is a combo of relentless rhythm, solid bass lines and cocky vocals one could describe as the bastard offspring of Iggy Pop and The White Stripes. With a brash, tactless sound all their own, the Chicago fourpiece welcomes easy comparisons to Shellac and Death from Above 1979, as well as drawing influences from hard-to-pinpoint sources such as XTC and Magazine.
February 14, 2009 MR RUSSIA will release their pounding, pure rock debut album, Teething on Lens Records. Knowing there will certainly be some missed steps, the band utilize the title to compare themselves to a sometimes fussy, teething infant. Bucking conventional wisdom, MR RUSSIA has made few actual missteps, proving so by sharing the stage with acts such as Reverend Horton Heat, Girl In A Coma, Thrones (Earth/Melvins), Two Ton Boa, 31 Knots, Earl Greyhound and have been featured along with the Arcade Fire and the Dresden Dolls on the FTC Records' David Bowie tribute album 2. Contamination, as well as the lead track on Eye for an Eye a tribute to Nick Cave.
Ivan Russia started MR RUSSIA with a handful of songs written for bass, drum and vocals. He excluded the usual guitar from the rock n roll line-up as he was sick of playing under or behind guitars unnecessarily turned up to 11. Performing live around Chicago initially as a two-piece, the line-up solidified with Ivan (vocals/bass), R.L. Russia (bass/vocals), Lindi Russia (synthesizer) and Anom Russia (drums).
With a reputation for furious, sweat soaked live shows, the ten tracks on Teething reflect their energetic and spastic nature. Lead-off track XOXO was the first song the band recorded and it effectively delivers the energy of the band s live performance onto tape. Ivan explains, The song is a catcall. The boy keeps trying to get the girl. Everything from challenging her boyfriend to a bare knuckle fight to asking her for a taste. Anyone who s ever wanted to get close to someone else without a snowball s chance in hell seems to relate to this song.
Standout track 'Wild World' is a cover of The Birthday Party song MR RUSSIA worked on for the Nick Cave tribute record. Ivan re-arranged the lyrics and added some additional words, resulting in a dark and raw sound genuine to the MR RUSSIA aesthetic. This could have gone so wrong with all the experimenting we did, adding sounds of baby piano, glass blocks, water, bones in a clay pot, etc., Ivan says. But the track turned out to be really exciting.
With songs exploring the gamut of human emotions from a sincere love song in the tradition of Tommy James and the Shondells ( The New Standard ), through insight into destructive relationships ( Damage ), to a look at the mixed up romance, cynicism and runaround a la The Cars Just What I Needed ( Skipping Hearts ), MR RUSSIA proves their bass plus drum combo is ready to demand some serious attention.
"MR RUSSIA is not from Russia, but you probably already guessed that. What they are from, though, is some sludgy pool that formed behind CBGB's in the late '70s, stagnated throughout the '80s, was hit by lighting in the '90s, thus creating some rudimentary lifeforms that picked up some instruments and learned to play them alongside each other at the latter end of our current decade." --Chicagoist
"...the band is currently putting the finishing touches on a debut album titled Teething. If it includes songs as strong as It s True and XOXO, ...it will be well worth a spin." --Jim DeRogatis, Chicago Sun-Times
"MR RUSSIA makes you want to sing, dance and at the same time go 'What the hell did they just do?' It's hard to convey a simple thing in a brand new way, and Teething pulls it off and then some." --Jersey Beat