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Thompson (band)

Thompson (band)

Thompson is a Croatian rock band led by frontman musician Marko Perković, who is often identified with the band itself being his stage name. Perković is also the songwriter and lead vocalist, accompanied by the remaining lineup of Tiho Orlić (bass guitarist and supporting vocalist), Damir "Kex" Lipošek, Fedor Boić, Damir Šomen and Tomislav Mandarić. Their name originates from the Thompson sub-machine gun, a nickname given to Perković during his time in the war. Although predominantly formed in Čavoglave, Thompson is currently based within the nation's capital, Zagreb.

The band's prominence derived from the early years of the Croatian war of Independence in 1991, when they released their first mantra known as Bojna Čavoglave, a melody which proclaims the Croatian resistance from Yugoslavia and was included in the Rock za Hrvatsku anthology. It was during this era that Thompson became initially established within Croatia, releasing their first album Moli Mala in 1992. Although their alacrity was later lessened, the band regained their distinction with the admired hit Prijatelji in 1998. The parliamentary elections in 2000 based further distinct releases during this time as Thompson gained heavy political attention. The band continued to perform their hits until they were faced with a regulatory condition which prohibits nationalistic performances connected to the war.

In 2002, Thompson held their first major tour, E, Moj Narode, which continued sporadically until 2005. Marked with international concerts at Sydney's Entertainment Centre and Melbourne's Vodafone Arena in May 2005, the album was declared a Diamond Record with more than 60,000 copies sold. Touring continued in 2006 with Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj, again plying internationally with concerts in Germany, Sweden, Australia and the United States.

Thompson also features annually at the Homeland Victory celebrations in their hometown of Čavoglave. These performances have sustained volatile crowds ranging from 60,000 to a record-breaking 100,000 spectators and are jointed with appearances from Mate Bulić, Dražen Zečić, Ivan Mikulić and Baruni.

The band has been heavily sanctioned for their prejudiced lyrics. Amongst the protests from numerous Jewish organisations, they have grounded bans from the Netherlands due to suspected fascism within their music. They have also drawn accusations of Neo-Nazism, with their performances being constantly protested. However, Perkovic has promoted an opposing point of view, saying in a 2007 interview: "Wear the insignia of the victorious Croatian Army. It is sad that young people return so far in history and fall for propaganda."

History

Marko Perković, the founder of the group, was born 27 October 1966 in the village of Čavoglave in the rural Dalmatian hinterland of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The band, however, first gained prominence in 1991 at the beginning of the Yugoslav wars, more specifically the Croatian War of Independence, with the song "Bojna Čavoglave" (Čavoglave battalion). Perković performed the song under the pseudonym Thompson. The song starts with "Za dom - Spremni!", a phrase which dates back to the 19th century Croatian Ban Josip Jelačić, but the modern meaning of which was redefined by its usage as a Ustaše salute during World War II. From there, the song mostly deals with a call to Croatian armed forces to repel the Chetniks, advocates of greater Serbia ideology to stops their etnic cleansing crimes and to track down they and their accomplices also in Serbia. It was seen as fueling the morale of Croatian fighters and was very popular at the time. It appeared on the compilation of Croatian war songs Rock za Hrvatsku (Rock for Croatia).

In 1992 Thompson published his first album Moli mala. By this time he had left the Croatian Army but he returned to military service for a short time in 1995 to participate in Operation Storm. As time passed Perković lost his early popularity and through the 1990s he remained relatively less popular. He did release some minor hits such as Zmija me za srce ugrizla (trans. "Snake bit my heart") and Grkinjo, znaj, svemu je kraj (trans. "Greek woman, know that we're through"), but repeated his popularity after the hit Prijatelji in 1998.

After the parliamentary elections in 2000, a center-left government was formed, led by the president of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) Ivica Račan, last secretary-general of the League of Communists of Croatia and a prominent leader in Croatia's push for independence. This sparked angry reactions among Croatian nationalists and Thompson once again gained popularity. During his concerts he often made obscene remarks on the Croatian Prime Minister at the time, Ivica Račan, and the President of the Republic, Stipe Mesić.

Many of Thompson's songs (such as "Bojna Čavoglave", "Lijepa Li Si", "Vjetre s Dinare") have become major hits in Croatia, and are played at football games and other large events. The band has won the Croatian music competitions Melodije Mostara (in 2001) and the Croatian Radio Festival (in 2006), and has performed annually on Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day, with all benefits going to families of Croatian soldiers.

