Tamás Rupaszov is a cultic figure of the Hungarian underground scene. He founded the bands Trottel, Marina Revue, and PaprikaPaprika, as well as the record company Trottel Records, which has now been in operation for more than 25 years.
Rupaszov was 15 years old when he became part of the Hungarian punk community, as a founding member of the band Rottens. He soon became involved in a police affair, and his relationship with the communist regime did not improve over time. Although he studied to be a typographer, he never really had a normal civil occupation. As he confessed in an interview in 2010 “…I still have no idea what I make a living from, as I didn’t know twenty years ago.” Of course, this was not something that the regime would tolerate, as it aimed for full employment and punished unemployment, and this was only the tip of the iceberg in the regime’s degree of control over people’s lives. Under such circumstances, like many other people, Rupaszov also thought about emigration. While he did travel abroad with the intention of staying there for good, in the end, he returned to Hungary. However, his passport was stolen, and the authorities refused to give him a new one, Rupaszov could not travel anywhere, not even to the countries of the Soviet bloc. With these developments, emigration was no longer an option for him, at least for a while. Rupaszov spent most of the 1980s waiting to be given a passport so he would be able to travel again.
Rupaszov was not idle during this period, however. The short-lived band Rottens was replaced by the first incarnation of the band Trottel, terminated by the sudden emigration of their drummer. After that, Rupaszov founded the band Marina Revue, and, later, he also led the reformed Trottel. He quickly went from his first experiment, Rottens, which mostly imitated the Ramones, to the experimental and innovative Trottel, which soon gained fame both domestically and abroad. At the end of the 1980s, Rupaszov toured in several countries, while tirelessly building international punk connections and copying and distributing cassettes with recordings of music by Hungarian underground bands. He also founded and edited with László Távolodó Marton the fanzine of the legendary Fekete Lyuk, Lyukság (Holey Things). Fekete Lyuk was also the place where Rupaszov was persuaded to launch Trottel Records not as a non-profit organization, but as a company. However, Rupaszov had begun distributing audiotapes long before that, in 1986, in the context of chain letters. Thanks to these letters, Rupaszov could acquire a great deal of cassettes, fanzines, and posters from all over the world. In return, fans also started sending cassettes containing a selection of tracks from Hungarian underground bands. These were the first so-called “Pajtás daloljunk” (Let's sing, pals) cassettes, which they also started to distribute during concerts to cover the costs of production. This initiative was the first step towards Trottel Records. The company could only take a legal form in 1992, after the regime change. Like its founder, the record company is quite eclectic, and the spirit of Black Hole had a great deal of effect on it: it was intended as a site where people could do what they wanted to do and a place which provided space and opportunity for new, innovative, and enthusiastic bands.The moment of the regime change was a hectic period for Rupaszov. While he could travel again at this time, the reasons to emigrate were disappearing. The events of 1989–90 were sudden and full of promise. Rupaszov thought about the future of Hungary with great anticipation and interest. Thanks to the chain letters, Trottel could arrange several concerts abroad in a short time, and Rupaszov still tours abroad regularly. The band PaprikaPaprika, combining the energies of punk and folk music, came into existence only because of a possibility for a British tour. However, this improvised group became a more serious project over time. While the 1980s ended a long time ago and Rupaszov also started a family in the meantime, he continues to cultivate the values and ideals which Black Hole represented at the end of the 1980s. Rupaszov continues to work at Sziget during the summers (this is the only week in the year when he has a boss), and he puts out records, publishes books, organizes tours, makes music, and sometimes even translates.
Author(s) of this page
- Bagi, Eszter Borbála