Історія гурту

What’s Ukraine’s favourite high-energy ska/psychobilly/Latin-tinged folk/rock band? Mad Heads XL, of course! On the occasion of the release of their new album, ‘Forever’, brothers Vadim and Maxim Krasnooky, the main men in the outfit, came down to our office to give us an earful.

“At our concerts our fans yell out ‘Mad Heads XL forever!’” says singer Vadim Krasnooky, 34, the high-energy madman with the mohawk who’s the most recogisable figure in the band, when I ask him about the new album’s name. The album features the same danceable, sunny rock tunes, many of them ska- and folk- and rockabilly-inflected, and driven by bright horns, that fans have come to expect from this consummate party band. The main startling feature of the album is that although most of the songs are in Ukrainian, the title is in English.

What gives? “The word sounds extremely good,” answers Maxim, 26, the band’s bassist, “and it carries a big charge of energy.” Vadim adds, “I wanted to allude to immortality because the album is very profound as compared to the previous album.”
Profound? Is the world ready for a profound album from these clubland favourites? Mad Heads XL popped up in 2004 and started storming the Kyiv club scene fast, winning a big following among kids who like to mosh and who appreciate adrenaline-charged music. To this day they’re anchors of the local club scene. They also got a big boost from an appearance at the Tavria Games music festival back in 2004. But if Mad Heads XL has been around for only four years, the participants have been in music for much longer. Long ago, Mad Heads XL was known simply as Mad Heads, and that stuck more with that punk-influenced type of rockabilly known as psychobilly.
   “The new album was recorded here, but touched up in Germany,” says Vadim, who wrote all the songs. “We were searching for a new sound, there won’t be any redone old songs or cover versions on this album. So it took us a long time to put it together. Besides, it was a real challenge for me to pick out songs for the album, because they’re all my creations, so I like them all.” Maxim adds, “There were a lot of disputes while we were making this record. We had twice as many songs as we needed.” Finally the band took the choice to its audience, playing all the songs during its regular Friday night concerts at Docker’s Pub and seeing what response they got.
   “Vadim is the band’s front man,” Maxim says, “but I’m okay with that. He’s my older brother, and I’ve gotten used to the idea that he’s more responsible. The one who does more is the boss. It’s true that sometimes we differ in our opinions, so we talk the matter over and come to a consensus.”
   The album features 14 tracks in Ukrainian. The guys speak fluent Russian and used to perform in English, and they’re based in Russian-speaking Kyiv, so what’s up with the choice of language? “Our language ranks second among the most beautiful languages in the world,” Vadim says, “and Ukrainian sounds extremely good and foreigners like the way it sounds. It doesn’t matter if they don’t understand it. We Ukrainians often like French and Italian songs despite the fact that we don’t understand them. Besides, when we were searching for our style we chose Ukrainian because it fits us the most.”
   “The album’s essence is being positive,” Vadim, who is married with a child, says. “Our work is 100 percent positive. Every cloud has its silver lining. Our message is the following: if you’re feeling good our music will make you feel even better, and if you’re in low spirits we’ll help you get over it.” He continues, “We had no examples to follow when we were working on this album, unlike our previous one. There’s no exact definition of our musical style. It’s a mix of rock’n’roll, reggae, Latin alternative and ska.”
   The band’s ultimate ambition is international acceptance and a world tour. And why not? The band generates great, happy energy, they’ve got a charismatic frontman and they’re representatives of a country that’s getting hipper and hipper over in Western Europe. We’re looking forward to Mad Heads XL going global!

Ksenia Karpenko