On March 18th, 2012 we talked to Pawel, the vocalist of THE LOWEST, a modern heavy hardcore band from Warsaw, Poland.
Hey, guys. What’s up? Thanks for taking this interview.
Everything is just fine, thanks. We have just released our debut EP (only tape and digital download at this moment), our first video, at the end of April we are going on a tour with our friends from REALITY CHECK.
Let’s go back for a while. What was your first exposure to the hardcore scene? What is your take on the current scene?
For me, everything started about twelve years ago. I was in high school, and my classmate Marek (better know today as Marek RTL) was a punk rocker. He told me about those crazy shows, where people are stagediving, singalonging. One of my first gigs were ZLODZIEJE ROWEROW in Siedlce. When I saw this guy, Jacek, standing on the scene, saying all those things, singing, I was paralized. ZxRx had a song called “Leave me alone”. I was standing in the crowd, and listening to the lyrics. “I do not believe that I lost. When I look at the peers who won, beating their wives. I feel that way, I think that way, plastic way of seeing the world is my greatest enemy” (The lyrics are in polish, so it’s my own translation). I was maybe 16, he was maybe 30, and I though to myself – shit, this is just the way world goes around ! This guy is saying the truth. I thought: “This is it”. I was living in a small town, so it was quite funny to travel on a concert to other town and then wait for first train all night long on the railway station. I have met many great people back then, some of them are still my friends. Those were the last years of “pre-internet” era. Having web wasn’t so obvious. We were writing letters to each other, sending CD’s with music or videos. Crazy times. Then I finished my education in high school, I went to Warsaw, met new people and here I am.
About hardcore scene – first of all, I don’t believe in such thing like “hardcore” scene. For me, it was always “hardcore/punk”. Punk is a keyword. Cutting it off is like removing the spine. And about the scene – I don’t really know what to say. Is the scene in good shape or is it in bad shape ? It depends how you define what’s good and what’s bad for hardcore. You’ve got some really big tours, gigs in big clubs, many people showing up. But you can also be a small band, like us. Doing everything by yourself, no label, no agency. Try to book an European tour. There are many places, especially in western Europe, where no one will give a fuck about you. It’s hard for smaller bands to fit in. It’s not, that I’m against agencies, against big tours. Many different things can happen when you are on the road. For example – we had such a situation with a previous band, guy who was making the show told us after the concert, that he won’t give us any gas money, but he can buy our t-shirt. Not bad, huh? Agencies are to protect bands from such situations, right? But there are many big tours of great, well-known bands, and some people got lazy, they don’t care about smaller bands. Who cares about band from Poland, if you have the “first league of worldwide hardcore” playing once a week less than 100 km from your hometown. I understand, that we are from the shithole of Europe, but c’mon, even in here we had some good bands, worth of listening [smiles]. But we can handle ourselves. You know, what really pisses me off ? That hardcore and punk are today really far, far away, especially in western Europe. Punks, crusts – and hardcore kids. It’s like they are all living on different planets. And I understand why that happened. I often have the impression that hardcore today is only about having a new era cap and shorts with a band logo. Ten, fifteen years ago you had nuMetal, now it’s hardcore, deathcore, metalcore. It’s often only a way of dressing up and a music genre. You’ve got a band like FALLBRAWL and their new video. Girls, guns, whiskey, tits, booty shaking. WTF is that ? Do they think that they are rock stars of what ? What’s next – they gonna eat caviar and do cocaine on music videos ? Or maybe record a porn like SNOOP DOGG? Fuck that shit. I remember my first gigs ever – we were all different, but we were there together for some reason. My closest “scene friends” were a bunch of punks, few crusts, and two hc kids (one of them was straight edge). This is what I call unity. You need to know where your roots are.
Damn, it’s another time when I actually feel bad about posting the FALLBRAWL video [laughs]. I get you man, really. We’re here to report, so I think it’s completely another story, but let’s continue. You’re known as ex-NOTHING BETWEEN US band. What members played the other band and what other project were you or are you still involved in?