On one occasion, he performed the song Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara (not after 2003) that recalls the times of when Croatia was a fascist country and where Serbs, Jews and Romas were exterminated in Jasenovac concentration camp. This song has been viewed as vehemently anti-Serb and as a promotion of Croatian chauvinism in this modern day and age.

E, Moj Narode tour

After the release of E, Moj Narode in 2002, Thompson began touring to promote the album. The height of his tour was a "magnificent" concert at the Poljud football stadium in Split. The concert was attended by 40,000 spectators. During the song Lijepa li si, Miroslav Škoro, Alen Vitasović, Mate Bulić, Giuliano and Mladen Grdović joined him on stage. At the concert Perković again repeated that his songs mark three loves: God, homeland and family.

The concert sparked many controversies at the time. Two seats in the audience were reserved for general Mirko Norac (convicted war criminal, at the time on trial) and general Ante Gotovina (as of 2007 in custody of ICTY, at the time fugitive from ICTY). At the beginning of the concert, just few moments before Perković stepped on the stage, the audience sang the Ustaše song "Evo zore, evo dana".

In 2003, Thompson released a best-of CD. Also, in 2004 the band's vocalist and bassist Tiho Orlić released a solo album Tiho which contained a couple of Thompson songs, and which Marko Perković also collaborated in.

This tour continued sporadically into 2005. Internationally, he played at Sydney's Entertainment Centre and Melbourne's Vodafone Arena in May 2005. By the end of the tour, the album was declared a Diamond Record after more than 60,000 copies were sold.

In June 2006, Marko Perković participated in a celebrity football match held in Maksimir in support of children and families affected by malignant disease. Perković was not played by former Croatia international manager Miroslav Blažević, due to an injury.

Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj tour

Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj was released in December of 2006. Despite the late release, it became the second-highest selling Croatian album of the year. Soon after, Thompson announced an initial tour of Croatia and select European cities beginning after the Lenten season through to the summer, and culminating with a performance at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb. The tour began in Vukovar in the Borovo Naselje neighborhood where approximately 4000 fans came out to watch the group perform.

The tour continued to Đakovo before going to Frankfurt, Germany's Ballsporthalle where he performed for a crowd of approximately 15,000. In adjacent hall Bob Dylan performed with an audience of about 2,000 people. When he heard that Thompson had an audience of 15,000 people he asked to be taken to the concert. After that he said that he liked the music. By June, the album had sold 100,000 copies - very high by Croatian standards.

The first tour leg in Croatia ended in biggest concert on Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb. He performed in front of 60 000 spectators. Concert was broadcast live on Croatian Public Television. As part of the second leg, Thompson performed at Split's Stari plac in front of 25,000. The show was recorded for a live CD release.

After the Kornati firefighter tragedy of the summer of 2007, Thompson participated in the recording of a memorial song Ovo nije kraj (This is not the end), as well as a charity football match at Poljud.

He had two shows scheduled in November 2007 for New York City, which provoked protests from several Jewish groups. These lobby groups called on the Archdiocese of New York to stop the show, but this failed as the diocese found no evidence that the group promotes Nazism. A Washington Post reporter who attended one of the concerts was also not convinced of the alleged Neo-Nazi link. Thompson's concert in the Toronto area attracted 5000 people to the Croatian centre where it was held, after the original venue of 2500 capacity, Kool Haus, cancelled. The rest of the tour continued as planned.

Thompson returned to Croatia in November 2007, and continued with shows in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Mostar, Tomislavgrad, Novi Travnik, Široki Brijeg and Čapljina. His last show in Croatia before heading to Australia was Cibonas annual Christmas benefit show at Dražen Petrović Basketball Hall with proceeds going to the Zagreb Cathedral. The tour in Australia included shows at Melbournes Festival Hall, Sydney's Sydney United Sports Centre on New Year's Eve, Adelaide and Perth. The B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission of Australia lobbied to prevent the band from receiving Australian visas, but this failed as government officials found that the band did not violate any Australian legislation. After several guest appearances in Croatia, the rapper Shorty was confirmed to be joining Thompson for the Australian leg of tour which collectively drew in 22,000 fans at four shows.

