Igor and Red Elvises
Igor and Red Elvises—formerly known as just the Red Elvises—are somewhat of a music legend. They have a huge following in Europe, especially Ukraine, and a dedicated crew of fans here in the states. Although the band’s lineup has changed several times during the past two decades, the Red Elvises have toured the world almost non-stop for years. Known for their signature sound—a hybrid of rock, reggae, rockabilly and traditional Russian tunes—the band brings to mind other unique Slavic bands like Gogol Bordello.
The website for Igor and Red Elvises is indicative of the band’s personality—it’s an alarming shade of red, and it shows up on Google as “YOUR FAVORITE BAND!” They sign off on their blog and Facebook posts with their Slavic-esque interpretation of “rock ’n’ roll”—“ROKENROL,” also the name of their ninth studio album. It’s all very classically, almost stereotypically, Russian, especially when they post pictures of Vodka on their Facebook page. The art style on the covers of their 16 albums is reminiscent of propaganda posters, with blocky typography and pin-up models, which make sense, given the band’s eclectic, multicultural background.
The band’s lead vocalist and guitarist Igor Yuzov, born in Germany and raised in the Soviet Union, founded the band in the mid 1990s. Other members of the band come from all over the world, including Israel and Puerto Rico. According to Yuzov, Elvis Presley appeared to him in a dream, and bid him to make music.
The band chooses to release their music independently, and it’s worked for them since the early ’90s. Most recently, they released a Live in Montana album in 2011.
“We’ve never signed any deals and never wanted to,” Yuzov said in an interview with the Herald-Journal. “And I’m glad about that, because all these albums and all these songs belong to us. It makes things much, much easier, being independent.
Their songs are energetic and over the top, and while the musicians have a serious amount of talent powering their music, the band doesn’t take itself too seriously. Some of their more famous songs include “I Want to See You Belly Dance,” “Twist Like Uma Thurman” and “Drinking with Jesus.” Yuzov’s stage presence is what has garnered the band it’s reputation for putting on memorable live performances—he shouts at the audience and demands almost constant involvement from them. If you attend a Red Elvises show, you’re expected to stand, jump and dance for the entire performance.
After attending a show, writer Ben Salmon from the Bend Bulletin in Oregon, said, “We could get caught up in assessing the artistic merits of Red Elvises or their technical abilities, and they’d come out looking OK in either case. But none of that matters much when folks are having that much fun.”
Igor and Red Elvises have been touring in Russia for all of June, and will stop in California for a few days before venturing over to Nevada. After Reno, the band heads over to San Francisco and then up to tour throughout the Pacific Northwest, so it’s in your best interest to catch them while they’re in our town. They’re performing with LovePop! on July 20.