Banned from the Motherland: Svetlanas
The Svetlanas have been called "The Most Dangerous Band in the World" but when I met with the singer, Olga, and the bassist, Steve, I got the impression that they were sweethearts. I first heard their music a week before, when I interviewed the Barb Wire Dolls. The Svetlanas were setting up and a giant Putin face with Kiss makeup was demanding my attention. I was blown away and knew I had to get some time with them.... So then this happened:
How did you get the name Svetlanas?
Olga (Singer): Svetlanas is a common female name in Russia, it's more like Lucy here in the States but it's also a brand for tubes or valves or whatever you call it.
Steve (Bassist): During the Second World War these tubes were part of the radar system of a soviet fighter and their quality control center was based in the US. How ironic is it?
O: oh yes, Svetlanas is also a name for... escorts? Ha! You cannot imagine how boring it is to look for you band name on Google and get THAT Svetlanas website on the top.
How would you describe your sound?
O: Good question, because I don’t know. In the start, we thought we played punk, but people told us we play hardcore. So when we called ourselves a hardcore band, they told us that we are trash-core. In our last review, a girl wrote that we play desert punk. We have two bass players and we play fast... It’s fun and that's all!
Most bands only have one bass player, why do you have two?
O: We didn’t choose! Two years ago we did a European tour with the Dwarves and we met Nick Oliveri. Nick is the bass player for the Dwarves. We played some songs with Blag and Nick on stage during the tour. After the tour, Nick asked Diste if he can play with us. We told him yes and after this he officially became part of the lineup. Nick is always super busy, he plays in FIVE bands including Svetlanas of course.
What is your favorite film?
O: I don’t know the title in English. It’s a Rob Zombie movie.
House of 1,000 Corpses?
O: YES! I like horror movies.
S: I love Sergio Leone's movies, and some other 70's spaghetti westerns.
O: We like cartoons too.
[Olga shows me her phone case which bears an ‘Archer’ sticker]
O: Archer... Rick and Morty. We have some Svetlanas fans that come to the show with Rick and Morty shirts. I love Rick.
Because there’s a lot of film references, I was wondering, who comes up with the merch?
O: Diste does most of the band's graphics. Every design always comes from some of us and from our passions.
I’m wearing your underwear right now.
O: WE WANT A PICTURE!
How did you get the residency at The Whisky?
O: Isis, from Barb Wire Dolls, wrote me on Facebook. Because we already know each other. We played together twice. Once in Italy, and once in Arizona. In Tempe. She brought me when we came here in the States. We came here in April. We stayed with Nick at his house and we worked on new material for the new album. So she asked me ‘Do you guys want to play with us at the Whisky?’ ‘YES! Sure!’ They asked us for one gig, if they would support us for one gig. After they asked us if they will support us for all day Monday and all day Saturday in another location, but a lot of things had changed. This is the tour.
Could you talk more about the new album?
O: Yes, our new album is coming out this June. The title is This is Moscow not LA, and we recorded it last January, here in LA at Josh Homme's Pink Duck Studios with Nick.
S: We have some guests in the new album, one of them is Marc Diamond.
O: Marc is the guitar player for the Dwarves. We also have a new label, Rad Girlfriend Records. They are from Ohio, and I’m so excited: This is Moscow Not LA will be our first full-length released in 12" vinyl LP.
Anymore shows after the Whisky?
O: We will play Arizona, and we will have another show in Vegas. Next week we will start our European and UK Tour.
Do you have any hobbies?
O: I read a lot of books.
Do you have a favorite? What are you reading right now?
O: I’m reading Helter Skelter right now, but I read everything. I read Musician Biographies, Fiction. I love Philip K. Dick. He’s one of my favorite writers.
Do you have any favorite places to play?
O: Texas. I love Texas. They are fucking crazy. I love them! I don’t know if I would live in Texas. I can’t survive, but they are crazy in a good way. I love them. Our shows in Texas are incredible. In Europe, England is very good as well…. But Huston, Texas probably is my favorite city.
S: Corpus Christi is one of my favorite cities. They have a lot of crazy Mexican guys. Just crazy. They know how stay in the pit! In Europe Germany and Poland too.
O: I love Mexican people
Will you ever play in Mexico?
O: I wish. Maybe next year. I hope so.
Do you have any jobs outside of the music?
O: This is our job. It’s impossible to have a touring band if you have a regular a job. It’s difficult. It’s a choice.
Do you have any stories? Tour stories?
O: We played Warped Tour 2015. We started the tour in six people. Four are Svetlanas, one driver from Italy, and one merch guy. We started in six and finished with just the four of us. We left the driver in the desert, and the other guy in Vegas.
How did you just leave the driver in the desert?
O: Because the driver never drove. WTF. So we did the tour by ourselves. Can you imagine the Warped Tour, the distance? You got it.
S: He started with a panic attack. His doctor said ‘You can’t drive’
O: So I wanted to speak to the doctor. ‘Can he drive or can’t drive? What happened?’ and he’s not sure if he can drive. Okay, what the fuck? Why’d you choose to be a driver? So we did the tour by ourselves.
S: When we played the Warped Tour, we started in the early morning till 8pm usually. And after in the night, sometimes we had to drive in the night to reach the other location and we started with another day in the early morning. We lost the driver after the first show, and we had to drive ourselves.
Sounds like you didn’t get much sleep.
S: Yeah, we were happy when there was a day off.
O: Because we can do shower ahaha. In the SUMMER! IN TEXAS AND CALIFORNIA! FUUUUUUUUCK! Warped Tour is a very important festival and it is incredible but you have too many things to do. And if you have no crew, you're not allowed to sleep! Hahaha
S: The Warped Tour is amazing and it was an amazing experience.
Are you really “The Most Dangerous Band”?
O: Someone told us.
Who told you?
O: First time on Dying Scene. We probably are. They wrote this after we were banned from Russia.
How were you banned?
O: Two years ago after our album "Naked Horse Rider" and after I set on fire the Putin's picture.
O: No one can be a fan of a dictator. BTW now you guys in America have a big problem too.
We do. And our president seems to be close with that guy. Are you gonna make some Trump underwear?
O: why not?
S: We also have some kind of "big brother" in Italy too.
O: You know what is incredible? We did our last tour in the States, five months ago… I met some guy that told me they will vote for Trump cos he can’t steal money cos he’s already rich. When I listened to this I said ‘Fuck, are you serious?! Do you use your brain? Do you have a brain?!’...
O: If you don’t like Svetlanas, go fuck yourself.
Recommended Listening: Go Fuck You Self, People Suck (fun fact, this was shot the day of the interview)