We’ll be the first to admit that some of us here at TDOA have a fascination with Russian culture. Whether it’s Tolstoy, Eisenstein movies or the changing political landscape, we can’t get enough. And in case you haven’t heard, we have a fondness for great music so when we heard Pinkshinyultrablast, we had the best of both worlds. Their own description of themselves as an amalgamation of shoegaze and punk seems spot on to us. In our minds, their the most interesting “shoegaze” band in the world right now.
Couple this with a discussion of art and politics in Russia and you have an interview that kept us on the edge of our seats. Welcome the next wave of brilliant music: Pinkshinyultrablast.
TDOA: Please tell us about the band! How many members, what instruments everyone plays and perhaps a bit about the kinds of guitars and amps you use.
PSUB: Well, there are four of us (Luba – vocals, keyboards, Roman – guitar, Ivan – bass, and Sergei – drums). Ivan plays two basses – a Fender Musicmaster from the late 70s, and a Fernandez’ Jazz Bass rip off. He uses an Ampeg amp. Our current drum kit is of unknown (supposedly East Germany’s) producer which we bought years ago in a local vintage music store. Roman plays Fender mustang with plenty of fuzz pedals – mostly made by Devi Ever. And we have Waldorf – a German synthesizer. Our guitar amps are kind of ridiculously bad. The problem is that new combos are extremely expensive here and ebay doesn’t work for Russia, so we can’t buy a vintage Sunn or Fender amp for a reasonable price. Shipping from the States would be also too expensive. So if we need a good guitar amp we rent it or ask some of our friends who have it.
TDOA: Unless, I’m crazy you’re singing everything in English right? Do you sing in Russian at all and what led to the decision to sing in English?
PSUB: Well, yeah, we actually don’t sing in Russian at all. It seems to us that this is not significant though. Our songs are not really about sharp and witty lyrics, they are just about the melody. So it appears that English language is more melodious.
TDOA: Living in the land of capitalism and democracy, we were always taught to fear the “evil empire” of Russia, but most of us didn’t believe it. We’re fascinated to see a “shoegaze” band from Russia. Are there other bands like yours in Russia? Like America or England is there a scene of indie-pop, shoegaze, grunge, etc. that we don’t get to hear about here in America?
PSUB: Of course, there is nothing like the music scene in England, USA, Sweden or Russia, but the amount of indie-bands grows and the number of people who are interested in this kind of music seems to increase. So maybe in the future it will be comparable. But honestly, we don’t care much about this. We play music and that is enough. That’s our contribution.
TDOA: How big is the music scene in Russia? Typically, how many people would show up to see a band like yours when you play live?
PSUB: The scene is small, but growing. Usually there are no more than 50 or so people on our shows. Other bands might gather a hundred listeners. Recently we did a small DIY show at our practice space, which was attended by something like 40 people. We do not play a lot like some other Russian bands. There is not much sense in it.
TDOA: Please talk about the bands that influenced you as you started your band.
PSUB: Astrobrite, My Bloody Valentine, Stars of the Lid, Grazhdanskaya Oborona (punk band from Siberia), Landing (the band which didn’t get deserved attention for some reason). Actually we were influenced by shoegaze music a lot. We didn’t know how to make this type of sound though. In the beginning we wanted to play krautrock – something like Stereolab, Broadcast or Turzi, an awesome band from France. So our early songs were quite a weird mix of old-school indie-pop, krautrock and really funny lo-fi shoegaze.
From the bands we like now we would point out: Fungi Girls, Best Coast, Surfer Blood, High Places, Ponytail, Pterodactyl etc. Actually we like most of the Brooklyn bands that group around Todd P. Roman is a big fan of a band called PRE from England.
TDOA: Brilliant name for a band. Who came up with it and is there a literary reference behind it?
PSUB: The first person who came up with the word ‘pinkshinyultrablast’ was Scott Cortez from our favorite band Astrobrite. He used it for one of his albums and then we chose it to be our name too. That’s the reference. Scott wrote us on Myspace and said that he had nothing against this.
TDOA: Does the Russian government support bands and music financially?
PSUB: No. Our shitty government supports only itself.
TDOA: Our impression of “old” Russia is that there would have been limits to the lyrical content of music is that accurate? If so, has the new-found freedom led to any kind of an artistic renaissance in your country?
PSUB: Well, maybe at some periods of its history the government did control (or tried to) the ideological content of music, films, literature and so on. But at the same time it was funding all this and trying to develop these things in the way it needed. Overall, in the Soviet Union there was a developed system of cultural production. And in some spheres soviet culture was very advanced.
Now everything is different, but we would not say that the situation in the arts has improved a bit since the ‘democratic reforms’. It actually seriously degenerated. If you are looking for some kind of ‘golden age’ than the times of ‘perestroika’ would be a good place to look at. At least it seems like it from the point of view of our time.
TDOA: Is there any possibility of the band playing outside of Russia, in England or the U.S.?
PSUB: It totally depends on your side, guys. We would love to show our music in the places where people want to hear it. So far we have not played anywhere outside Russia, maybe due to our lack of entrepreneurship.
TDOA: Are there any plans to record a full-length album?
PSUB: Yes, we intensively work on that. Several labels are interested in our LP, but the main problem is money again. We have to do everything ourselves and that requires a lot of resources that we do not necessarily have.
TDOA: Are there any misconceptions of Russia that you think people reading this article need to know about?
PSUB: Mm… Seems that people reading your website are quite intelligent, so there is nothing that we would like to specifically denounce.
TDOA: The internet, including sites like Facebook and Myspace are a big way of spreading music. We found you on MySpace but wonder how big a deal “social media” like those site is in Russia.
To learn more about the band, check out their MySpace page
To purchase their brilliant ep click here