KAT INTERVIEW WITH PIOTR LUCZYK
KAT Interview 2020
KAT has always been an institution in Heavy, with "The Last Convoy", KAT shows a new face, both to their own songs and to the sources from which they took their inspiration. For the first time we will hear KAT's covers of classics such as "Highway Star" by Deep Purple, "Blackout" by the Scorpions or "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC / DC. Acoustic tracks like "Dark Hole - The Habitat Of Gods" also show a completely different side of KAT.
Piotr Luczyk, guitarist and band founder, nicely answered to this interview.
Hi Piotr and welcome back to the pages of Rockers And Other Animals, how are you doing?
Hi Valeria, I'm fine thanks. I'm glad we can talk again especially since there is a good reason for it. Hardly anyone would have expected that KAT would release a new album so soon and it was actually a surprise for us too. This is a special Anniversary album, in which we show a new approach to our old songs and play cover songs. We are again doing something new, something KAT has not recorded before. Usually fans are used to old versions of songs, but for the 40th anniversary of KAT we decided to record our songs as we feel them now. The world is changing and so are we and our music. Due to the fact that we recorded two songs from our first single, we decided to sustain the analog sound throughout the whole album. This gave the album a common whole - even though the album is constructed from songs from different years.
KAT has always been an institution in Heavy Metal, particularly since the days of “Metal And Hell” released in 1985, What has changed since then and how has the band evolved over the years?
Starting from the beginning, "Metal And Hell" was our first album. It was recorded in English and it is certainly the most famous album from the first period of our activity. Then there was "Breath of Extinct Worlds" and that period really shaped the position of the band. Then things went astray. The line-up of the band and our internal relations changed. It had a big impact on our creativity and the way we functioned. We made records, but as humans we drifted apart. As a result, the band was suspended in 1997. We returned to the stage in 2001 and we recorded another premiere album "Mind Cannibals" in 2005. Our evolution is quite significant. "Metal And Hell" was classic Heavy Metal but later on we started to be described as Black Metal, Thrash Metal and even Speed Metal, although honestly I think we still played the same. In the album "Without Looking Back" we returned to the roots of Heavy Metal, only a little more modern and without our historical burdens. Our albums are musically diverse, but I believe this is mainly due to changing our vocalists. In our anniversary album "The Last Convoy" Qbek, Henry Beck, Maciek Lipina and Tim Ripper all perform as vocalists. It's the same KAT playing - yet the songs differ in style due to the variety of vocals. The same thing can also be heard in "Flying Fire" where firstly Qbek sang (in the album "Without Looking Back") and later - Tim Ripper Owens in the album "The Last Convoy". The way the vocalist sings makes a big difference. Therefore, our evolution took a long time, but it produced a good result.
With the new album "The Last Convoy”, the band is celebrating 40 years of activity; an album that collects your hits and interesting tributes to big names in hard rock like Scorpion, Deep Purple and AC/DC. They are covers of bands that evidently influenced KAT in somehow. By what criteria were these very pieces chosen?
These are the songs that had great impact on us and inspired us to become musicians and as you know we weren't the only ones who were inspired by these. We didn't have much of a problem with the choice. We've all listened to these songs thousands of times since we first started learning to play instruments. At the time of the decision, we were able to play them without any problems. I've always been a fan of Deep Purple and Ritchie Blackmore. Highway Star is an outstanding composition with brilliant solos. I had played various Blackmore compositions many times before, so as the guitarist - Highway Star had been in my head for years and I knew what it was about. The problem was with Lord's solo. For a long time I contemplated whether to ask someone to play the Jon Lord part on a Hammond or whether to play it myself as a guitar solo but to tell the truth it was my main dilemma while recording the whole album, however I came to the conclusion that the sound of KAT is different and I do not want to change it but I will do my best to preserve the atmosphere and character of both solos by playing them on the guitar. Mariusz Prętkiewicz (drums) is also a fan of this track and it was Mariusz who originally suggested recording Highway Star. The next cover we played was Blackout by Scorpions. Many people were surprised by our choice. Why Scorpions? Well because I think Scorpions is now mostly known through the song "Wind of Change" which is a nice quiet ballad. But we remember the Blackout album most and that is our image of the Scorpions band. Strong, dynamic and heavy with a touch of Hard Rock and melody. This piece was proposed by Harris(bass). We have a good opinion about our performance of Blackout, so I guess we were right in our choice. Then there was AC / DC - You Shook Me All Night Long. Lots of bands play AC / DC, but we wanted to play something which even the most orthodox metalheads dance to on the dance floor. I have witnessed it more many times. So it fell on - You Shook Me All Night Long. The piece seems very simple. Until the vocals come in. Then the uphill climb begins.
