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Naked Brown interview with Maciej Rekowski

Paging all Motohead fans!  Remember when Lemmy was fresh out of Hawkwind and they were all about the massive riffage and devastating guttural vocal howling?  Well don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Naked Brown remembers those days too.  They’ve recalled a lot of the glory and splendor that traditional heavy metal represented back when it really was the rebellious thing to do.  Back when punk was dead, when being metal actually meant something.  Naked Brown bring heavy as all hell, monstrous riffs along with gnarly, lightning precise bass that leaves your heart battered and out of rhythm, all propelled by tastefully understated drums that are really running the show here giving the bass and guitar room to revel in the stew of heady noise and distortion.  This is some seriously good music here.  From the pummeling rhythms of toe-tappers like album opener, “The King is Back” to the fuzzy, psyched out solos on “Henry, Sexy Little Dwarf” and “Not So Bad” Naked Brown’s self-titled album is sinister, catchy and heavy in all the right places. Their self-released Self-Titled debut album appeared on my radar shortly after it dropped in November of last year (2013) and I am stoked to be able to finally dish on the details of this killer group of guys.  The global metal scene is uniting and the resurgence of bands that pay homage to the honest and raw roots of it all are beginning to pop up more and more often, but not a lot of them pull it off like Naked Brown do.  There’s just enough of a tasteful dose of gnarly deep-fried southern 70’s rock and unhinged 80’s lo-fi DIY psychedelic garage rock in there to keep the sound extremely interesting, and while planted in a certainly definable sound, it allows Naked Brown to draw deeply from a well of classical and contemporary influences without sounding derivative or repetitive by any stretch of the imagination.  In a time when I’ve heard a million and one Sabbath-worshipping bands, I haven’t heard many people making a push back to the pre-hair metal of the late 70’s and 80’s that really did help define the genre.  So listening to someone like Naked Brown do it, and do it well, is a real treat.  So without further ado, kick back and dig on some real metal!
Listen while your read:

What is the lineup for the band these days?  Has this always been Naked Brown’s lineup or have there been any changes over the years?

Yeah, I guess there have been some changes, but I guess it depends on how you look at it.  Mateusz Plastuch, Mateusz Rumba and I used to play together, but it was with the previous vocalist, Rafał.  After a short break Plastuch began to sing and we came up with completely new material, we just didn’t change the name Naked Brown.  We prefer to think of that moment as our beginning.  Later, a second guitarist Przemo joined us and after recording the EP, Stiven replaced Rumba on drums, which is the lineup we have today.

Are any of you in any other active bands right now?  Have you released any music with anyone else in the past?  If so can you tell us about it?  I love playing the musical connect the dots game, but I have to admit there’s nothing more fun than getting to cheat ha-ha!

Yes.  Stiv used to play in a hard rock band Psychollywood.  I played in HeadShot for about a year.  Right now Plastuch has a small side project and some of us sometimes play with other people, but so far there’s nothing big to be concerned about really.

Where are you originally from?  What was the local music scene like there when you growing up?  Did it play a large role in your childhood or your musical tastes or even the way that you play?

Each of us comes from a different town in northern Poland.  We have slightly different musical tastes, but as we play in one band we of course find a lot of things in common!  As far as I’m concerned, when I was growing up the local musical scene had nothing to do with my musical tastes or the way I play.

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

Not really.  When I was a kid my sister taught me how to play the piano, but my relatives and parents weren’t interested in music at all.

What was your first real exposure to music?

That was in high school when my music teacher came up with the idea to form a rock band with the students.  He taught me how to play the drums in the beginning, but later I chose to play the guitar.  We played Black Sabbath covers at the school assemblies, can you believe that?

If you had to pick one defining moment of music, a moment that changed everything and opened the door to all the limitless possibilities of music, what would it be?

Right at that time!

When did you all originally meet and how was that?

Plastuch and I met at the Technical University, Przemo was our friend and Stiv just called us when he decided to join the band.

When and how did Naked Brown form?

We just started playing together.  The band was established in 2007 after we found the right drummer and vocalist.  Then, after a short brake we were reborn in 2009.  In the beginning of 2010 Przemo joined the band on the guitar and then Stiven joined us in the spring of 2012.

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

Yes!  We’re people who share a passion for playing rock’n’roll.  We believe in pizza, barbecue, and good Polish sausages!

What does the name Naked Brown mean or refer to?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?

It’s just a play on words.  We just wanted to come up with something that sounds good, although we really love listening to people’s associations.  Some of them can be truly funny!  So please, feel free to tell me, what comes to your mind? 

Where is Naked Brown located at these days?

We’re located in Gdańsk, or rather the so called Tricity.

How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at now?

It’s hard to say.  There are a lot of good bands out there right now, but I don’t think there’s any such thing as a common style for them.  When it comes to hard rock or stoner, we have some stuff in common with our friends’ band Octopussy.

Are you very involved in the local music scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows or help to record or release any local music?

We sometimes play at local shows.  We organize them or are invited by friends.  And of course we try to attend any good shows, if any are taking place, but that just seems to be normal.

Do you feel like the local music scene has played a large role in Naked Brown’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?

We don’t think that the local music scene had anything to do with us starting.  There were some good rock bands in Tricity at the time, for example Broken Betty, Psychollywood, Riverhead and Clockwise.  But we felt that we had our own path to follow.

There are a lot of things that I love about music and a lot of things that I love about my job, there’s not a whole lot I love more in the world than sharing new and amazing music with people all over the world.  The one part of my job that I don’t really care for though is describing bands that people have never heard to them; I’m just no good at it.  I don’t think that music fits into these tidy little organized labels and boxes that we like to assign them.  Rather than me making some bizarre and meandering attempt at describing your sound, how would you describe Naked Brown’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you before?

We try to sound energetic and compact.  Our style can be described as a raw blend of hard rock, stoner, old school heavy metal and some 70’s/80’s sounds. 

While you’re sharing so much about the background and history of the band with us I’d like to ask about who some of your major musical influences are.  Who would you cite as the major musical influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?

Our major influences are: Clutch, Orange Goblin, The Atomic Bitchwax, Five Horse Johnson, Black Sabbath and Motörhead.

What is Naked Brown’s songwriting process like?  Is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished song idea to work out and compose with the rest of you or is there a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas that gets distilled into a song by the band as a whole during practice and rehearsal?

All of those ways.  Most of the songs on the new album were written from beginning to end by Mateusz, although two songs were written by me.  A lot of the time when we’re working on a finished song at rehearsal the whole idea turns upside down!  Sometimes, somebody comes up with one or two riffs and we finish them together.  We tried jamming, but that’s not easy for us.  I think we’re more like metal players.

Do you all enjoy recording?  As a musician myself I think that most of us can really appreciate the final result of recording, there’s not a lot in the world that’s better than holding an album in your hands knowing that you made it and it’s yours.  Getting to that point though, heading into the studio or even recording on your own, especially when it comes to recording with an entire band, can be a little stressful to say the least.  How is it recording for you all?

Yeah, that’s an interesting process when you write songs, play them, enter the studio, the material is processed, and then finally, you have the end result.  It makes an enjoyable story and we all like it.  It isn’t stressful for us at all!

How do you all handle recording?  Do you utilize studio space to record or is it more of a do-it-yourself, on your own time and turf kind of prospect?

We decided to record live, as it’s the best way for us, and probably rock’n’roll music in general.  We tried to capture as much of the natural dynamics and groove as we could.  Next time we won’t be recording tracks either, that’s for sure!

What about prep work?  Does Naked Brown spend a lot of time working out arrangements and compositions before recording or is it more of an organic changing process where things have room to evolve and transform?

We tried to do it the following way; first, the material evolves and matures slowly and then when everything is ready, we enter the studio.  But it wasn’t easy to book time in the studio, so when we finally succeeded there wasn’t much time, and the songs weren’t ready.  Then, we had to start working really hard, recording rehearsals, etcetera, and we finally managed to be prepared on time but we had only seven songs.

The first music that I know of you released was the self-released the self-titled Naked Brown Demo EP in 2012 which is available on Bandcamp still.  Was that digital only or has there been a physical release of that material?  Can you talk a little bit about the recording of that material?  Where and when was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  Was it a fun, pleasurable experience for you all?

We recorded this material with our friend from Gdynia, Michał Koziorowski of Airline Records.  We needed an EP, but didn’t have enough money to book a professional studio.  So, we decided to record each instrument step-by-step in a different place.    First, we recorded drums in the Blues Club pub in Gdynia where we could get a nice natural reverb, at the time we were playing with Rumba our first drummer.  Guitars and bass were recorded at Velur Studio in Gdańsk.  Vocals were recorded in our friend’s home studio in a basement, Michał who also edited the tracks and did the final mixing and mastering.  It resulted in a pretty cool sound, but we’ve found it a little bit too clear and sterile for us for the most part.

