He paid a high price for his attempt to avoid military service – a stay in a psychiatric hospital. This is the first time Andrzej Krzywy talks so frankly and openly about his life, full of paradoxes. In the book “Na krzywy ryj” he recalls lessons of the hated mandolin, strict methods of upbringing of his late father and settles accounts with his former bandmates, whom he accuses of an attempt on his money.
Luke Friday, Interia: I’ll admit that when I picked up the book “Na krzywy ryj”, somewhere in the back of my mind was the thought that it was probably another “how to live” type of celebrity advice. After reading it, I’m pleasantly surprised, because it’s a really great interview.
Andrzej Krzywy: – Maybe the key to success is just that there are no golden thoughts in this book, I’m not telling anyone how to live. I’m still at the stage where I’m learning about life. After all, there is no formula for success, how best to live this life of yours.
Why did you decide to write this book?
– The proposals had been coming in for ten years. It seemed to me all the time that it wasn’t time yet. I felt like I was still too young to write about my whole life. I didn’t quite see myself as a sole author. Knowing myself – and I am a person who demands a lot from myself – I would probably sit down in the evening and write one page, and the next day it would land in the trash. The writing would take another ten years. When I was asked to do a river interview, I thought it was a good idea. Also, next year is the band’s 30th anniversary, so it’s the perfect time to reminisce.
Did anyone hold a grudge against you after reading the book?
– No. From the very beginning I assumed that it would be a record of my memories, my subjective look at all the events that took place. However, I realize that if books by my friends from De Mono or Daab appeared now, we would differ in our assessment of certain situations. Everyone has his own perspective on the matter. So far I haven’t received any lawsuit (laughs). But I am not a scandalist. Writing this book, my intention was not to make anyone uncomfortable.
The title of this book fits perfectly with its content. I have the impression that you often went through your life “crooked,” but in a positive sense. You were lucky in life.
– In most cases I was lucky, but not always, because sometimes I fell to the very bottom. In my case it was the failures that built me up, made me try even harder. In fact, this journey of mine through life so far can be summed up in a way that it was done on a crooked snout. Maybe that’s why it happened, because when I was young, life was a kind of improvisation. I just wanted to live and get to know this life. I was not interested in the solution: life is only for living it.
You devote a lot of space in the book to your father, who was not, at least I infer, an affectionate father. If your father hadn’t left when you were still a child, would you have become a musician?
– That’s an interesting topic. I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t come to any conclusion. When I took mandolin lessons as a child, which I enjoyed at first but later found to be my greatest punishment, I told myself that I would never become a musician in my life. Maybe if my father had been alive when I graduated from high school and took my baccalaureate exam, he would have decided that my place was not on the stage. Maybe he would have sent me to the polytechnic and told me to develop myself so that I would have an easier life than he did.
– His father was very ambitious, which is why he went to college as an adult to have the opportunity for advancement. He was an electronics engineer, working for the Zelos company, which produced black-and-white TV sets, including the Beryl model, popular in the 1970s. It is possible that I would follow in his footsteps. I’ve already made the first step, because I studied at technical school. I have no idea how it would turn out. We can only speculate. On the one hand my father wanted me to go into music, but on the other hand he wasn’t sure if it would be the best solution for me to deal with later in life.
Do you have any regrets about your father today? In the book you write that he gave you a choice: a beating with an iron cable or a belt.
– In those days upbringing methods were exactly like that: spanking. It was normal for a father to take a belt and correct certain behaviors. It was like that in most Polish families. This does not mean that we were a pathological family. It was just the way the times were. At school you also used to get beaten with a ruler and slapped on the head. Today, a teacher would probably be held responsible in court for such actions. Many things have changed. I am not a supporter of total stress-free upbringing, because I think it is wrong. A child needs to know the limits too. On the other hand, I’m not a fan of showing the child who’s boss. You have to find that golden mean and use common sense without going to extremes.
– I was used to being spanked by my father when I did something wrong, but that doesn’t mean I beat my children. It wasn’t that my father spanked me because he had a whim. Spanking was a punishment for a bad deed. Today the punishment for a child is to be grounded from going out or from the Internet. And that’s fine. I will always believe that everything can be settled with a conversation.
