Local band Zorge is set to showcase its fan-funded debut album.
Published: October 12, 2011 (Issue # 1678)
From left to right, Zorge are: Vadim Sergeyev, Yevgeny Fyodorov, Marc-Oliver Lauber and Dmitry Zilpert.
Local musician Yevgeny Fyodorov, frontman of the band Tequilajazzz, formed in 1993 and disbanded in 2010, is creating a musical revolution with his new band Zorge’s eponymous debut album. Released as an Internet download last week, it has been almost entirely financed by fan donations, which, according to Fyodorov is “a small revolution in the record industry.”
Right now, the band is busy rehearsing in order to pay back its fans by premiering the new album with two big concerts in St. Petersburg and Moscow charging the token sum of 100 rubles (about $3) for tickets in pre-sales.
However, as a new, promising stage in Fyodorov’s music career begins, he has been quoted in interviews as “pondering” possible immigration, in view of the looming return of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to the presidency in March.
Zorge started as a duo of Fyodorov on vocals and bass and St. Petersburg-based German drummer Marc-Oliver Lauber in September 2010, with guitarist Vadim Sergeyev and Moscow musician Dmitry Zilpert on guitar and vocals joining later. The band played its debut concerts in St. Petersburg and Moscow in February.
“It was not at all clear then what the future held for us, but some positive things have happened quickly,” Fyodorov said.
“We played a number of quite successful concerts, went on tour across Russia and Ukraine, and finally recorded and released a record. It all happened quite fast.
“It was a special year. I can’t say we were starting from scratch, but it was a difficult year. Difficult, interesting and rather fruitful.”
The band announced a campaign to fund the cost of recording the album on April 1, with the closing date on June 30.
“We calculated how much money we would need; it was the cost of a full month of work at Dobrolyot studios in St. Petersburg, with all the services and equipment included,” Fyodorov said.
“The idea was up in the air. There have been web resources for a while where you can donate any sum after listening to the record. Usually it happens post factum, when people listen to or watch a finished project, but we decided to do just the opposite, and announced that people could make a sort of investment, the final result of which would become the release of an album.
“We recorded a single, uploaded it on the web and said to people, ‘If you like the direction we’re going in, if you’ve been to our concerts and understand what we’re about, you can take part in recording our album by pushing a button on a designated web site.’ It’s all happened rather fast.”
According to Fyodorov, $10,000 was needed, and $10,052 was collected in three months’ time. The band began recording the album in early April as soon as money started appearing in the account.
Although the enterprise involved an element of risk, Fyodorov now says he was confident that the sum would be collected.
“In the past two or three years, since sites where you can upload your music and receive donations from listeners have emerged, we’ve collected substantial donations for our past albums, which are all available to listen to on the web site www.kroogi.com — when we went to the United States on tour, we simply took out money from the account and went to a shop to buy some equipment,” he says.
“We saw how it happened with existing albums, and we thought that there might be an interest in supporting our future album as well, especially since our listeners traditionally live not only in the former Soviet Union, but also in European countries, in America and Australia, that is, people who have credit cards and have got used to paying with them.”
According to Fyodorov, money has come from across the world — from Melbourne to San Francisco, including Israel, Germany, Canada, Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic countries. About 700 people donated various sums from $1 via SMS to 500 euros.
“The last day resembled an auction; people seemed to be excited that it was the last day and wanted to participate before the campaign closed, that’s why such a large percentage was raised on the final day,” Fyodorov said.
Everyone who donated to the album will receive a physical copy in about two weeks’ time, when the album is released by the major Moscow-based company Soyuz Music.
“We released the album virtually because such is today’s reality,” said Fyodorov, who chose the release date — Oct. 3 — to coincide with his 45th birthday.
“We released it in a virtual form to saturate the so-called ‘virtual market.’ To prevent the opposite situation, when people buy one disc and it is copied by the rest of the planet. This has happened to us more than once, when within an hour of releasing a disc, it has already appeared on torrent tracker sites.
“This is normal and there’s nothing scary about it, but we chose to take another route and released it as a web download made under our control and with guaranteed quality.”
With over 70 minutes of music, “Zorge” is a lengthy album, but it is not necessarily perceived as such, according to Fyodorov.
“It’s long, but if perceived subjectively it’s totally different, because such a large number of musical events take place on the disc that it might sound much shorter or maybe even longer — as if it lasts for hours,” he says.
“Because we ended up putting so many different types of music on it, every single song, if dismembered, could be turned into a full album.”
Fyodorov openly acknowledges the legacy of Tequilajazzz by performing about six songs in concert from his former band’s later period, which he describes as “transitional.”
“It would be strange if we were playing music that sounded like Chaif or Scooter,” he said.
“There had to be some continuity; it’s natural that the author’s style is present. Moreover, I didn’t intend to change it. I’ve been developing naturally as a musician; I followed my own thread, that’s all. Changing one band for another was just a stop along the way.
“The author is the same, the author has become set in his ways, the author has his own habits and devices, but if you listen carefully, you can hear that everything is totally different there: How it is sung, played, arranged, and also in its themes. When we played for the first time, even I was bold enough to label it ‘art rock.”
Fyodorov, who admits listening to 1970s prog-rock bands such as Electric Light Orchestra, says he does not see anything objectionable in their songs now — even though he avoided such music when he started out as a bassist with punk-rock band Obyekt Nasmeshek (Object of Ridicule) in 1985.
“We simply started allowing these elements to settle into our music easily, even if they are completely archaic,” he said.
“We just think that enough time has passed for these archaisms to begin sounding more or less fresh to a new generation — or at least to us.
“There are many elements that we considered to be very outdated when we were young, and because our younger years coincided with the New Wave battling against different 1970s music trends, we indiscriminately swept away everything good that had happened in the 1970s.”
Although refraining from politics in his songs, in recent interviews Fyodorov has reacted strongly to the news that Putin intends to return to the presidency.
“I used to tell everybody that if Putin came back to power, I’d leave the very day after the election; I keep saying it,” he said.
“It’s not because I’m scared, but because I feel disgusted. It’s disgusting, revolting, all these ugly faces. It isn’t even Putin, it’s the people. For instance, the chairman of the Russian Football Union [Sergei] Fursenko declared yesterday that the victory of Russia over Slovakia was ‘our present to Putin.’ Putin did not make him say that! It was his choice.
“These toadying instincts of officials and of a huge number of ordinary people who are afraid of him and kiss his ass, that’s what’s sickening. I don’t see anything scary in this coming era. It will simply be disgusting and you should either learn to deal with it, or simply leave.”
While seeing no difference between Putin’s rule and that of current President Dmitry Medvedev, Fyodorov admits Medvedev gave some false hope for liberalization to the intelligentsia and liberals.
“That’s where funny recent declarations by [rock musicians Andrei] Makarevich and [Vladimir] Shakhrin stem from. They have said they won’t play at the inauguration! They played before because they ‘had hopes, but won’t any more.’ What were they hoping for? It’s ridiculous. I did not have any hopes.
“Everything that is happening provokes the gag reflex of every normal person. It’s a symptom of a disease. It should not be feared, but rather cured.
“It could be combated with inner freedom, at least. If a person is free inside, he cannot be deprived of freedom; he’ll be free even in prison.”
Downloads and mail order forms for “Zorge” are available on the album’s official web page at www.zorgefrog.com. Zorge will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, at Glavclub, 2 Kremenchugskaya Ulitsa. Tel. 905 7555. Metro Ploshchad Vosstaniya / Ploshchad Alexandra Nevskogo.