Posts Tagged ‘st. petersburg’

A bit of self-promotion…

January 27, 2010

Can’t be bothered with a proper update, so just a self-congratulating quickie.

Cover by Sean Fitzpatrick.

Yes, there's a Medvedev somehwere.

One, yours truly has been interviewed by Danny O’Rawe in his zine Back2Front #5 which can be ordered at back2fron (a//e) I mostly mumble about politics and punk rock. It’s a great read although I haven’t yet finished reading it (gives you an idea of how bloody huge it is).

Also, a song by SVINOKOP (“Nikakogo Pozitiva,” a.k.a. “Only Hatred,” if you care to know) was used in a fairly random YouTube video documenting a protest in East Jerusalem.

If you google hard enough and will be able to stand some atrocious playing and immense amounts of blabbering about fascism in Russian you can see a live video of the same song which we played at the first gig with our new drummer. It’s quite raw but we intend to jam some more and put it out as a single. I kid you not.


Grigoriy Sologub died.

February 27, 2009

The legendary St. Petersburg musician Grigoriy Grigoriyevich (Grikha) Sologub died in a local clinic on February 27, 2009 from heart failure. Born on July 19, 1961 in Leningrad, he was one of the pioneers of the new wave / punk movement in the city. He started out playing guitar, accordion and singing in ska / new wave band STRANNIYE IGRY (“Strange Games”) in which he joined his older brother Viktor in 1981 after a stint in hard rock band TEKH. POMOSHCH. They mostly used translations of French modernist poetry and chansons for lyrics (Brel, Brassens, Tzara, etc.) and combined them with inventive music that was devoid of cliches, innovative (for the Soviet scene of the era anyway) and alternately funny and sad, or bittersweet. They recorded two underground tape albums; “Metamorfozy” was issued on cassette in 1996 by Manchester Files, while their second, “Smotri V Oba” from 1986, was released on LP by Melodiya in 1988, one of the first Leningrad rock releases. Songs from both were also featured on “Red Wave” compilation 2LP. The band split up by 1986. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s STRANNIYE IGRY occasionally played reunion gigs – the most recent ones I can think of were in the Autumn of 2008. Local label Bomba-Piter works on a 3 CD set featuring STRANNIYE IGRY both studio albums and a live set from 1984. In early 1986 the Sologub brothers formed IGRY (“Games”). They were more guitar-orientated and heavier-sounding, more post-punk in approach. They toured internationally, recorded two albums in 1989 (one of which, “Krik V Zhizni,” was given a CD release in 1994 by Kontras) and mostly ceased activity in the 1990s. Both Viktor and Grigoriy Sologub played together in DOLPHINS which was one of the first hardcore bands in the city and existed between 1993 and 1995 (they released a self-titled tape on Kontras in 1996). Grigoriy also played in bands on his own. In 1992 he joined Alexandr “Alex Ogolteliy” Strogachov in ISRAIL who recorded an album which was issued on CD in 1998 – under the name NARODNOYE OPOLCHENIYE, because after a bit Strogachov gave the project the name of his most famous punk band. In 1994 Sologub joined MASHNINBAND, punk / alternative rock band with whom he recorded “Trezviye-Zliye” in 1995 (CD release in 2006 on Manchester Files) and then quit. He played in jazzcore band BONDZINSKIY for a short while – they had one song with ska bits and Sologub played it brilliantly, telling his bandmates that “no one plays ska in this city better than I do.” The alliance didn’t work out, and Sologub went to Canada to try and sober up through Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1997 he returned to musical activity becoming the new frontman of ska / pop band 2VA SAMALIOTA. That was probably one of the few projects that he was involved with which did release anything while he was actively involved (“Don Pedro, Gomez & Mamochka” CD on Zvezda Records). He was punk as fuck, a total nihilist, academically trained musician, and a true backbone of the local scene. It’s a pity that he lacked recognition in his lifetime. He always played in some of the best and most intense local outfits, and his music has been important for me throughout my life.

WE BLEED CHARISMA – Minimum Rock ‘N’ Roll demo.

