Old Time Rock’n’Roll !

Hi once more from good old Russia ! This month we are gonna tell the story of one of the greatest rock’n’roll bands in Russia. It’s a group that has a three year history, although the history of its individual stars goes back much much further.

The band in question is “Old Time Rock’n’Roll”. I have booked them many times for the concerts I organise in Moscow. Every time they have gone down a storm with the audience. Some of the photos you can see were taken at them. Quite simply, they are a brilliant band with a real rock’n’roll feel. Plus, they’re stage performance also significantly adds to their great sound. They have a huge following in Russia.

Regular readers of this column with a real good memory will remember 3 great articles that were written and published during 2018 and 2019 by Natalya Terekhova, the lead guitarist with the band and a legendary figure in Russian rock’n’roll. In them Natalya gave a history of her famous rock’n’roll life. In this article, the lead singer Katerina Romanova will tell us her own rock’n’roll story as well as the history of Old Time Rock’n’Roll, with the help of her fellow band members. Over to you, Katerina: 

I remember very well the first time I saw Natalya. I was very young then, I didn’t perform myself, but I already loved rock’n’roll and went to concerts. It happened in 2004: I came to a small concert in a small hall of a small club in Moscow. That evening several bands performed in turn in that tiny club. All the musicians were simply dressed, very casual. But – Natalya wasn’t ! She suddenly went on stage with her band Magic and shocked everyone. She wore an incredibly bright stage costume, decorated with lots of sequins, fringe, with some large chains, bright makeup, spectacular cleavage and mini. “Damn, who the hell is this?!” I thought. She was so out of the crowd that it seemed as if she was cut out from another fragment of reality, as in a photo collage and pasted here. I should say that the rest of the women from her band were dressed quite simply. I wasn’t acquainted with Natasha then, but I remembered her well, it was hard to forget !

The second time I met Natalya was in 2012, at the Lady Rock festival in Moscow. There were cover bands performing rock classics and the festival’s selection criterion was that of Girl Bands. Natalya performed there with the same Magic band and I performed with the Rocking Sun group, where I was the only Girl in fact. This meeting with Natalya got off to a rocky start. I mean that I seemed to her to be arrogant or something (in fact I was terribly insecure), and she seemed to me too drunk to go on stage (although she was very probably sober !) One way or another, it never occurred to us then that we would communicate later. It was a great surprise when, after another two years, a woman I didn’t know well wrote to me: “Katya, Hello! Natalya Terekhova advised me to contact you. The fact is that we are assembling a female cover band, and we need a cool keyboard player. Natalya says you’d be Great !”

That group was not successful for us, but almost immediately afterwards Natalya called me to her group Magic. A great shock for me was that Magic rehearsed in the attic of a children’s school building and had been doing so for years ! I joined them first as a keyboardist and then as a vocalist. We played mostly classic rock from the 1970s and 1980s. We had several years of fun, concerts and tours. However, in 2018, Natalya and I had creative differences and I left the band.

She continued to perform with Magic and I joined “All My Secrets”, whose leader is Sergey Etzel. All My Secrets mainly performed Russian-language music (but not exclusively); our programme also included Sergey’s own compositions.

In 2020 I got the idea to “go back to the roots” and assemble a new band; I wanted to play my favourite rock’n’roll classics. I realised that I definitely wanted Natalya in the line-up. It was not easy for me to call her, because we had parted with conflict. However, I called her. And that call became the beginning of Old Time Rock’n’Roll. Our first drummer was Oleg Bankovsky and I called up Sergey Etzel from All My Secrets as the second vocalist and bass player. A year later, a wonderful drummer Alexander Popov, also from All My Secrets, joined us. Then the puzzle came together perfectly !

Our repertoire contains many Little Richard songs, like Long Tall Sally, Lucille, Tutti Frutti, Rip it Up, etc. We also play many Elvis Presley songs such as That’s Alright Mama, All Shook Up and Hound Dog. We add other rock’n’roll “standards” to the program, for example Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis), Maybelline (Chuck Berry), C’mon Everybody (Eddie Cochran)

La Bamba (Ritchie Valens) and many, many more. Sometimes we play a programme that is broader in the musical genre sense, composing it from songs of completely different eras and styles. These songs are the blow-offs from such mixed programmes, such as “I Feel Good” (James Brown), I will Survive (Gloria Gaynor), Highway to Hell (AC/DC), Runaway (Del Shannon) and Imagine (John Lennon). These are just a small number of examples.

