Interview with After Crying
- Would you please tell our members something about who is After Crying.
First of all After Crying is a spiritual being, a person above all of us every member of the band. After Crying is a creative community of close friends, a way of life, a way of thinking, a way of music and art... The Story of After Crying can be found on the Official After Crying Site, www.aftercrying.com
- Who are you and how did you get interested in progressive rock? What do you usually do for a living?
Actually, we got and we’ve been getting interested in a vast of things in life, material and spiritual things, in theoretic and practical ways, but to be honest we’ve never been particularly interested in anything called progressive. We can’t understand what we should mean by the word "progressive".
We think that e.g. a train or a tram can progress, if it has a definite destination. We simply cannot see how music could ever progress to anywhere. As one of our favorite philosopher, Gilbert Keith Chesterton said: "Progress is a comparative of which we have not settled the superlative." In other words, it is a train going nowhere, just going for the sake of mere going, and we think that is crazy. It’s an important issue and serious problem of our times, because as we see, people of modern world are suffering a lot from this unreasonable urge or pressure of progress and evolution. That crazy theory of Evolution made man want to be more and more of a slave to progress and a crazy competition. So we say stop this senseless competition, this cruel marching to nowhere, we say a Big No to all such ideas.
Among other exciting thing in human life, we are interested in music, but not in categories, styles, genres, trends, etc.
We are the "homo ludens", creative and thinking people, and a very close community of people for whom friendship is very-very important. In the same time we all are professionals, I mean each of us do the same type activities (among others of course) for a living beside After Crying, as in After Crying for mostly passion or instead as a kind of vocation, a commitment.
We do productions commissioned on business base in the fields of music, culture, politics or sociology, or just healthcare. The main technical master, sound-engineer, narrator, one of the lyricists in the band, Egervári Gábor in these days translates manuals and literature for a new medical technology and device, while he does the live sound for other bands as well. Each of us does many different things just like in the band. Winkler Balázs plays in ensembles, writes music for plays, teaches young trumpet players. Torma Ferenc just built a house with his own hands, now he can return to play the guitar and write music for other production beside AC. Pejtsik Péter writes and orchestrates music, executes complete productions for other performers, he plays with other musicians, and he just started to write for a magazine and teach sound-design programming in a school. Görgényi Tamás (myself) writes lyrics for other performers, and works out dramaturgy for other productions, projects, writes articles for papers, and works in the field of marketing and political communication.
Lengyel Zoltán is staying in Barcelona at this very moment, giving piano concerts, Madai Zsolt teaches young drummers and plays in different formations, Bátky Zoltán sings with another band as well, and he works in the field of marketing.
We, the creative score (five member) of After Crying, just begun to work a music for the famous play "Cyrano de Bergerac". So we have a lot of g job to do.
- What is your academic background?
Everybody in the band classical music, some of us did it on their own and from private teachers, others at different schools. Winkler Balázs and Lengyel Zoltán graduated at Music Academy, Madai Zsolt at Jazz Academy, Pejtsik graduated at Conservatory and started to go to the Academy but he left it because of After Crying. Our guitarist, Torma Ferenc went to the musical division of a Teachers College.
- Nowadays almost everybody has his or her own definition of progressive rock. What does progressive rock mean to you?
For one thing, it means a lot of great, openhearted people with shiny eyes standing or sitting in front of us and listening to the music and the words, and some very intelligent and committed guys who make the impossible yet possible organizing festivals, publishing recordings, and issuing magazines, writing reviews – and they are doing it mostly for nothing. The word progressive means this little but strong community of people around the world.
On the other hand progressive means in our book a kind of frustration in music.
Our great foregoers, ELP and King Crimson are mentioned under the same label progressive. They weren’t happy with that term in the beginning, but finally they got tired of arguing and accepted it.
Still, we don’t put them on the list. We put them on another shelter of music, where you can find Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Bartók… and others. So we consider these two bands, and the determinant members of them, as the contemporary giants of classical music.
We respect a lot of other musicians, performers and bands in different fields of the contemporary scene, we learn a lot form many different old and new schools, classical, rock, jazz, prog, pop, techno, etc…
Rock as a communication, as an international or global if you like common language was always very important for us. We need a common language if we went to communicate people. We think that rock is the most common language of our times. It is far from a perfect language, it is not an "undefiled spring like traditional folk. But it is alive. It is the present folk of metropolises, the folk of the Globevillage, we are all living in today, as we call it Technopolis.
