wild dandelion stomping with bamboogie injections

THIS ARTICLE is an in­tro­duc­tion to Bam­boogie In­jec­tions, a con­tem­po­rary Russian surf band, with a look at their first album, Wild Dan­de­lion Stomping. It is also a very brief look at the Russian surf music scene of the past—something few of us who grew up in the ’60s were aware ex­isted. We did know that deca­dent Western rock & roll was ab­solutely for­bidden in the USSR and Soviet-bloc coun­tries, but ap­par­ently, some of the music pen­e­trated the Iron Curtain.

There was a hot market for smug­gled records and tapes from radio broad­casts. Sup­pos­edly, there were bootleg records of Elvis, Bea­tles, Stones, and others pressed into dis­carded med­ical and dental x-ray plates!

 

Surf music is un­pop­ular in Russia, but Bam­boogie In­jec­tions plays surf music de­spite that.

 

But Western rock music and mu­si­cians never of­fi­cially made it past the Iron Cur­tain in the ’60s. Things changed with time: the first big con­cert fea­turing Western rockers was sched­uled for July 3, 1988, and was head­lined by the Beach Boys and Paul McCartney!

It was to take place on Palace Square in Leningrad, the site of many mil­i­tary pa­rades and May Day demon­stra­tions. Also on the bill were Joan Baez and Carlos San­tana along with sev­eral So­viet stars, such as the Pes­nyary, the Ariel, and Alla Pu­ga­chova. Un­for­tu­nately, the Party old guard had a change of mind and can­celed the show at the last moment.

For­tu­nately, the up­roar by fans led to a full-scale tour of Russia in May 1979 by Elton John. This paved the way for more artists to enter and per­form rock music in Com­mu­nist countries.

 

Dandelion: photo of Russian pop group the Singing Poyushchiye Gitary (Singing Guitars) in the 1960s.

Photos and videos of the Singing Gui­tars usu­ally show a group of four guitar players with a key­boardist and/or a drummer. This image was ap­par­ently taken from a tele­vi­sion video (hence the fuzzy quality) and shows the four gui­tarists with a trumpet player. This photo makes the group look more like a po­lite ver­sion of the Amer­ican Breed than an early ’60s surf band.

Singing guitars & electrons

What we didn’t hear was that there ac­tu­ally was a Russian rock & roll scene and the kings of that scene were a band called Poyuschie Gi­tary, or the Singing Gui­tars. They were the So­viet Union’s first rock band to reach large-scale suc­cess and pop­u­larity in the So­viet Union, Eastern Eu­rope, and even in a few non-bloc nations.

In 1968 or ’69, they were the first Russian band al­lowed to re­lease a pop-rock album. The 10-inch record in­cluded vocal and in­stru­mental tracks, some of which was surf music! There are also videos of the group per­forming in 1969.

There are sev­eral Eng­lish spellings at­trib­uted to this group: Poyuschie Gi­tary, Poyushchiye Gi­tary, and Po­jushie Gi­tary seem to be the most common. Photos on the In­ternet with one of these names de­pict a 4 or 6-man guitar group ala the Shadows. 

There was an­other So­viet band in the ’60s called Elec­tron (Электрон) that played in­stru­mental surf music more closely then Poyuschie Gi­tary. For ex­am­ples of Elec­tron’s music, click here. The first 4:30 of this YouTube entry is rather lame pop music, but things kick into gear after that and we hear gen­uine surf music.

But like most of the world, surf music lost favor with a Russian au­di­ence and more or less dis­ap­peared! Russian bands did not pick up on the surf music re­vival of the late 1970s and early ’80s. So there is al­most no surf scene there today—except …

 

Dandelion: photo of Russian pop group Electron (Электрон) in the 1960s.

Ahh, now these guys look like a surf band! A po­lite, ventures-like surf band, granted, but nonethe­less an early ’60s en­semble. What’s missing? A big bass drum with the group’s name. (These guys look like they could have served as the role model for Devo, minus the strange apparel.)

Now there are Bamboogie Injections

Surf music—real in­stru­mental surf music led by a heavily vi­bra­toed guitar—is alive and well and back in Russia! An outfit calling them­selves Bam­boogie In­jec­tions plays surf-based rock & roll music. In it, they mix el­e­ments of psy­che­delia and punk but it comes out sounding like waves from the Bering Sea slap­ping the beaches of Kamchatka.

Last year, they re­leased their first album, WILD DANDELION STOMPING. I like the title and see two in­ter­pre­ta­tions: one gives me a mental image of a wild dan­de­lion stomping some­thing, per­haps a preda­tory in­sect. This is the po­etic in­ter­pre­ta­tion (un­less dan­de­lions in your part of the world have feet and are ambulatory).

