Go Against the Stream
Rock among garbage cars
NOGU SVELO! is a contemporary Russian rock group from Moscow which has been enjoying great popularity since the early 1990s. The leader and author of almost all texts and music is the founder of the group, Maxim Pokrovsky.
The group’s creative energy is diverse and connects different topical genres of rock music: Pop-punk, Alternative rock, Punk-rock, Art-rock, Ska-punk, Experimental rock and others.
NOGU SVELO! songs are notable for their distinct cynical humor, poetic self-irony, audacity and stylistic variety. The extravagant image of the group has become a cult for Russian popular music of the 1990s, responding to the changing social and cultural contexts of modern Russia.
In the 21st century, the group continues to actively release albums and conduct concert and festival activities both in Russia and abroad.
The most famous songs of the group include such compositions as “Haru Mamburu”, “Liliput Love”, “Moscow Romance”, “Our Young Funny Voices”, “I’m Not Your Last Hero!”, “Doll”, and “We Go East!”.
The group has thirteen LP studio albums and more than 30 videos which have influenced the formation of visual culture in contemporary Russian television. Throughout its history, NOGU SVELO! has become the winner of multiple national awards and international competitions.
The Band’s Name
The band’s founder purports that the name NOGU SVELO! (or CRAMP IN THE LEG – Eng.) was chosen from a long list of options best representing the band’s environment and morale. Maxim Pokrovsky wanted the name to differ from the traditional “Adjective + noun” model. NOGU SVELO! became the name that Moscow Rock Laboratory Director Olga Opryatnaya recorded for their first show.
History of the Band
The history of NOGU SVELO! dates back to 1988, when Maxim Pokrovsky met with musician Vitaly Akshevsky at the rehearsal studio of the Moscow Automobile and Road Institute (MADI). After a couple of practices, they decided to perform Pokrovsky’s original songs and call themselves NOGU SVELO!. Soon, drummer Anton Yakomulsky joined the band.
This lineup performed in April 1988 at the annual Festival of New Hopefuls organized by the Moscow Rock Laboratory. The band’s first festival performance won wide critical acclaim.
Early Career 1988-1992
In 1989, the band recorded their first songs “Neighbor Song”, “Health Clinic” and “Funny Farm”. The master tapes were originially thought lost. Nevertheless, the song “Funny Farm” was included in the album “1: 0 in Favor of Girls”, but the studio recording of “Health Clinic” remained as a never released track.
“1:0 In Favor of Girls” (1990)
The debut album “1:0 In Favor of Girls” was recorded in 1990 at Rekord Studios, but was released only in 1993. The album garnered attention and clicked with the audience due to its funny lyrics and fair musicianship and production.
After the departure of Vitaly Akshevsky in 1991, a new guitarist named Igor Lapuhin joined the band. He previously played in a band called MONGOL SHUUDAN. That same year NOGU SVELO! took part in events dedicated to the 5th anniversary of the Moscow rock laboratory.
“Vagaries of Fashion Models” (also released as “Capricious Mannequins”) (1992)
The album was recorded in the city of Yakhroma in 1991 by Maxim Pokrovsky, Anton Yakomulsky and Igor Lapukhin. But the actual vinyl LP “Vagaries of of Fashion Models” was released on RUSSIAN DISC label in 1992. By this time, NOGU SVELO! had already played several big festivals, and were one of the first guests to perform live in the studio’s “Programma A” TV series. This performance featured additional musicians invited as horn section support, including Maxim Likhachev of BRIGADA S, KVARTAL, etc. (NOGU SVELO’s! future trombone player), and Igor Markov of BRIGADA S, who would go on to be the future trumpet player of the band. At first, Likhachev joined the band as a session player, but soon he became a full member. At this point, the band’s fame spread beyond the limits of Moscow.
Rise to Popularity 1992-1997
“Haru Mamburu” (1993)
With the breaking release of the 22 song LP “Haru Mamburu” in 1993, the group came to national prominence. The band became the laureate of the Generation-93 Festival with the song “Haru Mamburu”, which was written in a non-existent language, resulting from Pokrovsky’s own phonetic experiments. After that, the group began to receive invitations to perform at clubs. These language experiments led to other songs in English and German as well. Two “Haru Mamburu” videos were shot at the same time: the first was a special prize of the Generation-93 Festival, and the second was animated by Svyatoslav Igorevich Ushakov, which gained more popularity and achieved cult status. From this point on, the group started appearing on major TV shows, covers of magazines, and on the radio.
