Panychida: Infidel Interview #46
Paganism, spirituality, philosophy, and fantasy are all topics that interlatedly form a backbone for much of the lyrical imagery present in your guy's music. What has drawn you to this route of inspiration? And when it comes to exploring the mythology of your home, are their any tales in particular that resonate strongly with you guys?
Hello Matt, hello the Infidel readers! First of all I would like to thank you for interest and preparing this interview! Our lyrics are very important for us. As we strive to make an atmospheric music, a good lyric is the piece to complete the puzzle. Some bands underestimate this point, but we try to keep every part of our work as good as possible. All of us are fans of history. The above mentioned topics go with Panychida since the beginning, when the former singer wrote the lyrics based on history, mythology, fantasy. After he left, Honza, the guitarist took the part of the lyric writer. He is a cultural anthropologist with wide range of knowledge throughout human history, nations, cultures. It is easy then to pick up an interesting topic for a song lyric. So 90% of our lyrics are written by Honza. Sometimes our bass player Talič, which knows the dead orthodox Slavic language „Staroslověnština“ and it’s unique and mystic alphabet „Hlaholice“, writes a lyric in this language, picking up parts of Slavic mythology and religion (e.g. song O Orílě i Zmíji, Alatyri, or O Veliji Vězě). Yes, we’ve been picking up topics mainly from the old Slavic culture, our local one, but in every case. Sometimes we go a bit farther for a legend, or a historical event.
How do you enjoy where you live? Is their a vibrant music community for you to indulge? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
I will focus only on the metal scene, which is pretty huge in Czech Republic. Compared to Canada, we are a very small country (about 10 million residents) and we have hundreds, maybe thousands metal bands. Better ones or worse ones, it does not matter at this point. We have bands across all the various metal styles. We have lot of concerts and festivals being held, so yes – we are happy and we enjoy our lives here in this point of view (smile). As the scene is big and the „competition“ is strong, it forces everyone to do his best. Not to fight with others, but to improve himself. And this is one of the things which keep us on our feet, looking forward, improving any detail. What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?
Art means lot to us in general. „Earth without art is just Eh“ (smile). We are all metalheads since decades. We went through all styles of metal, beginning with some hard rock and heavy metal bands, thrash, black, death… And sure, it has an influence on us. E.g. for me and Honza, heavy metal and black metal are the most inspiring styles. Iron Maiden, Motörhead, Judas Priest, Running Wild, Accept, King Diamond…I think, you can hear some influences in our music, nevertheless it sounds more like black metal. The rhytmics, melodies, guitar riffs…it’s often just a bit hardened heavy metal (smile). From the old black metal giants, we’ve been struck by Darkthrone, Satyricon, Enslaved, Deströyer666, etc. Sure, there are also some other influences, for example I have been listening to classical music since my childhood and finally, on the new album Haereticalia, I dared to compose my own orchestral parts.
Incorporating traditional instruments into your music has always been an enjoyable aspect of your guy's music. Do you guys' find it difficult to mesh the harder and traditional sounds together, or does it work naturally with your music?
First of all, I would like to note, the METAL music is our primary product. The traditional instruments have always been just a cherry on the top of the cake. Just an aroma, without which the cake would still be good, but with it’s better (smile). We’ve never been struggling with embedding the traditional instruments in our metal music. Usually we build the skeleton of the song with drums, bass, guitars and then, listening…when we feel THIS is the spot, which needs an additional melody of bagpipes, flute, or a symphonic orchestra, I write the melody and we try out. Usually it works. Anyway, we do not want to sound silly, as many bands do, putting too much of the traditional instruments in metal. Then it quits to be metal, starts to be a pub „humppa“ dancing party with some metal guitars in the background. No – this is not our way (smile). When it comes to the imagery and lyrics present in the music, is it something that is worked upon as a group, or are there primary lyricists and imagery creators in the group?
Simply said, we have a primary lyricist – Honza (guitars). In the past, lyrics were written by the former singer. After he left the band, Honza took the part of lyric writer. Couple of lyrics were written by Talič (bass), Vlčák (vocals) or myself (guitar) (smile).
