This month it’s time to introduce UK readers to another great Russian rock’n’roll band, based here in Moscow. They are the Lowcosters and in this column you will read the group’s story, as told by their leader Dmitriy Kukhlevskiy. The story will also give you insights into the rock’n’roll scene here in Russia.

Some of the photos you can see were taken at their concert at the Esse Café in Moscow on 12th November. The Event, which I organised, was the group’s premiere performance at the Café. Before they came on stage, as usual I ran a jive dance class at the start of the concert. The Lowcosters went down a storm, from the time they came on stage until the end. For those seeing them for the first time, they were thoroughly delighted to see this exciting band.

So here is the story of the Lowcosters, told by Dmitriy:

About our playlist of the songs that we perform the most, well we play rock’n’roll a lot, so songs like “Lucille”, “Great Balls of Fire” and “Jailhouse Rock” are always on our set list; plus some of the early Beatles songs like “Twist and Shout”. Since we often play for boogie dancers, we also do a selection of swing and jive songs.

We also like to play some blues, so we may include a couple of Stevie Ray Vaughan songs as well.

We started the band in 2012. It was three of us at the time and the idea was to create a band for dancers’ events. There were a lot of bands playing strict rock’n’roll, but most of those songs were too fast to dance to. Our goal was to provide a balanced play-list that would include slow and middle tempo songs, as well as classic rock’n’roll hits.

Frankly we didn’t know the Russian rock’n’roll scene very well when we started. So we were mostly influenced by old time American rock’n’roll stars. But there were some local rockabilly bands, so we went to their concerts when possible.

About the reasons for our success, the most important thing is we play as a team. Most of us aren’t professional musicians, so this may be our main strength. We rehearse a lot, we play shows a lot, so that we play in sync, we inter-act with each other on stage as well as with the listeners. We may not produce mind-blowing solos, but our overall sound is solid. Another reason is that most of us are dancers, so we always dance to our music on stage, we never just stand and play. It doesn’t matter how many people attend the shows, we dance and look happy on stage, even if it had to be in front of an empty floor ! Another factor is that we really love playing live. This means that we’re okay with playing for free if we like the place and the people. Usually we play at least once a week, which is pretty good for a rock’n’roll band in Russia.

There hasn’t been any significant personal differences within the current group. At this moment we can say that we have a solid team, more like a family. The band is a huge part of our lives. We love to hang out with each other, have drinks, etc. If we get to play in another city, this always makes for an unforgettable journey. It is really a great thing when the band members are happy with each other.

But it was not always like this. We had some disagreements in the past, some people even had to leave the band. We’re still friends though. The thing that led to most conflicts was probably being too emotional, concerning the level of our playing. As I mentioned before, most of us are not professionals. So it’s your choice – you play as good as you can, or you constantly moan that none of us is Jimi Hendrix.

Some musicians often say they don’t really like rehearsals. There’s no drive and feedback when you are just rehearsing with the band in a cubicle. Although that is generally true, we tend to disagree. Rehearsing together is a big part of the deal for us. But when things become a bit boring for some reason, we have a recipe for that. Our guitarist Dmitry has a pot still at home and is a big fan of distilling alcohol. So every now and again he will bring some of his finest produce to the rehearsal, to spice it up. We particularly love these kind of sessions, just having some fun and playing some AC/DC songs to let some steam off. Of course we never head straight home after such a productive rehearsal. We rather go and stray around the city till early morning. So yes, we love rehearsals almost as much as playing live.

Regarding biggest musical influences, out of the classic rock’n’roll icons our favourites are Little Richard, Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis. Of the contemporary musicians we are big fans of the band “Ray Collins Hot Club”. They play the stuff that is particularly fun to dance to and sounds awesome live. If they ever happen to play in Moscow, that’s the show we’ll never miss.

And my all-time favourite rock’n’roll song ? That’s really hard to say. I guess each of us could name a different song. If you ask me, it would definitely be one of Little Richard’s tracks, like Long Tall Sally or Lucille.

I am sort of optimistic about the future of Russian rock’n’roll. Frankly we don’t expect rock’n’roll to become widely popular as it once was. But whenever we play a show there are people saying “Wow, I didn’t think Russian bands still play rock’n’roll, but it is SO much fun!”
I guess as long as people like to dance, rock’n’roll will live and thrive.

We don’t have a strict style of music, we just play the music for people to dance to. And by dance we mean mainly social dance. Styles that happen to be the best for this are blues, swing and of course rock’n’roll!

Of course we also have lives outside of the music. Dancing has already been mentioned. So that leaves travel (especially together to a concert somewhere), listening to music and – last but not least – we really enjoy hitting a bar together after a rehearsal or a show. Sometimes these friendly meetings last till early morning. Some of us are even starting to have marital problems because of that, but hey, it’s rock’n’roll!

Thank you Dmitriy, for sharing the Lowcosters’ story. As he mentioned above, Rock’n’Roll is a minority Culture and it’s never going to be as popular again as it was in the 1950s. But it’s the greatest Culture of all and it’s up to us to keep it going, wherever we live in the World !

Richard Hume