January 17, 2009

St. Petersburg’s WE BLEED CHARISMA had an extremely short career cca. 2005. To my knowledge, they only ever played one gig, at Deep Sound Club at that, with GOODOK and KYSHTYM-23, a KING-KONGS side project. That was for a reason, only one of the members is a native of this fine city – singer Pavel Sasin (‘TIL I DIE, DOTTIE DANGER) aka DJ Pablo Diablo. Kostya Severniy the drummer was originally from Severodvinsk where he fronted pop punk band VYSHKA. He later drummed in CUT’N’RUN and is now in WIDOWLAND, as well as playing as a solo act which I personally find rather distasteful. French guitarist Seb is a member of SLEEP TALKER and CALL ME LORETTA. I dunno where the seppo sheila (the term used ironically) Naomi who was a keyboardist played before or after WBC, can anyone clue me in? They recorded nine songs, of which only a couple were properly mixed (and consequently released on a bunch of compilations in Russia and France). No cover, no nothing, can’t even find a band photo. It is still good. The degree to which English was mastered by this lot (who didn’t sing in Russian) is obvious from the name. Uploaded by Kostya.

MESSER CHUPS don’t fail to amaze…

December 14, 2008



I went to a MESSER CHUPS gig last night, and was much amuzed. They’re one of my favourite local bands as far as recordings go but I wasn’t sure what the live version would be like. The tour videos that one of their CDs included were kind of, whatever, two blokes and a Bettie Page lookalike playing surf music with a video screen behind them projecting horror B-movie excerpts. But, well, the lookalike in question is named Zombie Girl. The playing – that of guitarist / bandleader Oleg Gitarkin (also in NOZH DLYA FRAU MUELLER), anyway – was extraordinary, huge sound, amazing technique. Their new drummer is Alexander Belkov of CHIKISS. Finally, there was one extra bloke on stage that night – Alexander Skvortsov (DURNOYE VLIYANIYE) did a few songs now and then. They were all in rather scary-sounding English. I take it he’s gonna be on the band’s next album but I dunno when that would materialise. They’ve got the whole greaser aesthetic down.
Oh, and speaking of Bettie Page, MESSER CHUPS’ cover of “The Model” by KRAFTWERK was dedicated to her memory.

Official website

Eduard Nesterenko died.

November 17, 2008

Eduard Nesterenko, 2002, photo by Sveta Belikova
The world seems to have an unlimited supply of bad news sometimes.
Eduard Nesterenko had died after a long illness on October 31st, 2008, at Mariinskaya Hospital in St. Petersburg. He started out as a singer / guitarist in new wave band Kofe in 1984. In December 1987 three of its ex-members formed a new post punk band, PETLYA NESTEROVA, which was Nesterenko’s best-known project. Their debut album, “Kto Zdes?”, featuring members of IGRY and KINO, is recommended most highly. He also played in Durnoye Vliyaniye for a year or so. While he wasn’t as active musically in the nineties and noughties, he kept a version of PETLYA NESTEROVA going and sometimes moonlighted with other bands, e.g. dub band SAMOSAD BEND features him on 2007’s Digun 2CD.
Nesterenko was buried on November 3 in St. Petersburg.

CHIKISS – press release.

February 22, 2008

Well, since I’ve translated the following press release for my pal Galya Chikiss’ solo project (and even got paid with a shot of Perra Mexicana), I might as well put it here:

