by Ryan Meehan
On-The-Go is an indie-pop band originated in Togliatti back in 2008, now based in Moscow since 2010. On-The-Go belongs to the set of new Russian musicians, who make the western-influenced music – western not by content, but by the performance and record quality. Content of the On-The-Go music is a mesmerizing combination of local background, quest for the new sound and Russian authentic melodies backed by refined arrangements, thought-out sound and distinctive lyrics written by band leader Yura Makarychev. On-the-Go started in 2009 with a self-titled LP which secured band position on top of russian music market. Since then they played with Keane, She Wants Revenge, Patrick Wolf, Autokratz, The Horrors and many others. In 2011 On-The-Go supported Hurts on their tour after releasing now famous “In the Wind” music video and “Gym Session” Live Video which marked the new era for the band. At the end of 2012 the band released its long-awaited LP «November» first since their debut in 2009. Songs on the verge of winter, melodies covered by the wind, tenderness and warm sadness has made the mission of comparing On-The-Go to other bands a very complicated one. There are many names coming to mind – from Wild Beasts to various Swedes and Danes but even though On-The-Go music has no pronounced ethnic identity, it has melodies, feelings and charms of something that has come from very different and alluring part of our planet. Yura Makarychev of On The Go is our guest today in 7 questions.
RM: How did you all end up playing music with each other in the beginning; and what’s the biggest difference between your song structures back then and the way the songs are constructed now?
YM: We got to know each other a long time ago. When music was just a hobby after school and we were learning how to play instruments. Nu metal was big at the time. There was a small musical community in our hometown, everyone knew each other and we were all trying ourselves in different local bands and projects. Then one day I decided it was time for a fresh start with some serious attitude. My friends joined me and of course one of the main reasons for that new beginning was the fact that I wanted to play with my younger brother. Back then we wrote our songs in our drummer’s garage. All five of us just jamming and writing demos. Right now it’s all within my brother’s home studio. The song-writing became more intimate and precise. And today we like it that way.
RM: What do we need to know about your hometown of Togliatti? What was the deciding factor in getting the band to pick up and move to Moscow?
YM: Well, it stands on a great Russian river Volga. The nature there is breathtaking, you can see it yourself in our ‘In The Wind’ video. This is the main thing I miss about Togliatti. In general it’s a young industrial city where those ugly Russian cars are made. We left for good because we saw lack of opportunities for an artistic mind there. We wanted to be musicians full-time, we wanted to develop. It would never happen if we decided to stay. And now here in Moscow we’re lucky enough not to have day jobs, all we do now is for the band. It’s already like we living a dream and yet still so much needs to be done.
RM: Who were some of the artists that had the biggest influence on all of you during the first few years of the band? How have your influences changed as you’ve gotten to perform with some of the big name artists you’ve shared the stage with?
YM: When we just started with the band we were really into Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Klaxons and other bands of that wave, it was some fresh energy to lean upon. But influences are always changing. It would be hard for us to stick to only few artists in that case. We always try to find something interesting. So many great names out there and of course performing together with some of them affected us in a good way.
RM: A co-worker of mine really turned me on to your song “Keep Pretending”…What is the story behind the lyrics to that track? And what is the meaning of the line “Reach inside and see it through, I’ve got heart enough for two…”?
YM: Well, emotionally it is connected to a very dark period in our band’s history and the story behind the lyrics is a kind of parasitic relationship when love is obviously dead, but one of the partners is still trying for both to save it at any costs, selflessly sacrificing everything even his/her life.
RM: The other day when I was listening to that song, I was doing something that a lot of journalists do…I was trying to pinpoint what the guitar on that track sounded like. I could hear a strong influence of The Flaming Lips in the percussive elements of the sonic landscape, but the closest comparison I could come up with regards to the guitar is Interpol…How would you best describe the guitar tone that accompanies your vocals on that cut as well as others?
YM: I don’t know why, but somehow the guitar line in ‘Keep Pretending’ makes me think of Neil Young and some old western movie soundtracks. But there’s a lot of post-punk influence in it’s sound at the same time. So it’s a kind of post punk cowboys’ stuff, maybe that’s why you thought of Interpol 🙂
RM: Do you guys go out of your way to avoid discussing current sociopolitical issues in your music because of the oppression that artists in your country face, or because you just don’t feel like it fits with the music that you create? (You don’t necessarily have to answer this if you don’t want to…)
YM: To my opinion it’s just bad to mix those things on purpose. To put it up front like that. To speculate and get involved. Of course we have our own political views and the whole situation in general touches the mood and even the lyrics. But the most political song I ever wrote is ‘Young Hearts’ and it’s all a matter of context and the way I see world around me at the moment.
RM: Out of all the bands that you’ve toured or played shows with, which artist seems to be the one that you feel has the creative vision that most resembles yours? Could you ever see yourself collaborating with that artist on a studio track?
YM: Out of those we shared the stage with I’d say Toro Y Moi. This guy always looks for an interesting perspective. It would be fun to try collaborating with Chaz I’m sure.
RM: How does the music that you are currently working on differ than what you’ve already released? Is there anything that you are going to specifically do to make sure certain subgenres you’d like to work into your music come through in those songs?
YM: Basically we’ve just started working on our new material and we never try to push too hard and make any strict plans especially on how the new record should sound in the end. I’m listening to a lot of old school dance music lately, but we’ll see how it goes. The main thing about the new stuff that it’s going to be less naive.
RM: What’s up next for you guys in the remainder of 2014 and beyond? Anything big in the works that awe should know about?
YM: We’re touring Europe for the first time. We’re hitting the road at the end of November and we are very excited about it. Also pretty soon we are releasing our live video of the songs from ‘Young Hearts’ LP. You should definitely check this one out.
Official Website: http://www.on-the-go.ru/band/
On The Go on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/onthegoband
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