Grazhdanskaya oborona

Grazhdanskaya Oborona (Гражданская Оборона; translates as “civil defense”), also known as GrOb (ГрОб, “coffin” in Russian), was one of Russia’s earliest and most influential punk bands. Their earlier work is very minimalist, lo-fi punk rock, while the group began to verge toward noise rock and finally shoegaze in the 1990s. The band’s frontman, the poet and musician Yegor Letov (Егор Летов), still has a major influence on underground Russian music, even after his death in 2008.

In 1982 Letov formed the band Posev (Посев), which would later become Grazhdanskaya Oborona. From the beginning, the band had overtly political lyrics and a staunchly antiauthoritarian stance, which made them a target for the KGB. As a result, Letov was committed to a mental ward and another band member was forcibly drafted in 1985. When Letov managed to return, Grazhdanskaya Oborona immediately resumed making music and collaborating with other musicians. From 1986 to 1987 Letov released several cassettes under the name Grazhdanskaya Oborona, which were distributed through magnitizdat.

In 1987 Letov was invited to perform at the Novosibirsk Rock Festival, which he did under the deliberately provocative name Adolf Hitler (Адольф Гитлер). Upon returning home, Letov was threatened with the mental ward again. He fled his hometown of Omsk with his partner, the songwriter Yanka Dyagileva (Янка Дягилева), and spend the entire next year in hiding.

By 1989 Letov had returned home and self-released four more albums: War (Война), Armageddon-Pops (Армагеддон-Попс), Healthy and Eternal (Здорово и вечно), and Russian Field Experiments (Русское поле экспериментов). That same year, Grazhdanskaya Oborona also collaborated with Yanka Dyagileva on two additional albums, entitled Anhedonia (Ангедония) and Homeward! (Домой!).

In 1990 the group played what was supposed to be their final concert, citing Letov’s fears that they would become a “commercial pseudo-counterculture project.” However, Grazhdanskaya Oborona reformed in 1993 to play live shows. Their next new material came did not come out until 1995, however, when the group came out with Solstice (Солнцеворот) and The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Невыносимая легкость бытия), both of which were anthemic, shoegaze-style albums.

Letov and Grazhdanskaya Oborona continued to produce music and play shows up until 2008, when Letov died of heart failure at age 43.

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Here is one of the band’s early singles, “Everything Is Going According to Plan” (“Всё идёт по плану”):

 

Lyrics for “Всё идёт по плану”:

Границы ключ переломлен пополам
А наш батюшка Ленин совсем усоп
Он разложился на плесень и на липовый мёд
А перестройка всё идёт и идёт по плану
А вся грязь превратилась в голый лёд

и всё идёт по плану

А моя судьба захотела на покой
Я обещал ей не участвовать в военной игре
Но на фуражке на моей серп и молот и звезда
Как это трогательно — серп и молот и звезда
Лихой фонарь ожидания мотается

и всё идёт по плану

А моей женой накормили толпу
Мировым кулаком растоптали ей грудь
Всенародной свободой растерзали ей плоть
Так закопайте её во Христе –

ведь всё идёт по плану

Один лишь дедушка Ленин хороший был вождь
А все другие остальные — такое дерьмо
А все другие враги и такие дураки
Над родною над отчизной бесноватый снег шёл
Я купил журнал «Корея» — там тоже хорошо
Там товарищ Ким Ир Сен там тоже что у нас
Я уверен,что у них тоже самое —

и всё идёт по плану

А при коммунизме всё будет заебись
Он наступит скоро — надо только подождать
Там всё будет бесплатно,там всё будет в кайф
Там наверное вощще не надо будет (умирать)
Я проснулся среди ночи и понял, что –

ВСЁ ИДЁТ ПО ПЛАНУ

 

Here is a later track called “We Walk In Silence” (“Мы идём в тишине”):

 

Lyrics for “Мы идём в тишине”:

Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
По разбитым домам, по седым головам,
По зелёной земле, почерневшей траве,
По упавшим телам, по великим делам…

По разбитым очкам, комсомольским значкам,
По кровавым словам, по голодным годам.
Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
По распятым во сне и забытым совсем.

Ворох писем, не скучай.
Похоронка, липкий чай.

Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
По разбитым домам, по седым головам,
По зелёной земле, почерневшей траве,
По упавшим телам, по великим делам…

Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,

Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне.

Мы идем в тишине,
Мы идем в тишине, хэй!

Ворох писем, не скучай.
Похоронка, липкий чай.

Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне.

Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне,
Мы идем в тишине по убитой весне.

Мы идем в тишине,
Мы идем в тишине…

 

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Zach Hicks is a PhD student in Comparative Literature at the University of Oregon. He is currently participating in SRAS's Home and Abroad scholarship program. His main areas of interest are twentieth-century Russian and Soviet literature, socialist modernism, and critical theory. Outside of academics his major interests are martial arts, the outdoors, and music. In Russia, he plans to continue to increase his language proficiency, to learn as much as possible about the Russian underground music scene, its tattoo culture, and to become a student of Russia’s native martial art, SAMBO.