This band is quite a well-known on the Czechoslovak scene, abroad they are something that is about to be discovered. This is how you´d describe current state of Czech symphonic folk/power metal band ROSA NOCTURNA, whose guitarist, composer and manager in one person - Tonda Buček - has become our latest victim. We rushed to him with a bunch of questions about the present, the future, the transition to English texts and much more.
ROSA NOCTURNA is quite well known in our lands but that is not entirely true in the area where you are trying to break into. Could you introduce your band a bit, whether to fans from abroad or to those who have not heard of you yet?
We play metal, melodic metal. As for the classification, I would say that we are moving in between symphonic and folk metal. You'll find elements from both, so it's such a diverse mix. We use a combination of voices, both women and men a lot. So it´s something like that. It's quite colorful and I think everyone out there can pick something he would love about it. We have hard pieces, symphonic pieces, some ballads ...
In terms of folk, or even folklore, there is quite a strong influence. Is there a background, such as the fact that one of you is a folklorist or something similar?
Not at all. I don't quite understand how it turned out like this. We write what we like and that's how it happened somehow. And there are plenty of those elements. We have, for example, compositions with cimbalom, violin, flute, harp and similar instruments. We always write a song and try to adapt the sound of the song to the lyrics. And when you have folk lyrics in the song, folk instruments are something that automatically came as obvious choice. But it is not the intention that it´s like that. It´s always like that - the song we write somehow turns out to be like that and those instruments are automatically requested there.
I suppose that the inlfuences within the metal part of your music are kind of more obvious. Who is the biggest influence for you?
Nightwish, Epica, Avantasia, Edguy and generally also those that can be called classics of symphonic power metal. But I always add that we don't want to be very inspired, because we don't want to copy anyone. We want to go our own way, we just always somehow fit into the genre of these bands. So these are bands that I've personally listened to a lot and I listen to them nowadays and so they've influenced me a lot. But when I compose songs, I try not to imitate anyone. If I feel a similarity in the song, I'd rather change or adjust it so that we don't sound like some other band and have our own sound and style.
You have your first English album in the production process. Will these be new songs or songs that have already appeared somewhere, but they were originally released in Czech?
It will basically be the album "Andělé a Bestie" but in English. We actually planned the album as bilingual from the beginning because we feel that our music get good feedback abroad but it always has the language problem. We've done a few English songs in the past but now we thought it´s time for the whole album in English. So it will actually be a translated album "Andělé a Bestie", but there may be some changes in the arrangement of the songs, but rather it will be minor changes.
Translating an album from one language to another often causes quite a bit of trouble, mainly because the music can't be completely changed. Aren't you afraid of phrasing problems? Possibly – aren´t you afraid of problems with pronunciation, which is such a typical issue of the domestic scene ...
We are afraid of both of those and we do everything to make it turn out well. As for translation, we completely throw away Czech phrasing and compose de facto new songs. We will stick to the original songs where possible and we will forget about Czech and adjust phrasing, melody or something similar where it would not work. We don't let ourselves be bound by the original songs. As for pronunciation and feeling, we try to consult with people who have English as their native language - whether we talk about grammar, pronunciation or phrasing. In addition - Viky Surmová - our singer has quite experience with it. She managed to write the whole album in English, so we put our trust in her.
I assume that the album in English will not be the only one - perhaps also given that you recently signed to the Italian Rock on Agency. Do you plan to switch to English on full or change it somehow album by album?
We will see. We will mainly wait to realize what the reactions to the album in English will be, but I think we will continue on such a bilingual path. For foreign countries we will do things in English, for the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Czech. Big amount of fans from the Czech Republic tell us that we shouldn´t leave the Czech language. So that would be pure betrayal of our homeland fans and we wouldn't like to do that. Everyone praises the Czech language, they tell us that the Czech language is what they like about it. So we will definitely not leave Czech, we will rather do English versions as well. Now it will be such an attempt, we will see if it will be sold or it will be only for reviewers and we will take further steps accordingly. We will start with Czech and then English versions will be made, some of them might be created bilingually. But we will not leave the Czech language, we are sure of that.
I guess that one album and a few pieces from the past will not be enough for the whole show. Do you also plan to perform concerts abroad bilingually?
If we play abroad, we will try to play English. We already have enough of the material to make almost the entire show in English, maybe we will spice things up and we will include some Czech song in the setlist abroad. But we also play English songs in the Czech Republic. Viky has one song that she loves in English, so we play it in that version.
How was the mentioned cooperation with Rock On Agency actually made? It is not common for foreign agencies to reach for bands that play exclusively in their native language, not English.
It was actually arranged by our bass player and the whole thing was discussed by Viky. Rock On Agency already knew her because she has band SURMA so they agreed to take us under their wings. But the fact is that we were already sending them English songs and they knew that we were already doing this album in English. So we started working together now, but we'll deliver an English album.
So you managed to make it real mainly because English album?
I don´t know how important that was but they already knew we are doing English album.
I'm aware that it's quite complicated to talk about touring at the moment, but what are the plans for presenting yourself abroad?
