Interview with BARTOSZ JANIK [SPACESLUG] 07/24/2018
Written by Marc C. Pietrek 2018
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN, NOR DO I CLAIM TO OWN, ANY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS AND/OR VIDEOS USED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS INTERVIEW / ARTICLE.
Marc C. Pietrek filed the following report for VITRIOL, INC / A DARK UNITED FRONT (www.vitriolinc.com) on 07/25/2018 09:42PM EST] Yes, I am blissfully saying it yet again: SPACESLUG have all the goods to become huge in the international underground metal scene. Formed in 2015, these master architects of atmosphere have already (just) released their third album, ‘Eye the Tide’ [2018 BSFD]. On this true gem, the Wroclaw, Poland three-piece, made up of guitarist/vocalist Bartosz Janik, bassist/vocalist Jan Rutka and drummer/vocalist Kamil Ziolkowski, formulate a perfect combination of melodic, mellow yet moody intergalactic guitar and synth psychedelia and classic doom/stoner metal riffing ala-KYUSS backed by superb TOOL-esque piledriving bass-lines and tasteful “less is more” drumming. All this glazed-over with ALICE IN CHAINS-style brooding vocals. Add into the mix a strong backing vocals presence that makes their sound all the more vast. The songs are extremely well arranged as this band instinctively knows when to turn on, tune in and dropout and when to bring down the wrath of Mars.
“Eye the Tide’ is SPACESLUG spearing their flag into in the doom/stoner metal landscape and flying it high. As much as I dig and groove to both ‘Lemanis’ [2016 BSFD] and ‘Time Travel Dilema’ [2017 BSFD], this album is a significant step in the evolution of the band. The reason being is, in my opinion, it is more, well, epic. Five of the seven clock in at eight-plus minutes (actually, one has a total time of 07:57), and the “chemical reactions” that occur within the songs are fucking amazing! Listening to it is like watching two particular compounds mixed together in a beaker In chemistry class. You notice the gradual changes, becoming more and more captivated as the seconds go by. Colors begin changing, gases start emitting and before you realize it, there is an eruption. It is one of the coolest things you have ever seen before and you ask the instructor if they can perform the experiment all over again. Yeah, let’s do that shit AGAIN!
A few weeks ago, I reached out to Bartosz Janik via social media and asked him if he would agree to be interviewed by me. With no hesitation, he agreed to it and we set up a time do a Q and A session via Facebook Messenger. Due to unforeseen scheduling conflicts, that plan was scratched. We decided to do an email interview instead. Once I received his email containing his responses to the questions, I contacted him back to thank him. He apologized for his English not being the best, but I assured him that it was actually pretty decent and he should give himself more credit. He came across as very gracious, humble and complimentary like many people I have met from that part of the marble, either in person or via social media. The amount of gratitude that this dude expressed was well noticed.
So, with being said, grab yourself a cup-o-joe, load up the bong (“if that be your thang lol”), sit down and give it a read.
01.) M.P.: What inspired you to peruse a career in music? We’re ther any particular bands/artists, albums or song in particular that that made it an easy decision for you?
B.J.: It was funny cause couple years back I saw Kirk Hammett soloing some stuff and I thought that maybe I can do this myself as the music was always big part of my life. I bought very cheap guitar – it was Epiphone LP Junior (heck man, do not make that mistake!) for around 50 bucks. I started learning some simple Metallica and Pantera stuff. I was big fan of EYEHATEGOD at the time so next I found that Riffs of Jimmy Bower is something I want go into. So I ended up playing some sludge riffs and next big thing was YOB and Neurosis. After that I pursed more open minded riffage and sounds. From the beginning I was gear nerd type of guy. I was very passionate about how your guitar sounds and what can you do with powerful amplifiers. Bands like Sleep and Yob in general inspired me to searching for some cool gear and my own tone. I think that im in a good way to achieve it.
02.) M.P.: Who are are guitar influences? Who is your all-time favorite guitarist, metal or otherwise?
B.J.: In the beginning James Hetfield and his style of picking was a big deal for me. Next big influence was Dimebag. I also watched alot of David Gilmour and Tony Iommi. For sure playing style of Jimmy Bower, Mike Scheidt [YOB], Scott Kelly [NEUROSIS], Matt Pike [HIGH ON FIRE, SLEEP] had big influence when I started exploring more heavy and psychodelic stuff. Right now it’s really hard to tell who inspires me the most. For sure best guitarist allaround for me right now I must point Kelly and Scheidt. Emotion in riffs is my prior. For me they have that unique style of playing with emotions – whenever it’s acoustic and majestic or raw and loud. Alot of Hank Williams III acoustic stuff for me is something great. Brent Hinds from Mastodon for sure had an impact on me. Hard to pick up one man and tell “He is the best!” but these guys are heroes for me for sure!