The other in­ter­pre­ta­tion pro­vides an image of an event where wild dan­de­lions are stomped by hu­mans as a step in the trans­for­ma­tion of this ubiq­ui­tous flower into a potable, in­tox­i­cating wine. In fact, the music on the album could be played to mo­ti­vate the stomping of the dan­de­lion petals into a mash.

 

Dandelion: cover of the album WILD DANDELION STOMPING from 2016.

The fab­u­lous cover art for Bam­boogie In­jec­tion’s first album is by gui­tarist Den Ko­valev. It does not look like any kind of art that one would as­so­ciate with beaches and woodies and Dick Dale and the Chan­tays (al­though it wouldn’t look too out of place on a late ’60s Beach Boys album).

Some wild dandelion stomping

WILD DANDELION STOMPING was is­sued in June 2016; it is being ad­ver­tised as a sort of psy­che­delic surf music. For readers in­ter­ested in real ’60s surf music, relax: the psy­che­delia on this album con­sists mainly of a few tasteful, tech­nical flour­ishes. For the most part, the music is ’60s style surf rock!

The album was recorded by a 3-piece band con­sisting of:

Den Ko­valev: gui­tars, vo­cals
Kate Bam­boogie: bass, key­boards, vo­cals
Kirill Mr. Deadly Stab: drums

There are eleven tracks on the album: eight orig­i­nals by Den, and two orig­i­nals by Den and Kate. Banzai Washout was written by Los An­geles ses­sion mu­si­cian Steve Dou­glas and first recorded by Dick Dale & His Del­tones in 1964. Arrange­ments by Den and Kate.

Astra Incog­nita (Ko­valev)
Bog For­ma­tion (Ko­valev)
Cig­a­r­il­loman (Ko­valev)
900SP Test At The Blind Center (Ko­valev)
Rainbow Hunter (Ko­valev)
Dan­de­lion Wine (Ko­valev)
Banzai Washout (Dou­glas)
Walking With Nighthawk (Kovalev-Kate)
Tube Dance (Ko­valev)
Timestrikers (Kovalev-Kate)
In­stro­duc­tion To (Ko­valev)

Most of these ti­tles are fairly in­nocuous, more in line with surf songs of the early ’60s rather than psych songs of the late ’60s. Ex­cept for one: Astra Incog­nita com­bines two Latin words that mean stars and un­mapped or un­charted. So I read it as Un­charted Stars.

WILD DANDELION STOMPING is avail­able as a com­pact disc or as a dig­ital down­load at Bam­boogie In­jec­tion’s Band­camp pageAnd you can visit them on their Face­book page!

 

Dandelion: photo of Den Kovalev and Kate Bamboogie of Bamboogie Injections.

A rare photo of Den and Kate.

Q&A with Kate Bamboogie

There is very little in­for­ma­tion on the group on the Internet—at least in Eng­lish! So I had a ques­tion & an­swer ex­change via email with Kate Bam­boogie. I kept it brief and to the point. My ques­tions are ital­i­cized while Kate’s an­swers are in stan­dard print: 

1. How long have you been Bam­boogie Injections?

As Bam­boogie In­jec­tions, we have ex­isted since the be­gin­ning of 2016.

2. Did Bam­boogie In­jec­tions play or record with an­other name?

We had an­other name a long time ago, but we wouldn’t like to men­tion it be­cause it’s not im­por­tant for us now. (We had no re­leases under the old name.) During the six or so years be­fore 2016, we per­formed shows while Den Ko­valev was working on orig­inal ma­te­rial of surf-rock in­stru­mental stuff. It was the time when surf music com­pletely filled our minds!

3. How old are you three?

We are 25-35 years old.

4. Is there an ac­tive club scene in Russia where you play surf-type music regularly?

Surf music is a VERY un­pop­ular style in Russia, so there isn’t re­ally an ac­tive surf scene here. But we play surf de­spite it.

5. Why haven’t you re­leased WILD DANDELION STOMPING as a vinyl LP?

We plan to issue vinyl later. (Of course, we think about it.)

6. Why haven’t you re­leased a single?

We made a de­ci­sion that the first record had to be an album, be­cause it’s the log­ical step for a mostly un­known band.

Surf music is un­pop­ular in Russia, but Bam­boogie In­jec­tions plays surf de­spite it. Click To Tweet

Dandelion: painting of a beach scene with surf band and dancers by Tiki artist Shag.

FEATURED IMAGE: Bam­boogie In­jec­tions ap­peared at the 12th edi­tion of the Surfer Joe Summer Fes­tival 2017 on June 23, 2017. Billed as the “World’s #1 Surf Music Event,” it is held in Livorno, Italy.

 

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good write neal, i never knew there were more surf bands in russia than in wyoming.

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