Bungalow Bums are straight up neo-post punk garage psychedelia… Does that make any sense to anyone besides me? There’s equal parts post punk, new wave, blues, garage and psychedelic rock going on here and when fed through the blisteringly cold eye of the Siberian and Russian winter you’ve really got something on your hands. While I could get all artsy and try to dissect Bungalow Bums’ sound I’d rather concentrate on the one thing that attracted me their music in the first place, it’s purely and honestly fun to listen to. There’s an undeniable energy that courses through it, combining elements of everything that these guys have heard before and making it totally their own, adding a snarling, wintery bite and punctuation to their twisted blend of high-octane stoner blues and psych punk. Heaps of fuzzed out, distorted guitar pulse and twitch amidst a ridiculously tight rhythm section that almost sounds like a single instrument at times, the bass and drums bleeding and fading into each other harmoniously and effortlessly. After all the verbose word-salad and nonsensical jargon above, I’m starting to understand why the band simply describes their sound as “dirt and broken glass”; and what’s more I’m starting to agree with it. There’s a lot of varied approaches here, different sounds and genres, but the one thing that remains consistent as hell from track to track is the fact that there’s a persistent energy, an almost angry attack on the tunes themselves that propels the music ahead and defines Bungalow Bums more than anything else whether they realize it or not. The time for words has past at this point though, if you don’t get it, I’m not going to be able to explain it to you. If you do, then there’s no need for me to continue. Either way, I urge you to click the link below, put on some music and read on for some serious Siberian enlightenment!
Listen while read: http://bungalowbums.bandcamp.com/
What is Bungalow Bum’s lineup these days? I know you’ve all been around for a while, have there been any changes since the band started?
We’ve always had a classic all-you-need-for-rock-and-roll lineup – one vox, two guitars, drums and bass. Yep, there been some changes connected mostly with our move from Siberia to St. Petersburg. We found a new bass player here. We also changed drummers in 2008, ‘cause our first was “too drunk to f**k”. Now he plays the harp on all our recordings. All of us other members are original and have been with the band since 2006 when it all started. Each of us understands that it’s too late to stop and become a clerk or a trucker or something else at this point.
Are any of you in any other active bands? I know that Vadim is Squirting Heart, is anyone else in any other bands at this point? Have you released any music with anyone besides Bungalow Bums in the past? If so can you tell us about that?
Yes, I have a solo project called Squirting Heart; lo-fi hometapes influenced by delta blues, Southern gothic, alternative country, Siberian folk and neo-psychedelia. Our new bass player Alex plays in a magic pop-psych band called WEO and our drummer Paul plays in this awesome grunge band called The Twisted. We’ve also played in several early bands such as De Bosh and Stray Dogs, mostly connected with punk rock.
How old are you and where are you originally from?
If you mean the band, it’s eight years old. We appeared in 2006, forty years after the wave of garage rock and freakbeat took the whole world by storm in 1966. We’ll be glad to celebrate our tenth anniversary along with a half-century of raw music we’ve loved since we started to play. If you mean the members, we’re stair-steppers; 28, 27, 26, 25. Our motherland is South-West Siberia, but we prefer to say we’re from Nowheria. Our city Omsk, near the border with Kazakhstan, which has a population of more than a million people, is dying like Detroit in the US. Who the f**k knows where Siberia’s situated? We love Siberia, and we even devoted our second LP to this place, but we can’t live there anymore to see how it dies.
What was the music scene like there? Did it play a large role in your childhood? Did you go to a lot of shows growing up? Do you feel it played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or how you play today?
Ha-ha, shows in Siberia. All the shows I went to before we started Bungalow Bums were shitty punk or metal gigs full of dirty drunk brutos. This scene played a large part in our musical taste; we wanted to play something cardinally opposite. The one and only Omsk band that really impressed us were the world famous band, Grazhdanskaya Oborona who played something between lo-fi garage punk and psychedelic rock. But we’ve never been on their shows as they didn’t play in Omsk. Yegor Letov, the frontman of Grazhdanskaya Oborona, was a very kind and talented man. He had a huge vinyl collection of rare garage, punk and psychedelic music, rare books and instruments. His lyrics were improbable, shrill, very well-aimed and aloof like Siberia is. He was a real hero of his time place that continues to die after his own death. I saw him only once when he was dead in 2008, at only forty three. Three of four Bungalow Bums members came to his funeral to give him a last honor. All of our other influences came from the West.
