Urfin Juice

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Shorter lived and less prolific than other Soviet groups of the so-called "golden era" of Russian rock music, in their five-year existence hard rock ensemble Urfin Juice still managed to leave an indelible…
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Shorter lived and less prolific than other Soviet groups of the so-called "golden era" of Russian rock music, in their five-year existence hard rock ensemble Urfin Juice still managed to leave an indelible mark on the Sverdlovsk scene. Along with other northern bands like Nautilus Pompilius, Chayf, and Nastia, Urfin Juice -- who took their cues from the erudite world of classical composition and poetry -- greatly influenced the development of rock music not only at home but in the entire U.S.S.R.

The band came into being in December of 1980, after bandleader Aleksandr Pantykin ended his involvement with the Sonans experimental music studio, its name a pop culture reference to Aleksandr Volkov's popular serialized novels with their power-hungry hero, Urfin Juice. The imaginative bass player, keyboardist, and vocalist was joined by guitarist Yuriy Rink and drummer Ivan Savitzkiy, though Savitzkiy was quickly exchanged for classical musician Aleksandr Plyacunov. Upon Urfin Juice's first rehearsals, they received lyrical support from disc jockey Ilya Kormiltsev, who wrote practically all of the group's texts. By July of 1981, Urfin Juice had already garnered a number of prizes at local festivals, and risen to become one of the town's most popular acts. But even these early successes, coupled with the release of the band's first album, Puteshestvie (Voyage), were not enough to quell the disparity of opinion within the group. The group members went their separate ways, leaving Pantykin solely responsible for Urfin Juice's future.

But a short two months later, Urfin Juice re-emerged with an added kick from new guitarist Egor Belkin (future husband and collaborator of famous female rocker Nastia Poleva). The beginning of 1982 saw the group rehearsing and building material for two upcoming albums, united under the title 15 and released that summer. These albums and the group's performances gave evidence of a marked stylistic integration: at its basis was hard rock with conspicuous influences from the realm of classical music, particularly the Baroque and Neo-Romantic schools. Their next album was misleadingly entitled Zhizn v Stile Heavy Metal (Heavy Metal Lifestyle), its name more an homage to long hair and stone-washed jeans than an indication of the group's artistic leanings. The album, released in 1985, was calculated, controlled, and mathematical, a far cry from the unruly heavy metal sound. But the 1985 album and its subsequent live performances were met with only a lukewarm reception, after which Pantykin attempted to revive the group with a number of lineup changes, none of them very successful. The bandleader began to pursue other projects, and by 1986 the group had disappeared from the radar, though no official statement of dissolution was made. Belkin continued on to a successful career with a number of Sverdlovsk and Leningrad ensembles, including Chayf and Nautilus Pompilius.