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Searching For Calm

Een hoes kan zo verschrikkelijk misleidend zijn. Toen ik de promo van 'Celestial Greetings' in mijn bus kreeg van dit Poolse gezelschap, moet ik toegeven dat ik eigenlijk zoiets had van 'gaan we weer, de zoveelste metalcore met emo invloeden die de Weltschmerz uitkrijst en het lot van de wereld op de schouders neemt. Dan is het toch zo verschrikkelijk lekker als de muziek je totaal verrast. Eigenlijk is de bandnaam Searching For Calm een heel toepasselijke, want veel tijd om te kalmeren krijg je namelijk niet. Ze laten zich niet op één stijl vastpinnen, ze zijn niet overdreven heavy maar weten hun muziek uitgekiend te arrangeren en combineren stijlen, gemoedstoestanden zodanig dat het ene moment je trommelvliezen worden gestreeld, en vervolgens wordt er weer een keiharde tik uitgedeeld. Om eens te kijken wat voor mensen aan deze plaat gewerkt hebben, toog Lords Of Metal via de digitale snelweg naar het Poolse achterland om Searching For Calm aan een vraaggesprek bloot te stellen. De resultaten zijn onthutsend, voornamelijk omdat we niet weten wie nu wat heeft geantwoord: de hele band heeft aan dit interview gewerkt, terwijl ik aan de stijl van antwoorden toch het vermoeden heb dat er slechts één persoon achter het toetsenbord heeft gezeten. Searching For Calm is dus aan het woord…

Door: Wilmar | Archiveer onder different metal

For me it was a first time with Searching For Calm when I received the promo for 'Celestial Greetings', but knowing you also have a debut cd out already, I was wondering if you could inform us Dutch music loving people about the band: origins, achievements and future plans?
We got together as a band in 2002 as a result of shared musical fascinations. We were all pretty much into the post-punk and post-hardcore scene back then (e.g. Refused, Dillinger Escape Plan or Converge). Throughout several years following that (and they've been good years) we were adopted by and actively participating in this scene. By no means were they the only influences, though. As time passed by and we grew and developed as people and as a band, our more diversified (sometimes more subtle) inspirations came into play more and more distinctively. We toured with very interesting bands (and open minded, inspired and inspiring people), took part in film festivals performing live, improvised music to silent movies, extended our sound applying more electronics and keyboard parts. We've managed to release our debut album with the aid of an independent record label. The record received enthusiastic critical acclaim regarding the scale of the release. That all eventually paved us a way to gig more and more which included touring and participating in alternative music festivals both home and abroad (e.g. UK, Czech Republic). After recording the “Celestial Greetings” we were signed to the largest Polish independent record label with worldwide distribution. At present we are playing some dates around the country, preparing music videos for the new record's singles and planning some longer tours for the upcoming year.

As mentioned: 'Celestial Greetings' is your second album. What do you think is the most important development when you compare your sophomore album to your debut?
Most definitely the sound. However happy we were with the first release in terms of the content, the songs structure and the lyrics, the sound was quite rough. Now its smoother, more sophisticated so to say. Simply better. Apart from that – it is a little hard to compare for us who are within all this. Most musicians detest their “previous records”, always bragging how much they have developed since then. For us – it is still our beloved child, but at the moment we're particularly fond of the new one, plainly because it's new and it tells more about us at this particular moment in time. We are a little more mature as people, that's for sure. And we think that's audible. Is that a development?

Searching For Calm is working with two bassplayers. Now that is quite an unusual setting for a band. But listening to the record I don't have the impression that I am hearing a band with two bassplayers, somewhat I expect a heavier sound of that, but to the contrary: I think the album lacks some bass from time to time. What do two bassplayers add to your music that one cannot?
The original aim was to experiment with broader options the two basses create to play with harmony and arrangements. They were never supposed to give our sound more low end. Think of it as another instrument rather than just a low-sounding bass to be found. Often it even sounds more guitar or piano-like. On recent recordings, on occasions the second bass is also entirely replaced by the keys.

Your musical choice is very eclectic, not only over the entire album but even within a single song you can switch styles like other people switch underwear. After hearing 'One Fancy Restaurant', which I suspect is from your debut, I get the impression that this eclecticism is a trademark to Searching For Calm. Can you recognize yourself in that?
Most of the common people tend to change their underwear daily. Unfortunately our songs are not that long but this allows us for much more frequent and rapid changes. Do you know any woman or man that rapidly changes panties every 30 seconds on regular basis? (Yeah, they are called children - Wilmar) You see? That's exactly what our record is. How original and not economic! Underwear aside (!), you could find Mike Patton, John Zorn and Faith No More or even Mr. Bungle among our inspirations. We enjoy the theatrical atmosphere as well as the almost visual impressions this music evokes. This, along with the clever mixture of styles and sound textures creates an inspiring meddle. This, along with our being keen on the ever changing dynamics and tempos specific for jazz music, and of course our own emotions and experiences adds up to create our own form of eclecticism.

