LOMM: Hey guys, thanks for taking the time. Can you give a little biographical and historical info; who is involved in the band, and how did you guys meet up?
Piotr Kowalczyk (PK): Backbone is a band formed in late 2012, during my university years, after my unsuccessful trials to create a melodeath band with Mateusz Szymański. Our musical influences shifted from In Flames to Cult of Luna and on the wave of post metal fascination, we decided to form a band playing atmospheric, sorrowful, yet intense and extreme music. The musician rotation was quite high, at the moment myself and Michał are the longest staying members. Our defining moments were definitely: Szymański and Sworakowski (former guitarist) departing to form ROSK in 2014, leaving us with nothing but ideas, one guitar and drums, and backbone’s three-year-long hiatus, after which we decided to resurrect the band as much more mature people, focused on good fun instead of grasping for innovation and recognition. Won’t lie if I say that the new backbone is much more active than the previous iteration of the band, minus the live shows, but this matter is unfortunately away from our control.
Michał Kowalski (MK): For a time our band was a revolving door for musicians from many underground Warsaw bands such as Tankograd, Kapitan Bongo, Minetaur, Sacrimonia, Odyssey, Trup, etc. They were all great players and we really value their input, but I hope that this period has ended.
Aleksander Boguszewski (AB): They decided to reunite and they were searching for a bass player. I applied. We met at Tarantino’s, ate pizza and drank a couple of beers… And that’s how it started again.
Piotr Potocki (PP): Following the departure of former guitarist (Mariusz Hausenplas of Sacrimonia), the guys set out on a search for a replacement. I auditioned for the part in June 2020, and later won the role.
LOMM: Pandemic has taken an emotional toll on everyone yet the arts have been hit especially hard. The musicians are vulnerable to financial upheaval. How have you guys been holding up?
PK: We are not professional musicians and our music isn’t our source of income, so our financial wellbeing has not been damaged: it’s a pretty baseline state for the majority of independent bands.
MK: Very well since none of us were affected by the pandemic and as an independent band music isn’t our source of income.
PP: Many bands now face an uphill struggle with trying to make a living as full-time musicians. But for us this has not been the case, as the guys said.
AB: My job is rather seasonal and pandemic slightly affected my income but it’s not bad anyway.
LOMM: On the other hand you seem to have had a productive time. Is that right?
PK: Definitely. I’m being creative because I can. I’m having fun with making new records, not because I’m under obligation, pressure, or trying to prove myself.
MK: Indeed, we were able to finish our new EP and we are deep in the pre-production process of our full length album.
PP: Correct. With the lack of live concerts and people not having that gig to catch the latest album live, we are now totally focused on fine tuning the new songs before we head into the studio.
AB: And we have more time to drink beer and eat pizza together! So most of us gained some weight. 😛
LOMM: Tell us about your genre, what does it means to you, why did you choose this genre?
PK: My musical roots are rather trivial, just another generic, long-haired kid with Metallica CDs, electric guitar from a local store in a small town and big dreams of fame, fueled by that juvenile, naive, yet bright and hopeful enthusiasm. As I matured as a human being, found myself a job, became a functional member of the society and discovered more musical genres, I became really interested in shoegaze, post-rock, post metal, ambient. The music itself can be a ritual, the very act of expressing your emotions in notes and words. As adults, we are taught to suppress our feelings, to act like robots and to call it professionalism. Playing post allows me to scream all my frustration, all my rage, all my doubts about the future in a torrent of sound. It’s a cathartic experience, healthy for the conscious mind. See Neurosis’ live performance of “Locust Star” from an old Ozzfest show to understand what I’m talking about.
MK: From my point of view it was less of a matter of choice and more of a matter of feeling. Our music has that sorrowful element to it, that’s why it corresponds so well with doom metal, while the post elements originated from the need of expanding the sound outside one genre niche.
PP: As the newest member of the band, I feel as if we have done a good job at blending different genres, which is something that attracted me to backbone in the first place – back when the band was just starting out.
LOMM: How did the initial musical and thematic elements evolve?
PK: We have learned to understand our own strong and weak points. We used to pursue more extreme sounds to be heavier, but not in a good way: true heaviness emerged when we let go of those expectations. My lyrics used to be much more edgy and personal, now we’re going after more symbolic lines telling tales of universal human struggles like passing, religion, burnout, cyclical nature of societal foolishness. The recent addition of Piotr’s singing allows us to experiment more with vocals, which makes the music more interesting.
