Super Trupa Trupa! Gdańsk band sign to ‘Nirvana label’ Sub Pop, but fame is the last thing on their minds
You may never have heard of them, and they’d probably like that.
As singer Grzegorz Kwiatkowski tells TFN: “This is guitar, niche, alternative music and that's the core of it. We play it for ourselves first and foremost. This is not about being arrogant towards the listener, because we are not arrogant people […] but this isn’t the type of music for a large number of people.”
But for those into Indie avant-rock, news that grundge quartet Trupa Trupa from Gdańsk have signed a major record deal with Sub Pop, the independent Seattle record label that brought the world Nirvana and Soundgarden, is big news indeed.
Defining themselves as a ‘democracy’ the Baltic band consisting of Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, Tomek Pawluczuk, Wojtek Juchniewicz and Rafal Wojczal, was recently described by Newsweek’s US edition as having “an undercurrent of anxiety and dread” which “knows no nationality.”
Now, this state of borderlessness will become a reality as the Seattle studio that came to define the grunge music genre in the 1990s plans to take Trupa Trupa global with a new international album to be released later this year.
Trupa Trupa (Corpse Corps, or Troupe) made their first international appearance in 2015 with the album Headache released by a British label. In 2017, the band recorded their second album Jolly New Songs.
The band does not have a leader, and all decisions are made democratically. “They stare into the dark and summon a light of their own, making all our tedium and toil feel not just tolerable but deceptively triumphant,” Sub Pop says on its website.
Vocalist Grzegorz Kwiatkowski, also a poet with several published volumes, tells TFN: “For us, the most important thing are the songs, their quality, our spiritual and friendly satisfaction with the band, the friendly atmosphere, democracy within the team, extensive artistic freedom, doing things according to our ideas and tastes, not according to some top-down expectations.”
This doesn’t mean the band aren’t grateful for the opportunities the new signing will bring. Indeed, far from it.
As Kwiatkowski says: “Sub Pop gives that all to us. We have total creative freedom and we are professionally taken care of on their part, plus we get much more resources and possibilities.
“Signing with such a label is a great opportunity, because it opens doors to new listeners, new festivals and concerts.”
To kick off their association with Sub Pop, Trupa Trupa have released a new video for the song Dream About, which is expected to feature on their upcoming album.
Sub Pop describe the song as “a honeyed falsetto that totters over a menacing bassline, and the frisson between them so hypnotic it renders the title phrase as an existential mantra, a lifeline.”
Details of the new album, however, remain sketchy.
Kwiatowski told TFN: “You know, I can’t say too much, because it is still a secret, but I can say that Trupa Trupa goes along an evolutionary path, not revolutionary. There won’t be any big changes, only songs, a lot of songs. It seems to me that this album will be more centred around songs than the previous one.
“Our music is quite diverse within one song. Each of us is drawn in a different direction, in every composition and in general. The band is the result of this democratic thought and in consequence there are lot of ideas combined inside.”
Meanwhile, Sub Pop director Benjamin Finger said that the video for the new song “was shot on Super 8, a format I am strongly connected to, and I think it fits the music of Trupa Trupa. There is something poetic about the music, and I think it matches the images in a good way.
“The Dream About video is also about seeing the world through the eyes of the child. The video features footage shot on location in Vancouver, Paris and Buenos Aires.”
The band will tour this spring, taking in venues in Poznań, Gdańska and Bratislava. They will also go back to Austin.
This time, however, Trupa Trupa will go there no longer as an up-and-coming band from the north of Poland, but as a group that has a contract with one of the most important labels in the world.
Kwiatkowski told TFN: “This whole thing with Sub Pop is a result of our friendship with Jonthan Poneman, the label’s president.
“We met in 2013 at the Off Festival in Katowice and our friendship has lasted for years.
“Jonathan Poneman is a friend of the band or even a part of the band's family. For many years he has been advising us on publishing issues, other labels, our records, songs.
“It didn’t matter if we ended up with Sub Pop or not, he would always be with us, even if we didn’t sign this contract. Finally, we did it and we are part of this label. I think he has been watching us for years and decided that this is the right moment when we are ready for it.
“We have many devoted friends around us, who help us and are our fans, fans of our music. One of them is Jonathan Poneman.”
The band’s new single Dream About can be heard here: