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Did you know that the current editor of the magazine Esperanto, Stano Marček, once was the manager of the most popular rock band in former Czechoslovakia? Listen to his story about how they got involved with Esperanto and what happened.
The music group TEAM was founded in 1980. Three people, all from different bands, decided to use a common studio and share their equipment, since they were all low on money. Arriving at their studio, you could find their written rehearsal schedule as well as their names: Troll, Elektra A [and] Midd. One day, they decided to form a band together and the amusing coincidence of their initials decided their name: TEAM.
The band (four members plus two technicians) decided to join my Esperanto course, because our ideals seemed very close to theirs (music also being a kind of international language). The band leader, Dušan Antalík decided to combine their two ideals, convinced the others, and then they very actively started learning Esperanto and became likeable club members. I was a youth activist at the time organizing Esperanto courses, masquerade balls and youth conferences. I also founded and ran the Slovakian youth section of the World Esperanto Youth Organization.
Would you believe the first public concert of TEAM’ took place in Esperanto? At an international Esperanto youth conference in Dolny Kubin (Slovakia), they held a rock concert that lasted over an hour in Esperanto! Giorgio Silfer and Perla Martinelli also participated, which gave them TEAM’ the idea to record an album for LF-koop.
In the meantime, required military service extinguished their dreams, but two years later, the boys started up again and their music attracted more and more fans. They plowed their way to success through live concerts: the boys knew how to create a terrific atmosphere and their fame spread through the nation, eventually catching the interest of the state-owned record label OPUS. Then the group decided to take on two new members: a keyboardist and singer (Pavol Habera). Before the launch of their first big album (1987), the band persuaded me to leave my profession (head of a paper making factory) and “join the circus” as their manager. This was not too surprising considering that I had already worked with them before to help with technical and organizational details.
I accepted what turned into a exciting adventure. I was at the wheel (concerts, magazines, radio, television…) — probably down a good route, because a steep career followed: the first albums sold more than 300,000 copies. We filled the largest stadiums in Slovakia, later also in the Czech Republic – and we kept planting our seeds (our mission: a hundred concerts every year!). We then fulfilled our almost-forgotten dream — to record our first album completely in Esperanto. We produced it in co-production between OPUS and LF-koop, and I then organized an Esperanto tour: the Universal Congress of Esperanto in Brighton (England), International Youth Conference of Esperanto in Kerkrade (Netherlands), and the World Non-National Association Conference in Illertisen (Germany)… The group reached peak popularity in Slovakia, so stories about the Esperanto tour appeared in magazines, radio, television…
The problem was that the singer Pavol didn’t live through their common beginning and he only considered Esperanto as a certain (although rather strange) path to further successes… Before the recording and tour, I gave him a special crash course (podium Esperanto, he’s very talented and was even capable of speaking to the public, through some perfectly memorized sentences). The later career of TEAM kept growing: a hundred concerts every year, winning the most prestigious Czechoslovakian polls (it won the “Zlatý slávik” [Golden nightingale] contest three years in a row, in the last year even the singer won in the singer category, coming in second place was the long-time Czech star Karel Gott), everyday in radio and television for ten years, they sold more than a million records and performed a thousand live concerts.
Unfortunately, Pavol’s attitude toward Esperanto never changed. Despite my many attempts, I couldn’t succeed in convincing organizers of Esperanto meetings to invite TEAM. There were many projects, but they never came to be. In one case, we had carefully planned a tour of China, and then one day I never again heard back from my Chinese colleague, so the shame naturally crashed down on me. So, not only Pavol, but later also the rest of the band started little by little to become disillusioned toward Esperanto, when they saw their earlier dreams couldn’t be turned into reality. Yes indeed, how many Esperanto organizations can invite stars and propose to them, if not decent payment (they lived off their music), to cover at least their travel costs and maybe a small stipend…
Well, and what about now? Pavol’s egoism finally lead to the group falling apart: the star (yes, I’m not exaggerating, in the former Czechoslovakia and even now in the Czech Republic and Slovakia everyone knows him) kept demanded an even larger slice of the pie (as is common in similar bands), starred in films (during their production, the rest of the band made no money), started to compete with his own group through solo records… Well, after many conflicts, the band split up and the musicians worked separately: the singer continues to be a star, the rest now have their own studios and businesses.
[Original source: Esper-Inform discussion list (Jan 31, 2002)]
Note that what follows is my favorite song by TEAM “Eta ŝtormo nokta” (A small night storm). However, to my knowledge, TEAM didn’t actually create any music videos for their first album, but rather people pieced together pirated videos to make it look like something that could’ve appeared during that time period.