They call themselves emo hardcore, sludge, epic screamo, and post rock and they’re quite right, cause these subgenres and labels describe them quite well. But hey, never mind the tags, ESAZLESA is a four-piece punk band from Cheb, Czech Republic formed by ex-members of Czech screamo / hardcore band KMEN. Their atmospheric tunes with breathing guitar lines and passion fueled performance are quite versatile, incredible and truly addictive. I caught up with them to talk about their work, their latest music video and their most fundamental inspirations. See the interview below.
ESAZLESA just kicked off their Winter tour (see the details below), so don’t hesitate to go and show them some love.
When did ESAZLESA first begin as a band? Please share a little bit about those early days.
We got together in Cheb five years ago. It was four of us back then. We played screaming post-rock and our lyrics were rather childish and naive. It was the contrast between these childish views and complex global and human issues that got us out of our dark and damp studio. We were full of ideals, we played naked, we wanted to get as close as possible to our inner selves, and not to be dependent on anyone or anything.
Are you all still based in Cheb? Please tell me about some of the features you like about living there?
Most of us live in Pilsen, which became our new base. It is a beautiful and inspiring town with a long cultural history, and in underground music it is one of the most vibrant places in Czech Republic. There are great music clubs, people who want to organised musical events, and of course people who want to listen to this type of music. People support each other there. We ourselves, for example, help Food not Bombs organisation, who cook for the homeless.
You did have a start in music before this band, right? What other projects besides KMEN have you played? Do you still play in other bands besides ESAZLESA?
KMEN gradually turned into ESAZLESA. But we have some other projects as well. For example Honza Hrivnak, our drummer, is mastering his solo album, on which he plays the piano and recites decadent poetry. It is a type of an acoustic sheogeze. Our new member VJ Honza Skop takes art photos.
Have your lineup changed over the years?
We think that even a step backwards is better than staying in the same place. Our lyrics are more poetic now, but they are still straight to the point, and clear for people to understand. We are preparing our first full length album. It will be an important breakthrough for us, and we have been investing all our creative and musical energy into this project.
You have announced an indefinite hiatus some time ago. Were you unsure of the future of the band? What caused the uncertainty?
There was alcohol involved. Our guitarist Zdenek for example would jump into the audience in the middle of the concert and just stay lying on the floor unable to continue, and he would not listen to any reason. We laugh about it now, but back then we saw a break to sort out our own lives away from the band as the only solution. However, he would sometimes write amazing lyrics when drunk, even though he would not remember them when he got sober.
Overnight, I stopped liking the Sun
Blossoming trees and green grass call upon death
Blue sky, full of beauty
For me has lost its clarity
I found my face full of wrinkles in the morning
Hard to say who carved them in
Since alone I entered my sleep
Yeah, now you’re back, alive and kicking, right? :) Tell me more about this new chapter, new album and the coming months ahead.
It is our new LP St. Tropez. What is interesting about the album is that it is one of the happiest we have ever made. Listening to some of the tunes makes you want to dance on a sunny beach and forget all the negativity that surrounds us. There is six of us now, we have got another guitarist and a VJ. Now we are setting off on a tour through Western Europe to promote this album. We will be playing in Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, and Spain. We hope to see you at one of our concerts :)
Your new video for the song “Průměrný děti historie” caused a lot of buzz online. I will publish the full commentary from the director of this motion picture, but please reveal your personal thoughts about it. What’s the song about?
It is good that the video has caused such discussions. Ignorance is a huge problem nowadays and something needs to be done about it. People are selfish and self-centered, and they think only about themselves. This type of thinking is a product of today’s system that pushes people into this position. We made this video as a social experiment, so we used hidden cameras. I think that one needs to watch it to fully understand what it is about. There is also a link to the commentary you have mentioned in the comments under the video.
Was it difficult to shoot the video in the city’s metro areas?
We used five hidden GoPro cameras so that people were not aware of being shot. Even though once they realized it and we were kicked out. However, we later on returned and finished the shooting.
What do you think causes people’s selfishness, ignorance and coldness these days? Has it been always like that?
I am afraid it has become a norm in big cities. It is a paradox that in cities, where there are so many people together, they are a lot more closed and sad. They are afraid to talk to each other, and don’t have the courage to change anything. Our experiment reflected on collective guilt; most people who saw the girl (Eliska Krenkova) in painful convulsions seemed to have thought that “someone else should help her because there are so many other people”. It is a similar principal to the one we could observe in concentration camps during the Nazi era. It is not my fault, not my responsibility, there are plenty of others who should do something and stop it. It is essential that people start thinking for themselves and not act like sheep.
There are no English comments below the video though. How would you weigh up your impact outside of Czech Republic versus your popularity in the mainland?
There is an English translation available now, and we have great feedback from abroad, which we are very grateful for. We are planning on having all the lyrics available in English as well is Czech, so that also our foreign fans can fully understand our message. Our popularity in the Czech Republic as well as abroad seems to be growing, which we are happy for and it inspires us to continue making music.
You’re not trying to change that by touring the conterminous countries only. Tell me more about your April trek. How was it?
Here is the link to our FB profile with a list of venues where we will be playing. We are really looking forward to the tour even though it will be a challenge. Six guys in one car, six guys on one stage, over and over again. We are excited about meeting our fans. We are also planning to make a documentary about the tour, about how a band from an ex-communist county made their way through Europe. We will record our emotions, interviews with our fans, and the people who organise similar events. We are trying to capture the musical scene in which we are active, about the positives and negatives it brings.
Fluff fest 2014 is approaching :) Can’t wait to go there again. Will you be there,a s well? How do you remember your last performance at the fest and what are your views on the camp in general?
Fluff fest is always inspiring. Great bands and if you are on stage, there are thousands of people watching you. It is an excellent opportunity to meet like minded people. On the other hand, however, to be able to listen to this type of music for several days in a row requires a lot of drugs and alcohol, so it is physically challenging :)
Ok, guys. After doing this for quite a long time now, how have your inspirations changed? How the issues or concepts that inspire your music evolved? I mean both musical and non-musical inspirations.
The whole world is an inspiration for us, we are particularly interested in human emotions and behaviour, problems with today`s society because we are not ignorant towards them. It is not possible to live in one`s own bubble, so we go to concerts, to the theatre, art galleries or watch good films. Freud was in a bubble for three years, more would not be possible :)
Any new forms of art, artists, books, or zines you’d like to recommend for us?
It is hard to say. Everyone in the band likes slightly different type of music, but I can recommend you some good Czech bands JInspiration is for us genius minimal orchestral music FLOEX. We like Vlozte Kocku (“Enter a Cat”) great true cross-over, electronic madness GAGARIN, or a new album of one of the best Czech intelligent industrial rap bands WWW. And we also have to mention our befriended bands RAVELIN 7, FIVE SECONDS TO LEAVE, DROM and ██████.
Thanks for help with translation to Lenka Pipková