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Ex-KGB confess: The spy life is ain’t easy – an interview with SVETLANAS

I bawled my eyes out when I saw their bio :) I interviewed them and I’m still not quite sure who are they and which part of their story is true, which part is a speculation and which one is fabricated :) SVETLANAS have recently signed with Altercation Records, released a new record and just got back from an awesome run of their North American dates.

Check out their official bio and scroll down to read my fresh interview with them, shooting a couple of lines about their recent trip to the US, punk rock, their currect work and USSR :)

The Svetlanas were a punk band active in 1977.
Their real identity was revealed only in 2008 on a tabloid.
This is their story.

In the seventies,the Svetlanas worked for KGB: the main police organization in the Soviet Union.
They were spies,informers,fighting agents to whom was assigned the task of stealing the military secrets of the most powerful nations in the world.
In 1977,during their last cover show in the United States, a flawed amplifier triggered a 3000V discharge: the four members of the band,hit by the violent electric shock,went into a coma.
The hospitalization was immediate, such as the decision of KGB to steal their bodies and hibernate them, in order to preserve the secrecy of the mission.
The Svetlanas were transported inside cryogenic rooms, on a merchant ship bound for URSS, but, during the navigation, the ship mysteriously sank in the ocean.
Nobody knows what really happened to Olga, Mikhail, Jurij and Stanislav for the following thirty years………until an english tabloid revealed, by a scoop, the real story of the band.
After the fall of the Soviet Union and the disappearance of KGB,the Svetlanas decided to clean break with the past and created their new identities, trying to integrate themselves in the society with their new lifestyles. They moved to Milan, had some plastic surgery operations and attended some intensive italian language courses.
At the moment the Svetlanas, with their new names of Angela, Masu, Diste and Steve, have recreated the band, dedicating themselves full time to what before was just a cover.

Hey guys! It’s so nice to have you here. I’ve just received a nice promo package from Altercation Records and now you’re officially one of the coolest names wore on my chest, haha :) What’s up?

Thank you Karol, we’re very glad there’s some space for Soviet Russia in your chest too.

Everything is going great, we just came back from The Upstart Fest in the North East of the USA that was totally an outstanding festival and a great chance to share the stage with some many awesome bands. So what’s up with you девушка (girl)?

Haha, I’m not a girl, and I can read Cyrillic, haha :) Karol is a male name!

Anyways, let’s set things straight. Although it was fun to read up your cool bio and find out that Moscow is your hometown, it gets confusing when you add Milan to the mix :) Where are you from and what’s your real story? :)

You’re warned: try to embarrass me once more and I’ll put some polonium in your drink! Of course you’re a man, I NEVER said you’re a девушка !!! (ooops)

Nothing to get confused about, Milan is the city we live now and you already know our story, that biography is 100% trustworthy. Any more doubts Mr. Polonium?!?

Alright, alright. I accept your challenge. What would Russians be doing in Italy!?

Have Borsh, drink Vodka and coordinate all our intelligence activities all over the world but guess what!? We also run our punk band and thanks to the American label Altercation Records we are having the chance to enlarge our audience. Not so bad for 4 elderly spies like us.

Yup, we’ll get there, but first off, let’s discuss your roots, shall we? 

80s Soviet punk bands were indeed very innovative and talented. They created a unique sound, not heard of in Western punk rock at that time. Where does your fascination of the Soviet-era punk rock come from?

Very innovative and extremely dangerous for the official Soviet system! The very first Russian punk rock band was the AVTOMATICHESKIE UDOVLETVORITELY founded in 1979 in Leningrad and the were considered true enemies of the Sate.  We say we’re a Soviet Punk band that is a huge contradiction itself: If you were a punk you would fight against the Soviet system and if you were in the system you would fight against punks…. we are ex KGB and we do play punk rock, we have a fascination for all the soviet period and not only for the music and we do love provocation, doesn’t that sounds nice to you?

Sound sexy! :)

It says “Since 1977” in your bio. Why that particular year?

