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Major Kong interview with Misiek, Bolek and Domel

© Marcin Pawłowski

Major Kong took their name from a man who literally rode the atomic bomb into the surface of the earth.  It’s a lofty thing to compare yourself to something as powerful as an atom bomb, but the name of the movie sums up how I feel about this band; How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb.  I’ve heard a lot of heavy music, doom and sludge masters alike, but not many of them can even come close to the apocalypse rattle of brimstone and fire that is Major Kong.  The apocalyptic wave of fuzz and distortion they call the guitar, create these unhinged balls-to-the walls psych lead lines, mingle with the utterly blown out and distorted bass lines powerhousing an airtight rhythm section built like a brick fallout shelter and all but level a room when you crank the volume!  More than capable of eight to ten minute tirades into the stratosphere, Major Kong is also more than able of crafting their twisted brand of deranged madness into four and five minute mind pummeling assaults on the psyche!  Poland is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to find new bands but it’s rare that they brew up something heady, sludgy and psychedelic enough to compare with the Swedes or Germans, that’s what they do.  Major Kong is one of those bands though.  Instrumental, stoner, sludge, doom, heavy as fuck.  Major Kong is one of those bands!  In 2011 they self-released their first album, the mind altering metal dirge that is Orogenesis, and quickly followed that up in 2012 with another masterpiece of devastatingly heavy self-produced sludge, Doom For The Black Sun.  While 2013 was a slow year for Major Kong release wise, 2014 has already seen the release of their third full-length album Doom Machine, which is like thirty-five minutes of the heaviest psychedelic head sludge I’ve ever heard, as well as the appearance of their song, “Sequoia” on Major Kong’s first vinyl release, the 4 Way Split on Ulterior Records.  Major Kong ranks among my favorite instrumental stoner, sludge and doom that I’ve managed to track down in the past few years and with the release of Doom Machine I knew it was time to talk some serious shop with the guys.  Somehow I managed to get all three founding members of the band in one place at one time, to fill in all the blanks, and then some.  Major Kong’s a band with everything to prove, and one with the chops to back it all up – we’re sure to hear a lot more from these psychedelic sludge lords in the future, and I’ll be waiting!
Listen while you read:

What is Major Kong’s current lineup?  I know you all have been around for a few years releasing material and stuff, has the lineup of the band changed at all over time or has this always been the band?

Misiek:  I play the guitar.

Bolek:  I play the drums.

Domel:  I play bass.  Nothing’s changed since late 2010, but the idea evolved from a side project to a regular band.

I am really starting to get into the Polish scene right now, there’s some amazing stuff going on over there.  The Stubs and a few others really grabbed my attention late last year when I picked up a small package of stuff from Instant Classic Records.  Unfortunately though I’m kind of operating at a disadvantage when it comes to researching Polish bands though.  I haven’t found a good online Polish translator that works so I just kind of have to click on music and see what I think and it makes it kind of hard to even tell who’s involved with the bands.  Are any of you in any other active bands right now?  Have you released any material with anyone in the past?  If so, can you talk briefly about that?

Misiek:  You should ask Domel.

Domel:  No, you shouldn’t, I’ve become ultra-sceptic recently and I don’t believe in “the scene”.

Where are you originally from? 

Bolek:  Everyone thinks we’re all from Lublin.  The band was formed in Lublin, but I’m originally from Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski.

Domel:  We all moved to Warsaw too, so we don’t do rehearsals in Lublin anymore.

What was the music scene there like when you were younger?  Did you see a lot of shows when you were growing up?  Do you feel like the music scene there played a large or important role in forming your musical tastes or the way that you perform at this point?

© Marcin Pawłowski

Bolek:  In the town where I grew up, there were only two bands and one club with rock and metal music.  It was boring to see the same band every week.

Misiek:  First of all, it was harder to do something back then.  Times were hard, it was hard to get an instrument, to find a place to play.  I played in such dump holes back then that it’s just painful to remember.

