Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“No one in Poland played like us.” What is Budka Suflera planning for its 50th anniversary?

Suflera’s booth (listen!) announced the end of its operations in 2014. The last vocalist Krzysztof Cugowski did not take part in the reactivation that took place in 2019. In turn Romuald Lipkoleader and main creator of the group’s material, died on February 6, 2020 due to cancer.

In November 2020, the group released the album “10 lat solitude” containing material prepared by Lipka. He then stood behind the microphone Felicjan Andrzejczak, with whom the band has been friends for over 40 years. It was he who sang in the famous hits: “Jolka, Jolka Remember” (listen!), “Time of Lead” or “Night of the Comet”.

On the group’s last album, “Skaza” (2023), they perform vocal parts Robert Żarczyński (in the team since 2019), Irena Michalska (joined in 2021) i Jacek Kawalec (in the group from 2022).

Currently, the drummer and manager have the longest experience Tomasz Zeliszewski, who played on all Budka Suflera albums. He is accompanied by a bassist Mietek Jurecki (with breaks since 1981), guitarists Piotr Bogutyn and Dariusz Bafeltowski (both since reactivation in 2019) and known for, among others, Big Tits and Black-Black keyboardist Piotr Sztajdel (from 2020).

Maciej Replewicz, Polish Press Agency: 50 years have passed since the first recordings of the Budka Suflera group. How did you start in the band with which you recorded all the albums?

Tomasz Zeliszewski (Budka Suflera): – I come from Tarnów, where I played drums in a rock-folk band Vabank and in formation Balts. I was fascinated by tennis and music. I was enchanted by playing the drums. Like the whole world, I listened then Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Bad Company, Free, Stones, Beatles.

The 1970s were a wonderful era musically, the era of bands. The amateur scene in Poland was at a very high level. Musicians known from festivals were soon to constitute the majority of the Polish professional market. Together with the Vabank group, we came to Lublin for the then popular Song Exchange – a music event held in the Polish Radio studio. Entering this building. I didn’t realize that for the next few decades the Lublin radio studio would be my second home. The stock exchange brought us a reward, but the most important thing was that I got to know him Romek Lipka, Krzysiek Cugowski, Andrzej Ziółkowski, which created Budka Suflera, already quite famous in Lublin and on the radio. They were looking for a drummer. Romek offered me cooperation. He didn’t have to convince me for very long.

He offered two great things – youth and the beginning of the career we would build together. It was a serious challenge for the 19-year-old. Already earlier, at jazz workshops in Chodzież. I received an offer to play in a band Czesław NiemenI was also offered a chance to work with the team So what and with Marek Grechuta. I admired and appreciated these performers very much. Their proposals were very ennobling, but Romek Lipko and his colleagues from Budka had something truly priceless to offer: the common beginning of a band that I was to become a part of and co-founder of. I want to emphasize – and here all the band’s musicians agree – the beginning of Budka Suflera was February 1974, the premiere “Dream of the Valley”i.e. a cover “Ain’t No Sunshine” (1971) by Bill Withers on the air of the Polish Radio Scout Broadcasting Station. That’s why now, in February 2024, we are talking about the group’s half-century.

How do you remember working on the first album?

When I came to Lublin again, we were just starting work on material for the first album “The Shadow of the Big Mountain”. There were two, maybe three thematic ideas for the suite “Crazy Horse”. The piece had a ready-made musical structure “The Shadow of the Big Mountain”we also reworked the song “I like this old painting”. It was created from the beginning “Lonely at Night” and “There’s a Lonely House”. We created a whole suite. We had a fantastic time working together! Romek played bass, Andrzej played guitar, and Krzysiek sang. My youthful dream was coming true. It was real sincere work, friendship, understanding, a truly family atmosphere. The choir girls performed Alibabaki.

We went to Warsaw, to the no longer existing recording studio in the building of the Higher School of Music at ul. Circular. They were the recording engineers Krystyna and Janusz Urbański. Today we would say that they were the producers of our debut album, but the final influence on the musical layer was Romek. I think we recorded on four-track, maybe eight-track equipment. It was practically playing live. If someone made a mistake, the entire song had to be recorded from the beginning! The recording was only on magnetic tape. Even today it has its advantage – the sound recorded on the tape sounds fantastic, a bit raw. I consider the first album to be the most groundbreaking – because it was the first, excellent and opened the door to Budka’s career.

What happened at Budka Suflera’s early concerts? How were you received by the audience?

– The release of the album “The Shadow of the Great Mountain” triggered an almost cosmic boom for Budka. We started concerts. My first performance with Budka was an open-air concert in Rzeszów, summer 1975. The stars of that era – bands – played Blue-Czarni, No To Co, Skaldowie… And the young generation, i.e. Budka Suflera. We were received phenomenally. Absolutely enthusiastic!

At that time, we started our concerts with a song “Can’t Get Enough” (1974) groups Bad Company. Moreover, both in terms of image and style, we were identified with the Free group and its newer incarnation – Bad Company. We were fans of these bands and the singer Paul Rodgers. The atmosphere at the concerts was crazy – the audience radiated great enthusiasm, the desire for something new, people were engrossed in the music, experiencing it, identifying with it. I will not forget Budka’s concert in Bydgoszcz. There we performed in the amphitheater in the park, right next to the tram terminus. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes – after our performance, a crowd of our fans lifted the tram off the rails and moved it next to us! Just crazy!