“Siberian Love” (1995)
The fourth album “Siberian Love”, released in 1995, was a compilation of songs from three previous LPs re-recorded and rearranged at Mosfilm Studios. At this time, keyboard player Viktor Medvedev joined the band. The only new track of that period was the title song, “Siberian Love”. With it, NOGU SVELO! took part in the qualifying competition of Eurovision in 1994, taking second place at the national selection level.
After the release of the album, the group enjoyed spectacular success: three large solo sold-out shows presented “Siberian Love” at the “Rossiya” State Concert Hall.
The group won recognition at Russian and international festivals. In 1994, two videos became laureates of the festival Generation – 94: “Haru Mamburu” animation received the special MTV prize, and “Yearned Message” got the grand prize. Next year, “Yearned Message” won the first place at the Golden Deer Festival in the city of Brasov (Romania). “Yearned Message” signified the sole Russian victory in this competition. Soon NOGU SVELO! took part in the French Montlucon Rock Fsetival, where it received a special prize for “The Best Alternative Group from Russia”. In 1996, NOGU SVELO! received the “Star” Award in the “Best Alternative Group” Nomination and the “Ovation” National Award in the “Discovery of the Year” Nomination.
Competing in the national qualifying round in 1996, the group hit the Eurovision Song Contest with its second shot – “Moscow Romance”. However the Russian jury thought that the song’s themes of Moscow subway panhandling would offend the sensibilities of their European counterparts.
Despite that, “Moscow Romance” and many other songs became hits. “Moscow Romance” received “This Year’s Most Scandalous Video” Award of the Generation International Fund, while “Haru Mamburu” won the MTV jury’s special prize. The “Moscow Romance” video received the “Fantasy” Computer Art Festival Award in the “Computer Graphics” Nomination.
In 1995, as per the Moskovkij Komsomolets Newspaper readers poll, the band won the “Zvukovaya Dorozhka MK” Award in the “Discovery of the Year” Nomination. In 1996-1998 and in 2005, the band won the same award in the “Best Alternative Act” Nomination.
Experiments at the Turn of the Millennia 1997-2001
“Happy Because I’m Pregnant” (1997-1999)
The next phase of the group’s career was the double album “Happy Because I’m Pregnant”. According to the original concept, the second album should have been released 9 months after the first. During this period, the band significantly reworked the sound in the direction of greater synthetic sounds and melodies. The first “Happy Because I’m Pregnant: Blue Album” was released in 1997. It included new songs and music videos of “Liliput Love” and “Moscow Romance”. The second part of the album was recorded in 1998 and released the following year under the title “Happy Because I’m Pregnant: Green Album”.
In 1998 NOGU SVELO! became a guest of a Rozhdestvenskie Vstrechy Song Festival hosted by popular Russian diva Alla Pugacheva on Christmas. The shooting took place on December 19-21,1997, and included performances of “Moscow Romance” and “Christmas Lullaby”.
During this period, the band composed music for the Moscow Nikulin Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. The song remained the circus’s background theme during their world tours.
The First Russian
Symphonic Rock Show
3 Sold Out Shows, 21000 Viewers
"Music chooses who she wants to visit. And sometimes it visits us.."
In 1999, to commemorate the band’s tenth anniversary, NOGU SVELO! released its seventh album “Callas”, compiled of previously unreleased tracks from the band’s early career. The first and only new song, “Doll”, found a more straightforward style. At the end of 1999, the song hit the “Chartova Djuzhina” Charts.
In 1997 the band covered an old Soviet classic “Ya Shagayu Po Moskve” (“I Walk Across Moscow”) and released the accompanying music video. This hit enjoyed renewed success alongside Moscow’s 850th anniversary, and was featured as part of the “10 Songs About Moscow” NTV project hosted by the well-known journalist Leonid Parfyonov.
This NOGU SVELO! video was made by Dzhanik Faiziev, who later on directed “The Turkish Gambit”, a 2005 Russian historical spy movie.
The band’s first experience recording abroad took place at the German Skyline Studios in Dusseldorf. This began a European shift in NOGU SVELO!’s sound.
The tracks for “Boxing” were laid down and mixed in 1999. The album was presented on September 22, 2000 at the Moscow’s Punch Club. The event played in the spirit of a boxing match: journalists and guest musicians were challenged to step into the ring and dared to fight. To prepare himself, Maxim Pokrovsky took lessons from Andrei Viktorovich Stepurko, Head Coach and First Vice-President of the Russian Kickboxing Federation.
In the middle of December 2000, the scandalous “Cussword Song” single was released, featuring the most famous Russian swear word repeated 51 times. At first glance, the single’s cover art is a collage of 120 photographs of the band taken during the “Cussword Song” performance in a Moscow club. But when viewed from a distance, the collage reveals the single’s true title. In addition to the main track, the EP included four flamboyant remixes, a karaoke version, an “Applause” song, and a booklet containing the lyrics.
