Katowice, Poland based melancholic heavy rockers PURE BEDLAM is a brand-new musical project that in reality took almost 20 years to form. Slated for a September 3 release, their debut album “Taking Shape” is both a nod to their past and a declaration that the music they make together is just beginning to… take shape. We sat down with the band’s vocalist Wojciech Kałuża to tell the story of their project, break down their full length track by track and simulate your brain with some decent now defunct Polish bands worth a check!
In 2001-2005 cousins Piotr Szopa (drums) and Adam Szopa (guitars) played together in a band which was soon joined by vocalist Wojciech Kałuża. The group was named Shapeless and for a while they generated some impressive local buzz. Unfortunately in 2005 Shapeless disbanded, with no official recordings ever seeing the light of day. Piotr went on to become a drummer in the local group The October Leaves, Wojciech moved to a different city where he joined the newly forming J. D. Overdrive, while Adam took a long break from music altogether. His hiatus didn’t last forever – in January of 2018 he debuted with his solo project In2Elements. On the project’s second album – “Cold”, released in 2019 – two songs featured guest vocals by Wojciech, who at that time was also involved with Mentor and Forge of Clouds (and later – Grieving and Las Trumien). In 2020 the idea emerged for three guys who long ago started their musical journey together to meet again for a brand-new endeavor. Along with The October Leaves bassist Kamil Rutkowski they formed Pure Bedlam.
“Top 10 Polish bands that don’t exist anymore but you need to check anyway”
“I think it’s fair to describe PURE BEDLAM as a product of passion and sheer circumstance.” – comments Wojtek. “Even the title of the last album track – “Improbability is what brought us here” – reflects that a bit. I mean, this project was pretty much never meant to exist in the first place. What is more, its history reaches almost 20 years back, believe it or not.”
Asked about the detailed story and the band’s background, Wojtek continues: “Back in 2001 two cousins – drummer Piotr and guitarist Adam – co-formed a band that was at that time looking for a lead singer. That’s when I came in – a college student with no previous experience whatsoever, no musical training, just bucketloads of enthusiasm and youthful passion. But hey, back then it was enough.”
“We ended up naming the band Shapeless and went on to play shows for the next four years until finally disbanding in 2005. College was over and with the band not being able to take things to the next level it just felt like it’s time to move on. And just like that our time together in a band simply ended, no regrets and no hard feelings – just plain old reality. I moved to a different city and found a new band – J. D. Overdrive – with whom I went on to record five albums in the span of 13 years. In the meantime I got involved with four other projects – Mentor, Forge of Clouds, Grieving and Las Trumien – trying out new vocal approaches in each of them. As for Piotr and Adam, the first went on to become a drummer in a local britpop act The October Leaves (they’ve recorded three albums so far), while the latter took a long break from music altogether. Adam’s hiatus didn’t last forever though – in January of 2018 he debuted with his solo project In2Elements, taking inspiration from the thriving post rock scene.”
“On the project’s second album – “Cold”, released in 2019 – two songs featured my guest vocals. While not in a band anymore, we occasionally kept in touch and when Adam mentioned a possible collaboration, it just felt like a natural thing to do. At that time it was just a one-off thing but I think that this experience inspired Adam to work on some new music with my vocals in mind on a grander scale. He approached me with this idea in 2020 with a bunch of finished songs and while hesitant at first – mind you, I was already involved with four projects at that time – once I heard the music, I just couldn’t say “no”. With Kamil from The October Leaves on board as our bass player and Piotr taking on the drumming duties, we’ve had a complete line-up ready to take things further.
I suggested the name Pure Bedlam – something that would probably fit a more vicious act than ours but that was exactly the point – and once we’ve had an album’s worth of music ready, we decided to name the thing “Taking Shape”.
It’s both a nod to our past and a declaration that the music we make together now is just beginning to… well, take shape. And we couldn’t be more excited about it – it feels like a full circle to our musical beginnings and something completely different and fresh altogether. Can’t wait to share it with the world – we’re really damn proud of what we’ve accomplished over the last year.”
