Speaking In Tongues
Лавка Языков


Exercises in the Mainstream
by Max Nemtsov

Reprinted from the =ДВР5= (1988)
Republished by the TOMMY Magazine (Italy) in 1990, through the care of Artyom Lipatov

Mike was cool.
The years have their say. This time Mike was cool.
They all had IT. The motor-driven drummer. Absolutely paranoid Ilya Kulikov - our own Colonel Nekrasov, if compared to him, seems an anemic youth sweating over his journalistic studies forgetting to take a pee. Guitar solo wiz Alexander Khrabunov looking like an uptown dillard, but apparently knowing very well where to put his fingers on the fretboard exactly. Fucking rock'n'roll vets. They all were cool.
It's hard to explain but Mike was cool. Probably for the first time I realized what it really meant when I saw that chubby guy with greasy hair turning grey, in red T-shirt and monstrous sunglasses - why on Earth does he wear them? - hand-jiving and saying from the stage his little things about urban love in modern times on the backbeat of drums and guitars. To have a simple guy's point of view nowadays is extremely rewarding. He was cool.
Relaxed Bloodyvostok youth was melting and burning below, bellowing "Z! O! O! P! A! R! K!!!" and "Rock davay!", and he was almost motionless on stage. He seemed completely unconcerned. But after the show I saw streams of sweat pressed from his Boogie T-shirt backstage. That was enough for me. He really was cool.
Later he confirmed what he was standing on in our conversation. His reserved answers to my moronic questions convinced me, strange as it may seem, in his integrity more than his songs. Maybe I'm just trying to sound apologetic (I was told that my provocateurish approach somewhat offended him) - but I'm dumb enough not to feel his honesty in ZOO music. I need something else. I'd got that Something when desperately tired Mike stayed cool.
I thought about Russian rock music. It's asexual to the point of being an underlaying principle. Either it takes itself too seriously, or it is too preoccupied with some deeper themes - or else, it's just plain stupid to think aloud about it. The exceptions are rare indeed. The ZOO's rock'n'roll seems to be the one: it deals with sex as happily as AQUARIUM deals with Zen and Christianity.

I kept my gun loaded
But fortunately didn't pull
the trigger...

This is a recent example. But all this is in the words only; what's in a name?.. mike had never shown his muscles, never done any pelvic thrusts at the mike stand, nor maniacally posed in fromt of his half-dead fans. He never had time for being sexy. He stayed cool.
Sometimes the rhythm'n'blues cliches and rock'n'roll standards were a little bit too obvious. And I'm not speaking about those "tape-times" when we cited ZOO through and through and had that immense joy of recognizing familiar lyrics translated into Russian: it was still a "novelty" back in '83. Sometimes Mike looked like a parody unto himself (in You've Got Your New Pet Poodle especially, which is Dylan's New Pony in fact). Mike, tell me where those time have gone... Cool, eh?
But he never changed. He hasn't changed a single note in his songs for eight years. He was really hones in his own way, staying "normally sober". I don't know whether this consistency is good or bad. But this time he was really cool on stage.
Perhaps the only example of real cool attitude was shown to me by Straw Cat of the local band THIRD WATCH. At the very first day when I still didn't quite dig it all, I saw Cat standing still in the dancing crowd straight opposite Mike on stage. He didn't jump. He didn't yell. And naturally he didn't make horns with his fingers. It was a perfect rapport for all I knew: stone-still Cat and motionless Mike. Cat just told me, "I'm keif". That was all. They both were cool.
...Mike was throwing his old classics Suburban Blues and You Bitch into the raging and stomping audience. Even by the end of the tour, when sweaty Bloodyvostok squares were high as little kites and the cops were plain hysteric, sore-throated Mike stayed cool. His angst revealed only once, in The Right To Rock. That was it...
Probably this time in the God-forsaken city we've seen the very last alive rock'n'roller.
Let'im sing in peace.
Let'im sing what he wants.
He's deserved his right to rock.