Mumii Troll Goes Galactic With New Material

`We realize that we will enter the next year as the most significant phenomenon in rock and pop in the galaxy,’ says Mumii Troll’s mainstay Ilya Lagutenko, relaxing backstage after the band had just given a `secret concert’ last Saturday.
The matinee show, which took place at Moscow’s not-so-cheap, eclectically designed club, 16 Tons, was aimed at the band’s close friends, selected reporters and its most ardent fans, among whom could be spotted various Lagutenko lookalikes.
Because of Mumii Troll’s massive popularity, the invitation process was organized according to the old conspiratorial rules once employed by dissident artists: Those invited were informed about the actual venue only three hours before the concert.
Mumii Troll played a 45-minute set of new songs, with the exception of the old number `Siamese Hearts’ and the hit `Devochka’, which Lagutenko sang in Japanese — an echo of the band’s recent tour to Japan.
Lagutenko says he likes the term `a band without borders,’ which was coined by Japanese press to describe Mumii Troll. Earlier this year, the band performed in London, and currently is putting together a demo set in Chinese after they received commercial offers from Hong Kong and China.
Mumii Troll’s frontman is a perfect cosmopolite — born in Vladivostok, the formerly closed city in Russia’s Far East, he studied Chinese and spent a decade doing various non-musical jobs in China and Britain.
Now Lagutenko admits he was influenced by Eastern music just as much as by Western. `All this goes back to my Vladivostok roots, and I think I am more familiar with Japanese music than, say, Dutch,’ he says.
Mumii Troll, whose story goes back to the early 1980s, rocketed to fame in 1997 on the strength of their debut album `Morskaya’, with its amusing, deliberately ungrammatical tracks like `Utekai’ (Flow Away).
But the band hasn’t recorded a full album of new material since its second CD `Ikra’ (Caviar), which appeared later the same year.
The releases that followed were reworkings of early stuff from the 1980s, remixes of hits and a luxurious collector’s edition of the debut album, which came out in August.
In 1999 the band avoided touring, and locked itself inside a London studio to work on the forthcoming CD — the first new music in two years — returning only for a brief series of concerts in July.
Lagutenko looks satisfied with the results. `If we kept touring in 1999, we would have had no chance to devote ourselves fully to recording the new album. Now everything is honest — we have no excuses that we had no time, or that we had to make breaks in sessions to tour.»
The album, which has yet to be mixed, is scheduled for February 2000, its release coinciding with the start of a Russia tour. A single, called `Nevesta?’ will appear in the next four to six weeks.
Lagutenko, who created his distinctive, mass-appeal pop/rock style without overly compromising his integrity and the quality of his music, helped free Russian music fans from an inferiority complex and the feeling that Russia is a musical province. But he agrees that the Russian music scene is generally substandard.
’But we make rockets’, he quotes the old song by Vysotsky.
’Nuclear specialists are better here than in Great Britain. In short, we can speak about a division of labor here — let the English do rock, while we pump oil. But what if I am not an oil man?
What if I don’t want to be an oil man, what then?’