PURE BEDLAM are: Adam Szopa – guitars/electronics, Piotr Szopa – drums, Kamil Rutkowski – bass
Track by track commentary:
PLEASE REPLACE ME. An intro track that was never meant to have vocals in it but once I’ve heard it ideas started popping up in my head and I managed to convince Adam to try some of them out. The lyrics were actually inspired by the fact that at first I was not 100% sure I would be the best choice for this project when it came to vocals. I was struggling with some of the vocal lines and the words “please replace me” echoed in my head in the more difficult moments. And even though that storm has soon passed, I decided to give these words a life of their own.
GRIS GRIS. The title refers to a Voodoo amulet originating in Africa which is believed to protect the wearer from evil or bring luck. The lyrics are a take on both religion and spirituality and how we shouldn’t really need them that much in our lives (hence the phrase “protect me from a higher power”). This is of course my own personal take on the subject but I feel that religion way too often fails to have a positive impact on our existence, instead giving us more reasons to feel divided than otherwise.
NO SWIMMING. A strange one for sure. The lyrics dabble in toxic relationships and how they somehow work despite not really working at all. One of life’s many paradoxes I guess. Fortunately these lyrics don’t come out of my current personal experience and are more of an observation, with perhaps a dab of ancient history.
FUTURE DISSAPPOINTMENTS. I think we all have this inner craving for belonging to something bigger than ourselves. And that’s fine and all but sometimes trying to fit in can be a very destructive process. This song deals with that state of being absolutely desperate to be a part of something no matter what, to the point where you become numb and indifferent to anything else in your life. It’s a rather gloomy piece but it does have its glimpse of hope at the end, when with realization comes bitter acceptance and with it – a sense of inner peace. It’s not a fairy tale ending but then again we rarely get to have those in our lives.
NIGHTMARES IN SUBURBIA. As I get older I’m beginning to notice that maybe there’s something utterly wrong with me. Unlike other people my age I don’t have the urge to get my shit together and live a responsible, grown-up life: start a family and move to the suburbs to live in a beautifuly painted house. Not that I’m thrashing this concept altogether – if it works for someone else, that’s great. It just doesn’t work for me. And I’ve met people who were trying to live this ideal scenario but in reality they don’t seem to enjoy it that much. But having invested their time, money an other resources into it, they don’t want to accept that perhaps this “perfect life” is not what they were hoping for. We’re often told that we should do certain things in certain ways but I believe it’s better to figure out stuff on your own than to follow a path that will leave you miserable and disappointed.
A CHANGE OF SCENERY. This one’s about dealing with everyday mundane existence that we sometimes have to face regardless of how we try to keep our lives exciting and fresh. Sometimes it’s ok to let go and just kick back and do nothing. On the other hand – that’s when insecurity creeps in and you start to question a lot of your life choices and perhaps even fantasize about living a whole different life altogether. And that’s fine – just don’t get too bummed out when these fantasies don’t come true. Or find the motivation to make them true. Go for it! And remember that a healthy change of scenery is always welcome from time to time.
DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY. One of the most upbeat things we’ve done and I think we were all a bit surprised with how this song turned out. The lyrics are actually kind of upbeat as well – it’s about a person dancing alone, enjoying life. But it does have a rather morbid twist to it, with the end of the world lurking somewhere outside the spotlight. And you can take it literally – I do believe that our actions as species are destroying this planet and that we’re headed towards self-destruction quicker than anyone would assume. I’m at peace with that but it doesn’t change the fact it kinda sucks how much we blew it here.
IMPROBABILITY IS WHAT BROUGHT US HERE. Again, this track was initially meant to be an instrumental outro, with no vocals on it whatsoever. But the song’s structure just begged for some vocal lines and although a few years ago I would say a big “fuck no!” to the concept of singing a ballad, I gave this one a chance and I’m pretty happy with the outcome. It’s also a very positive song lyrics-wise. I think a lot of us tend to romanticize the past a bit too much and while there’s nothing wrong with a little nostalgia now and then, we often forget that the present times can also be absolutely amazing and rewarding. I mean, look around you and try to appreciate the good things in life. I’m sure you’ll find more than a few and that magical past you’re always thinking about – trust me, it wasn’t all that grand. Stop complaining and just live in the moment – it can be really rewarding if you just give it a chance.
