Austrian turbo polk metallers Russkaja is band we for one cannot fail to get perpetually excited and energised by, their fiercely eclectic and rousing sound a manic and exhilarating stomp that just hits the spot. With the release of their latest album Peace, Love & Russian Roll on Napalm records, 2015 has been a busy year for the septet, one just as full of live shows around Europe and further afield. Right now Russkaja are touring but band founder and vocalist Georgij Makazaria managed to find some time to kindly share with us as we look into the making of the new album and origins of the band.
Hello Georgij and many thanks for sharing time to talk with us.
The world has just been treated to another Russkaja stomp courtesy of new album Peace, Love & Russian Roll, the devil in a polka crafted musical skirt of temptation. For us it is your most rounded and ‘polished’ offering yet without losing the raw diversity which fuels your unique sound. How does it most differ for you from Energia!, its predecessor?
The new album has more different directions. We felt free to try everything we wanted to try and we had fun doing that.
Whereas there was a great ‘randomness’ to the sound and lyrical narrative of songs in previous your albums, Peace, Love & Russian Roll seems to have a more constant theme within the ever eclectic festival of flavours and styles?
Yes, all songs sound different; all sounds are inspired by the different moods of the songs; that was the idea of the new album.
It also feels slightly more reserved in its boldness of diversity yet fuller in the creative hues it does weave into the bodies of songs. Did you go into its writing with any specific intent and ideas or did it just organically grow?
Engel and I, we took one year to compose songs, so we met in our rehearsal room and put together the elements that influenced us during this year! I had lots of ideas that I was carrying in my phone for a long time, and Engel had some projects that he has collected in the past, so we put both sources together and the new music came out.
Many of the songs are sung in English upon Peace, Love & Russian Roll; why that move this time around? There is an element of trying to lure stronger UK/US attention?
It was a step closer to everybody’s understanding. English is of course the most spoken language on this planet and it works great in this combination.
Do you think you will repeat this across future releases as it surely will open up a new wealth of appetites for Russkaja from those ‘prejudice’ to anything not lyrically accessible before they hear a sound?
I don´t know what I will repeat in the future, but I know one thing: On the new album I have some favourite directions and I will try to follow them again on my next travel.
Tell us about El Pueblo Unido upon the album, the first track you have sung in Spanish.
Si, yo estudiado la idioma español en la Union Sovietica. I learned Spanish in USSR, it was a special school with very intensive language teaching. I still can speak a little bit Spanish, sometimes I have practiced with my colleagues like: Tito & Tarantula, Ska-P, Panteon Rococo. I had this idea for a kind of mariachi sound in my head, and so I started to put together some Spanish words and it worked out. I am very happy about this song.
The expansive and unpredictable sound that Russkaja is renowned and acclaimed for, seems inevitable with the background and tastes of all its members. Can you tell us how you all came together and the origins of the band?
Russkaja was founded 2005 by me, Georgij Makazaria. I came from Soviet Union in the late 80-ies to Austria. Here I’ve met Dimitrij Miller from Ukraine in the year 2003. The Brass Section is two brothers from Upper Austria, Hans-Georg and Rainer Gutternigg, the Violin Girl is from Griesskirchen, a place on the landside. Drummer Mario is from Styria like Arnold, Engel the guitarist is from Lower Austria, half of us live in Vienna, the other half in Linz.
Was there anything which majorly inspired the creation of Russkaja?
It was a book written by Wladimir Kaminer, Russendisko from the year 2000. It´s a true story about a place in Berlin where the writer started to put (as a DJ) Russian music together with his friend Yuriy Gurzhy from “Rotfront“, and the small place “Cafe BURGER“ became a secret hype in town. They added a CD to the book with some of this music and I was very surprised that the people in Berlin went crazy for music I grew up with, I was inspired, I got a great idea! Later I’ve met the writer, worked with both guys together, played in this Cafe and I have always big fun performing in Berlin!
With such inspirations behind all your individual tastes and ideation, I am imagining songs come together like a puzzle at times, different parts tried in different ways until fitting. How does the songwriting generally come together in the band and is there a strong democratic process involved or its more that particular people take the lead?
It´s a free democratic process, every one of us is welcome to bring ideas, beats, rhymes, riffs, brasslines or violin melodies, and I listen to all of them. Usually, when I compose, it begins with a summing idea on the phone. Engel and I, we are collecting ideas all the time, they can come in every moment that you don´t expect, so you better be ready and have something to record in the hand, because the ideas may visit you just for a short time and then they disappear. In February of last year we started our song-development sessions. I like this part a lot; it is a creative time when things get a form and a face. Next step is the choice. Very difficult moment, what is good, what is better. After we’ve selected the Ideas we start to arrange everything around: brass, violin choir. After that, the studio work begins.
Did you approach the recording of the new album any differently to its predecessors?
Yes, this time we were working in a very well organized and perfect equipped studio called “Masters of Sounds“ in Michelhausen in Lower Austria. We started with the rhythm section by recording drums together with bass and guitars (pilot modus). A lot of basslines on the tracks were done by first take, than we recorded guitars and bass adds. At this time, our brass section started to record trumpets and potete (special instrument – mixture of trumpet and trombone) in Linz, in a studio of their friend Armin Lehner, who did a great work guiding this recording session. After a song got rhythm and brass, we recorded violins on it. In a very cool hall room, 8 m high – great acoustic, super sound. At the end I did my part singing the songs in a very relaxed and nice atmosphere! No hurry, great mics, a well sounding room with a lot of daylight and candle light in the evening.
Do you find reactions and the passion for your individual sound differs majorly between audiences from different countries within Europe?
Only the best reactions! Most of the people like it; it is a fresh, positive music, that works everywhere we go. Every show is a booster for the band! We give everything at every concert and pick up the people of every age, nationality and taste!
The band is renowned for its festival of energy and adventure on stage, what have you got lined up for the rest of 2015?
Now we are on our Germany/Austria/Netherlands tour, then we go to Italy, and in December to Spain!
Once again big thanks for sparing time for us; is there anything you would like to add?
You are very welcome! Peace to your home, health to your body, love to your heart!
Read our review of Peace, Love & Russian Roll @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/russkaja-peace-love-russian-roll/
The RingMaster Review 11/11/2015
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