Domel:  No money to buy the proper equipment, no riff-worshippers to play with.  These were the bad times.

What was your home like when you were growing up?  Was it very musical?  Were either of your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved/interested in music?

Misiek:  My father used to wake me up at night watching concerts on TV, especially pink Floyd.  You could say I was sleeping with headphones on.  It’s hard to understand if you didn’t live in Poland in the 80’s.  Listening to music was the only thing people could do.  When it comes to musicians in my family beside myself, there’s my grandfather, and he’s still active.

Domel:  I’ve had a proper education thanks to my older brother.  When I was six years old, he was thirteen and became a metalhead.  I was in the swim with everything from death metal to grunge.

What was your first real exposure to music?

Misiek:  I really was exposed all the time throughout my childhood.  My father is a music maniac.

If you had to pick one defining moment ofmusic, a moment that kicked the doors of perception wide open and allowed you to see the infinite possibilities of music and changed everything, what would it be?

Bolek:  I was in high school when my friend showed me Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii.  That was something new and freaking weird to me.  It totally changed my musical perception.

Misiek:  Same here: Live At Pompeii.

Domel:  Buying Orange Goblin’s tape during the last days, of the last record store in Lublin.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that decision about?

Misiek:  I've always wanted to make music I think, but I always thought that I’d be a singer.

Bolek:  When I was seventeen.

Domel:  When I was learning to play the guitar, I preferred playing my own riffs instead of learning the standards.  Other people told me the riffs were good, so there was no other option than forming a band.

What was your first instrument?  How did you get it and when was that?

Misiek:  Hands and feet.  I started learning to play guitar at eighteen.

Bolek:  I was seventeen when my father bought me my first drum set, which was destroyed and completely out of tune.

Domel:  My first bass had a broken tension rod and it was out of tune from the sixth fret down; told ya those were the bad times.

When and how did you all originally meet?

Misiek:  I met Domel back in the late 90’s.  Pawel came to our rehearsal for a drummer in Fifty Foot Woman few years ago.

Bolek:  Yeah, one day my friend told me that some stoner rock band in Lublin was looking for a drummer.  I knew that my friend liked to make up stories, but I decided to go for it and see what happened.

What led you all to form Major Kong and when was that exactly?

Misiek:  I think you can say Major Kong came to life out of necessity to continue playing while Fifty Foot’s singer wasn’t present.  I don’t think we meant to abandon Fifty Foot Woman, it just happened.

Your name is awesome, for some reason all I can think of is Planet Of The Apes or something.  What does Major King mean or refer to?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?

Domel:  It’s acharacter from Dr. Strangelove by Stanley Kubrick.  Watch it and you’ll find some nuclear strength in the name.

Is there any shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Domel:  Fuck the Polish music business, only play good riffs.  It’s not a code, but it seems to work.

Where’s Major Kong currently located at?

Misiek:  Warsaw.

Domel:  We just started doing rehearsals here a couple of weeks ago.

What’s the music scene where you’re at now like?

Misiek:  Currently, I think it’s booming all over the place thanks to the internet and changes in our country. 

Domel:  It would die anyway.

Are you very involved in the local scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?

Domel:  I don’t know.  Probably less than we should.

Do you help to record and or release any local music?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about that?

Domel:  No, releasing our own music is all we do.

Do you feel like the local music scene has played an important role in Mighty Kong’s history or the way that you all sound?  Or do you feel like you could be doing what you’re doing regardless of your location or surroundings?

Domel:  I’d rather say that the lack of the local music scene pushed me to do something new.  Things are going better now, but a couple of years ago, you wouldn’t, for example, have been able to form a band influenced by Saint Vitus or Pentagram.  Because nobody listened to it.

Misiek:  I think we’re more influenced by foreign bands.

Whenever I have to describe a band to our readers I always feel like I’m doing them a grave disservice.  I guess I’m not awful at it but I still like to ask, how would you describe Major Kong’s sound in your own words?

