Hot Best Seller

What About Tomorrow?: An Oral History of Russian Punk from the Soviet Era to Pussy Riot

Availability: Ready to download

Punk arrived in Soviet Russia in 1978, spreading slowly at first through black market vinyl records and soon exploding into state-controlled performance halls, where authorities found the raucous youth movement easier to control. In fits and starts, the scene grew and flourished, always a step ahead of secret police and neo-Nazis, through glastnost, perestroika, and the Punk arrived in Soviet Russia in 1978, spreading slowly at first through black market vinyl records and soon exploding into state-controlled performance halls, where authorities found the raucous youth movement easier to control. In fits and starts, the scene grew and flourished, always a step ahead of secret police and neo-Nazis, through glastnost, perestroika, and the end of the Cold War. Despite a few albums smuggled out of the country and released in Europe and the US, most Westerners had never heard of Russia's punk movement until Pussy Riot burst onto the international stage. This oral history takes you through four decades of the scene's evolution, from the early bands like Avtomaticheskie Udovletvoriteli (“Automatic Satisfiers,” a play on the Sex Pistols) and Naive to more contemporary bands like Distress, Ricochet, and the anti-fascist Proverochnaia Lineika (Straight Edge). From its origins in St Petersburg and Moscow to uniquely thriving punk scenes in the provincial capitals, this glimpse behind the iron curtain feels immediate, real, and more relevant than ever. Includes never-before-published photographs of many of the bands.


Compare

Punk arrived in Soviet Russia in 1978, spreading slowly at first through black market vinyl records and soon exploding into state-controlled performance halls, where authorities found the raucous youth movement easier to control. In fits and starts, the scene grew and flourished, always a step ahead of secret police and neo-Nazis, through glastnost, perestroika, and the Punk arrived in Soviet Russia in 1978, spreading slowly at first through black market vinyl records and soon exploding into state-controlled performance halls, where authorities found the raucous youth movement easier to control. In fits and starts, the scene grew and flourished, always a step ahead of secret police and neo-Nazis, through glastnost, perestroika, and the end of the Cold War. Despite a few albums smuggled out of the country and released in Europe and the US, most Westerners had never heard of Russia's punk movement until Pussy Riot burst onto the international stage. This oral history takes you through four decades of the scene's evolution, from the early bands like Avtomaticheskie Udovletvoriteli (“Automatic Satisfiers,” a play on the Sex Pistols) and Naive to more contemporary bands like Distress, Ricochet, and the anti-fascist Proverochnaia Lineika (Straight Edge). From its origins in St Petersburg and Moscow to uniquely thriving punk scenes in the provincial capitals, this glimpse behind the iron curtain feels immediate, real, and more relevant than ever. Includes never-before-published photographs of many of the bands.

32 review for What About Tomorrow?: An Oral History of Russian Punk from the Soviet Era to Pussy Riot

