Minneapolis to Moscow
For a band with such modest beginnings, The Soviettes are riding a rocket to Sputnik-like success. Before the Soviette uprising was even a year old, the group had been profiled in a Minneapolis Star Tribune spread, won first place in the City Pag...
For a band with such modest beginnings, The Soviettes are riding a rocket to Sputnik-like success.
Before the Soviette uprising was even a year old, the group had been profiled in a Minneapolis Star Tribune spread, won first place in the City Page's "Picked to Click" poll and was nominated for two Minnesota Music Awards. That was all before the group's full-length debut was recorded in January.
And though this revolution hasn't been televised, it has found its way onto the airwaves through heavy rotation on Minneapolis' Radio K.
Not bad for a band whose earliest gigs were a jumbled mix of nerves and too much beer.
"Our first shows were really bad," says bassist Susy Sharp, adding she's surprised by their success.
Sharp and fellow Fargo ex-pat, singer/guitarist Annie Holoien, form a Red River Valley axis in the Twin City-based power-pop punk quartet. Singer/guitarist Maren Mocosko and drummer Danny Henry round out the Soviette revolution, which marches into the back room at Ralph's tonight.
What started as a word-of-mouth buzz following those forgettable first shows carried to the Oakland, Cailf., office of Adrienne Armstrong, co-owner of Adeline Records. A Minneapolis native, Armstrong liked what she heard, signed the band and released its debut, "LP," last month.
Packed with 14 tracks of power pop agitprop, "LP" establishes the group as melodic noise-makers with just as much back beat as bite.
With all four members pitching in on writing and singing duties, The Soviettes take on everything from the anti-abortion antics of the Lambs of Christ to jingo-spouting flag wavers and the Clear Channel monopoly.
The track, "The Land of Clear Blue Radio," begins with a clip from "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains," a cult classic starring Diane Lane as a runaway leader of an all-girl punk band.
"I saw that when I was 14 on 'Night Flight,' " says Sharp. "It was awesome. I always wanted to use it in a song."
The group also takes a jab at those in its own scene, back-stabbers and critics who dismiss The Soviettes as nothing more than other musician's girlfriends. Mocosko dates a member of Minneapolis scene-setters Dillinger Four, as did Sharp, and Holoien saw Lucky Jeremy.
Making matters more confusing was D4 drummer Lane Pederson playing drums on The Soviettes first release, the single, "T.C.C.P."
"That's so stupid," chides Sharp. "We've done one show with Dillinger Four, although Lane played drums on 7-inch. Now Sturgeon is the only one dating one of them. It's dumb that people have to have stupid gossip."
Sharp hopes crowds can look beyond the group's sex as a focal point and start hearing what the band has to say about issues.
"You don't hear about all-male bands, so why does it have to be any different for a female band?" asks Sarah Hassell, a Fargo-based pro-choice advocate who played drums behind Sharp in the all-girl band Bombshell.
Admiring what The Soviettes have to say, Hassell says the group shouldn't be held to different standards because of gender.
"If you're a feminist and a musician people expect you to use your music to deliver a message, but I don't think the Soviettes are kowtowing to what people expect of them," Hassell says.
"There are a lot of bands with girls that are a lot more poppy than us," Sharp says. "I just hope people like us because of our music."
For now, the band will keep on touring and hopes to march into Japan some time later this year, possibly armed with a new album.
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533
If you go
What: The Soviettes with Heads and Bodies and Mahkato
When: 9 p.m. today
Where: Ralph's Corner, Moorhead
Information: $5 cover for this 21 and older show. (218) 233-3351