we’re grateful” remuneration—
but you can’t really live on that.
So, touring and sponsorship
deals are a big part of what we
have to be involved with.
Let’s talk about Vladivostok.
Did you guys feel a need to
adapt or change your style
at all for the new album,
or are you writing music
pretty much the same way you
Lagutenko: We’re basically
doing things the same way we
have throughout our career.
My idea, since day one, was
not to do what someone else
did already. I would go through
[the albums from] my favorite
bands when I was a kid in the
’80s—from AC/DC to Blondie,
heavy metal to New Wave, Pink
Floyd to Genesis, Sex Pistols, and
the Clash—and I would say to
myself, “Why wouldn’t you take a
bit of this and a bit of that?” So, I
always tried to write and perform
in a way that would incorporate
the best bits of what I really liked.
When we tried to publish
our first official album in Russia
15 years ago, everyone would
tell me, “It’s too Western sounding—no one will really dig it
in Russia.” And then it became
the No. 1 album. No one can
really know what real people
really want. I heard it so many
times—“This album sounds too
American”—and then you take
the same music to America,
and it’s not very commercial at
all [laughs]. So I don’t listen to
anyone—I just do what sounds
organic to myself.
Tsaler: At some point, you
don’t really give a damn about
that and just write and play the
way you do intuitively.
Ilya, did you get exposed to
the Clash, Blondie, and other
Western bands while you were
in Russia or during some of
your adventures abroad?
Lagutenko: There was quite
good underground exposure of
Western music in the Russian
Soviet Union. You would never
hear that music on the radio or
television, but for some reason
the Communist party would
“At some point, you don’t
really give a damn ... and just
write and play the way you do
intuitively.” —Yuri Tsaler
IF YOU THINK MUMIY TROLL’S WHOLE “RUSSIAN
ROLLING STONES” THING IS A MARKETING GIMMICK,
ALL YOU GOTTA DO IS CLICK TO THE LINKS BELOW.
Ilya Lagutenko ravages upstroked rhythms out of his Gibson Melody Maker
while Yuri Tsaler wails on a Telecaster Custom before bringing things down
at 2: 40 with Andy Summers-like arpeggios awash in modulated echo—
and then the whole band explodes with seething energy and badass
double-stops until the quirky close.
YOUTUBE SEARCH TERM: Мумий Тролль - Алмазами, 2010
Yuri Tsaler conjures twang-tastic Strat tones tinged with delicious echo
during this 2008 performance of “Alien Visitor.”
YOUTUBE SEARCH TERM: мумий тролль инопланетный гость
Ilya Lagutenko uses his Martin acoustic-electric to whip a crowd of
untold thousands into a sing-along frenzy that builds and builds in
tempo until the 4:00 mark, at which point Tsaler launches into Gilmour-esque leads that languish in the huge Russian square like post-climax
cigarette smoke as the band brings things down in a very Dark Side of
the Moon manner.
YOUTUBE SEARCH TERM: Мумий Тролль - Утекай LIVE
allow some artists from Italy or
France to come to Russia and
play. But this underground black
market for Western music was
a big, big thing in all of Russia.
I guess it’s one of those things
where, when it’s banned, people
really get into it.
Did you just hear about the
records by word of mouth,
Lagutenko: Sailors [from the
cruise ships] would smuggle them
from Japan and Singapore and
wherever else they went. Another
funny thing was that sometimes
they would buy those records
only for their artwork, because
no one really followed any [offi-
cial hit-single] charts or anything.
So that’s how we ended up with
absolutely catholic tastes.
Do you worry that having an
all-English album and concentrating efforts abroad will
alienate fans back home?
Lagutenko: Yes, we do. And
apparently we’ve had this
reaction from Russian fans.
They don’t like you singing
in different languages—they
like the fun side of it from
time to time, but not full-time—so we only sing in
English outside Russia. But
we have Russian fans who
will travel anywhere, so you’ll
find a couple of Russians in
the middle of Ohio, and they
always like to hear familiar
choruses and sing-alongs. So
sometimes I like to do half
and half—a verse in English,
and then one in Russian. I’m
still researching the best way
to present our songs. It gets
pretty tricky—especially in
my head. Sometimes you just
think to yourself, “What am I
singing about?” and you forget
what language you’re singing
in, because a live show is more
about emotion and energy and
connecting with the audience.