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Russian Band Pompeya Finds Safety In English-Language Lyrics

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Russian rock - it's not just Pussy Riot.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: A band called Pompeya has made its way into the international music scene with danceable grooves and funky baselines.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OOOO")

POMPEYA: (Singing) It's funny how it takes me away (ph).

SIMON: I bet you didn't even think I could say the word funky. Pompeya has a new album out. It's called "Real," and Daniil Brod is the lead singer of Pompeya. He joins us from the studios of the BBC in Moscow. Thanks very much for being with us.

DANIIL BROD: Thanks (Speaking Russian).

SIMON: Does your music cast back a little to the '80s, Duran Duran, Journey, The Cure, Britain American pop?

BROD: Yes, totally, totally.

SIMON: (Laughter).

BROD: And I really appreciate when people notice that because sometimes, especially young people, they comparing our music to modern acts, which is not exactly correct. But when people notice the bands like you did, it's totally what we are about.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OOOO")

POMPEYA: (Singing) Who's going to cry about it? Oooo, no one's going to cry about it.

SIMON: Did you grow up listening to that kind of music?

BROD: Unfortunately not. I grew up in '90s, so I grew up listening to Nirvana, Pearl Jam. And I opened '80s music just when I started to play that kind of music. We started to play that kind of music - people started to compare and I started to dig. What was there in '80s - Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush, Talk Talk - all this music inspires me a lot.

SIMON: Another track from the album; this one is called "Anyway."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANYWAY")

POMPEYA: (Singing) Any day (unintelligible) was it only love inside my valentine 'cause to mute my soul (ph)...

SIMON: Now, what's one of the funniest jobs you had to have while working as a musician?

BROD: I had a job as a designer - crappy designer - just a small - business cards, fliers. And I understood that it not working so I had to quit and I had to be only a musician.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANYWAY")

POMPEYA: (Singing) When the days of playing the fool...

BROD: We've been a musicians without making any money for maybe a year, but that's something that any musician should go through, I think.

SIMON: Yeah. Although I'm just going to guess it must be really hard to be a musician earning no money and live in Moscow in February.

BROD: Well, yeah (laughter) but we had families, so that was not that hard. That was fun time. I remember this time with tears in my eyes. We were really romantic and enthusiastic about everything. It's probably like we feel right now about the states because in the states we starting from the new, and this very excited feeling.

SIMON: I want to hear the title track of this album. It's called "Real."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REAL")

POMPEYA: (Singing) Sometimes I feel like I can hide behind the stone. Sometimes I think I might be wrong.

BROD: This song means a lot to me. This is the first song when I tried to think about who do I want to be really? And this is the first song musically that we tried to do a ballad, and people in Russia loved this song live. Usually, people listen to Pompeya as a dance band, and here's the first song that's very slow, but it's very emotional.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "REAL")

POMPEYA: (Singing) Want to be right down on my own.

SIMON: There are tens of thousands of bands in the United States and Great Britain that never do a political song in a funny way because they're free to a political song anytime they want. But I wonder if that is different in Russia.

BROD: Yes. Most people don't write a political songs in Russia for the reason that they can get in trouble. Maybe they will not get in trouble like in a jail or something, but they probably will be declined from some venues or promoters. Who knows?

SIMON: Yeah.

BROD: But the funny thing is right now English can give you some kind of safety in that case. So people would not understand exactly what you're singing about. So English speaking bands probably can do a political song, but should it make sense for the Russian audience? I don't know.

SIMON: Yeah. One more song I want to ask you about - appropriately, the last one.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LAST ONE")

POMPEYA: (Singing) Don't you pull me from the shelter please. These days I will win the race. Don't do nothing to make my mistakes. With this let them take the reins (ph).

SIMON: Your music could be the definition of pop. What makes you want to make this kind of music?

BROD: It happens naturally. I think we found our style. I used to play in a punk rock band, and I can't say that I'm happy on stage when that much noise on stage. Our band Pompeya is very good sound live because this is not loud to burn your ears, but it's loud enough to make you want to dance. And this style of music will be fine fun for entire of my life.

SIMON: Daniil Brod - he is the lead singer of the Russian band Pompeya. Their new album is called "Real" - speaking from Moscow, thanks so much for being with us.

BROD: Thanks (Speaking Russian).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LAST ONE")

POMPEYA: (Singing) Last one ever, don't need no other. Your last one recovered. I don't need no (ph)... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.