In the new year the tour continued with shows in Rijeka, Krapina and Čakovec before pausing for the group's usual Lenten break. After the break the group had shows in Zadar's Jazine Arena and in Gothenburg, Sweden. A show in Nova Gradiška had all proceeds go to the building of a local Catholic church. After Nova Gradiška the band proceeded with shows in Varaždin, Karlovac and Županja. Local authorities threatened to block the band's May 21 concert in Stuttgart. However, they backed down after the concert's German Croat backers threatened legal action against the city and translated twenty of the band's songs into German for the authorities' benefit. Thompson was asked by Croatian veteran groups to perform at the Defender's Day celebrations on Zagreb's Ban Jelačić Square, the concert being free of charge. An estimated 55-60,000 people attended the concert by the official police estimates , some figures place it to 100 000 people attending the concert. Thompson played in Kupres on July 19 at the Croatian Defenders Stadium as part of the town's Saint Elijah celebrations. The band played in Livno on July 27 to end Canton 10's international Tera conference in front of a crowd of 15-20,000 people. In 2008 celebration of the Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day in Čavoglave, Thompson drew a crowd between 60,000 and 100,000. Guests included musicians Mate Bulić and Dražen Zečić, former Croatian international footballers Ardian Kozniku and Ivica Mornar and international basketball player Dino Rađa. Thompson played in Neum on August 29 in front of 5,000 spectators with profits going to the building of a new church in the town.

Lyrics and themes

Thompson's songs are often marked with Christian and historic themes, and often include folklore elements.

His own claim to sing about three big loves: God, Family and homeland, are not simply a self-defence statement, or a political manifesto: a lot of his most successful (and most appreciates by critics) songs deal about religion: Radost s Visina (Joy from Above), Neću izdat ja (I will not betray/give up), Dan dolazi (The day is coming), Početak (In Principium); or his own family and birthplace: Vjetar s Dinare (Winds from Dinara, Sine Moj (Oh, my Son), Moj Dida i Ja (My Granfather and I).

Thompson, along with fra Šito Ćorić and Miroslav Škoro, performed the official anthem of the Croatian World Games. Thompson also composed the anthem of the Croatian Party of Rights. Thompson's Lijepa Li Si was recorded with Miroslav Škoro, Mate Bulić, Giulliano, Mladen Grdović and Alen Vitasović. Other projects have included Ljuta guja with Jasmin Stavros, and Reci brate moj with Miroslav Škoro.

As time goes by, that contacts lead to the forming of a more-defined group of singers and performers, first know as the Tri kuma (the three Godfathers): M.P. Thompson himself, Miroslav Škoro and Mate Bulić who were the Godfathers of his first-born Šimun Petar , and now popularly referred as the "Narodni" (Nationals or better Patriotics). That group is not a fixed one, it's instead an (ever-growing) large and loose one, enlisting a great number of famous croatian performers of different musical tendences (from folk to rock to rap ), the patriotic and rightist political tendences and the opposition to cosmopolitan, globalized Mtv-style music, seemingly being the only pre-requisite needed.

That group , thanks to the great popularity of its associates, the media it controls or influences (the very popular Narodni radio, the Croatian Music Channels, and expecially the largest croatian label Croatia records, whose director is Škoro itself) , got great influence in contemporary croatian popolar music and ultimately seems to have achieved its main cultural goal, winning over the opposite "urbanized" easy-listening tendences also in the younger parts of the audience.

Marko Perković has said that he is personally a fan of Nightwish, Iron Maiden, AC/DC and Dream Theater among others. Thompson recorded similar hard-rock as these bands for the first time on album Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj, considered by some to be a rock opera. A Washington Post writer described the New York stop on the Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj tour as sounding "like Iron Maiden doing Eastern European folk".

Thompson's music and football

Thompson's hit song Lijepa li si (meaning "How beautiful you are" and referring to Croatia) is traditionally played after to and at halftime at all matches of the Croatian national football team at Maksimir stadium. The tradition came from fact that Lijepa li si, was widely recognised by croatian audience like a true twenty-one century re-enacting of Lijepa naša domovino (Oh, Our beautiful little homeland), the croatian anthem.

A controversy resulted in 2007 when during a match against Israel, the song was not played. After the match Croatian players Josip Šimunić and Darijo Srna voiced their concerns about the song not being played. Former Croatian international and longtime member of the Israeli league Giovanni Rosso went on to say that the song did not bother anyone at the Israel Football Association. Later, Croatian manager Slaven Bilić also came to Thompson's defence. The controversy was apparently put to rest when the national team began singing the song themselves along with the Croatian fans after their 3-2 win over England at Wembley Stadium.

