Czech crossover band UP!GREAT is one of the most respected in the region. One could say, certain part of the credit goes to the fact, they have decided to push much further from their home base in Ostrava. Their combination of metal, hardcore and alternative rock is quite unique, but local scene isn’t perspective enough. Thanks to the great relationships with bands as Jinjer and Infected Rain, they experienced some unique touring opportunities. One of the core pillars of the band is frontwoman Veronica, which I met, while I was still in the high school. She arrived there once as a guest teacher looking for youngsters, who would give her “user’s feedback” for her thesis on progressive metal. It was the first and probably the last time, when I deliberately cheated regarding attendance in school, so we could talk for couple of hours. Another crucial entity in the band is a guitarist, singer and main composer Toma Rybola. In our interview we spoke his most favorite albums, gear collection and future plans.
Photo: Jan Luxik
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)
Probably the most important album in my life. One of the two that made me to be a musician. I’ve heard him countless times and I’m listening to it till today. It is perfect from start to finish. One of the best RHCP albums. I’m fascinated by everything. Atmosphere, songs, sound, production. It’s just a jewel that makes me hang my guitar on neck forever.
Faith No More – King for a Day … Fool for a Lifetime (1995)
This is the second album that attached me to the guitar. This is basically the same as for RHCP-BSSM. Evidence, Digging the Grave or Just a Man will play in my head forever. I love all the tracks on this album that have everlasting place in my iPod. For me, one of the best rock records ever. I think of Mike Patton as one of the greatest singers ever. Almost all of his projects I’ve heard are real treats.
Incubus – S.C.I.E.N.C.E. (1997)
I remember when I first heard Redefine, Vitamin or Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song), I had a real sense of happiness. All productions, songs, bands, gramophones, loops, samples please me. I was completely shocked. I like Einziger’s guitar, his approach is very inspirational and I consider the album S.C.I.E.N.C.E. one of the cornerstones of this genre.
Rage against the Machine – Rage against the Machine (1992)
This album does not need any comment. It is known by the whole world and at the release time it played on every our party. Unmistakable sound, plenty of energy, high-power rock band. I like to know the band according to its sound after few seconds. Gentlemen La Rocha, Morello, Wilk, and Commerford totally shook me and left a deep trace in me. Clearly cult album!
Metallica – St. Anger (2003)
I am sure many Metallica fans even haven´t accepted changes in the albums Load and Reload. In St. Anger I think it was similar. I really enjoy this album that fired me completely. When I first heard Frantic or St. Anger, I did not believe it was them. I like when a band of their size is not afraid to step away and try different ways, not only verified procedures.
Foo Fighters – In Your Honor (2005)
I heard this album for the first time with a friend in Switzerland on after party after our concert in Basel. I realized that I actually knew the band, but when I realized that I had never really felt the strong aura of Dave Grohl, the enormous energy and the submission to music. I’d like to play with this guy, but he’d have to sit behind drums because there he is a complete god! 🙂
Korn – Follow the Leader (1993)
This album is the reason I found the way to Korn. They are also joy and inspiration for me. There is always something to offer and Follow the Leader seems to me to be something like a nu-metal bible. Because of this album I started to explore all their discography and then impatiently expect each of their new albums. Korn are nu-metal gods and songs like Got the Life or Freak On a Leash are hymns that will sound in my ears forever.
Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth (2005)
This band fascinated me pretty late but the more I was fucked up. Album With Teeth started off my interest in Trent Reznor’s music. Since then, I have bought all the other CDs and completely immersed in them. I love Trent’s manuscript to be released anywhere in the following albums. Also very much enjoy their shows. I saw them in Prague, Bratislava and Dublin. By the way, I think all the musicians in the world would like to write a song like Hurt.
Depeche Mode – Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993)
This is a total massacre. This album is brilliant and extraordinary for me in a way DM has totally changed but still they were there. Songs like I Feel You or Walking in My Shoes are perfect for me in all directions. I see this album as their breakthrough album. After Songs of Faith and Devotion, I didn’t miss another album, including Gahan’s solo albums. If possible, I would like to go with him for a beer. 😉
Garbage – Bleed Like Me (2005)
I like Garbage very much and the most this album. It’s great from start to finish, great sound, great arrangements, perfect guitars, it all works great, amazing production, and above all, goddess Shirley. I have often listened to this record, especially in the car. Songs like Bad Boyfriend, Why Do You Love Me or Run Baby Run, I just want to keep with me forever.
I think all the musicians in the world would like to write a song like Hurt from Nine Inch Nails
Give us an idea please about the relationships in the band. From our meetings so far, I got a feeling of stable friendship including a respect regarding a family duties.
We are very good friends, but we have learned to be professionals in many ways during the time we have been together. We’ve been playing with the guys for over twenty years, and we’ve been on the stage with Veronica for 10 years. Veronica is just our princess. In a good way. Thanks to her we managed to move our music out the way we wanted. We have experienced a lot and I think we can respect and inspire each other in different situations and directions. When Veronica gave birth to her children, we were waiting for her nearly two years closed at the rehearsal room.
Introduce please few pieces of gear, which play crucial role in your life.
I’m a big fan of old school box effects. I have a lot of them and those I can´t be without, I’ve already placed into my pedal board. The most important are Small Stone from Electro Harmonix, Flanger and Super Shifter from Boss. But there are many more that I really like.
Any recent unexpected surprises regarding gear?
Yes, I recently had my guitars in the service. A common pre-tour service. At the first concert in Bratislava, I discovered during the sound check that my cable entries on both main guitars were moving so the signal was losing. I was quite blown away. At the end of the last song of the concert my guitar stopped playing completely and I just danced the rest of the song. After the concert, I corrected both entries by myself and I was pretty screaming. They both finally worked. Now I fuck it. I mean …the service guys ;))
How do you judge the club scene in our home region Ostrava? It was a base for you for years, but now you manage to expand, also due to great relationships with bands as Infected Rain and Jinjer.
The regional club scene does not, in my opinion, regrettably move anywhere, so basically we have decided to leave it. We have completely changed our approach to a way how to do it, how and where to play and under what conditions. We realized that if we want to keep on running on stage, we have to decide what we will not do any more, and the changes has followed. So far, our new path seems to be right. Its part is also the cooperation with Jinjer and Infected Rain, which moves us further among fans interested in music of this type and who goes to concerts.
What are your current plans regarding touring and writing?
Over the last two years, we’ve had the chance to play lots of interesting concerts, so we’ve been doing that. This year we have a 10th year anniversary of Up!Great, so we really wanted to celebrate in the most exciting places, which was very successful. The origin of the material for our fourth CD was natural. We are currently recording it and we hope it will be out by the end of the year. So far, we have launched new single called Everyone Knows the Truth. Another should follow in the form of a video clip. We have planned quite a bit and I have to say that it is very fulfilling and we all enjoy it.