WORDS: ROBERT ROZENDAAL | PHOTOS: MANOS TSOPANOGLOU, MDB
Originating from the harsh streets of Moscow, hardcore/hiphop act Moscow Death Brigade are on well on their way to becoming a household name in the European underground scene. Since the band’s formation in 2007, MDB have toured relentlessly around European territory. After playing numerous club shows and festivals such as Hellfest, With Full Force and Exit Fest to name a few. Vocalists “Boltcutter Vlad” and “Ski Mask G” humbly look back on the beginning of the band. “When we started out, all of our gigs were DIY. Organized by us. As we couldn’t afford any expensive equipment, the formula of having music played by our DJ with us doing vocals was perfect!”.
“THE STAGE COSTUMES, INCLUDING SKI-MASKS REPRESENT OUR ROOTS IN UNDERGROUND STREET CULTURE FROM GRAFFITI SPRAYING TO URBAN ACTIVISM”
Since local venues were not eager to book underground hip-hop /punk band with socially-aware lyrics, the band had to rely on themselves. “We put on shows everywhere. Abandoned buildings, trains, anything we could use!”.Having a strong DIY and anti-authority attitude, the members of MDB always carried themselves independently. Roaming the cold streets of Moscow, the band used to bring carry speakers to play their music on together with a few mics. Just like graffiti artist would do. “The stage costumes, including the ski-masks represent our roots in underground street culture from illegal graffiti to urban activism.” rapper vocalist Boltcutter Vlad explains.
Looking at the current political situation in Russia, it is no far stretch to imagine that the national government doesn’t particularly take to such anti-authoritan sentiments. They started the band at a very challenging moment, when streets of most Russian cities were literally ran by well-organized extreme right wing gangs. “It’s hard to describe it for people who are far from these types of situations, but in reality it meant that people were bruised and killed for their skin color, accent or the way they dress constantly.” What’s even more concerning is that these street-gangs were often protected by the authority, who used them for their own good.
“NO MATTER HOW FAR WE TAKE OUR EXPERIMENTS, THE MAIN IDEA IS TO MAKE A TRACK ONE CAN HEADBANG, MOSH AND STAGE DIVE TO”
What’s interesting about the brutal reality MDB originates from, they have never backed down from doing their thing. During the early years of the band (say 2007 to 2011), the band has had to go above and beyond to even make their live-appearances happen. The band explains they had to rally up their friends to protect their shows together and make sure nobody from the audience got ambushed by neo-nazis. Even though the problems with neo-nazism are a lot less severe in Russia, the band still draws a lot of negative attention from the authorities. This makes it virtually impossible for Moscow Death Brigade to play their motherland.
When looking past the harsh environment the band comes from, the band manages to deliver their message of unity and DIY ethics through a very refreshing and interesting mix of hardcore, hiphop and the odd electronic-dance break. When answering the question of how the band manages to come to an agreement making their out-of-the-box music combined with their socio-cricital lyrics the band explains us it’s all a very organic experience. “No matter how far we take our experiments, the main idea is to make a track, one can headbang, mosh and stage dive to. If it works, then we did a good job!” as displayed on their most recent effort, the band traverses from musical corner to another. The band sets out to combine genres and try and make it as powerful sounding as possible. “At some points parts of the songs get added last minute, like it happened in one of the new tracks “Whack-a-mole” where we decided to add the third verse with a breakbeat and electronic pads.” Vlad later adds.
“WE HAD MORE THAN 70 GIGS AND FESTIVALS PLANNED FOR THE ALBUM RELEASE TOUR, INCLUDING OUR FIRST EVER US DATES”
Much has changed in the years following MDB’s inception. Years of hard work and dedication have led the band to have many friends and fans around the globe, laying a solid foundation with the likes of the Black ‘n Blue Bowl and many prominent figures in the NYHC scene. This year, in support of their new long player “Bad Accent Anthems” the band was supposed to play a great number of shows stretching across Europe and America.” We had more than 70 gigs and festivals planned for the album release tour, including our first ever US dates such as legendary Punk Rock Bowling festival in Las Vegas among them.” The mass cancellation of gigs worldwide due to the Corona Virus outbreak forced their agency Destiny Bookings to move a great deal of their bookings to later this year.
Upon being asked where they see the Russian underground scene go the two sympathetic vocalists give us a response displaying their hopes for it. “We are both hopeful about the youth’s demand of underground live-music, and the further growth of Social rights movements in Russia.” The band believes hope will always prevail over darkness.
All in all, MDB’s story is one worth diving into and sharing with your scene or surroundings. The two men from Russia leave us with an uplifting message concerning the crisis and life after: “Keep your head up, play “Bad Accent Anthems” for it might lift your mood in these difficult times!”
Find Moscow Death Brigade’s new album “Bad Accent Anthems here