Early 21st Century Career
At the end of 1999, the group built its website and became active in the new mass media reality, positioning NOGU SVELO! as one of the most dynamic and at the same time solid bands of the decade.
In the early 2000s, the band continued to stick to punk aesthetics. Maxim Pokrovsky successfully applied his creative efforts in other forms of art. In 2001, he debuted as an actor in Sarah Kane’s “Cleanset” play (staged by Zivile Montvilaite). In 2003 and 2004 Pokrovsky twice took part in the “The Last Hero” VID TV Project, a Russian version of the world famous reality TV show “Survivor”, which broadcasted on National Channel One TV. Following this project, Max wrote the song “I’m Not Your Last Hero!”. In 2004, this eponymously-named single and video was released. In 2004, Pokrovsky took part in the filming of “Fort Boyard” TV Show and wrote a song called “Prisons” based on his prison experience in the dungeon of the Fort. The song was aired only once. In 2004, Pokrovsky wrote the soundtrack for a five-part movie titled “Time is Money” (directed by Yevgeny Lungin). In this film, NOGU SVELO! appeared in a cameo for the first time. This motion-picture was the band’s inspiration for the follow-up album “Moskwa – Shawarma” and the title song music video.
In 2006, Maxim Pokrovsky acted together with Natalia Oreiro in the filming of “V Ritme Tango” Series (directed by Alexander Pavlovsky). The series featured songs by NOGU SVELO!, and the band once more featured in cameo appearances.
“In the Dark” (2002)
In 2002 the band released “In the Dark” album alongside “Gasoline” single. The three songs “In the Dark”, “Lullaby” and “Our Young Funny Voices” (music video directed by Mikhail Segal) steadily climbed radio and TV charts.
“Explicit Photos” (2004) and “Moskwa – Shawarma” (2005) Compilations
On April 20, 2004 NOGU SVELO! celebrated its fifteenth anniversary with a show at the Moscow’s Teatr Estrady Theatre, which was later aired on the TVC Channel and several times on MTV-Russia. Zivile Montvilaite directed a conceptual show in which musicians performed in huge cubes covered with semitransparent fabric capturing projections of unique videos.
At around the same time, the band released its “best of” album called “Explicit Photos”. It included rare unpublished photos. Soon afterwards Maxim Pokrovsky put out his first book “Children’s Drawings”, which included not only his poems, but also the author’s graphic works. At this time, the band premiered their “This Ad Space is for Rent!” single and video.
In November 2005, the band presented their “Fifteenth Anniversary” DVD (including footage from the Teatr Estrady Theatre show) and reissued their three albums “Happy Because I’m Pregnant: Blue”, “Happy Because I am Pregnant: Green”, and “Boxing”. As part of this presentation, Maxim Pokrovsky along with Igor Ugolnikov put on a mini-performance.
In 2005 NOGU SVELO! released the “Moskwa – Shawarma” compilation, combining the eponymous single and sound track instrumentals from the film “Time is Money”. They also released a “Moskwa-Shawarma” music video.
In 2005, Max Pokrovsky parted ways with drummer Anton Yakomulsky. Yakomulsky was replaced by Dmitry Krichevsky.
“We Go East!” (2005)
In early 2005, Pokrovsky wrote the song “We Go East!” for director Dzhanik Faiziev’s “The Turkish Gambit”. The video soon began leading the television charts, followed by the release of “We Go East!” album later that year.
On June 16, 2005, NOGU SVELO! organized a “fans only” concert and a presentation of “We Go East!” in one the hangars of the Moscow subway.
The following year, the group received a prize of the “MTV Russia 2006 Movie Awards” in the “Best Soundtrack” Nomination for the song “We Go East!” of “The Turkish Gambit”.
In 2007, the group performed in London at the 3rd annual Russian Winter Festival and at the Moscow Motion Show.
In May 2007, the band released a live DVD titled “The Lost Train”. This DVD also included a short NOGU SVELO! documentary, independently made by Maxim Pokrovsky during the group’s tours, and a “Gasoline” music video.
The “The Lost Train” DVD presentation at the 16 Tons Club in Moscow was aired live on the TNT TV Channel.
In the fall of that year, the band took part in the making of the movie “Day of the Radio”.
In 2008, keyboardist Viktor Medvedev left the band and was replaced by Alexander Volkov.
On January 11, 2010 NOGU SVELO! renamed themselves to VOICE OF THE UNIVERSE during the filming of a music video titled “Martian Waltz”. In the summer of 2010, the name reverted back to NOGU SVELO!.
