A bird’s-eye view of 15 years – interview with Insane
Insane’s birthday tour is rocking on in full swing. I sat down with the guys before the Budapest gig to ask them how they look back on the past years, and also about when we can expect some new songs.
Your band jubilates this year. What are some of the most memorable moments of the past 15 years?
Berci Tóth: For me, the memorable one would have to be the time when we played at a biker festival in the summer of 2007. If I’m not mistaken, it was in Narva, near the Estonian-Russian border. It was like all the bikers of the Baltic nations gathered there, so it was a pretty huge event. We’re lucky that we had been invited in the first place! This was during the time Mezőtúr’s WAN2 [festival] still existed, so we set off straight from there on our journey of 2051 kilometres (somehow I remember this clearly). The site in Narva was like paradise: right next to the castle, on an enormous location. There were lots of people and, thankfully, our concert was a blast too. But the real highlight only came after this. There was an official merch table selling all sorts of stuff. When we went there after the gig to check it out, we found enormous queues. Parents were browsing with their kids – they really seemed to like the T-shirt designs. We managed to sell more than 100 T-shirts, three boxfuls that were sold in no time. By the way, we stayed at the same hotel as The Rasmus, so you can imagine we had a wild party after all of this.
Gábor Érsek: You forgot to mention something important. There was a bit of a downside to selling all those tees too. You see, we were so careful with the money that I tied my waist bag onto my regular bag for some reason. And normally I don’t even wear waist bags…whatever. Then later after getting really drunk, we looked for the money all over the place. The guy who always comes with us to sell T-shirts ran back to the festival spot, which was already closed. Then there he started talking about the merch money in Hungarian to the armed border guards (Narva being near the border and all) who only knew Russian. It seemed like an eternity but ultimately we found the money, tied to my bag.
I have another favorite story, this one happened in Lithuania. We were told to spend one whole day in a school. We had to go in at 8 in the morning, and we had no idea what to expect. They only told us that there would be a concert during lunch break. What happened was, we were divided into two groups and they asked us to hold classes about Hungary and the band too, of course. At noon we had a gig in front of 600 kids, then ate lunch in the cafeteria. It was totally awesome!
Your birthday tour kicked off in mid-February. How were the shows so far?
Ádám Németh: They were all perfect, we can hardly believe it! We just look at each other after every gig and go “Damn, that was a 6/6.” Those numbers can be said for all of our recent performances. Everything is really cool, and it’s not like there are thousands there to see us, but both the crowds and the feeling are just excellent.
Berci Tóth: That’s right. Of course if you play at a place like Salgótarján, you can’t expect to see 300 people, but all of our shows had a pretty good turnout. Not to mention that sometimes even 20-30 people can bring a killer vibe.
Gábor Érsek: I think so too. For example, it doesn’t matter that there’s a crowd of hundreds or thousands at a festival because there’s a 20-meter gap between us and the audience – that’s a major disadvantage.
How do you prepare for your gig at Dürer Kert on March 29?
Gábor Érsek: We aren’t exactly preparing yet.
Ádám Németh: We’re ready in spirit!
Gábor Érsek: Since there will be a lot of guests, we’re trying to work out when they have time. It’s a neverending process. We already had a rehearsal or two by the way. Usually everyone looks through what they have to in advance during times like this.
Berci Tóth: It’s going to be a-okay. We haven’t done any major preparations yet, but there will be rehearsals where everything will come into place – what old song should we play with whom, and so on.
Gábor Érsek: The rehearsals so far were a bit troublesome. We got there, but we haven’t seen those old faces for such a long time that we reminisce about old times a lot… of course, it’s also necessary for the human aspect of it all to be okay.
Are you planning some kind of surprise?
Berci Tóth: I have no idea. Maybe I’ll try doing a handstand.
Gábor Érsek: Seriously, these things are rather spontaneous most of the time. Something unexpected always happens!
Berci Tóth: For example, on our 10th birthday gig the surprise was that a 5l bottle of champagne got its way on stage, and we accidentally shot like 2-3 stage lights with the cork. Poor lighting technicians had their surprise all right!
Gábor Érsek: And of course we pushed the gigantic cake into [former vocalist] Oszi’s face. The organizers still say, “never again.”
When can we expect some new material from the band?
Berci Tóth: There’s no label pressuring us. Sometimes four years pass between albums, other times three or one. Actually, we started writing songs last autumn but we had a member change. That always sets the band back, unfortunately. Thus, instead of the new songs the top priority was that the new member learnt everything for the birthday tour. Summer’s almost here, the festivals are coming… I think the more substantial work will begin in autumn at the earliest.
Since you mentioned the festival season, what are your plans for the summer?
Gábor Érsek: We will know the summer schedule for sure around the end of March. We won’t perform at any festivals abroad this time, but of course we’ll be present at most of the Hungarian ones. We’re currently in talks for a Russian-Ukrainian tour in May, but with the current situation nobody knows if it will go through.
Berci Tóth: Fortunately there’s a festival wherever you go in Hungary, so despite not being a mainstream band, we still have lots of opportunities.
Gábor Érsek: It would be nice to play at SZIN this year too. We first played there last summer – somehow we hadn’t gone there before. We got a 4 PM timeslot, still, it was a pretty cool gig. Although we can say our performances in Szeged always turn out to be real good.
Are there any younger bands with whom you like to play, and who you support?
Berci Tóth: Thankfully, there are tons of bands who play at a high standard and have the proper attitude. Unfortunately this business doesn’t really support young musicians, and the possibilities are finite. Let there be no mistake: I mean, when we started 15 years ago it wasn’t easy either, but I remember there were some initiatives here and there. Lots of times people ask if they can tour with us. Of course! Just send us some of your music and we’ll work it out. Usually, the next question is how much it will cost. We don’t want to earn any money from all this. So the two criteria you have to match is to play good music and have a good attitude. If these things check out, then come, you’re more than welcome!