Misiek:  Primordial, the less the better…

Domel:  A heavy load of stolen riffs.

Bolek:  Mostly it’s like the explosion of a nuclear bomb, but sometimes I think it sounds like a journey through space.

You all have a really interesting sound, I’m curious who you would cite as your major musical influences?  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Domel:  There are some bands we all worship, like Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and Church of Misery, but every one of us has individual influences.  I’m quite into some 90’s shit, like The Melvins and Unsane recently.

What is Major King’s songwriting process like?  Is there a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas between you all as band members, where you all just get together and try stuff out and work it into a song?  Or is it more of a situation where someone usually brings in a riff or more finished idea for the and to work out and compose together?

Misiek:  Both, but usually jams.  Some things are brought in as an idea, and then worked into a song.

Bolek:  We like jamming, we make lots of riffs like that.  While we do it, Domel tries to make the ideas more "Major", and he’s also responsible for putting everything together at the end.  There are also situations where someone brings in some riffs and we try to build new song from there.  Sometimes forgotten riffs we made a long time ago fit in new songs, a couple of changes and the work is done.  As you can see, we don't have one songwriting process, every time’s different in the details.

Do you all enjoy recording?  I know that there’s not a lot in the world that can top that finished product, holding an album in your hands knowing that you made it and it’s yours is a hard feeling to beat.  Getting to that point though, getting everything recorded and worked out sounding just the way you want it to can be a little stressful to say the least.  What’s it like recording for Major Kong?

Bolek:  The recording process is one of the most enjoyable moments of having a band.

Misiek:  When we record, it usually takes us five days, full time.  The way it should be.  In the woods. A zillion takes per song.

Do you all handle recording in a do-it-yourself approach fashion or do you head into the studio to do your recording?

Misiek:  Studio.

Domel:  Right, I’m not into home recording at all.

Bolek:  We owe our sound to Szymon Swoboda from Vintage Records Studio.  The guy has great knowledge and he understands our vision.

Is there a lot of preparation that goes into recording for Major Kong?  Do you all spend a lot of time getting things worked out and sounding just the way that you want them or is the recording process more of an organic one where things have room to change and evolve?

Misiek:  We have something of an idea how it should sound on the record.  Then we get into the studio and change everything.  Usually it’s something that’s born there, the sound I mean, not the songs…

Bolek:  Szymon has a lot of ideas.  For example, he changed my hi-hats to 16" and the sound was awesome.  We like experimenting, it’s one of the best parts of the recording process.

Your first release that I’m aware of is 2011’s self-released Orogenesis.  Can you tell me a little bit about the recording of Orogenesis?  Where and when was that material recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Misiek:  It was supposed to be a demo, but it came out as an EP.

Domel:  It was recorded by Grzegorz Kulawiak in our rehearsal room.  One-hundred percent live, of course.

I know that Orogenesis is still available digitally, but was that ever released physically?  If so was that a limited release?  Is that still in print and if it was limited, do you know how many copies it was limited to?

Bolek:  It was limited to 100 copies.

You followed up Orogenesis a year later in 2012 with Doom For The Black Sun which was also self-released if I understand correctly.  Was the recording of the material forDoom For The Black Sun very different than the session(s) for your earlier Orogenesis album?  Where was the material for the Doom For The Black Sun album recorded?  Who recorded it and when was that?  What kind of equipment was used?

Bolek:  To record Doom For The Black Sun we went to the Vintage Records Studio.  For the first time we entered a place like that, full of great equipment, some of which was legendary.  I don't know exactly what was used, because there was a lot of stuff around my drum set, maybe even fifteen microphones.  There’s no comparison to Orogenesis, which was a rather amateur recording session.

I know that Doom For The Black Sun is available on CD as well as digitally but I thought that I read somewhere the CD release a limited one?  I can’t find any evidence of that to back that up, but I swear I remember reading it somewhere.  Is that a limited release and if so, how many copies is Doom For The Black Sun limited to?

Domel:  You’re right, it’s limited to 500 copies.