Was your home very musical when you were growing up? Where your parents, or did you have any relatives who were, musicians or maybe just extremely involved/interested in music?
My dad played three chord songs on guitar being a student. He loves Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. He also studied in a musical school, played an accordion. He bought my first guitar when I was fifteen. Our other relatives aren’t that into music, especially rock music.
What do you consider your first real exposure to music?
I remember I was nine when I heard Pink Floyd the first time. It was “High Hopes”. It’s still my favorite song by Pink Floyd. And I was thirteen when I began to listen to different punk rock. I remember a rare band called ADZ, this raw lawless street punk that drove me insane. It’s crazy, but their LP was called The Piper at the Gates of Downey, one more Pink Floyd trail.
If you had to pick a single moment of music that changed everything for you, a moment that opened the door to all the infinite possibilities of music and changed things forever for you, what would it be?
It was the moment when I put The Stooges disc in the CD changer and pushed “play”.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that decision about?
I’ve wrote poems in Russian since I was thirteen. I still write them; about two hundred and fifty to three hundred poems since 2001. When I got my first guitar in 2003, I just started to write simple songs and sing them for my friends. I still do it too, hehe.
What was your first instrument? When and how did you originally get that?
My first instrument was an absolutely ugly, cheap acoustic guitar made somewhere in central Russia. It was about forty to fifty dollars. The strings were as far from neck as is possible. I got it on my fifteenth birthday. It was right handed and I’m a left-hander, so I just asked my father to flip the strings.
When and how did you all meet?
Hmm, I don’t remember. Maybe we were drunk.
What led to the formation of Bungalow Bums and when would that have been?
I just always wanted to play. I played guitar, but I thought I played too badly to play in a band. Then I met Serge, he played in this dance-punk band called Stray Dogs. I thought they were real rock’n’roll gods. So one day I took a knife, went up to him and said, “You will play with me, or you will die!” No, I’m just kidding.
Is there a shared creed, ideal or mantra that the band lives by?
We call it dirt and broken glass. I don’t just mean the raw garage recordings and our favorite Fender guitar sound. This mantra is based on the real story. At one of our shows in Novosibirsk in 2007 or 2008 the club was full of young fashioned hipsters in bright clothes, hats and glasses. They didn’t like our stuff. It was real hell there. We had to play in the crowd, there wasn’t any stage. The crowd started to get rowdy and I had to stop the music two or three times because the microphone was hitting my teeth. We got crazy. We played like the devil, we jumped in the crowd brandishing our guitars. Several times we hit the waiters who were trying to thread their way through the dancing people with the trays full of glasses, and soon the entire floor was covered with broken glass. That was terrible, it was really wild, thrilling, and so exciting. At the end of the last song, I saw Serge roll on his back in this heap of glass and dirt, somebody stomped on him but he laughed and continued to play guitar. Fortunately, everyone ended up with only soiled clothes. But from then on the phrase was assigned to us.
I dig the name Bungalow Bums but I can’t help but think of warm and sunny bungalows in the Caribbean or something every time I hear your name, even though I know you’re all from somewhere freezing cold! What does the name Bungalow Bums mean or refer to and who came up with it? How did you go about choosing it?
We are Russians you know. Once, I was sitting with an English-Russian vocabulary doing my homework. By pure accident I found the word “bungalow”. Then I saw the word “bum” on the same page. I said aloud, Bungalow Bums. I was simply pleased how it sounded. Under the prism of our escape from the Siberian trap we can say that we’re real ums nowadays though, ha-ha. And of course there are no bungalows in the godforsaken Siberian wilds.
Where’s the band currently located these days?