That was the turning point year.  Elvis died in 1977 and punk rock became very popular at the same time, in other words goodbye to classic Rock’n’Roll and welcome to the NEW Rock’n’Roll. BTW do you know Elvis has been hibernating in a secret military lab in Soviet Russia? YEAH, we got him after his 70s statement against communism… what’s that look on your face?! Don’t worry! He got a 5 starts cryogenic coffin and he still looks fat and COOL!

I knew it! I’ve seen him too many times at Tesco market!

There was a lot of cool Italian Soviet-punk rock inspired bands in the past. CCCP FEDELI ALLA LINEA formed in Berlin (1982). Are they one of your inspirations? Besides AUTOMATIC SATISFIERS , what other bands made a great influence on your work?

We do love CCCP but that was a more electronic sounding oriented kind of punk rock music. We feel closer to bands like CIRCLE JERKS, ZERO BOYS and BLACK FLAG. I don’t know if they inspired us but I’m sure this is the kind of sound we love the most.

By the way BLACK FLAG, how do you feel about that sick fight between Gregg Ginn and Keith Morris’ FLAG? :) Have you seen the cover art of BLACK FLAG’s new album? Haha :)

I’m sure both of them had serious reasons to start this controversial fight but if you’re asking to take a part I’ll say the Black FAG wins over everyone else.

No I haven’t seen the new cover art yet, is it the one with Henry Rollins and the broken mirror? ;-)

Nope, but very close.

Alright, guys. Your bio says that Angela, Micky, Diste and Mick have recreated the band. What line-up changes have you gone through in the past?

It’s cool and It should work for a Lullabies Renditions CD too.

Angela, Micky, Diste and Mick are our new Italian names but you better call us with our real military names: Olga, Bazooka, Jurij and Vasilij.

You know we are undercover agents and sometimes during our missions someone dies or is forced to change his identity. SVETLANAS always h ad valorous members, Vasilij and Bazooka have recently been assigned to a new mission so we have a brand new line-up change with the much-decorated agent Mikhail at guitars (Masu is the Italian name) and general Stanislav at bass guitar (Steve). We had more SVETLANAS in the past. Spy life is not easy man!

How are you linked to Vladimir Putin? Did you serve together? :)

I’m sorry sir but you have no access to classified information.

Oh I see. That smells like discrimination to me. It’s because I’m Polish, isn’t it?

Alright, so let’s go back to Upstart fest you’ve just played. How was it? I’ve heard you brought the Americans the biggest buzz, huh? :)

Hey Mr. victim, we do like Polish people, we like every nationality but Sir, you are correct: THIS IS DISCRIMINATION, but just because you’re not KGB!

Ah the Upstart Fest what an awesome festival this has been, it claims to be “The Northeast’s Biggest and Best Punk Rock Party” and it really is! Great experience, great bands and lots of fun!

Well, I would say the Americans brought us the biggest fun! You guys have the most energetic audience ever and we loved that!

After World War II many American politicians tried to make their nation believe that the USSR had planned to take over the entire world. Did you feel threatened? :)

Uh? Com’on what is this, a joke? USSR is the most influential, advanced and powerful country of all time, everyone learn this in school books! –  in Russia at least.

Alright. So how come a label like Altercation notice you and offered a cooperation?

We met Travis from Altercation Records the first time we have toured the US in 2009 and everything started from there. He booked few shows for our 2011 US tour and 6 shows for the SXSW festival in Austin, TX in 2012 then this year we came out with our second full length on Altercation Records and the 9 shows at Upstart Fest last September.

Are you satisfied by the feedback of “Tales From the Alpha Brigade”?

Yes we are! But nothing gives us more satisfaction than a live performance ’cause you can express more energy than you can do in a record.

Damn right. So what are your touring plans now?

We will go back to the US in  festival in the world.

Any chance to see you live in Poland someday?

We never toured Poland but this is in our to-do list already, Warsaw must be an awesome city and some of us has been already there for few missions but this is another story.

Okay. Thanks so much for the chat. Would you like to add anything else?

Thanks to you Karol, it has been a pleasure to talk with you and we are happy to contaminate Idioteq.com with our musical spy stories, I will surely keep you posted on everything. Do skoroj vstrechi! 

Thanks again! Good luck with all your missions and please keep me posted on what’s up and coming!

до свидания!

Marked photos by BlowTheScene.

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headquarters@svetlanas.su

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