In 2013 you digitally released the “Sequoia” digital single, it’s labeled as an outtake from the Doom For The Black Sun session(s).  Are there any plans to make this available physically in the future or is it intended to be a digital only release for completists and the like?

Domel:  It’s going to be released on an LP with some other bands as 4-Way Split by Ulterior Records.  It should be available in a couple of days, I think.

You just released your newest album Doom Machine on CD this month (2014) and I know that there’s a deluxe package with an awesome new shirt.  Is the Doom Machine release a limited one?  If so how many copies is the CD going to be limited to?  Are there any plans to release the album on vinyl?

Domel:  300 copies.  Of course there are plans to release it on vinyl, but we’re too broke right now.  The funny thing is that there were a couple of labels interested and all of them changed their minds.  Looks like a curse.

What can our readers expect from Doom Machine?  Did you try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting or the recording of the album?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Bolek:  We recorded Doom Machine at the same studio as our previous album, so we didn't have to look for a new studio.  This album is more focused on the riffs themselves, and it's heavier than Doom For The Black Sun.  We also changed the sound a little, it’s dirtier and bolder now.

Does Major Kong have any music that we haven’t talked about yet?  Maybe a song on a compilation or a single that I might have missed?

Bolek:  You’ve mentioned all of our recorded material.

With the release of Doom Machine earlier this month are there any other releases from Major Kong in the works or on the horizon at this point?

Bolek:  We don't have any material to record at the moment.

Domel:  Well, we’re not in England and it’s not 1970, so it’s hard to do two albums in one year.

With the completely insane international postage rate increases I always try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up import releases as I can.  Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?

Domel:  Sorry, it’s not distributed by any US store.  But we try to ship from Poland as cheaply as possible.  Just visit our bigcartel store.

What about our international and overseas readers?

Domel:  Same here, bigcartel.

And where’s the best place for fans to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases at?

Bolek:  Facebook I think.

Domel:  Yeah, no point in doing our own site.

Are there any major goals that Major Kong is looking to accomplish in 2014?

Bolek:  We’d like to play some tours through Europe and of course more gigs in our own country, to show people the destroying power of Doom Machine.

Domel:  I wouldn’t be so optimistic.

Do you remember what the first song that Major King ever played live was?  Where and when would that have been?

Bolek:  It was “Witches On My Land”, and we played it at Doom Over Goatville in Tektura, Lublin in 2011.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  Do you enjoy life out on the road?  What’s it like being out on tour with Major Kong?

Domel:  It means, eating hot-dogs and laughing at one inside joke for three days, also some heavy snoring.  Unfortunately, we don’t tour as much as we’d like to though.

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes for 2014 so far?

Domel:  We have some gigs booked in March and then we’ll see.

You are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with?

Bolek:  The best show I remember we played was with Church of Misery.

Misiek:  …and Weedeater.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Domel:  Never had such dreams.  Touring with the MC5 in 1969 would be cool, I think.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Domel:  Stories are filled with inside-jokes, so I’m not sure if it’s funny or interesting for anyone besides us.

© Agnieszki Łuksza

Do you all give a lot of thought to the art aspect of the band, like the artwork on flyers, posters, covers and that kind of thing?  Do you have any go-to artist for that kind of thing?  If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with him or her?

Domel:  Marek Kępiński has made all of our album covers and some of our t-shirts.  We also have t-shirt designs from Maciek Kamuda, Kuba Sokólski, Jakub Kijuc and Miodek, Dopelord’s singer.  Everyone we mentioned does their job properly and are highly recommended.

With all of the various mediums of release that are available to artists today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the methods that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference can you talk briefly why?

Domel:  Ninety-percent of our listeners don’t bother with anything other than mp3’s.  CD’s and LP’s are for a bunch of collectors.  But a physical copy is somehow a tribute to your work, so CD’s are worth releasing and LP’s…  Well they make a listener feel more exclusive.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?