Controversy

Thompson became popular with their 1991 hit song "Bojna Čavoglave", which was released during the Croatian War of Independence.The song depicts a battle involving a battalion of Croat soldiers from Čavoglave, a village in the Dalmatian rural hinterland (and the birthplace of Marko Perković). The song includes the "Za dom - Spremni!" slogan which was used by the Ustaše in World War II. The term did not originate as a Ustaše slogan. It dates back to the 19th century when it was used as a salute to Josip Jelačić, ban of Croatia. In its initial form, the salute was: Za dom! - Spremni umrijeti!, transl. For the homeland! - Ready to die!. This is little known outside Croatia and its modern meaning is seen as that of an NDH slogan much like the Nazi salute which dates back to the Middle Ages. The song was seen as boosting the morale of the Croatian armed forces. It was later modified by Bosniaks and re-recorded as a song about the Bosnian Serb Siege of Sarajevo.

Their song Anica - Kninska Kraljica from 1993 includes the lyrics:

Zbog Anice i bokala vina, zapalit ću Krajinu do Knina
Zapalit ću dva, tri srpska štaba, da ja nisam dolazio džaba
Which roughly means:
Because of Anica and a jug of wine, I'll set fire to Krajina all the way up to Knin
I'll set fire to two or three Serb headquarters, for my trip not to be in vain.

This is seen by Serbs a blatant call for violence against Serb civilians. As the Croatian Army was at war with the so-called Republic of Serb Krajina, it's more of a call to arms against the rebellious territory and it armed forces and paramilitaries. The band used hate speech in songs created at the time of the war against the Serbs.

In 2003, a 2001 a supposed recording of Perković performing a modified version of the song Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara was made public by journalist Matija Babić.

The lyrics included:

Jasenovac i Gradiška Stara, to je kuća Maksovih mesara
U Čapljini klaonica bila, puno Srba Neretva nosila
Sjajna zvijezdo iznad Metkovića, pozdravi nam Antu Pavelića

Which roughly translates to:

Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška, that's the house of Maks' butchers
There was a slaughterhouse in Čapljina, and Neretva (river) carried away many Serbs
Shining star above Metković, send our greetings to Ante Pavelić

Other than those WWII-related remarks in the original, the song was also to include the lyrics: Račane, jeba ti pas mater, i onome tko glasa za te (which roughly translates to "Račan, may a dog fuck your mother, and the mothers of those which voted for you") and Gospe sinjska, ako si u stanju, uzmi Stipu a vrati nam Franju ("Our Lady of Sinj, if you're able, take Stipe and bring back Franjo"), statements related to the then-current political leaders of Croatia. Despite the alleged performance, Thompson has not recorded any music with any anti-semitic or Ustashe messages.

Perković has on numerous occasions expressed sympathies to the Ustaša movement (a WW2 fascist organisation), which ruled the Axis controlled Independent State of Croatia from 1941 to 1945.

In 2004, the band was barred from having a concert in Amsterdam, Netherlands. In response, Perković said, "I have nothing against the Jews, but neither did Jesus Christ, yet still they crucified Him". This statement caused an outcry in the Croatian media.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center posted a letter to Croatian President Stipe Mesić in June 2007 and expressed "its sense of outrage and disgust in the wake of a massive show of fascist salutes, symbols and uniforms at a rock concert by popular ultra-nationalist Croatian singer "Thompson" attended by 60,000 people in Zagreb." Some Jewish groups have been known to mislead the public about the band's lyrics, such as B'nai Brith Anti-Defamation Commission executive officer Manny Waks who claimed that Perković sang "My father was an Ustasha, and so am I" despite not having any songs even remotely similar to this.

Two weeks after the concert in Zagreb on 17.6.2007, Perković made this statement regarding claims of the Simon Wiesenthal Center that he is a fascist: "Me and members of my band saw nobody with Ustaša iconography among 60 and more thousand people on Maksimir."

At Thompson's Zagreb concert for the Day of Defenders, a group of youths was heard chanting "Ubi Srbina" ("Kill the Serb"), according to some Croatian media

Controversial statements

Perković has been known to publicly express controversial pro-Ustaše beliefs:

"Anyway, why shouldn't the crowd chant 'Ustaše!, Ustaše!' during my concert? This should be an example to all political structures of how the youth can be unified."
June 2002, in the Večernji list daily newspaper.

"There is nothing wrong with my voicing right-wing, Ustaše, beliefs."
July 2002, in the Jutarnji list daily newspaper.

"Serbs lie, they are that kind of a people. They can't love us, nor is that natural. They are our eternal sworn enemies."
July 2002, in the Jutarnji list daily newspaper.