I compared 'Celestial Greetings' with an asteroid hit in my own musical universe. It is one of the most refreshing albums of this year. Since I have an extra-ordinary taste in music, bands that don't jump on the bandwagon can count on my support, but the Slipknot generation might not be as pleased about your sound. Is it something you can lay awake from at nights, or do you simply don't give a fuck about it and just do what you want to do?
There are always a couple of bands that are trying to do something new and, as you call it, refreshing or reviving. They are usually a minority. And then goes the infinite chain of the ones that try to get with their musical attempts as close to the original as possible, using the ready-existent patterns rather than trying to create something from scratch. We've always been trying to sign for the first abovementioned group. We just do what we do, hoping that there will be more and more people with such exquisite taste as yours hehehe. Hope our asteroids blast their musical gardens, too.

'Celestial Greetings' is released on Mystic Productions, while your debut is released on Singalong. Why did you leave Singalong for Mystic?
Everything's got its time. Back then it was released with the kind aid of an enthusiast who sponsored it with his own money. He helped us a lot, we're still at very good terms and by no means it should be treated as some kind of split between us. It was more of a one-time all-in-the-family project rather than a full-time label. Now as far as Mystic is concerned- it's bigger, better but still independent, giving us a complete freedom of expression combined with professional worldwide distribution and promotion.

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I am not too fond of the color of the vocals. Vocally Michal sounds like a mixture of Alan Tecchio, Fish and Björk. It is original, it is passionate, but I really have to get used to the way the voice sounds. Do you get that a lot, or am I just a whining bastard?
You are just a whining bastard, that's for sure hahaha. But don't worry – on the other hand, if what you say is true, our vocalist is a whining bastard as well. After all, Bjork whines a lot too, doesn't she? To be completely frank, he is planning to kick himself out of the band with an immediate effect and pursue a career of brilliant trianglist lest he harms no one anymore.

The album is mixed by Pedro Ferreira, who also worked with bands like The Darkness and Therapy? (I hate bands that have a question mark in their bandname, it seems like the sentence is ending here, but I have to add some more info…). Those bands don't have signature sounds like Searching For Calm but are more 'in your face' songwriting. What made you decide to work with Pedro after all?
First of all one thing needs to be set straight – Pedro, not to underestimate his input, was exclusively responsible for the mix. He was not so much a producer but a mixer. He liked our ideas and compositions, we share some musical and non musical inspirations so we got along quite well to say the least. The records that you mentioned may not be too sophisticated or complex in terms of arrangements and song structure but it is hard to contradict that they sound really fine. That was our aim hiring Pedro - not the content as such but the sound itself. And to be frank, we're quite pleased with the job he's done.

In 2008 you have toured in the United Kingdom and Poland with Ever Since The Lake Caught Fire. Have you toured since that, and what are the most remarkable experiences?
We've been in UK once since then, doing a short tour through Newcastle and London with ESTLCF. Even though we come from “slightly” different cultures, since day one we met we've been getting along quite well and the thread of friendship strained between us and them eventually evolved into a solid chain. However difficult it might seem for ten people of different cities and countries to gather together in one place we believe it will eventually happen soon enough and we look forward to touring with these brilliant, talented lads again.

You also participated in the United Islands Of Prague contest. Could you tell us something more about this contest and could you tell us who won?
We signed in but nothing came out of it and we have not heard from them ever since, nor have we followed the progress of the contest. Please exclude this question if you may;) (I actually won't. There might be bands considering enlisting for a new run of this 'contest', and your experience might make them consider otherwise, ed. Wilmar)

Looking at the songtitles on your album like 'Transformation', 'Airs And Graces' and 'Sorcerer' and also the album title 'Celestial Greetings', I suspect a love for topics that could be described as 'New Age'. I could be dead wrong, but could you elaborate some more on the lyrical content of your new album?
There is no unified presupposed ideology behind our lyrical content whatsoever, “new age” included. There is a different story behind every single piece of a text we write. There are vast musical spaces, a lot of air on our new record music-wise and the same applies to the lyrical content. Some pieces of text are pure emotions disguised in words while other tell about stories or situations in a rather indirect manner. In terms of reception – you have to give some to get some. To give you an example of a piece inspired by a simple situation – 'Airs and Graces' came out as a joyful result of a party we all had together in the studio one evening while recording our album. On one hand – it came out as a spontaneous idea to develop a “song about nothing” concept we had earlier on that would contain apparently randomly put together phrases, slogans and exclamations. E.g. it contained some slightly nasty albeit friendly remarks and pokes addressed to our sound engineer. On the other – it also contains the message we would like to quite seriously convey - “YOU sit down and figure out”, to provoke the addressee of the song, and the whole record for that matter, to rest for a bit, give it some reflection, some time and thought himself. The last verse, a provocative question “what's the thing that makes you feel content?” is an attempt to play a bit with the listener's emotions.

After the album release I expect some extensive touring for you guys. Are there plans in that direction, or are you still waiting for a tour on which you will fit in?
We're doing our best to extensively tour the upcoming year. So, if you, extraordinary Dutch people, want us in your town – book us!!!

Final question: You can reach eternal stardom but you only have to sell your soul to commercialism. Would you do that in the blink of an eye, or do you stick to artistic freedom and then work a day job to support yourself?
The very sound of “eternal stardom” makes us uneasy and somewhat blushing here hahaha. Truly, we're planning on retaining artistic freedom while hopefully quitting day jobs to start making money having fun. This is it.

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