Interview with János Derzsi of Megazetor

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Megazetor - Promo 2013 2
Megazetor

Interview by Jason Guest

Janos Derzsi (vocals) of Megazetor
Janos Derzsi (vocals) of Megazetor

Jason: Hi. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. Megazator have been around since 1997. As most of our readers will probably be unaware of Megazetor, can you give us a brief the history of the band?

János Derzsi: The band was formed in 1997 as a pastime school band without any serious intention. At the start they couldn’t even handle their instruments so there were a few years learning period. They recorded two demos and an EP. After I joined the band, we recorded our first full-length album and another EP which has been released a few weeks ago. Both the EPs and the LP are critically acclaimed.

We acted as a support band for a lot of Hungarian legends like Pokolgep and Sear Bliss and a few foreign bands like Sylosis, HateSphere, Artillery and E-Force. We appeared at MetalFest Hungary 2010 and we won an international talent contest’s Hungarian round so we could play at the international finals in Austria.

We’ve also organized three Chuck Schuldiner tribute festivals with a lot of guest musicians, last time it was in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of Schuldiner’s death.

Jason: How has the band changed since 1997? How does the band of today compare with the band then?

János Derzsi: The founding members are Marton and Laszlo Kliment (drums and guitars), Zoltan Barti (bass) and Zsombor Ruszti (vocals). They played some Motörhead-like punk at that time but as they learned to handle their instruments they went to simple oldschool death metal. After the first demo in 2001, Zsombor parted ways to the band and Peter Erdelyi (guitars) joined before the second one in 2002. This line-up recorded their first EP called The Drug You Daily Crave in 2004 and that was the time I got to know the band. This record had very strong technical metal influences, and started to show a band that’s heading for a more progressive direction. I joined two years later and this line-up’s been stable since then. We recorded Dying Process LP in 2008 and Sandstorm in an Hourglass EP this year.

Jason: Who are the band’s main influences? And how have they impacted upon Megazetor’s sound?

János Derzsi: Megazetor’s main influence is Chuck Schuldiner and Death. His impact is noticeable in all of our records, mostly on The Drug You Daily Crave EP because that was the time when the band organized two Chuck Schuldiner tribute festivals and learned a lot of Death songs.

More influences came in on Dying Process, bands like Testament, Carcass, Nevermore and Mastodon and Alchemist. The influence of Mastodon grew stronger on our new EP and some reviews mention Cynic and Devin Townsend/Strapping Young Lad as well.

Jason: Where did you get the band name? Does it have a specific meaning?

János Derzsi: It’s a joke. Zetor is a Czech tractor trade mark and the Mega prefix resembles something huge so the band’s name is a giant tractor. It was made up by one of the founding members when they were around 14 and we couldn’t get rid of it since then.

Fun fact: Laszlo didn’t like this name at all but the others convinced him that Megazetor is an ancient Sumerian god so he finally accepted it as a band name.

Jason: How does the band write? Do you collaborate on each track or do you work individually and bring them together? Do you discuss ideas about what you want each track to do or is it an evolutionary process?

János Derzsi: Usually Laszlo comes up with new ideas, than Peter writes a whole song from them and records a demo. The others learn this demo then they practice it at rehearsals, making small changes on it. The final part is mine with the lyrics.

Megazetor - Promo 2013 1
Megazetor

Jason: Sandstorm in an Hourglass is a very impressive EP (Ed: Jason’s Review is here). It’s your first release in five years. Why has it taken so long for you to record and release it?

János Derzsi: Because we’re lazy. Honestly, on one hand we write songs quite slowly and carefully at the same time, and on the other hand we also have our private lives, jobs, families which consumes lots of our free time and energy no matter how we try to focus it on song writing.

Jason: What was it that you wanted to achieve with the EP? Does it mark a progression for the band since 2008’s Dying Process?

János Derzsi: We had a lot of demos back in the end of 2011 but not enough for a whole album. We all knew we had to release something because three years was a long time for a band without any release and we’d been completely disappeared. Everybody thought we’d split up. So to do something against this, we decided to finish and record an EP instead of an LP.

Now that we have all the positive reviews and fan opinions we try to spread the record through the internet because we think it’s not “just another EP”. What we need right now is a massive fan base and this material has the potential to achieve this goal.

Jason: Can you tell us about the lyrics on the EP? What are the themes and where do you get inspiration from?

János Derzsi: I get the inspiration from everything around me, people, books, movies, even graffities. Really, everything can inspire me if I can find a meaning behind it or if I can give it a meaning. That’s why we have a lot of references in our lyrics.

The lyrics of Sandstorm in an Hourglass are based around the concept of time.

‘Sandstorm’ is about an event which turns our lives upside down so we have to completely rebuild it. It happens to everyone at least once in a lifetime so the feeling may be familiar for some of the readers.