"I'm glad you cherish our legacy, our songs!"
September 2002, when the crowd started chanting "Evo zore, evo dana", a famous Ustaše song, during his concert on the Poljud stadium in Split, Croatia.

"Displaying Ustaše symbols in public should not be illegal."
January 2004, in the Jutarnji list daily newspaper.

"I don't mind Ustaše symbols. Why should I?"
August 2005, in the Globus weekly newsmagazine.

Perković's response to accusations

Perković has stated that he is not Ustaše or fascist, but a patriot. He publicly stated on that he means no harm to any other nation, religion or people of different ideology. Despite this, he has publicly voiced his support for the NDH a number of times. His credibility in these statements is diminished not only by this fact but also by the legal necessity to denounce any fascist movement in order to avoid further banning (or other legal action). The Croatian Helsinki Committee has come out against any potential bans, with its president, Ivo Banac, referring to such calls from Stipe Mesić and Damir Kajin as a "weakening of the democratic order".

At his concert in Vukovar on 13 April 2007 he stated: I can't command anybody what to wear at my concert, and I have never encouraged anybody to wear a cap or shirt with letter "U". My message to all of them (and that I would say this evening too, if I saw [anything like that]): "Wear the insignia of the victorious Croatian army from Croatian War of Independence". It is sad that young people return so far in history and fall for propaganda.

Perković's last tour, Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj, was protested by various Jewish organisations. Held in Frankfurt, Germany, the organizations vehemently requested that the German government ban the concert because of its alleged fascist lyrics. When the German government received the transcript of Thompson's songs, the request to ban the concert was immediately rejected.

At the 17 June 2007 concert at Maksimir Stadium, Zagreb, Perković once more stated that he is not a fascist. An English translation of his statement follows:

The audience, in a sign of approval, shouted a medieval Croatian battle-cry (mostly known from Ivan Zajc's opera Nikola Šubić Zrinski and today used mostly to boost morale at soccer matches), "U boj, u boj - za narod svoj!". English translation, "To battle, to battle - for our people!".

In anticipation of the New Year's Eve tour in Australia and New Zealand, Marko released an interview with the local Croatian community magazine "Hrvatski Vijesnik, a translation of which was also published in the "New Generation" English language supplement In it, he clearly stated that he and also the great majority of Croats don't have any negative feeling towards the Jewish people or religion; also after the recent controversy with the Jewish human rights association, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, he also expressed a sympathy to the Israeli state, saying:

After the concert in Ban Jelacic square, controversy became, if possible, much more heated than before; his planned concert in Switzerland and Austria was banned, for alleged "security" reason, a similar effort against a concert in Stuttgart was rebuked by the local Croatian community, menacing legal actions.

The most discussed one was however the first ever banning (or better cancellation) of one of his concerts in Croatia, in the Istrian town of Umag

Band members

The only permanent member of the band is Marko Perković and he is often identified with the band.

Band line-up on the Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj tour is:

  • Fedor Boić
  • Damir Lipošek Kex
  • Tomislav Mandarić
  • Tiho Orlić
  • Marko Perković
  • Damir Šomen

It have to be noted, that, given the relevance that the album got in Marko's projects, they are some of the best performers of Rock music in the Croatian music scene, expecially the former Prljavo Kazaliste members Damir Lipošek "Kex" (guitar) and Fedor Boić (Synthesizer), along with the long time Thompson members Tiho Orlić(bass and back vocal) and "Kralj"Tomislav Mandarić (guitar). That also reflect in the band's live performances, with a great space given to Solo plays.

Discography

Studio albums

Title Release date Label
Moli mala 1992 Croatia Records
Vrijeme škorpiona 1995 Croatia Records
Geni kameni 1996 Croatia Records
Vjetar s Dinare 1998 Croatia Records
E, moj narode 2002 Croatia Records
Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj December 2006 Croatia Records

Compilation albums

Title Release date Label
Sve najbolje 2003 Croatia Records

Concert albums

Title Release date Label
Bilo Jednom u Hrvatskoj: Split - Stari plac 2007 Croatia Records

Concert videos

Title Release date Label
Turneja: E, moj narode 2004 Croatia Records
Turneja: Bilo jednom u Hrvatskoj Maksimir 2007 Croatia Records

By Tiho Orlić

Title Release date Label
Tiho 2004 Croatia Records

Festival appearances

In Croatian music, festivals play a large role, with new songs frequently being released for a festival and the best song being declared winner. Thompson has appeared at the following festivals:

Footnotes

External links

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