Established in 2011 in Brzeszcze, Poland, instrumental post rock act BESIDES quickly became one of the most popular bands on the Polish experimental and cinematic rock scene. The quartet has conquered millions of people’s hearts during the Polish TV talent show “Must Be The Music”, winning the main prize in the 8th edition of the program, and proved their worth with over 200 exciting live performances in Poland and abroad (including France, Spain, Benelux, Switzerland, Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States). After two acclaimed LPs ‘We were so wrong’ and ‘Everything is’, the band returns with a new album entitled “Bystanders”, a powerful concept album, containing eight instrumental pieces, inspired by the stories of Auschwitz prisoners and local inhabitants, who lived in the camp’s shadow during the World War II. Today, we’re giving its a special place in our pages and the band’s first hand commentary about this touching work.
BESIDES’ members come from Brzeszcz (place near Oświęcim) and the album is a result of their personal need to confront and process emotions, accumulated over the years, caused by the proximity of this special place.
“Auschwitz – a symbol of absolute evil. We were born here, and we live here. We are still trying to work through the mourning, subconsciously inherited from previous generations caught up in that nightmare. Our project is an attempt to confront our own emotions, horror, powerlessness in the face of mass and anonymous death. It is also an expression of our objection against attempts to “tame” the memory of those events. Our disagreement with indifference, silence or the omnipresent hate. “
Och bin wieder da
“Ich bin wieder da!” Means “I am here again”, “I came back here” – the title refers to the inscription on the board with which prisoners, caught escaping from Auschwitz-Birkenau, had to walk around the camp on the day of their own execution. They were forced to put on a clown hat, they were given a drum with which they had to march through the camp, hitting it loudly and rhythmically. Then followed the execution …
The song is inspired by the story of two prisoners of the first transport to Auschwitz – Kazimierz Albin (number 118) and Marian Kołodziej (number 432). The first of them escaped from Auschwitz from the SS canteen (the same canteen was the scenery of our music video for the single “Ich bin wieder da!”). Although Marian Kołodziej survived his stay in Auschwitz and subsequent camps, he never managed to free himself from traumatic memories. It wasn’t until the end of his life, after fifty years of silence about those experiences, that he decided to tell about a hell he had experienced in a series of shocking graphics. A series of his drawings, entitled “Labyrinths. Clichés of Remembrance ”can be seen at the exhibition in Harmęże.
Story of a woman – Helena, mother of 6, living close to the concentration camp, who risked her life smuggling food for the prisoners. She’s been finally caught for this activity, subjected to a cruel investigation in a death block of Auschwitz, then, as prisoner number 65492, sent to Birkenau. She died of typhus on March 17, 1944 as a Birkenau prisoner, just a few kilometers from her home, where she left orphaned children.
BESIDES is: Piotr Świąder – Kruszyński: guitar, Janusz Binkowski: guitar, Artur Łebecki: bass, Bartłomiej Urbańczyk: drums
The premiere of the album “Bystanders” took place on 27.01.2020 – date of 75th anniversary of Auschwitz camp’s liberation. The band will be touring major Polish cities in March/April and is already plotting a tour in Western Europe (France, Spain, Switzerland) in the Fall.
Polish post rock, local scene & other band recommendation
We’re observing now a strong revival of the local post-rock scene, with many new bands forming – which wasn’t the case 9 years ago, when we started our adventure with his genre. However, in our opinion, only few of them have ‘that something’ – originality/own style/uniqueness deserving recognition, while the rest seems quite ‘secondary’/imitative.
It is only those more determined bands that begin to experiment with post-rock, looking for new expressions instead of just following known ‘patterns’.
One of those folks deserving attention is Transmission Zero – band from Krakow (with album in released July 2019).
BESIDES on tour:
14.03 – Częstochowa – Muzyczna Meta
19.03 – Toruń – NRD
20.03 – Poznań – Tymczasowa
21.03 – Wrocław – Firlej
22.03 – Gdańsk – Wydział Remontowy
26.03 – Rzeszów – Vinyl
27.03 – Bielsko Biała – Rude boy
28.03 – Kraków – Zaścianek
26.04 – Warszawa – Hydrozagadka