– Going back to your question: for many years I resented my father, but later I came to two conclusions: who I am and what I am like is due to him. The second thing: it always seemed to me that by forcing me to play that damn mandolin, my father was inflicting a huge punishment on me. Today I am very grateful to him for that. It was he who showed me the musical direction. It’s very possible that we wouldn’t be sitting here today because I would be the manager of the power grid. All these insights come only years later, when you are mature and look at the past through a different lens.
The early death of your father contributed to the fact that you had to learn to rely solely on yourself. In the book, you describe a situation when you and your friends were pulled from a train by the police in the middle of winter. They managed to run into the moving train, but you stayed behind. You write that you didn’t resent them at the time because you can’t be a sucker in life.
– My father’s death made me realize that it was on me as the oldest of my siblings to help my mother. I don’t want to idealize it too much, because I was a ten year old kiddie at the time. After all, I couldn’t go to work and support my family. However, I had a conviction that I had to help my mother to embrace our whole crew. I needed and wanted to be a beacon for my siblings.
– I grew up pretty quickly and saw what was important in life. Little things like playing ball in the backyard took a back seat because the priority was feeding my siblings and getting them ready for school. We had to make sure that the apartment was cleaned when mom got home from work. My father instilled these basics in me, which later paid off in coping with the new reality without him. I felt this responsibility. Maybe that’s why, when I was older and had hippie friends who took heroin, it never occurred to me to deviate from that proper path.
You didn’t, but let’s be honest, you were quite the junkie. The book is full of incredible anecdotes involving you. And this is probably the most captivating thing in this book, that you were not reluctant to talk about all these stories.
And what life is like. Selling Biseptol as a contraceptive in Bulgaria, being in a mental institution twice, a suicide attempt, an adventure with a lady of light habits named Doris ending with some damage to your health, etc. If I were to go out on the street right now and tell someone that you are the hero of these stories and, in addition, knowingly describe these stories in a book, people would probably take me for a crazy person: “What, Crooked! That nice gentleman of pretty songs! Impossible!”.
– (Laughter) But what can I tell you? Fate intended it that way. All these stories you mentioned can probably be shocking at first glance, but reading the book, they take on a slightly different context. For example, the psychiatric hospital and the suicide attempt. You already know what it’s about, but in order not to give away the whole story and not to spoil the fun for the readers of the book, I can only say that I had no intention of leaving this world, but only wanted to escape from the world of two-year compulsory military service.
Then please say two more words about Doris.
It’s good that you used the plural, because it’s crucial to the story.
– Well, it just so happened that me and the guys in the band became firm friends with Doris one night. Of course no one admitted it at first. It wasn’t until one hot day at the beach that the truth came out that this one-time friendship with Doris ended, for each of us, with – let’s call it – a slight skin problem.
And it came to light because.
– Because we were the only ones sitting on the beach in long pants and we started wondering why we were the only ones. And we had to tell the truth to each other.
Now on a more serious note, didn’t your wife get mad at you about that story with Doris the prostitute? You could have let it go and not written about it in the book.
– When it happened, I wasn’t in a relationship with anyone. I was a free man. The story was mostly funny. Maybe not exactly showing us in a good light, but on the other hand, nothing so terrible happened that I had to blush at the mere thought of it. My wife wasn’t offended because she understands perfectly well that this all happened many years ago. Although. as she flipped through the book and read the stories, she said relaxed: “Well, yes, I know you.” At the passage about Doris, she said: “And that’s something you never told me. “(laughs).
In the book you don’t leave out the subject of money. In the years of greatest popularity, there were about three million tapes sold, and you were still not a millionaire?
– Unfortunately, most of these tapes were pirated copies sold at the bazaars of polka dots by young, cunning businessmen, on whom in those days there were no legal paragraphs. Some of them made fortunes, and yes, we were already popular, but it did not translate into great finances.
So when did you first feel that you had finally made money from music?
– You’ll probably laugh, but when we released our first album with Daab, which sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and I bought my mother an automatic washing machine with all my earnings, I thought I was a rich man and this job made sense. To be honest, my material situation started to improve in the mid-1990s. Since then, I’ve been living mainly from concerts. I have no right to complain, because it is enough for me to live a decent life.
