Believe are a Polish progressive-rock band created in 2005 by ex-Collage guitarist Mirek Gil. Originally a six-piece, keyboards player Adam Milosz left after the first album Hope to See Another Day (2006) leaving Mirek (guitars), Tomek Rozycki (vocals and guitars), Przemas Zawadzki (bass), Satomi (violin) and Vlodi Tafel (drums). Adam did however return as a guest musician for the second, and latest album Yesterday Is a Friend (2008), out now on Metal Mind Productions.
Sea of Tranquility writer Alex Torres caught up with leader Mirek Gil to find out where the band's future aspirations lay.
SoT: Tell us about the Polish progressive rock scene in general. Riverside have made a big impact outside of Poland but is it easy for other bands to follow in their footsteps? Is there a big progressive rock market in Poland itself, with plenty of venues for bands to play live? Are you able to make a living from your music or do the band members need to have other jobs?
Mirek: You know Alex, the music group called Collage is my roots. I created it in 1986 with Wojtek Szadkowski from Satellite. We were forerunners of progressive rock in Poland. Our first album "Ba?nie" found to all the world and other album called "Moonshine" (from 1994) came to the world canon of progressive bands. This kind of music has high value and in my opinion Polish market of progressive rock is still developing. Recently appeared a lot of bands like Riverside, but this is only a drop in the sea. I wouldn't rate the Riverside's creativeness, but there is a lot of really interesting music groups which I suppose you never heard. Like Believe! Ha! Ha! If you want to know something about concerts and financial issues, you must know there is everything all right and I calmly live from music.
SoT: Which are the major markets for Believe's music?
Mirek: Our album came out in fifty countries of all the world. What else does the artist need? It's great, but most of our listeners come from Poland and different parts of Europe.
SoT: It is clearly a benefit to English-language speakers to have you singing in English. Does that cause some resentment back home in Poland?
Mirek: In Poland a lot of people use English language. There aren't any fears that somebody doesn't understand us and has any claims because we don't play and sing in Polish language.
SoT: Tell us a little bit about the "feeder" bands for Believe, such as Satellite and Collage, and the decision making that led to those bands splitting.
Mirek: Collage was a very good band. We created really beautiful music and we came out outside frames of typical progressive music groups. We recorded five albums and I think we made the big success in Netherlands, but not only. Properly I had never played with Satellite. I helped Tomek with first album. Many bands break up in all the world. The major cause of this problem are music differences and it was similar with us. But now is the time of Believe.
SoT: How did Believe's members come together? What were the band's ambitions at the outset?
Mirek: I was looking for musicians to the band and I phoned Przemek and Tomek. They helped me record the album "Ba?nie" with Collage. Next I phoned Adam and Vlodi which cooperated with me on Mr. Gil - my solo album, which comes from 1998 and it's called "Alone". By the way I recommend it. I met our lovely violinist Satomi owing to my friend and I engaged her at once. I wanted to record not only one album and it was my destination. I wanted to be a star! Ha! Ha! You know... Girls, money...
SoT: How does Believe's music and ambitions differ from Collage?
Mirek: I think it isn't any difference about ambitions. Every music group have something in common: be the best, create great music and make a big success. In a fact our music is quite different. It's hard to say, because I heard Collage a long time ago, but Believe's lyrics and music are more mature and romantic. I think both bands have one thing in common: sound of my guitar, without swank.
SoT: Your music is less heavy and more romantic than Riverside's: tell us about the band members' sources of musical inspiration, including any classical composers.
Mirek: You know... I can tell you that our music is less heavy and more romantic than many other bands, not only Riverside. First of all our inspiration is a life, people which we know and which live with us, issues, friends, enemies, illnesses, birth, happiness...
SoT: Who are your favorite artists?
Mirek: In music we don't limit oneself to only big progressive rock stars. There is a place for classic music and jazz too. I don't want to quote artists names, because I listen a lot of them. You know... Pastorius, Verdi, Ozzy.
SoT: The instrumental arrangements on "Yesterday is a Friend" in particular are quite complex, with acoustic instruments playing alongside more traditional rock instruments - what are the difficulties of translating this rich album sound to the live stage?
Mirek: There is no problem with this thing. Sometimes we change arrangements of our music for concerts and we arrange some parts, for example guitars on flute. I can tell you that final effect is often more interesting. But in fact we haven't six hands.
SoT: After two albums, how do you view the health of the band and what are your plans for the future?
Mirek: Believe's future is drawing very optimistic owing to our new vocalist Karol Wróblewski which he plays on flute too. He'll replace Tomek. Unfortunately Tomek is exhausted, music was for him only big heavy. Karol is our new, young volcano of energy. He's 19 and he sings brilliant. This is the birth of new, young Hogart. I promise. For one month we will record a brand new composition and traditionally on our official website will appear new Christmas song. I invite everyone on WWW.BELIEVE.COM.PL
SoT: Your keyboards player Adam Milosz left the band membership after "Hope to See Another Day" but still played, rather well it has to be said, on "Yesterday is a Friend". Tell us a little about this issue.
Mirek: Adam was going through premarital stress. He still plays with us and he will be able on next album and concerts. Recently we are preparing for the tour in seven big Polish cities with Pendragon (from 7th to 12th October). We are promoting not only our 2 albums, but DVD too, which we released in August. Of course you will listen to Karol If you come to our Polish tour.
SoT: Are there any plans to tour further afield in Europe or perhaps even in the USA?
Mirek: There are quiet plans, but negotiations are in progress...
SoT: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I've enjoyed both of your albums very much - good luck with their promotion and hope to hear from you again soon!
(Click here to read our review of Yestrday is a Friend)