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    4 and a half stars. "We were the most free people of the least free country in the world." How could I resist reading this as soon as I got my copy? 2019 has been my year of Russian and Soviet books, movies and TV shows: I could not let it come to an end without also reading up on their punk scene! I was always intrigued by Russian punk, long before Pussy Riot was headlining the news. Punk, both the music and the subculture, were always about a rejection of the status quo, a protest against the 4 and a half stars. "We were the most free people of the least free country in the world." How could I resist reading this as soon as I got my copy? 2019 has been my year of Russian and Soviet books, movies and TV shows: I could not let it come to an end without also reading up on their punk scene! I was always intrigued by Russian punk, long before Pussy Riot was headlining the news. Punk, both the music and the subculture, were always about a rejection of the status quo, a protest against the establishment, an expression of frustration and alienation. In the “free world”, it can ruffle a lot of feathers, but it doesn’t put the musicians or the community at risk. But what about in countries where there is such a thing as ideological and cultural policing? Not falling in line during the Soviet era could get you incarcerated… if you were lucky. So how do you make punk rock in a country that monitors such things so closely? Alexander Hebert put together an oral history of how that cultural movement not only came to be, in the unlikeliest of places, but carried on through the fall of the Soviet Union, the Cold War and the current – still highly difficult – Russian society. Pirate radio gave a few frustrated Soviet kids the usual suspects, the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Ramones. That source material was quickly “Russianized” but the core of the punk ethos seems universal, because the contributors all talk about the same things Western punk do when discussing their beginnings: not wanting to do what everyone else was doing, nor to depend on the support of established venues, feeling alienated from their society and families and looking for an outlet and a way to express those feelings within a supportive community… But they also discuss the difficulties of accessing Western material and sharing it (pre-Internet and pre-perestroika), that lyrics and music had to be submitted to state committees before anything could be recorded, that shows were often interrupted by the police for tenuous reasons and that most gigs had to be advertised exclusively by word of mouth (no flyers!) so as to go on without interference from the authorities. There are some things in those stories that made me laugh because I found them remarkably (and bizarrely) Russian : there was a charter and a censor for the Leningrad Rock Club (and the guy who ran it had to periodically report to the KGB), the idea of doing this punk thing “just for fun” had to be explained to some participants. But other things made me stop and reflect on how very, very cushy my fellow North American punks and I have had it: here, DIY has basically come to mean that no label signs you, so you put things together yourself from your own income and try to get your music out there with grassroot methods – which is tough, but not exactly dangerous. For a very long time in Russia, you recorded and pirated your music on illegal cassettes because the state-controlled record labels would report you to the KGB and there was a good chance you’d be arrested and maybe jailed! The importance of the anti-fascist movement as part of their punk scene can’t be minimized, as most contributors to this book have stories about friends being murdered by neo-Nazis. And it seems that women are only just now beginning to gain some respect on the scene as more than decorative singers because of the deeply entrenched sexism still present in their society. The punk ethos of independence, subversion and anti-racism means something very powerful in a place like Russia, and reading those testimonies made me feel shamefully spoiled at times. I have to say that I love, LOVE the Russian punk band names: (as translated by the author) Automatic Satisfiers, Department of Self Eradication, Object of Ridicule. There’s that wonderful dark satire spirit to the lyrics printed in the book as well, which showcases such creativity and energy, which is truly inspiring, especially in light of the context in which the songs were written. The final chapter, concerning Pussy Riot and their imprisonment was fascinating, because I had no idea that those girls were never actually part of the Russian punk scene before their “concert”, and that there are many mixed feelings among the Russian punk community about them. There seems to be a consensus that what they did was important and significant, but that labelling themselves as the first female Russian punk band is a slight to the women who have been working and making music within that community for over twenty years. The author takes no side in this debate, but tries to give a clear picture of the background behind those events – which were crucial in drawing attention to the current Russian punk scene. This is a fascinating book: if you are interested in the history of punk rock, in the social impact of the Soviet Union and in the independent music scene, I recommend you look up this great book! "If you stand for something, spread the word. You have to follow your ideas till the end, whatever happens. This is nothing special."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Josef

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dave Lusby

  4. 5 out of 5

    Misha Chinkov

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carlos K

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Kaiser

  7. 5 out of 5

    christopher

  8. 5 out of 5

    Tomas Vaitelė

  9. 5 out of 5

    Beatrice Longbottom

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daria

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gary Budden

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kylie Walker

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steve O

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ruby Maya

  16. 4 out of 5

    Frank Valish

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amy

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  19. 4 out of 5

    LJ

  20. 4 out of 5

    catechism

  21. 5 out of 5

    Noah Anthony

  22. 4 out of 5

    Iain Mullen

  23. 4 out of 5

    Monkey

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sadie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stevie Logan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tija

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jo

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bryce Dwyer

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pooriya

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jaylene Mendoza

  31. 5 out of 5

    Tris

  32. 5 out of 5

    b e a c h g o t h

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.