Interview: Radioactive Rats

'you open your eyes to the world you look around and see things that do not seem right to you, you want to talk about it or even scream. You want to express yourself. And it suits my character – I always wanted to change the world into a better place – and I found it in punk.'

Hard core punks Radioactive Rats are based in Nottingham which is where I travelled to last December as they were playing a benefit gig for local homeless charities. I had spent a few months making return trips to Youtube to listen to ‘Cyrk’, ‘Zero’, ‘Pojebany’ and a great cover of ‘Guns of Brixton’ after a mate tipped me off about how good they are. Online footage proved he was right but of course, as The Situationists insisted, mediated spectacles are a poor second best compared to direct participatory experience! In The Sumac Centre Radioactive Rats played a storming set of ferocious metal tinged punk with danceable riffs and rhythms which led to much leaping around and dancing! Definitely worth the journey! Fronted by singer Ewa Zablocka RR are gaining a reputation as a very good band indeed and it’s obvious why. Musically they are superb, coming across as really enjoying themselves and are expert at breaking down any sense of separation between the band and ‘the audience’ with, on this occasion, the two guitarists and vocalist all standing in with the crowd at various points. I’ve been able to see them a couple of times since and as they keep getting better it seemed like a good idea to ask Ewa more about the band.

(((o))): Could you tell us about the origins of Radioactive Rats? Some of you were in a band together in Poland weren’t you?

All members of the first Radioactive Rats line up came from same town in Poland – Namyslow so most of us had met before in different bands or shared a stage.

In 2003 when I was only 15 years old with Kubczak we created Potluczony Kaloryfer (which means Smashed Radiator). Later I also started to sing in an anarcho punk band called ZMT (Zgwalcili Mi Tate – They Have Raped My Dad) where I meet Joseph who was a guitarist there. In 2010 I started to sing in folk ska punk band Taumaturgia where I met and played with Jimmy our previous drummer. In 2013 we all ended up in UK and decided to reactivate PK. We changed the name to Radioactive Rats after the first two gigs in UK in October 2014. In 2015 Marek who in Poland played in Snowball Ambush with other guys from Namyslow, so we knew him from there, jumped on the second guitar and Bartek on the drums when Jimmy decided to leave.

(((o))): What made you decide to re-start the band? Did it feel like a new start?

To be honest it was like it was re-born. We had a few years break from playing together, so it was nice to see each other after a few years and play old songs.

(((o))): How did you get into punk?

I use to grow up listening to punk rock music (Polish and English). So punk rock was always in my veins. When you are a kid or a teenager and you open your eyes to the world you look around and see things that do not seem right to you, you want to talk about it or even scream. You want to express yourself. And it suits my character – I always wanted to change the world into a better place – and I found it in punk.

(((o))): Is punk very established in Poland?

Punk is not very popular in Poland now. It was most popular in 80’s. Then we had a very strong punk rock scene. Now it’s more commercial than riot/rebel.

(((o))): You are also a tattooist, aren’t you? That’s a very interesting job! How did you get into it?

I became interested in tattoos when I was a 15 or 16. Kubczak made some tattoos on himself using a homemade tattoo machine and I wanted to get some tattoos as well but I had to wait till 18. So on my 18th birthday I got my first tattoo… and that’s how it started. After a few years, when I gained some knowledge, I bought all the tattoo stuff needed for tattooing and started doing it. Now I’m still doing some tattoos for my friends from time to time but now this is only my hobby not my job. Now I’m the manager in Inkland Tattoo shop.

(((o))): Most of us would struggle to pronounce Pot?uczony Kaloryfer but what made you choose Radioactive Rats as a name instead?

Hah…. First of all I love rats. Rats are very cute and very smart but disliked and seen as a threat… a little bit like punk rockers!

(((o))): Has your sound changed since you first started in 2003? In what ways?

Of course it changed. We rearranged some of our old songs and our new material will be slightly different. When we started our songs were really simple, now we’re trying to be more creative because musically we’ve grown up a little bit hopefully. New material will probably be a little bit heavier, more hard core or even some metal than punk, but the punk rock spirit will be kept.

(((o))): You’ve started to put up tracks on Bandcamp with more tracks to come, what sort of things do you sing about?

Yes, two songs are already on Bandcamp, three more to come. Songs for that demo are about different topics like religion, politics, fake people, fighting system, etc.

(((o))): Who does most of the song writing in RR? Is it all of you or one main person?

Some old PK songs were written by Kubczak. A few of the songs that we are playing in the concerts are from other bands in which we played. All new songs have my lyrics and music written by RR.

(((o))): Have the things you sing about changed over time?

I don’t think so. I think that ‘the system’ or ‘people in power’ or other things that we are singing about over time just changed names or methods of brainwashing people but it is still same old shit. They can not trick us. We have our eyes wide open all the time.

(((o))): When you write your songs what inspiration do you draw on, personal experiences, books, films?

All the world around me, my feelings, my thoughts, some situations that happened to me or what I saw. Everything can be inspiration – there are no rules.

(((o))): And how is the punk scene doing around Nottingham? I know Eagle  puts on the ‘Punk 4 the Homeless’ gigs, are there lots of other opportunities to play?

Yes, Eagle is doing a great job with at least one gig every month! In general the punk scene is not bad in Nottingham so if you want you can always find some good gigs on during weekends.
There are opportunities to play small gigs, small venues or even completely DIY gigs and we are always happy to play but as we all working in different places with different working hours sometimes we struggle to find dates that suits as all. On top of that Kubczak just become a father and our drummer is not from Nottingham…

(((o))): I saw Radioactive Rats at a Polish punk night in London a few weeks ago, are there many Polish language punk bands in Britain?

I don’t know a lot of Polish bands in UK, but I’m sure there are few in London and around.

(((o))): And what are your plans for next year? Are you hoping to have an album coming out?

Yes! We are working on a demo as I mentioned before. We had many problems with an album but finally we’ve started to record a few song from the beginning and as I said before two songs are already on our Bandcamp page and three more songs hopefully will come out very soon. But these are old songs so straight after that we will start writing new songs and thinking of recording them. We’re really looking forward to releasing completely new stuff created by the present line up. So hopefully we will avoid any personal changes which will allow us to focus on gigging and writing, recording and releasing new 100% Radioactive Rats album soon!

Photo by Lee Wright.

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