Chikiss has formed in the Summer of 2005 in a quiet resort town of Primorsk. It’s near the Finnish border, on the coast of Gulf of Finland. Against the background of beautiful nature two Sashas – band’s guitarist and drummer – have for ten years been recording their sound waves. The band has taken a certain shape in St. Petersburg at the home studio of keyboard player and singer Galya Chikiss who had first appeared in Primorsk in January 2005 to meet some like-minded people. Thus a new period in the life of all three has started. First they jammed at a historical early 20th century Lutheran church right on the Gulf’s shore; the rehearsal studio was right under the spire. Then they moved to St. Petersburg. The joint creative process has led to the creation of Chikiss band and provided a lot of fresh ideas to the legendary Primorsk-based experimental band 188910 (named after the town’s postcode) with which it shares members. Chikiss is a colourful, beautiful and lively phenomenon in the Russian music scene. Not quite standard yet rather minimal lineup (voice, keyboards, rhythm section, guitar, reverberators), electronically specific sound of live instruments; varied scope of sounds – noise and ambient sketches alternate with dance rhythms and soul-warming outer space love lyrics. In Galya Chikiss’ songs everyone can find something, concrete or abstract, catch a moment, a feeling – a high, a loneliness, a crush, an angst; joyful euphoria and universal sadness. In the two years of existence the band has made a fair deal of progress. Chikiss took part in the St. Petersburg festivals Plug&Play, Izolenta, Zhivaya Elektronika, Sisto Party, SKIF, as well as Kazantip and Space Of Joy festivals in Crimea, Ukraine. They’ve played in all the leading St. Petersburg clubs and at friends’ parties regardless of the musical theme as they could fit pretty much anywhere. Currently the band features three people: Galya Chikiss (lead vocals, keyboards, music and lyrics), Alexander Belkov (rhythm section, reverberator, backing vocals) and Alexander Dubrovin (guitar, reverberator, backing vocals). All three of them harmonically combine in Chikiss and interact musically as a single organism.

CHIKISS “Untitled Vitamin” net release

DISTRESS interview for Peruvian zine Holocausto.

February 2, 2008

DISTRESS – not to be confused with similarly named bands from Yugoslavia, Germany or Italy – are a Russian d-beat band that has been around for about five years. They have heaps of releases, toured various European countries a few times, and I guess there are quite a few interviews with them in various zines. Since the following one, with their singer Alex, would be published in Spanish, I think there’s no harm in putting the English version here.

Hi ALex. Could you tell us about the beginning of crust in Russia? And about DISTRESS? Is it big the scene in Russia?
Hello! D-beat / crust scene is new to Russia. At the moment it’s very small, and most of this scene is young people between 16 and 18 years of age. Like every new thing, it’s interesting for them. All of this activity, music. But I don’t think it’s serious for them, that it’s their culture and lifestyle. At the moment it seems to me that there is a big interest in music, in the look (dreads, patches, shirts), that is, there is a certain fashion that appeared now, and the messages that the bands or activists within the scene want to get through to them aren’t noticed by many. Perhaps such a situation exists elsewhere too. We travel a lot, we communicate a lot, but somehow this situation is more obvious for me in Russia. When we started with DISTRESS in 2003 there was no scene whatsoever. I guess at the time few people were interested in that part of the scene. And I think that was exactly the reason why the band didn’t have a permanent lineup for a long time. We played with a lot of session musicians, also with musicians from other punk and hardcore bands, tried to tour and record, but no one stayed in the band for a long time. For many people who played in DISTRESS it remained a strange culture, and the way the band was going wasn’t for them. At the moment I’m the only original member. Frequent lineup changes didn’t give much of a chance to be more active but we always tried to do something. Last year before a European tour our lineup had changed again, and after the tour one of the guitar players quit the band. Now there’s four of us, but we’re still active. And if we’d return to your question regarding the scene in Russia, I think that we can seriously talk about a crust scene here in say five years, when it would overgrow this upsurge in so-called popularity that it experiences now and when only the people who are actually concerned with problems of our sick society (wars, environment, animal and human rights) will stay in it. We shall see, the scene develops and I’m very interested in seeing what will be there in a few years.
When I listened to DISTRESS for the first time I thought it was a Swedish or Finnish band. Is your purpose to sound like that?
No, that wasn’t what we were shooting for. It wasn’t any sort of “commercial” step if I understoof your question correctly. We like the Scandinavian scene, and it’s our love for Swedish and early Finnish punk that has been a large influence on our sound.
Nowadays, what are your plans as a band?
It’s hard for me to discuss our plans now, but there’s a lot of them. Maybe we will try to play more gigs, go on new tours. But it’s not always possible, and a lot of things depend on a chance to get a visa for this or that country. The visa system is a big problem for us as a band. We don’t always have a chance to play gigs outside of Russia. In November 2007 we were supposed to do a minitour of Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Finland) but the consulate refused a visa to two of the band members. As a result, all of the gigs of the tour were cancelled. But still, for this year we already have planned a few gigs in Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia. We also have finished recordings for two releases. One is a split CD with WHEEL OF DHARMA from Finland and the other is a split CD with SUBURBAN SHOWDOWN from the States. I hope all of this is going to happen soon.
To keep a band, recording in an studio or making tours. Is it difficult?
I have told you a little about organising tours. Yes, it’s not always easy for us but it’s possible when you want to do it, when you really do. We’re doing it ourselves, and no one is going to make it for us. The bands are always facing some problems (tours, recordings). It takes a lot of time and energy, and not everyone is ready for this. It’s not just a Russian problem, it’s a problem for a lot of bands all over the world.
Do you know the scene in South America or here in Peru?
We have a lot of contacts all over the world but I know very little about the scene in South America. I have a few records and tapes with bands from Peru, and also a while back I was in touch with kids from Venezuela, APATIA NO. But that was a long time ago. We’re always glad to have communication and new contacts. Contact us.
What do you think about piracy, ripping records, copyright, etc.?
Copyright is shite. I can’t talk about piracy because I don’t know how this industry is developed all over the world. But I liked the form of piracy that has been developed in Russia until recently. Russia is a developing capitalist country with low living standards. Not everyone who lives here can afford a CD or DVD for 10 or 20 euros. Many people’s salary is 100 – 150 euros per month. In Russia it’s a good alternative to the large recording corporations and major labels. Ripping records isn’t for me. I like original editions, vinyl etc.
What does DISTRESS do about actual issues like animal abuse, politics, environment, etc?
We’re not taking part in the direct actions. In Russia such actions are very rare. Russia is a totalitarian police state where most of the population supports or tolerates the state policy. But we support the ideas of various autonomous organisations such as the ANTIFA movement, ALF and PETA, FNB, ABC.
Do you wanna add something to this interview for our readers?
I don’t know. There is a lot of evil and violence in the world. But there are people who do care about what happens tomorrow. Let’s think together about what each of us can personally do so that tomorrow wouldn’t be the last day of the human race. LOVE & PEACE, NOT WAR.