You Shook Me Up sounds much better than the original, I really like your version, the pause and the restart is quite original. Did you ever play it live? Maybe in your Cover Festival?
Of course. We play You Shook Me… at our Cover festivals as the last song of the concert. The party is always great. This piece was created especially for the American market. To tell the truth, this is just dance country music on louder guitars. The hardest thing during the session was to obtain the feeling that AC / DC has. It was the most demanding song in terms of style and of course vocals. Fortunately, Qbek is a fan of AC / DC and you can certainly hear that in every word he sings.
“The Last Convoy” sees Tim Ripper Owens as special guest in “Flying Fire 2020”, he may change something in your recording?
Tim could sing as he wanted. He chose the piece himself. I must admit that he sang brilliantly. He changed time signatures and added voices as he did in Judas Priest. He added more aggression, but when needed he sang calmly and romantically. His voice is predatory where necessary and warm at other times. Tim is a real vocalist who can sing in any style and take the song to the highest level.
Other special guests are Henry Beck and Maciej Lipina, a nice guest list, how did you involve these artists in "The Last Convoy”?
All the guests except Tim Owens are former KAT musicians or our friends. I chose those who contributed most to the music and broke the band's artistic convention. Henry Beck sang the title track from the album "Mind Cannibals 2016". A strong deep voice fits perfectly with a strong sounding composition. This is one of the best songs in our history. Maciek Lipina, on the other hand, supported us on the album "Acoustic 8 Films". This is a completely different side of KAT. At the time, we were playing with Maciek at the Cover Festival and I decided to make a little revolution in the band, in 2014, we released an album that no one expected, our compositions in an acoustic version. Maciek didn't know our songs and that was what made it so fun. He sang as he felt and we also played a little differently. The atmosphere of the album "Acoustic 8 Filmów" is in the song "Dark Hole”.
“The Last Convoy” as title has an evocative sense, is it the last convoy coming from the past to look to a future of evolution?
I think that this is one of the last convoys of metal music. The Heavy Metal market is shrinking. Classic bands give way to more aggressive and brutal music. I don't see any successors following the likes of Judas Priest, maybe because the audience has changed. Currently, new bands want to shock with appearance rather than composition and their fans like it. I think when nature inevitably leads to big stars crumbling, we will be left with K-POP and various other musical experiments. Looking at it from afar, I don't blame anyone. These are the inevitable laws of the market - earning money is what currently matters most. Of course, the old big stars will still exist, but will they have anyone to play for? We always learn about the quality of music after many years. Maybe some new artists will be able to stay on the market for as long as Black Sabbath or Van Halen? We will see.
Even the artwork of the album seems to be evocative, who is driving this convoy?
Exactly. The Convoy is run by "KAT" - the Executioner. He has been leading us from the very first album. This type of figure is typical on covers of metal bands. We have had the Executioner from the very beginning. He was supposed to administer justice, but over the years he has trained himself in other areas and is now very versatile. And he will certainly surprise us again.
When you started the band, did you ever think you'd get to celebrate such a long career? What were your expectations?