We live in St. Petersburg, the ex-capital of Russia, situated in the North-West of the country, on the Baltic Sea. It’s a beautiful old European-style city with a population of more than ten million people and a rich history.
How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at these days?
It exists! We have some friendly garage/psychedelic bands there, such as Stereo Siberia, The Foxy Riders, The Flash Fever, Robot Monsta and some others. We try to expose our local psych scene here and compete with the Moscow one; it’s a friendly competition of course. We also try to talk to and play with European bands. Particularly, we played with a great band from Denmark called Get Your Gun and were invited to Moscow to play with our favorite band The Flying Eyes from Baltimore, but unfortunately, the gig was cancelled.
Are you very involved with the local scene? Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?
We’ve played a lot of local gigs during these two years; about forty or fifty maybe. Now we’re recording our third LP, so our soonest shows will start in September, after the release.
Are you involved in recording or releasing any of local music? If so, can you talk briefly about that for us?
I recorded some songs with Dasha Ksenofontova from WEO this winter as Squirting Heart and now, many St. Petersburg musicians help us with recording. For example, Kirill Simonov from The Foxy Riders recorded the drums on a few songs, Boris Schulman from The Flash Fever is going to record organ and banjo, Dasha from WEO recorded the backing vox, and our friend jazzmen Anton Ryazanov recorded saxophone. Our bungalow is now full of gypsies, it’s cool and funny.
I’m good at a great many things when it comes to my job with It’s Psychedelic Baby but one thing I just don’t think I do very well is describe the way that bands sound to people. I don’t necessarily think that music fits into these little boxes or labels that people like to assign them. How would you describe Bungalow Bums’ sound in your own words to our readers who might not have heard you before?
Some dirt and broken glass, Roman, some dirt and broken glass, he-he.
While we’re talking so much about the history and background of Bungalow Bums can you tell us who some of your major musical influences are? What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?
I can mention classics like The Stooges, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and lots of rare 60’s garage and psych bands, stars from the 2000’s such as The White Stripes, The Von Bondies, Wolfmother, and Radio Moscow, the Detroit garage scene, different neo-psychedelic and garage revival bands; it’s hard to count them all. And of course we like Justin Bieber, ha-ha. He’s a real macho man.
Can you talk a little about Bungalow Bums songwriting process a little bit? Is there a lot of jamming and free exchange of ideas that you all distill into songs after a long process of distillation? Or is it more of a situation where someone comes to the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out, compose or arrange with the rest of the band?
We always have two bags of grass, seventy five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... Also, a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of beer, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls. Just kidding, ha-ha. By the way, I’m a big fan of Hunter Thompson.
Do you all enjoy recording? As a musician myself I think that most of us can really appreciate the final product, there’s not a whole lot better in the world than holding an album in your hands knowing that it’s yours and you made it. Getting to that point though, especially when working with an entire band can be a little bit stressful to say the very least. How is it in recording for you all?
Of course we do! It’s like the conception of the child, you know? Of course it’s stressful, we always abuse one another, have disputes and even chase one another with knives but we really love the process, maybe even more than the result. As for our style of recording, we simply do it and see what turns out.
How does Bungalow Bums handle recording? Do you utilize a studio environment when recording or is it more of a DIY, on your own time and turf prospect?
We just rent studio time and record in short sessions; about four to five hours.
Does Bungalow Bums do a lot of prep work before you record tightening down song arrangements and getting stuff to sound just the way you want it to? Or is the recording process more of an organic flexible one where things have room to change and evolve?
We like the second approach, spontaneous decisions about parts and sounds. I thinks that’s the real rock’n’roll style. It concerns not only the music, but also other aspects of our lives. Maybe it’s part of our mentality. There’s a famous Russian proverb, “avos’ shto-nibud’ poluchitsya”. It means something like, “let the chips fall where they may”.
Your first release that I know of was 2010’s Body In The Trunk. Can you share some of your memories of recording that first album? Was it a fun, pleasurable experience for you all? Where and when was it recorded? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used?
