Hungary’s Symphonic Masters Strive for New Plateaus
By Pete Pardo
This well -established and highly respected mainstay of the Hungarian progressive rock movement continues to wow listeners worldwide with both their excellent symphonic recordings and exciting live concerts. Formed in the mid 1980’s by a core group of close friends, After Crying initially began with a highly acoustic, chamber rock sound. This sound gradually grew to include more electric instruments, which resulted in a more symphonic, bombastic style while still maintaining their zest for melody and a strong European flavor. It is a style that is extremely unique in the world of music today. Made up of a dedicated and talented core of musicians who are the heart and soul of After Crying-Egervari Gabor on flute and lyrics, Görgényi Tamás on lyrics, occasional vocals and art direction, Pejtsik Peter on cello, bass and vocals, Torma Ferenc on guitars, and Winkler Balazs on keyboards and trumpet, all of whom help create the almost indescribable palate of musical ideas. Fleshing out the band is drummer Madai Zsolt, keyboardist Lengyel Zoltan, and lead vocalist Legradi Gabor. Band spokesman Görgényi Tamás recently took some time out from the group’s hectic schedule to share some insight into recent goings on with After Crying.
Sea of Tranquility: Can you give us some news on what is happening with the band, such as current members, tours, and the new live CD "Bootleg Symphony" which has just been released.
Görgényi Tamás: The line-up hasn't changed in the last three years. We are eight as a live band, while within this the five veterans make the creative core of After Crying. The band just ended an exhausting period, where we gave three symphonic gigs in two days in Budapest on the 11th and 13th of November celebrating the 15th anniversary of After Crying. Preparations took a month and there was a great deal of work involved. However, it was absolutely worth all the efforts, because each concert was totally sold-out and a big success. About 1700 people attended these three events altogether, while hundreds more were unable to get tickets. The symphonic orchestra was fantastic, full of young, talented and skilled musicians, who gave their very best and enjoyed the whole thing very much. It was a great experience for us. Now, after a short pause, we are going to concentrate on our new studio material.
Sea of Tranquility: Did the band have any reservations about releasing another live CD so soon after the 2CD set "Struggle For Life"?
Görgényi Tamás: Yeah, maybe we had some, but it was just a short hesitation. We never wanted to release it in the first place, and didn't even know that it would be possible to release the material of that symphonic concert considering that we couldn't arrange the conditions for a professional multi-track recording. But later, a few months after the concert, when we listened to those two stereo recordings, which were originally meant to be pure documentation, we immediately agreed that our audiences deserve to have some great parts of that wonderful night at the Academy of Music. We soon realized that the symphonic material was quite different to the double live CD, and thought that in a way it would be a novelty from us because we had never issued a symphonic album before.
Sea of Tranquility: How is the forthcoming studio album coming along? What information can you give us on this new project, such as style, song titles, instruments used, and whether it will include vocals?
Görgényi Tamás: The conception of is almost complete; the album will be based on an unpublished novel of mine. The musical structure will include some themes and sounds of a soundtrack we made last year for a Hungarian movie. Our ideas seriously differed to the director's, so we decided that we should use some of the themes in our own way. Besides, I have planned for a long time to have the guys in the band write some music for my novel (The novel itself also should be pictured someday.) And when we looked into the novel and the soundtrack materials at the same time, it just turned out that the base colors of the soundtrack materials were very similar to the atmosphere of my novel. So, it seems that our next studio album will be a latent soundtrack for a latent movie after all. Maybe it is not a coincidence, for the novel itself is about a latent world. It's very complex, and has a kind of a horror type story within it's own parody, but the story actually is just a skeleton, and a quite ambiguous one.
Essentially, the music and the novel equally deal with thoughts and feelings on things like God, belief, good and evil, devotion, calling,
friendship, woman and man, and the life in the world of enormous Technopolis. We already played two pieces from this new material live
this year, "Secret Service” and “Technopolis". We'll use many instruments, such as chamber, rock, symphonic and other orchestrations, vocals, grooves, effects... so it will be a very complex album, that's for sure, and there will be some surprises involved.
Sea of Tranquility: Throughout the bands history, the sound has evolved greatly from a more acoustic sound to a more electric symphonic style. Can you explain the different phases in the bands career and how it affected the songwriting and recording process?
Görgényi Tamás: Yes, it is absolutely true that our albums show that kind of evolution in the sound. But, just like in the Nature or History of Mankind, this is only a delusion, at least in the aspect of the real reason for this "evolution". The real reason is purely practical and quite simple. In the beginning we had no proper electric instruments and equipment and the other conditions for making powerful electric and symphonic sound. We never seek to grab one certain sound or orchestration with a new album, while the possibilities are always smaller than your dreams. Long before After Crying was founded, we formed groups and tried to make many kinds of sound, most of them were supposed to be electric, powerful rock and symphonic sound, but the cheap and lousy instruments we had at those times always failed to work as we wanted. So this evolution is only an evolution of our financial and technical conditions. We consider music as an unbreakable whole, so style, genre, orchestration, and sound are subordinated to our conception and the message we want to deliver. In songwriting the computer technology has opened a new way for us, because these days it is a lot more comfortable to try out things before you have to spend money for the studio and recordings. Plus, with the grooves, synthesizer loops and other programmed or programmable effects, elements we can use to express many special feelings, emotions of our times, which can't be expressed by the traditional instruments. We don't enjoy too much of the techno or house or any other modern trends, but there are very expressive effects and elements even in those genres, so we want to use such elements to make our musical world more communicative for today's listeners.
Sea of Tranquility: What are some of the bands favorite After Crying albums?
Görgényi Tamás: Believe me, I don't want to bypass your question, but none of us have a favorite AC album. We all listen to our own albums quite rarely, and each of us tends to like the most that particular album he is just listening to. Beside, from a certain aspect our last studio album "6" is the more complex one.
Sea of Tranquility: What past and present group/artists/albums are the band listening to these days or have been influenced by?
Görgényi Tamás: Present? Hmm… I just can't think of any... As a matter of fact, we listen to a lot of things because we have to know what's going on. Besides, these days you are forced to listen to all kinds of noise all day whether you want to or not, but there is no present group or composer making a great deal of impact on us. If we want to listen to music for the mere pleasure we still pick some good old stuff like something from Bach, Bartók, or Emerson while almost nothing from the latest products of any kind.
Sea of Tranquility: Is there any chance of the band officially releasing the 1989 album, which is the first ever recording from After Crying?
Görgényi Tamás: I don't see any chance of that. Let me explain it with an example. You know I'm a great fan of King Crimson, but as a music lover I'm not too impressed by the Giles, Giles and Fripp and the Giles, McDonald, Fripp albums. They are interesting for me as a musician, I mean, in certain professional aspects, but otherwise those two albums were not really complete. The same goes to the 1989 tape of After Crying. It was very promising, but not something ready to live on its own, like a five-month unborn baby, which has all the good genes yet couldn't survive on its own. If we'd rewrite the material and record it again, maybe, but there are tons of new themes and seedlings we are more interested in at the moment. Not to mention the fact that we can't work on that material without Vedres Csaba (the bands original keyboard player & composer) or at least his approval, and neither of them seems to be available in the near future.
Sea of Tranquility: How would the band describe the music of After Crying to a new listener who has never heard the music before?
Görgényi Tamás: It is a very, very colorful music for open-minded common people with a common sense and justice. We only try to reflect our world as it is in the most complex and coherent way we can. Our albums and concerts are for people who like to go through some kind of catharsis when they listen to music or read a poem.
Best regards to you and all of your readers!