Top 10 Polish Bands That Don’t Exist Anymore, But You Need To Check Anyway:
Pure Bedlam by Damian Rojek
“I personally really dig “Top 10” lists but I have this thing where the more obscure they are, the better.” 0 admits Wojtek. “So in that spirit I’ve prepared a list of the best Polish bands that you won’t hear anymore but you owe it to yourself to check out the music they left behind. These bands might not exist anymore but their amazing legacy lives on.”
In no particular order:
1. Searching for Calm (check out: “Searching for Calm”)
These guys have been around for quite some time, they even had a brief reunion in 2015 with the appropriately titled album “Right to be Forgotten”. But it’s their 2005 self titled debut that stuck with me the most. A totally unique sound with elements of post hc, emo and alternative rock, with a truly amazing singer whose voice is very much an acquired taste but nonetheless impressive. The band sort of introduced me to music that knew no boundaries and I’m grateful for that to this day.
2. Mothra (check out: “Planet Decibellian”).
If there was ever a Polish band that could compete with the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan, it’s Mothra. These guys were super technical but also raw and energetic, and absolutely bonkers when it came to live shows. They released two album and both are fantastic, with the latter venturing into some truly unexpected territory. Years later their music still delivers a nice and heavy punch to the face.
3. Lunapar (check out: “Lunapar”).
A short-lived project from Wrocław that left behind only one album but it’s a killer! Lunapar sounds like Foo Fighters who finally fully embraced their Husker Du fascination. Catchy songs, great melodic vocals, inspiring lyrics, flawless production. It’s a shame these guys didn’t go places.
4. Spirit (check out: “Desolation”).
Originating from Warsaw, Spirit was founded by people who previously formed a band called… Vagitarians. And despite their silly name, that band really had some cool ideas centred around stoner, sludge and post metal. Spirit borrowed a lot from that and added some more contemporary metal elements, close to what Gojira was doing at the time. The result is still truly impressive. I think Spirit never officially broke up but while the band members have been active in many other projects, this one remains silent for quite a while.
5. Something Like Elvis (check out: “Personal Vertigo”).
If you love Nomeansno, you’ll love this. True underground heroes of the Polish scene, their roots can be traced all the way back to the 90’s. Combining hardcore, noise rock, jazz and alternative rock, these guys did not shy away from experimenting with their music. Hell, they even managed to make the accordion sound cool! Their last album came out in 2002 and they’ve been greatly missed ever since.
6. Chico (check out: “One Big Alternative”).
I know nu-metal gets a bad rep but when done well, it can be pretty amazing. Chico is a great example of that – their songs were very rich and melodic, and they had a truly superb vocalist with an impressive range. Their sound was like a mix of Skindred, Incubus and P.O.D. And while later they went a bit too mainstream for my tastes, their debut album “One Big Alternative” is still a legitimate banger.
7. Mouga (check out: “The God And Devil’s Schnapps”).
This band was ready to blow up with their first (and only) album but that unfortunately didn’t happen. They still delivered a great collection of songs that borrowed a lot from the Amercian emo/alternative scene, adding a lot of their own ideas into the mix. The band did try to jump-start their career again after a line-up change but that eventually got them nowhere.
8. Sunrise (check out: “Child of Eternity”).
You can’t really talk about metalcore in Poland without mentioning Sunrise. These dudes paved the way for a lot of contemporary bands with their raw, metallic hardcore that still packs a lot of heat to this day. They were true pioneers and it’s a shame they didn’t stick around for longer.
9. Orange The Juice (check out: “You Name It”).
Talk about crazy. Orange The Juice (even the name is absolutely bonkers!) were definitely fans of Mr Bungle and Fantomas, as their music was all over the place. They could fit death metal, noise, hardcore, ska and polka in one song and you were never sure about what was coming next. True masters of the avant-garde but unfortunately they remain silent since 2014.
10. Silence (check out: “Mad Civilization”).
Silence were a crust/hardcore powerhouse back in the day and their EP “Mad Civilization” holds a very special place in my heart, as it was personally recommended to me by Adam (Pure Bedlam’s guitarist) years ago when I was just beginning to discover this type of music. It's very raw and powerful but has a very distinct Neurosis-like vibe and the violins on the last track blew my mind back then.