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DATE OF INTERVIEW: 11th April 2018
The Eurovision Song Contest - that ever divisive annual music event that's loved by millions, and detested by millions more. However, 2018 will see Hungarian metallers AWS compete with their track 'Viszlát nyár' ('Goodbye Summer'), by far the heaviest composition ever to be entered into the contest. With the backing of the metal community in their home country, they defied all odds to triumph at 'A Dal 2018', the Hungarian national song selection process that determines what act and song would be representing the country in the finals during May in Lisbon, Portugal. Now, AWS are looking to garner the support of the global metal community, to defy even greater odds, in crushing their largely pop-based competition with a three minute blast of heaviness that's set to raise more than a few eyebrows come May. Metal Discovery quizzed the band about their participation in the contest...
METAL DISCOVERY: Firstly, massive congratulations on winning ‘A Dal’ with ‘Viszlát nyár’, to represent Hungary at the Eurovision Song Contest. Did it come as quite a shock to yourselves, that you beat all the other pop acts with a metal track?
AWS: Well, thank you very much. Yes, indeed it was a shock, we never thought that we would win this contest. But, as soon as we caught our breath, we realized how happy we are with this result.
(AWS on their forthcoming participation in the Eurovision Song Contest)
"...it’s scary and we are really excited, but we are also happy to face such a big challenge. This is huge and we are aware of that. We are prepping for the show at full throttle."
AWS - A Dal 2018
Interview by Mark Holmes
Photograph copyright © 2018 - Nikolett_Kaszner
AWS Official YouTube:
Thanks to Hammer Music Hungary for offering and arranging the interview
AWS Official Facebook:
'Viszlát nyár' Official Video:
MD: There have been other examples of metal bands in the Eurovision Song Contest over the years - obviously, Lordi are the most famous, when they won in 2006 - but I think your track will be the heaviest song ever heard at Eurovision. Do you think that Eurovision is ready for something like this?
AWS: They better be! [laughs] We know our song is a not a typical Eurovision song, but as this year’s slogan says: All Aboard. It’s a great opportunity for us to show this genre to a whole new audience and we can’t wait to blow up the stage.
MD: I gather the English translation of the song title is ‘Goodbye, Summer’, which will seem odd, seeing as the Eurovision Song Contest takes place just before summer starts! I presume it’s not a literal goodbye to summer, so what is the song actually about?
AWS: Our song is about dealing with death and the loss of a loved one. The father of our singer, Örs, passed away last year and this event inspired our lyrics. We think it would be easier to deal with such a tragic loss if we would pay more attention to the fact that our time here is not unlimited. We could spend more time with our loved ones while we are here together.
MD: Was it important for you to enter a song in your native language?
AWS: Yes, definitely. We think this is the most honest way to express ourselves and all of our lyrics have been in Hungarian for many, many years now. (Our first album, ‘Fata Morgana’, was in English: we wrote the lyrics in Hungarian and translated them – but, eventually, we decided to keep the original lyr-ics.) There is an English version in the making, but we’ll perform our song in Hungarian.
MD: There’s a cheeky key change towards the end of the song, which seems to be a common trait for many Eurovision songs. Was that a deliberate move, to try and garner some more votes, or is that simply how the song was written, regardless?
AWS: Obviously we wanted to win, so it seemed to be the perfect move. [laughing] But, to be honest, we wanted to try a key change for quite a long time and it seemed natural to try it in ‘Viszlát nyár’.
MD: The contest was watched by 180 million viewers last year. Do you find that a daunting prospect in any way, to go from playing club gigs, to something so huge?
AWS: Yes, it’s scary and we are really excited, but we are also happy to face such a big challenge. This is huge and we are aware of that. We are prepping for the show at full throttle.
MD: Do you anticipate there being any extra nerves on the night, or are you looking forward to the whole experience a hundred per cent, and can’t wait to shake the entire competition to its very foundations with your metal onslaught?!
