I met George two years ago on one of the Media classes we had together. I knew about his band, but never really asked him about it or about how his music career was going on. We agreed to meet in front of Dürer Kert and headed to Városliget for an hour-long chat just before he went to work as stage manager in the concert hall. He bought an energy drink, I chose a grapefruit-flavoured beer and we started to talk.
Chris: When was the first time you decided to enter the music business?
George: I guess I was four or five at the time. I loved entertaining people, I loved to be on stage. My mum used to tell stories about a big Santa Claus feast on the 6th of December, where you had to perform a song or tell a story to get a present. I sang a song and then Santa asked for another, so I sang a second one. Then, without Santa asking again, I continued to sing for about 25 minutes. Santa was going crazy: ‘Okay, okay you are really good, but please finish now because there are others waiting for their presents.’ So you see I’m totally attracted to performing, singing, and playing music.
C: What was the first instrument you played?
G: My first instrument was the flute. I was learning to play it at school; I got a large concert flute. The problem was that this happened in third grade and the flute was actually taller than me. It was really hard and so I eventually got to hate playing, but I had to continue with it for six years to get the music theory lessons, which I really loved. Something like a piano would’ve been much better for me, because there I could’ve played chords and harmonies.
C: What about other instruments? Do you play anything now?
G: I started playing the guitar like everybody else and I also love playing the drums. The thing is, I love each and every instrument, but only until the point when you have to practice hours a day to become a professional. When it comes to that, it can get real boring.
C: So you are more like a self-taught musician, aren’t you?
G: Yes, I always taught myself, because after six years of playing the flute I learned music theory really well. That’s how I could learn to play the guitar, the drums or the bass a bit. But it’s only a sort of hobby since I prefer composing songs and writing lyrics to actually playing something and being a drummer for example.
C: That’s why you are a singer then.
G: Yes, because there you only have to practice every now and then, but to be honest nowadays I don’t practice at all. I used to be trained as a professional singer, but for the last two or three years I’ve been only practicing with our band. I believe that if you sing, you have to have a certain theoretical and technical basis if you want to become good enough. I have this classical background, I’ve been learning to sing Mozart and such, but upon that you have to build your own style. That’s what I’m trying to achieve.
C: When was the first time you were in a band?
G: It started in high school. My first ever show was in Tököl with the band Vertex, but that was rather short-lived. Then I joined a Limp Bizkit tribute band, which still exists although with a different lineup. I played the guitar back then and yeah, we did lots and lots of shows on A38 for example. After a gig there, the drummer (Berkes Márton) and I decided to write our own songs because we had achieved everything we could as a cover band. The two other guys didn’t want to make their own stuff, so we parted ways to begin this project where I sang, and this led to the creation of Just Another. It was always obvious for me that I would be the singer because I’d played the guitar for three years and it was enough. Not to mention how much I like to do the show, to speak in public and to entertain the audience.
C: Where does your band name come from?
G: It’s from my ex-boss who I worked with in a band contest. I was just saying to him that I was going to form my own band with own songs after the Limp Bizkit Tribute. After working together with 250 bands in a single season, he said it was going to be just another band, wasn’t it? That’s the origin of the name. Actually we are trying to avoid exactly this thing: becoming just another group, so we’re making fun of it. We’ll see what happens eventually.
C: Is it you who writes the songs in Just Another or do the others participate in composing as well?
G: Well the first couple of songs were completely written by me. Nowadays usually the two guitarist guys start with an idea, and then I try to put the song into the big picture of what Just Another wants to be like, by changing parts or making some rearrangements. In addition, I write the vocal parts of the songs, and also the lyrics, though not all of them, since the other guys have their own stuff to say as well.
C: Does it matter whether a song is in English or in Hungarian?
G: It’s an interesting question whether to do Hungarian or English songs; we didn’t know ourselves which language to choose for a long time. So on our new album Polarities we decided that the first six songs would be in English and the second half in Hungarian. We thought this might be the best ordering, since Hungarians also enjoy the English tracks, but people from abroad might as well be interested in the first part because they can understand the lyrics. Then, if they like it, they might listen to the second part too. People are writing to me from abroad that we should record the second part of the album in English as well, because they feel that the Hungarian language does not fit rock and roll. When I was writing the texts I found it harder to write in Hungarian at first, but I think I did quite well. I like these lyrics and they don’t really sound bad for me as a Hungarian; it seems people from abroad don’t like them that much though.
C: Was this split in the album an intentional effort to scout what your future fans might prefer?
G: Yes, definitely, because it could happen that one of our Hungarian songs might get picked up by a radio and so then we would make more Hungarian stuff; the other scenario is that one of our English songs gets popular abroad. So far we seem to be more successful with the English songs. In Hungary we are building up our fan base nicely from the bottom. It’s a shame but none of our songs are played by any major company or radio, not because they don’t like it, but because they don’t listen to the stuff at all. It would be great if they gave us some kind of feedback at least. If they like it, they should play it on the radio; if they don’t, it’s okay, but then they should tell us why. On the other hand a huge Russian music site picked up our album from BandCamp, and that’s a great thing because we are spreading in Russia without really doing anything.
C: Which songs do you like the best from Polarities?
G: I like Sign of Life a lot, because it is heavy rock and roll. I also like the second one, Down the Drain and Where to a lot. Actually I wrote the lyrics for these three songs, but I’m quite fond of Where to because it sends a message for myself and everybody out there saying keep working hard and you’ll be rewarded. At least I do hope.
C: So besides entertaining people and supplying what they need, you also want to be heard, am I right?
G: Yeah, if I can figure out a message then it’s great, especially in the case of Where to, where I spent almost a month to get to that idea. It’s exciting because every person is interesting deep down, but you have to figure out what is interesting about you and how you can reach people with it. If you just start singing about whatever, it won’t be honest anymore.
C: Who were the artists that influenced you with their message or personality?
G: There are two guys who are sort of role models for me. One is Jacoby Shaddix from Papa Roach, who is a great guy. I grew up together with him so to say. He changed a lot during the years, and he’s really positive, smiling a lot and working his ass off. It’s great to see that it worked out for him in the end; he’s a huge star but he’s still nice to everybody while he’s a really hard rock and roll guy. He’s not self-obsessed, his band is doing shows in really small venues every now and then. I was there on one of their small gigs in Prague, there were only 7-800 people there so it was really personal and amusing. The other guy is Chris Martin from Coldplay. He’s the same kind of person, only in pop music. He’s really an honest guy as well. You look at these people and feel the positive energy that surrounds them. It’s great to see that there are people who can achieve a lot by being and behaving like this. So when I’m down this can give me a lot of energy and inspiration.
C: Any plans on next gigs?
G: Yeah thanks for the question. We’re going to play on A38 on the 25th of May, which is a Friday. We’re going to headline the show, we’ll be the big guys, which is awesome for us. It’s going to be hot with cold beers and hot girls all around and Rock and Roll on the terrace of A38. It’ll be a great show and I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll also be opening for Ill Niño which is a huge rock act on the 28thof June in Dürer Kert. This will be the biggest achievement for us so far, opening for such a huge band. The gig organizer Under the Music asked us to perform with them, which is a great honour and hopefully we can get more people to listen to our music.
C: Thank you for the interview George! I wish you and your band all the best in the future!
G: It was my pleasure, Krisztián!