In my ignorance, I only heard the name Astrakhan for a famous late ’70s novel by Italian writer Piero Chiara and the related movie entitled “Astrakhan’s coat”.
Now, thanks to the web facilities, I have the pleasure of hosting a highly creative, eclectic band that comes from the capital of the Southern Russian steppe region called Vevil.
The imaginative duo, comprised of Vitaly Borodin (guitars, piano, organ, live looping, vocals, bass, synth, violin) and Vlad Limarenko (bass, guitar, synth and vocals), play an experimental post-punk sound not easy to pinpoint, encompassing four decades of music and constantly contaminated by different sonic suggestions, varying from psychedelia, progressive, ambient, noise-rock, industrial, drone, etc… but not for this reason less intriguing and captivating…just open your narrow-minded music perspective and enjoy…
Thanks so much for the interview. Let’s trace back to your personal roots, your earliest inspirations and influences that drove you to became a musician and form a band.
Vlad: Yearning for art, anxious owls and desiring to make experiments with different sounds is why I am a musician.
Vitaly: In my childhood years I went to music school and dreamed of becoming a composer (not creating a band). Then I suddenly discovered popular rock music and got myself a school-guitarist starter pack. It was the ZOOM processor and Zombie guitar. I tried to play rap-rock. Such a sweet time.
How did VEVIL first come into existence? How has it evolved over time?
Vlad: We were school friends and tried to record tracks. I tried making instrumentals, it was something like ambient. Vitaly composed academic music and rock. We’ve already had a great rapport by that time, an ability to complement each other in our creativity.
Vitaly: It sounds like a classic rock band history. Vlad and Igor have been my friends from school and university. Some group members were coming and going, but originally, we Vevil were a trio, it was true up to this year. Now we are a duo.
- Rooted in 80s-influenced post-punk you’re a band unafraid to experiment with different sonic suggestions (psych, ambient, prog, etc.), Could you talk about and how would you describe your sound?
Vlad: Sound for us is a way to transmit the mood and images. Genre tags don’t matter. We are melophiles.
Vitaly: I don’t know how to describe our style. Progressive post-punk? I think every band that wants to become a real thing should be a little bit “out of style”.
Tell us about the underground rock music scene of your hometown Astrakhan and Russia in general… How does your hometown and Country had/has an impact on your music?
Vlad: There’s a lot of talented artists in Russia. But unfortunately, they aren’t much known outside post-Soviet countries due to the language barrier or poor promotion. But now it’s changing. Thanks to YouTube, foreign listeners can find bands, quite popular in Russia, as Kino (post-punk/new wave), Alyans (synth-pop), Ic3peak (electronic\witch-house). In Astrakhan Gruppa Zhenskogo Aikido and Vespero play in related genres.
Vitaly: There are many very interesting bands in Russia, probably in every big city. From modern Russian underground, I can advise the only EP of Stress (shoegaze trio without bass but with charming vocal), the first album of Ascorbic Acid (the unique violin rock band) and the second album of Spasibo.
Something about Astrakhan. I’ve embraced post-punk music playing with Kirill Palkin (now he plays in “Albom Dlya Risovaniya”), I am thankful to him for that. And Vespero, of course
Yes, now I am a part of Vespero band as well, but the group has existed since 2003, 1- years before I already played with them. I used to go to Vespero’s live gigs absorbing every note from each of their songs. They have put me in depth of art and taught how to work with sound.
Tell us about the process of composing and recording the songs
Vlad: Vitalik or I bring a ready concept of a future track and we shape, arrange and record it together.
- How do you write and what your lyrics are about?
Vlad: My lyrics touch on themes that interest me the most – from personal feelings and dark blue abstractions to acts of terrorism, political regimes, and ideologies.
Vitaly: I write lyrics rarely. When emotions fill everything, I just have no choice.
Could you give us an in-depth insight into your last single?
Vlad: A great perky track for your school or student’s party. Or for cozy family listening.
Vitaly: It was an accident. I was riding the ‘marshrootka’ (small Russian bus). I was playing something in Garage Band style and words of the chorus came to my mind.
The band has released 4 singles and an EP, which song would you pick out as your favorite from your releases so far and why?
Vlad: My favorite Vevil’s tracks are “Cold Ocean”, “Memory” and “Empty City”. But we have not recorded these yet. Hold on!
Vitaly: “Cynicism”. I think it is our most interesting and complex work. It has several concepts at the same time. We worked on the record for a year.
What’s your favorite part about playing live? Your highlights so far?
Vitaly: I like playing personal songs related to the scenes from my life and reliving them again.
What are you personally listening to at the moment? Which Russian bands do you recommend?
Vlad: I find great interest in the independent scene in Russia as a whole, I advise all these bands mentioned above. Now I am listening to Nick Cave’s new album and it’s really enjoyable.
Vitaly: Last album I enjoyed was Bernard Bonnier – ‘Casse-tête’.
Which band/artist would you dream to collaborate with?
Vlad: Not so long ago we’ve asked Robert Smith (The Cure) for collaboration but he hasn’t answered yet. People say that he is busy recording a new album!
Vitaly: Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu.
Were there any pivotal records or live concerts that changed indelibly your perception of music?
Vlad: Recently we’ve played in the biggest festival of our city – “Muzika na trave” (“Music on the grass”). It was a great experience.
Make a list of your 5 desert island albums …
– Nautilus Pompilius – ‘Titanic’
-The Chameleons – ‘Script of the bridge’
-King Crimson – ‘In the Court of the Crimson King’
-Dolphin – ‘She (“Ona”)’
-Current 93 – ‘Thunder Perfect Mind’
Vitaly: If Vlad is on an island with me and he has taken those albums…
-Godspeed You Black Emperor! – ‘F♯A♯∞’
-Igor Stravinsky – ‘Rite of Spring’
-My Bloody Valentine – ‘Loveless’
-Slint – ‘Spiderland’
-Tera Melos – ‘X’ed out.’
What´s the plan for the future…
Vlad: Releasing a new album and touring with it!
Vitaly: We have many plans, for example, now we are making a music video. But my personal plan is to record something that isn’t like anything you’ve ever heard.
Many thanks for being our welcome guest, just the last question: Is there anything I forgot to ask you and would you like to say?
Thanks so much for the interview, Fabrizio!
Keep up with Vevil: