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Thy Catafalque interview (10/2022)

With: Tamás Kátai
Conducted by: RaduP, NastyHero (in person)
Published: 02.10.2022

Band profile:

Thy Catafalque

Thy Catafalque is one of those bands who, a few years ago, I'd never thought would ever be a band I'd see live. Or that anybody would see live, for that matter. The band did eventually start playing live, so I found myself having the opportunity to see Thy Catafalque within reaching distance on a Saturday. A few messages later, I had media creds and an interview planned with mastermind Tamás Kátai. I was joined by Mateusz (aka NastyHero), who had some questions of his own, giving us our first three-way interview with two interviewers. That also meant that both him and SSUS would help in the transcription, leading to some varying opinions about editing.

[Ed: By now, I’m used to following the sound of Radu’s voice, but between himself, NastyHero, and Tamás, I was having to adjust to Romanian, Polish, and Hungarian accents all in the same interview, and let me just tell you that my transcribing ears are tired from having to switch regions every few seconds.]

The Budapest gig we had attended the night prior

Radu: Hello! We are here with Tamás from Thy Catafalque. [Ed: It’s nice that for once when Radu says “we” there’s actually another person in the room with him who isn’t in the band.]

Tamás Kátai: Hello.

Radu: We just went to his gig last night. It is the fifth ever Thy Catafalque concert.

TK: I think it was the fourth. Well, if we count in Mezolit, but Mezolit was not this formation. So we had first, we had Akvárium in April, the first one in Budapest. The second one was Brutal Assault, and then in London, and this is the fourth one.

Radu: Didn’t you have one at Fekete Festival?

TK: Yeah, but it was it was a different formation, because it was 26 musicians playing five sets. It was our “0th”; can you say that in English?

Mateusz: And you played then for only a few songs, but on the rest of the shows you played for a whole gig, right?

TK: Yeah. On Mezolit, I played on three songs only. Because there were sets, we didn’t have so much time to prepare. We had five different sets, so five different bands were on stage and every band played three songs within the Mezolit set.

Radu: All right. So now that you have played five concerts, how do you feel like the difference between them is, especially between a festival one and a headlining gig?

TK: Well, to start off, all venues are different, because you've got like this in Akvárium, where it's like 1,200 people, and I think that's like a middle-sized venue.

Radu: And all the people are there for you.

TK: Yeah.

Mateusz: Well, maybe someone was there for Jo [Quail], we don’t know.

Radu: Yeah, maybe some of them were there for Jo.

TK: Some of them, yes, probably, but it was in Budapest, so probably most of them were there for us. And Jo was great, actually. I really enjoyed her set, and I think people did appreciate her set.

Mateusz: She mentioned something that the reception in London was worse?

TK: Yeah, that’s what she said. I don’t know what it was in London, but here in Budapest, it was quite all right.

Radu: Both of you are artists who have played in both London and Budapest.

TK: That’s true. And the London gig was in a very different club. The Underworld is small [Ed: It’s because all the devils are here], but it was more intimate, and I really enjoyed that gig as well. People were closer and that was a different vibe. And then Brutal Assault, again, that’s a huge, massive stage with thousands of people who are there anyway, not especially for us, so it’s a different crowd and it’s exciting because of that.

Radu: Because you get the chance to convince them.

TK: We’re playing the same way, but yes, these are new people. It’s always interesting to play for people who have never heard about your name or your music.

Radu: Right. So how did the decision to start playing live come from?

TK: It was because people from Fekete Zaj festival knew that I didn’t want to play live, but they asked me if I’m okay with them organizing a band playing the songs, even without me. And I said absolutely fine, because I didn’t care about that. I said if you want to make it, just make it, I just don’t want to be on stage, because I didn’t feel comfortable at all. So they started organizing it, but somehow, for one set, there was no bass player, and those guys were from Makó, from my area. So my friends were playing that set of three songs and they didn’t have a bass player and I was just suggesting, “What if I would play the bass?” It was just half-fun, or whole-fun, actually. But they just wanted me to play then, so I said, okay, it’s not that hard, so I would play then. And then it turned out that it did work. The whole Mezolit thing was very successful, and we decided to make it into a real band. So that’s how it happened.

Radu: So this is why you’re playing bass in the live formation?