“The Other Side of The Leg” (2010)
In December 2010, the band released the “The Other Side of The Leg” album with reworked versions of the best songs of the past 20 years. Old songs were rearranged to feature semi-acoustic instrumentation and a strong keyboard emphasis.
“Eat My Heart” (2014)
On October 25, 2013 iTunes and Google Play released the “Faberge Eggs” single from the band’s new studio album. A year later, the album was released under the title “Eat My Heart” in Russian and as “Fast Food Kids” in English.
On February 11, 2016, the group organized another provocative performance – they staged a theft with police squad intervention aboard a luxury yacht and restaurant called “Chaika”. Maxim and other musicians had their arms handcuffed behind their backs and laid down flat on their faces. Stunned guests had a hard time believing it was a joke. This event marked the debut of their new music video “Eat My Heart”.
Soon, Nashe Radio presented two new singles from the new album. The delinquent track “Russian Alphabet” highlighted the problem of violence in Russian schools and included footage from documentary videos posted on the Internet. This was followed by a romantic song called “Games with Fire”.
In the spring of 2015, the group took part in the Echo – 2015 Russian Rock and Guitar Poetry Festival in the suburbs of New York.
On October 29, 2015, NOGU SVELO! became the headliner of a charity music marathon in support of the “To Be a Man” Foundation. More than 1 million rubles were collected at this event. All funds were directed to pay for the treatment of children who need help.
In November 2015, the band toured the United States, playing successful shows in New York, Atlanta, Charlotte, San Francisco and Seattle.
“Continents of My Planet” (2017)
Throughout 2016-2017 the band regularly performed at major summer festivals in Russia and abroad (Nashestvie, VKfest, Chernozem, Altayfest, Rock on the Barricades, Kubana) and took part in televised music programs (Sol, Kvartirnik u Margulisa). At the same time, the band actively worked on the release of their thirteenth album.
On April 20, 2017 Yandex.Music premiered the song “Back and Forth”, written in a characteristic NOGU SVELO! tongue-in-cheek style.
On May 18, 2017, the band released a second single titled “Ding-Dong”.
On September 8, NOGU SVELO! presented a new single “Sudak”, a cheerful and positive song musically, while at the same time a deep and serious song lyrically.
At the same time, Maxim Pokrovsky launched his own Sudak TV YouTube Channel. The videos consist of sketches from Maxim’s daily life, the group’s touring and rehearsals, and excerpts from shows.
On September 25, the band released their next single “Easy Donuts”, billed as “a song about a mad world and a mad love for it, about a strange and, at the same time, admiring attitude to what is happening around us all.”
The new 13 track album “Continents of My Planet” was released on October 13, 2017. In early 2018 the band announced a Russian tour in support of this new album. As part of the tour, the band also visited Georgia and Estonia.
2018’s festival performances were also abundant. NOGU SVELO! played the Vkfest, the Nashestvie Festival (recognized as one of the best in the history of this annual event), the Rock Festival of Stary Oskol, and the WarFest Gaming Festival.
Almost immediately after the Nashestvie Festival, the group was invited to participate in the Anniversary Nashe Radio Concert at the famous outdoor Vasilyevsky Spusk location near the Moscow Kremlin’s walls. For this performance, NOGU SVELO! invited Japanese drummers, who added even more drive to the band’s crazy energy.
In September, the band had its jubilee tour in the United States and Canada, playing in New York, then continuing on to Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and completing the tour in Montreal.
30th NOGU SVELO! Anniversary in 2018
On November 30, 2018, the State Kremlin Palace will host the band’s anniversary concert called “30 Years in Spite of Show Business.” This name was chosen because it precisely depicts the history of the most paradoxical musical group of our times: their dazzling highs alternated with unexpected failures, their prestigious awards with sore lumps, and their generally accepted pop hits with deep alternative experiments.
“All these years our stability has been based on our unpredictability,” half-jokingly says Max Pokrovsky, the founder and leader of the band. “Every time we take on a new job, we start everything from scratch and every time we do not know what to expect from ourselves.”
And as if being on one page with this whacky band, fate responds with reciprocity and unexpected results.
As part of the anniversary, Max Pokrovsky’s company Max Incubator launched a new documentary series blog on NOGU SVELO’s YouTube Channel. It is called “30/30”, or “30 Years in 30 Weeks”, and it chronicles the history of this cult group. Every Tuesday they publish a new episode about one year in the life of NOGU SVELO!. The release of the 30th and final episode is scheduled right before the band’s jubilee show in the Kremlin. Starting from September 10, the “30/30” special has also been broadcasted on the Nashe TV Internet TV-Channel.