Turbo-polka masters Russkaja released their latest record Kosmopoliturbo back in August through Naplam Records and have been touring extensively after that. Despite the clear Russian influences, all is not what is seems with the band – as guitarist Engel Mayr discusses.
RUSHONROCK – Your music seems to cross over so many genres and themes, how does that come together in your head?
Engel Mayr: We all come from so many different musical backgrounds and everyone of us loves different styles of music that it’s just natural for us to mix it all up! In my youth I was a big fan of John Zorn’s NAKED CITY which is basically everything you can imagine mixed up!
RUSHONROCK – From a songwriting perspective, is it difficult to switch between languages all the time?
EM:Georgij is very talented when it comes to languages so it’s natural for him and the most important thing: he enjoys it!
RUSHONROCK – And is it a conscious decision to switch in between languages or do you do it when it feels natural?
EM: Some songs seem to need certain languages, at least with Russkaja! There was a song on the new album KOSMOPOLITURBO that didn’t really work out lyrically until we tried another language. Suddenly it was perfect!
RUSHONROCK – Please tell us a little bit about your background? How did you become a Russian turbo polka band from Vienna?
EM: Georgij had the idea of setting up a band mixing the Russian background he has (born in Moscow and came to Vienna, Austria at the age of 10) with all the other cool stuff out there. Metal, Ska, Rock, Funk etc. Thanks Georgij, it turned out fucking great!
RUSHONROCK – What sort of music influences you now, and what did you listen to growing up?
EM: Growing up I listened to everything from Rock/Metal to Jazz and Fusion. So from Led Zeppelin and GunsnRoses to Miles Davis and Duke Ellington. Nowadays there’s even more different stuff: Tower Of Power, D’Angelo, Mars Volta, Glenn Hughes, John Mayer, ZZ Top, Jessie J, Gogol Bordello.
RUSHONROCK – Talking about Kosmopoliturbo, I love the bit on Alive that goes into this kind of EDM breakdown at the 1 minute 20 mark – how did something like that come into your songs?
EM: Georgij loves that musical style and he had the idea of putting some of it into one of the new songs!
RUSHONROCK – Is putting a band together who can play this style of music difficult? You must have looked for some specific qualities in people?
EM: There’s of course not many people that fit in such a band and we’re lucky that we have a great team right now!
RUSHONROCK – Would you ever stray away from turbo polka into straight metal, or is it in your blood?
EM: It’s definitely in our blood! We love straight metal, but we also love so many stuff that is completely different that it automatically turns into something different!
RUSHONROCK – And the album is out on the 4th of August, you must be excited for it to be finally released?
EM: Yeah we are!
RUSHONROCK – You’re doing a massive European tour this year, but have you got any plans to come to the UK?
EM: We’re basically on the road til the end of the year! Unfortunately there’s nothing planned in the UK right now, but I hope we’ll be back there as soon as possible!