Elvis with Balalaika
The Red Elvises are a Russian-American band that performs rock and roll, surf, rockabilly, reggae, lounge and traditional Russian styles of music. Believing that one cannot go wrong with “The King” Elvis Presley as an inspiration and with “red” being not only their favorite color but the national color of their native country, the band name Red Elvises was created.
The Red Elvises were founded in 1995 by Igor Yuzov and Oleg Bernov, two Russians living in Los Angeles, California. Igor and Oleg met during a Russian-American peace walk and subsequently played together in a Russian folk-rock band called Limpopo. The band’s third original member, guitarist Zhenya Kolykhanov (he later legally changed his last name to “Zhenya Rock”), had also emigrated to America and had been spending time playing in Texas. For the first few months Andrey Baranov was the band’s drummer, but within that year, the first American in the band, drummer Avi Sills from Austin, Texas, was added to the lineup. The four of them got their start playing on Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade.
When they weren’t playing on the road they were busy recording and self-producing their own CDs. Grooving to the Moscow Beat was the band’s first release in 1996, followed by Surfing in Siberia in 1997. In 1998, the band released their breakthrough CD, I Wanna See You Bellydance. Their music filled the soundtrack of Lance Mungia’s independent film released in 1998, Six-String Samurai, a film in which they also had small roles and screen credits. With Mungia directing, the band also produced two music videos of songs from the Six-String soundtrack, Lovepipe and Boogie on the Beach, that year. A full-length concert video, Live on the Pacific Ocean was also released, showcasing their appearance at the Santa Monica Pier’s Twilight Summer Concert Series.