PTVP interview from St. Petersburg Times.

February 1, 2008

Exorcising the slave

Local punk band PTVP premiers what it says is its definitive album.

Staff Writer

Mikhail Lagotsky

Alexei Nikonov, frontman of punk band PTVP, says the band’s new album is its musical and lyrical manifesto.

Heavy on social and existential themes, PTVP’s new album, is the band’s manifesto, according to frontman Alexei Nikonov. Having mixed psychedelic rock and punk, the band, one of Russia’s best, came up with what Nikonov describes as “Jimi Hendrix playing in Joy Division.”

“I went to a concert today, and there was a guy singing how he was sick of [Russian music radio station] Nashe Radio and things like that, and I realised how petty it is,” said singer and lyricist Alexei Nikonov, whose punk band PTVP is premiering its new album, “Zerkalo” (Mirror), this weekend.

“The fact is we are witnessing a very serious situation, a historical process, and that’s what I wanted to reflect in this album. Of course, the title is not original, but after listening to the album, it will be clear what it’s about.”

PTVP, whose full name is Posledniye Tanki v Parizhe (Last Tanks in Paris), is known for its uncompromising criticism of the political and social situation in Russia, most famously on its 2001 album “Hexogen,” named after the explosives used in the terror attacks in Moscow preceding the Second Chechen War and, eventually, Vladimir Putin’s presidency.

According to Nikonov, PTVP, has finally come up with what he describes as “essentially our definitive album and our manifesto.”

“In a sense it’s a return to our roots, it’s the music we wanted to play when we were kids,” said Nikonov, who spoke to The St. Petersburg Times by phone this week.

“Now we had a chance to record this album. It’s dark, depressive music, not the short, upbeat songs that we have been playing all our lives for some reason.”

“Mirror,” the follow-up to last year’s self-produced album “Freedom of Speech,” is being released on the local alt-rock Kap-Kan label, which put out PTVP’s CD single “Usual Day” late last year. The 13-minute track is also available on the album.

“Because the CD is a dying form, we wanted to release the album — it might be our last CD album, so we wanted to have a large number of copies released,” said Nikonov.

