Indie band Bonaparte’s modern vaudeville show comes to town.
Published: January 30, 2013 (Issue # 1744)
Bonaparte has a
reputation for flamboyant and colorful performances.
A trash circus, a celebration of hedonism, a grotesque theatre: The performances of Berlin-based indie band Bonaparte, which returns to St. Petersburg this week, can be described in many ways, but one thing is certain — this is no ordinary band.
Bonaparte, renowned for its colorful performances in which a cheerful army of freaks wearing incredible costumes and masks amuse the audience to the accompaniment of songs by lead singer Tobias Jundt, brings its brand of dance-punk and electro rock enriched with carnival traditions to the city’s A2 Club on Feb. 2.
The worldwide success of Bonaparte is primarily due to founder Jundt, a Swiss “dissident” whose original point of view and sense of humor is evident in his philosophical approach to life: “If I could only choose three things: Family, music and kizlyarka [Dagestani grape vodka], I am quite happy!” he said in an interview with The St. Petersburg Times ahead of the upcoming local gig.
The eccentric stage outfits worn by Jundt are a distinctive feature of the band’s concerts.
“I never enjoyed looking like everyone else much, even as a child. Make-up and clothing and songs can give you a lot of strength,” said Jundt, who often appears on stage in black eyeliner, a flame-colored wig and a jacket reminiscent of the Napoleonic era.
“I am not really afraid to do something silly along the way or use languages that I do not actually speak,” said Jundt. “You have to have fun. I am interested in what happens when the music hits the audience, if everything becomes one. Also I naturally combine sobriety and humor. I always felt that you should meet your topics wholeheartedly, but it doesn’t hurt to bring it across with a bit of irony or a twist in the roles,” he added.
Jundt founded Bonaparte in 2006 and the group performed its first show in the now legendary Bar 25 in Berlin. According to Jundt, the name Bonaparte made sense in the early days of the project.
“I drove around Europe in my small sixties car putting little flags in places where I wanted to go to. It was like a calling. I was a bit afraid, when we first visited Russia, that we might encounter Napoleon’s fate from 1812, but we clearly did a better job than him, because we came with love in our hearts and music in our guns.”
Along the way, Jundt made new friends who wanted to take part in the project and now Bonaparte, which functions more as a collective than as a typical band, includes around 20 artists. The concert at A2, which is to take place a day after the group’s show in Moscow, is expected to feature eight of the group.
“We all have a great passion for energy and performance, something all-encompassing, something handmade: Music, fashion, graphic art, movies, etc.,” said Jundt.
“In many European countries, ‘entertainment’ is like a curse-word, but we really like to perform and entertain — life gets quite boring if you don’t try to exchange this energy between people.”
The band has released three studio albums to date: “Too Much” (2008), “My Horse Likes You” (2010) and “Sorry, We’re Open” (2012).
“The last album is a lot about defining or accepting who you are, being an artist and trying to liberate yourself, and it also closes the ‘Berlin trilogy’ for me,” said Jundt.
“In comparison to the first two albums, which I both wrote mainly alone in my room, I have tried to do some sort of a ‘community album’ this time, to invite more friends to the studio and see what happens. You need to listen to this album a couple of times to find all the details; there is more happening in the soundscapes, it’s a journey.”
Speaking about the creative process, Jundt told The St. Petersburg Times that he preferred to come up with his ideas without too much thought and he had no golden rule for creating things. “If I had one, I would only tell you in exchange for a Russian passport in my name!” he said.
Bonaparte has performed in St. Petersburg twice before and Jundt speaks warmly about Russia: “We enjoy playing in Russia a lot. We love the audiences and usually people take us places after the shows… Last time when my mask was stolen in Moscow, three girls from St. Petersburg handmade a new one and brought it to the show (thank you again!). Your country seems cold on the outside and warm on the inside.”
Bonaparte plays at 8 p.m. on Feb. 2.
at A2 Club, 3 Prospekt Medikov.
Tel: 309 9922