- Is After Crying a progressive rock band?
If the audience want to call After Crying a progressive band, it’s okay, we accept is. But we don’t consider ourselves as a progressive band. We consider After Crying in the musical field as a contemporary band and ensemble. We don’t need other special categories. We think Music is one indivisible thing. To walk and to progress are two different things. We like to walk day bay day in life, as it comes, or stand still, take a few steps back, or just lie down and see around, enjoy the view. So we definitely never want to progress.
- We noticed than until 1994 the EL&P influence was bigger than the King Crimson one but, when Vedres Csaba left the band, the infuence of King Crimson becomes bigger, can you explain us why?
It’s interesting, because many people say the very inverse of that. In fact, nothing essential has changed at all in our mind about King Crimson and Emerson Lake and Palmer for the last twenty-five years, and we always respect both of these giants of music. Our approach is very similar to their or what they show to have; we like to use the language they used or use, because they were our most important teachers or mentors in music from the contemporary field. There is no any conscious tendency in reflecting their influences in our music; it’s coming spontaneously every time. Vedres respects King Crimson and ELP as much as we do.
- Which is the influence of the classical music composer, Bela Bartók in AC music?.
It’s difficult to put it in words. Bartók is the greatest Hungarian composer ever. He is our composer, his music is Hungarian, Eastern and Western, new and classic at the same time. Eastern- and South-European folk was for Him something like rock in our time. He knew that you need a live common language if you want to communicate to people. In his times, there were no drum kit, electric and bass guitar, and synthesizer. However, we believe, he would have used them if he had them.
- How have you been able to overcome the constant changes in the band?
As a matter of fact, there weren’t so much essential changes in the core of the band, and looking back only that's what matters. If you go through all the covers, you will find the following names Egervári, Görgényi, Pejtsik, Winkler on all of them, and Torma was already a member in the third album, beside he played with After Crying in some show long before that, not to mention the pre After Crying bands of ours. It’s true that in the early years Csaba Vedres was the main composer and the band-leader in a certain sense, but from other aspects After Crying is now and was always like a person above all the members of it. And the determinant members were always around in some way, and indeed were somehow always determinant.
- In the year 2000, you played an awesome cover of King Crimson’s "Starless" with John Wetton. How was this experience?
We actually played with him two times, at two festivals in Budapest. First time we played "Starless", it is released on our live single and double versions of "Struggle For Life", the other piece was "Night Watch". Both of them was a great experience, it’s hard to describe the feeling when you stand on the stage together with one of the biggest heroes of your youth, and play with him together one of the song of your life. Especially when you’re a Hungarian guy, who had lived his first 25 years behind the Iron Curtain, under the Bolshevist Régime, where ELP and King Crimson never toured.
We ran into him in Mexicali at BajaProg 2000 as well, but that time we didn’t play together. Though, we stood in the cold rain together at the US border because US authorities didn’t let the Mexican bus into their fancy country, it was a funny story after all. He is an extraordinary singer, a great musician and a great guy, even if he is not a big talker, if you know what I mean.
- In the year 2002, your lead singer Légrádi Gábor left the band due to his family duties. How do you feel with your new singer Bátky Zoltán?
In the autumn of 2003 we were looking for a new singer for our upcoming gigs, and an old friend, Szabó Ferenc, who was the drummer on our previous studio album, "6", said that he knew a perfect singer for us. He was Bátky Zoltán. Zoltán knew and respected After Crying, in fact, he had already signed up to our e-mail community called HUMANET, as a supporter member. He was happy when we called him, and when he came to the first rehearsal and started to sing the first song of the actual set we suddenly felt that we just founded the very singer of After Crying. After one rehearsal in English, he debuted in After Crying in the "Spirit of 66" in Verviers, Belgium. It was a breathtaking entry. Audience bought him right away, so did they in Hungary later on. He can sing anything, indeed, he sung many songs from the old pieces already last autumn and this year. He create the tune of the verse in NWC. We gave them a lyrics saying, let’s hear something, man. And he started to sing it with almost the exact tune as you can hear on the CD. He inspired us in other compositions in different ways, he has a great voice, he is a real front singer, and a genuine performer.
- How is your composing method? Does somebody brings in an idea and the "band" works on it together or are the songs mostly finished when somebody brings them in to the band?
