Interview: Russian Winters

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Russian Winters is causing quite a storm on our part of the world and we’re talking beats and not precipitation. Since the quartet were listed on the line-up for Sunburst Music Festival 09, people have been scratching their heads and scouring the net to find out more about the band from Down Under – that’s right fellow music-curious, despite the name that they go by; they rather knock back beers than vodka. JUICE was just as intrigued by the band as you were and managed to rope in an interview with RW members vocalist Kris ‘Dima’ Dimitroff and Sam Sterrett. With a solemn approach to  JUICE‘s questions we thought not quite possible of an Aussie band (ok! fine we will take you Perth people more seriously now, just don’t tease us with names like Russian Winters then), we got to know the band on a deeper level and liked what we saw and heard.

In the past, extreme winters were the cause of failure for many warlords who wanted to invade Russia. Why choose that as the band name?
Dima: Wow that’s a fun fact! Is this a band interview or a history lesson? Russian Winters to me conjures images of beauty and desperately romantic landscapes, inspired by literature, history and the dubious ancestry of my father. I like the way the name can evoke many different responses from people.

Describe your own sound?
Sam: Picture Phil Selway (Radiohead drummer), Paul Banks (Interpol) and Kim Deal (The Pixies) water-skiing behind a boat skippered by Robert Smith (The Cure) who has the wind in his hair and a can of Victorian Bitter beer in his hand.

Perth is also usually the last leg of any tour of festival. Do you think this is because of geography or because the bands know that Perth is an excellent place to get ‘smashed’?
Sam: Perth is often actually the first or last leg of any tour. Perhaps it is geography but international bands are pretty excited to play in Perth, either because they’ve just arrived on Aussie soil and are probably keen to make a good impression, or they’re completely exhausted by the end of the tour and are just happy to be nearly home.

There are many Malaysians studying in Australia. Any advice for those who want to get involved in the music scene over there?
Dima: Go out to see live music or join a band. Don’t sit in your dorm and wonder.

Apart from the UK and America, Australia seems to be a large exporter of rock music. How do you feel about the mega success of recent Australian bands like Jet, Empire of the Sun, Sleepy Jackson, The Datsuns. Have they helped bands like yourself?
Dima: It’s always good for Aussie music when Aussie bands do well. Of course, we would prefer certain bands to fly the flag for Oz than others (Sleepy Jackson over Jet anyday) because we want other countries to view our music scene as diverse and vibrant – not just meat and potatoes rock (Jet – again). We haven’t fully explored the overseas markets yet – but we are thrilled that Malaysia has taken an interest in our tunes.

Do you see yourself as part of an Australian scene?
Dima: We feel more part of a Perth scene than an Australian one. Perth has an extremely healthy music scene with bands such as The Sleepy Jackson, Empire of the Sun, Eskimo Joe and The Panics all doing well. I guess because we live here it’s natural to feel part of a scene, but it is more exciting to get your music out to an international audience, and that’s what we would love to do.

We heard that you guys are coming down for 5 days. That’s a long time. What are you looking forward to do here besides playing?
Dima: What do you recommend for 5 Aussies in KL? We have a Sunburst warm-up gig booked on Thursday 19 March at the Laundry Bar, plus some interviews…. Then we just plan to play well, meet people and party.

You must have a pretty special connection with Malaysia. Care to share.
Sam: A long time friend who has spent half his life in Australia and half his life in KL is the connection. We went to school together and have been into music ever since we met. He’s worked in the music scene back in Oz before and now that he lives in KL he suggested we get our asses over there and do a tour. Sunburst invited us and here we are!

Australia’s been hit by floods and bushfires. Do you know how to put out a fire if it came down to it?
Dima: Build an ark and then a flood will come.

You guys have connections to Mother Russia, so can you hold your vodka?
Dima: Yes. So long as it’s mixed with Red Bull.

If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be, chocolate sandwiches or vegemite sarnies?
Sam: Actually, in Australia we all eat Koala Burgers.

What’s your favourite marsupial?
Sam: Koala.

Finally, when’s your EP going to be available in Malaysia? And when’s the new album coming out?
Dima: Hopefully soon to both queries. We will bring some EPs with us on tour – so come to a show at the Laundry Thursday 19 March to buy one or come up to the stage at Sunburst and you may receive a gift. We also have heaps of news songs to record – hoping to release something later in 2009.
Sam: Our agent in KL, Burnt Bread Production is looking into getting us onto a label over there and hopefully some more touring opportunities in the region.

To find out more about Russian Winter and to listen to their tunes log on to or catch them before Sunburst on the 19th of March 09 at Laundry.

Interview Ben Liew
Text Sueann Chong
Image Russian Winters

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