‘Second’ is about the importance of the smallest noticeable timeframe. We can win and lose everything within it. The other aspect of this song is that humanity is not important at all on this planet in the terms of time.

‘Healing Process’ is about the time a person has to take to recover after a difficult break up.

‘Halfway There’ is about unchangeable decisions and the burden they cause. We will never have enough time to fix our mistakes so we’re always halfway there to be whole and complete.

Jason: Why did you choose to remix the two tracks from Dying Process for the EP?

János Derzsi: There was no previous intention to make remix tracks. It was only a pastime activity for me and when I showed the remix of ‘Interform’ to the band they really liked it and they wanted more, so I did. Actually there is three remixes done but the third didn’t make it to appear on this EP because of quality issues. We’re completely satisfied with these remixes and we think they’re a good bonus for the EP.

Jason: About the artwork, who is the artist? And how much direction did you give him/her in its creation?

Megazetor - Sandstorm in an Hourglass EP
Sandstorm in an Hourglass EP
Artwork by Csaba Fekete

János Derzsi: The cover art was made by Csaba Fekete. A friend of mine recommended him and I literally fell in love with his works because he has a very unique style and a lot of attention to details. There was no further question who I wanted to work with but we had a long way to bring him to the right track because he’s not a metalhead. In this case that was not a problem because I wanted to do something different artwork wise, something which raises us out from common metal covers.

So I asked him to draw something with an hourglass and the result was pretty decent but it didn’t fit the concept of the lyrics so he had to do something else. The most important aspect was to do something easily comprehensible and big. As Sandstorm in an Hourglass is a digital release, no one will hold the record in his hands so the artwork will appear on their displays next to a review in a very small scale. Listeners have to recognise a unique symbol on the cover to easily differentiate our record from others. Besides this, Csaba put a lot of details to the hourglass so it has worth to look at it in its normal scale.

Jason: What’s the scene like in Hungary?

János Derzsi: I don’t think it would be much more different than in any other countries. We have a few ‘mainstream’ bands with huge fan base and a lot with smaller. There’s two or three major clubs at Budapest and a lot of minor ones.  We have a lot of webzines with various quality and a few radios and labels.

Jason: Are there any bands that you think we should be aware of?

János Derzsi: Definitely, if I had to recommend bands those would be Angertea, Stonedirt and Korog. They’re all good friends of us. You probably already know Angertea. They had a lot of guest musician appearances in their songs, for example Scott Reeder (Kyuss), Billy Gould (Faith No More) and Attila Vörös (Nevermore) and they have a very unique sound. Stonedirt plays the good old redneck Pantera- and Lamb of God-like metal and they give very intense live shows. Last but not least, Korog is the most unique and sickest band of Hungary. Attila Csihar (legenday vocalist of Mayhem) also held the microphone there for a while and they’re going to release a new record soon.

Jason: What’s your opinion of the internet and its impact on the music scene? Do you think that because of the ease of making music available, the internet has affected the quality of music?

János Derzsi: I don’t think so. There has always been crap music and there always will be; now it just has a wider channel to flow on people.

Jason: With the impact of illegal file-sharing on music sales, do you have any concerns about survival in what seems to be an increasingly difficult market?

János Derzsi: No, I don’t have, that’s why we released our new EP in a name your price option on Bandcamp. I don’t think bands should plan on CD sells anymore. They have to do great live performances and many shows to make their audience grow. Once the audience is big enough and they are supportive, a management or a label will knock on the door with the money bag. The other important thing is merchandise. Bands won’t sell CDs anymore but they will sell clothes because people like to advertise their favourite band on themselves. So I think that’s how a band could survive.

Jason: What does the future hold for Megazetor? Is there more music in the pipeline?

János Derzsi: We have two demo tracks in queue to finish and a bunch of other ideas. We have already discussed about a new record but this band is more instinctive than a planner so I can’t say anything specific right now except that we’ll shoot our first ever music video soon for the song Second.

By the way we made it to the Hungarian finals of Wacken Metal Battle and I think we have good chances to win so maybe we’ll appear on Wacken Open Air… we’ll see.

Jason: You’ve just completed a European tour. How was it?

János Derzsi: It was great! We met a lot of new people; we sold a lot of CDs and T-shirts and played on incredible places. Unfortunately we don’t have much time to tour besides our jobs but we do what we can.

Jason: Will we be seeing you in the UK at any time soon?

János Derzsi: We have some contacts to organisers but we’re not in touch yet. We’re focusing now on the promotion of the EP and since we’re a DIY band we don’t have the time and assets for everything at the same time. But we really would like to play in your country as soon as possible, of course.

Jason: Thanks again for taking time out for this interview. Do you have any closing words for our readers?

János Derzsi: Thanks for the interview and the opportunity to appear! Follow us on Facebook, listen to our records on Bandcamp and check us out live if we’re around there!