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically? What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
Definitely YES! I started to play accordion, when I was a little boy, 4 or 5 y.o. (can’t remember anymore). As I was growing up, I felt I need to create my own music, then I started to listen hard music and the dream of having a band came true one day. Music (Panychida or Mallephyr bands) or the UG metal festival PHANTOMS OF PILSEN, we organize, take 95% of my free private life besides my job. And my creativity comes in waves. Usually I have some creative seasons (months) and also some less creative. Sometimes it comes as emotional muse, sometimes logical… It depends on my actual mood and energy. I think Honza, the other Panychida’s composer has it the same. The biggest challenge for me? Well, anything done for the first time. First public performance in front of my class at the primary school, playing accordion. First public live concert of my first metal band when I was 18. Barely standing on my shaky feet, nervous as f*ck (smile).
You guys have managed to put out a good couple albums over the years. How would you say your sound has evolved? And what do you see yourself doing with your sound in the future?
All the albums, except the last one, the new one (Haereticalia), we have recorded in Hellsound studio (mixed and mastered by Honza Kapák). We have always been satisfied with the actual sound. Sure, as time went on, as the band evolved and grown up, so were our sound demands and standards. I think, the sound is better and better on every next album. We alwas had the luck to work with very talented sound engineers in their studios. The last album was recorded, mixed and mastered in KSV Studios Prague and the sound engineer Karel (Sheafraidh – drummer of Panychida) did a great job, in my opinion. Sure, it sounds completely different to the previous albums, also because the music changed a lot. And future? Who knows which way the music will go. We have some new material ready, so far it sounds more hard, more dark. We’ll see…and hear (smile) What would you say you guys identify still with the black metal scene? What are your thoughts on the current state of extreme music?
Yes, our music always had a touch of black metal. Sometimes more, sometimes less, so we can consider Panychida as a black metal band (smile). But not only black metal. We have lot more influences and it would be lie to say, we are „TRVE BM“. No, no (smile). The extreme music scene crumbles. In the past it used to be a solid rock of all people. I think nowadays it is being split to various sub-groups due to big differences in style (compare metal core and trve black metal), politics, „pop“ versus „underground“, etc. There is a huge boom of those (in my opinion) „pop metal“ bands, which became so famous, they lost their touch with reality. On the other side there are amateur bands, trying to fight their spot on the sun. These bands have their fans and the fans groups do not talk each to other. I feel a strange tension between these fans groups. Imagine – three metalheads meet up accidentally. One of them is a big fan of Sabaton, Korpiklaani and Nightwish. The other one is a great fan of Burzum, Nargaroth and Sargeist. The third one loves Haemorrgage, Agathocles and Napalm Death. The differences are so big, except black clothes and long hair, the guys have nothing in common, and what more – they don’t like each other. This is not 100% model of all. But you can meet such cases more often. Sounds sad, but logic (smile). What would you say would be you short term, and long term, goals for the band? Obviously you have many, but outline or describe some of the one's most important or crucial to you right now as a band?
I can say, we have already reached our goal. We have a stable and friendly band line-up. We release an album every 2 or 3 years, we go 1 or 2 tours per year, tens of concerts per year. We have fans, which welcome us warm anytime, we have lot of friends round the Europe and also on other continents. Basically, we are happy and grateful for what we have reached. So, the only goal we have is to keep going like that. We like the way we do it, we like to be part of the underground scene. We do not desire to play fancy pop metal festivals. We like the underground way. Anytime, we get our gear and asses in our van on any Friday to get to a distant venue, I am happy at that moment.
Since you are are a musical collective, I wanna ask, how do you all manage to get together musically, and then continue to stay together on the same page? Has it been a journey of compromise or do you find that you work together fluidly? Would you say there has been any major obstacles working together?
It have always been strange, but usually we are all on the same frequency. Whenever I or Honza bring a new song, the others like it without any complains. Sure, we discuss upon it and we finetune, but I don’t remember there was any fight what to publish or not. Our musical tastes are very similar and we are simply one minded organism. Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?
Yes, there is couple of such moments. For example Panychida’s first concert. For me it was a memorable event. That night the audience confirmed, the band has a sense and reason to exist. Our hometown fans base is very dedicated and they give us motivation to keep going. Also our first and second performance at Brutal Assault (one of the biggest metal festivals in Czech Republic), playing in front of thousands people, receiving good feedback, is one of such moments. Or anytime, I open our new album for the first time, browsing the booklet, holding the piece of plastic in my hands (smile).
When it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?
