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.

 

Subscribe
Notify of
Rate this article:
Please rate this article with your comment.
2 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

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

2
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x