– I know that I still have better than most of the society. After all, I am not blind and I can see the ubiquitous poverty. In fact, as usual, everything depends on your point of view. I’m starting from the assumption that I don’t need to have my jet, helicopter or the latest model Bentley. I don’t want to go to any lengths to achieve it. I am not vain. I don’t know how or like to show off. I prefer to experience something by traveling around the world, to experience spiritual elation by watching the sunrise on the beach or in the mountains, to enjoy a meeting with friends over good food and a glass of wine, to see a nice concert or a good movie. This is wealth that no one can take away from me.
– Family, band, health – these are the most important things. I have what I have and I am happy about it. No matter how much money you have, you can always say that you could have more. I live on a regular basis, day to day. I do not have buried bags of money. Anyway, there have never been too many bags, because I like to share. I am not greedy.
You also write about the fact that today you have to work twice as much and twice as hard as you used to. Why? After all, marketing has evolved, there is social media, there is the Internet. You have many more opportunities to promote yourself as a team than you did those dozen or more years ago. Besides, as De Mono you are already a strong brand.
– Nowadays it is enough to have a computer with some music making software to create a song at home by yourself or with your friends. This has totally increased the competition. And it is good. Because it motivates us to work harder. There are a lot of artists on the market. They release songs that become hits. Luckily, we still manage to do it. Maybe it doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but if we have such a hit, it’s played and it’s not only a hit for one season. But before such a single “catches on” it happens that in the meantime we release two albums, which go completely unnoticed, because the market is so saturated nowadays.
– You say: social media. Ok. However, there is no denying that social media is mostly used by young people, and of course we have such among our fans, but our listeners in most cases are people who are long past middle school or high school. Of course, I don’t want to insult “young people” my age, because I realize that they also know what Facebook, Instagram or YouTube are. But they don’t orthodoxy follow every post about De Mono, they don’t wait for news. They have their own, adult lives. Real life. Not the virtual one.
You’re treading on thin ice, because there’ll probably be someone who won’t quite catch your intentions and there’ll be a short ball: “If it’s so hard for Krzywe to write songs, let him go to a real job and then he’ll see what hard work means”.
– God forbid I compare the hard work of a musician to a miner, a nurse, or a hundred other professions. If I did, I would be out of my mind. No, because if I were to compare, I can say with my hand on my heart that in this case we don’t work at all. And we don’t work because music is our passion. I’m not really complaining. All I’m saying is that the market has changed, that today you have to work harder. I judge it only as a musician who has been playing for over 30 years. If there is a need to roll up my sleeves and work even three times as hard, I do it with the greatest pleasure because I love my job.
You say about yourself that you are not a vindictive person, that you make friends quickly, that even the guys in the band laugh at you because when you walk into a gas station, after a few minutes everyone is your friend. So I would like to ask you if you have a grudge against Perkoz, your ex-guitarist from De Mono, who, after moving to T.Love, said that playing in De Mono was the biggest disgrace in his life?
– Regret is probably the wrong word. It was sad. After several years of working together, when we seemed to be friends, these words surely hurt a little. Maybe if Perkoz had not played in De Mono, he would have had the opportunity to play in T.Love later on. Jacek used to play in Asylum P. After the break-up he became a technical worker in Daab band, so he carried instruments and set up amps behind the musicians. He also played some guitar at home but he was mainly involved in technical matters. In De Mono he had the opportunity to show himself as a guitarist again. I have an impression that he spilled it to show that T.Love is alternative and De Mono is just an unimportant episode in his life. Regret? I have no regrets about that. What I can regret is that he plays with the other, fake De Mono, not remembering, or rather not wanting to remember, what the truth is. And that’s not cool anymore.
– Because De Mono never broke up, De Mono has been going on for 30 years, recording albums, being successful. There has not been a single concert without my participation. I did not die, in fact I am very well. So Perkoz putting his hand to such a big fuss is for me just a plunder.
Exactly – the second De Mono. Probably not many people know that at the moment there are two De Mono bands in Poland. It is a bit absurd. What is the problem?
– There are not two De Mono bands. There is one in which I have played for almost 30 years and another band which was formed 8 years ago using the same name. Nobody threw anybody out of the band. Everyone made their own sovereign decisions and we basically parted ways in harmony most of the time. Rotations in bands are natural. If one of the musicians decides to leave, you look for another person to take his place. It’s simple. If Marek Kościkiewicz’s band wants to play De Mono songs, I have nothing against it, especially that he is the author of many of them. Let them play, but not under the name De Mono. I find this kind of behavior unacceptable and simply embarrassing. It is hard for me to talk about it.
