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MOTOR’ROLLA, a Ukrainian rock band
Ukrainian rock music develops in a way somewhat different from the way of pop music; there are more of ups and downs in it, more of philosophical reflections, more of political, social allusions and references, more of psychological insights. In other words, Ukrainian rock continues to be creative and searching for new ways of expression.
The first public performance of the Ukrainian rock band MOTOR’ROLLA took place on May 1994. At the time they were into heavy motorcycles and heavy metal rock, and the name of the group reflects their interests of that time.
In 1995, MOTOR’ROLLA wins a Chervona Ruta Festival preliminary contest, and in 1997 they are awarded the third place at this festival. In 1999, MOTOR’ROLLA takes part in a three-day international festival, Rock-Kyiv 99; the band performed on the final day alongside such “monsters of rock” as Monster Magnet and Metallica.
Since then, MOTOR’ROLLA has been regularly taking part in annual Ukrainian rock festivals, Nivroku and Rok-Ekzystentsiya. They perform at big rock shows in Kyiv; they have released two albums, Zabavy patriotiv (The Games Patriots Play, 1996), Tysk (Pressure, 1999), and Shcho komu ne yasno (What Is Not Clear to Who, 2005), and three videos, Revolyutsiya (Revolution), Moya holova ne mikroskhema (My Head Is Not a Microchip), and 8-y kolir (8th Colour). Two of the musicians from the original lineup have left the group — one of them went to the USA and the other one to Spain. In 2003, MOTOR’ROLLA with some of the new members performed alongside Vopli Vidoplyasova, one of the best Ukrainian bands on the rock scene.
Today’s MOTOR’ROLLA is made up of: Serhiy Prysyazhny — vocals, guitar; Ihor Lysy — bass; Oleh Burbela — guitar; Oleksandr Kyrylyuk — drums, backing vocals. Oleh Fishchuk has been MOTOR’ROLLA’s sound engineer right form the start; Bohdan Hlovatsky is the chief manager.
Serhiy Prysyazhny, MOTOR’ROLLA’s frontman, was interviewed by Maksym PROTSKIV, WU senior editor.
Lately, you’ve been performing a lot in shows and at nightclubs in Kyiv. What are your impressions of Kyiv’s music scene? How do you find Kyiv’s rock fans?
They have not changed much in the past ten or twelve years, that is since the time when we started playing — they are as always full of pep. They pass on a lot of their energy to us, and it gives us a perfect reason to go on performing. Incidentally, in the past tree months we have been performing a lot, so much in fact, that we had to interrupt work on a new album that we had started.
Were there any bands or performers that influenced your music style? In one of your songs, for example, “Tini v rayu” (Shadows in Paradise), I discern what seems to be echoes of Metallica? Or am I wrong?
When we were only in the process of our early development, we were open to all kinds of influences, we absorbed as much of musical culture that was of interest to us as we could, and after we had built a sort of foundation on which our music was to stand, we moved on. But traces of influence of such bands as Metallica, or AC/DC still can be found in our music. At later stages of our development we turned to what is called alternative music, and such bands as Sound Garden, Pearl Jam and Nirvana did influence our own style… One correction — you can hardly call Nirvana alternative music any longer, what they play is more pop than anything else. There were a lot of influences that we have absorbed. There are only seven notes in music, and it’s very difficult to produce anything absolutely new and original, but if you listen to our latest songs, I don’t think you’ll be able to compare us with anybody else. We are the product of our times. Pop music, incidentally, has acquired some elements of heavy metal too. Take Britney Spears, for example — the songs she performs have some elements of heavy metal rock in it. It’s fashionable now… Yes, there’s one performer whose music and personality has definitely influenced us, me in particular, probably more than anybody else — it’s Oleh Skrypka. He, the foremost Ukrainian rocker of today, makes honest music. In a certain sense, it is thanks to Skrypka and his VV band that we, MOTOR’ROLLA, have become what we are.
Can you give any definition of the music style you follow?
I can and it’s a very simple definition — energetic, guitar rock.
Two people in MOTOR’ROLLA write lyrics for the songs you sing. You don’t use lyrics written by anybody else, do you? Why?
You see, there was a number of poems to which we wrote music and then performed those songs and included them into our albums. I think they were quite a success. But on our latest album, we have a song the lyrics for which were written by the girl we know, Toma Pryimak. Then we released a single of this song, and made a video. As far as I am concerned, it’s the best song on our album. Does it answer your question?
What is your attitude to punk rock? Quite a few of Ukrainian rock bands and performers — Vika Vradiy, Braty Hadyukiny among them — who later became well known, began their musical careers as punk rockers.