AWS: Usually, we are nervous till the first beat and then everything gets fine and easy.
MD: Vocals will obviously be performed live on the night, although I presume all instruments will be on playback? Will that be a strange concept for AWS, to mime your instruments?
AWS: Sure, it is a bit weird. It was really strange in the pre-selection show as well, but we made this compromise for this “once in a lifetime” series of events. We are not planning to do this often. [laughs] Regardless of this, we will do our best to bring a true AWS show to the stage in Lisbon.
MD: It’s been stated that you’ll perform the song “with additional visual elements”. Are we taking a lot of pyros here?
AWS: Exactly. You know, this year, there are no LED-walls on stage, which is quite an advantage for us as we usually don’t use them at our own shows either. This way, we can focus more on the music. But we should never underestimate the power of a nice pyro. [laughs]
MD: Have you had widespread support from the metal community, thus far, in helping to spread the word about your appearance at the contest?
AWS: Yes, it was an exemplary collaboration from the Hungarian metal scene. All the other metal bands supported us and encouraged their fans to vote for us. This is a very important momentum in the history of the genre in our country. We would have been really happy even if the other metal band (Leander Kills) won the contest, but it’s even better that it was us. But, honestly, it’s not our victory, it’s the whole scene’s victory, and that’s the important message in this story.
MD: I guess the first major hurdle is getting through the second semi-final on 10th May and qualifying for the actual final of the contest. I guess the power and solidarity of the metal community should never be underestimated (as proven with Lordi), so are you confident you’ll be amongst one of the ten acts selected from that semi-final?
AWS: We definitely count on the support of the metal scene. Of course, you never know what to expect when it comes to Eurovision, but, so far, we have received a lot of feedback from the international audience, which were mostly positive. But we are especially curious about what all the metal fans think, so please let us know!
MD: Have you checked out all the other songs and acts that you’ll be up against? Any tracks you actually like?
AWS: The Israeli song is quite strong and catchy.
MD: It states in press blurb that you’re “proud supporters of the anti-celebrity culture”. Presumably, it’s the whole superficial, fake, self-centred nature of celebrity that you are against?
AWS: We were fighting against this superficial and fake scene from the beginning. We don’t want to tell other people how to live their lives, but with our own thoughts and tools we try not to support this. And we will never become big-headed celebrities.
MD: Hypothetically, if you won the Eurovision Song Contest, do you hate the idea of becoming “celebrities” yourselves, even for a short period of time? Are you ready to be national heroes?
AWS: We don’t think “celebrities” and “national heroes” are the same. Celebrities are closer to the tabloid scene, as we see it. We don’t have any problem with fame itself, only if someone uses it in a fake or superficial way. But, of course, it would be a pleasure to be national heroes! [laughing]
MD: It also states in press blurb that you combine “different elements of nu-metal, metalcore, post-hardcore and psychedelic rock” in your music. I can certainly hear some thrash-styled riffing, too. What are some of the bands from those subgenres that have influenced your sound?
AWS: Metallica, Pantera, Linkin Park, Korn and System of a Down were always good examples, for us. And there are these great Hungarian bands like Superbutt, Subscribe or Isten Háta Mögött.
MD: Your last album, ‘Kint a Vízbol’ was released back in 2016, so have you been working on a follow-up?
AWS: Sure! We are working on it constantly. Our plan is to release our fourth album at the end of the year. We are writing and recording songs all the time – well, of course, when we are not rehearsing for the ESC or not doing interviews. To be honest, our schedule is really not the same as it was before this hurricane. [laughs]
MD: Well, finally, I just wanted to say that I certainly hope you do well at Eurovision and, even if you don’t win, it’s huge achievement to be proud of in getting there in the first place. So, congratulations so far, and best of luck in Lisbon! You certainly have the support of Metal Discovery!
AWS: Thank you very much for your kind words and support! We’ll do our best in Lisbon!
AWS Official Instagram: