With three critically acclaimed English-language albums and several European tours behind them, it is safe to say that Wisdom is one of the most successful Hungarian metal bands of all time, and not without a reason. I had the chance to make an interview with the band’s lead singer, Gábor Nagy about the past and future of Wisdom. We also talked about his life and role in the band, and how Hungarians can achieve international success in rock music.
First of all, what can you say about your music to people not familiar with metal?
Wisdom’s music is in the “euro power metal” genre, with some heavy metal influences. It’s not a really innovative genre, but when the band was founded Máté Molnár (bassist) and Gábor Kovács (guitarist) decided not to stray away from this path.
Where did the band name come from?
I can’t really say a lot about this, since I was not a member of the band when it was founded. However, as I heard the story, Máté saw a film or TV show where the main character’s name was John Wisdom, and he liked it so match that they decided to name the band after him.
The band has a mascot called Wiseman. What should we know about him?
It’s a pretty long story, there is a lot of information about him on the band’s website. However, the most important thing is that the title songs of all our albums tell a chapter of his story.
As you said before, you are not the first singer of the band, and your introduction to the fans happened under quite interesting circumstances. What can you tell us about this?
Because the band was already quite well known in Hungary at that time (in 2010), fans were really excited about who the new singer will be. They found me in a strange way since I didn’t have a professional band before them, so I was in a test-stage in the band at the beginning. We recorded the first demos and we felt that the singing has to be better, so we decided that until the release of the new album I will perform in a mask, and the identity of the new singer will not be revealed. I think it was kind of a safety play from them, so they could look for a new singer if necessary (laughs). But in the end I turned out to be good enough, and they put a maskless photo of me into the booklet of Judas (Wisdom’s 2011 album) when it was released, with my name under it.
Did you learn to sing from a teacher, or you were self-taught?
I was mostly self-trained. I had a singing teacher who taught me a lot of the basic techniques, but he really urged me to turn to classical music or operetta. When I couldn’t take this anymore I decided that it was enough. By that time, I already acquired the basics, and I slowly started to find my own voice. I learned to hear the different techniques of other singers from records, and I understood how the train their voice, and in the end with the help of these different techniques I created my own style. It is important to mention though that there is still much room for improvement for me, so this learning process is still going on.
Do you have a day job besides the band? If you do, how can you harmonize it with touring?
Yes, I have a civilian job, and it is often difficult to harmonize it with my music career. There were a lot of problems because of this in the past, but I’m getting better at handling this mess mentally and psychologically.
Do you have any hobbies besides music?
I’m a media technology professional, and I did my college degree for it for fun, so we can say that working on different media platforms is my hobby. I like graphics editing and interactive multimedia product development the most, but music consumes most of my free time.
What is your process of writing song lyrics?
Since the beginning, Máté writes our lyrics, but for the next album I’m going to work on my own lyrics as well. The songs are written by Gábor in 99%, but on the previous album there is a song from our previous drummer and one partially from me. On the new album, there will most likely be a song by me, and I will write the lyrics for it as well.
Wisdom is getting more and more well known abroad. What a Hungarian band has to do to achieve your level of success?
This is a really long process, and to be honest I don’t even really know how it is done. It is vital that everything you produce should showcase your high standards. Weak, lashed-together products are not liked by wider audiences. So first step is the absolutely chiseled music and visuals, then you can start looking for a record label.
How do foreign fans usually react when they realize that you are Hungarians?
Hungarian are more often surprised when they find out that we are compatriot, most foreigners don’t even know where Hungary is. This is bad.
During your career, you had the chance to tour with a lot of Hungarian and foreign bands. Who did you like to work together with the most?
I enjoyed the tour with Powerwolf the most, and we made really good friends with the crew of Battle Beast, but we are also friends with the guys from Sabaton. Whenever we meet we greet each other with hugs and jokes, and we talk like the last time we met was yesterday. But we were on quite good terms with everyone we toured with, like Majesty and Storm Warrior.
What was the most interesting place you visited?
It was not really a concert location, just a stop where we spent two rest days: San Sebastian in Spain. We had a huge party in the evening and we swam in the ocean in 30° in the middle of October. It was funny.
Which achievement of the band are you the proudest of?
I’m not really a proud man, only thankful. I’m thankful for being able to go to these huge European tours and that I could make so many new friends.
What are your plans for the band’s future?
Touring, and releasing a new album this year. For this album, we will try not to be late with the videos. (laughs)
Where and when can the Hungarian fans see you live next time?
To be honest I’m a really disorganized guy, with work, my own band and Wisdom so I can’t tell it right now, but people can follow us on our official website and if they want. We don’t have a Facebook page right now because it was deleted without any reason, so we lost our 100 thousand followers. We will most likely have to create a new page, and when it will become active people will be able to follow us there as well.
Good luck to you and Wisdom for the future, and thank you for the interview!
Featured image from Hardrock.hu
By Rakovszky András