What do you say about a punk band that’s been playing punk music since 1977?
What do you say if that band been playing for over 30 years in a country like the Soviet Union?
Well if you’re producing a documentary on the global punk music scene and traveling to Russia you say “these guys must have some stories to tell, I gotta get an interview and see them play”.
Ah but the punk Gods weren’t smiling on me this time, at least as far as Svetlana is concerned. Turns out while I’m in Russia, they are touring Italy.
Which now makes sense as I found they they now live in Italy so I guess I’m gonna have to hit them up when I go visit my psychobilly pals “Evil Devil” next year.
But the fine folks from Svetlanas were nice enough to answer some questions for me about their music, their influences and the punk scene in general in Russia. As it turns out they’ve toured the U.S. before and are due back here next year so be on the look out for these guys at a venue near you.
They also have a new CD coming out later this month. In the meantime you can sample some of their music on their myspace page.
Speaking of their music, I really liked this ditty called “Chernobyl Boy” which you can hear by clicking the link below.
Chernobyl Boy by Svetlanas.
Now what’s more punk or more Russian than that song?
And as you will plainly see by the interview below… the dudes (and dudette) are clearly not only talented and dedicated musicians, they are pretty damned funny too.
PO: HOW LONG HAS SVETLANAS BEEN AROUND?
Oh my God, now that you ask I realize we have been around for a while… about 30 years actually. Why did you ask? I feel old now! ahahaha
PO: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BAND’S INFLUENCES?
We all used to listen to The Who, Dead Boys, The Dogs and everything released in the States and England, it was a great period for rock/punk music but we also love the energy of “newer” bands like Zero Boys, Circle Jerks and Black Flag. I think we have been influenced by all those bands in a way or another.
PO: IS IT EASIER OR HARDER TO PLAY PUNK MUSIC NOW COMPARED TO THE 70S AND 80S IN RUSSIA?
It was really hard to play at that time because punk music wasn’t understood in Russia. Now there are many popular young bands in our country, punk music climbed top ten charts all over the world and this slightly helped the situation.
PO: DOES THE MEDIA COVER THE PUNK SCENE THERE OR DO THEY IGNORE IT?
I can’t say they don’t talk about it, sometimes they do but obviously it’s something marginal.
PO: WHAT DO YOU THINK THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT THINKS ABOUT PUNK MUSIC? ARE THEY COOL WITH IT OR DO THEY FEEL THREATANED BY IT?
Every Government in each side of the world feels threatened by free speech, punk music could be politically involved or not, but in any way it’s a spontaneous movement, something totally “ungovernable”.
PO: DO PEOPLE IN RUSSIA DISCRIMINATE AGAINST PUNKS? (TREAT PUNKS BADLY?)
We moved to Italy some time ago, this could be a reason…
PO: WHAT ABOUT THE POLICE, DO THEY EVER HASSLE THE PUNKS?
…this could be the second reason! hahahaha
PO: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COUNTRIES YOU GUYS HAVE TOURED?
We have mostly toured Europe but also the States and we can’t wait to go there again. We would love to play in Japan but we didn’t have any chance yet.
PO: HAVE YOU EVER TOURED THE U.S.?
Yes we did one year ago, we will be back next Summer and we will record our new album there.
Experiencing American Culture On Tour
PO: WHAT IS THE PUNKEST PLACE THAT YOU’VE EVER TRAVELED TO?
East Europe it’s amazing but we all loved the midwest scene there in the U.S., Indianapolis it’s a great place for punk music.
PO: WHY DO YOU THINK PUNK MUSIC IS SO BIG IN RUSSIA?
PO: DO YOU THINK PUNK MUSIC CAN HELP THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE?
Russian people are sometimes very close minded and suspicious, punk music can definitely help us to see everything in a new perspective. Punk rock is very provocative, we constantly provocate through our lyrics and attitude and we are grateful for giving us the chance to provocate one more time.