Gergely Molnár is a founding member and frontman of the short-lived cultic band Spions. This was one of the bands that started the new wave in Hungary in 1977 and was a source of inspiration for an entire generation of alternative musicians. Besides music, he worked on movies, experimental theatre productions, and literature. His diverse interests naturally sprang from each other, and of course had a strong influence on one another.
Molnár first appeared in the first half of the 1970s at the artist György Galántai’s chapel exhibition venue in Balatonboglár. At this time, his ambitions were primarily literary: he was a member of various underground literary salons, writing essays and poems, and he was part of a number of anthology initiatives. As his writings became more and more theatrical, he naturally turned towards theatre: he participated in the work of the Kassák Studio, the Kovács István Studio, and started the Donauer Vedio Familie with László Najmányi and Kati Örsi, a direct prelude for Spions. Between 1975 and 77, he gave a number of lectures about movies and rock culture at the film club of the Ganz-MÁVAG House of Culture, as well as in the Kossuth Club and the Club of Young Artists (Fiatal Művészek Klubka, FMK). Among others, Lou Reed and David Bowie was a favourite subject of these lectures. The latter also served as an inspiration for short stories, essays, and even screenplays. His interest in films went even further: besides the critiques and analyzes, he made a number of video films with László Najmányi at the time. But Molnár also wrote and edited a “one-person diary journal”. The monthly journal with only a few a copies contained studies, photographs, poems and private documents of his.
In 1977, from this community, the band Spions was formed by Gergely Molnár, Péter Hegedűs, György Kurtág jr., and with the contribution of László Najmányi. This also meant the start of the Hungarian art-punk and new wave. Despite the relatively scant repertoire and the fact that they only had a total of three concerts, their impact on the Hungarian alternative music scene was enormous: they were followed a whole generation of underground bands. Molnár and Najményi were already well-known figures of the Hungarian neo-avantgarde scene, which bond was determinative for how Spions operated. They turned towards music with to hope to break out from the narrow circle of the neo-avantgarde scene and reach a bigger audience. From this point of view they were not making music with the goal of making music: what was attractive and inspiring about the genre was its ‘interdisciplinary’ nature, the possibility to connect the various branches of art. As a result, their concerts were more like performances rather than concerts: they were interwoven with elements used in experimental theatre, provocation techniques specific to avantagarde, literary experience and media awareness from their past with movies.
Their provocative, sarcastic lyrics, scandalous performances, and the general attitude of having no regards to anything was something that the cultural politics of the 1970s could not tolerate. Playing in the band Spions came at a high price: Molnár was beaten up several times, his apartment was vandalized. Finally, as many artists at the time, the members of Spions - except for Tibor Zátonyi - left the country. The transformed Spions continued to play in Paris, where they eventually released a TP (Russian Way of Life, 1979) and an EP (The Party). Shortly after they disbanded: Molnár and Najmányi went to Canada, while Hegedűs moved to the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, the legacy of Spions survived: their songs, along with other documents and texts by Molnár were collected and published in the samizdat journal Sznob International in Budapest in 1982, and their impact on Hungarian alternative music was profound.
Gergely Molnár still lives in Montreal, and refuses to speak Hungarian. “ Hungary does not exist to me anymore” - said after emigrating, and he seems to keep himself to this since then. Over the years he worked and performed in English, under the names Gregory Miller, Anton Ello, Gregor Davidow, and Helmut Spiel!. According to the latest news, today, he works on a radio show, records a video diary, dances using the name Charlotte Bonaparte, meditates, and writes a book about the history of rock. He is also a member of the Supranational Social Party, a movement developed by him and László Najmányi.
- Budapest, Hungary
Author(s) of this page
- Bagi, Eszter Borbála
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