We made "De Profundis" and "After Crying 6" and "After Crying Show" with the same method. Görgényi Tamás collects half-completed materials, tunes, music-fragments, ideas from Pejtsik, Winkler and Torma. Görgényi selected the materials or parts, which suggested him the concept of the new album. Music of After Crying Show was selected from about 400 minutes of material made by Pejtsik, Winkler, and Torma. Görgényi worked out the concept and put the uncompleted pieces in order. Then all the five members started to form the stuff. One cuts a part from here, another puts a bar there with the approval of the guy who brought the original idea. Some pieces, parts, ideas had been finally replaced with older or newer ones. The composers started to elaborate those parts, which are accepted as final versions by the creative core. Everyone suggested changes in the score or lyrics, and brought up musical ideas or words.
The point is that every note and every word have to be finally accepted by the creative core.
- After Crying performs highly complex and intricate music. After six years without recording on studio we feel a big change on your new record, Show. What are the reasons of this musical change you experienced on it?
I can’t tell you anything special, because we don’t see so much of changes, especially not musical changes. Besides, it is a collective thing, not the private matter of our composers. In the sense we are composers to compose is a profession just like to work out lyrics. The essential thing is our collective philosophy and taste, which determine what and how the composers have to compose. The whole thing is not about self-expression. That is something neither of us is interested in.
Obviously or hopefully, we’ve become a bit more matured, maybe wiser since the last studio album. We took up some more skill in our profession, but as we see, with this album we just went on taking one more step ahead on the path we have been going from the beginning. We were willing to pick up the actual glove again and try to find some valuable elements in the modern styles and sounds, because we think that every man has to learn to live in the world he was born into, trying to make it a tiny bit better. But you can’t make it any better if you just deny it and don’t bother yourself to try and understand it to some extent.
- Which is the concept and/or the history of Show?
It’s quite complex, but I try to throw some light on this matter. After Crying is was never about only music for music. I mean we never play music for the sake of music. We were never interested in l’art pour l’art, because we think that art as such is just a communication channel even when its aim is to make people delight in something. We usually want to make people think about the final questions, the meaning of human life and meet deep emotions so they can reach some kind of catharsis by the end of a concert or an album. In this situation – after six years of not making any studio album – we had tons of materials, and we had the rough conception or outlines for a new album two years before the recordings. It was about Technopolis, the huge globevillage that symbolizes actually our planet as one big city, a giant creature with some kind of personality, a She. Allures and tempts you, then kills you. She is like a demon without her own freewill. And she is dying, just like the whole western civilization is dying. As it is usual with After Crying albums, this theme again is coming from the Bible, where you can read about Babylon, the scarlet woman. And we see that in this big dying city a big final show is going on in these days, you can call it the Dance of Death. (From a certain point of view, you can see that this process of dying has started with the very recovery of America, the New World.) Now, we have to live in this dying world, which seems to be attractive and disgusting, wonderful and ugly, impressive and boring, miserable and dreadful at the same time. But we have a strong belief in another type of new world, which is actually older than this. So we try to project the images of two different type of new worlds on each other. Of the world, which could be, and the one which is there. And we try to express the ambivalence of that we feel sorry this dying world while it is our home now, that we have a vision of a very different and better world, but it’s only a vision while this dying one is a reality, or at least it seems to be one. Anyway, we feel that people, who believe in a better world, should be able to live in this one, and do it with human dignity, and they should try to fight for that vision, because this is a great challenge and lifetime calling. So anything happens, Life Must Go On. We want to suggest with the last track that well-known last line of many movies which says "to be continued…"
Of course, this whole conception mean to be behind the album, so we don’t except people to decode it letter by letter. You asked and I tried to give you some rough explanation.
- On your record Show, there are loop-effects, techno rhythms, industrials & trip-hop, there is also a small rap apparition, which are non-tipicals of progressive rock, why did you include them at this point in time?
As we never want to be progressive, we never think too much about what is suitable for progressive rock and what isn’t. It was a collective decision that we wanted to use these kind of things. We use them now because we discover the possibilities in them in the last few years, and we can get the proper devices for it now.
Every one of us took his part out of it, we all were getting and creating loops and effects, and stuff like that. It was a great fun, however we see the limits to that type of creativity and the danger of using too much of electronics and computers. We won’t let them take over.
- I intended that Secret Service is included on the original soundtrack of a movie, is that so? Is it true that you were thinking on editing two albums on this same idea?
Four of us were working on a soundtrack for a Hungarian movie, it’s original title "Torzók" in English "Torsos", and we composed a lot of music for it. But the movie itself finally didn’t turn out to be exactly for our taste, and we feel that there are more in the music than in the movie. Therefore, we told the director and the producer that we were going to use the music independently of them or the movie.
