Lead vocalist Ilya Lagutenko’s conscription from 1987 to 1989 finished Mumiy Troll’s first incarnation, as Lagutenko finally saw the wide world he’d dreamed of. Then in 1991, the Soviet UNI0N, and the reality he had been raised in, abruptly ceased to exist. But the “new” Russia was to be a happy hunting ground for the group. They gained immense popularity with the release of their first (official) album Morskaya in May 1997, which paired melodic hard rock with Lagutenko’s offbeat lyrics and coy, androgynous performance style.
Mumiy Troll have not only been Russian music trailblazers, they have translated some of that success into international recognition along the way. Always innovative, this best-selling group gave away an album to their fans eight years before Radiohead. This autumn they visit Kyiv, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv to present album number 10 SOS Matrosu (released in August) on their 30th birthday. Before they arrive we learn more about the band and their new CD from Lagutenko himself.
Tell us a little about the album you are bringing to Kyiv.
SOS Matrosu was recorded on the ship Sedov as part of our around-the-world sea journey. It’s fully dedicated to Russian rock as we understand it to be. We used vintage Soviet instruments to record it, which we found on various internet auctions. Our fans helped us with that too. I think this album is what I have been dreaming of recording since our very first album back in the 80s when we had a long way to go to get to the modern Mumiy Troll.
And why does the CD have several different sleeves?
There are three different covers for the album as it is the result of our cooperation with Belgian artists Leroy Brothers and their interactive project Witness Your World, which allowed anyone to create album covers for our CD.
Can you pick out one song that fully defines the tone of the album?
Chetvertiy Trolleybus (Fourth Trolleybus) is the most Vladivostokian song on the album. However, some of the symbolism found in it will be understood only by the citizens of Vladivostok; for us they are like the lifeblood of our past and future. These are the memories of the 80s, when rock culture was growing in the city and it was giving birth to a lot of musicians, including us, all aspiring for a future where Vladivostok is the city of dreams and is going to be the real musical capital of the country.
Tell me about the style of the band in general and the album?
Stylistic definitions and labels – this is something for critics and journalists. As far as I’m concerned, I just want to play my music and not invent genres for it. However, I like to think Mumiy Troll accelerates the far-east musical tide and you’ll have an opportunity to check it out at our show.
Speaking about shows, is there one in particular that is particularly memorable?
We’ve played a lot of interesting shows, we had many memorable moments during our tour on the Sedov when we gave gigs right on board or in port. Probably the most amazing one was the experimental concert in Kamchatka: we shot a video for the song Fantastica in the crater of the Goreliy volcano where we were delivered by helicopter.
What about corporate parties? Musicians say they are a very good way to make money.
My first corporate party happened when I was seven at a boat-repair factory in Vladivostok, when the Boys Choir was invited to sing for employees during lunch. Seemed like the workers didn’t really want to hear songs about Lenin and they just wanted to sleep. Now everything’s changed.
Are you somehow involved in music away from the band?
Last year for example we conducted the festival-conference Vladivostok Rocks bringing in bands from across the Asia-Pacific region. At the festival, visitors learned of an interesting and young musical movement in Japan, Korea, Singapore and China. And we as organisers learned Vladivostok could well be the musical capital of that region.
What should we expect from you in future?
Now we are finishing work on a movie shot during the world tour. The initial idea was to make a documentary, but now it seems it has turned into a musical drama-comedy telling the story of a young band from a port city and their way to glory. Cinema announcements to come!
Mumiy Troll (RU, pop-rock)
23 November at 20.00
Tickets: 280 –1,600hrv
Stereo Plaza (Chervonozoryaniy 119)
by Vadym Mishkoriz