01– Thank you very much for taking your time to answer the MetalCast Show interview. I’m very happy to interview one of the bands I enjoy the most. Please, introduce yourself to our readers.
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – Let me thank you for your interest in Thy Catafalque first. I am Tamás Kátai. I’m from Hungary, however I have been living in Edinburgh, Scotland since for the fourth year now. Thy Catafalque were born In 1998 by the will of János Juhász and me back in our wee hometown, Makó. Currently I am the only “official” member in TC, János could not contribute to the new album in any way. Some guest musicians do appear though.
02 – Let’s talk about Thy Catafalque’s latest album, Rengeteg, to be released this year, 2011. How has been the recording work so far? Also when will we be able to hear a sample, and most important, do you have a scheduled release date for Rengeteg itself?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – Yes, the album will be out on 11 November, 2011 inEurope and 10 January, 2012 in North-America, both by Season Of Mist. I guess Season Of Mist will make one track public around October, that’s the plan.
The recording of the album was the same as always. I work at home, not any studio has ever been involved in any of the Thy Catafalque albums so far. By now I can handle the whole process much efficiently than in the beginning and I am able to produce the album totally independently from the first note to the master CD. I have only a common desktop PC, a £40 mixing device, a seven-string Ibanez, a Korg N5 synth and an old mic, that’s all.
The recording, mixing, mastering of the current album took about two years or a bit less, working on it besides my every-day job, whenever I had enough time and energy left. Really just sitting at home and putting things here and there until all the things fitted together. This is the method that works for me, I couldn’t do all this huge effort in a studio, no way I could have afforded it and I don’t need the hassle either. On the other hand this is not a traditional metal band with rehearsals, gigs and all this rock and roll stuff. It’s just me writing and recording music with the great help of some other musician friends online.
03 – Still on Rengeteg, what can you tell us about it so far? And music wise how is it comparable to the previous Thy Catafalque’s releases?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – Well, as this time I was playing all the guitars, it has to be a bit different in that aspect. It’s pretty tough to have a clean and objective view of the music I have been drowned in in the last two years. I would say this one is more heavy, more metal and less experimental this time. Of course there are loads of strange things and untraditional arrangements scattered around where needed, and the atmosphere is diverse enough, but all in all I feel this album more straight and well, metal. Even though it’s a bit awkward word to describe TC. Guitars are thick, deep and heavy, that’s for sure for one.
04 – The band has released videos for the previous releases. How important are videos for the band and also, can we expect a video or videos for Rengeteg?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – Don’t know yet. All the videos have been made by me so far (with the exception of the very last one, which was a co-operation), so it’s up to me, I assume. It only depends if I am able to create something worthy this time. It’s definitely fun to make videos, I enjoy working with them.
05 – If you can already answer this, do you know if there will be a limited edition of Rengeteg as well as vinyl’s? Being a collector and knowing quite a few more, I’m sure there are some people very interested on your answer.
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – There will be a digipak edition coming out first, and then a normal jewel-case edition as far as I know. Season Of Mist have their right and capability of pressing vinyl version of Rengeteg as well but I still don’t know if they have such intention. It will turn out.
06 – By reading Rengeteg song titles, we’ll have another album with lyrics in Hungarian. I personally find it a very beautiful language. Why do you choose writing the lyrics in Hungarian, your national idiom? Is it a matter of feeling more comfortable or do you feel that the messages on the music are more aimed to the Hungarian people, or something else? 😉
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – The answer is so obvious. This is my mother tongue, my native language. The first two albums were in English and I just didn’t feel comfortable with the lyrics. I didn’t feel that I was able to express myself the way I wanted to. It was just so fake in a sense. To translate my words into another language, even if they are improper, even if they are awkward and unnatural. I mean I can speak English, but never will be able to reveal my thoughts as deeply, clearly and naturally in any other language than my native tongue, neither in content, nor in the form. I do believe that no one is able. Why to do it then? It simply won’t be the same. And then I decided that I didn’t care about it anymore, not with Thy Catafalque. And I am happy with the Hungarian words, that’s the way this music works, they belong together.
07 – Connected to the previous question, how important are the lyrics for you? Could you explain to us what are the concepts and meanings behind Thy Catafalque’s music?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – It’s not the lyrics themselves, but the overall atmosphere. The lyrics are a part of it together with the music and the artwork. They walk hand by hand. I can’t really explain the concept, if there is such. It’s just a vision in my head I try to materialize, feeding from my childhood, my memories, our Central-European culture and folklore. It has its old, ancient roots and the will of exploration as well.
Now, the title of the upcoming album is Rengeteg which means a vast, trackless forest in a kind of obsolete Hungarian. The forest is an antidote to our fast-food society with its own life-system, living by its own natural rhythm, wasting nothing while holding our whole history and common culture inside itself. It also symbolizes the mystery, the unknown, the darkness to be lost in.
08 – About avant-garde metal. Nowadays I’ve been sensing that we have many, many new avant-garde/ experimental metal bands. Do you enjoy listening to Avant-garde metal yourself and also, how do you feel about bands that play “weird music” just for the sake of playing “weird music”?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – Honestly, I don’t really listen to this scene. I love Arcturus and all the first avant-garde metal bands and welcome everyone with untraditional musical approaches, it’s always worth a listen, but that’s not the main point for me. I love music and don’t give a damn about what kind of music it is as long as it presses the right keys in my mind or heart if I can say so. It might be classical music (as it’s quite usual recently with me), the most traditional rock, whatever metal to experimental electronic stuff or folklore music. Some of them work for me, some of them not, but it’s never about the formula and the so-called avant-gardism is only a formula in most cases. And yes, loads of these bands are playing strange things on strange things without any content. The form should be a tool and not a purpose. They can be entertaining for a while though, but without real depth in the end of the day they are only gimcrackery, or a cheap ride at best.
09 – Musically and lyrically speaking which works have, in some sort of way, influenced Thy Catafalque?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – In the beginning we were an epic, almost traditional black metal band with lots of keyboards, so such bands were obviously an influence. At that time there was a certain creative buzz in that scene, lots of band were in their prime time. Later all other kinds of metal and non-metal have had their marks on our music. It’s really too many to start as I listen to an almost perversely wide range of music.
Lyrically however I am clearly influenced by 20th century Hungarian literature, I have nothing to do with metal themes and topics. Honestly I find most of the lyrics in metal plain stupid, they are just not my cup of tea. Of course there are exceptions here and there, but the vast majority is crap. Saying nothing to me at least.
10 – Thy Catafalque is signed now to a very well known label, Season of Mist. Please, tell us how this happened and also, are you satisfied with Season of Mist far?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – After finishing the mastering I sent the whole album to a number of labels and among others Season Of Mist offered a contract. They liked it and decided to release it. And that’s it, this is how it went, sort of simple way. It’s a genuinely new experience for me, to belong to a major label together with bands like Mayhem, Morbid Angel, Solstafir, SepticFlesh, Samael, Cynic, Atheist and such huge names. You know, this is an album done by myself at home in my one-room rented flat in my spare time for not a single penny and to be in the same roster as those massive productions is kind of unbelievable and dreadful at the same time. But Season Of Mist works really professionally, I could not be more satisfied with how they operate. I feel very well-treated and counted on.
11 – Now that we got some new people enjoying your music and views ;-), which Thy Catafalque’s album they should start with?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – You should skip the first two albums, there are some interesting things here and there, but they are still lost in searching and buried by the weak production. Get back to them after you discovered the last two records, Tűnő Idő Tárlat (2004) and Róka Hasa Rádió (2009). They are both OK, I like them.
12 – Two questions about your other bands/ projects: Is “Kátai Tamás”, the ambient Project, ever going to release a new album? And will we be able to ever listen to something new by Gire or Gort?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – All right, it’s something I need to clear up. In Hungarian language, surnames come first and first names come after, so my first name is Tamás, while my surname is Kátai. So my name in English is Tamás Kátai, in Hungarian Kátai Tamás. It’s two versions of the very same name. My solo album entitled Erika Szobája was released in 2006 by Ars Benevola Mater under my name, it was Tamás Kátai internationally. In Hungary it’s Kátai Tamás. I don’t know if any new releases will come out under my name again as Thy Catafalque is practically my own vision as well. Don’t know, really.
Gire is not active now, we live too far from each other, which is a shame, but it simply doesn’t work that way. We want to keep on, at least I surely do and the other guys as well, but it is impossible currently logistically.
Gort was the actual predecessor of Thy Catafalque.
13 – How do you feel the Hungarian underground scene nowadays? I know you’re in Scotland now, but do you feel that there are new bands? Are there bands that can honour the glorious Hungarian metal past?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – Is there a glorious Hungarian metal past? Most foreign metalheads know only Tormentor, possibly Pokolgép from the Hungarian metal past. Currently we have good bands in the metal scene that I like, but it’s not as strong as it should be. I have to mention Tyrant Goatgaldrakona, Mörbid Carnage, Watch My Dying, but look out for VHK if you want something groundbreaking! Really, please listen to VHK! That’s Hungarian music.
14 – This is a question I always ask the musicians I interview: a lot of musicians complain about illegal downloads and state that they harm the bands. What is your view concerning this matter? Do you believe that illegal downloads indeed harm the metal bands, especially underground ones?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – Well, I was the first one the upload my albums to Rapidshare. For me it was a great help, at this level it’s a blessing for unknown bands to get some people listening to their music and prevent it going down unnoticed. It gives you some feedback, recognition and thus motivation. And it might lead you also to a big label, who knows?
Now, on the other hand on the next level you lose money because of the illegal downloads, but by now it has become a general rule, that bands have to go on stage to earn money. CD selling has become an additional income. However in the case of Thy Catafalque it’s a studio project thing, we don’t plan to have any gigs, we can’t even organize a rehearsal, because we live like 2000 kilometers away from each other.
I’m now at a major label, I can’t upload my albums anymore, it would not be fair and square towards the label that puts loads of money into the release and it wouldn’t be legal either. Or clever. I’m not alone in this game anymore.
15 – Well, again I’d like to thank you very much for your time as well as your answers. I’d also like to wish you and the band the best. Do you have any last words for our listeners?
Thy Catafalque/ Tamás – Thank you the possibility, Marcus! I hope you’ll enjoy the upcoming album. I wish you all the best in your activities!April 14, 2014