MK: I feel that in the beginning we were oriented more towards the “big sound” (the band was a sextet at one time). For now it’s more about the flow of the compositions and how they’re connected to each other. As for the themes, when we started we wanted to be a dark and brooding band, with our lyrics, and now it’s more about internal struggling and growing, though we still maintain that “metal” element to it.
LOMM: Are you happy with your product? What aspects of it do you think you guys nailed, and what parts do you think you could improve upon?
PP: I’m pleased with both “Grey Foundations of Stone” as an overall “product” that tells a compelling tale, and the fact that each song on the EP is unique in its own right.
MK: I agree, and I’m feeling like the full length is going to be a huge improvement. The EP is just an appetizer before the main dish.
PK: I’m very satisfied with the creative path. We took the full course of a release process: composing, recording, partially mixing and mastering, we did our own duties of promotion and finding distributors. Each of us excels in different essential activities and we’re a pretty good team, not only as musicians, but also as people releasing their work online.
AB: The EP is just a warmup before the sonic bomb coming ahead.
LOMM: How has the overall reception been?
PK: Unexpectedly great!
PP: The reception so far has been very positive. Although I have never doubted the quality of our material, to have had such a great response to the EP was not something we could have taken for granted. We’re delighted.
AB: Better than we thought, really. It gave us a bulk of energy to melt it down into even more hard work.
LOMM: Have you ever been on a tour? Given live performances? Is it tough for you not to be able to do so now?
PK: Played concerts with the old lineup, unfortunately we have picked a rather bad timing for returning to the stage. 🙂
MK: We had several live performances up our sleeve but the first tour is still ahead of us.
AB: I haven’t given a concert with backbone yet but we look forward to having one with the current lineup.
LOMM: What is the next step for you? How is the future looking?
MK: The full length album, which is gonna be a conclusion to a musical cycle started with “Omega Wave”.
PP: I think the future is looking bright. We have really come together as a band and built great chemistry during the pandemic, and hopefully this will show on our next album.
AB: Go on stage very soon and give some fucking good shows.
LOMM: Could you tell us about the lyrics / themes /concepts you focus on or plan to focus on? How did the ideas come about, and how do they influence the writing process? Who is writing the lyrics?
MK: Most of the lyrical duties are divided between Piotr Kowalczyk and me, but it’s never set in stone. We think alike and complement each other with the ideas. The music always comes first and it’s “provoking” the concepts to appear on the paper. Since the beginning they weren’t really related to each other. It was more about the atmosphere and symbolism and less about something in particular. However, this has changed since we started working on a debut album. We plan it to be a loose concept album based around the idea of growing up and reaching adulthood through a process of disillusionment. The style of the lyrics won’t change but the symbolical link between them will be stronger.
AB: I think Michał summed up the topic quite well. 😀
LOMM: Who is composing the songs?
PK: So far our music has been written by me, but I’m looking forward to becoming a team feeling comfortable with composing together. I have had enough of micromanagement, it’s an issue in my life. I can manage my numerous one man bands at home. 🙂
PP: My namesake has been the main composer in the band, but we’re gradually moving towards a more collaborative approach with the current lineup.
AB: Piotr. xD
LOMM: What bands do you draw your inspiration from?
PK: Cult of Luna, Blindead, Obscure Sphinx. Those are pretty big and wide-known names in the genre. Personally I like to compliment less obvious bands with my sound, e.g. the idea of our overly reverberated, melancholic lead melodies is inspired by drone/post legend The Angelic Process. Recently I’ve started drawing inspiration from more fringe genres, like post-black (Lantlôs), stoner doom (Yob, Ufomammut) or even good ‘ol 90s industrial rock (early NIN).
MK: Dirge, Minsk, Yob, Opeth, Agalloch and the post metal Big3 (Neurosis, Isis, Cult of Luna).
PP: I draw inspiration from a variety of sources, although most recently have been inspired by Russian Circles, Pallbearer, Deafheaven, Oathbreaker, and Brutus.
AB: Don’t forget about Katatonia, Korn and Boney M! 😀
LOMM: Impressive list. 🙂 Which is more exciting? Being on the road or studio?
PK: All those activities have their own qualities. Apples and oranges.
MK: Always the concerts or rehearsing.
PP: Although I enjoy the process of creating and recording new music, I can’t wait till we finally hit the stage.
AB: Hit the road all the way!
LOMM: What first got you into music?
