, not only concerning metal music, but concerning especially other genres, such as jazz, classical or any other style that you like listening to.
I love baroque, serialism, holy minimalism like Arvo Part. Talking about jazz, Miles Davies, Pekka Pohjola, Richard Bona, loads of old electronic music, early Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno, Klaus Schulze. Nick Cave, Sixteen Horsepower, Gotan Project, Madrugada, even Depeche Mode.
Tamás, one more time thank you very much for the answers and patience. Sorry about the longish questions! No matter what, I hope you have enjoyed it and so the readers. All the best in your personal and professional plans. Do you have any last words for us?
Thanks very much, Markus. It has been a pleasure. I wish you all the best for the future.
October 17, 2015