(Continuing his week-long series of interviews focusing on un-sung bands with stellar 2016 albums, Andy Synn today talks with guitarist Piotr Chmielecki of the Polish band Koronal.)
Fit to bursting with twanging, tensile riffs and gigantic, gigawatt grooves, Flicker Away, the debut album by this powerhouse Polish quintet, rapidly rocketed its way to the top of my “most listened to” list soon after I discovered it at the tail-end of 2016/start of 2017.
In fact I loved it so much that I was more than happy to state that I actually preferred it to the new Meshuggah album, The Violent Sleep of Reason… an opinion which I still stand by today!
But whether you’re onboard with that statement or not, I ‘m pretty certain that you’ll still agree when I say that Flicker Away was (and is) one heck of an album, and one which definitely deserved a lot more praise and attention than it actually received.
So, with that in mind, please give it up for Koronal!
Standard opening question – how are you guys these days?
Piotr: Hey man! Couldn’t be better. Thanks for the awesome introduction!
And, another relatively standard question – who ARE Koronal? How did you come together, when/where did you get started, etc?
Piotr: It’s not as simple as it looks. The beginning of Koronal goes back to 2014/2015, shortly before the recording of the material. Working on the debut we didn’t have a drummer, so all the drums were played by Daray (Vader, Vesania, Yliaster, Dimmu Borgir).
Piotr Żurawski left the band shortly after the album came out in 2016, and today’s lineup with Mateusz (drums) and Plasma (voc) formed after the release of Flicker Away. Luckily these guys know what to do and they do it great, and we all understand each other well. Koronal is a complete machine now.
How have things been since the release of Flicker Away? What have you been up to, and how did the album release go in terms of getting feedback and putting your name out there?
Piotr: When we released the album we didn’t have high expectations. However, it turned out that Flicker Away was a surprising success for us. This little band from nowhere was noticed by several people and it’s a great thing.
Any thoughts on pressing a physical release of the album at some point?
Piotr: Things went differently than we planned. I don’t want to go into details but there is no physical release yet. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s necessary nowadays, but if people ask for that I’m sure that we’ll fix it in the near future.
Some of your biggest influences – Meshuggah, Decapitated – are probably pretty obvious, but I’d like to know what other bands/artists you would consider inspirations on Koronal?
Piotr: We are inspired by many things, often very distant from each other. I grew up listening to things like Death, Slayer or Cynic. However, as a kid I also listened to some jazz or fusion. Each of us listened to Tool, Korn, Pantera and many other meaningful bands. Today, every one of us is more open to music, we listen more consciously. I will take a risk and admit that we are now listening to more good Pop, Electronic, or Jazz than Metal.
Speaking of inspiration, what inspired the (remarkably creepy) video for “Usurper”?
Piotr: We left everything to Magnus Jonsson and gave him free hand. All things from the idea to the realization of this masterpiece was his job. Of course the lyrics and music definitely influenced the script but I really don’t know what inspired Magnus to go as far as he did. I didn’t speak with him about that, so this is a fantastic question you should probably ask him personally!
What is the writing process usually like for Koronal? How do you start putting things together and building up songs from nothing?
Piotr: Building songs from scratch on Flicker Away was a very personal experience. I wrote all the main lines, melodies, and solos on it alone at home after months of collecting ideas and many sleepless nights. Next, Patryk arranged drums to what I gave him. Of course before recordings we all discussed what we had, and ended up fixing or or rearranging some parts. But that’s it. Although naturally Piotr (ex-vocalist) and Daray (session drums) added a lot of their own touch during the recording.
How about the lyrics – what sort of ideas and themes are you working with on Flicker Away?
Piotr: We actually talked a lot about it while working on the album. Piotr Żurawski is a fan of space science, and we all love sci-fi, so we quickly agreed on what we wanted from the lyrics.
I know you’re reasonably active as a live band – what should an audience expect from a Koronal live show?
Piotr: Live shows are something special for us. Koronal is all about energy and it’s obvious for us that people wouldn’t want to see us on stage without any movement, or with bad sound, etc. You would be disappointed, right? So we try to make every show a high-level one, even more so since Flicker Away was released.
What are your plans for the rest of 2017/2018 (any chance of any UK shows… asking for a friend…)?
Piotr: As you probably know, we planned to go on a European tour earlier this year. Unfortunately this tour failed for reasons beyond our control. I think we still have a chance to get out there, and next time everything will be ok though. Presently we’re just focussing on live promotion of Flicker Away here in Poland.
How about album no. 2, any hints as to what to expect (or when)?
Piotr: Good question! We’re working on album no.2 already. There are many things to do with it yet, but we’d like to release the second album this winter. What can you expect? Well, I can tell you that the new stuff will be a little bit different than Flicker Away in my opinion, definitely faster and more complex I think.
And, finally, any closing statements you’d like to share?
Piotr: It’s awesome that you guys support such bands as Koronal. That means a lot to us. I would also like to thank the fans. Without them our efforts would make no sense. And I hope we will meet one day at a gig. Take care!