Domel:  I’m the only collector here.  Got some heavy stuff from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s on LP.  The sound of old vinyl is always perfect.  I also enjoy limited editions of new albums, but try to avoid reissued and re-released old stuff.

I grew up around a pretty big collection of music and when I was at my dad’s house he would always encourage me to listen to anything that I wanted from him massive collection.  I would wander up to the shelves of music and pick something completely at random, pop it into the player, kick back in the beanie bag, read the liner notes, stare at the artwork and let the music transport me off to another place.  It was a pretty magical experience back then and to this day I get a rush every time I listen to an album and get to experience the rush of something new and different.  It’s something I’m not sure I’ll fully ever get over and as a result I’ve developed a pretty deep appreciation for physically released music?  Do you have any such connection with physical music product?

Misiek:  I have the same kind of memories from when I was young and listened to vinyl with my father, who also had a great collection of old music.  I think physical copies of stuff won’t ever go away because it's important to experience music this way.  You don’t even have to listen to music to appreciate it when you look at the artwork.  Again Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Budgie and King Crimson are bands with albums I can look at and connect their music with the artwork.  It always brings back memories when you look at the cover.

As much as I love my music collection I could never really take it on the go with me before and portability is a big thing for me.  Even with the advent of CDs and cassettes I would find myself out on the road wanting to listen to that one song or album, and it killed me ha-ha!  Digital music has all but eliminated that problem overnight and when you team it with the internet you have a real game changer on your hands.  Together they’ve exposed people to a whole new world of music and for independent bands willing to promote themselves and really promote a healthy online presence ti seems to have somewhat levelled the playing field.  Illegal downloading is running rampant on the other hand and it’s harder and harder to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle out there.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Misiek:  I think people should be able to listen to your music, even without paying.  Times have changed.  There’re no more global companies doing anything more than selling CDs.  As you said, more people can discover what they enjoy, like, love, and even dislike or hate.  Bands should realize this, and just write music they like playing, for people who admire their work.  On the other hand, if you like the music, you should really support your favorite bands for the time and effort they put into making it.  All of that, with the help of the internet creates a good vibe and some much needed interaction for bands to keep going.

Bolek:  It's great to share your music with people this way.  In Poland people are careful about spending money, and they don't like to risk buying new albums they haven’t heard before.  Digital music gives us the opportunity to show more people what we’re doing.  Of course, there’s more satisfaction if someone buys your CD, but the digital era has advantages and disadvantages and we just have to accept that.

I try to keep up with as much music as I possibly can.  I spend a lot more time than I would like to admit, and way more than my girlfriend likes, listening to random stuff online and digging through the bins at the local shop.  There’s just not enough time in the day to keep up even one-percent of the amazing stuff out there right now though, is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?

Misiek:  Domel is an expert and keeps us updated.  I think we all try to dig deeper and deeper in the community for those precious, or even simply interesting, bands we’ve never heard of.  And there are a ton of them.

Domel:  I try not to be an expert anymore.  I’m back to the old albums and not digging the new shit as much as I was before.

What about nationally and internationally?

Domel:  New Slomatics and The Wounded Kings albums are great.

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview, I know it wasn’t short but it was cool learning so much about the band and I hope it was at least a little fun looking back on everything that you’ve managed to accomplish as a band.  Before we sign off, is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to take this time to talk here with our readers about?

Major Kong: That’s all, thank you!

(2011)  Major Kong – Orogenesis – digital, CD – Self-Released
(2012)  Major Kong - Doom For The Black Sun– digital, CD – Self-Released
(2013)  Major Kong – “Sequoia” – digital – Self-Released (Unused track from the Doom For The Black Sun sessions featured on 4 Way Split 12” by Ulterior Records)
(2014)  Major Kong – Doom Machine – digital, CD – Self-Released
(2014)  Major Kong/Keef Mountain/The Ruiner/Helminto – 4 Way Split – digital, 12” – Ulterior Records (Limited to 248 copies)

© Paweł Wygoda

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright

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