August 31, 2000 - Volume VIII, Issue 35
Defector rockin' in the free world
By John Hayes
His family escaped the Communist regime in 1974. "People
were still escaping in the 1970s," he told me. "We first arrived
in Sweden where I would make money by selling bubble gum to the kids at school
before moving to Canada to join family members who had left back in 1956."
Moving again at the age of 18, he found himself in London. His teenage years were spent trawling the London rock scene and hanging out with the stars at the original Marquee Club on Wardour Street.
The Skinny Bohemians formed in London in 1990 and suffered several false starts. They lost members of the band to everyone including crusty rockers New Model Army. After several years the line-up was finally stabilized and is now exclusively Hungarian.
The Skinnies currently split their time between the UK and Hungary on a 50/50 basis. Szemes told me they feel they have to be in London to be near the music industry but it makes financial sense to write, rehearse and record in Budapest.
It is probably also a relief for the band's bass guitarist, Lepke, to return to Hungary and be able to communicate using more than the five words of English he knows: Shoes, boots, spoon, fork and flag.
"It's beautiful," Zoltán told me. "He has five words of almost completely useless English but he communicates by drawing the most beautiful pictures. He is a very creative soul and it brings people close to him." Musically speaking, the band take influences from rockers from the '60s and '70s, including Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Iggy Pop but have fused the tunes with hints of The Cult, Smashing Pumpkins and Szemes's personal favorite, Placebo.
The result of this mix of old and new is a highly approachable and radio-friendly form of music, although with an edge dirty enough to repel your mother.
You can visit the band's web site at www.skinnybohemians.com