Stir Humor into Darkness and You Get Poland’s Trupa Trupa
Following the release of Jolly New Songs, the third album from Polish band Trupa Trupa, we talked with lead vocalist Grzegorz Kwiatkowski about their beginnings, as well as their latest offering.
Trupa Trupa was formed in 2009 in Gdansk, a Polish city full of history, including Solidarity in the shipyard and events that led to collapse of Communism across Eastern Europe. Kwiatkowski admits that the band is deeply rooted in the environment. You may hear anxiety, restlessness and rawness in their psych-rock sound, however it’s also much more universal. Jolly New Songs can surprise you with a funky groove or Beatlesque melodies.
All of that is possible because when Trupa Trupa started playing together they quickly became friends, sharing the same musical interests, goals and sense of humor. Recording their second album, Headache, they also found their equivalent of George Martin, producer Michał Kupicz, who is responsible for the sound of Jolly New Songs as well. It was Headache that started them down the road to international recognition. Check the details in our interview.
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Tell me about your upbringing and how you were first introduced to music.
We all grew up all over the country, and even though only half of the band were born in Gdansk, we’re all deeply rooted in this town. We come from various backgrounds and environments. Outside the band, the three of us work with visual arts and I’m the only poet. Our own personal stories are to some extent disjointed, but each of us was always drawn to the honesty and purity of musical expression, in listening, education or initial songwriting experiences.
How did Trupa Trupa come together?
It took a little time to settle on the lineup, but when the four of us finally got together in the little garage, we knew that was it. Playing together felt so good that meeting for rehearsals quickly turned into friendship. We realized we shared more than we thought and understood one another better than anyone could expect.
How did the group arrive on their sound?
You couldn’t pick a main composer in Trupa Trupa. We bring simple ideas into the rehearsal room and within an hour or two we arrive at complex, multi-layer structures that are good enough to start refining them. When you look at our influences and interests, you might think it’s impossible for them to add up. There are few particular bands we all share the fascination with, but then again, we may argue forever about the importance of particular records. We’re thriving on synergy and inspiration. We take from one another and always manage to build something new on top of that. We never say no to a particular idea or sound without trying it first. We are not concerned with the sound of individual instruments or vocal lines; we treat the band as one solid sound emitter.
You could say that Headache was a breakthrough album for Trupa Trupa. What has it changed for you and how has it affected the process of writing and recording of Jolly New Songs?
On the inside, Headache changed the way we record. We decided to stay comfortable in our daily rehearsal room and we did not change it. We started working with Michal Kupicz, who became an equivalent of George Martin for our sound and couldn’t think of anyone else for Jolly New Songs. This time we had him in the studio throughout the recording process, which proved to be extremely fruitful.
On the outside, Headache gave us global exposure, made it possible to play gigs we otherwise would have never played, attracted lots of attention from the press and some from international audience. However, it didn’t even touch the essence of what we are as the band. It’s all about friendship and sharing emotions, not necessarily the most pleasant ones. Actually, we never stop composing; even though we completed the record, we’re still spending more time on trying new songs than practicing the material from Jolly New Songs.
What was your focus for Jolly New Songs?
For us, working on the new music is driven by creativity and intuition. We are not distracted with anything outside of it. We plan nothing, nor have a particular vision of a completed set. We obviously wanted the new record to be a step forward, but we didn’t anticipate anything. The record is growing slowly like a tree. To some extent, it’s an organic process, beyond individual control. We let the tree grow as long as we all agree it’s the time to capture it as a record.
Despite the anthemic sound of Jolly New Songs, you manage to bring some odd humor to this record. Was it hard to combine those two elements?
It’s all driven by who we are. We may appear dark and gloomy, but actually we never stop smiling. If you found yourself in the middle of our conversation, you probably wouldn’t find a gram of joyfulness in our exchanges, you might be even put off by our sense of humor, but this is what we are. It’s the energy combined with the pessimism. They don’t mix particularity well, but when you stir it hard enough, you get Trupa Trupa.
What’s next for Trupa Trupa?
Right now we’re set on the two French festivals we’re playing this weekend. It’s our first time there and we’re really looking forward to it. We’re planning the largest tour to date in winter of next year, first Europe, than probably the U.S. in summer.
Regardless of the plans related to Jolly News Songs, we’re already halfway through working on the new material. We’re feeling the good momentum, which we’d love to use for recording later this year so we can release the next record some time in 2019.
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