BUDAPEST is a vibrant city known for its nightlife, its history, its culture and its famous opera house. However, bubbling below the surface is a plethora of musicians and artists, ranging from hip-hop to indie, ska to metal.
Just walking around the flat streets on the Pest side your ear will be captured by all sorts of music; Streets musicians busking for their living, student halls where hopefuls have started a garage band, dingy venues where eccentrics and music fanatics sip a Soproni beer and gaze intensely at the band on stage, jazz bands playing in museums, touring bands playing the famous A38 boat venue, rooftop bars where the music drifts down to passers-by who look around in confusion for the source…
One band making the most of the cities ever-growing indie rock scene is The Immigrants, a three piece made up of singer and bassist Adorio, guitarist Szabi, and drummer Balázs.
I caught up with the trio in a small bar in the Jewish district, where we chatted about their formation, music in Hungary, and the future:
“We started around 2011. We all lived in Pecs, it’s a small town in Hungary but a lot of bands have come from there in the last 20-30 years. A lot of great names have come from there, for example the band who started alternative rock in Hungary (Kispál és a borz), and also the kings of the hip hop scene now (Punnany Massif).”
Is there a better music scene in Pecs than Budapest?
“I think not but somehow this knowledge of success gets inherited, and the bands pass it over to each other. There is this band called 30Y, they invited us a couple of times on tour and they really believe in us, so it’s good to have a friendship thing.”
Your music is a mixture of styles, how did that happen, did you bring different sounds?
Adorio: “Probably yes. I think Szabi brought in a lot of rock and alternative rock from the Hungarian scene, I was more an indie, post punk kid, and I think Balázs was everything else.”
To Balázs – You just wanted to hit something really hard?
Yeah that’s why I play the drums, I’m not capable of playing anything small.
What music did you listen to growing up?
Adorio: “Hungarian alternative music.”
Most your influences were Hungarian?
Adorio: “Yeah, after I started listening to Foals, Killers, post-punk, indie.”
Szabi: “Hungarian music is all we need.”
Why do you sing in English?
Adorio: “I think it was just natural. I can express myself easier that way, it just sort of happened.”
Do you ever think about singing in Hungarian?
Balázs: “Not yet.”
Not yet? Are you trying to bring this in?
Adorio: “In Hungary there is a lot of pressure on bands, and you have to make a choice. Especially the bigger radio stations that are government sponsored, they have this quota – you have to play a big percentage of Hungarian music.
So they play a lot of Hungarian junk just because they are singing in Hungarian. Maybe there is more quality music bands that sing in English but they won’t get in because they have to play Rihana etc, which fills the English singing quota.”
And does Hungary’s system help support bands like you?
Adorio: “I think the system is not good enough for small bands to develop. At the start nobody helps you with anything. Like there are these apparent ‘starting programs’ for bands but the bigger bands win the money.
It’s really funny that they have these talent shows, and then we see some already big names in the competition – some people who have been playing for 20 years. It’s so-called help but they just give out the money to the same people. Occasionally you can get it.”
You have a new album coming out this year…?
“We will release a single this summer, and then in September the album will be coming out – the name will be ‘I Need Help’. “
Is that true?
Your first album is called ‘The best of the immigrants’. What happens if you get really successful and you want to release a real ‘best of the immigrants’?
“Maybe it will be called ‘the first album’, or The Immigrants ‘The Immigrants’.”
So what are your plans for the rest of the year?
“World fame. We hope we can tour with the album in Sweden at least. Around the Balkans. For Hungary I don’t know, we will see. Probably the radio will pick up some songs.”
Are there any radio stations in particular that play your songs?
“We have the local radio station in Pecs, who are very supportive and they play us a lot. Yeah we occasionally hear about radio’s randomly playing our songs. Sometimes we randomly end up in 7th or 10th place on some radio station’s poll somewhere.”
“It’s really good that we are experiencing lately that some big musicians in Hungary know about us. There was this concert in Győr at a festival. We got invited us because they were playing us on the radio station and then they just invited us. We were the opening act and then there were 2 big acts after us, and after this famous bass player from the third act came down and said to us ‘You’re the greatest band in Hungary’.”
If you could play any concert, where would it be?
Balázs: “Can I say two?”
“Okay, so Wembley Stadium, and Madison Square Gardens.”
Szabi: “Royal Albert Hall”
Very classy, but how would Titties work in the Royal Albert Hall?
Szabi: “Maybe Puskas Ferenc Stadium…”
Adorio: “This will sound a bit…I don’t know the word, but it would be enough for me to play in my hometown in a mid-sized venue, when all my friends are there and the hall is full. That would be enough for me.”
For more information on The Immigrants check out their Facebook page here.