Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Chatting with Janek of The Ossis (PL)

Today, we start our series of interviews. Now and then, Music@PL.PT is to meet with Polish and Portuguese bands and have a little chat.

The opening honours go to the Polish band The Ossis and to their lead vocalist Janek Samolyk.

Music@PL.PT - To cut it short, who are the Ossis and how did it start?

Janek - The Ossis are Janek Samolyk (Wroclaw's guitarist, vocalist, and what's the most important - songwriter), bassman Przemek Nieciejewski from Gorzow Wielkopolski and drummer Szymon Cybulski.

The idea of the band started on a party, in Gorzow, that Przemek and I went to. There were some guitars in that place, and the two of us started jamming. Suddenly we found out that we had similar musical tastes, and promised each other, that if we studied in the same city, we would have band together. When Przemek started studying in Wroclaw, the group could start its history. We tried playing with some different people, but the only line-up that stayed for longer has been a trio with Szymon on drums.

..... and why ... The Ossis?

We tried several names. None of us had a fixed idea, we were only sure that the REAL band should have "The" as the first word just as some of our favourite groups (The Beatles, The Smiths or The Stranglers).
The word "ossis" came from an article on German comedy. It's said that the most popular jokes in Germany aren't about Poles anymore, but about Ossis which in German means "eastenders". It's meaning is associated with people who lived in Eastern Germany at the times of communism. I became interested in the ossis vs. wessis problems, and told the guys about it. We felt more at the side of the ossis than that of the wessis, and that's how it stood. Eastern Germans sometimes don't feel really as an important part of their own country and at the times of political transition, it seems a bit similar to the situation of some people in Poland.

The idea of the band getting together is quite interesting. Just imagining two persons meeting at a party, grabbing two guitars and jamming. Then the promise to start a band if they'd study on the same place.
You've been likened to the pop, indie-rock, or even punk scene. Your sound reflects, somehow, the blues, indie, pop, and even country music. How would you define your it?

We call our music indie rock and roll. The reasons are:
1. it is definitely independent,
2. classic rock and roll roots are more likely to be found in our music than in other indie bands that occured in Poland in the last years.
We never tried to play just in one style. We always wanted to play the best songs we can in the most interesting way we'd find. That's why you can hear in our songs some influences of swing, rockabilly, or just sexpistolish punk (although i don't see blues influences by myself). If indie doesn't mean just Interpol to you, but also The Jam, The Smiths, The La's or Blur, check out our music. I won't promise our songs are as good as theirs, but it's quite possible that you might like our music.

When I heard it for the first time, I liked it pretty much. Specially in concert !!!!!You've joined MySpace just like many bands today. Did you see any advantage? What is the feedback you get from those who get to know your music?

A friend of ours, Mary, had been a very big Myspace fan when it wasn't that popular as it is nowadays. She told us we should make ourselves a profile. It was a great idea, because it's a simple way not only to promote our tunes, but also to meet other bands. Some, I wouldn't probably hear until today, if not because of the internet. We put our songs and videos into it and people write us what they think about them. There's mainly fantastic feedback, which we didn't even expect. It's very motivating, especially in a country like ours, where it's hard to earn anything on playing music. You've got to struggle hard even to be able to rehearse.

You sing mainly in English. Is there any special reason for it? or it just started that way?

I don't plan which language I'll use to write a lyric to a tune. Writing a lyric mainly starts from one interesting or catchy sentence, and after writing it, the rest of the song can be written around it. I don't know why it happens, but more often these first ideas come to me in English. Maybe it's just easier to rhyme something in that language. Although there are many songs we do in Polish. My favourites are Koniec Roku, Tak Bardzo Nie Chce and Wroclaw, which is about living in my city. I'm quite proud of this one.

And what about the media. Any special interest shown so far? Local media, internet, university radios or local TV channels?

We don't have a proper studio recording yet, so it's hard to promote our music in radios. We have just some live recordings and home demos recorded mainly by myself in my tiny room. Our song Rush Hours was played several times on the internet and indeed university radios. The DJ's there don't resist themselves in playing unsigned bands, which helps a lot. Some local radios played our tunes already and we were quite amazed about how many people actually heard it. We were also guests on a TV programme about culture, which was broadcasted on the National TV. Many mates of ours from other sides of the country (who sometimes didn't even know that I was in a band) called me. That was nice. You can catch our apperance on youtube (you can see it after the interview)

It seems that all your concerts and internet has helped somehow to promote your name nevertheless. What about future plans? Any demo or EP to release? Or are you trying to play live as much as possible, to take your music to the people, and only then, think about releasing your debut album?

