Probably the most popular and influential punk group in Poland formed in 1981, as a reaction against the absurd reality at that time. It has all been initiated by Robert “Robala” Matera — the drummer and author of lyrics, Krzysztof Grabowski and the bass player Dariusz Stepnowski, to which, after a few months joined the vocalist Dariusz “Skandal” Hajn. First appearing under the name ‘SS-20’ (a Soviet ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads), the band was forced to change it’s name after the declaration of Martial Law, so they chose „Dezerter” („deserter” in English) and produced a self-titled track with the following lyrics:
Piszę do pana list
Może będzie przeczytany w jakiejś wolnej chwili
Właśnie otrzymałem kartę powołania
By w środę po południu stawić się na wojnie,-
Ani mi to w głowie
Nie po to żyję, by zarzynać biedaków
Proszę się nie gniewać, lecz muszę być szczery
Powziąłem decyzję — BĘDĘ DEZERTEREM!
I’m writing a letter to you
Maybe it will be read in a free moment
I’ve just received the call-up
To report for war (service) Wenesday afternoon,-
Not even in my wildest dreams!
I do not live to slaughter the poorest
Please, don’t be mad, but I need to be honest
Decision’s made — I WILL BE A DESERTER
In 1983 Dezerter had their first recording session in Studio Wawrzyszczew in Warsaw, and at the end of that year released the album „Ku przyszłości” („To the future”), containing one of their most popular Polish punk songs „Spytaj milicjanta” (“Ask the Military Policeman”). Unfortunately, state censors ordered the destruction of all copies, and prohibited the band from re-recording their material. Occurrences like this were omnipresent in the Eastern Block…
In 1987, tracks from ‘Dezerter’s album „Kolaboracja” — which had never been released — were released by Maximum Rock and Roll, an American label, on an album titled „Underground Out of Poland”. After this success, the band embarked on tours that went on to encompass Western Europe and Japan.
Four young guys gave vent to their feelings stemming from the absurdity surrounding them by forming the band ‘Siekiera’ („axe” in English). Punk Rock and New Wave was flourishing in the 80s, but what was particular about them were their uncompromising lyrics and a sort of thriftiness of the form, by which I mean an intelligent use of powerful sounds — when it’s chaos, it’s chaos, but sometimes they use a different kind of musical dirt and leave it some space to resound (which sometimes makes everything even more powerful).
The band started under the name Trafo in 1983, in Puławy, and they covered songs by the Exploited and UK Subs. Then they decided to create their own songs: Tomasz „Dzwon” Adamski wrote the lyrics and played guitar, Tomasz „Budzy” Budzyński did the vocals, Jerzy „Sex” Janaczek played the bass guitar, and Irek „Borys” Czerniak played the drums. Late in 1984, Jerzy Janeczek and Ireneusz Czerniak left the band, and were replaced by Dariusz „Malina” Malinowski on drums, and Krzysztof „Koben” Grela on the bass. A fifth member, Piotr Szewczyk, also joined and played guitar, which let Tomasz Adamski concentrate on the lyrics and vocal. There would be more changes to the band line-up later on. They were mostly playing gigs and festivals, including the Jarocin Festival, which for a long time was the biggest festival of teenage music — mostly rock — in the Eastern Bloc. Predictably, they had some difficulties recording their material. One of their concerts was recorded by Zbigniew Libera, a Polish artist, but that tape has unfortunately been lost. When they managed to record a few songs, problems with state censorship arose… In 1986 their most famous album „Nowa Aleksandria” was released, just one year before the band split up, because of different visions and ideas for the future.
Towards the end of 2011, Siekiera sent us a memento of themselves, in Tomasz Adams’s release of „Ballady na koniec świata”, but we all still sing „Misiowie Puszyści” from ’86.
Rock, punk, new wave or even ‚punkedelic’. Brygada Kryzys („the Crisis Brigade”) was formed in 1981 in Warsaw — again, as you can see, that was the time and the place to play punk or new wave music! Tomasz Lipiński and Robert Brylewski, a duo of guitarist and writers, were about to debut in the Olivia dock-yards in Gdańsk during the Solidarity movement reunion, but their debut didn’t go ahead, because the organisers found their act too daring, and too risky. When they finally played they first gig, bootleg recordings were illegally released in England, making the album „Brygada Kryzys” (which has an image of the iconic “Palace of Culture and Science”, collapsing on the cover) a real collector’s item. The message from this album (which was later released in Poland) is glaringly obvious — it was a manifesto for a new generation, aimed directly at the absurdity of the PPR (Polish People’s Republic). They became more and more popular since then, even playing in Yugoslavia, had a tour with the British band TV 21, but the declaration of Martial Law blocked them from continuing their promising project… In 1982 the band refused to play at a festival that had been organised only to distract people away from on going street protests. Everything was getting more and more radical, and this mixed with a lack of perspectives made band members decide to end their adventure, and dissolve the group. They reformed few times, but it wasn’t as cohesive a project-manifesto as before.
Igor Czerniawski, Paweł Kukiz and Jarosław Lach formed a band called Aya RL (Aya Red Love in the beginning) in 1983. They met each other all at the same time at the Jarocin Festival, which is not a big surprise… Even their first concert took place at this festival, year later, and Kukiz also played with the band Piersi. The song „Skóra” („skin”) was an accidental commercial success, which is not what a new-wave-rock-punk band actually wants. At that time, being on the top of the popular music lists was not something cool, and Czerniawski once even said that „Skóra” was a kind of musical joke. Their first album, commonly known under the name „Czerwona płyta” („the Red LP”), was the moment when they cut themselves off from the category of ‚pop’ and the mainstream in general. This made them more honest, reliable, ideologically engaged and brought them even more fans. In 1990 P. Kukiz and A. Romanowski left the band, J. Lach came back until 1998, then for a year Aya RL became Czerniawski’s solo project.
Words: Ania Prokop
Edited by: Aleksander Cellmer