I did not expect KAT to exist for so long, I didn't think about the future. I grew up in Poland at a time when it was impossible to go abroad, and there was no question of a world career. Besides, I don't know any Polish bands that would go beyond the musical underground to this day. Expectations are always different from what real life brings. I used to record albums and struggled with various adversities, both internal and external. I could divide KAT's 40 years into two parts. One is a period of chaos and a chase after something which I knew I could never catch up with. And the second (a period of liberation), in which I enjoy the music we create and accept it fully. Its only been the last 10 years that have given me positive energy and joy from playing. On the other hand, there is also one more reason for the band's long existence. I am persistent and maybe even stubborn and I work until I achieve the goal that satisfies me. Sometimes it takes many years but it's worth the wait.
I read that in the first version of “Satan’s Night” the text contained the phrase “and at Satan’s night to take a hand, like Faust did.” and for your fans it was a kind of rebellion against the church. Is it with this song that the band was labeled a Satanist? Or is it an "urban legend" that this rumor is circulating on the Internet?
Yes, it was a rebellion against the Church and the gray communist everyday life. There was a delicate statement in the text, "and at Satan's night to take a hand, like Faust did" and that was enough for the media to call us Satanists. On the one hand, we have become popular, and on the other hand, our songs have been banned from being broadcast on the radio. Censorship was in force. In fact, I've always been anti-clerical. Poland is a country ruled by the Catholic Church. Any party that is in power is only an instrument in the hands of the church. And that doesn't sit with me. As you know, rock music is the music of young people, and young people rebel. It was the same with us.
The first single from the new album is exactly "Satan's Night”, Is there a particular reason why this song was chosen? Let me tell you, by the way, the new version is really exceptional.
"Satan's Night" is a fast song with a very evocative title that we have been associated with since our early days. We wanted to recall where KAT started it's life on stage. There is a bit of a provocation to it, but mainly to show where we came from.
In 1986, when we released our first single with this song, everyday music was quite calm and smooth. "Satan's Night" stood out a lot. And with that title - everyone thought about sexual orgies. That always works for a young audience.
Since the band was formed, you as a musician, me as a fan, heavy metal music, has been at the peak of its essence. What do you think is missing from metal music in recent years? As a change and new things, considering that everything has already been experimented on.
I've always believed that the composition is the most important. Everything begins and ends with it. Of course, the composition must be yours, original and interesting. Back then you had to interest fans with just the track, the radio did not show what you look like and whether your face is painted on stage. The audience had to remember the chorus and sing it. If it is impossible to hum a song, there is no music and the audience will look for something more interesting. Currently in music there is speed, show, fire, sound, sometimes virtuosity, noise, scream. But choruses like "Balls to the wall" Accept, "Living After Midnight" Judas Priest, "Enter Sandman" Metallica or "Rock And Roll" by Gary Glitter are missing. These types of songs stay in your head forever after just the first listen. Simply put, there must be music in music, not just flashiness or racing. Just listen to the most popular metal songs. They're always simply really good songs. Even those played with a strong sound.
2020 looks like a sabbatical year for everyone. In this period of confusion with the Covid 19 pandemic, the future of the concerts remains uncertain, unfortunately. How are you guys gonna make up for this? Any streaming events?
This situation may last for quite a while longer. Apparently there is to be a third wave of the pandemic. In the meantime we're making music videos. I just published the first one for the title track from "The Last Convoy". We also have finished two more and are in the process of recording the fourth clip for the new album. In addition, we are already working on new songs.
Like last time, you have all the space you need to add something and thank you so much for your kindness answering to my questions.
First of all, I wish everyone good health and to overcome all the difficulties related to Covid-19. Thank you Valeria for your interest and engaging questions. We are at a strange point in time and we don't know what awaits us, but music is what connects people. I hope that what KAT records gives fans the opportunity to break away from everyday problems and give them a will to live. It always takes me to a different positive world. I wish this for everyone.
Regards Piotr Luczyk
Photos Credits Krzysztof Krzeminski