Soviet Sounds

Soviet rock group Avtograf has been in the U.S. recently gigging at clubs and hunting more substantial attention here.

The band is being jointly repped in North America by John Cripton of Great World Artists of Canada and Mary Becker, head of the Los Angeles-based company Meribec. Becker met Avtograf in August when she was at an international song fest in Poland with another client, daughter Meri D.

Becker says that she secured permission from Avtograf's Russian label, Melodiya, to record the band in the U.S. She adds that the main purpose of the club tour and its accompanying publicity campaign (via Jensen Communications) has been to drum up interest at U.S. record companies.

"We want to make sure that they're seen as more than a Soviet novelty that's here today, gone tomorrow," says Becker. "All the members are conservatory trained, and their music stands on its own."

Group founder/leader Alexander Sitkovetskiy echoes Becker's concern. Noting that his 9 -year old Moscow-based band is well established back home, he realizes that it's an unknown commodity here. "We don't want to look like ancient animals from Russia, like we're from a rock'n'roll zoo," he says.

To this end, notes Becker, Meri D. has adapted Avtograf s lyrics into English and has coached lead singer Arthur Micheyev in their proper delivery.

Billboard, March 12, 1988