Kult is an alternative rock band led by singer and songwriter Kazik Staszewski.
Warszawska grupa grająca alternatywny rock
Kult was established in 1982 in Warsaw by Kazik Staszewski and Piotr Wieteska. Starting from their roots in punk rock and new wave, Kult has experimented with their sound over the years, using wind and keyboard instruments and drawing inspiration from psychedelic rock, jazz and urban folk.
Kult debuted in Warsaw's Remont Club in July 1982. The band soon became known thanks to its energetic concerts, during which the musicians perfectly complemented the charismatic vocalist, who emotionally interpreted the offbeat lyrics. In the 1980s, Staszewski's lyrics were often inspired by the Bible, but the artist was critical of both the socialist state system and the rigid structures of the Catholic Church. In the next decade, Kult started criticising large corporations and the degeneration of the young Polish democracy in equally strong words.
The album Kult was released in September 1986 and contained, among other things, studio versions of concert hits such as Krew Boga and O Ani (Blood of God, About Ania, trans. MG). However, many songs known from their concerts were banned by the censors. A year later the album Słuchaj, To Do Ciebie (Listen, It’s for You, trans. MG) was released, and in December 1988 the album Spokojnie (Calmly, trans. MG), with one of the band’s greatest hits, Arahja, hit the shelves.
In 1989, after some changes in line-up, they released two more albums: Kaseta (Cassette, trans. MG) contained the great hit, Po Co Wolność (What Freedom Is For, trans. MG), while Tan (Saltation, trans. MG) consisted of concert recordings from August 1988. Their next album, 45-89 from 1990, is known primarily for its titular track, in which the period of socialism in Poland was described through the use of excerpts from party dignitaries’ speeches. The band returned to this theme on album Your Eyes released a year later, which also included elements of fierce criticism of the Church. Such pieces as Parada Wspomnień and Zgroza (The Parade of Memories and The Horror, trans. MG) entered Kult’s concert repertoire for good.
The year 1993 saw a new line-up for the band. As well as Staszewski, Kult was now composed of Ireneusz Wereński, Krzysztof Banasik, Piotr Morawiec, Janusz Grudziński and Andrzej Szymańczak. The band recorded and performed in this line-up for the next five years. The first album they recorded together was Tata Kazika from 1993 (Kazik's Dad, trans. MG). It contained new versions of songs written by Stanisław Staszewski, the father of the group's leader. The album, promoted by a song Baranek (The Lamb, trans. MG) was very well received by fans and critics.
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In 1994, Muj Wydafca (My Publisher, trans. MG) was released. It contained, among others, covers of famous hits by Iggy Pop (The Passenger) and Hungarian band Omega (Girl with Pearl Hair). Two years later, the second part of Stanisław Staszewski's songs, Tata 2 (Dad 2, trans. MG), was recorded. This time the release included also poems by Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński.
Ostateczny Krach Systemu Korporacji (The Final Collapse of the Corporation System, trans. MG) was recorded in 1998. The band was joined by trumpeter Janusz Zdunek, and drummer Tomasz Goehs from Kazik Na Żywo replaced Andrzej Szymańczak, who tragically died during the album’s recording.
Salon Recreativo from 2001 was a double release, which included both new material and new versions of many older songs. The album was promoted by a single and video to the song Brooklyńska Rada Żydów (Brooklyn Council of Jews, trans. MG).
Their next album, Poligono Industrial, was released no sooner than in December 2005. Its limited edition included a DVD with music videos for ten songs. In 2007, a jubilee concert to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Kult took place on Polish Radio Three and was broadcast live. From 2007, the band worked on an album entitled Concentrazion Gigantica. After two years it was released under the changed title Hurra. It was promoted by the songs Marysia and Amnezja. Despite the fact that the album was leaked and shared online before its premiere, it achieved great commercial success – over sixty thousand copies were sold.
The year 2008 saw further changes in Kult’s line-up. Krzysztof Banasik left the band and was replaced by guitarist Wojciech Jabłoński and trombonist Jarosław Ważny. In 2010, Kult performed in Warsaw's Och-Teatr as part of the MTV Unplugged series. The musicians played older compositions as well as songs from their latest album, and also presented the song Szantowy (Shanty, trans. MG) for the first time. Kult was accompanied by guests Krzysztof Dr Yry Radzimski (El Dupa, TPN25), Tomasz Kłaptocz (Buldog, formerly Akurat) and Mirosław Zacier Jędras (Zacier). The recording of the concert was released in several formats, from vinyl to Blu-ray. In total, over two hundred thousand copies of Kult Unplugged have been sold, which is the best result in the history of the band so far.
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In 2012, Kult celebrated its thirtieth birthday at the Jarocin Festival. The band performed a concert consisting of songs selected by their fans. A year later, S.P. Records released the album Prosto (Straight, trans. MG), promoted by the singles Układ Zamknięty and Dobrze Być Dziadkiem (The Closed Circuit and It’s Good to Be a Grandfather, trans. MG). The first was used in Ryszard Bugajski's film of the same name. A part of the film's promotion was the alleged arrest of Kazik Staszewski during a concert in Kraków’s Kwadrat club on 13th March 2013. The event was recorded, and the shots were then used in a music video for the song.
In 2016, the album Wstyd (Shame, trans. MG) was released, promoted by a music video for the song Madryt (Madrid, trans. MG) followed by another for the titular track Wstyd. In the following year, a two-CD concert album entitled Made in Poland hit the shelves. The material for the album was recorded during a concert tour that took place at the end of 2016.
More information on Kult may be found in Leszek Gnoiński's book Kult Kazika (2000) and Wiesław Weiss' Kult: Biała Księga from 2017 (Kult: The White Paper, trans. MG). The first publication contained a CD with previously unpublished songs by the band. At the end of 2019 the premiere of the documentary Kult: Film directed by Olga Bieniek took place. The film was shot between 2013 and 2019, and it also included archival materials.
Sex, Karate & Videotapes: The VHS Craze of the 1989 Transformation
- Kult - 1986 (Polton; second edition 1993, S.P. Records)
- Posłuchaj, to do Ciebie - 1987 (Klub płytowy Razem– Helicon; second edition 1992, S.P. Records)
- Spokojnie - 1988 (Polton; second edition 1993, S.P. Records)
- Kaseta - 1989 (1989 Arston; second edition 1996, S.P. Records)
- Tan - 1989 (Polton; second edition 1998, S.P. Records)
- 45-89 - 1990 (Arston; second edition 1998, S.P. Records)
- Your Eyes - 1991 (ZicZac; second edition 1998, S.P. Records)
- Tata Kazika - 1993 (S.P. Records)
- Muj Wydafca - 1994 (S.P. Records)
- Tata 2 - 1996 (S.P. Records)
- Ostateczny krach systemu korporacji - 1998 (S.P. Records)
- Salon Recreativo - 2001 (S.P. Records)
- Poligono Industrial - 2005 (S.P. Records)
- Hurra! - 2009 (S.P. Records)
- Kult Unplugged - 2010 (S.P. Records/MTV)
- Prosto - 2013 (S.P. Records)
- Wstyd - 2016 (S.P. Records)
- Made in Poland - 2017 (S.P. Records)
Band’s official websites:
Originally written in Polish by Maciej Sienkiewicz, July 2010. Translated and updated by MG, May 2020.