Łukasz, Michał and me played in NOTHING BETWEEN US. I was the drummer in NOTHING BETWEEN US. So in THE LOWEST you’ve got three guys from NOTHING BETWEEN US, and Jurek, our drummer. Michał also plays guitar for REALITY CHECK, and Jurek also plays drums for SAILOR’S GRAVE.
Why did you end up closing the NOTHING BETWEEN US project?
We just didn’t wanted to play in this band anymore. We wanted to make something completely new. I decided to quit playing drums and become a singer. I had some ideas, and some lyrics written. I guess playing in NOTHING BETWEEN US was a though lesson for us all, playing shows, going on tours.
What drove you to start this band? Was the need of creating something original in your local music scene a big part of it? Did Warsaw need something in the vein of modern heavy hardcore that is so on hype right now?
The music we play is a reflection of what each of us felt since long time. Disappointment with the world, the people. each of us had some hard times lately. We started playing together in October, two months after we were ready to record the EP. We just threw away all the bad emotions, I guess you can feel it in the music, in lyrics. I don’t really care what is on hype right now. I’m just happy, that we understand each other really well and feel the same about the direction we want to go.
You’ve booked some shows in Germany in April. It’s so cool to see that you’re not scared of touring. Will you be hitting some festivals this year? Any friends to put you on the Fluff line-up maybe? Tell us more about your touring plans.
Since the beginning, we wanted to play as many gigs as we can. When you see, that people really care about your music, and what you have to say, it gives you the strength to carry on. At the end of April we are going on a tour with our friends from REALITY CHECK. We will be playing in Poland, Germany and Czech Republic. At the end of July and the beginning of August we are going on a second tour. We are going to play about fourteen concerts, in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, Estonia and Latvia as well. As for the festivals, we’re playing at Raketa Fest in St. Petersburg. We are very excited about the tours. The eastern-european scene is really strong, there are many great bands, lots of people showing up. In Russia or Ukraine you have got strong nazi scene, many boneheads, so people are more aware. I don’t belive in “non-political” hardcore, hardcore is against any kind of discrimination. I hope that we are gonna play some tours next year as well, but no plans at this moment. We all have got jobs, Michał has got a son, so it’s kinda hard to find enough time for touring, but we are trying our best !
Any cool Polish fest coming up this year? We feel there is a huge gap on the local scene. While the national scene looks really good, why there is no big hardcore festival in Poland? Any opinions on that?
I know that Robert Refuse is doing Straight Edge Fest, I know nothing about any bigger festivals this year. Perhaps the most hardcore place, when it comes to festivals, will be the OFF Festival. You have got CONVERGE in the line-up, HENRY ROLLINS with his spoken word. I do not really know why there is no big festival in Poland, it is difficult to say something in this matter for me. I do not organize concerts or festivals. You’ve got Fluff in Czech Republic, you’ve got many fests in Germany, it’s not so far away, maybe it’s the reason.
You have chosen a very strong footage for your debut music video. What’s the story behind the “Lowest” and titles from your EP? How do you come up with those titles?
The video was edited by me, with the help of my wife. You say strong footage – yes, that’s what this song is about. These pictures do not come from movies, everything happened for real. The suffering is real, the pain is real, death is real. “Lowest” video is a description of how I see our world. Name of the band -“The Lowest”, also refers to my way of understanding reality – on several levels. So first of all – “The Lowest” refers to humanity. I think that all the things that people do to each other is the biggest problem of this world. Human being can be capable of worst things. It’s so easy to manipulate the masses, people don’t need much to hate each other. Everyone needs acceptance and a sense of belonging, feel stronger and more confident in the group. Just look at XX century – the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, Pol Pot’s regime, the great famine in Ukraine, Vietnam, Srebrenica, Hiroshima. You can count on for long time. Those are not even “regular” wars, with two enemies fighting about something. Those are almost unimaginable examples of how ruthless and cruel human can be. In the name of various interests – political, economic, in the name of an ideology – one man becomes an executioner and torturer.
But “The Lowest” has also a wider significance. Look at the global economic crisis. In Poland the whole situation is bad, and getting worse.
The economic disparities between the poorest and richest. Those who have, have even more, the poorest ones have even less. There are plenty of people who, despite their hard work, barely make a living. Rising unemployment among young people is really dramatic. Many of my friends, despite best efforts, is unable to find work. Different companies use the situation of economic crisis for lowering wages. Large companies employ people on contracts that does not guarantee any social security. You get shitty money, can’t go on holidays, no medical care. Housing prices go up to totally crazy levels. Of course no one cares about you, politicians care only about their personal wars. It seems to me, that a perfect citizen is the one, that works 16 hours a day, spends everything that he earns, then take some bank loans and works even harder, to pay the bank. Let’s face the facts – the world we live in is a world where single person means nothing. The governments care about their own business, the large companies want to suck us dry.
“The Lowest” also refers to human life and death. I don’t believe, that there is some kind of “order” in this world, that there is a god that decides about our fate. You can lose your life in any moment, you can lose the ones you care about. Humanity created god, heaven, reincarnation, all those religious myths to deal with the fear of death. But I think that there is no other world, there is no punishment or prize after you die. We just die.
You are offering your debut EP for free. Is that what this band will be about? Is there a point in releasing physical records in Poland?
We are offering our EP for free, because we want as many people, as possible to hear our music. We will release the EP on music tape, thanks to Disobey Recordings. It’s possible, that we will release it also on vinyl, but at this moment I can’t tell you more. I hope, that everything will work out for us.
Are there plans for new material? Do you have more material already written?
We are writing some new songs, but currently we want to focus on both tours. I think, that there is a possibility we are gonna record some new tracks this year, we will see.
Any zines you’ve been reading recently?
“Finishing Move Zine” is pretty cool, very good interviews, maybe too much of Polish hip hop. You’ve got “Cudowne Lata” on issuu.com – looks really nice, some cool articles about veganism, very good pictures. I bought two numbers of “Skinhead Story” recently – I don’t listen to any street or Oi music, but sometimes I like to check out what’s going on in the skinhead scene – real skinhead, not some bonehead shit. It’s not a zine, but you should definitely check out Noise and Resistance – the documentary on DIY punk scene, really inspiring.
Ok, here’s the controversial one. We’ve heard voices about some of you being hypocrite, working in corporation and trying to tell stories about poverty and all the bad things in the world. What’s your opinion on that?
This is a complete misunderstanding. You can call it hypocrisy, if someone sings on stage ACAB and works as a policeman. I’m not working in Shell or BP, for christ sake [smiles]. I do some news and video editing in one of polish televisions. Every TV station, newspaper, radio station is a part of some corporation. When I sing about poverty, I do it because I identify myself with people who are suffering through the world economic order. With people who are forced to work for a mere money, who do not have any rights. The fact that I have a work that lets me pay my bills doesn’t change my way of thinking, and I don’t think that it takes away my right to speak about it. In fact, I will tell you how I got my current work. Before I was hired, I worked for free for 5 months. In my company less than 10 percent of people have got normal contracts. All the rest, it doesn’t matter how long are they working – they get those “garbage contracts”. You know, when company hires new people, give them normal contracts, shareholders are not satisfied. It doesn’t matter, that hard working people can’t rent or buy a normal apartment, have children, go to holidays, travel around the world, or what else you want. You earn only to pay your bills, buy some food, and drink few beers once a week. I don’t really think, that earning 300-400 Euro per month can make you live without fear about your future nowadays. It’s just so unfair. Isn’t it poverty ? I know few people who work in the same company, and are associated with the stage. They are good and valuable people who primarily do not allow to get sucked into that rat race. I think this is important, not to get crazy in this corporate-world today. Because the corporation doesn’t want to be your job only. It wants to be your God, your goal. Fuck it.
Thanks so much. It was cool to have you here. Feel free to add anything you want.
We are really happy that many people likes our EP, we hope to play as many gigs it’s possible. I don’t know what to say more… Live your life, read some books, see some good (and some bad) movies, eat good vegan food, don’t belive your local priest/imam/rabbi, go to gym, be good to each other, have pleasant sex with the ones you love, respect older people, start changing the world from yourself, don’t let the system get you and listen to THE LOWEST [laughs].
Thanks for the interview, see you on the gigs.