One of the most famous and important bands in history of Polish punk music. It comes from south-eastern region of Bieszczady mountains' town Ustrzyki Dolne, beautiful place that happens to be also one of the poorest regions of the country.

The punk movement in Poland looked different then in Western Europe, where it was more or less a history by the end of '70s. At this time punk movement was just starting in Poland, giving a new meaning to somewhat dustied Punk's not dead call of the decade. KSU started between '76 and '77 (exact date is somewhat difficult to establish, though) in following line-up: Bohun (vocal, sax), Siczka (guitar), Ptyś (keyboards), Plaster (bass) and Burek (drums).

There were several speculations on what exactly means 'KSU'; the truth is, according to Siczka, that 'the band got the idea after one of the licence plates they saw while coming back from some party; we thought that this letter combination (which in Polish should be pronounced 'kaa-es-oo') sounds nice'.

Like any start-up bands, KSU started with playing covers of bands such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin; then they turned themselves for more punk-genre bands like Sex Pistols, Wire, UK Subs, The Damned. In case you don't know, in communist-era Poland it was very, very hard to get hold on such records; they were not allowed on state-controlled radio, nor available to buy in record stores. So, what does the band? they write a letter to Radio Free Europe asking for more punk music (the letter would probably never reach RWE if it would be sent by regular mail; Plaster's aunt took it to Canada and sent it from there, otherwise state censorship authorities would never let it through). To their amazement, a couple of weeks later RFE starts airing a cycle of punk and new wave music programme with special dedication to 'punk band KSU from far-away Bieszczady'. The band is elated; however, this is the start of their problems with Polish secret services which starts to keep a close eye on them.

The first major musical event for KSU is New Wave Festival in Kołobrzeg in 1980, which turns out to be great success. The band wins over more known bands like Dreadlock, Kryzys and Tilt (members of which, apparently angered by KSU's success, defaces its logo). After the festival the band is offered to record an album in West Germany but they turn it down. Right after return from Kołobrzeg Tutag gets drafted to the Army and the band is forced to suspend its activities until 1982, when same thing happens to Siczka (his military superiors already know about his rebel past and are giving him hard time).

As draft lasts for 2 years then, Siczka is back in 1985 and the band performs now as a trio. in 1988 on one of the concerts the band is seen by Andrzej Wiśniowski, the owner of several radio broadcast stations. With his help, KSU records their first album "Pod prąd" ("Against the current" ???). The band starts to be recognized, its songs are listed on major Polish hit lists; it gets invited to biggest Polish festivals in Opole and Jarocin in '89. Second LP "Ustrzyki" is recorded in Tonpress studios in 1989/90.

Just when the future gets little brighter for the band, the real punk character comes out.. KSU's new agent, Warsaw Actor Impresario Agency, has plans to realize a video clip; however, on the first day of shooting of all band members only Dżordż is on the set (Siczka is partying with some prostitutes in Wrocław and Tutak is playing rock'n'roll somewhere in Bieszczady). This results in break up with WAIA and Dżordż leaves the band; Kukuś takes his place. In 1991 the band gets under the wings of Krzysztof Rożej; the cooperation with this manager virtually left KSU on a verge of being broke (for example, he took part in pirating band's cassettes; in years 1991-94 there were 30 illegal editions of their albums!).

In 1992 KSU takes part in another Jarocin festival; year later it receives invitation from Para Wino (Darek "Para" Paraszczuk, active player in Wrocław underground music) to record a cover album of two other punk bands: Sham 69 and 999, which turns to a scandal: the recorded material is released as... new album of KSU. In the '90s the band releases following LPs: "Moje Beszczady" ("My Bieszczady") in 1993, "Na 15-lecie" ("On 15th Anniversary") in 1994, "Bez Prądu" ("Unplugged") in 1995 and "21" in 1999 with 21 songs recorded in 21 years of KSU. Last album, "Ludzie bez Twarzy" ("People without Faces") is released in 2002.

After more than 25 years of ups and downs, the band is still touring in Poland and abroad. Current line-up includes Siczka (gitara, vocal), Prezo (bass, vocal), Jasiu Jarek Kidawa (gitara) and Sebastian Mnich (drums). Thanks to a new, more hard-rock style their music sounds fresh and the lyrics prove to be universal, even in new post-communist reality.

Discography:

  • Pod Prąd - 1988
  • Ustrzyki - 1989/90
  • Moje Bieszczady - 1993
  • Na 15-lecie - 1994
  • Bez Prądu - 1995
  • 21 - 1999
  • Ludzie bez Twarzy - 2002
sources:
http://www.ksu.republika.pl
Mikołaj Lizut, Punk Rock Later, Wydawnictwo Sic, Warsaw 2003

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