His music (click here) may have been outlawed by the pre-perestroika Soviet authorities, but Boris Grebenshchikov, lead singer and sole constant member of Russia’s legendary folk-rock group Akvarium, insists he was never against the socialist system that did its best to stop his recordings finding their public.
“To be against something, you have to be on the same level as it,” Grebenshchikov, 58, smiles from behind dark glasses. “But I was outside of it – I didn’t care. I just knew you don’t ever trust the authorities or anyone with the mark of authority.”
“Like Bob Marley said, ‘Babylon,’” he adds, the first of many references to the Rastafarian byword for evil, oppressive authority. “If you don’t trust Babylon, you don’t deal with it.”
Grebenshchikov is speaking ahead of a concert in the central Russian city of Kostroma, part of a tour to celebrate the moment forty years ago this summer when, after wandering the streets of his hometown Leningrad for over 48 hours, he finally came up with a name for his fledgling band.
As the Soviet Union lurched towards its seventh and final decade of existence, Akvarium would become a crucial part of the underground rock scene that sprang up from seemingly nowhere in Leningrad, the cradle of the Bolshevik Revolution, but also the spiritual home of the country’s intellectual and artistic heritage....