TK: That’s the easiest instrument. (laughs) [Ed: Everyone agrees on this very uncontroversial point, bassists go home] Because on the records, I play the guitar, bass, keyboards and so on...

Radu: Yeah, a bit hard to do that live all at once. [Ed: Bullshit, I once saw an octopus predict the World Cup, I bet it can play bass and keyboards at the same time]

TK: But yeah, I’m not a good player. I’m not a good guitar player, I’m not a good keyboard player, and I would not play guitar live, because I know people can do it much better.

Mateusz: You also do some harsh vocals on the albums, right?

TK: Yes, I do that, but I’m not comfortable with that either, so I know there are people who do it much better.

Mateusz: Yeah, but you sang something yesterday.

Radu: Yeah. I do remember there was like, a very short section where you did actually do vocals live.

TK: Yes, I did some. Because in some songs, there is, uh, not growling, but…

Radu: Singing, clean vocals?

TK: Not even singing, but…

Mateusz: Speaking?

Radu: Narration?

TK: Speaking, yeah, I can do that. That’s fine. Because I can speak. (laughs) That’s an ability. But I cannot really growl properly live; I don’t like it. I have to do it on the records, because I know that harsh vocals are needed at some point, and I can do that if I want, if I really have to, but…

Radu: Plus in the studio you can process them and do takes.

TK: Yes, of course, and in the studio you can put the distortion on it. Live, probably doesn’t work like that because there’s feedback and it’s just too much of a hassle. If someone can do it without any processing, that’s much better.

Radu: Yeah. And I remember being so pissed off because there was that soft section where you did the narration and I couldn’t photograph it properly. I didn’t get to. And also it was very frustrating – we had a rule in the photo pit that only for three songs.

TK: I don’t know why this rule is, but that’s normal. Do you understand it? Why is it?

Radu: Is it distracting for you when there are people photographing?

TK: For me, not. But is it the reason? I never knew what was the reason for this three-song…

Radu: I figure out this is why.

Mateusz: I was always thinking maybe it’s because photographers sometimes block my view when I’m in the audience. I don’t know how it worked yesterday, because I didn’t even notice them because I was a bit further away, but at some venues I think maybe that’s the point.

TK: Okay.

Radu: Yeah, as a photographer, you’re kind of thinking in the back of your head that you’re distracting people, you’re in the way, you’re something, so even in the photo pit you’re trying to crouch to not take too much attention.

TK: I never thought about that.

Radu: But it was frustrating because right when we were supposed to leave, that’s when Martina and the other guy came on stage.

TK: Yeah, it’s an issue for them as well, because they never get cool photos.

Radu: Yeah. So you have to start with their songs next time.

TK: I don’t know, I will have to talk about that. Because there’s no reason, really. At least, I don’t know the reason for this rule. [Ed: It’s just to prevent Radu from getting too close to the talent. Sorry we couldn’t save you, Tamás.]

Radu: I did get photographs from the VIP stage, the balcony but I don’t have the objective that can zoom in properly, so it just looks like a wide shot of the entire stage. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is. Next time, start with their songs. (laughs)

TK: Yeah, we have to change the set all the time because – for example, we played here in April. We couldn’t play exactly the same set. [Ed: I don’t know, I tell the same jokes every day and people still put up with me. [Edited further: No, they don't [Edited even further: Bold of you to make fun of other people’s sense of humor]]] But I don’t know, if we go to New Zealand, then we can do the same things.

Radu: Funnily enough, a band from New Zealand was playing next door.

TK: Yes! Okay, I just said that accidentally. It was Mild Orange.

Radu: Funny thing is I went a bit outside to look around at the merch area between one of your songs and I saw that there was a band playing there, and I figured out, hey, this is actually also in Akvárium, so maybe I can use the press pass over there. And I did. They actually let me in for free.

TK: Cool.

Mateusz: And he records it now so that he will never be invited again.

(clears throat) Akvárium, please, uh, this is a story. It has no basis in factuality. In case your lawyers ask. [Ed: And I definitely did not encourage Radu to do this when he shared live updates of his adventure.] But I also managed to take photos in the photo pit. They didn’t have that three-song rule.

TK: I really don’t know. I have no power over this.

Radu: Oh, really? I thought the musician has all the power. (laughs)

TK: I didn’t know about that at all, how it works, and I don’t want to. I’m there for the music and somewhat for the visuals, but for the creative part, and not for the the entire administrative part. I don't care about that.

Radu: Okay. But overall, other than that, fantastic gig.

TK: Thanks.

Radu: I really like being in the VIP lounge, because it was easier to get drinks. You didn’t have to have such a long queue. [Ed: Always practical.]

TK: All right. I didn’t know about this either. (laughs)

Radu: Well, now you do. [Ed: This interview is the story of Radu teaching Tamás how to seize control of everything around him.] How did you choose the songs for the setlist? If I’m not mistaken, you said that you had the same set list in London.

TK: Yes, they were exactly the same. We wanted to have some changes from the first one, and we had to figure out what songs should we replace, because the set is 90 minutes and we didn’t really want to go over. We did go overboard, actually, it’s 1 hour 39 minutes net time [Mateusz ed: a few minutes more than that actually].

Radu: Some people were complaining that it was too short.

TK: (politely incredulous) Was it? It was 20 songs.

Radu: (laughs) Yeah, but you have a lot of songs.

TK: Yeah, but that’s the problem. We have ten albums, so it’s not easy to find out which ones to be played.

Radu: Obviously you’re not playing the 15-minutes-long ones.

TK: Yes, that’s also a problem that we have, these long songs, and if we put one of them in, we lose the other shorter songs. So probably in the future we will have some gigs with a special set dedicated only for long songs, like we play five long songs and that’s it.

Radu: It’s very interesting because now you have five different concerts. You also have the opportunity, if you’re not turning into a touring band that will do tours all over Europe –

TK: Hopefully not. [Ed: I want to see Thy Catafalque, but I feel kinship with this sentiment.]

Radu: So then each set will be special.

TK: Yeah, we could – that’s a very interesting way to look at it.

Radu: So for example, next time you’re having a show in Paris, and it will be a reason for not only the Parisian fans to join in. Because who knows what they will play this time? [Ed: No, don’t give the Parisians another reason to think they’re special]

TK: Yes, and the only problem is that we have to learn everything, so it’s a lot of songs to practice. That’s the hard part.

Radu: So if you were not a musician, what would you be doing with your time?

TK: I am working normal, like every normal person.

Radu: Yeah, I suppose you’re not making a full living out of music.

TK: Absolutely not. I work for a record label. There’s only two of us in the record label, so I have to do everything – almost everything. It’s home office. I’ve been doing it for four years now. Before that, I had been living in Scotland for ten years – from 2008 until 2018 in Edinburgh. I was working at the university as a librarian, and a cleaner at the same time. I was also working for the Council of the City of Edinburgh as an interpreter and a translator. So that was my job when I left the country. All three at the same time.

Radu: Ever thinking of coming back eventually?

TK: I visit the country regularly. Every year, I go back.

Radu: Explains why you played in London.

TK: No, it was not about that.

Mateusz: And Scotland and England are not the same.

Radu: Depends on who you ask. [Ed: I don’t know, I think both Scots and English would agree that Scotland and England are not the same, but maybe for different reasons.]

TK: Well, who do you ask?

Mateusz: English people. (laughs)

TK: Yeah, if you ask in the Scotland, you'll know the answer (laughs).

Radu: You’ll get beaten. [Ed: To be fair, they don’t need a reason to beat you up in Scotland.]

TK: So yeah, I go back because there's Edinburgh Marathon Festival every May. So I go back each May, but I stay there for two weeks and I go up in the highlands and visit the old places. But I'm not planning now to move back.

Radu: But maybe play a gig in Edinburgh.

TK: The problem with Edinburgh is that it is not a metal city at all. If it's Scotland, then it's Glasgow. So all the tours, most of the tours, are just reaching Glasgow and that’s it.

Mateusz: Well, you can play with Neolunar then. [ed by M: Tamás's electronic project inspired by Edinburgh]

TK: Oh well. That would be nice but I cannot think about arranging another band and finding other musicians for that project...

Radu: You can use the same musicians. Or just you on the synths.

TK: Yeah, that's one way actually. Cause that's what plenty of artists on this scene are doing. But that'd be like 80% of playback.

Radu: But you already had some playback on the key parts.

