ABOVE: POMPEYA. IMAGE COURTESY OF ALEXEY KISELEV
When you think of Moscow, words like “sunny,” “bright,” and “breezy” probably aren’t the first adjectives that come to mind. Thankfully, Pompeya is here to clear up any misconceptions. “Actually, Moscow is a pretty warm city in the summer,” says Daniil Brod, lead singer of the synth-pop four-piece. The band is about to release its U.S. debut LP in a form of Tropical, a nine-track effort that imbues sleek New Wave and jangly indie rock with all the levity you’d expect from its title.
Though Pompeya has been together since 2006 and toured extensively in Eastern Europe, Tropical marks the culmination of its members’ years together as a band. (Their previous EP was recorded in Los Angeles—which could also help explain the members’ sunny sound.) Singles like “Slaver” mix analog synth stabs with Brod’s silky vocals, while “Sister” is distilled indie-pop perfection—all jangly guitars and a sumptuous, circuitous chorus.
We caught up with Brod to talk the Moscow scene, forming the band, and Pompeya’s current worldwide tour. We’re also happy to premiere Tropical in full, which you can stream right here, right now.
NATHAN REESE: So, how did you guys all get together?
DANIIL BROD: We started in 2006, just from the ICQ call. Nairi and I didn’t knew each other personally, but we knew each other as musicians. I was about to start a new band with somebody, and was looking for a drummer, so Nairi became our first option and we met for a jam the following week. Denis joined us the same day. The day when I met Denis and Nairi was when we jammed together for the first time. We had a lot of fun jamming those first two years. We didn’t even create any real songs—a lot of shows were just improvisations. That was a really great time. Our genres were indie rock, Brit-rock influences… we were pretty loud!
REESE: That’s pretty different than your current sound. When did you fully embrace the pop format?
BROD: We started creating “new” music in 2008. We just had a lot of time in the studio together with Denis and trying every device around. The first time we tried keyboards, “Cheenese” was born. Since that period we decided to move in a pop music direction, as we understand it. During that period we listened to a lot of new artists such as Empire of the Sun, Friendly Fires, Cold War Kids, etc.
REESE: What’s the Moscow indie scene like? How does it compare to the U.S. and Europe?
BROD: It’s hard to compare, since we are not included in the U.S. and European scenes. But, right now our scene is pretty big compared to [back in] 2006. We have four bands touring around pretty solid: On-The-Go, Tesla Boy, Motorama, Pompeya… I know a lot of upcoming bands that starting to draw a bunch of people to their gigs, like WeLoveYouWinona (a rock-‘n’roll band), The Retuses (kind of folk). So a lot of upcoming bands are around! Still not much as in the US, probably, but here in Russia it is enough. The electronic scene is [also] solid, but I personally do not know much about it.
REESE: How does the band typically collaborate on a song?
BROD: Usually we start at home working, just me and Denis, creating demos on the laptop. Jamming with a drum machine. Sometimes I do a song on my own. Some songs are born just from jamming in the studio just between the four of us.
REESE: When you think of Moscow, “tropical” isn’t the vibe that usually comes to mind…
BROD: When we recorded Tropical, it was winter, but we don’t care a lot about that. Music replaced all of the dark stuff from outside and in the streets. Inside you are happy. Maybe if [it wasn’t] winter, [there wouldn’t be] such a contrast, and our music will not have become so warm and sunny.
REESE: Why choose to sing in English?
BROD: To unlock geo-blocking!
REESE: It seems like the band has toured all over the place recently. Where were some of your favorite places to play?
BROD: We had a lot of fun in Miami, New York, LA, Orlando… Our first show in Santo Domingo was awesome! We don’t see any difference of how people react. If we have a big audience at the show they’re usually dancing, maybe not from the beginning!
REESE: You recorded your last EP in L.A. How did that end up happening?
BROD: We joined our friends on vacation to L.A. and decided to use this vacation in the right way—to record an album. We had some demos before, so we just found a studio close by, which became Bedrock Studio and Chris Hynes’ Emitter Studio. [We] spent a couple weeks there. That is why Foursome was released with only seven songs: that’s how much time we had in the studio.
REESE: What’s next for the band?
BROD: We’re touring to support Tropical around the USA and Mexico in November-December and finishing work on a new album that’s coming up in 2014. Right now we just released one more new video, for single “90.”