Our first release was the Jenny Feels Great EP. We recorded it in 2008. It consists of four songs that were recorded again for Body in the Trunk two years later. It was a live recording and it was really fun. We just got to that point, got some beer and started to play. Jenny Feels Great was all recorded on a portable studio and was done during three or four hours and Body in the Trunk is the first studio album. Body In The Trunk was all recorded at USSR Studio in Omsk by Sergey Usov and Eugene Schmidt.
I know that Body In The Trunk is available digitally but was that ever released on CD or vinyl? If so who put it out and is that still in print?
We did it ourselves. We did about one hundred or two hundred copies. We just sold it at gigs. I gave the last copies away to our friends, so I don’t even have one anymore. We think that music and commerce are two separate things so all of our digital releases are free for streaming or download. I can definitely say we’re just very appreciative of people who share it.
You followed up Body In The Trunk with Nowheria two years later in 2012. Was the recording of that album very different than your first album? There was a pretty marked shift from a more distinct garage punk sound on Body In The Trunk to a bluesy, folky blend of traditional garage rock and psychedelia on Nowheria. What brought about the shift in sounds? Was that a conscious decision or did it just happen out of a sort of natural evolution of the band?
Yeah, it was different. Two of our members moved to St. Petersburg after our last tour in Almaty the ex-capital of Kazakhstan, in the end of 2010. Actually, the band ceased to exist between the end of 2010 and September of 2011, when I, being tired of idleness, called our old bass player and a new drummer and started working on some new songs with them. We recorded Nowheria six months later as a trio, with only one guitar. That album’s very private. It’s devoted not only to our dying motherland, but also to a time when rock music was young and naïve, but also very sincere. It really sucks I was born when I was.
Can you talk about the recording of Nowheria a little bit. When was that material recorded? Who recorded it and where was that? What kind of equipment was used?
It was all recorded in Omsk at USSR Studio (Usov Schmidt Sound Recordings) by Sergey Usov and Eugene Schmidt, same as Body In The Trunk. There’re no other adequate studios in Omsk. USSR has good equipment; good drums, good microphones, good vintage effect boards, etcetera. I don’t remember all the details. It was recorded quickly, during March and April of 2012. Then I moved to St. Petersburg to start a new life.
Who put Nowheria out and how was that album released? I know it’s also available on your Bandcamp page but I didn’t know if it had seen a physical release of any sort or who put it out?
I put it out. I just wrote, “It’s a midnight in Siberia. Fly here, evil spirits” and added a link to the SoundCloud page. Half a year later, a little Moscow DIY label called No Bread offered to release CD and cassette copies; about 300 CD’s and 150 cassettes, respectively.
I know you all are prepping for the release of a new album at this point. What’s the name of the new album? Did you all try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting or recording of this album? What can our readers expect from the new full-length? When and where was this material recorded? Who recorded it and who’s going to be releasing it? What kind of equipment was used? What mediums is this album going to be released on? Is it going to be a CD release or are you all hoping to do some wax?
We’re going to call our third LP Lawless Days in Reservation. The new thing is that we recorded songs I prepared for my solo project Squirting Heart, which is a one-man band. It’s influenced by folk, blues and dark country sounds, in opposition to the raw, heavy psych rock songs written for Bungalow Bums. Other new influences you can hear are funk and western. Nowheria was an integral, conceptual album. The new LP’s more eclectic. We invited different musician to help us with instruments like banjo, organ, sax, harp, etcetera. That was a cool new experience! And of course the sound will vary from the two previous albums ‘cause we record it in a new studio with different stuff.
Does Bungalow Bums have any other music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a single or a song on a compilation that I might have missed?
Our song “No More” was on Psychedelic Underground Generation Vol. 2 a Belgian compilation in 2012. We also have a song from an old live session called “Welcome 2CBeria”. It was recorded in 2009 as the soundtrack for short movie about Siberia that we tried to shoot. And, lastly, I can offer you my Squirting Heart, DIY authentic lo-fi hometapes. Some of the songs I record as Squirting Heart are then included on Bungalow Bums’ albums.
