Progressive Shades of Brutality — A Talk With Sceptic’s Jacek Hiro (Interview with Sceptic)

18.06.2002  :: АрхивАрхив интервью Автор: Chris Alfano

It brings me joy to finally present this interview, which was almost six months in the making. After several communication mishaps and innumerable delays, I now present a most informative conversation with Sceptic guitarist and founding member Jacek Hiro. My appreciation of this band’s technically-adept, yet intriguingly melodic take on death metal is well documented in these pages. Thus, I found it interesting that some of my critical remarks (whether positive or negative) were validated by Jacek himself in the ensuing discussion. While the members of Sceptic are undoubtedly in the midst of a difficult time in their careers, I found Jacek to be rather optimistic (albeit very honest) in his responses. Fans of Death, Cynic, and Nocturnus take heed: if you buy just one import CD for the entire year, let it be either «Blind Existence» or «Pathetic Being»!

— (CA) There have been quite a few changes in your line-up recently. Both Kuba Kogut and Marcin Urbas left before the recording of «Pathetic Being», and now Pawel Kolasa has left too. Do you mind if I ask what the reasons were behind each member’s departure?

— (JH) I’d like to mention that our drummer (Maciek Zieba) and second guitarist (Rafal Kastory) have left as well. :( Each one of them had a different reason. Kuba went to live in the USA, (and) Marcin is very busy with his sport career. He’s a European Champion (in the) 200m Sprint now. As for the other three, they (either) didn’t enjoy this music anymore, or didn’t have time because of school or their job. The thing is that we don’t earn money by playing, so we have to do other things to live. Sometimes there’s no time left to share between music, family, and friends.

— (CA) Who is Pawel’s replacement on bass?

— (JH) His name is Grzegorz Feliks and he’s a very good friend of ours. Pawel used to teach (him) how to play a bass, and since he was a very good pupil, we asked him if he’d like to join us. :) He’s a very young guy and he loves the music we all love, so I think that this cooperation will last for long.

— (CA) Were you completely satisfied with how «Pathetic Being» was recorded and mixed? Is there anything you would have liked to change?

— (JH) I don’t really like to think about it that way. Of course, we could do some things better, and some things different, but we did our best and recorded both albums the best we could (have) at that time. We learned (from our) mistakes and we won’t make those mistakes next time. But I’m sure we’ll make other ones! During the «Pathetic Being» recording, we had some problems with the studio equipment, and it cost us time and stress. Maybe the album would have sounded better if those problems (had) not occurred, but it was a lesson for us, and thanks to that we’ll avoid those problems in the future.

— (CA) The CD-ROM video you included with this disc (for the title track) is great. I especially like the computer-generated graphics, which make it look like the band is playing in a mystical tower of some kind. Who came up with this concept? Does the imagery specifically tie in to the song’s lyrics?

— (JH) Frankly, we didn’t have much to do with that video. It was created by Mariusz Kmiolek (our manager) and Adam Kuc Selani (the studio owner). All we did was fool around in front of the camera. :) It was probably their interpretation of the lyrics, because we didn’t tell them how we would like the video to be. We are fully satisfied with the final effect, and I only regret that people can watch it only on their computers and not on TV.

— (CA) Speaking of lyrics, your latest album seems to cover all sorts of subject matter. There are songs about politics, child abuse, and even the astral plane. What inspires you to write about these topics?

— (JH) The answer is very simple: life, and environment we live in. The things we see on TV and the things we go through (are) all in the lyrics. It’s very inspiring; (observing) people’s thoughts, ideas, and unfortunately, sometimes their stupidity. Or maybe we should be happy that there are a lot of idiots around us. Otherwise, you’d hear Sceptic singing about birds, flowers, and love. Or knights, castles, and dragons. :)

— (CA) I know that you were a big fan of Chuck Schuldiner. How were you and the other members of Sceptic affected by his death?

— (JH) I felt terrible. It was like losing a very close person. I learned how to play the guitar from Death albums, and I always admired Chuck’s persistence and devotion to music. It’s a great loss, because he was one of a kind and cannot be replaced. There won’t be another Chuck Schuldiner.

— (CA) It seems that the metal scene in your home country has been strong over the years. Are there any new or unsigned bands that you would recommend?

— (JH) There are a lot of bands I’d recommend. Here’s some of them: Esqarial, Crionics, Thy Disease, Trauma, Atrophia, Red Sun, Never, Disharmony, Nyia, Demise, Dissenter, Devilyn, Lux Occulta, Hunter, Decapitated, Dies Irae :), Hate, Spinal Cord, Headless, Infernal Maze, Belfegor, Witchmaster… and so on. :)

— (CA) What did you think of {Relapse}’s «Polish Assault» comp? Do you think that it adequately represented the Polish scene?

— (JH) No, I don’t think so. The bands (who were) asked to take part in this comp represent a very brutal kind of death metal. I think that a compilation like this should be more diverse. Then it would be more representative of the scene. But I’m very happy that someone released such a compilation. I’m sure that it helped a lot; not only for the bands (who were) invited, but for the whole Polish scene.

— (CA) What do you like to do when you’re not working on music?

— (JH) Unfortunately, working on music is not my only duty. :) I have a son to take care of. He is 10 months (old) and he’s really absorbing! But sometimes, when I have a while for myself, I like to read, listen to music, or simply sit in front of the computer and play games without mercy. So I’m sorry if you’re disappointed, but I’m quite normal. :)

— (CA) Is it difficult to get gigs where you live? How about the rest of Eastern Europe? Is it easier to play in some countries than in others?

— (JH) I don’t really know the situation in Eastern Europe, but I know that Poland is not a good place to organize concerts. People don’t have money for tickets, so the attendance is very low, especially for the underground band’s gigs. On the other hand, when you talk to people from western bands, you always hear that Polish audiences are great, and playing for them is a big pleasure (with which I would agree!). But I think I’m not really objective on this matter.

— (CA) What’s next for Sceptic? Will there be any more touring?

— (JH) We would really like to play abroad, but every time we have a chance to do it, something stops us. Maybe after the third album, we’ll work something out. Now the main problem is to complete our line up. We already have a new drummer (his name is Kuba Chmura), but we’re still looking for a guitarist. After the line up is complete, we’ll have to work on material for the third album, which (we) plan to record next year. After that, we’ll try to find a label to release it. This is always a torment in our case, and (it) takes a lot of time. So as you can see, we don’t complain of boredom. :)

— (CA) Do you have any idea of what your next album will sound like? If so, what can fans expect?

— (JH) I can’t tell anything about it yet. We have two tracks composed, but who knows if they’ll change before the recording. One thing I’m sure of is that I’d like to record a cover of a great band… one of my favorites: Coroner. [Excellent Choice!!! —CA] But time will show if it’ll work.

— (CA) What have you been listening to lately?

— (JH) I refreshed the albums I grew up with! I missed a little ass-kicking while I was listening to Dream Theater, so now I listen to albums like Death «Human», Pestilence «Testimony of the Ancients», Nocturnus «Thresholds», or Cynic «Focus» (of course). Painkiller is a (regular) guest in my CD player as well, and lots of other heavy stuff. :)

— (CA) Any closing comments?

— (JH) Greetings to everyone who read this interview. Hope to see you at a gig some day. Stay brutal!!!

— (CA) Thank you for the interview, Jacek! We’re really looking forward to the third Sceptic album and we wish you the best!

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