By Kristi Kates
Igor Yuzov and a couple of his soon-to-be bandmates were living in Venice
Beach, California when the seeds for Igor and Red Elvises were sown.
We wanted to play rock n roll, and we took it on the streets, Yuzov
says, but the crowds got so big, the city of Santa Monica took us to
court and kicked us off the streets.
Discouraging? Nah. Igor and Red Elvises, Yuzov says, have been touring
ELVIS TO GAGA
Now comprised of Yuzov on guitar, Russias Oleg Bernov playing bass
balalaika, fellow Russian Alex Feather Akimov on guitar, Floridian Nate
Hassan on drums, and New Mexicos Monica DeMarco on keyboards and cello,
Igor and Red Elvises have made previous appearances Up North - but even if
youve seen the band before, dont count on seeing the exact same band
lineup the next time you attend a show.
Our lineups change a lot, Yuzov says. We have had the pleasure of
playing with a lot of great performers from all over the world.
The current incarnation of the band - which is helping Yuzov spread the
word on what he terms Siberian Surf Rock, do a few covers as part of
their live shows, but for the most part, the band performs their own
music, with Yuzov at the helm. Yuzov, himself, grew up listening to
Russian folk music - but found rock n roll seeping into his musical
sensibilities early on in his formative years, which were spent growing up
in the USSR.
Things like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were forbidden music from
the West, he explains, so that made it feel very special. Elvis Presley
was a huge influence in the beginning, of course. I listen to a lot of
different music (today) and that influences the songs I write, so they can
be very diverse.
Diverse, and current - one of the bands most recent cover additions has
been a Lady Gaga song. But their own sound is a merging of what they
listen to and what they play - a blend of rock with the distinct influence
of Russian folk music.
We grew up knowing one sound but loved another, Yuzov says, so the
sound naturally came from all these influences.
LIVE 8 WAS GREAT
That unique sound has led Igor and Red Elvises to snag some opportunities
that any band would appreciate. Not only have they released nearly a dozen
studio albums, but their songs have been featured on such TV channels and
shows as FX (which hired the band to perform during a televised marathon
of Beverly Hills 90210 episodes), Fox (on which the Red Elvises guested on
an episode of similarly soapy nighttime show Melrose Place), and again on
FX as part of a Penn and Teller television special.
The movies have beckoned, too - youll recognize them on the big screen if
you watch the Danny Aiello/Vincent Pastore romantic comedy Mail Order
Bride - but for Yuzov, the real highlight to date was their performance at
the Moscow Live 8 Concert, during which they joined a plethora of other
performers in a string of benefit concerts set to precede the 2005 G8
Conference, as well as to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Live
MTV broadcast our performance at Live 8, Yuzov enthuses, so that was
very exciting. We were in front of 35,000 people, and it was broadcast all
over the world.
There will be no resting on any laurels, though, whether they be of the
television, movie, or giant concert variety; although Igor and Red Elvises
are pretty much constantly on the road at the moment, they already have a
new album being planned. And, much like their ever-changing band lineup,
their setlists are in flux, too, as they add new tunes to surprise fans
and road test new material.
You can expect a party at our Traverse City show, Yuzov says, its like
a kindergarten for adults - its a very festive atmosphere, like carnival
or something. People become similar to when they were teenagers, dancing
and going crazy. And we are always working on new songs, he continues,
there are already many songs we play that have not been recorded. We do
plan on recording a new album very soon, but this has to happen when we
are not touring so much!
Igor and Red Elvises will be performing at the InsideOut Gallery at 229
Garland Street in TC on Friday, July 15.