We will start recording a demo still this year. Now, we rehearse the songs as many times as possible. I think the tunes we've chosen will prove that we're a good band, one of the best on the Polish indie scene. We'll send it to the media and show it to as many persons as possible.

Will we release an album? I can't answer now, ask me one or two years later. I hope we will anyway.

Answer to the second part of your question is "yes". We always tried to play as many gigs as we could in as many places as possible. Since we started, we exist as a live act. If you want our band to play somewhere near you, and you are able to help organising a gig, just contact us.

I must say that I like the way you set your goals. Shooting for the best indie band won't be easy and can reveal itself, in the end, a bit disappointing. On the other hand, why shoot lower and come up with an average album that will be forgotten quite quickly, right?

We just want to perform the best songs we can write, in the best way we can play them. If we released an album it would be the best record we'd be able to record. That's just what i can promise.

Some time ago, you supported live, on a solo performance, the artist Graftmann. We've already talked about this but, is this a one time event, or can it be activated later on? Or become a side project anyhow?

I'm the only songwriter in The Ossis, but not the only one that makes the arrangements. I'm less interested in doing distorted rock songs than my bandmates. Often my own calm acoustic numbers were becoming something very different in The Ossis' versions. They weren't worse, but they were losing something.
Playing acoustic gives me the chance to perform the songs just as they have been written. The atmosphere of one-man performance is always unique. There's time to tell the audience about the song and about the stories hidden behind the lyrics. There's also a chance to play some covers or tunes of mine that The Ossis just wouldn't play for some reasons.
I've got plenty of material which I don't ever play in the band, so it's great to show it to people and see their reaction. I'm sure I will perform on my own again, but I can't concentrate on playing like that in near future. Now the band is the most important.

Regarding music in general, where do you see Polish music heading to? And what about all those new bands, trying to make their way out?

I've got no idea where Polish music is heading to. There are some good bands, but after Grzegorz Ciechowski died (the leader of Republika) mainly in the very underground. The new bands sometimes nick the style of one another band, who made it big in the West. I won't give you the names but there's definitely the Polish Interpol, the Polish Franz Ferdinand and the Polish typical britpop band. Sad to say, the word "Polish", has to mean "worse" here. Despite it all, there are some really special groups; one of them is for sure Iowa Super Soccer, who do not sound as any other Polish artist. What Scianka does isn't my favourite kind of expression, but I have to admit they're great musicans. They release records, so it's a great succes in a scene like ours.
It's hard for me to say how good my band is comparing to other young line-ups, but I can swear that we don't copy any famous band. Our style is variety and even if some songs might resemble one band or another sometimes, The Ossis isn't "Polish xxxxx" as some of the bands are; It's just Janek Samolyk's songs with the music of Janek, Przemek and Szymon.

Now two questions at once. Where can we expect to see The Ossis live next time?

We're preparing ourselves to record a demo so there aren't many gigs planned at the moment. We'll be playing in Jelenia Gora on the 8th of December in Sala Nova @ the Jeleniogorskie Centrum Kultury. If you're near, come and see us. We'll play some new material.

...... and what is it about Polish bands that love playing covers on their concerts?

I can't give you an answer for all the Polish bands, but it might be because they want the audience to have more fun at their gigs. It's easier to cause such reaction when people know the song well. We used to play a cover of Sex Pistol's song Seventeen. We dig punk rock, but couldn't ever write a good punk tune really. That's why we've borrowed this one from rotten & co. Probably we'll soon drop it and play No More Heroes by The Stranglers next time, because me and Przemek overdosed shouting ".... I'm a lazy sod.." all over again.
We mainly play our own material, but when the people really enjoy the show, we want to have more fun at the end of it also. That's when we improvise some covers, usually rock and roll tunes from the 50's or 60's, but once we even played Cotton Eyed-Joe by Rednex, so please don't spread the word, as we'd like to be taken seriously.


posted by SKL @ 12:03 PM  
Post a Comment
<< Home