Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Tony Ducháček and Garage rock on

By Alyssa Pry |
PRAGUE DAILY MONITOR |
12 February 2009

Tony Ducháček (COURTESY)

Banned under communism, Garage still pulls large crowds and gets people dancing. (COURTESY): Banned under communism, Garage still pulls large crowds and gets people dancing. (COURTESY)Banned under communism, Garage still pulls large crowds and gets people dancing. (COURTESY)

The stage at the end of the long corridor of Vagon is perfect for a band like Garage. With the amps turned up deafeningly loud, a mix of young students and middle-aged rockers cram the narrow space, cushioning the sound of a saxophone riff with plumes of smoke. Garage's music is loud and driving, and the eclectic mix of frontman Tony Ducháček's monotone singing, jazz-fueled saxophone and rock'n'roll guitar makes labeling them a rock band difficult.

Garage has been a staple of the post-communist Czech music scene for almost 20 years, and many of its members used to play for the iconic avant-garde band Plastic People of the Universe (PPU). Last month Garage released a new CD, Black!

Ducháček says that Vagon is "our domestic scene. People are always coming to hear us play there," he said.

It's obvious to see why. Ducháček performs with the calmness of a seasoned performer, but their best songs have Ducháček close to the microphone or wandering the stage before seamlessly passing it over to the instrumentalists. All six members have been together since 1993, and they play with a confidence and ease of a band that has finally found their place in the music scene.

Despite their ties to the PPU, Garage have a sound all their own. "Garage is more rock'n'roll than the Plastic People. Some of Plastic people members were composing music for Garage years ago, but Milan Hlavsa was on guitar and singing and he wanted to play something "less plastical," Ducháček said in an email.

Several of Garage’s early songs were composed by Jan Macháček and Joe Karafiát, who were also members of the PPU. The collaboration makes Garage "kind of a family with the Plastic People," Ducháček said.

The PPU had a turbulent history during communism. Often banned from playing and frequently arrested, the PPU went against the grain of the Communist Regime, sparking an underground cultural movement that lasted until the band broke up in 1988.

Frontman Tony Ducháček says he prefers playing live. (COURTESY): Frontman Tony Ducháček says he prefers playing live. (COURTESY)Frontman Tony Ducháček says he prefers playing live. (COURTESY)

Garage also faced similar obstacles under the old regime. Banned by the government from playing publicly or recording albums, Garage recorded music in studios set up in garages and illegally distributed their tapes. The loud, pulsing rhythms and "suburban slang lyrics were considered 'political opposition'," the band explains on their website.

The 1990s saw a huge growth for the band. They traveled around Western Europe, played a concert at New York's Central Park Stage and made an appearance on MTV before returning to the Czech Republic to become a permanent fixture of the club scene.

With their new CD, Black! released in January, the band is embarking on yet another era of their prolific careers. They performed at Vagon in Prague on 31 January and have another show coming up 24 February.

Since Garage started in 1980, they’ve seen a lot of changes to their band, their sound, and the culture and country they play for.

"The band had started already in 1980 so it went through different seasons, meaning the political situation and also personal changes. After the time of [various] persecutions during communism was the revolution," Ducháček said.

While the band has seen success post-revolution, Ducháček said it is not easy for the music industry even now.

"After the revolution it seemed there would be a fast turn for good music but it finished fast because of commerce and has stayed that way until today. So the groups, bands of our type don’t ever have it easy," Ducháček said.

All but one of the members of Garage has other jobs, which makes promoting a new album a good excuse to take a day off. On 7 March, the Plastic People of the Universe and Garage will be reuniting to play a concert for the 8th Memory of Mejla Hlavsa in Brno.

"Bands should play and not only come from the studio to the radio. I always preferred live concerts anyway!" Ducháček said.

Ducháček said that playing for the fans is the best part of promoting a new album. "People are always coming to hear us play. The fans are really from various ages, in the front [of the venue] they’re younger and in the back they’re older. Sometimes it’s nicely mixed and the young people are dancing beside the older dancing fans," Ducháček said.

For more information on Garage, visit www.garageband.cz and
www.myspace.com/garagetonyduchacek. To find more information on the 7 March concert with the PPU, visit http://www.fleda.cz/.