We consider ourselves to be “intellectual punks of Ukraine,” and we try to make our music rather simple, as far as its form is concerned, but energetically powerful. It makes us easily acceptable by our audiences, but at the same time we target college students, young intellectuals rather than ordinary pop music fans. Many college students and young intellectuals are interested in the punk culture. This culture, as is well known, is a catalyst of change, it makes things move in the development of society. We are also developing, we are in a constant creative search, and for us the punk culture is an important element in our development.
In your song, “Ya perevernuv tsey svit,” (“I Overturned This World”), we find such words: “I hear only broken words/ All these transcriptions give me a headache/ All this love gives me only pain/ The shadow should be killed in order to hit the target…/I have overturned this world/ It is the world that is falling apart not me…” I know that asking to give interpretation of the lyrics of a song may be similar to asking what’s the meaning of a joke, but still — what kind of transcriptions are you singing about? What has been overturned in this world? What can you offer to this world?
If we are to go deeper, we should open the Bible and it will give us an ideal model of the world, which differs so much from what we have now. What we have now, I call “the world falling apart” and it’s been happening for quite some time. We want to remind the young people that a lot of things in our society and in the whole world depend on them. We can change things by our actions, and practically everything needs to be changed. And if we do not do it now, we’ll get entrapped, becoming no more than puppets.
Isn’t it a rebellious attitude?
Yes, you can call it this way.
Some of your songs are rather sad. In one of your songs, for example, “Osin zhovto-sira” (“Yellowish-Grey Autumn”), you sing, “No serenity can be found here/I feel so bad, I’ll have to go.” In which direction are you going in this life? What is it that you are running away from? Is this reality so interesting or unpleasant for you?
Let’s not speak of “we” because the lyrics of this song are mine, and the mood was personal rather than collective. In general, you have to be on the move all the time in order not to stagnate. Movement gives freedom …
You speak of changes and movement all the time — aren’t you afraid that in the time of change and dynamic development, you may become incompressible to your audiences?
At the very start we were for a change and development. Our first song, written ten years ago, was the first one that was performed publicly. But we are not just moving — we are creating. We have done something, and we move on, hoping it may be helpful for somebody else’s development. Our society is so variegated that we are not afraid to lose touch with at least some section of society. There’ll always be someone who will relate to our music. We feel that there are bands who are much ahead of us, but there are bands that have fallen a long way behind. I think there’ll always be a place for us. This year marked eighteen years since I’ve been on stage, and all the other members of the group have been around for quite some time too. We are all working at creating such conditions which will let us go on for quite some time too.
The line-up of your group has changed over the years, with some members leaving, and others joining. One of your former members went to the USA, another one to Spain to work. Where do you stand in relation to western culture?
It was western culture that gave the start to rock and we added our own cultural background to rock, remaining within the framework of rock and adding our own colours. We have learnt something from Monster Magnet and Metallica, we even played alongside them on the same stage. They found us and other Ukrainian bands they heard interesting. In general, what we are engaged in now is not just rock music — I call it real culture, living real culture. We pick from the new trends in the west what we think we can use, and they do the same — they learn from us too.
You evidently spend a lot of time away from your family, making music, touring. Also, when you write music and lyrics you probably need certain conditions, privacy to attain the desired emotional state. You don’t feel that you kind of retire into your shell, do you? How does your wife take all this?
That’s a complicated subject but I can tell you that my wife is the first person who tells me whether my song is any good or not. At home, I can do pretty much everything — tidy up, wash, repair and cook. Inspiration and enthusiasm can come at every inopportune moment —I’m peeling potatoes, and then I feel I’m just getting carried away by inspiration! I stop whatever I’ve been doing and rush to put words or music on paper. With me it’s this way, with others it may be different. The musicians from Zdob si zdub, a Moldavian band, told me that they had to go to the countryside to seek ideas and inspiration for their new album. Probably, it’s harmony that brings inspiration. And we do not use drugs to get additional stimulation.
I attended some of your concerts and I can tell that I was impressed not only by your music itself but by the way you give yourself to performing music, fully and completely. You like live shows, don’t you?
Live performances are the ultimate test, and when on stage, we play with abandon, giving it our all. I think three’s nothing more important for a rock band than live shows, no matter how much they pay you for gigs. Sometimes, we even perform free of charge, we want to get that feedback from the audience. We create music not to release our emotions and energy — we are on stage to communicate, to get the feedback, to share. When you are on stage, which is somewhat raised above the floor or ground level, you feel you are a sort of an orator, a leader who should be able to lead people somewhere. There’s a lot of responsibility in it. When you feel that you’ve managed to establish the rapport with the audience, then you start getting that feedback, and it’s something that keeps you going, something worth working and living for. I hope we’ll have more and more of honest, open, emotional and good-quality music in Ukraine. I hope this music will be of all different kinds, in all kinds of styles and directions, so that people could choose what they like best.
Photos by Andriy Stankevych[Prev][Contents][Next]