Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The founders of the band - Vadim Samoylov (born in Sverdlovsk, October 3, 1964), Aleksandr Kozlov (born in Asbest, September 25, 1961) and Petr Mai—were schoolmates, they played together in a school band. In 1985 they (together with Vadim's younger brother Gleb Samoylov, who was born in Asbest, August 4, 1970) created a music band named ВИА РТФ УПИ (which literally stands for: vocal-instrumental ensemble of Radioengineering faculty of Ural Polytechnical Institute). The original band comprises:

  • Gleb Samoylov (Глеб Самойлов) — vocals, guitar, bass, lyrics, adaptation, keyboard
  • Vadim Samoylov (Вадим Самойлов) — vocals, guitar, bass, lyrics, adaptation, keyboard
  • Pyotr Mai (Пётр Май) — drums, percussion
  • Aleksandr Kozlov (Александр Козлов) — keyboard, composer/lyrics (now deceased)

They released several tape albums: Esli (If), Svet (Light), Golos (Voice) and others. In the same year they changed the name of the band to Agatha Christie after English detective writer Agatha Christie. The name was chosen allegedly as best reflecting the band's sound style, a mysterious, eccentric, and at times sadistically spooky mix of glam, goth rock, and techno-like electronics.

The official birthday of Agatha Christie is February 20, 1988, the day of their first concert and the release of the first official album Vtoroy front (Second Front). In 1988-1989 Agatha Christie played at several rock festivals and was noticed. At this time Peter Mai left the band and was replaced by Albert Potapkin. Still, two more albums to follow — Kovarstvo i lyubov (Craft and Love) and Dekadans (Decadence) — seemed overly theatrical and pompous. There were also some internal tensions in the band. Albert Potapkin left and was replaced by Andrey Kotov (born in Sverdlovsk, April 3, 1963).

In 1993 the band released a much more focused and balanced album Pozornaya zvezda (Shameful Star), which marked a shift from the guitar-driven glam rock of the previous albums to synth-based post-punk with a more subdued vocal delivery. The next album Opium enjoyed considerable success. Agatha Christie quickly became a popular act. Two songs from Opium, "Skazochnaya taiga" (Fairy Taiga) and "Opium dlya nikogo" (Opium for Nobody), became hits. The next albums, Uragan (Hurricane) and Chudesa (Miracles), were gloomy, even depressive, and loaded with electronics, a move which was not welcomed by many of the band's fans. A 2000 Mein Kaif? (a word-play derived from Mein Kampf and the Russian word "Kaif", meaning 'bliss') featured sound no less gloomy and bleak than its predecessors, but received critical praise because of its unorthodox composition and song structures. In 2001 the founding keyboardist Aleksandr Kozlov died, which is said to be the reason for prolonged creative stagnation. It was only in 2004 that the Samoylovs released the next album, Triller. Chast 1 (Thriller. Part 1). Despite a significant stylistic deviation from the band's trademark murky electronic sound, this lean, heavier, hard rock-infused album was generally well received by both listeners and critics. Several songs from this album made to the top of charts in Russia. In 2008 Andrey Kotov left the band, but soon the Samoylovs recruited two new musicians: Dmitry "Snake" Khakimov (drums) and Konstantin Bekrev (keyboards and bass-guitar). Several days before the band's 21st anniversary in February 2009 the band announced that they will finish their career as Agatha Christie with the final album Epilogue which was released in 2010.

While being less prolific in the 2000s, Agatha Christie have proved to be quite long-lasting a project. Over their history, the band explored a variety of styles, from the synth-pop of Depeche Mode and Freddie Mercury's extravaganza to the gloomy post-punk of The Cure and The Damned. Unlike the majority of the Russian rock scene, which historically adhered to the guitar-driven rock, Agatha Christie embraced a hefty share of synthesizer rhythms and drums, which, together with the characteristic vocals switching from suggestive whisper to hysterical shrieks, makes their style easily recognizable. Agatha Christie won the Grand-Prix of the festival of young European bands Open du Rock (France, 1991), World Music Award as the most popular Russian music band (Monte-Carlo, 1997), and four national "Овация (Ovation)" prizes.