The leader of this second De Mono is Marek Kościkiewicz, your colleague from the first De Mono.
And it comes to a situation when Kościkiewicz’s band negotiates the details with an unaware concert organizer without leading him to believe that you are not the vocalist.
– This happens very often. Marek comes with his band to a concert and when the surprised organizer asks where Andrzej Krzywy is, he finds out that Andrzej Krzywy fell ill and there is another singer in his place. A few years ago there was also a version that I left the band and another singer sings in De Mono.
But it sounds like a joke.
– It sounds, but unfortunately it’s true. Anyway, I describe it exactly in the book. I wouldn’t allow myself to talk about it publicly if I didn’t have evidence. I’ve even seen materials about Mark’s band’s concert that included my photos, and the song promoting the show was “Time Passes Me By” from the album we’re currently preparing.
– Let’s call a spade a spade: it’s about making people laugh. It’s not even about me and wiping my face with my name. What I pity the most is the unaware audience that comes to the concert and suddenly it turns out that this is not the band they wanted to see. Unfortunately, the artistic level of these performances is very low, so the disappointment of the audience must be even greater. Let’s not deceive ourselves – this is a classic example of cutting coupons. And in the worst way.
You can say that it is a crooked act.
– I would never behave in such a way and I would never try to return to the music market under the name of an existing band. After all, the names Chojnacki or Kościkiewicz are not anonymous. Of course, they are not as strong as the De Mono name, but they are also recognizable brands. Maybe it’s just me, though. They took the easy way out. To take the easy way out.
They, meaning apart from Marek Kościkiewicz, who else?
– Robert Chojnacki, for example.
Chojnacki also got it in your book. You quote the situation when Chojnacki recorded an album with Andrzej Piaseczny and paid him several thousand zlotys for it. The album was a huge success and Chojnacki earned much more from it, but he did not dare to additionally compensate Piaseczny, who was mortally offended with Chojnacki.
– But this is no secret. It was so. Anyway, you can ask Piaski about it, because it was him who recorded vocals on this album which really earned huge money.
But before Marek Kościkiewicz started touring again under the name De Mono, and when at many of his concerts it turned out that “you were sick” and you had a replacement, he had previously made you an offer to quit your De Mono and create with him. De Mono. We’ve made a sort of shuffle out of that.
– To understand this, you have to go back even further. Marek had back problems and officially with his permission we played with someone else for a while. There were no problems. Then Marek became the head of a big record company and he made it clear: I’m leaving, you guys play as long as you can because I get royalty money from every concert you play and every song you play, so I wish you all the best. And for a dozen years there was no problem.
Until he asked to meet you and made the offer I just asked about?
– Yes. Marek said outright: throw this band away and let’s start playing again as De Mono. I told him straight away that it is not possible because I am loyal to the guys from the band with whom I have been playing for several decades. You don’t do that. I thought it was absurd. Marek was still writing some lyrics for us at that time, so after my negative answer I heard from him that he would not write anything more for us. Oh well, we’ll manage somehow, I thought. But even then I had a feeling that this was not the end. Then Robert Chojnacki and later Darek Krupicz left our team. I think it was then that Marek realized that there are three of them in total, and there are two of us left from the first squad, so we can use it somehow. And so they did. They started a new band and called it De Mono.
Do you think Kościkiewicz created your half-clone out of revenge on you or for money?
– Absolutely it was a cash sweep and these are not just my guesses, just facts. During the meeting aimed at settling the dispute out of court we received a written proposal from Marek. For giving up the use of De Mono’s name, he expected me and Piotr Kubiaczyk to pay him 220 thousand zlotys a year as long as Piotr and I continued the band’s activity. When we asked him what about Chojnacki and Krupicz, he replied that he was not interested in them. He is fighting for his own. Such a buddy.
What is the current court battle between them and you about?
– The name. Whether Marek’s group can use the name De Mono.
How long will you have to wait for the court decision?
– The first trial ended with us winning. The court ruled that we have the full right to use the name De Mono. It took six years. Currently the court is considering whether there can be a second band using the same name. I know – it may seem absurd and in fact it is absurd. How much longer is this going to go on? I have no idea. But I have a feeling that the court’s verdict will not mean the end of the battle.