There were some pieces for the movie and there was a song written be Pejtsik Péter, and there were other half-completed materials. And we start to build them together and the separate parts and fragments suddenly begun to cling each other and started a new life as one living thing. So we saw that something was born and we only had to raise it up. We felt that this piece wanted to be some kind of confession, and such a thing seemed absolutely fit to our conception.
Yes, there were a plan of a second album, but the conception has changed.
- How did you came up to include excerpts from Ravel’s Bolero and Easy Money de King Crimson en el tema Secret Service?
We’ll answer it with the next question.
- I have also noticed a couple more "inclusions", there is a small excerpt of EL&P Tocatta and the riff of the last track of Show, Life must go on, is taken from 21st Century Schizoid Man. Are those excerpts tributes or is it a game you decide to play with the listeners attention?
Some of these are just quotations, you know, you talk about a certain thing and time to time you quote a few well-known words or lines from great foregoers, classics, or people in order to generate associations, thoughts, you try to show some links connecting the most important things of this world.
- Farewell sounds as a trip-hop song, are you trying to approach to new types of audience?
We do that all the time. We always want to talk to everyone, which doesn’t mean that we would bate our standards. Farewell sounds exactly the way we like it.
We never follow new styles and fashions for the sake of bigger success, but we always take some new elements of them, which capture our interest or make our fantasy move.
The one thing we never like in progressive music is that if you want to be a real, authentic progressive band, you are not allowed to do certain things, because they are too popular at the given time. We don’t like this kind of limitations. We don’t think that a style, genre, tool or method could be good or bad in itself.
Only a man and a man’s act could be good or bad. Every style, genre, tool can be used in good ways or bad ways.
- How do you think that progressive rock can arrive to a wider audience without sacrificing the music quality for commerciality?
This is not the problem of music, or styles in music, this is the problem of the monopolist type of capitalism, commercialism and industrialism. Every field of life cheap mass-products outplace the hand-made goods. It’s called dumping or prostitution.
We think that maybe those bands and performers could get the chance of a wider publicity, who will be progressive enough to pass over the very old and conservative idea of progress which seems to deny to notice that it is 2004 now not 1969.
- How do you see the progressive scene in Hungary?
There are very talented young musicians in different areas of music, but it is very difficult to hear them out from the crazy noise of the lousy commercial radios and tv programmes. Our governments usually don’t bother too much with supporting culture. They are always supporting their close friends and political allies. In this matter, you should ask our publisher, Böszörményi Gergely, he knows much more about it.
- What do you know about Spanish prog.? Is there, in your opinion, any Spanish bands you like or have liked?
To be honest we meet today’s progressive music only when we go to a progressive festival. When we have a little time to listen to music for the mere enjoyment, we generally listen to other kind of music than prog. As I said before, we don’t consider ourselves as a progressive band.
- Do you have any Spanish records in your collection?
Yes, we have Spanish CD-s, most of them are Operas and great flamenco guitar music, e.g. Paco de Lucia albums.
- On the next 8th of May of 2004 you will perform on the 6th Tiana Festival, your Spanish fans, you will be surprised or how many there are, are counting the days until it happens, what can we expect from your live show that day?
You can count on it that we’ll do our very best in order to make you always remember the After Crying Show in Tiana.
- Can you anticipate some of what would be the setlist you will select for your performance in Tiana?
We’ll play most of the tracks from After Crying Show, that’s for sure: "Secret Service", "Remote Control", "NWC", etc., and some old pieces, the set-list is not final yet.
- How much time are you going to play?
Actually, we didn’t talk about that with the organizers yet, but I think it will be about 90 minutes, after all, it’s a festival, not a one-band program.
- What are your plans for the future? How do you see AC in the next years? What is your impossible musical dream you would like to come true?
To be honest we haven’t had too much time of dreaming in the recent years. Everyone in the band has his own pictures of future activities, and I’m sure that we will put it together as always. Now we’ll make a symphonic show in Hungary a week after your festival, and soon we’ll start to work on the music for a theatrical production, "Cyrano de Bergerac". Maybe we issue that material on CD.
- Any last words or remarks?
Let me offer your whole country our condolences over that horrible tragedy in Madrid, We want our concert to be a memento and the first light of hope at the same time, for that is the very meaning of the band’s name.
We’ll see you soon.
by Juan Mellado