Thankyou, Katya ! Old Time Rock’n’Roll is a 4-piece, comprised as follows:

Katerina Romanova – lead singer and keyboards, Natalya Terekhova – lead guitar, Sergey Etzel – bass guitar and support vocals and Alexander Popov – Drummer. Here are their stories of how music entered their lives:

Sergey: I didn’t start with classic rock’n’roll. In the late 1980s, I listened to Skid Row, Ozzy and Bon Jovi. Most of all, I liked Cinderella and their front man Tom Keifer. But one day, in 1990, I saw a clip from Guns N Roses on MTV. I liked everything in it. I remember especially the bass player Duff McKagan. That’s when I decided to continue my musical activity in a different way. I now ask myself why on earth did I continue, from the age of 7 right up to 15, attending piano classes at music school ! I didn’t show up for the final exam. I didn’t like it all. I just bunked off that damn exam, that’s all. I thought – to hell with that music.

As soon as I fell for Guns N Roses, I decided to continue my music activities. But in a different way. The first group was assembled in college. I started performing in 1993. But it was not bass guitar at once. Singing and playing the bass guitar then did not work well for me. I picked up the bass again in the early 2000s.

Alexander: At the age of 12, I heard Nirvana and all hell broke loose in my mind ! We assembled a band at school, and then at college, I also performed with other different guys. Then, from about 2000 until now, rock’n’roll !

Katerina: When I was 3, my Dad brought home a video cassette of the Beatles’ music videos. These included “Help!” and “A Hard Day’s Night”. But firstly, Dad himself was not a Beatles fan (he just bought a lot of different cassettes then), and secondly, he did not plan to show the Beatles to a three-year-old child at all.

And the little me rushed about with a new doll and did not pay attention to anything else. But when I ran into the room where the film “A Hard Day’s Night” was on the screen, absolutely everything changed for me at that moment. This was the episode where McCartney sings “And I Love Her”. A three-year-old child threw aside her favourite doll, sat down in front of the screen and as if spellbound watched the film to the end without a single movement. Then I asked my Dad to play this tape for me again and again, then asked him to buy something else by the Beatles. And so, at the age of three, my conscious love for music began !

I also made my older sister help me to play songs “by ear” on the piano. Then there was a music school and a music college.

Therefore, when I was 16 years old, I found out that there is a Beatles.ru website, where older fans communicate. I didn’t have the internet then and I didn’t even know which way to approach the computer and how to turn it on. But still, in some internet cafe, with great difficulty I went to the site and the first thing I saw was an announcement that they were looking for a singing keyboard player in a Wings tribute band – a Girl to perform the parts of Linda McCartney. Well, of course I couldn’t not help myself and wrote to them. That’s how I got into my first band. Then I performed in many different rockin’ projects where we played music ranging from Elvis to AC/DC. The Doors and Led Zeppelin tribute bands can probably be called the brightest and most unusual of these bands for me.

Natalya: I have always been attracted to the sound of an over-driven guitar and music where you can hear such a sound. Therefore, I became interested in heavy music from a very school age. Basically, it was heavy metal. Nevertheless, I listened to different genres of music. I was interested in playing in other styles. I had a kind of leisure interest to play “A Spruce Was Born in the Forest” and “Hello Dolly” with jazz chords. As soon as I succeeded, I abandoned all that jazz. I then came to believe that all good music is rock’n’roll. As even Lemmy from Motorhead said, “It’s all rock’n’roll. So let’s get back to rock’n’roll !” For many years, I performed in bands with original material. I didn’t sincerely understand then, “why play some other person’s song if it has already been played?” When I was 32 years old (in 1999) – I formed one of the very first Russian Girls’ bands, Magic, with non-proprietary rock’n’roll material and other good people’s songs in English. Bands like Magic are commonly referred to as cover bands. However, the concept of “cover” means that we remake the song, changing something. And Magic tried to copy the best original musicians as accurately as possible, even if it was a whole symphony orchestra and three guitars ! But we nevertheless agreed to be called a cover band. In our programme, there were not many real rock’n’rollers. We didn’t have a thematic goal. We learned songs exclusively that we personally liked – from The Beatles, Lulu, Linda Ronstadt to ZZ Top, Status Quo and the Scorpions. Then one day Richard Hume showed up at our concert and things changed !

Thankyou Natalya ! And Thanks Guys for your great stories. Next month the story of Old Time Rock’n’Roll will continue. Stay tuned !