Garage: legendary Czech underground band

Garage & Tony Ducháček, photo: Ben Skála, CC BY 3.0

Garage is a raw and energetic style of rock and roll that flourished in the mid-1960s, most notably in the United States and Canada. Here in the Czech Republic, its most famous representative is the band Garáž.

The band, which was to become one of the icons of the country’s New Wave music scene, was established in 1979 on the outskirts of Prague. It was inspired by traditional rock and roll, but it always inclined towards dance style music.

That’s why they always insisted that people don’t sit during their concerts, which was still something unthinkable in early 1980s Czechoslovakia. At one point, Garage tried to incorporate Latin-American rhythms and funk into their music, but they soon returned to big beat based on guitar riffs and winds.

Photo: Panton

In 1982, some of the founding members left the band because they were called to do their compulsory military service. It was at that point that Tony Ducháček joined the band, marking a significant turning point. His slightly monotonous expression combined with original lyrics gave the band its unique sound and appearance.

In 1983, an article published by the ideological weekly Tribune triggered a wave of repressions, targeting underground bands. Many of them, including Jasná Páka, were banned.

Garage, which wasn’t performing at the time, managed to avoid a complete ban. At the same time, it was only allowed to appear at certain venues and wasn’t allowed to record albums.

Bass player Mejla Hlavsa, who authored a large part of the band’s repertoire, was only allowed to play behind a screen. It was only a year before the Velvet Revolution that the Communist regime allowed him to perform in public.

Garáž officially released its first album after 1989. The band had its heyday in the years following the fall of the Communist regime, when it performed at major Czech festivals as well as abroad. In 1993, they appeared as a support for the Prague concert of Iggy Pop.

One of the legends of Czech underground music, the band continues to perform to this day. After the departure of one of its founders, Ivo Pospíšil, it changed its name to Garage & Tony Ducháček.