TK: But it's HD, so it's normal because it's hard disk. But if we do it with guitars or the vocals, that's not good. But I don't want another keyboards on the stage, cause we already had 9 people last night. It would make things more complicated, more issues with the sound. It's better if it's just HD. I don't want to complicate it even more, cause it's bad enough now.

Radu: Yeah, and the way it sounded, it sounded great. I didn’t notice any glaring issues with the sound.

TK: All right, that’s cool.

Mateusz: Why did you play “Jura” twice yesterday? Maybe you have explained during the show but we couldn't understand Hungarian.

TK: Oh, right, because there was an issue. We have this song, “Jura,” and on the set it is put together with “Csillagkohó”, which the other song from Tűnő Idő Tárlat, so they're coming after each other. But it was a problem with ear monitors, ‘cause our drummer couldn't hear the HD properly, and he needs the HD, and he couldn't start the second song, so he had to stop. But then we kinda fixed it in the ear monitor, so we played again, but we couldn’t play “Csillagkohó” only. We had to play both songs because they are put together.

Radu: They didn’t work apart.

TK: No, they cannot be done. So we played “Jura” again.

Mateusz: Makes sense.

[Ed: I just saw Bloodywood and they both opened and closed their set with “Gaddaar,” and that was perfectly fine. There are worse mishaps to have in a show.]

Radu: I know that you're from Makó in Hungary, which is very close to Romanian border. I’ve never actually visited the city, but I passed through it with my car when I went to Szeged to visit. I live actually very close, in Arad, which is also on the Maros River [Ed: Radu very politely says Maros and not Mureș to accommodate his guest]. It’s quite funny how we’re 70 kilometers apart but our cultures, our upbringings are still so very different. For example, Hungarian and Romanian have almost no common words, as opposed to like…

TK: Yeah, these are different language families, so.

Radu: Yeah, completely different. And obviously I know some Hungarian words, since there is a sizable Hungarian population in Arad, which makes sense since it was a Hungarian city more than a hundred years ago.

TK: Yes, I think even my ancient ones are coming from Arad. [Ed: That’s a cool way of putting it.]

Radu: Have you had much contact with Romania?

TK: We had some family there. It was my great grandparents' side of the family and we just lost contact after they died. They were Romanian people. But other than that, no. We did visit a country many times when I was a kid. I was in Romanian Carpathians this June for hiking. So I did visit Romania many times but not for family business.

Radu: I was talking with Mateusz that in a lot of countries, that the place in the country that the tourists visit is usually the capital---

Mateusz: Not really; I think most of people who come to Poland come to Kraków instead of Warsaw.

Radu: Yeah, Kraków instead, but usually the big city.

Mateusz: I’m from Kraków, so…

TK: Yeah, but if you go to Romania, I think—

Radu: There's nothing to see in Bucharest. [Ed: You can see the locals running away with your wallet.]

TK: That’s why. And it’s so far away.

Radu: Compared to all the really nice things to see in Transylvania. All the castles, like Bran Castle, which is what people usually think of in Romania, which is ironically not in Transylvania. So what do you think people should come see in Hungary other than Budapest?

TK: Go to the Mátra Mountains. This is where Mezolit and the Fekete Zaj festival is situated and it's a very nice place. These are not big mountains, of course, compared to Carpathians. But still, it’s our mountains. They’re small, but still, they’re nice.

Radu: Yeah, well, the Trianon kind of took away all your mountains. [Ed: This is why I like Radu’s interviews. He never lets people forget what their countries lost in hundred-year-old treaties.]

TK: Yeah, those ones. So that one… probably Balaton is very popular, the lake, but it’s filled with tourists, so I don’t know.

Radu: Yeah, we usually tend to avoid places where there’s a lot, a lot of tourists.

TK: Yeah, it’s too popular, too expensive. I would really suggest just to go up to the mountains in north Hungary.

Radu: All right. What was it like growing up in ‘90s Hungary? I know this is around when you started making music with some other projects.

TK: First I was making computer generated music in '92, then I started Darklight in '93. I remember this, because I went to this Metallica gig in Budapest. Then I turned into a metalhead after that so I started Darklight. In '93, June the 9th, more exactly. It was great, it was a different period of time.

Radu: Because you did catch the '89 revolution...? [Ed: Nah, man, I forgot to tape it. Bummer.]

TK: We didn’t have – you have –

Radu: We had something that was a bit more bloody. I think for you it was more of a peaceful transition.

