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Progressive Rock Interviews


Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Alters from 2019


Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"

Piotr Zalewski: I’m from family with musical traditions. Everyone at home was playing on instruments like piano, guitar, cello, viola da gamba, so I’ve started to do the same.

Pawe? Zalewski: Just like my brother. 

Robert Pludra: I was interested in rock music since I found my father’s old vinyl collection with the numerous polish progressive rock bands like SBB, Grupa Niemen or Klan. Even though I was always surrounded by different music genres I never stopped being interested in this kind of music.

MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Pawe? Zalewski: I would like to be a pilot

Piotr Zalewski: I’d like to be a computer games developer.

Robert Pludra: I don’t have to guess because I am a professional industrial designer.

MSJ: How did the name of the project originate?
Robert Pludra: We had a band in high school called "Alter Ego" but people used to call us “Alters." During the recording session of the first LP MILD we thought it would be a more catchy band name. At some point it turned out it is also related to the Dissociative Identity Disorder, which reassured us that it fits our music.
MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?
Pawe? Zalewski: J.S.Bach, Marain Marais, The Beatles, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, ?cianka, Supergrass, SBB, Radiohead, Oasis

Piotr Zalewski: There’s a lot of it, but these are a few of my favourites: The Beatles, Radiohead, Muse, Supergrass, Oasis, The M Machine, Deadmau5, Autechre

Robert Pludra: The genre was never that important. I was always taking interests in nostalgic and psychedelic music. The more freaky the better. Except progressive rock bands I’ve mentioned I was listening to a lot of experimental contemporary classical and jazz music as well as electronics. Also, I used to play in a death metal band and I am still drawn to this genre.

MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
Pawe? Zalewski: “My child (two-years old) loves it”

Robert Pludra: I have two favorite quotes: “When unconsciousness alters dreams.” from LiveTrigger Magazine, and simple: “One of the best Polish rock bands at the moment” by Jarek Szubrycht in Gazeta Magnetofonowa.

MSJ: What's ahead for you?
Pawe? Zalewski: Releasing more great albums with wonderful music.

Robert Pludra: We are about to release the next album with illustrative music, and also in the process of recording of the next rock album. In autumn 2019 we go on the next tour around Switzerland and Germany.

MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?
Pawe? Zalewski: Psychosoul

Piotr Zalewski: Electronic progrock?

Robert Pludra: Alters is a rock band combining vintage guitars and psychedelia of the 70s, synth sounds of the 80s with modern electronic music, historical instruments and original visuals. In a word: “rockexperiment”.

MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play in the future?
Pawe? Zalewski: Paul McCartney

Piotr Zalewski: Thom Yorke

Robert Pludra: Pawe? and Piotr.

MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?
Pawe? Zalewski: I would like to be the most often pirated musician, I would be honored.

Piotr Zalewski: I think nowadays it’s a help, because even "legal” platforms like Spotify etcetera actually don’t pay artists. So, it’s quite the same for us if people download our music from torrents, for example.

Robert Pludra: I’m pleased if someone shares our albums because they enjoy the music.

MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Pawe? Zalewski: Do whatever you like, man.

Piotr Zalewski: I think it’s cool for someone who can’t be on this show, and can see a little part of it. But I can’t understand people who instead of watching concerts are focusing on "good shot” on their smartphone.

Robert Pludra: Every kind of promotion is valuable for us.

MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?
Pawe? Zalewski: If I was a superhero, then I would be a Batman and I would not listen to music at all

Robert Pludra: I don’t see music as a battle of good versus evil.

MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Pawe? Zalewski: Alters + SBB+ ELP

Piotr Zalewski: The Who with Oasis.

Robert Pludra: Richard Feynman -  American theoretical physicist who was also player of bongo and conga drums plus Fred Frith -  English multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser.

MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Pawe? Zalewski: Unknown bands that can affect the future of music.

Piotr Zalewski: Bands that I pointed in my influences.

Robert Pludra: I think I would select very limited amount of bands, to give audience a chance to listen to all of them. They will be representatives of different genres, but somehow coherent. I would look for a different key every year.

MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?
Pawe? Zalewski: Toploader Onka's Big Moka

Piotr Zalewski: Jamiroquai - Rock Dust Light Star

Robert Pludra: Currently I am listening variably The Church by Mr Oizo (French house) and Blood Mantra by Decapitated (Polish death metal).  

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
Pawe? Zalewski: Marek Krajewski's books

Robert Pludra: Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

Pawe? Zalewski: Lady Pank

Piotr Zalewski: Chemical Brothers

Robert Pludra: The Flaming Lips

MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Pawe? Zalewski: It is hard to say, but if we're talking about rock music then I think it was ?cianka's gig (alternative polish rock band )

Piotr Zalewski: No.

Robert Pludra: I am not sure about the first one but the first memorable one was the Jethro Tull’s Warsaw concert, when I was 14.

MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
Pawe? Zalewski: Danelectro 12 string electric guitar

Piotr Zalewski: Soma Laboratory LYRA-8, Dreadbox Erebus and not new, but recently bought Elektron Machinedrum

Robert Pludra: I am not very much into new stuff. I pay more attention to “nursing” my old Slingerland Chrome Over Wood from 1970s.

MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Pawe? Zalewski: Lady Pank Lady Pank LP (1983) (polish rock group, their debut album)

Piotr Zalewski: The M Machine "Promise Me a Rose Garden"

Robert Pludra: Kings of Leon Only by the Night

MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Robert Pludra: Luckily our failures were not that spectacular yet  Once I forgot my drumsticks for the concert.
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Pawe? Zalewski: John Lennon, Johan Sebastian Bach, Maciej Zalewski (my grandfather)

Robert Pludra: Emerson, Lake and Palmer

MSJ: What would be on the menu?
Pawe? Zalewski: weed, vodka and ribs in plum sauce

Piotr Zalewski: Wine

Robert Pludra: I suppose our common field would be some vegan cuisine.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
Robert Pludra: Please follow us on our social media next months! We will keep you posted about our next releases and concerts. We hope to meet some Music Street Journal readers out there.
MSJ: This interview  is available in book (paperback and hardcover) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 4. More information and purchase links can be found at:
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