Złodzieje Rowerów live in Nowy Targ
Złodzieje Rowerów live in Nowy Targ

Honesty as a legacy: a journey through time with Jacek from ZŁODZIEJE ROWERÓW – celebrating the 200th release of Refuse Records

7 mins read

Shortly after the recent release of the 200th record from Refuse Records: the 7” EP of ZŁODZIEJE ROWERÓW titled “Każdy inny wszyscy równi.” (“Everyone different, all equal.”) This record holds a significant place in the history of the label, featuring four tracks, including a cover of early 90s punk band KTO UKRADŁ CIASTKA, recorded in 1997 at Salman Studio in Białystok.

Originally intended to be the first vinyl release for Refuse, various unforeseen circumstances led to the recordings being shelved, with the master tapes lost in the depths of the studio. Thankfully, raw versions were saved on a cassette tape, allowing As One Studio to salvage and remaster them, giving these tracks a second life on vinyl 27 years later.

This release pays homage to ZŁODZIEJE ROWERÓW, a band that significantly shaped thehardcore punk scene in Poland and played a crucial role in the development of Refuse Records. Limited to a pressing of 300 copies, this edition celebrates both the band and the loyal supporters who have been with the label through its journey of 200 releases.

We had the opportunity to catch up with Jacek, the vocalist of ZŁODZIEJE ROWERÓW, to discuss this monumental release and reminisce about the old days.

The connection with Robert and Refuse Records was pivotal for both parties, giving the band a boost in confidence and opening new doors. Jacek remembers the sessions at Dobra 12 fondly, despite them slipping off his radar for years until Robert proposed this release.

The band drew inspiration from a wide range of music, predominantly from the hardcore punk scene, but also beyond. A memorable episode with Macio Moretti, who played drums on a mini tour, exposed the band to a plethora of new sounds. This diversity of influences helped shape the band’s unique style.

Jacek’s lyrics were a reflection of the current emotions and observations, aiming for simplicity and clarity. Despite being influenced by external trends, he always prioritized honesty and authenticity in his writing.

Today, Jacek would pay homage to bands like GUERNICA Y LUNO, LA AFERRA, POST REGIMENT, and DEZERTER. He continues to support the contemporary scene, mentioning bands like MOIRA, FORESIGHT, EMBITTER, and more, appreciating the new wave of punk and hardcore music.

Stay tuned for the full interview below, where Jacek delves deeper into the band’s history, the music scene, and what the future holds. Bon appétit.

Polish version available upon request via email / Polska wersja dostępna na życzenie via email.

Złodzieje Rowerów live
Złodzieje Rowerów live

Jacek, diving back into ’97, those sessions in Białystok, what’s the vibe you remember? Any standout moments or crazy stories from those days that still crack you up?

The trouble is that Robert reminded me of that session when he proposed releasing the 7″ EP. This story had disappeared from my radar for years. Although I remember very well the first recordings we did in the studio when we were recording the demo, this second visit to Dobra 12 completely slipped my mind. Overall, I remember that time very well. Everything was new, the first time, and very exciting. The band was gaining momentum, picking up speed week by week and month by month.

Our acquaintance with Robert and his Refuse Records, which at that time was not yet such a large and well-known endeavor, allowed us to believe in ourselves. Thanks to becoming part of this label, new perspectives opened up for us. The very fact that our tracks got a chance not to end up just in a drawer was amazing. Thanks to these recordings reaching people, more doors opened, leading to invitations to concerts. Each time, these were journeys to places increasingly further from our rehearsal room. All of this was very fascinating for us young guys!

I think that at that time, it gave wings to both sides. To us as a band and to Robert as an impresario and publisher. In hindsight, I have to say that the ZXRX project had several important turning points in its history. For me, one of them was definitely crossing paths with Robert. That was the moment :) from which we walked together until the end.

Złodzieje Rowerów final show, by Piotr Nowak, facebook
Złodzieje Rowerów final show, by Piotr Nowak, facebook.com/butlon

Talking tracks, Jacek, how about the emotions and inspirations behind those tunes, especially crafting the lyrics? Was it more of an in-the-moment fire or something that had been brewing for a while?

In those days you’re asking about, we were absorbing a lot of diverse music. About 90% of it came from the broad HC/PUNK scene, but not exclusively. An episode with Macio Moretti, who saved our asses as a drummer on one of our mini tours, was a particular case where we realized there was an endless sea of fascinating bands.

You need to know that wherever Macio showed up, he always had a substantial set of recordings he was currently listening to. When he showed up for practice before the tour, he brought them too. He opened our eyes to many cool bands outside the circle we knew. This overwhelming flood of recordings that reached us was incredible.

Subconsciously, we drew from it by the handful. From this perspective, I am still amazed and delighted that we managed to develop a relatively uniform and recognizable style that ZXRX was/is associated with.