Other than the upcoming album obviously, does Bungalow Bums have any releases in the works or on the horizon at this point?
We’ll write and record new stuff before one’s dying day, ha-ha. I can only quote one of my favorite books, Too Weird for Ziggy by Sylvie Simmons. She wrote, “Everyone can enter the rock music. But everyone should remember: the Death waits on the exit”.
With the completely insane postage increases this past year where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of you music? I try to provide people with as many possibilities for picking up music as I can, there’s nothing worse than not being able to afford the shipping on an album!
Dear Americans, you can find everything on our Bandcamp or SoundCloud pages. It’s free for listening and download and please feel free to share it if you really like it! As for copies... It may be available on vinyl on one good old German label specializing in psych, prog and stoner music; at least we hope so! But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
What about our international and overseas readers?
I hope they exist, ha-ha. We have some international friends of Facebook; they’re very kind and courteous. I talk with everyone who interested in our music. It’s great not to have any borders between people.
And where’s the best place for fans to keep up with the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases from Bungalow Bums at?
Either our official Facebook page or my own page, just search for Bungalow Bums, Squirting Heart, or Vadim Sukharev. I will answer everyone who wants to talk.
Are there any major goals that Bungalow Bums are looking to accomplish in 2014?
The main goal is the release of Lawless Days in Reservation. The tentative release date is September tenth. Hope we’ll finish the work in time. We’ll try to release that and maybe organize a little German/France tour.
Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring? Do you enjoy touring? What’s life like on the road for Bungalow Bums?
We were active during 2007 to 2010 and it was the best time. Now it’s become harder, but of course we want to tour a lot more than we get a chance to now. Life on the road means new people and new places; I think it’s an awesome experience for everyone.
Do you remember what the first song that Bungalow Bums ever played live was? When and where would that have been at?
It was our first song, “God Bless Rock’n’Roll” which was on our first LP Body in the Trunk. We performed it live for the first time at the Blow-Up Party Vol.1 in March, 2007. It was in Omsk of course.
Do you have any interesting or funny stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think it’s better to tell them sitting in the bar with a double-whiskey, but we do like to burn our guitars and forests, ha-ha.
Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent to people who might not have ever heard you all before, like flyers, posters, shirt designs and covers? Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re tying to convey with your art? Do you all have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to those kinds of things? If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?
We know that the band’s design is a part of the game. We like designs to reflect our musical style such as rich history of psychedelic artwork, or the album’s mood. For example, both the photos for Nowheria were by me. But we also remember music is the main thing. Some new garage and psychedelic bands concentrate too much on sub-cultural art or fashion, forgetting about the quality and originality of the music. I think that’s a mistake. As for our artwork, it’s all made by different people. Some of them are made by our friend Olya Dyer who now plays in the popular Manchester neo-psych band The Underground Youth (Interview here), some of them are made by our alco-friend Eugene Mexxx Mikhalchenko of NakedDesign. The new LP cover is in process, it’s drawing by our new young St. Petersburg designer, Polina Okean AKA OohPolly.
With all of the options available to artists today I’m always curious why artists choose the various mediums of release that they do and why. Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music? What about when you’re listening to or purchasing music? If so why?
I prefer SoundCloud or Bandcamp just because everyone uses those services. As for new music, I look for it on a popular Russian social network called Vkontatke. By the way, we have a pretty strong community there, about 2600 members. So, if you want us to help you with new audience in Russia just write me and I’ll make a post about your band. I think it’s the right thing to help some good new music find some good new ears, ha-ha!
Do you have a music collection at all? If so can you tell us about it?
Of course, I have a little vinyl and cassette collection from my childhood, and lots of digital music.
I grew up around what I would consider a pretty sizable collection of music and there was always something magical about being able to wander over to the shelves of music and pull something at random off the shelf, pop it into the player, stare at the artwork, read the liner notes and let it all transport me away to another world. There’s something about holding an album in your hands, the artwork, the liner notes, which allow you this rare glimpse inside of the mind of the artists that created it and make for a more complete listening experience; at least for me. Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
Of course, we think it’s better to touch than just to see or hear. Music should continue to be released physically. We’re totally retrograde in regards to this question.
