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Interview with William Kopecky

Recently, through the wonders of e-mail, I asked some questions of William Kopecky bassist of his own band, KOPECKY and his involvement with Par Lindh. Here the result of those questions and William's thought provoking answers.

Ron Fuchs: What's the main reason that you're into playing progressive rock rather than something more accessible?

William Kopecky: It's more challenging. I've always been into really killer players--Vai, Peart, Billy Sheehan, Ravi Shankar--all of whom are very forward-thinking musicians. I like how guys like that are really trying to push the limits of expression on their instruments. That's really what progressive is all about. At least that's what it should be all about. To me, "difficult" music is usually the most rewarding because it offers something new every time you listen to it. Kind of like reading Shakespeare. Prog is great because the musicians are generally free to experiment as much as they want. You can push things around and experiment.

You don't have to be restricted to some kind of verse/chorus/verse structure. You can write ambient, metal, and ethnic bits all in one composition, or you can do cd-length tonal abstractions, like what Fripp and Pinhas are doing. You can't really get away with that in pop music.

R.F.: Was the bass your first instrument of choice?

W.K.: Actually, no. My first choice was to play drums, but for some reason my parents bought a drum kit for my younger brother Paul instead of for me! At that time my older brother Joe was already playing guitar, so I decided to be a bass player so that the three of us could play in a band together. I'm definitely happy I made that decision.

R.F.: Who are your musical heroes? past and current.

W.K.: In my early teens I was into metal stuff like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. I was especially into Maiden because of the up-front and aggressive bass playing.

Then in my late teens I started listening to the virtuosos like Rush, Sheehan, Return to Forever, ELP, Jaco Pastorius, Yes, and Yngwie Malmsteen, and they really became icons for me. They still are. Other current heroes include Mick Karn, Michael Manring, Terry Bozzio, Jannick Top, and Univers Zero. I also listen a lot to classical music from India, and I've found that the Indian singers and sitarists have influenced my bass playing (especially on fretless) as much or more than bass players have. Two of my biggest Indian heroes are Ravi Shankar (of course) and Tripti Mukherjee, who has one of the most beautiful voices in the world. My sitar guru Veenaji Chandra has also been a strong influence on the way I play. She's a brilliant sitarist and spiritually very inspiring. She gave me a whole new way of approaching music.

R.F.: How would you describe your experiences with KOPECKY compared to your involvement with PLP?

W.K.: Par's the main composer of the PLP material, and he's the leader of the band, but with KOPECKY we share the writing and managerial duties. With Par the compositions are coming mostly from a classical/symphonic point-of-view, and of course the keyboards are front and center, whether it's synths or piano or Hammond organ. With the brothers Kopecky, the writing is more rock-oriented, even metal at times, with the focus being not on one lead instrument but divided equally between the three of us. KOPECKY has a heavier, darker sound than PLP, and we often play in Arabic and Indian modes whereas PLP is coming more from a Western European mind set. It was quite interesting a year ago when Par played keyboards with KOPECKY. We were able to blend the PLP and KOPECKY styles, and the result was really cool.

R.F.: How did you get involved with Par Lindh in the first place?

W.K.: When KOPECKY was shopping for a deal for our first cd, I sent a demo to Par to see if he'd be interested in releasing it on his Crimsonic label. He explained to me that his label is basically a vehicle to release only Par Lindh-related material, but he asked me to keep in touch. About a year later PLP was on tour in the USA and they were playing at the House of Blues in Chicago. So I went to the concert and met up with Par. I gave him my phone number again, and he said he really liked my playing. About a month later he called me and asked me to play bass for PLP at NEARFest 2000. (My brother Joe also played guitar for PLP at that gig!) About a year after that, he asked me to become a full member of the band and do a European tour. I accepted and we played some good shows together. Our Live in Iceland cd was recorded on that tour.

R.F.: Which PLP show, that you were involved in, is your personal highlight?

W.K.: I think it would have to be our show at the University of Mexicali in Mexico this past March. The vibe was great--very relaxed and friendly--and we played our asses off.

I did a pretty good bass solo that evening, atmospherically speaking. The concert was filmed, and we might be releasing it as a kind of official bootleg DVD. I also remember playing a very kick-ass gig in Belgium with PLP at the Spirit of '66 club. That was a lot of fun. Very good energy that night.

R.F.: Are there any new(er) bands that you're presently listening to?

W.K.: Sure. I've been listening to Mudvayne, Devin Townsend, the D.E.P. (a Japanese pop band with Mick Karn guesting on bass and Vivian Hsu on vocals), Alamaailman Vasarat, Spaced Out, Pochakaite Malko, and Sigur Ros. I've also been listening a lot to the new releases by Bozzio/Sheehan, Meshuggah, and trumpeter Cuong Vu, whose bassist Stomu Takeishi is doing some cool explorations with loops and effects.

R.F. What are your future plans?

W.K.: KOPECKY's new cd Sunset Gun will be released late this summer or early autumn by the French label Musea Records. It will be our third studio cd and fourth release overall. We have also been asked by an independent film-maker to do the soundtrack for a film called Goodbye Tomorrow, which is currently being shot.

In addition to performing live and writing material, we may also be releasing another live cd or two. Last August we played at the Progman Cometh festival in Seattle, and the concert was professionally recorded, so we may release some or all of those tracks. Also, we have tapes from a live performance of KOPECKY with Par Lindh playing keyboards. The concert was recorded in Milwaukee, and we played a combination of KOPECKY and PLP material. It's possible we'll be releasing that on cd as well.

I'm also involved in several other cd projects. One is with a band called Parallel Mind. It's a 3-piece of bass, keys, and drums, and the music is high-intensity instrumental prog. I also play in another band with the same members as Parallel Mind--same guys but a different band. That project is called Universal Hybrid and it's ambient/experimental rock with Middle-Eastern and Far-Eastern tendencies. I'm also finishing up a cd with a band called The Truth Squad; that's with Jimmy Ryan (of the Flyin' Ryan Bros.) on guitar and John Mrozek--who used to play in Michael Angelo's band with me--on drums. It's guitar-oriented groove-rock with some proggy moments. And I just started working with Dan Maske, a guy who composes modern classical music. He's putting together a cd for a chamber rock ensemble called Far Corner, and I'll be playing bass on it. (June 20th, 2003)

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This site is dedicated to the memory of my father, November 30th, 1932 - November 18th, 2000