As for the lyrics, everything I wrote back then was the result of current feelings and observations. They are not too complicated or advanced literary works like the excellent songs of Expert or a few others. Mine are simple, and I hope, relatively clear.

Writing them, I was, of course, also susceptible to external trends. An example of this is the track “Wolna scena,” which was born from the unifying aspects of perceiving community.

Despite trends, I always tried to ensure that the content I generated was subordinated to one thing: honesty. Honesty stripped of any pose or theatrical manners and tricks. An authentic band is a sincere band.

I still feel this way listening to other bands, and that’s how I wanted us to be perceived. Generally, alongside responsibility for words, honesty was always a priority. Did it work? It’s not for me to judge. I have no influence on how we are perceived.


And, gotta ask, Jacek, the long hair era – miss it? Or glad that ship sailed?

Hahaha. I had a few attempts to regrow that area on my head, but due to a lack of sufficient determination, I never managed to achieve the effect from 1993-1997. It neither makes me happy nor sad.

I used to have long hair, now it’s short, that’s it. What’s funny, though, is that my hairdresser regularly charges me as if he were cutting long hair.

Jacek, flipping the script to KTO UKRADŁ CIASTKA, what was it about that track that made you say “Yeah, this one”? And how does that band sit with you personally?

KTO UKRADŁ CIASTKA quickly became close to us, both to our crew and to many people in Zambrów. We organized concerts for them, and we met in various places on different occasions, whether at our place, in Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, or during concerts in Warsaw.

Their music and lyrics very well reflected what I felt at that time. Playing their song was important to us for many reasons. The main one was the lyrics, which described friendship in simple words without unnecessary embellishments. To this day, I consider it excellent. During that time, relationships were formed that are still nurtured today.

Fast forward to today, Jacek, if you were to pay homage with a cover now, who would you tip your hat to? Any bands or tracks that speak to you these days?

Today, I would probably add to that list without hesitation: GUERNICA Y LUNO, LA AFERRA, POST REGIMENT, and without a doubt DEZERTER for their intellectual adherence to a commonsense, wise, honest, and unpretentious version of being punk.

Złodzieje Rowerów final show, by Piotr Nowak, facebook.com/butlon
Złodzieje Rowerów final show, by Piotr Nowak, facebook.com/butlon

Fresh blood on the scene – both of you, any young guns or bands that are carrying the torch with that raw, heartfelt vibe? Or maybe something completely different that’s caught your ear?

Well, I have this cool “illness” that constantly drives me to listen to music. I get a lot of joy from recordings of contemporary, local bands. Among them, there are quite a few bands. Of the relatively new ones, I highly value: MOIRA, FORESIGHT, EMBITTER, HEATSEEKER, LOCHY I SMOKI, what ORPHANAGE NAMED EARTH is playing, GUANATANAMO PARTY PROGRAM, the trio starting with “A”: APORIA, ASTRID LINDGREN, ANSA. I like what the project SPALONE MOSTY is starting to do. From the more punk ones: WIELKI LAS (!!), SKORUPA, WIRUS, LIFE SCARS, KMKZ.

I cheer for the cheerful craziness of HIOBA DYLANA or MARSZAŁEK, I appreciate SIKSA, the trances of TITANIC SEA MOON, the rock’n’rollers from POISON HEART. I like to return to the music of THE LOWEST, LOVTE, MARKSMAN (I love the album “Awaken”), HARD TO BREATHE, HIDDEN WORLD. I always look forward to what they come up with in this Polish Portland, meaning Lublin. They are masters of creating “butterfly” bands, short-lived but of high quality.

Recently, they gave the world BLISS or YELL. And although in many cases they are not exactly my taste, they are always solid ideas.

From imports, I’ve always loved everything from DISCHORD, the whole horde of hardcore bands from Umea, with obvious ones like ABHINANDA, REFUSED. From new American revelations, I am thrilled by the fierce reincarnation of BAD BRAINS, which is END IT. I like the new STRETCH ARM STRONG, also GEL (!), FAIM, the ever-present TORSO, and dozens of others. In Europe, recently, I haven’t heard anything better than DRINK DEEP (!). That’s just a quick overview to avoid boring you.

Złodzieje Rowerów final show, by Piotr Nowak, facebook.com/butlon
Złodzieje Rowerów final show, by Piotr Nowak, facebook.com/butlon

Lastly, as we breeze through the year, any big plans or ambitions for the rest? Anything you’re itching to tick off the list or are we riding the wave as it comes?

I’ve stopped making ambitious plans :) I just want to enjoy good health, which I wish to everyone. Every day, I try to nurture the joy of being here and now.

Everything else is a byproduct of our satisfaction with the life we have, which is only one.

Thanks for the questions, Karol. Hugs and regards! :)

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Karol Kamiński

DIY rock music enthusiast and web-zine publisher from Warsaw, Poland. Supporting DIY ethics, local artists and promoting hardcore punk, rock, post rock and alternative music of all kinds via IDIOTEQ online channels.
Contact via [email protected]

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