Everything in life is more interesting when you understand the backstory. Whether it’s knowing the history surrounding the creation of a painting or just knowing about the past successes and failures of your favorite sports team, everything means more when you understand it in context. When we received the first single from STCS, we immediately filed it in our “top ten songs of 2012″ list. It’s ability to meld references to bands like OMD with a gritty shoegaze sound, make them interesting without knowing anything about the band. But upon recognizing that they hail from Russia, the story becomes more interesting. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk to the band about their sound, their scene and of course, the Pussy Riot controversy. STCS are: Shamil Kamalyev (Vocals,Bass), Alexander Mustaev(Rhythm Guitar), Rem Nugaev(Lead Guitar) and Alexander Porubov(Drums)
TDOA: Let’s begin by asking the obvious question: what does your name mean? What does STCS stand for?
STCS: We started out as The Statics, a name that we really liked because it sounds cool and has many different meanings to it, but later we found out that there is already an existing band with the same name, so we switched it to STCS. We still call ourself The Statics sometimes.
TDOA: This song reminds of the New Romantics era in England, harkening bands like Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. What bands do you listen to?
STCS: Thanks for the great comparison. We were inspired by new wave bands like OMD. We listen to a lot of bands so each of us have his own influences. We are fans of classic alternative rock bands like Radiohead and The Pixies and electronic futuristic sounding bands like Daft Punk. So I guess that what we are trying to sound like something in between.
TDOA: Bands frequently mention writers that inspire their lyrics. I’m interested to know if there are writers that have inspired your lyrics or not.
STCS: There are no actual writers, though we can mention classic songwriters like Bob Dylan and Cash and some modern artists like Paul Banks of Interpol. The inspiration is drawing from our whole life, certain moment. It may be a movie or a song….anything.
TDOA: Where did you record this? Did you have someone produce it or did you do it yourself?
STCS: We’re recording our songs in hometown, Ufa and working with producer Sasha Sosnovsky. He worked with a lot of different bands and has a great studio. He was nice with us because we’re new with the recording process, so he helps us to settle up and gives really good advice. We produced the songs together and we are grateful to have him by our side.
TDOA: Can you talk about what equipment you use? What kind of guitars, amps, pedals, etc…..?
STCS: Alexander and Rem both use heavily modified Squier Stratocasters. Alexander’s sound is pretty much simple and classic. He uses Jekyll and Hyde Overdrive, TS 808 copy and a Polytune. Rem’s sound is more complex. He uses Mudhoney T-Rex Overdrive, Roland Space Echo for delay and Electro-Harmonics Smallstone for phaser. We recently sold our drum kit and plan to buy electronic drums. For recording we use Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier and Fender Blues Deluxe. As our comrades Pinkshinyultrablast already said, proper musical instruments cost too much here in Russia.
TDOA: The only other Russian band we’ve ever interviewed was pinkshinyultrablast. Are you familiar with them and are there other bands like yours in Russia?
STCS: Yes, we know Pinkshinyultrablast and we really like them. They’re doing a good job but the thing is, in our country, bands like Pinkshinyultrablast are extremely rare. In that kind of genre, Russian music culture is too young. For example, in our city we have like two or three bands that actually play interesting stuff. That’s why we are only the second band you’ve interviewed from Russia. We hope that maybe in a few years, music will evolve and you’ll hear much more new interesting and impressive music bands.
TDOA: The trial of Pussy Riot is getting a lot of publicity internationally. Can you talk about your feelings about what’s going on?
STCS: We can’t say we approve of their methods, but they’re doing it for the right reasons and being judged too harsh. Yeah, it was offensive for some people, but seven years of prison for a single protest act is just ridiculous. The church’s reaction is surprisingly rough. Isn’t church supposed to have mercy and forgiveness? We hope they’ll get justice.
TDOA: Is there an ability to discuss politics in your music or is it too dangerous?
STCS: After the whole Pussy Riot thing here, you might think that. But it wasn’t always like that. It isn’t dangerous as long as you don’t sing in church wearing balaclava, I guess. Our government is so fucked up and we have a lot bands singing about it, mostly punk bands. It’s great, but we dont think our music will ever have anything to do with politics.
TDOA: Social media are widely used here. We know you have a Facebook page, but do a lot of bands use social media in Russia?
STCS: Again, somehow in Russia, social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Myspace aren’t that popular. We have only one popular social network here – Vkontakte, which is absolutely identical to old facebook. And this is the only way to advertise in Soviet Russia. That’s it. Same for any other band in our country. For the rest of civilized world we use twitter and myspace.
TDOA: Can you talk about your plans for recording? How many other songs do you have written?
STCS: In a few months, we will record some new songs, which we are really excited about. We have some plans to move away from our current sound with guitars, to much more electronic. The new material sounds amazing and we cant wait to record it and play it live. Hopefully, people will like it.