PK: Started playing the guitar with my friend in early school. Then we discovered rock and metal. Suddenly I was building a DIY amplifier with my father, saving every penny for a budget line Squier Stratocaster, forming a band in my friend’s garage, going to shows and festivals, worshipping the Pick of Destiny movie… as I said earlier, pretty generic stuff 🙂
MK: My best friend wanted to start a band, he was already learning to play guitar so it was obvious that I had to choose drums.
PP: My parents wanted me to play an instrument, and the first one I tried out was the piano – but seeing the lack of enthusiasm on my part they quickly gave up. I rediscovered my musicianship at the age of 11 when I picked up the violin, followed by the accordion, before finally discovering guitar at 15. I took guitar lessons but also practiced a lot at home, because I wanted to play some of my favourite riffs from bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica and Pantera, to name a few. I then formed a heavy metal band with my schoolmates. Good times.
AB: Listening and viewing performances of Cliff Burton from Metallica and of Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath. They both showed me that the bass guitar is a more difficult and inspiring instrument than most of us think.
LOMM: What do you like the best about being a musician? And what is it that you do not like much?
PK: The creativity. It’s a value in itself. Besides, being a musician is a little fantasy from my childhood coming true, and in adult life we should cherish moments like these, to avoid losing connection to our dreams we are so trained to sacrifice and throw away.
MK: The best thing is the mindlink between the guys in the band while playing and creating music, the worst is definitely all the stuff related to technicalities.
PP: I enjoy being a musician for two reasons. Firstly, playing a musical instrument has taught me to work towards short-term goals and practice self-discipline. It’s an excellent form of self-development. And secondly, playing the guitar, and in a band like ours, enhances my self-expression. So I can’t think of any downsides to being a musician.
AB: I know what I don’t like. When you come to a concert of one of your favourite bands and hear every mistake they make during the show. It interferes with having fun.
LOMM: If you weren’t musicians, what would you be doing?
PK: I’ve been a musician for so long that I have no idea how to answer that question…
PP: Each of us has a day job, so for me personally being in a band is a great form of escape from day-to-day life. It’s not impossible but difficult for me to live without music, as a musician or otherwise.
AB: My second passion is motorcycles and I think without music I would have more money to travel all over the world on my bike. 😀
LOMM: If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
PK: Get rid of elitism, give people more empathy and positivity for each other. It’s our hobby, passion, not a dick-measuring contest.
PP: In many ways streaming services have saved the music industry, although since their inception album sales have dwindled while the services themselves only pay out fractions of a cent per stream. So I would amend the existing model – at the moment it is unsustainable as a means of supporting creative work during the pandemic.
LOMM: What’s more important to you? Catering to the audience or music for its own sake?
MK: Without an audience we are just a bunch of guys playing for each other, but being honest with yourself is the only possible way to pursue the audience.
PP: I couldn’t agree more. Staying true to oneself and following the music first is the only way to go.
LOMM: What is the most memorable gig that you have played to date?
MK: The one we did with Crib45 in 2015. Monstrous sound, engaged audience and friendly bands we played with. What else do you need?
PP: Probably a short open mic set I played at Òran Mór in Glasgow when I was a student. My flatmate and I played a few classic rock covers. The crowd was small but very enthusiastic.
AB: Potok Club in January 2019 – I played three concerts with three bands at one night. Unforgettable experience. 😀 (wipes the sweat from his brow)
LOMM: When you look back your music career, what do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
MK: As for now, is that we are back and were able to release our EP. I waited nearly six years for that.
PP: My vocal contributions to the latest album were minimal, so can’t take too much glory, but the fact I could pull them off made me feel really good about myself.
PK: Learning to simultaneously sing and play. There was a moment in my life when I considered this skill to be wizardry.
AB: Understanding that a healthy spine is more important than tons of stuff to make you sound better. 😉
LOMM: Who would you like to collaborate with?
PP: I would like to collaborate with an unusual name to make our genre more popular outside the immediate doom/post-metal community.
MK: Anyone who shares the same mind frequencies in music as we do. The names are not important, the spirit is.
LOMM: Who would you like to go on a tour with?
PK: Any band which will grant us enough free days at work for the whole thing.
PP: I would have loved to go on tour with the now-defunct French band Dirge. I also admire Cult of Luna, and it would be great to share a stage with them one day.
MK: Same as Piotr, and I want a full scale tour with our Finnish friends from Crib45.
LOMM: If you could play any festival in the world, which one would you choose? Tell us why.
MK: Of course the Roadburn. It’s like the crowning achievement for any band in our genre.
