Following a chance encounter with Rolling Stone Russia that led to an interview and a late-night, pissed-up jaunt to The Mayflower, BROKEN MEN were offered the kind of chance that doesn’t come around often: a tour of Russia, playing several dates in the underground rock clubs of Moscow and St Petersburg. So, with their passports in hand and a burning desire to go and play to some new and wholly unknown crowds, Broken Men joined forces with NATALIE MCCOOL and set off to tour the land responsible for slamming Pussy Riot in jail and bringing TaTu to Eurovision. While they were away, Natalie and Broken Men’s drummer/vocalist, Henry Pulp, kept a tour diary. They’ve combined some of their memories with photos from the tour, to shed some light on what it’s like touring a rock’n’roll show in Putin’s backyard.
Natalie McCool: Russia is huge but we only saw a tiny portion of it: St Petersburg is more European, Moscow was amazing but very imposing. All the buildings are huge and it just goes on and on. There is much less music over there – compared to here – but I think that makes the people love it more.
Henry Pulp: The crowds are a lot more attentive, a lot more appreciative; they actually came and stood in front of the stage instead of at the bar, and they even came to the soundcheck. In the UK it’s like uncool to tell someone how much you enjoyed the show. Over there they act as if you have just given them a bucket of gold.
Henry Pulp: Our main big travelling stints were on night trains between Moscow and St Petersburg, but it felt like a scene from the movies so it didn’t get tedious. We’ve come back from that trip stronger than ever; everyone’s that little bit more switched on because we’ve had a taste of something every musician longs for, some form of international break.
Natalie McCool: While we were waiting in Moscow for the night train, an older couple started talking to me; they looked tough as old boots. I was terrified at first but after having some goulash I calmed down a bit. We didn’t really understand each other and there was a lot of pointing and eyebrow twitching going on, but just looking at them, for me, they epitomised Russia. They had clearly been through a lot.
Henry Pulp: Being forced to spend so much time together in close proximity takes a band to a whole new level. The bond that grows is immeasurable, especially for a band of our size. You feel like you’re part of the The Gramercy Riffs; you feel uniformed. A total connection is built as soon as you step off the plane.
Natalie McCool: The last night at Krizis Zhanra in Moscow was actually amazing; it was like Bumper circa 2006. We were head-banging to Jet on the dancefloor; I started a conga line with a guy in a huge white fur jacket… you get the idea. Also, I was getting ready backstage and the DJ started playing From Nowhere by Dan Croll – a little taste of home there!