I’m pretty passionate about music and I love my music collection but among many problems, taking it on the go has always been a paramount concern with me. Even with the advent of CDs and tapes I couldn’t stuff a duffle bag full of enough music to take with me on the go. Digital music has taken care of that problem almost overnight. I can carry as much music on my phone as I could have in said duffle bag at this point ha-ha! That’s not the crazy thing though, when you team digital music with the internet that’s when you get the real game changer! Digital music has exposed people to an entire universe of music that they otherwise wouldn’t have been privy to and this interview is a prime example of that. I would never have heard of you all had it not been for the internet and I couldn’t have listened, or talked to you all to set up this interview without the aid of digital music and the internet. With the good comes the bad though and while people are being exposed to a ton of new music, illegal music is running rampant and it’s harder and harder to get recognized in the chocked digital jungle. As an artist during the reign of the digital era, how do you feel about digital music and distribution?
It’s not such a simple question. The bright side is that the music’s available and some bums from Nowheria can just upload it to some new audience in other parts of the world. That’s really great. The dark side is that listeners have become fed up with new music. Overall I think that digital formats and the internet helps young and unknown musicians to share their art with other people. That’s really awesome! No matter how many listeners you have, one hundred or one thousand or one million, you just spread your art and find some people who like it. Which I think is the main thing for every artist. Who knows, maybe a hundred years from now someone will find a link to this interview, listen to our music and think that he’s found a real pearl ‘cause he’s the only one listening to Bungalow Bums in the world at that point. As for the symbiosis of digital and physical music, I think an ideal situation is when somebody picks their pearls from among digital downloads and then orders physical copies for thier own private collection.
I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can. I spend more time than I would like to admit listening to music online and looking for new cool music out at the local shop but a lot of the best tips that I get comes from musicians such as you. Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of yet?
I can recommend every band I’ve mentioned in this interview, our friends’ bands Stereo Siberia, The Foxy Riders, The Flash Fever, Robot Monsta, WEO, The Dead Crowns, Woozy Riff, The Optical Sounds… All those guys are awesome! Cheers from the Russian North-West!
What about nationally and internationally?
You mean new bands? I think The Flying Eyes, Uncle Acid and The Deadbeats, Wolf People, Graveyard Train, First Communion Afterparty, Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound, The Sadies, Slim Wild Boar and His Forsaken Shadow, The Underground Youth (Interview here), Black Market Karma, Tweak Bird, Black Pistol Fire, Get Your Gun, Your Headlights Are On, Goat, Tales of Murder And Dust, Causa Sui, Dead Horse One, Dead Rabbits, and Voice of Seven Thunders are really awesome. And that’s only the top of the mountain you know!
Thanks so much for taking the time to get through this monster of an interview. I know it wasn’t short and I don’t assume it was very easy to finish for a few reasons the least of which not being the fact that English is your second language. Thanks again for finishing this before we sign off is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk about?
I’m very glad and appreciated this talk. I like all the people who try to help each other with their art and I try to do it myself. In short: live where you want to live, do the things you want to do, help carry each other and forget about all the borders between people! Our bungalow is always open for any people and any new ideas. Best wishes from these wild Nowherian bums!
(2008) Bungalow Bums – Jenny Feels Great – EP, digital, CD – UNKNOWN
(2008) Bungalow Bums – My Babe Is Lookin’ So Fine – Single, digital, UNKNOWN
(2009) Bungalow Bums – Welcome 2CBeria – Soundtrack, digital, UNKNOWN
(2010) Bungalow Bums – Body In The Trunk – LP, digital, CD – UNKNOWN
(2012) Bungalow Bums – Nowheria – LP, digital, CD – UNKNOWN
(2012) Bungalow Bums – Sing This Song – Single, home tape, digital – UNKNOWN
(2014) Bungalow Bums – Lawless Days in Reservation – (release date: September, 10th 2014) LP, digital
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014