You followed up the Self-Titled EP with the Not So Bad album in November of 2013.  Was the recording of that material very different than the session(s) for the earlier release?  Can you share some of your memories of recording Not So Bad?  Was it a fun pleasurable experience for you all?  When and where was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  Who put out Not So Bad?

Recording our album was a great time for all of us.  We enjoyed it a lot, and that played an important part!  It was different, because we recorded most of it live and then the guitar solos and vocals later.  Our friend Jan Galbas from Gdynia was our sound engineer at the studio; he did some great work and helped us a lot.  We recorded it in the summer at Custom 34 studio in Gdańsk where we got an amazing sound right from the beginning.  We used Orange guitar amps, a vintage Ampeg bass amplifier from the 70’s, Les Paul, SG and Tele guitars, and a Spector and a Fender P-bass, which helped us get some pretty raw tones.  The drums in that room sounded mind-blowing!  I can’t tell you much about the studio equipment, but as far as I know there was some badass top drawer stuff.  Finally, Dziablas edited the tracks and did the final mix.

Does Naked Brown have any music that we haven’t talked about yet?

Yes, we have a demo from 2010.  It hasn’t been released physically, but unfortunately you can still find it on YouTube.  

With the release of Not So Bad only a little while ago are there any other release in the work or on the horizon at this point?

Yeah, we’re working some new material, but at the moment it’s too early to talk about another release.

Where’s the best place for our readers to pick up copies of your music?  With the recent international postage rate increases I try to provide people with as many options for picking up music as I possibly can.

You can order our CD from our 8merch store or download a digital version from our Bandcamp page.

And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases from Naked Brown at?

Just follow us on Facebook.

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

So far we don’t have any tour plans for this year.  Generally speaking, we don’t make any big tour plans, we just plan some gigs or small trips in a line, improvise when a good opportunity arises.  Besides, all of us have regular jobs.

What was the first song that Naked Brown ever played live?  If you can remember what it was, when and where was that?

The first place we played a gig was a small local pub Sobiewola in Iława, northern Poland.  It’s a nice place next to a lake with lots of beer.  We played some songs that we don’t really remember now to be honest.

Who are some of your personal favorite music acts that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with?

Twice we’ve had the opportunity to play on one stage with one of the best Polish classic rock bands, TSA.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

CLUTCH! And George Michael.

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

Not really.  Once we played on a festival with a well-known Polish pop-folk band, Golec uOrkiestra and we got hungry and ate their sandwiches from the wardrobe.  I don’t think they even realized it.  

If you can’t tell I’m not only passionate about the music itself but I’m passionate about the albums and about collecting.  There’s always been one major problem with having a massive music collection, aside from having to move it with you every time you get a new place ha-ha!  Before now you have never really been able to take your collection on the go with you.  Even with CDs and tapes I could never take enough stuff with me on the go to keep me sated throughout an entire day.  Digital music has changed all of that basically overnight!  And as if that weren’t enough when you team it with the internet you have a real game changer on your hands.  While it’s exposing people to a whole world of music that they otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to, illegal downloading is running rampant and it’s becoming harder and harder to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle of music that seems to be seeping from every pore.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

We don’t think there’s anything wrong with downloading music, nor can it be stopped.  We want to catch as many listeners as we can.  You’re right, it isn’t easy getting noticed.  We have our music up for download, and if you want, you can download it for free from our Bandcamp page.  There’s nothing we can do about it, our mp3s are already available on The Pirate Bay! If you want to support us, please order our stuff and come to our gigs!

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s just not enough time in the day to listen to it all.  I spend more time than I would like to admit listening to random stuff online looking for new awesome stuff every week and I stop in at the local shop at least once a week to see what they have in the new arrivals bins and chat up the employees for suggestions and recommendations but a lot of the best tips that I get come from musicians like you.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of that I should be listening to?

You should be listening to Blindead, Ampacity (Interview here), Octopussy, Sautrus and The Meizterz, but I’m sure you’ve heard of some of them.

What about nationally and internationally?

From just what comes to mind at the moment, listen to Satellite Beaver, Major Kong (Interview here), Rust, Snake Thursday and also Greenleaf, Grandloom, Horisont, Captain Crimson and of course, Blues Pills!

Thanks so much for taking the time to finish this, I know it wasn’t short and it can’t have been quick to finish but I hope it was at least a little fun ha-ha!  Is there perchance anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk about?

I would like to thank you for this nice interview and your interest in our music, and all the best to the readers!

(2012)  Naked Brown – Naked Brown Demo EP – digital – Self-Released
(2013)  Naked Brown – Not So Bad – digital, CD – Self-Released

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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