U-Piter

U-Piter (Ю-Питер) is a Russian rock band formed in 2001 by Vyacheslav Butusov (Вячеслав Бутусов), who is best known for the popular Soviet rock band Nautilus Pompilius (Наутилус Помпилиус). The band usually writes their name in the Greek alphabet, to cement their connection to the god Jupiter (… who is Roman, but the point still stands). U-Piter consists of former members of several seminal bands including Nautilus Pompilius, Kino (Кино), Aquarium (Аквариум), and Wine.

The idea for the group came about when Butusov met Yuriy Kasparyan (Юрий Каспарян), formerly of Kino. The two originally collaborated on what was more or less Butusov’s solo career: starting in 1997 they released several albums that Butusov took the lead on. But in 2001, Butusov decided he wanted to form a full rock band. The group was fully formed by October of that year: to Butusov (vocals, guitar, bass guitar) and Kasparyan (lead guitar) were added Evgeniy Kulakov (Евгениы Кулаков; percussion) and Oleg Sakmarov (Олег Сакмаров; saxophone, flute, keyboard).

Most of the members had had successful careers before U-Piter: Kasparyan had played with legendary Soviet band Kino for seven years, and worked with several other groups after Viktor Tsoy’s death broke up Kino. Kasparyan still occasionally plays songs from Tsoy’s repertoire. Kulakov, one of the younger members of the group, met the U-Piter members in the studio where he was recording music with a hip-hop band, the Caught Anteaters (Пойманные Муравьеды), and eventually they invited him to join their band. Sakmarov was an established artist who plays a variety of instruments in various genres and also writes music and has worked as a musicologist, and is best known for the group Aquarium (Аквариум). He also worked with Nautilus Pompilius at the same time, helping out in the studio—apparently there was a rumor going around about the “twins” who were working in two of the most famous Soviet rock bands. After Pompilius broke up, Sakmarov also helped out with Butusov’s solo albums before joining U-Piter.

The group released its first single shortly thereafter, entitled “Shocking Love” (“Ударная любовь”), and played their first live concert the following January. Over the course of 2002 U-Piter actively played shows around Russia and surrounding countries, mostly performing songs that Butusov had written during his solo days. They capped off the year with a hugely successful performance at Open The Window! Fest.

The following year the band released their first full-length album, The Name of Rivers (Имя рек). This album consisted of eleven new songs by Butusov, and it became U-Piter’s new concert program. The band’s second full-length came the following year. This album was called Biography (Биографика), and the singles “Walking Home Song” (“Песня идущего домой”) and “Girl About Town” (“Девушка по городу”) saw a lot of radio play. “Girl About Town” also came out as a music video that year.

In October 2009 U-Piter played a huge concert at the October concert hall in Moscow to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Nautilus Pompilius. Portions of this concert had a backing live orchestra, and a recording of the night was shown on Channel Five. That same year U-Piter began actively touring again, both in Russia and internationally.

In 2015 U-Piter released their fifth studio album, entitled Gudgora (Гудгора), from which they released several hit singles and music videos. The album was done in true U-Piter style, with images of rivers, water, space, and birds. In 2016 U-Piter turned fifteen and celebrated with a large concert at Moscow’s Crocus City Hall.

The course of the band’s life has run pretty smoothly so far. The only original member who left is Sakmarov, in 2004. to start a solo career with his Sakmarov Band, and in 2010 the up-and-comer Aleksey Andreev (Алексей Андреев) took his place on the keyboard and bass guitar. Andreev also has a side project, Cats Park.

Find U-Piter on Amazon

 

“Girl Around the City” (“Девушка по городу”), U-Piter’s Golden Gramophone–winning song, 2004:

 

Lyrics for “Девушка по городу”:

Девушка по городу шагает босиком
Девушке дорогу уступает светофор
Сверху улыбается воздушный постовой
Девушка в ответ ему кивает головой

А где-нибудь за городом идёт весенний лёд
Девушке навстречу расступается народ
Девушка по Пушкинской на Лиговский в обход
Следом по каналу проплывает пароход

А за окном мелькают дни
Они как взлётные огни
Одни заметны с высоты
Другие вовсе не видны

А на дворе цветёт весна
Она в кого-то влюблена
А этот кто-то за окном
Сидит и видит день за днём

Как девушка по городу шагает босиком
По скверам и по улицам порхает мотыльком
Девушка ныряет через арку напролёт
Солнце пригревает сердце, девушке поёт

Как за окном мелькают дни
Они как птицы далеки
Одни витают в облаках

Другие вовсе не видны

А на дворе цветёт весна
Она в кого-то влюблена
А этот кто-то за окном
Сидит и видит день за днём

Как за окном мелькают дни
Они как птицы далеки
Одни витают в облаках
Другие вовсе не видны

А на дворе цветёт весна
Она в кого-то влюблена
А этот кто-то за окном
Сидит и видит день за днём

Как за окном мелькают дни
Они как птицы далеки
Одни витают в облаках
Другие вовсе не видны

А на дворе цветёт весна
Она в кого-то влюблена
А этот кто-то за окном
Сидит и видит день за днём

 

“Heavenly River” (“Река небесная”), 2015:

 

Lyrics for “Река небесная”:

Течет вокруг земли река небесная
А там на дне реки нас ждут не
На дне реки живут земные жители
Они мечтатели хотят летать

У у у а я иду по дну
Подруги и небесна

До белых облаков до тучных берегов
Бежит река небес вокруг земли
А в глубине реки нас небесный мир
Там жители живут в дне

У у у а я иду по дну
Подруги и небесна
У у у а я лечу по дну
Подруги и чудесна

 

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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.