03.) M.P.: How did SPACESLUG form?
B:J.: I was searchig for a project that can be more flexible in music terms. Back in those days my main project was Legalize Crime – it is for sure more heavy blues sludgy thing, check it!. I asked Kamil – the drummer if he want to jam some space psych music just for fun. He bringed Jan on the Bass as they both played in a band Palm Desert and we started making music for real. It was very unique cause “Lemanis” was made in around four months. So we decided to record it and publish the music. People liked it so we manage to play in Spaceslug as our main project and regular working band. Simple yet nice story of something that from scratch turned into something great and important to us.
04.) M.P.: SPACESLUG, in my opinion, is one of the most truly unique doom/stoner metal bands on the international scene. When I listen to the band, I hear influences such as BLACK SABBATH, PINK FLOYD, TOOL, ALICE IN CHAINS, KYUSS, CHEVELLE, QUICKSAND, JOY DIVISION and even a slight trace of early U2. As a whole, who are the bands’ main influences?
B.J.: This is weird as we don’t have main influences. I love bands like Yob/Neurosis, Kamil and Jan loves Alice In Chains and 90s stuff. We’re not talking about music when we play it. There is none things like “Hey man! We should play like this and this band in this song cause it will be cool”. It’s more like every band member put their own influences in music without any calculations. That sum in the end is Spaceslug which for me is something really unique in terms of writing music.
05.) M.P.: SPACESLUG does a superb job of seamlessly transitioning the songs from mellow and celestial to really heavy and dark. The buildup that takes place between the two styles creates an incredible, engrossing atmosphere. Does the band consciously write songs following that “blueprint”, or does it develop organically just by jamming together?
B.J.: We do not have any scheme of playin music like I said before. It’s just normal proces of “I have a riff and idea” and we just hammer it to the shape of what you can call a song. When I wrote riffs I try to bring some specyfic emotions to it. They depends on the moment when Im writing it. For example Eye The Tide is very personal album for me and every song contains cliche of some sort of “that” moment in life. It’s almost a cleansing process thanks to that.
06.) M.P.: For a band that has been together only since 2015, SPACESLUG has a nice size catalog, which includes two albums, an EP and another album, ‘Eye the Tide’, that is set to release in just a few days. Is the band constantly writing, or do guys just wait until you go in to the recording studio? Who are the primary songwriters in the band?
B.J.: We like to be in the studio. We write songs as soon as we feel that there are some ideas worth to work with them. I can tell that most of the basic ideas was from riffs of mine, but also some was from ideas of Jan and Kamil. In any way we hammered all ideas together in the finale. Songwriting process for us is a hard work of the whole band and credits goes to all of us. It’s not a matter of pointing ‘songwritter’. Do not matter if I had more riffs ideas, or Jan, or Kamil or whatever. We are not counting such things. It flows from three of us so the Spaceslug is songwriter.
07.) M.P.: I have read that the upcoming ‘Eye the Tide’ album is the third installment in a trilogy. However, the ‘Mountains and Rememberance’ EP was released after ‘Time Traveler Dilema’ . Does the band consider the EP as being a bridge in the progressive trilogy, or just random tracks that were written between albums I order to keep momentum going for the band?
B.J.: Three tracks were from “Time Traveler Dilema’ and first and last song were written just for the EP. It was something different for us and I can say it was in some way bridge between. You can call it a little spin off .:-)
08.) M.P.: How extensively has the band performed live? Has the band done any touring up to this point?
B.J.: Right now not so much. We have a plan for 2019 to do more shows and tour more. So we can return to this topic next year 🙂 Right now we have some good gigs at Summer Dying Loud fest among Behemoth, Orange Goblin and couple other, also Soulstone Gathering Fest among Wiegedood, Yob, My Sleeping Karma and some plans for short tour around France.
09.) SPACESLUG is, what we like to say over here, “gaining traction” in the U.S. DECIBEL MAGAZINE recently did a favorable review of ‘Eye the Tide’. I have also talked to several metal journalists about the band and they are all fans like myself as well. Has the band been approached about touring or even playing some select dates over here in the U.S. (such as the Maryland Doom Festival)? If so, can you go into any detail about it?
B.J.: We can’t talk about any details but in some point for sure we want to go to the USA and play shows there. For the band from Europe it’s hard to manage all the tour stuff in States but I hope we will do that in near future as for me for example it is a dream to play in USA.
10.) M.P.: Are you a fan of any of the “old-guard” doom/stoner metal bands such as TROUBLE, SAINT VITUS, PENTAGRAM and WITCHFINDER GENERAL just to name a few? If so, who are your favorites and why?
B.J.: For sure I love all Wino stuff. But Im more into prog. rock bands like Yes, King Crimson etc. Of course I love all old doomy stuff but prefer some other sounds to be honest. But of course Saint Vitus was big part of my playlist at some point.
11.) M.P.: What do you think of the current state of the international doom/stoner metal scene? Are you a fan of of any bands like HIGH ON FIRE, SLEEP, The SKULL, BLACK PYRAMID, CONAN and WO FAT just to name a few?
B.J.: To be honest im not into Stoner right now as much as I was, for example, two years ago. I know all the important bands, I listen to them and I watch how they doin. The scene is strongest ever and I love it. Im listen alot of other music just to search for inspirations and I dont want to limit myself just to Stoner stuff. When I have time to put headphones just for doomy stoner stuff I listen to Cough, Weedeater and Windhand or similiar stuff. I dont want to lie and must say that im more into post and black metal scene right now and bands from this genre inspired me the most.
12.) M.P.: I was recently doing some research for this web-site and I came across the band ABSENT from Brazil. While listening to their album, ‘Toward the Void’, I could not help but hear a lot of similarities between them and SPACESLUG as far as vocals, overall tone and song structure. Are you familiar with ABSENT and if so, are you a fan?
B.J.: I must be honest that I do not know them but for sure will check ’em! We should support all musicans from around the globe!
13.) M.P.: In 1984, IRON MAIDEN played various nations behind the “iron curtain” in support of ‘Powerslave’. Poland was one of the nations they played on that tour. I am pretty sure you were not even born then and if you were, you were probably just a few years old at the time. Do you know anyone that was able to attend any of their shows in Poland on that tour and if so, can you give me an insight as to what they felt when they saw this historic event?
B.J.: Not a fan of Maiden at all, so sorry.:-)
14.) M.P.: Locations in Europe have been targets of terrorist attacks, both pre and post September 11. What are your feelings about the current state of unrest in Europe as well as the state of its’ security? Do you think that it is affecting or can affect the decision of doom/stoner metal bands touring the continent presently and/or in the future?
B.J.: It’s hard to tell. Right now we have alot of propaganda by politics and you can’t be sure what is true and what not. For sure for me touring is big thing and I hope that all bands over the world can do it with safety. We should make music not war. Hope that any of that terrible things will not change anything in music industry – but in some way this is the thing that is unpredictible and for sure be safe is most important things for fans and musicans. Hope that this matter will go only in better way and everyone across the globe will feel safe.
15.) M.P.: With what happened with the false accusations that led to Polish death metal band, DECAPITATED, being held in a US jail last year for weeks before being released, do you feel that will affect bands from Poland and Europe in general from touring the US?
B.J.: In my opininion should not. It could happen anywhere. Basically for me, I can’t even imagine how much stress these guys , families, road crew, etc had. It is something that should never happen. But that’s the world, man. You must watch yourself as bad peapole are in every corner. Hope that the band is only stronger right now and they will not have any trouble of that kind in future.
16.) M.P.: What are the immediate plans for SPACESLUG once ‘Eye the Tide’ is released on July 20, 2018?
B.J.: We have couple of gigs this year as I mentioned but we are preparing for some tours next year and this is our main priority right now.
17.) M.P.: What is your equipment rundown, both in the studio and live?
B.J.: Oh man. I can elaborate about that topic hours and hours. Basically I’m using Matamp heads. I own custom Matamp GT1 which is hybrid between it’s base model and GT120. Also I own GT Deluxe and original Orange Matamp from 68. I love all three amps but for sure ORMAT is my favorite. It has the soul. Currently I’m on Sunn Model T reissue as I’m in love with more American heavy sounding amps right now. It’s great for the stuff we play right now. As the main weapon Im using my beloved Monson Croatoan. It’s a luthier guitar from the USA. Honestly best instrument I ever played. Right now Im also testing some EGC stuff. Pedalboard contains two delays – Vox Delaylab and the Roland Space Echo for some great textures. Next we have Morley Wah, Custom copy of Pharaoh Supreme and my trusty Earthquaker Palisades (best OD you can find these days). There are more things but I switch them often – from Phasers to some Compressors, etc.
18.) M.P.: You, Bartosz Janik, are a heavy metal concert promoter for one day/night and one day/night only. You have to choose one doom/stoner metal band, one classic metal band, one thrash metal band, one death metal band, one black metal band and one cross-over band. You can pick any band and any lineup. You can also include SPACESLUG if you would like. You also have to choose the order that the bands will play. Go!
Dream lineup if you ask me.
Be sure to visit the SPACESLUG Bandcmp page (https://spaceslug.bandcamp.com/album/eye-the-tide ) to delve into their discography and also visit their official Facebook band page (https://www.facebook.com/spaceslugband/). Cheers, ya rivet-heads!!