Stoking the polka: talking Peace, Love & Russkaja with founder Georgij Makazaria

Russkaja2_RingMasterReview

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.

597_Russkaja_RingMaster ReviewMany 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 Russkaja3_RingMasterReviewsongwriting 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!

pic Jörg Fischer_

pic Jörg Fischer_

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/

http://www.russkaja.com/    https://www.facebook.com/russkajaofficial

 

Pete Ringmaster

The RingMaster Review 11/11/2015

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Russkaja – Peace, Love & Russian Roll

PL&RR__RingMaster Review

Our own introduction to Austrian turbo polk metallers Russkaja was through their third album Energia! and there is no denying it stole our ears and lustful soul with ease. Now the septet returns with its successor Peace, Love & Russian Roll and fair to say the devilish fun continues. The album in many ways seems a more concentrated attempt at flirting with the broadest attention, songs sung predominantly in English this time around and the bedlamic nature of their songwriting turned down a touch, but it does not stop the band unleashing another manic and exhilarating stomp.

Formed in 2005 by vocalist Georgij A. Makazaria, Vienna hailing Russkaja has a sound which embraces the essences of its member’s Ukrainian, Austrian, and Russian heritage, the latter especially a potent hue in an adventure which entangles folk, punk, ska, jazz, metal, polka…well you name it and it will be in there as shown by both Energia! and now Peace, Love & Russian Roll. As suggested the band seems to be looking at stirring up a wider spotlight of attention with their new album, but in no way does it mean they are dipping into commercial attributes to cheat the imagination and fans, just that Peace, Love & Russian Roll has, well I guess it is a more mature and knowing touch to the songwriting and sound behind its magnetic schizo waltz.

The festival of flavour and adventure starts with the body igniting Rock’n Roll Today. Its opening fanfare of trumpet has ears instantly hooked, with the scythes of energy, riffs, and drum stick swipes only adding to the enticing. Within a few more breaths the track is in full throttle, stampeding through ears with a punk ferocity, multi-flavoured tenacity, and a web of rhythms which, as the sound, shifts gait and nature with every passing clutch of seconds and inventive twist. Vocally Makazaria growls as he leads the boisterous revelry, feet soon a blur in return and hips swinging to the breakout of ska seeded hooks. Like a mix of Kontrust and Tankus The Henge, the track sets the union between album and listener off in rigorously contagious and thrilling style, especially with its fifties rock ‘n’ roll detour towards its exhausting climax.

   The following Slap Your Face equally has the senses and imagination aflame, and again it all starts with an irresistible entrance which this time is blessed with the kind of blaze of brass that Roxy Music cast in their heyday. Soon metal riffs and beats back up its tempting, the mix persistently punctuating the ska seeded funk swagger which soon breaks out. As the first, the song is a flowing stroll of infectiousness and invention. Its fusion of sound reminds of Biting Elbows and Gogol Bordello at times with the added spice of King Kurt in for good measure, and fair to say that if as its predecessor, it is not luring your body and vocal involvement within the first minute, you should check you have a pulse.

Hometown Polka calms things down a touch with a restrained saunter spiced by the teasing violin strings of Mia Nova which provide a charming welcome. Its catchiness is in full flow pretty much straight away though, growing with strength as lively crescendos to the song come littered with a throaty bassline, mass vocals lures, and swinging traditional temptation. The dark allure of H-G. Gutternigg’s potete (a hybrid of bass trumpet and trombone), only brings greater flirtation to the song, complementing the spicy trumpet of Rainer Gutternigg and the melodic dance set by Engel Mayr’s guitar simultaneously.

A further breath can be taken thanks to There Was A Time, a warm yet melancholic croon of voice and sound. Once more infectiousness is as ripe as the skills breeding the total seduction, the English sung reflection making another persuasion impossible to not join within one round of its chorus. The sublime persuasion is matched by the Latin sparked El Pueblo Unido, its Spanish sung and South American coloured tones the canvas for a rousing ska infused canter complete with climatic crescendos and mariachi like drama.

597_Russkaja_RingMaster Review   Lovegorod wears its ska influences with a broad creative smile whilst Parachute guided by the pulsating beats of Mario Stübler is a folk shaped swing of melodic and lyrical romance hugged by siren-esque harmonies and trembling Mediterrean caresses. Both songs hold attention and imagination in firm and pleasing hands but each finds itself over shadowed by the theatre of the following Let’s Die Together. Arguably the most traditionally Russian bred song on the album, it is a bordering on schizophrenic maelstrom of voice and sound which boils into a familiar and addictive quickstep. Its energy and passion increases with every swaying step, its roaring catchiness of band cries over a deeply hooking swing, sheer inescapable virulence.

One major triumph is backed by another in the noir lit prowl of Salty Rain. Dark rock ‘n’ roll with a healthy spice of jazz and melodic sultriness, the song swiftly entrances body and imagination, once again hips coaxed into eager movement as the immersive narrative grabs thoughts. A core ska spine of guitar binds the outstanding track’s varied beauty together, alone manipulating limbs before letting You Are The Revolution flick the switch to another raucous outpouring of sound, attitude, and energy. Metal and punk collude to create the raw and gripping stomping with the bass of Dimitrij Miller, not for the first time, a prime protagonist in song and ears. Of course as volatile as it is, there is a contagion to its tempest which is just as mouth-watering as the turbulence around it.

Peace, Love And Russian Roll concludes with firstly the country rock/folk croon of Radio Song, a serenade as lyrically mischievous as it is musically tangy, and finally its title track. The last song’s name just about sums up it and the album’s contents, Russian rock devilry spawned by the theme of uniting in the good things to make life and the planet a better place. It is a glorious end to another delicious slab of unpredictable and inimitable aural festivity. If pushed previous album Energia! with its less polished and more of a raw toning still edges it as our favourite Russkaja moment but Peace, Love & Russian Roll is right up there leaving so many other offerings this year in its wake.

Peace, Love & Russian Roll is available now via Napalm Records http://shop.napalmrecords.com/russkaja

http://www.russkaja.com/    https://www.facebook.com/russkajaofficial

RingMaster 26/07/2015

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