TK: Yes, our transition was very peaceful and it's still a problem, I think. Not about peacefulness [Ed: Tamás demands blood] but not really many things changed. But that's a different discussion. But yes, I was 14 in 1989 and we just finished primary school. And life has changed a bit. In the beginning of the '90s, I think in all the Eastern European countries, it was very confusing; it was some sort of grey zone. You could do anything, because there was a new world coming and the old one was falling and the laws were not really…

Radu: Set in place. The constitutions were not…

TK: Yeah, yeah. It was a couple of years that were very weird.

Radu: Yeah, a lot of people got very rich.

TK: Yeah, so it was weird to see those tendencies. But I was still a kid. I enjoyed the whole thing. I enjoyed being a child, even in the Communist era. For us, it was fine; we didn’t see what was going on.

Radu: In Hungary, I noticed there was more freedom in the '80s in terms of music. For example, you had ‘80s metal bands like Pokolgép or, uh…

TK: Mhm. Not many, though, because Pokolgép was, sorry, 1986? The first album?

Radu: Yeah, but they were formed in 1980. For example, I cannot think of a Romanian metal band in the ‘80s. All of them came in the ‘90s. I mean, we had rock bands –

TK: We did have those, but they were allowed to record their first album in 1986. But there were bands from 1982 or 1983, whatever, but the first one was permitted to be recorded in 1986. And then there was another one in 1988, and then from the ‘90s it was more –

Radu: It was an explosion in the ‘90s.

TK: Yes.

Radu: Like with us. That’s basically where you can pinpoint the start of the Romanian metal scene. Are you a fan of any Romanian metal bands? [Ed: I think he’s going to be by the end of this interview, whether he likes it or not.]

TK: Negură Bunget?

Radu: Obviously.

TK: Is that the way you say it? How do you say it?

Radu: Negură Bunget. [Ed: You can safely assume that he says it correctly.]

Mateusz: What about Polish ones?

TK: Polish bands? Well, come on –

Radu: I mean, everybody likes Polish black metal.

TK: That’s easy, because of course there is a very strong scene – and there always has been a very strong metal scene in Poland. It’s not only the bands, but the audience has always been massive and huge.

Radu: Even if we're talking about the '80s under the Communists, you had Kat, Turbo.

TK: And there were gigs in Poland that were recorded, and always even in the end of '90s, I remember watching metal TV series and there were gigs from Poland always. Probably it was in Kraków; there was a concert place.

Mateusz: Yeah, from Kraków. There are loads of gigs there. Warsaw probably a bit more, but also it’s twice as big –

TK: Is it like that still?

Mateusz: Yeah. Even in October, I've got like 10 upcoming gigs. Not everything is metal, though.

TK: We have gigs here as well. Some. But the scene itself, the bands, they’re a lot less than in Poland.

Mateusz: That is my assumption, that when a band goes on a Europe tour and when they go to Hungary, it’s almost always Budapest.

TK: Yeah, of course. There’s no other venues.

Mateusz: And in Poland it’s spread out. It’s like Warsaw, Kraków, Wrocław, sometimes Gdańsk, Poznań, Katowice, maybe. [Ed: I gotta tell you, that is one heck of a language you’ve got there.]

Radu: Even in Romania, you have Bucharest obviously, sometimes Cluj, sometimes Brașov, sometimes Timișoara…

TK: And in Hungary it's Budapest and that's it. The clubs are dying.

Radu: I think I remember Crowbar playing in Debrecen once.

TK: Wow, really? Haven't been to Debrecen.

Radu: Me neither. (laughs) Too far away.

TK: Okay. But yeah, that’s weird. It's really weird if any international bands are playing outside Budapest.

Radu: So what was the scene like in the '90s? You weren't actually part of the scene as much, cause you were playing mostly by yourself mostly, right? But I do remember you playing parts in some bands, right?

TK: I was playing in – well, all of them were my bands, actually, but also I was a guest session synth player in Nebron, which was a band from Hódmezővásárhely [Ed: Holy shit, Hungarian is scary, have mercy on me], which is next to Makó. It’s 30 kilometers. They were friends of mine as well, because… so it was a little, small scene. Those guys from Nebron were playing in Ahriman, that was a black metal band from Szeged, who our drummer was playing there for, and it was like everyone was playing with everyone.

