This month let me take you for a walk on the wild side of rock’n’roll in Moscow. Let me introduce you to the Beat Devils.
The Devils are a 3 piece band and their style of rock’n’roll is what we’d call neo-rockabilly, somewhere between rockabilly and psychobilly. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but I love it and there is no doubt they are exceptional at what they do. On stage, one of their distinguishing features is their sheer energy and commitment. This, combined with fine musicianship, has made them extremely popular in Russia for a long time now. They command a regular following whenever they perform in Russia. Beat Devils’ concerts are a real event. Their regular crowd of followers really get into the spirit and vitality of the music and the whole thing generates a huge amount of noise and excitement.
Since the foundation of the group in 2001, their composition has changed little. And in 2004 the line-up became the same as it is now; which is Mike Bogdanov – double bass, Andy Loug – guitar and Teo Nikolaev – drums.
Although not a household name in the UK, on the continent they are well known and have toured extensively in Europe since their beginnings in 2001. They’ve been on many European tours both in Eastern and Western Europe. This year they have 2 more European dates still to come on their list of gigs – one in Finland, then a month later in Holland.
Loug has told me many stories about their adventures on their European visits. Here is one of my favourites:
On one of their Euro tours in 2011, in Amsterdam, when they were leaving the hotel after a show the backdoor of the car opened suddenly, and Loug’s guitar slid from the car. They didn’t notice it until they were almost outside the city. So they drove all the way back, and ended up being devastated as they were unable to find it. But then a local homeless man (a genuine beggar) turned up and gave them back the guitar. He’d picked it up from the floor and was keeping it for them, for when they returned ! So Loug asked the poor, homeless man what he would like for this kind deed. The beggar replied by telling Loug that if he could give him 10 Euros to buy a decent beer, that would be just great ! When re-telling the story, Loug always says, “my guitar is worth 10 Euros more now.”
By the way, based on the band’s extensive experience playing in Europe, some of you holidaying on the continent might find this information useful: Loug says, “we’ve played a few times in Belgium. And in the town of Mons they have the best local beer we’ve ever tasted !”
Most of the songs they perform are their own compositions. In addition to their high octane energy, another distinguishing feature of their songs is the quality of their lyrics – they generally have a message in them and the quality of the writing is excellent. The creation of the songs is a real, co-operative effort between all 3 group members, although the lyrics are written by Loug. As the names of their own songs would mean little to UK readers, here’s some of the cover versions they perform:
Feel So Lonely (Boppin Kids cover), Long Black Shiny Car (Mike Page, Restless cover), Whole Lotta Rosie (ACDC billy-remake), Mad at You (Batmobile cover) and Tainted Love (all-time cover). Plus they’ve made a few CDs. The last one was “Another dream” on Jet Noise records.
On the subject of neo-rockabilly, it’s a never ending argument within rock’n’roll as to whether the genres like psycho, neo-rockabilly, etc., are part of the rock’n’roll family. Well I am not a “purist”. As far as I’m concerned we’re a broad church and (as long as you keep out Showaddywaddy !) we should embrace these different styles. Our Rock’n’Roll is a living, growing culture.
Have a look at the Beat Devils yourself and see what you think. Go to youtube and type in “Beat Devils @ Radio City”. Or go to their web-site at www.beatdevils.ru
One final thing about the band; although you couldn’t tell from the manic, frenetic style they adopt on stage, all 3 are real nice guys. There’s no airs and graces about them at all, just down to earth regular blokes. So here’s to the Beat Devils – satanically superb !