Gnoomes are a bit of an anomaly in the world of psychedelic music, in that they don’t take psychedelics. Or more accurately, they can’t take psychedelics. As the band have previously revealed, the close attention of the Russian authorities are to blame…
“Our vocalist has been almost taken into the Russian Army, while some of us were caught by the police for being high, and the court sentenced [the members] to five days in prison and one year of visiting a narcologist every month. So we haven’t had an opportunity to use psychedelics during the recording process. It was a challenge for us to find the legal ways to make psych music without it, but we thought that it’s not so bad, we could find the best way in daily life and simple things that surrounded us.
Restricted access to hallucinogens seems to have unexpectedly paid dividends. Tschak!, Gnoomes’ second album for Rocket Recordings, is a momentous album. Boosted by the band’s enviable collection of vintage Russian synths, Tschak! is a kaleidoscope of churning electronics, pounding beats and hypnotic waves of repetition that absorb everything from minimal techno to Russian art-rock.
It’s a sound that has grown in opposition to their cultural surroundings. “We don’t like the politics but we can’t ignore them,” Gnoomes admit. “As for cultural funding, this situation reminds us the beginning of the ’70s in Germany where there was a domination of Schlager and youngsters just wanted to avoid it by creating music to break the rules.”
If rules are made to broken, then Tschak! is the satisfying sound of them finally snapping. We asked Gnoomes to tell us a bit more about their music. They told us it’s best enjoyed while being beaten with brooms. Read on to find out more…
Tell us about the name Gnoomes and the title of your album, Tschak!…
Well…that’s easy! Sasha had seen the name «Gnoomes» on the drum-kit of a fictional band in his dream and decided: «Why not to steal this from myself? Sounds good and looks perfect!».
As for «Tschak!» we all grew up watching the old Soviet TVs in our childhood and «Tschak!» is the sound of it being switched off. It was a tragedy when your parents made you go to sleep and this sound «Tschak!» equals a little death. It also means a mushroom in Komi (native language of our drummer).
What sort of music were you exposed to when you were growing up?
We had been growing up in different environments. Pasha had moved to the city from a tiny village when he was 14. He’d been living his first 14 years listening to everything: from Komi folklore songs and Russian pop (which is similar to Polish rap) to Scorpions and The Prodigy on tape cassettes. Dima lived in a small town Kungur and he was into a Russian Rock music, he regularly visited festivals of it and even participated in them. Russian Rock doesn’t have analogs in the world to be honest. It’s a form of art when the lyrics matter [over] everything, that’s why there is almost no space for humour.
How did you meet and when did you start making music together?
Pasha and Sasha started as a cover band. They played their favourite tunes (from The Beatles and The Doors to The Smiths and The Stone Roses) at pubs and weddings. Then they thought that the time has come to do something unique on their own…at this moment Dima became involved with the band.
You got to play with a selection of vintage Soviet synths during the recording of Tschak! – which was your favourite?
Kvintet is an old string piano and this synth is our favourite!
What would be the perfect environment to listen to your music?
Since we’ve started to propagandise a sober style of life we’d like to recommend to listen to our music after a hard set of banya (a kind of sauna but it’s weirder). For those who don’t know it’s a traditional Russian thing when people get naked and slash their bodies with a broom made of birch leaves in a very hot (about 80-100 above degree) space. Would love you to try! Very psychedelic!
What fuels your creativity?
Dreaming of a better place where we can meet new people that could inspire us and become a fuel to our creativity.
Can you send us a photo of the view from your window?
'Social condemnation is the biggest challenge for musicians in Russia'. Read @gnoomes_official online 👉🏻 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #viewfrommywindow #linkinbio #kompakt #gnoomes #musicmap #interview #russia #psychedelic #minimaltechno #artrock #electronics #synths #analog #censorship #banned #newwave #kino #banya
How has your local area influenced the music you make?
We’re grateful to the experience we’ve got here. It’s a unique thing which is surely reflected in our music. A gorgeous nature, industrial landscapes, people who don’t want a connection to the whole world. This wild cocktail has frustrated us a while ago but now we love it.
Who’s your biggest Russian musical influence, past and/or present?
There was a Russian rock band called KINO. The frontman of KINO died in 1990 in a car accident but his music still has a big influence on Russian people. Musically it’s a mixture between the Cure-ish post-punk with Pet Shop Boys and Russian poetry. Kino were one of the first in Soviet Union who started using drum-machines in their music while the others thought it’s a cheesy element that belongs to a second-rate pop, but KINO won the battle. We also like an art-rock band Zvuki Mu, their cognominal album was produced by Brian Eno by the way. Speaking of present… we’re into Eduard Artemiev’s music. He is a great Russian composer who scored Tarkovsky’s movies. Remember Solaris? It’s a Soviet Kosmische!
What advice would you offer any music fans visiting Russia?
Don’t smile too much!
What’s the biggest challenge facing musicians in Russia right now?
Social condemnation is the biggest challenge for musicians in Russia. No one takes you serious. Moreover you could be beaten by thugs because you’re carrying a guitar case or having a long hair-cut.
Where in the world would you most like to perform?
Definitely in Japan!
What’s your favourite album of all time?
Selected Ambient Works 85-92.
What’s your favourite track of 2017 so far?
Gas – ‘Narkopop 5’.
Gnoomes kick off their UK tour tomorrow, starting in Southsea. Check out the dates below, and buy their music on Bandcamp.
June 01 / Pie & Vinyl / Southsea
June 02 / Open / Norwich
June 04 / Soup Kitchen / Manchester
June 06 / Cluny / Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
June 07 / Broadcast / Glasgow
June 09 / Wharf Chambers / Leeds
June 10 / Bootleg Social / Blackpool
June 12 / London / Brewhouse
June 13 / Purple Turtle / Reading