Radu: Yeah, yeah. Most great scenes are like that, like the Icelandic scenes, the Norwegian scenes… they’re incestuous.

TK: Yeah. So they just asked me to help them out with keyboards, and I was playing on two songs. It was quite good. I was listening to those songs like a couple of days ago and I was surprised how great those were. And we recorded in 2000, so that’s 22 years ago.

Radu: And you never played live with any of them? Not with Gire or other?

TK: With Gire we did play. TK: We say “Gire”. [Ed: Now I know how to pronounce the name, but I’m not going to tell you. It’s a secret.]

Radu: Oh, Gire? All right. [Ed: Ah, heck. Radu wants you to know that it’s pronounced ʒɪə not gɪr. Fine, have it your way.]

TK: Even Hungarians don’t know that, because it’s not a Hungarian word, it’s an invented word. It doesn’t mean anything at all.

Radu: Ah, okay. Well, it reminds me of Jira. The issue ticket platform.

TK: It was a real playing band. We played 80 gigs, I think, during our time.

Radu: So you did have some experience playing live?

TK: Yeah, but I was playing keyboards there.

Radu: Not as much attention as being the mainman of the band.

TK: But I’m still not the mainman, the mainman is the vocalist always, no?

Mateusz: Yeah, but the vocalist changed during the show and you were there the whole time.

TK: Well, I don’t know. It was a three-piece in the end; we ended up being the only three people on stage.

Radu: You had five different vocalists, right?

TK: Yes, five now, but normally it’s four. But we asked Gábor [Veres], who is singing on “Móló” on Vadak, to help us out because he is singing the song on the album.

Radu: Is he part of any other band?

TK: Yes, he’s the singer of Watch My Dying, which is a very good band.

Radu: All right. Was the singer of Perihelion ever performing with you live?

TK: Yes, he was singing on the Mezolit gig. The song.

Radu: Okay. Because Perihelion is one of those bands that I also know. For example Watch My Dying I haven’t heard of until now.

TK: Okay. Watch My Dying is – well, they’re probably older, a bit.

Mateusz: I recognize the name, but that’s it.

TK: I think just look it up, because they are very good, I really love them. And they inspired me a lot.

Radu: So I’m not very, very familiar with the Hungarian metal scene.

TK: All right.

Radu: We have, like I said, a big Hungarian population and a lot of them are fans of the big metal bands like Akela, like Pokolgép, like Ossian. [Ed: Mention Dalriada mention Dalriada mention Dalriada]

TK: Akela is a famous one?

Radu: Well, when you go to gigs in Arad, and you see the Hungarian people and they’re wearing shirts of their bands, and based on the shirts that they’re wearing you can figure out which band is popular. Or the patches. Some of them are even playing in Arad, and I think I saw some of them. I did also see Omega, which surprisingly has the same lineup as in the 70s.

TK: Well not anymore, because half of the band died in the past few years.

Radu: Since then, yeah, but…

Mateusz: In Poland, “Gyöngyhajú lány” is surprisingly popular.

Radu: That’s the “Girl With Pearls In Her Hair” song?

TK: Yes, exactly. Even Scorpions did a cover of that, so that’s why.

Radu: Yeah, and I wanted to ask, because you’re writing lyrics in Hungarian, does it ever seem difficult, the Hungarian language, in songwriting? Because for me, the Hungarian language is very unmusical. [Ed: strong disagree, mention Dalriada already, dammit]

TK: Yes, but that’s my native language, so it’s easy for me, of course.

Radu: Yeah, so it’s natural, but did it ever feel like “Oh, this is not rhyming” or “This is not working in a song”?

TK: I don’t really care about rhyming. In my lyrics there are some rhymes, but that’s not the main point. But for me it’s absolutely natural to write in Hungarian and totally unnatural to write in English.

Mateusz: But you were writing in English for Neolunar, so how was it?

TK: Well, it was for a very straightforward reason, because I was living in Edinburgh and I didn’t have any Hungarian vocalist, female vocalists, and I had a lady from the Netherlands and I asked her if she would be willing to sing in Hungarian. And she said no.

Radu: Gee, I wonder why?!

