Alhena is a Polish band and so far many won't have heard about them yet. But this will hopefully change soon. I took the chance to sent over my questions to Alhena and drummer Piotr Grugel, bassist Tadeusz Kołecki and keyboarder Piotr Kowalski were so kind to answer my questions.
Please tell us a bit about the beginning of Alhena!
[Piotr K.]: The beginning was the meeting of three people who had left Sellisternium band and one who had left Xanadu. We decided to fulfil our passions together and start a new project...
[Piotr G.]: Let's not forget about our colleague, Robert Puk, who was a part of Alhena together with Tomek and me. He also took a part in the band's activity at its beginning. Searching for a bassist took quite a long time. Finally, we met Tadeusz, who replaced Robert. At times, a few people stood at that post. Looking for a vocalist was similar and finally providence sent Katarzyna to us.
Why Alhena? Inspired by the star in the constellation Gemini? Or after the Dutch ship that rescued many people from an Italian cruise liner, the Principessa Mafalda, in October 1927?
[Piotr K.]: Definitely it was a revelation from the star that hit on our vocalist is head one day... No marine association, of course!
[Piotr G.]: The story of our name is rather funny. We created a new project, focused on composing the material. The question of the name stayed in the background. Then, we started looking for musicians. Everybody asked what the band's name was. An we weren't able to answer this simple question... ;-)
When did you start writing songs? Do you write songs as a band? Or is there a main songwriter?
[Piotr K.]: All songs are the effect of common ideas and are born on fire of different views of each of us. But lyrics is only Kasia's domain...
How long did the recordings of Alhena take?
[Piotr G.]: We started composing the material in January 2010. However, the band was formed with its present members in the middle of the year. So, we should talk about real work on the material starting from that time. Still, the recording of our EP was very efficient. The tracks for five songs were recorded in about in about a week's time and it was really an odd job. However, the material's processing. mix and mastering was a different story...
New bands somehow needs to be labeled... categorized... How would you describe your sound?
[Piotr K.]: I don't want to categorize or type our music. It's from my (and others') hearts... I only hope it's surprising, unpredictable and rich melodically... If someone must name it, let them do it...
[Piotr G.]: In our hearts we have got rather next-to-progressive climates. Still, the receivers find in our music influences of such elements as prog metal, dark-progressive, gothic, and even the elements of mainstream! This is what we found out while reading many reviews of our EP.
[Tadeusz]: I'm afraid that our music will be more and more difficult to categorize after each song. Music mixes are the most interesting.
And which bands / artists have inspired you to start making music? And which bands / artists are you listening to nowadays?
[Piotr K.]: Lots of... But for me its mainly old productions from 4AD label and the Polish progressive legend – Abraxas.
[Piotr G.]: Each of us listens to different bands and artists. The inspiration sometimes comes also from totally different source than it could be expected. I listen mainly to rock, prog rock, prog metal, as those are climates nearest my heart. However, I won't say 'no' to neither interesting jazz nor 'butcher' metal. And lately I've had tome for Hans Zimmer''s music, but sadly, for rather older productions of this gentleman.
[Tadeusz]: I'm inspired by each good piece of music and it doesn't matter if it's a symphony, piano concert, cold-wave, metal, jazz etc. For quite a long time I've listened to classical music and I'm really surprised by the fact how many phrases or harmonies comes from this music to progressive rock. The most crucial thing is to be open-minded, but also to keep some certain convention which connects. And in our case it's progressive music, whatever it means.
You have a YouTube channel where you posted the audio tracks... Can we expect to see some more of Alhena soon? A look behind the scenes?
[Piotr G.]: As soon as some 'behind the scenes' are recorded. This is why the YouTube Channel has been created.
[Piotr K.]: Of course we want more and work on it, but... ...a day has only 24 hours – we must work in our professions at the same time as with music...
[Tadeusz]: This is with no doubt another important step. But as Piotr said, a day has only got 24 hours and there are many family and professional duties.
Which song would you like to do a video clip for?
[Piotr G.]: There were trials of recording the video to Breath. For the time being, however, the matter was postponed because of more important things. Still, we are sure it will come back, as recording a video is a very important media aspect for the band.
What about feedback for your EP? Are you satisfied?
[Piotr G.]: The feedback was enormous, both in our country and abroad. We are really glad and satisfied by this fact, but we aren't going to stop this point. We still have much to say and even more to do! Our plans are great and ambitious and we hope to fulfil them step by step.
Are you shopping for a deal now? Or just looking for distribution?
[Piotr G.]: We released our mini album on our own. This gave us some independence of actions. It can be purchased straight from us. Still, we will look for a label and publisher of our planned Long-Play. This will give us broader distribution and the possibility to go much further. At the same tome we invite for cooperation on releasing and publishing our LP and we ask for contact.
Any idea when you'll start recording a follow-up?
[Piotr K.]: No idea, haha.
[Piotr G.]: Of course, we've got plans. The material is still in production and we hope that after entering the studio, we will have a wide choice. We have no fixed dates, but we hope that recording of follow-up will take place this year.
[Tadeusz]: Setting further goals and challenges to ourselves is crucial for keeping the work's dynamics. But the most important are quality and freshness of what we want to show via our music. And you can't hurry with that! Recording for recording itself doesn't make any sense.
What about playing live? Do you have the chance to play live in your area / home country?
[Piotr G.]: We've already been through a number of concerts. Of course, we target further and further, including abroad. Again, we invite all concerts’ and festivals’ organizers to cooperate who are interested in Alhena's activity!
Hypothetical question.... Who would you like to support?
[Piotr G.]: Sharing the stage with an interesting band is a real honor and pleasure. Supporting any certain band is not our goal, but it doesn't mean that we aren't going to do this!
[Tadeusz]: In goal company ;-) it's always merrier. It's an honor to perform. But our main goal is independent concert playing and this demands constant, both, creative in group and individual.
What are your plans for 2012?
[Piotr G.]: As we have mentioned before, there are many plans. Recording LP, playing concerts, promoting the material, finding a label and the LP's producer...