Before settling on Kap-Kan, the band approached a number of other labels, but negotiations usually stopped when managers heard the opening track, “Million,” which, translated into English, goes:

“Good morning, Beslan / Good morning, Chechnya / Good morning to cops / Good morning, my country / My free country / A million kilometers of shit.”

“I used social topics, because the situation is amazing, it amazes me; everybody drops on their knees and cries ‘cool!’ Even if they are not endangered. Nothing threatens them, nobody seems to do anything to you, if you say ‘fuck off,’ but everybody cries ‘cool!,’ I can’t understand it. So I wanted to express my attitude to it on this album,” said Nikonov.

Nikonov said that he has been influenced by the existentialist philosophy of Nikolai Berdyayev and Lev Shestov as well as the history of Russia as a whole.

“Speaking of lyrics, I used to lower the standard a little, use some irony, like [in songs] ‘Deflower, Baby’ or ‘A Bullet for a Bourgeois,’ but I speak rather seriously here, in every song,” said Nikonov.

“This album’s lyrics could be used as poems, which I cannot say about any of our previous albums. It even scares me a little, because the album turned out to be perhaps too serious. But there could not be any other album now, because the social situation around is such that I have no desire to make a positive, entertaining album. I think it’s even inappropriate in the historical process that we’re going through now.”

Nikonov compares the promotion of First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as Putin’s “successor” to Ivan the Terrible who passed the formal power to baptized Khan Simeon Bekbulatovich, while restyling himself as “Ivan from Moscow,” to return to the throne 11 months later.

“We are present at exactly the same historical situation, only in a different guise, and I couldn’t help expressing this on the album,” he said.

Whatever official propaganda says, life in Russia has deteriorated, according to Nikonov.

“It’s a commonplace, it’s so obvious that it’s not even funny anymore,” he said.

“The hopes that Westerners had relied on in Europe didn’t come true, all in all. Churchill had his pictures taken with Stalin, despite the harshest criticism. The same happens now. Whatever regime there is in Russia, the West will never take any radical steps to help radical circles here.”

According to Nikonov, the clampdown on civil liberties and suppression of a political opposition can only lead to the emergence of radical groups, such as Narodnaya Volya, or People’s Will, responsible for the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881.

“We have come to a situation when the creation of such parties as Narodnaya Volya is inevitable. This is not a call to violence, but a lesson from history,” he said.

“The preservation of the regime that the presidential bunch undertakes is parallel to the course of Tsar Alexander III, which only gave birth to a wave of terror. What form this terror will take, be it Islamic or social, is a different question, but it’s inevitable, because, when society is squeezed out of the legal process, the political struggle intensifies.

“That’s what I wanted to speak about on the album. If ‘Hexogen’ was rather detached, on this album we have made our social position clear from the start. We’re trying to establish ourselves in this historical situation.

“We don’t answer the question ‘What is to be done?,’ we’re just trying to understand how to remain human and free under slavish circumstances. In this sense, we reject Aesopian language as the language of the slave. The opening song is manifesto-like and social, as well a couple of others. The rest are existential.

“Because the fact of the matter is not Putin, it lies much deeper. That’s what we are trying to understand on this album, that’s why we called it ‘Mirror.’ We’re trying to look into ourselves on this album. Why we have remained the same slaves we were? An attempt to exorcise the slave from ourselves is perhaps what this album is.”

The tone of the lyrics has had a profound effect on PTVP’s music, Nikonov said.

“It has even influenced the chords. If we had everything in major on all the previous albums, all the songs on this album are in minor.”

Musically, “Mirror” is a blend of punk and psychedelic rock, according to Nikonov, who said it was influenced by the band’s early heroes, such as Joy Division, The Cure, Bauhaus, The Stooges and Television.

“It is an homage to all the bands we listened to as kids. It’s very different even from our earlier albums, that all sounded different. Everybody who heard it in its early stages were a little shocked that it was us. But it is us, whatever it is.

“Our attitude to the sound has fully changed; we recorded it even more live than before, on purpose — it took us four hours. We didn’t use any overdubs; we only had a guitar, bass and drums, three instruments, a classic lineup. There’s a lot of guitar psychedelia, which is not typical for Russian punk, but we still tried to play punk — how we understand it.