TK: Unsurprisingly, yeah. And so, okay, I had to translate into English. So I translated the first one into English, and then she declined the whole thing because she moved back to the Netherlands. So then I had the English lyrics and I said “Fuck it, I’ll do it in English because I already have the translations”. But for that kind of music, it sounded better. I didn’t care that much about the lyrics in Neolunar, because it was just an electronic side project, so I said, “Okay, let us do it this way,” so there is a big difference between Thy Catafalque and Neolunar in this way as well.

Mateusz: I think I read in some interview that you were inspired by Edinburgh when making Neolunar. So English lyrics probably fit.

TK: Probably, yes.

Radu: Or Scots lyrics. [Ed: Look, we just came off the Ashenspire interview. We can’t go through this again.]

TK: At the time Meta was coming out and Meta was in Hungarian. It was in 2016 that I released three full-length albums. Also with my instrumental solo project. So no lyrics there.

Radu: Are you planning on doing anything outside Thy Catafalque in the future?

TK: At the moment no, because it’s too much energy and time. I write the Thy Catafalque albums, and then this live thing is also taking a lot of time and energy.

Radu: I suppose you’re already in the works for the next Thy Catafalque record, right?

TK: The next one, that will be released next year, is already done. It was done in like 2021. [Continues to talk about it before questioning whether that’s something he’s allowed to publicly talk about]

Radu: Oh no! Musician who regularly releases music confirms he’ll release more music in the future! [Ed: Obviously he has to release another album next year, because we need to know in advance who's going to win Best Avant-Garde/Experimental Metal Album at the 2023 Metal Storm Awards.]

TK: It’s weird because I wrote this album almost one and a half year ago.

Radu: So then we should ask you if you’re already working on the thing after that?

TK: That’s what I do. I almost completely forgot about the one that’s gonna be out next year because it’s over and I’m just thinking about the next one.

Radu: As a listener, listening to your music can feel like “it sounds like Thy Catafalque”, but to you, who are actively involved in crafting those songs, are there any elements that you wish people would give more attention to? So for example if you’re using some new technique but the listener doesn’t really catch on that.

TK: It’s not my business. I’m not in a position to tell listeners what to listen to. I just do the music I want to and that’s it. That’s my job.

Radu: For example, as a reviewer, I might think of using something like a cool alliteration or a reference to something but then nobody notices. Are there any things like that in your music that you’d put a lot of effort in but people might not notice?

TK: I never really thought about it. I’m really on the side of just releasing music and then letting the audience decide what they want to hear or what they want to take away from the music. And that’s absolutely fine with me, whatever it is.

Radu: Have you ever watched Sátántangó in one sitting? [Ed: I have.]

TK: Not in one sitting. I have it in my computer, but it was two sittings. I’m not hardcore enough. I love Béla Tarr. I watched some of his movies in the cinema. I have The Turin Horse here on DVD. [Ed: I didn't even love it, but I did it in one sitting anyway. It was good, but it was the film equivalent of a meeting that should have been an e-mail.]

Radu: I haven’t actually watched that one.

TK: I like him very much. I think he does inspire me in a way. I know many people don’t really connect to his work but for me it speaks volumes. Probably because I’m from the same cultural background.

Mateusz: You probably had this question before, but how do you think about album covers? When you’re making music, you have an image of how you want it to look like?

TK: They’re very important for me. They’re different ways, sometimes I find an image and I try to make music fitting for it, sometimes I have the entire album done and I still don’t have the image for the artwork. For example (points to artwork on the wall) in the artwork for Naiv I knew that I wanted something Hungarian with the folk motifs combined with something modern, with the spaceman and the rocket. [Ed: It's hanging on the wall? Were you interviewing him in his home or something?]

Radu: I really like that one (points to another artwork) the one for Meta, the iconography looks very Orthodox Christian.

TK: It is, it was painted by a Bulgarian icon painter. So it’s a real painting. And it was my idea to replace the heads of the saints with animal heads. It was not easy to find a painter who would be willing to do a blasphemy like this. Because icon painters are very strict, they paint only icons, and only in the traditional way. So they don’t take commissions like this.

Radu: It was pretty weird considering how Hungary is a Catholic/Protestant nation.

TK: I love icons, especially Orthodox icons.

Radu: When I go to art museums in Romania, because everything, including art, is developing decades or centuries after Western Europe, so a lot of our art is just Orthodox art until you get to the actual laic art. So you had like the Dutch golden age while for us it’s still just Orthodox art.

TK: I didn’t know that.

Radu: If you could get any living director to direct a music video for a Thy Catafalque song, who would it be?

TK: Béla Tarr. [Ed: That would be the longest music video ever made.]

Radu: Have you ever made contact with him?

TK: Of course not, no.

Radu: If we do get in contact with him, we’ll tell him about you.

TK: Thank you. But he’s not active anymore.

Radu: That’s what they all say.

Mateusz: One last heist.

Radu: If you could get any musician in the world to do a metal album, who would it be?

TK: Hmm… Portishead?

Radu: Hmm… that would be interesting. I could see a collaboration with like Ihsahn or Cult Of Luna.

TK: My Dying Bride covered Portishead.

Radu: Ihsahn covered Portishead too.

TK: Really?

Radu: Yeah, he covered “Roads”.

TK: So did My Dying Bride.

Radu: Hmm. Amenra too. Must be a popular song. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

TK: I’m fine, thank you!

Thanks to SSUS for the transcription help, and to Mateusz for that as well as the entire experience. And obviously to Tamás for the courtesy and the music.

You can also read the concert review here.

Posted on 02.10.2022 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 7   Visited by: 138 users
02.10.2022 - 15:17
Nocturnal Bro
This was a fantastic read! Such a fun dynamic between Radu, Mateusz, Tamás, and of course SSUS's hilarious comments!

I've only listened to one album from Thy Catafalque (Tűnő Idő Tárlat), but I enjoyed it a lot! This interview makes me want to check out the rest of their discography - and all of those other Hungarian bands he mentioned.

Thanks for reaching out to Tamás on behalf of MS! You guys rock!
02.10.2022 - 15:29
Written by F3ynman2000 on 02.10.2022 at 15:17

I've only listened to one album from Thy Catafalque (Tűnő Idő Tárlat), but I enjoyed it a lot! This interview makes me want to check out the rest of their discography - and all of those other Hungarian bands he mentioned.

You can't go wrong with just going chronologically from TIT onwards.

I definitely recommend Perihelion as well.
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?
02.10.2022 - 16:13
I enjoyed this one. Tamás seems a bit shy, but you had some amusing exchanges and I'm glad he was up for this spontaneous arrangement. I do look forward to that next Thy Catafalque album and whatever other mysterious news we're not supposed to know about yet.

I don't know too many Hungarian directors, but as I was scrolling through the list I realized that Marcell Jankovics would actually be a great fit for a Thy Catafalque music video. He unfortunately does not fit the criterion of "living," however.
"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.
03.10.2022 - 14:49

[Ed: It's hanging on the wall? Were you interviewing him in his home or something?]

Actually, yeah. He gave me a really cool Rengeteg magnet, also a signed setlist. Btw nikargs of your own joined in later, after the interview was over.
(Though have to admit that the best Tamas stories were off the record and sadly will have to stay this way)
Thanks, Radu, for the opportunity. One day, you're shitposting on metal storm awards threads, the other you're at Tamas Katai's house for the interview. Funny how that works.

Written by ScreamingSteelUS on 02.10.2022 at 16:13
Tamás seems a bit shy

I actually didn't get that impression, although that's what I've been imagining him to be :p But he was extremely nice and humble and interesting to talk to, that's for sure.
03.10.2022 - 17:12
Jared Archon

Tamás is such a brilliant musician, him saying he's not good enough to play live is so relatable. He is incredibly humble. Fantastic interview!
04.10.2022 - 20:15

The man opened his home to three complete strangers, even though it was clear that this was not something he usually does. Thy Catafalque is one of the best bands that I have discovered through Metal Storm, and it was great to meet Tamás in person. Meeting him made me appreciate the band even more. The artwork of Meta is my favourite (as is the album) and the actual painting was there on the wall, and he took it down for us to have a closer look.

Written by NastyHero on 03.10.2022 at 14:49

One day, you're shitposting on metal storm awards threads, the other you're at Tamas Katai's house for the interview. Funny how that works.

This goes to show how we love shitposting on the MS Awards' threads.

Thanks, Radu.
13.10.2022 - 02:27

Great interview Radu and Nastyhero. Always nice to find more about a person who has made such great music to enthrall us all.
Leeches everywhere.

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