PP: Probably one of the major European festivals. I’ve always had a soft spot for Download.
LOMM: Name some of your all-time favorite albums? Include controversial ones.
PK: Opeth “Blackwater Park”, Blind Guardian “Nightfall in Middle-Earth”, Soulfly’s debut album, Blindead “Affliction XXIX II MXMVI”, Nine Inch Nails “Downward Spiral”, Vader “Litany”, Shaman “Idja”, Skadi “Eliwagar”. I consider 2814 ”Birth of a New Day” to be my favourite ambient/vaporwave album of all time.
MK: Neurosis “The Eye of Every Storm”, Mastodon “Leviathan”, Mogwai “Happy Songs for Happy People”, Killing Joke “Hosannas from Basements of Hell”, Dead Can Dance “Within The Realm of Dying Sun” and Immolation “Harnessing Ruin”. Controversial? Sting’s “Soul Cages”.
PP: In no particular order: Black Sabbath “Heaven and Hell”, Mastodon “Crack the Skye”, Cult of Luna & Julie Christmas “Mariner”, Bruce Dickinson “The Chemical Wedding”, The Dillinger Escape Plan “Ire Works”, Death “The Sound of Perseverance”.
AB: Opeth “Morningrise”, Death “Individual Thought Patterns”, Haken “The Mountain”, Tool “10,000 Days”, Katatonia “Tonight’s Decision”, Agalloch “The Mantle”, Bathory “Twilight Of The Gods”, Riverside “Second Life Syndrome”.
LOMM: What does your collection look like? Mostly Vinyl, Cassettes, CDs, Digital? A bit of everything? A total mess?
PK: Sometimes I buy CDs.
MK: Mostly digital, but I’m still having a lot of CDs and vinyls cause I love the physical product.
PP: I listen to music all the time, so Spotify has been the main go-to for me. I’m also a huge fan of TIDAL Masters. Having said this, I still buy CDs and want to expand my vinyl collection.
AB: My collection of CDs comes from buying them at concerts directly from the bands.
LOMM: What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
MK: We’re from Warsaw, the capital of Poland, so the alternative scene is still pretty big in here, although the number of clubs is dwindling year by year unfortunately, and many were struck by the pandemic.
PK: Polish metal scene was always extreme, producing very high profile bands known worldwide. Bands like Behemoth, Vader, Decapitated, Batushka are among the world’s finest when it comes to dedication and quality. In my opinion it’s a product of the struggle, rebellious spirits of passionate, yet resource-devoid musicians clashing with our national darknesses: poverty, generational trauma and resulting mentality, authority of the fundamentalist Church, envy, and hatred for each other. The depressive landscape of Polish reality is beautifully reflected in our fantastic league of contemporary black metal – Furia, Mgła, Odraza. Those bands don’t sing about Satan or northern gods, they write their albums around nihilism and the utter ugliness of daily existence in Poland.
LOMM: You can invite 5 people to a dinner party, from the future, the past, rock stars, movie characters, you name it. Who are you having dinner with?
PK: Let my bandmates choose, I’m not great with people. But I’d seat them around James Hetfield, as he is the table.
PP: I would invite Brann Dailor, Wes Borland, Nicko McBrain, Ozzy Osbourne, and Jack Black. What a crazy dinner party that would be.
AB: Five Spider-Men – just to watch them point their fingers at each other 😀
LOMM: What is your weirdest memory in your music career?
PK: When I was looking for a drummer to play melodic death metal. One of the intervieved drummers looked at my demos with absolute scorn and spat out “Too much melody for fucking METAL!”. He was a thrasher 6 years younger than me. I can only dream of being this true to the genre. 😉
MK: At my previous band’s gig there was a guy trying to strip naked in front of us for some reason, until the other people threw him out of the venue.
PP: Perhaps not the weirdest but definitely the most painful was breaking a string live – and in the middle of a solo!
AB: Gloryhole in a backstage area of one of the music clubs. Tempting…
LOMM: What is the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
PK: My fans are assholes and aren’t giving me shit.
AB: A fresh, cold air. Surprising, isn’t it? 😀
LOMM: If you had one message to your fans, what would it be?
PK: Always make your own choices on what you like in music and what you do not.
PP: I would like to thank you for your support and patience – can’t wait to finally meet you at our concerts!
AB: Don’t eat yellow snow.
LOMM: Anything else you think your fans should know?
PK: Yes, the founder is a Gojira fanboy and the name stayed.
LOMM: Thank you for taking the time!