The legend among Czech rock musicians, singer and songwriter Vladimír Mišík, is back. After a six year break, he and his band, Etc, recently released a new album “Ztracený podzim”, or Lost Autumn. Although the name and the album’s cover might suggest Vladimír Mišík has turned into a melancholic, he in fact back with a vengeance – the album is bursting with full, natural sound and raw energy.
Vladimír Mišík originally planned to do a solo album with acoustic guitars and cameo appearances by his friends. But in the end, things worked out differently.
“The songs were originally very simple, for the acoustic guitar, and the initial plan was to do an acoustic album. But as we began rehearsing with the band, the guys took over somehow and it caught on. It sounded really interesting, and everybody liked it, so we changed the arrangements, and that was it for the acoustic album. I was also planning to have more guests, but in the end, the band Etc did a very good job. So it turned out to be another album by Etc.”
One of the most remarkable features of the new album is its natural, full and well-balanced sound. Vladimír Mišík says Ztracený pozdim was recorded in a way that albums used to be made back in the old days.
“We recorded the album in Sono studio, where we recorded most of the music on tape – not digitally, but in analog. The sound is, how shall I put it – maybe a bit softer for the ear. We wanted to come full circle, and make it in a way that records were done in the past. Some of the albums still sound great. Digital recordings are cleaner, let’s say, but maybe a little too sharp. And we wanted to get closer to the 1960s.We also recorded some of the songs together, the way it used to be done.”
Vladimír Mišík has been around since the 1960s. He starred in several bands – Flamego, Blue Effect and others, before he formed his own band, Etc., in the 1970s, and he has performed with them ever since. In 1990, he was the support band at the first Rolling Stones’ concert in Prague. But some years ago, his health deteriorated, and Vladimír Mišík could not walk, and play, for some two years. But he says the new album is not melancholic.
“The album has an autumn mood. The song, Lost Autumn, is by the little-known poet Emil Bok, whose book of poetry I got from someone in Moravia… It took me some six months to choose the lyrics. I could not walk for two years, and I thought I was going to do a lot of stuff, but I didn’t. So when my life got back to normal, I enjoyed working again. But there are various themes, some of them are funny, too, and there are drinking songs, as well.”
One of them is a song called Friday Cajun.
“This is a song by Jirka Veselý and I only wrote the lyrics. I was told it had to sound Cajun, the delta has to be there. So I put in the forest, the marshland, and the dances… But we’ve always been inspired by American music – there’s a blues song on the album, there’s a funky song with brass instruments, there are many styles. We’ve never been a strict rock band, I always liked variety.”
One of the more serious songs on the new album is called ‘1984’. Vladimír Mišík says it was inspired by the famous Czech singer, Jaromír Nohavica, and his collaboration with the communist secret police, the StB.
“1984 is a song I wrote when Jaromír Nohavica came into the spotlight. It was also inspired by all the friends who bowed to pressure and began snitching for the secret police. I went through the same thing – in the 1980s, I was banned from performing for two years but in three months, they came to me and said that if I agree to cooperate, I could start again. I didn’t but I knew what it was like to be in such a situation, to be really scared. So it’s my own take on that, on what it felt like.”
Vladimír Mišík has often put poems to music. He first worked with the poet Josef Kainar in the early 1970s, and some of his texts also appear on Lost Autumn, along with other Czech authors – Jiří Dědeček, František Gellner, and others.
“I really like falling asleep with a book. You’re full of impressions, when I come back from a concert, I can’t sleep - so I read. Poetry allows me to get away from what’s in my head, the beauty of it and its images… So I like reading poems, and sometimes I like some of them so much that I take a guitar the next day and play with it. Sometimes it works out and sometimes not, but I really don’t worry about it.”
And one of the songs, ‘Vabank’, or ‘All In’, is by fellow rocker, Vlastimil Třešňák – who had to overcome great tribulations to come up with the lyrics.
“I’ve known Vlasta for a long time, we are good friends, and I’ve always liked what he was doing. So I asked him to write some lyrics, he sent me several songs and I liked Vabank a lot. There’s a story to it as well – he came with us when we toured Moravia, and he had not been drinking for six months.”
“When we got to Zlín, everyone offered us slivovice, and he gave in. The next day we went to Zvolen in Slovakia to play at a festival, and Vlasta had promised to be in a debate on art and literature but he was really sick, and they even gave him some more wine… By then he was really lost, we had to cut it short because he had no idea why he was there and what he was supposed to be doing. But he later wrote this song about it.”
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