Greetings to everyone, my name is Laslo Friop and I live in Budapest in the suburb of Erzsebetarvos and I would like to thank Mr JC for allowing me to compile todays piece for the Vinyl Villain.
I met JC on a trip to Glasgow a few years ago and he taught me all about its quality food and music. I have tried with limited success to get fish battered and chocolate that has been fried in Hungary it does not happen. Also the radio stations refuse to play Arab Strap or Mogwai, I did manage to get some Orange Juice though but it did not go down that well, it was too commercial and there was no gypsy punks. After just one hour with the JC I can now say that Glasgow is my sixth favourite city in Scotland after Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, Cardiff, Dumbarton, and Stranraer. Since that afternoon at the train station I have followed this blog space with passion. I love to read about early 80s bands that for years were banned from Hungary for not being communist enough. Particularly Billy Bragg and The Redskins. They would have been very happy behind the Iron Curtain.
Anyway today I would like to talk you about revolution and the inspiration of a generation through music, in fact the inspiring of a generation by one band. For years in Hungary, music was terrible, under the Russians it was largely frowned upon to listen to anything Western, I think that the Beatles were not encouraged, and anyone caught listening to progressive rock from the 1970s usually disappeared to the Saltmines of Debrecen. They did this so that you could not grow your hair and say ‘Woah Man’ a lot.
Then as the West became more acceptable the Iron Grip loosened and the free republic commenced. It wasn’t all good but in one strange day back 1999 one band changed our lives for ever. It is a well known fact that David Hasslehoff singlehandedly brought the Berlin Wall to it knees.
Yet in Hungary on that day in 1999, a lesser known musical phenomenon occurred.
In September in what is now known as ‘Victory Square’ in Budapest the crowds had started to form to chant anti-government slogans and chants, the police had been heavy handed and we screamed at them ‘Ez mind össze képtelenség’ which roughly translated into Hungarian means ‘We will be free, we will win’. At that point the skies opened and the clouds burst and it rained. Those of you who have been to Budapest will know that this happens a lot, but at that moment we felt defeated, ruined by unemployment and now the weather. All we wanted was to have the same choices as our neighbours in Austria had, and not go the same way as other neighbours Romania had gone.
Now Western Radio and music has started to become relatively popular in Hungary around this time. We were massive fans of the reggae star Pato Banton and for many the arrival of Eminem was a crucial point in our history. Or ‘Nem ez nem volt’ as we like say when we discuss Eminem. So it was not unusual to hear Western songs on the radio or being churned out from the many cafes and shops. Now as the rain pelted down on our tear stained cheeks, one song, ‘Why Does It Always Rain on Me’ by the Scottish Band Travis came on. On hearing this Hungarians found solidarity and together we rose and defied the weather, we defied the police and we defied the government. After that day, Travis became the Number One band in all of Hungary, they were so popular they even had a brand of goulash named after them, people would go into restaurants and say ‘ez a teljes lószart’ and the workers would know that you were one of them. Their songs became synonymous with the protest movement in Hungary, ‘All I want to do is rock’ became the theme to our campaign to become more western, ‘Tied to the 90s’ became an ironic song about not returning to the days of communism with its cheeky ‘Remember the 80s…’ lyric and ‘Turn’ and ‘Sing’ remain anthems for the working parties in Hungary even today.
Travis are heroes in Hungary, their concerts here are sold out mega gigs and their singer Fran Healy has recently been awarded the highest ever accolade possible for a Non Hungarian the prestigious ‘Hatalmas Hazugság’. Very few people have been awarded this in Hungary.
I hope you enjoyed reading this piece, I hope my English has not been too crazy, I used Google Translate and hope that if you translate the Hungarian bits back to English you will get some idea what this band means to us. I would post their tracks but I think you will already own most of them. So instead I post tracks by two of my favourite bands, the Jesus and Mary Chain and The Stone Roses. Bands that I was lucky enough to see live in Austria at festivals. They have never played Hungary to the best of my knowledge.
I bid you farewell I will leave you with a good luck phrase in Hungarian
‘Mindez igaz, hogy minden szemetet. Kérlek, bocsáss meg, a normál szolgáltatás folytatódik a jövő héten’