ChaiF is without a doubt one of the most influential Russian rock bands. Their music, deeply rooted in the traditions of Russian folklore, is at the same time paradoxically close to the Western idea of rock-n-roll. This is the key to their everlasting popularity -- high standards in sound combined with lyrics that can be understood and felt by almost every Russian, regardless of age or social status. ChaiF's history goes back to 1976, when Vladimir Shahrin, then already member of a school band, met his new classmate Vladimir Begunov, who also became the new band member. They played together almost every week at school dances, with repertoire consisting of songs by Creedence, T.Rex and Rolling Stones. After serving in the army, in 1984 Shahrin (vocals, guitar and harmonica) and Begunov (bass) with trumpeter Vadim Kukushkin and drummer/percussionist Oleg Reshetnikov first began playing as ‘ChaiF'. The name comes from a tea ("chai") that was brewed using a coffee-maker. Sipping that ‘chai-f', friends were writing and singing songs, some of which were to become the biggest hits of Russian rock-n-roll. ChaiF's very first records, including a live album Subbotnim vecherom v Sverdlovske (‘One Saturday Evening In Sverdlovsk') featuring many fine musicians such as Vyacheslav Butusov, were never officially released. In 1987, with their new drummer Vladimir Nazimov, ChaiF recorded two albums, Dulya s makom and Der'montin (neither title is really translatable -- first refers to the Russian gesture meaning "no way", the other is a word game meaning "crappy leather-imitation"), which brought the band nationwide popularity. Since then and until late 1990's Chaif released new albums practically every year, each of them a critical and commercial success. The band toured often throughout entire country and participated in all kinds of political, social and environmental events. Except for the founding tandem Shahrin-Begunov, the band's lineup had changed several times. Pavel Ustyugov played guitar in 1988-90. Drummer Nazimov left for Nautilus Pompilius and was replaced by Igor Zlobin and later by Valeriy Severin, Shahrin's and Begunov's army friend. Bassist Anton Nifantyev, who joined the band in 1986, left it twice -- in 1990 and, after returning in 1992, in 1995. While he was gone, from 1990 to 1992, Vladimir Privalov played the bass. This was the period of four Vladimirs in the band -- in 1990-91 a high school student Vladimir ‘Vovochka' Zheltovskikh toured with ChaiF playing viola. In 1996 Vyacheslav Dvinin, formerly of Nastya Poleva, became ChaiF's new bassist. In 1993, just in one day the band recorded Oranzhevoye nastroenie (Orange Mood), an acoustic album-joke, full of light-hearted catchy songs. This album became one of the best-selling ChaiF's records and turned into a continuing CD-series.
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