NPR logo

Scala And Kolacny Brothers: Rock's Heavenly Choir

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Scala And Kolacny Brothers: Rock's Heavenly Choir

Scala And Kolacny Brothers: Rock's Heavenly Choir

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Dozens, if not hundreds, of women musicians and Belgium in their late teens and 20's had a small career change one day. They were part of a classical choir and then the group morphed into a rock cover band.

(Soundbite of a song, "With or Without You")

SCALA & KOLACNY BROTHERS (Singing Group): (Singing) Sleight of hand and twist of fate on a bed of nails she makes me wait. And I wait without you...

WERTHEIMER: The group is called Scala & Kolacny Brothers. Pianist Steven Kolacny and his brother, Stijn, who is the conductor of the choir, join us in our New York studios.

Welcome to our program.

Mr. STEVEN KOLACNY (Pianist, Scala & Kolacny Brothers): Hi.

Mr. STIJN KOLACNY (Conductor, Scala & Kolacny Brothers): Hello.

WERTHEIMER: Now, the thing that puts you on the map recently in the United States was the song "Creep" in the trailer to the movie "Social Network."

(Soundbite of movie, "Social Network"

Mr. JESSE EISENBERG (Actor): (as Mark Zuckerberg) I need to do something substantial in order to get the attention of the clubs.

Ms. Rooney Mara (Actor): (as Erica Albright) Why?

Mr. EISENBERG: (as Mark Zuckerberg) Because they're exclusive and fun and may lead to a better life.

(Soundbite of song, "Creep")

SCALA & KOLACNY BROTHERS (Singing Group): (Singing) And I'm a creep...

WERTHEIMER: Now, we're going to play just a little scrap of the original Radiohead song here.

(Soundbite of song, "Creep")

RADIOHEAD (Rock Band): (Singing) I want to have control. I want a perfect body. I want a perfect soul...

WERTHEIMER: That was a very slow moving song with rather ugly, kind of almost crude sounding lyrics. And you transform that. Let's listen to a little bit of what you did.

SCALA & KOLACNY BROTHERS: (Singing) I want to have control. I want a perfect body. I want a perfect soul...

WERTHEIMER: When you cover rock songs, do you work from the lyrics first, to get that sort of curious thing of the sweet voices and the stronger words?

Mr. STEVEN KOLACNY: No, it's not the lyrics. The most important thing for me is like the mood and the whole song.

WERTHEIMER: This is Steven, right.

Mr. STEVEN KOLACNY: Yeah, it's Steven. Yeah. But we tried to find another mood, another feeling, you know, something completely different.

SCALA & KOLACNY BROTHERS: (Singing) But I'm a creep. I'm a weirdo...

Mr. STEVEN KOLACNY: Nobody expects it, the female voices singing I'm a creep. I'm a weirdo.

WERTHEIMER: So you're looking for the song then do you think where you can do something that will really contrast with the song you're...

Mr. STEVEN KOLACNY: Yes, indeed. Because, you know, if you go to the more popular songs, like Madonna or Michael Jackson, I don't think that will work for Scala. Or I'm quite sure it won't work. But if you go to the Metallica, Muse, Radiohead, maybe even like the more alternative rock sounds Marilyn Manson, that works very well because, first of all, it sounds completely different. And second of all, nobody expects that a girl's choir, you know, is, you know, covering songs like that.

WERTHEIMER: Steven, this was once a classical choir and you were the one who decided to make the change and to become a rock choir. Why?

Mr. STEVEN KOLACNY: I have a feeling that we should at least try to do or find something new. My question was: How is it possible that a choir in these days is not able to sing rock music? And the answer was very easy: There are no scores and that's it. You need just somebody making the right scores of the right songs for the right choir.

(Soundbite of song, "Ironic")

SCALA & KOLACNY BROTHERS: (Singing) It's like rain on your wedding day. It's a free ride when you've already paid. It's the good advice...

Mr. STIJN KOLACNY: Concerning the sound of Scala - it's Stijn now speaking.


Mr. STIJN KOLACNY: We wrote really for years on that particular sound. There is, for instance, less the vibrato in it. It's a bit technical but we emphasis on the lyrics and meaning of words. And it almost sounds like one solo voice, you know. There are 30 of them onstage but we really want them to sound like one unique voice.

(Soundbite of a song, "With or Without You")

SCALA & KOLACNY BROTHERS: (Singing) And you give yourself away. And you give yourself away. And you give, you give and you give yourself away...

WERTHEIMER: There are some original songs as well on the new album. One that sort of stood out for us was "Seashell." Now, this is one that you all wrote so this is not a cover. This is an original song.

Mr. STIJN KOLACNY: This is an original song written by myself, yes.


(Soundbite of music)

WERTHEIMER: It's an organ, isn't it?

Mr. STIJN KOLACNY: It's not a real organ playing. It's like an organ sound we used.

WERTHEIMER: And a drum kit.

Mr. STIJN KOLACNY: Yeah, and a drum kit.

(Soundbite of song, "Seashell")

SCALA & KOLACNY BROTHERS: (Singing) Take my hand and come walk with me down towards the enchanting sea. I'll run laughing across the sand. You'll just smile 'cause you understand...

WERTHEIMER: You know, the sort of jumpy rhythm of that song, "Seashell," you know what that reminded me of very powerfully, is a hugely popular European group, Abba.

Mr. STIJN KOLACNY: Oh, that's a compliment and I really hope that song will have the same success.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. STIJN KOLACNY: Yeah, but it's true. I know what you mean. We tried to find that kind of poppy thing now that you can easily play on the radio station.

WERTHEIMER: I wondered if there isn't a problem of your music being too sort of gentle and lovely and not hard-hitting enough?

Mr. STIJN KOLACNY: Well, this is Stijn speaking. Let me answer. I think that nowadays and this may sound a bit negative. But I think there is misery enough in the world. You know? And our job is to entertain people. And when people come to a show and listen to Scala, it's great that they are moved or that they smile and they step out of a venue and are happy. Maybe only for a moment, but then we did our job.

(Soundbite of piano music)

WERTHEIMER: Steven and Stijn Kolacny are members of a Belgian group called Scala & Kolacny Brothers.

Thank you so much.

Mr. STEVEN KOLACNY: You're welcome.

Mr. STIJN KOLACNY: You're welcome.

SCALA & KOLACNY BROTHERS: (Singing) All these words I don't just say...

WERTHEIMER: This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Linda Wertheimer.


And I'm Renee Montagne.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.