“We wanted to make an album the likes of which nobody has made in Russia before; a genuinely garage album. We even recorded it in a church; we got into debt over it, but somehow we paid it off.”

PTVP recently united forces with Televizor, one of the leading bands of the 1980s perestoika rock explosion, famous for its uncompromising protest songs such as “Your Father Is a Fascist” and “Get Out of Control,” to oppose the political climate in Russia at a double-bill concert at Orlandina club in December. On stage Nikonov joined Televizor frontman Mikhail Borzykin to add vocals to “Fed Up,” the band’s 1980s anti-totalitarian anthem.

“It was a landmark concert for me, in a way, because I grew up on his songs, I immediately remembered myself, how I was listening to his ‘Fatherland of Illusions,’ when I was 15. I would have never imaged that I would be singing ‘Fed Up’ with Misha,” he said.

“I’ve always liked his stance, too, very individual — he has never danced to anybody’s flute. I would always be happy to play with him. His new songs show what [DDT’s Yury] Shevchuk and the others have lost as they were chasing after studios — he has not lost his sound judgment.”

To make the album’s release concert affordable for fans, the band that, apart from Nikonov, features guitarist Anton “Bender” Dokuchayev, bassist Yegor Nedviga and drummer Denis Krivtsov, has set the ticket price at a relatively low 200 rubles ($8). Every ticket-holder will also receive a free copy of the “Usual Day” CD single, according to Nikonov.

PTVP performs at Port at 8 p.m. on Saturday.

PARNEY – Ya Khochu Kogo Khotet Nelzya.

January 30, 2008

This three-song CD-R demo by St. Petersburg band PARNEY has been perhaps the most pleasant local discovery for me in the last few weeks. Fronted by the avid Morrissey fan Dima Darin (come to think of it, the name sounds like that of someone from the Larry Parnes stable) and featuring guitar, backing vocals and vibes by WINE’s Alexei Winer, this is, like, guitar pop with all the right influences and the typically downbeat lyrics referencing unhappy lurve, Moloko club and listening to records.

1. Ya Khochu Kogo Khotet Nelzya (I Want The One That Can’t Be Wanted)

2. Vot Razvlecheniye (That’s Entertainment – by The Jam, lyrics translated by Darin, arranged by Parney)

3. Tretiy Raz Podryad (Third Time In A Row)


Gennady Bachinsky had died.

January 12, 2008

DEPUTAT BALTIKI 1991, Gena on the right

Russian radio and TV personality Gennady Bachinsky had died in a car crash in Kalyazin, Tver region, cca. 4 p.m. on January 12, aged 36. He left behind a wife and two children.

Gennady has played lead guitar in the Leningrad post punk band DEPUTAT BALTIKI (pictured, above; Gena is first on the left). After he quit in 1991, the band renamed itself CHIMERA. Bachinsky has remained involved in the band’s affairs as something of a manager. He also played bass on their 1994 European tour with STEINE FUER DEN FRIEDEN from Switzerland. He also played in MASHA I MEDVED, a project featuring CHIMERA members. He collaborated with Seva Gakkel, former AQUARIUM cello player who replaced him as a CHIMERA manager, on a CHIMERA cover that featured on a recent tribute compilation (“Totalny Dzhaz”, tape, Karma Mira / Outcry).

Bachinsky’s early 1990s activities have played a crucial role in hooking up St. Petersburg punks with DIY activists in Europe. He had distributed tapes by the likes of ACTIVE MINDS, HEALTH HAZARD, KITCHENER etc., and played them in his radio show on Radio Katyusha. His label Abdylda Records has released a couple of tapes by CHIMERA.

In St. Petersburg Bachinsky has worked on radio stations Polis, Katyusha and Modern. In 1997 he started a partnership with Sergei Stillavin. In 2001 “The Morning Show by Bachinsky & Stillavin” has moved to Moscow – Russkoye Radio, then Radio Maximum. In April 2007 the program was given a Radiomaniya-2007 award for Best Morning Show. For the last 6 months he worked on Radio Mayak co-hosting a morning show with Stillavin. He also worked as chief producer of radio directorate of the State TV and Radio Company (VGTRK).

Videos by DEPUTAT BALTIKI and CHIMERA featuring Gennady Bachinsky: