EZ Basic. Árpád Szarvas
Autor: Richard Constantinidi
Etichete: 272 Records, Árpád Szarvas, Budapest, Ez Basic, George Shilling, Hello Heavy, Hocus Focus, Pesztalics Denes, Tóth András
EZ Basic are a three-piece band from Budapest, Hungary. Formed in 2004, the boys’ primary aim was to mix electronic and instrumental music, but it was post-punk, new wave and the underground music of the 60s that left their marks on EZ Basic's sound. On one hand, the name EZ Basic refers to early 1980s computers/electronics: on the other hand, to DIY punk ethics: easy basic is used in the loose sense of 'learn three chords and form a band'.
EZ Basic's second album 'Hello Heavy' (released March 2010) is a departure from their debut album's melancholic indie-new wave music. The radio friendly songs were mixed and mastered by George Shilling, a well-known British producer famous for his work with bands such as Primal Scream, Coldcut, The Soup Dragons, The Fall, My Bloody Valentine and many more.
We exchanged a few ideas about the band, since they will be playing in Cluj-Napoca this Saturday
(May 29th, 2010 - at the Booha Bar)
CZB: How do you feel Hungary has grown during the European Union years?
Árpád Szarvas (vocals, guitars, songwriting, founder of EZ Basic): Well, I don’t really think the country has grown in any sense of the word during the European Union years, there is still a lot of trash to clean up for this nation and a lot of things to learn...
CZB: What bands have inspired your music and how have you had access to this music (simply by listening to TV and radio)?
Árpád Szarvas (EZ Basic): I've been consuming music since I was around 4 years old, as our house was always full of music, my mom and dad were huge record collectors (my dad even played in a band in the 1970s). We listened to everything from the Beatles to the Mamas & the Papas, Beach Boys, the Animals, early Bee Gees, Illés (a Hungarian band), Blondie, Kraftwerk, lots of 80's pop, easy listening, etc.
Coming from a background like this it's obvious that I've become a big music lover as well, but as far as EZ Basic is concerned I would narrow down the musical influences to the British post-punk and the early 90’s shoegazer bands (Ride, Lush, Chapterhouse, etc.) coupled with some lo-fi electronica and 1960’s girlie-pop melodies.
CZB: How has the band gotten together?
Árpád Szarvas (EZ Basic): When I started writing songs I didn’t think of forming a band, I was more into doing a bedroom-project. I had some ideas, songs and when I met Pesztalics Denes we formed EZ Basic and started recording in his small room. We didn’t have much money and therefore used homemade instruments and whatever we could lay our hands on, but later things became more serious and we had to think of a live lineup for EZ Basic.
This is how Tóth András came into the picture, we needed a drummer for the gigs, and two years later we started using session keyboardists as well.
CZB: Why did you name your debut album Hocus Focus? Was it because it was recorded in 6 days?
Árpád Szarvas (EZ Basic): No, but it sounds great as a background story. Hocus Focus was actually the name of a cultural event a few years ago in Birmingham, 'A night of Film and Music' featuring artists such as Voice of The Seven Woods, Broadcast, Andy Votel. I’m a big fan of these bands/artists and I really liked the name of the event, I thought we could use it for our debut album.
CZB: How did you get interest from George Shilling (he must be very expensive to work with!)?
Árpád Szarvas (EZ Basic): We were looking for a producer who had great experience in the music we were into and somehow got in touch with him. He has some history working with Primal Scream, Blur, Teenage Fanclub, My Bloody Valentine, etc. I showed him our songs and after a few days he came back to me that he liked them and would gladly work with us on our new album. We didn’t really find good producers in Hungary, as this scene is so underdeveloped here, so when one of our older songs was used in a TV add we decided to spend that money we earned on making the album.
CZB: Did you work with George Shilling through email or did you stay for a while in England to record the album? How long did it take to record the second album?
Árpád Szarvas (EZ Basic): I communicated with him via email mostly, it would have been too expensive to go there and record in his own studio. It didn’t take long to record the album, the mixing process was the only thing that took a long time as by the end of the recording we ran out of money (we didn’t have any support, no label, etc.).
CZB: You have released Hello Heavy recently. In how many European countries is it being sold in CD format? What internet sites distribute the album?
Árpád Szarvas (EZ Basic): At the moment it is out only in Hungary on CD on EMI/Twelvetones label, but everyone can get a copy from the label’s site:
I really wish our album was available in other countries as well, but you’ll have to ask our label about this.
CZB: Why should someone want to buy Hello Heavy ... what do you have for the mind and soul that is different from other same genre bands?
Árpád Szarvas (EZ Basic): I wouldn’t force anyone to buy this album or start naming reasons why our songs are good. We are really humble about our music, and I certainly don’t want to stuff it down people’s throats. I always try to write pop songs with an edge and if someone likes it, apart from my bandmates, it’s always a good feeling.
CZB: When did you start pushing your tunes on American College Radio... did you buy the Indie Bible to follow the steps?
Árpád Szarvas (EZ Basic): It was last year when an American label (272 Records) included one of our songs (called Nice1) on one of their compilation CDs and started distributing it among college radios. So it wasn’t us who pushed the thing (we just agreed to appear on the compilation CD) but I hope it really did get some airplay over there.
CZB: What do you think of the New Wave "indie music" revival and how is this genre accepted on the Hungarian Music Scene?
Árpád Szarvas (EZ Basic): This scene is very small in Hungary, the majority of the people somehow just don’t get the whole thing over here. The indie scene is centered mostly around Budapest and maybe some other bigger cities, but I certainly wouldn’t call this a “revival” as this music/scene does not even have a history in Hungary, unfortunately.
Interview conceived by RiCo for CZB
- EZ to Say (EP, 2007)
- Hocus Focus (2007)
- Hello Heavy (2010)
- Szarvas Árpád (guitar, vocals, lyrics)
- Pesztalics Denes (bass guitar)
- Tóth András (drums)
- Áron Nagybaczoni (keyboards, appears only in concerts)
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