We don't have any specifics on concerts yet, but there are plans and as soon as there will be an opportunity to play, we will go for it. That's what we want to do - play in Czech republic, play abroad, it's just something that´s what we want.
You are quite well known and you also present yourself by interacting with the audience, by bringing the fans to the stage, ... Have you experienced a situation where it backfired really differently than you expected - regardless of whether it was in a good or a bad way?
(Laugh) Quite often, people are ashamed and don't want to go on stage. That's quite often. We thought the fans would love to hang out with the band, that it would be something spontaneous. But a few times it happened to us that there was no one brave enough, maybe no hardcore fan. But usually we find someone after all and when someone goes up on stage, it's usually great, because they do rock with us on stage.
In the current situation, the music industry is quite significantly subdued. How did you approach that problem and how do you approach surviving as a band? After all, the most impressive part of the music - live concerts - is completely shut down.
We wasted no time and in November we released the album "Andělé a Démoni" and immediately everything got closed again, so we had more time to do other promo material like lyric videos, video clips and stuff like that. We have done quite a lot during that time and I feel that we have managed to create a lot. We did not released everything already - we currently have two more videos ready to go. We recorded a "lockdown video" for one song, then we did an acoustic set during that time and we still have one lyric video ready and we made one clip in English. So we didn't wait and we prepared things in advance. We reckon with the fact that when we perform more, there will simply be little time for these things. So we decided to have stuff prepared in advance.
Haven't you considered following the currently popular livestream way?
We did considered it, but we decided that we would put that energy into something that will last longer. After all, the livestream is only for one evening - it will happen and it's gone. These videos remain for us to present the band for a long time. For example, the acoustic set - it was like a livestream, we just edited it. Also mentioned home lockdown video, it was also edited and put it in good shape. So you can say we're halfway between a live and a normal clip.
I would go back a bit to your composing - you, as a composer, work with a large amount of singers, I would might even say that there are few composers who work with such a large number of singers on one album. How do you deal with the fact that you have to build each part for someone completely different?
Again, it kind of came to us. It wasn't planned - I always write a story, a text and ... I just enjoy stories. I don't like those songs about beer and such. I enjoy those stories and you usually have more characters there, so I kind of write the text and then I just divide the roles. You have good, evil, guys, gals, warriors, a father and a daughter - that's quite common for me. So when I finish the song, I realize that it fits for one, two or three singers and so on. When we make choirs, our singer does not sing them, but we also have guest vocalists for choirs. So when they don't have a character, they're band friends and they sing at least some choirs for the songs. I just enjoy trying new singers out, to hear their voices, finding out what their voice does in songs, so we'll see where it moves. There is no rule that there will be like 10 or 15 singers on each CD, you can´t say that. I just want the music to get what it needs, but I don't think we want to force it.
Do you have someone you would like to feature in your songs? Someone you could call a dream guest you'd like to have on the album?
(Laugh) I would like to have them all. I will be happy for everyone. That's what I'd say. Quite often I say to myself that I would sometimes contact Honza Toužimský from ARAKAIN for feature because I really like his voice. He is a Czech singer, whose voice and performance are fascinating me. It's probably my little dream to have Honza on the album, but as I say, I'll be happy for everyone. We will see. When we have another album, more songs, I will address more singers again. But I'm rather shy, you know. I contact people on our level, I am not used to contact celebrities. But we'll see and one day I would definitely like someone famous on the album. (Laugh)
You are now gaining more awareness, I would be interested in on what level are you in the music industry. Is it already full time job or are you still working elsewhere and if so where?
We are definitely not full time musicians. It is our big, but expensive and time-consuming hobby. We all have our jobs and we all have a problem fitting band into it. For me, it's an obsession of lifetime. I come home from work, I'm with my family, I complete some house duties and so on and then around 9 PM I sit at the computer and by 12PM, maybe 1AM I am composing, I write articles, do some promo and stuff like that. Who lives the same way knows that the band is a total killer of free time and money. I mean ... I could probably already have a house for what I invested into the band.
What would you recommend to musicians, young musicians maybe, to succeed in something like you did - to break out of your homeland, to get signed to some foreign agency, ... Which way to go?
I understand. It's a lot of effort, an awful lot of time, an awful lot of hard work. You can't stop and give up. As far as I can see, the bands will try to make music, they are on the scene for maybe 2-3 years, maybe 5 and those people will stop having fun. They get exhausted (which is understandable and I am not surprised) and they will give up. And that´s the point where they have to persevere and not give up. Then there is work, work, work. It certainly doesn't come to you without a lot of effort, if anyone thinks so.
This is the point where I got out of questions for you. Is there anything else you would like to add or to tell to your fans and our readers?
Fans should not be afraid to support the bands they love. Those bands need it. When fans don't buy merch, the band has no resources to live on. No need to be afraid to support bands, those bands feel it. When someone writes an e-mail to me, I consume every word, I know about every little talk abound the band. I think when the support of the band comes from the fans, it won't get lost, the bands know about it. Listen to music you enjoy and especially at this time – we should not give up. This crisis will pass and we will see the fans at the concerts again.