Our live shows are about music at all. No silly and fancy theater. We play loud, we headbang, we keep the contact with the audience, we communicate with them. We focus on the quality of playing, quality of sound (and therefore the equipment). Sure, visual thing is an essential part of the performance as well. As I said, we don’t overplay this, we just look as a metal band and we like it. We have a nice backdrop, we have a uniform concert t-shirts, we use our own fog machine, and that’s it. Wanna see a sample? Watch this video from a concert in Cuautla, Mexico: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6pwBakApME8 If you could play any anywhere, with anyone, in the world, dead or alive, who and where would it be?
This is a tricky question (smile). I’ve never been thinking about that. Sure, I have some idols, like Motörhead. But I can not imagine Panychida supporting Motörhead on a live gig. It simply would not fit together. So lets leave word „play“ and replace it with word „drink“, ok? Then it would be Lemmy Kilmister, Cliff Burton, Quorthon and Dimebag Darell (all R.I.P.). All the other living metal legends are either assholes, or are not interesting for me (laughing). In an industry that is driven by sales, and consumerism, what are your thoughts on digital downloads (legal and illegal)? Do you feel that streaming and digital download stores aid the accessibility of music? How bout music piracy? It obviously hurts sales in some regards, but it also boosts the access and distribution of the release which could lead to potential fans who do come to shows, buy physical copies of music, and get merchandise? Do you feel there would be enough turn around in that sort of system or are you firmly against file sharing?
This question is easy for us. We are not a metal legend, music is our hobby. We all have our own jobs, doing metal for fun. So, if someone downloads Panychida’s new album somewhere via Russian torrents, I don’t give a shit. At the end of the day, I am glad, he likes it and he spent some effort to find it and to download. Sure, if he bought the album, he would express much bigger support to the band and the label. We spent years and years practicing, playing live, composing, recording, improving, investing money in equipment and recording, … coz we like it. If anyone appreciates that, if anyone likes our music and supports us with buying a hard copy, or a legal digital version, we are happy for that. But we are happy also for positive comment from someone, who downloaded it „illegally“ (smile). Ok guys, whoever does NOT want to BUY the new CD, write me an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will send you a link with MP3s, photos, booklet, to download. Still better to get it from us in good quality and all included, then in a shitty quality with wrong tags from a Russian torrent, huh? We think, nobody can stop the evolution. Evolution runs everywhere, including the music industry. MCs are dead, CDs are dying, Vinyls are becoming „zombies“. We can not ignore the digital form of music sharing. We have our Bandcamp profile and we are happy about it. People buy our music online, supporting the band. We are the artists and we want to provide all possible ways, how to get our music, to make our fans’ lives easier (smile). How bout giving one strange or interesting insight about each member of the band to our audience?
Huh, funny question. Ok, I will try to figure out something not boring. Our drummer Karel „Sheafraidh“ Švejnoha is a very busy musician. Nobody understands, where does he take the energy and time. He has a normal job. And besides that he runs his own recording studio and he plays in bands Panychida, Trollech, Stíny Plamenů, Umbrtka, 1000 Bombs and couple of weeks ago he took the role of guest drummer in band Inferno and Laid to Waste. He’s got absolute hearing (when you play a note, he recognizes which one was that). He used to play cello in an orchestra for years. He is incredible. Our guitarist Honza – when we were on tour in Mexico, he accidentally fell on ground (slipped on beer spilled on the floor) and hurt his leg. It happened in the middle of the trip. So he was hobbling another week in Mexico for the rest of the tour. After coming back home, he went to doctor and x-ray. The result – broken knee-cap. The doctor was shocked, he lived 1 week without any knee support, walking, playing concerts. He’s indestructible.
Our bass player Talič has a master degree in physics, but in his private life he is interested in studying different languages, including old church slavic. That is why we have some of our songs sang in that ancient language, which almost noone can understand, written in that forgotten alphabet. It is a bit funny, that we publish these lyrics in our CDs’ booklets without any translation, so who does not know that language, has no chance to read it, haha. Check out this cut-out from the Woodland Journey EP:
Our singer Vlčák joined the band, when he was 15 years old. Before his parents agreed him to join the band, his mother was browsing the internet for all interviews, reviews, reports, videos, photos, to insist, who we are. After that she wanted to have an appointment. So we went to a café to have a chat and I was pretty nervous. She asked me questions, as if I was supposed to marry him, haha, funny. Finally it was ok and they let him join the band.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
It was pleasure to participate! Thank you for interest in Panychida band!
Friends, stay tuned and support the underground! Jump, climb, but do not crawl!
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