If you want to listen to Polish rock and roll you should start with The Stubs. There is one little ‘but’: their songs and style of playing and recording, as well as their attitude on stage are – using the language of advertising – the quintessence of the rock and roll style and the best proof of the internationality of the genre.
A rock and roll band formed in December 2010 in Warsaw.
The Stubs only sing in English, which is common on the hardcore/punk scene they originate from. In the old days, bands used to attach song lyrics and English translations to tape inserts. Nowadays, bands like The Stubs sing in English without even a slight trace of a foreign accent. Lyrics on inserts have remained, just like the DIY rule, a willingness to play gigs in squats (the Elba squat in Warsaw is a theme in one of their songs), and an allegiance to small music publishers.
The first recording of The Stubs was released by the merited but small Antena Krzyku record label. The following recordings were released by Instant Classic, which is famous for its beautiful, polished editing. All The Stubs’s recordings have vinyl versions, whereas Golden Shower of Hits was also released on cassette tape.
The band was formed in December 2010 in Warsaw. The lead singer and guitar player is Tomasz Szkiela, Łukasz Dadas accompanies him on bass guitar, and Radosław Sternicki plays the drums. The latter described the beginnings of the band in the following manner:
Tomek, Łukasz, and I once played in a band called Hulkhogan. After recording a demo and playing a dozen concerts, Tomek leaved the band, which resulted in us breaking up after two years of activity. At the same time, Łukasz and Tomek played in Blind Date. When this project was brought to a close, Łukasz and Tomek established another band – Jordy Warsaw. The band had recorded a material for album which was finally not released because of the band’s breakup but from its rubble The Stubs was established.
Sternicki also plays in the band Drip of Lies, whereas Szkiela, together with his girlfriend Magda, founded Fertile Hump, a band that looks for inspiration in blues and punk.
Despite the fact that the musicians originate from the punk and hardcore scene, they found dirty, messy rock and roll attractive, calling it ‘low-budget’. It is ecstatic and desperate music that refers to old records by MC5, The Stooges, and Black Flag, which were followed by such rock and roll bands as Electric Frankenstein and Turbonegro (the Norwegian band is the only non-American band on the list). The timbre of Szkiela’s voice and the tone of his guitar calls to mind Mudhoney and Motörhead.
The Stubs have an old-school pace and sound. The leader of the band tends to humorously play with the audience at concerts. The visual side of their covers and video clips is filled with colourful luchador masks, whereas the blurred animation accompanying the single Timmy is outstandingly beautiful.
To play a type of music which has been present in pop culture for so long and which uses the style of the Misfits and Kiss can only be achieved in an unserious way. However, the band's lyrics are not as light as the rest – they usually speak of a sense of loss, grief, and death. Szkiela explains:
I speak about the fact that the conservative community does not understand me and that corporations are fucked up. I simply excrete it from myself. The word ‘excrete’ is pretty direct in its meaning, as I write most of my songs, because of a lack of time, sitting on a toilet. Seriously.
The protagonists of Szkiela’s songs think about suicide (There’s No Mother), can sincerely appreciate the upbringing in a pathological family because ‘When you’ve got nothing it’s alright / at least you’re straight and white’ (Straight and White) while one of them is ready to kill a girl who took or hid his narcotics (My Weed). Topics that are common for blues music culminate with the confession from Salvation Twist that it would be great to sign the same contract as Robert Johnson According to legend, the famous American bluesman sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for his musical talents. Szkiela sings: ‘I would give up my own soul but I have none’.
The band has played abroad (Spain, Germany, Belgium, Scandinavia, and Israel) and in Gdynia (Open’er Festival) and Katowice (Off Festival) in Poland. One can find their beautifully filmed performance on the roof of the Jabłowski Brothers department store in Warsaw on YouTube.
When listing their successes we should mention their nomination for the MTV EMA 2012 awards in the best Polish performer category (finally given to Monika Brodka). Eska.pl wrote then: ‘The Stubs is one of few Polish rock and roll bands’. Luckily, it is not true. There are many rock and roll bands in Poland but only few of them, including The Stubs, are among the cream of the crop.
Author: Jacek Świąder, translated by Antoni Wiśniewski, April 2016
2013 – Golden Shower Of Hits (compilation)
2013 – Second Suicide
2012 – Kill Yourself EP
2011 – The Stubs