By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
Remember when wrestler Nikolai Volkoff used to belt out the U.S.S.R.'s national anthem in the middle of an angry Cold War throng at the St. Paul Civic Center? Well, it was most likely for show: He probably went and had a steak and a photo op at Mancini's afterward. Likewise, after seeing Picked to Click winners the Soviettes strike a pinko pose onstage in the middle of an angry throng at the Entry, we figured they might be leading double lives. So we asked guitarist/vocalist Maren Mocosko if she would take us with her the next time she paints the townred. She did. We brought along a digital camera, and when we came back, illustrator Tim Lane added a few more colors.
Do you want to pillow-fight? No? Me neither.
Maren Mocosko and Soviettes vocalist/guitarist Annie Holoien have been best friends forever--or at least longer than anyone else in the Soviettes. "We used to play guitars in her bedroom together and talk about being in a band someday," Maren says.
"Somebody will have an idea for a vocal and Annie or I will have a guitar riff," Maren explains of their current songwriting method. "Or Susy will come up with a certain bassline." Sounds pretty democratic for a group of Russia-loving girls.
Yup, I've made $12 playing in this here city
Maren and drummer Danny Henry have a beer on Danny's balcony. It's the first time Maren has been inside his apartment. "It's really nice," she says. Are the Soviettes one of those bands that don't hang out together outside of the studio? "Oh no," Maren insists, "we all drink together at Triple Rock--my apartment is just too messy."
"Mine, too," Danny agrees.
Danny splits his time between drumming for the Soviettes and his other band, International Robot, and attending classes at MCTC for "sound arts."(It makes sense when he says it.) After school, he sorts through his record collection and plays "just about anybody." "I've been listening to a lot of the Shins lately," he says. "Wait, does that sound cheesy?"
No, I'M more punk rock!
Maren stops at Lake Street record store Extreme Noise to look at reasonably priced punk T-shirts and gossip/arm-wrestle with Extreme Noise volunteer West Keller. Maren and Keller talk about the problems that come with living the punk lifestyle.
"I'm trying to cut down on going out," Maren offers.
"Me too," Keller claims. "I have an ulcer."
I thought the third Pussycat was that chick from Pluto Nash
Maren goes to her friend Mike Wedel's house in the Whittier neighborhood to check out Wedel's home setup, SOS Studios. Wedel isn't there: His band, Rivethead, is currently on tour with Dillinger 4. The Soviettes' 7-inch, TCCP, and their side of an upcoming split with the Valentines was recorded and mixed here. The Josie and the Pussycats banner is up on the studio wall for inspiration, evidently. "We're all big fans," Maren coos, "but Susy is the biggest."
I swear that copy of Dave Pirner's solo joint was here just last week!
Walking into Treehouse Records in Uptown, Maren confesses that she is not a frequent CD shopper here. "Annie and [bassist] Susy [Sharp] come here more often. My boyfriend Billy [Morrisette]"--guitarist for Dillinger 4--"buys so many records that I really don't have to."
Yes, they have food--if by "food" you mean the three-day-old Rice Krispie bars
Evidently the name "Soviettes" was hatched by a patron at Pandora's--that vaguely socialist, visibly teenage-sympathizing coffeehouse in Uptown. "Annie worked here for a long time," explains Maren, "and last year this guy came in and said, 'I have the greatest band name, but if I tell you, you have to use it.'" Evidently, Annie's word is gospel.
Now auditioning for 'Ghost World: The Band'
The band practices at Susy's house in the Midway area. Susy's dog Tucker (not pictured) listens in. "Tucker likes to hang out in front of the bass drum, and is our biggest sponsor," Maren later explains. "He comes for every practice and never says we suck."
A couple more of these Old Styles and you ladies will look like the Go-Go's
On any given night, different representatives of Minneapolis's nouveau-pop-punk/hardcore scene can be found kibitzing over drinks and cigarettes at the West Bank bar Triple Rock. Well, everyone save the straight-edgers. Three-quarters of the members of April Epidemic (pictured here with Maren and Carrie Bleser from American Monsters) are part of that collective. Or at least they were: Their van's gas tank blew up last weekend, nuking their instruments and gear, as they were coming back from a gig in Grand Rapids. "It was a full-on action movie, man," drummer Matt Lindquist jokes. "I expected Nic Cage to jump out of the back with our guitars."