Mumiy Troll eyes success in U.S.

Mumiy Troll.

Russian rock band Mumiy Troll is planning to release its first foreign album, “Comrade Ambassador”, in late March, a spokesman said on Friday.

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“Comrade Ambassador”, to be released together with U.S. company Syndicate and Russias social network, will consist of 14 tracks, including a Russian language version of the Mamas and Papas 1965 hit “California Dreaming.”

Despite the fact that bands founder and songwriter Ilya Lagutenko speaks Russian, English and Mandarin Chinese fluently and has recorded some tracks in English, the songs included on the album will be all in Russian.

Explaining the decision, Lagutenko said, “The world has forgotten about the evil empire and is ready to surrender to the empire of pop rock.”

The world has forgotten about the evil empire and is ready to surrender to the empire of pop rock.


Mumiy Troll, one of the most popular Russian bands of the last decade or so, is playing a rare show in Moscow. Coincidentally, April 24 is the 12th anniversary of the release of the band’s breakthrough debut album, “Morskaya”, which is set to have an impact on the show’s playlist.

“It would be logical to divide the show into two parts, one for new songs from the most recent album [“8″], and one for those we began with,” Ilya Lagutenko, Mumiy Troll’s frontman, said in an interview. “We actually haven’t played many songs from ‘Morskaya’ for a while, so it should be fun not only for the audiences but also for ourselves.”

Earlier this month, the band released its first international album, “Comrade Ambassador”. Distributed in Northern America by Ryko Distribution Partners, the CD contains 13 songs and a bonus track, all in Russian and taken from the band’s two last albums, “Amba” and “8”.

According to Lagutenko, releasing the album in Russian was a well-thought decision.

“We decided that [the album] should reflect the current state of the band,” he said. “So that our first encounter with people who have never heard of Mumiy Troll would show them what we play on a regular basis.

“We don’t have many illusions and realise that outside Russia, there is basically no commercial interest in music with lyrics in languages other than English. For us, this is if not an experiment, then some sort of expedition.”

The release of the album was preceded by a short North American tour organized by well-known booker The Agency Group, which has managed tours by Gogol Bordello, King Crimson, Muse, My Chemical Romance, The White Stripes and The Hives.

“It was the first time that not only our former compatriots came to our shows,” he said. “It must have been because the tour was run by American promoters, and they were pleasantly surprised that it was sold out, given that we were an absolutely unknown, ‘young’ band.”

According to Mumiy Troll’s frontman, the booking agency is now organizing a two-month U.S. tour for the band in October and November, with about 50 dates, 80 per cent of which will be outside places where Russian immigrants traditionally live.

“We’ll be able to see for ourselves how much American audiences are interested in Russian rokapops,” Lagutenko said, referring to the term he used to describe Mumiy Troll’s style back in the 1990s, pointing to the mix of rock and pop music influences in their songs.

Lagutenko said the term came into being as a joke. “I knew that journalists would pick it up although I didn’t expect that it would be used on such a large scale,” he said. “And it’s quite funny to think that we – as the inventors of this genre – are in the same category as the person who once invented the term ‘rock’n’roll’.”

Formed in 1983 in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, Mumiy Troll came to the limelight with the release of “Morskaya”, after more than a decade of semi-obscure existence and hiatuses.

“In a way, we were lucky because at that time, audiences were ready to build a bridge between [the underground and the mainstream] and there was migration from the underground to mass popularity,” Lagutenko recalled.

The band now has eight studio albums under its belt, but as the landscape of the music industry is changing, Mumiy Troll doesn’t seem too keen on recording another traditional album.

“The musical album is becoming an obsolete medium,” Lagutenko said. “And I asked myself if we should really be thinking about recording a next album, on which there would be between 10 and 15 tracks and the length of it would be between 45 and 55 minutes. That format, which was necessary for sales of LPs and CDs, is going out of date. And with all this crisis stuff going on, an album is no longer a goal for a musical group, even on the commercial side.”

So, according to the band’s frontman, the next work by Mumiy Troll might be not an album, but “something else, something I can only vaguely see at this point.”

“It could be a movie, or it could be instrumental music,” Lagutenko said.

“I probably won’t develop ideas for songs that I currently have in my head into classic song patterns, like an intro, verse and chorus.

I was thinking about a hiatus of a couple of years – as far as new releases are concerned, because we recently released a double album – but I think that we will come up with something new much earlier, maybe before the end of this year.”


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