Back then, there was no facility that could not be filled. The promotion of concerts looked different than today. For example, before the concert at Spodek in Katowice, several, or at most a dozen or so, posters were hung: two, maybe three at the railway station, two or three at the entrance to Spodek, one near the now non-existent Silesia Hotel, one at the Katowice Hotel, and this was enough for real crowds to come. On Saturday we had two sets of spectators and on Sunday we had two sets of spectators – ticketed events.

In the 1970s, Budka Suflera was an amazing market phenomenon and musical event, but it was only due to the music. We didn’t cause any moral scandals, we didn’t change our own image for the sake of the public. Long hair, flared jeans and leather belts with rivets were fashionable back then, so we wore them because we were young and it created a youthful image not only in Poland, but all over the world. We listened to the same music as our peers, we had the same joys and worries as them.

We played for the young generation and were part of it, we were never above it. We managed to create our own musical style, our own sound. Back then, no one in Poland played like us, we couldn’t be confused with another group. Each of us knew what belonged to him and his role. For example, when we started working on a new song, we were in complete agreement, we spoke a common language, we created, not destroyed. Even differences of opinion and arguments were creative and did not constitute a source of conflict.

What events during these 50 years are most memorable to you?

– There were really many great moments. In September 1976, Budka Suflera toured with the Irishman, Rory Gallagher, one of the greatest rock guitarists of all time. “There is power in these four of you and in your music,” he told us after the performance. Our concerts for the Polish community in the USA and our performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall are also amazing moments. In the late 1990s, during the Invasion of Power, we played for about a million listeners in Krakow. Even the greatest skeptics and malicious people who were unsympathetic to us estimated that there were at least 750,000 people there. people.

The band included singers who today have the status of stars – Izabela Trojanowska (one album recorded together) i Ursula, who recorded four albums with us. He joined us Felicjan Andrzejczakwho actually wanted to give up singing. “Jolka” His performance is still electrifying to this day, and he has also become a major star. “Bombelek” is no longer with us – Romuald Czystaw. He also became known in the group and thanks to the group. Let me tell you straight – Budka Suflera created us all!

I don’t know who I would be today if it weren’t for Budka. Maybe a railwayman from Tarnów, because that’s the family I come from. Maybe I would have become a tennis player, because apparently I had good promise. I met Romek Lipka and my life took a different turn. The most wonderful thing that, in my opinion, happened in the band was the birth of all these singers, now huge stars.

On the other side, there is a painful fact that they quickly forgot about us. We remember them, but for them we do not exist! It’s sad but true. No one would be harmed if we played together from time to time, recorded an album, took a selfie. After all, all our singers (except Czystaw) are still professionally active. Their concerts and careers are based, to a greater or lesser extent, on Budka’s songs. After all, we lived and worked together for many years, also for each other. And that’s all I want to remember. Two years ago, when the bandshell in the Saski Park in Lublin was named after Romuald Lipka, our invitations to participate in the ceremonial concert were accepted by Felek Andrzejczak and Iza Trojanowska. It was wonderful.

How did the band receive the news of Romuald Lipko’s death? After all, he was the founder and composer of the group’s greatest hits…

– Romek was the alpha of the group, instrumentalist, composer and, above all, our friend. His death in February 2020 was a strong blow to us. After his death, we recorded two albums with the compositions he left behind. Romek was an artist of extraordinary sensitivity and incredibly creative. Thanks to this, Budka Suflera did not stagnate, but evolved over all these years and was open to new things. Nobody told us what to do. We had creative freedom, we searched and this was also thanks to Romek. He left us a lot of music.

50 years have already passed and what’s next? What are the plans for the future?

– This is a very difficult question. 50 years on stage – only a person who is around seventy, like me, can say. This year we want to take part in several festivals, play some concerts and release an album. I won’t lie. At a certain age, priorities change. I look at the world from a completely different perspective. I am the grandfather of a wonderful girl. I go on stage with a joy I have never experienced before and I want to hold on to these moments as long as possible.

We are planning a concert on June 15 in the concert hall. Romuald Lipko. We invited those who played an important role in the group’s history to the stage. Brothers will perform Andrzej and Jacek Zieliński (Skaldowie)we will play with them “From East to West” Skaldów i “Such a tango” Booths. The rule is: one hit of our guest and one of ours, sung together. WITH SBB we will play “I am out of love” and “I like this old painting”. Natalia Niemen will sing “I am an ungrateful man” and blues from the suite “Crazy Horse”. They were our “godfathers” in the industry Blue and Blackwill take to the stage on their behalf Ania Rusowicz. They are invited too Sebastian Riedel, Zbyszek Hołdys, Ryszard Poznakowski…We invited all our singing stars. I don’t know which of them will appear on stage. The current Budka has three wonderful vocalists – Irena Michalska, Jacek Kawalec and Robert Żarczyński. The guitars are played by: Darek Bafeltowski and Piotr Bogutynon keyboards – Piotr Sztajdel. The choir is Ewa Szlachcic and Ania Rosochacka. The whole thing is completed by older men – Miecio Jurecki on bass guitar and me on drums. What is important to us is that Budka can perform any of its songs today and create many new ones. Nothing has really changed…

Interviewer: Maciej Replewicz (PAP).