Other than a few random "It was great!" quotes in a few rarely read interviews we've never really said anything in detail about our trips to, and relationship with, Russia. So in keeping with our new spirit of saying more words about more stuff, I think now might be a good time to go into it.
I apologise in advance, this will boring and of no merit at all, it is simply a list of things that happened and long overdue love letter...
I think I first heard of Fyodor Dostoyevsky when he was mentioned in a Sartre novel. I was obsessed with Jean Paul Sartre. So anything mentioned in a Sartre novel I would undoubtedly go out and investigate further.
I bought a second hand copy of Notes From The Underground and a new romance was born. I began devouring everything by Dostoyevsky I could get my hands on, Crime and Punishment (the book and BBC film), Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, the whole lot. It would often take weeks to get through a single book, and glorious weeks they would be. I'm not sure if it maybe had something to do with me being from a small town, in a small country, but I loved the vastness of these novels, the epic landscapes, the unhinged characters and almost unbearable psychological torture in every situation. When I finally finished a book I felt so sad at having to leave all of these people and places that had taken over my life. When I had finished with Dostoyevsky I moved on to others, Tolstoy, Gogol, Turgenev, Bulgakov, Grossman. I read more into the history and setting of these novels, I even wrote a song called St Petersburg, all about my desire to run away from mundane every day life and flee to the darkness of Nevsky Prospect. Russia became my "thing". Other people liked cars, or collected vinyl or played sports, whereas I had Russian books. I bought a full length great coat and grew a beard.
I'm not quite as intense (and odd) as I was during this initial period, the coat has been binned and the beard shaved off, but I am still a lover and enthusiast.
So alas, it felt like a kind of poetic coincidence when our first ever major tour happened to be in Russia, starting in the depths of Siberia and moving slowly west. In all honesty I had never heard of some of the unpronounceable cities we were to play on that tour, but they have come to be some of my favourite places on earth, and home to some of the most incredible people I have ever met.
Those first shows, when we supported Placebo in a selection of huge Ice Hockey stadiums will always be some of our best ever. I'm not really sure quite why we had such an amazing and instant bond with the audiences at those shows, I guess the people in the crowd will be better placed to explain that than me, but we were humbled and amazed. Having played tons of small shows around the UK before this Russia trip we had grown accustomed to subdued and reserved audiences. A few head nods and Twitter follows coming from a show was a real success. In contrast those Siberia shows where pure chaos, glorious mad energy and enthusiasm, we fed off of it, and loved it. We came home from that tour as a better band, the Mirror Trap that takes to any stage today was born in Siberia. On arriving back in Scotland we wanted to go back straight away, but sadly the logistics and finance involved in taking a small and poor Scottish rock band into the middle of Russia where too huge for us to do it quickly.
One year later we were given the chance to return, and to play in Moscow and St Petersburg, two cities we missed out on the first trip.
That second trip was a real whirlwind in which our feet barely touched the ground, we flew in for two days, played two shows and didn't sleep at all. In St Petersburg we played our own show, to a small but wild crowd of people. During our one day in St Petersburg I managed to squeeze in a four hour walk all around the centre of the city, I went over the bridges on which so many great literary scenes had taken places, I stood in front of great palaces and drank coffee in small cafes, this was a dream come true. The following day we met up with Placebo again to play a show in Gorky Park. Gorky Park. Gorky freakin' Park. Boys like us don't get to play to ten thousand people in the centre of Moscow, it just doesn't happen. But then it did, and it was surreal, incredible but so surreal. I don't think I was really in my body during that entries 45 minute set. We even had a little "cat walk" at the front of the stage, I felt like Mick Jagger!
We went from the show straight to the after show party, we drank and danced and made fools of ourselves until 7am. We piled into a taxi, were taken to the airport and were home before we could blink.
We are still in contact with so many of the people we met on those two trips, and are extremely grateful for the support we have been given. We have our new album finished, and are in the process of arranging a year of shows. We will be coming back to Russia. I don't know where, or when, but it will happen, and if it is anything like our previous trips it will be incredible.