Kultur Shock likes to mix it up. But that’s what you’d expect from a band made up of Bosnians, Bulgarians, Americans and a Japanese bassist. It’s about as multi-cultural as you’re likely to find.
And the result is a Gypsy-punk-folk-metal thing. You’d understand.
Based in Seattle, they first came to international attention a couple of years ago with the majestically-titled FUCC The INS, which sounded as if the Clash had parachuted into the Balkans and emerged leading a village brass band. Now they’re back with the harder-sounding Kultura-Diktatura. Recorded by Jack Endino, best known for his work with Seattle grunge bands, it’s every bit as political and uncompromising as its predecessor.
“A month before going in the studio, we didn’t have all the songs,” says leader Geno Srdjan Yevdjevich. “I had them in my head, but what we had sounded dark to me, with minor chords. The times were affecting us. We’re not dark. In the middle of the worst gig in the word we have the best possible time; we’re pretty cheerful people. So we started soul searching and that’s how all the other tracks came along.”
And working with Endino was all they’d hoped for. “We were recording ourselves, and [label manager, former Faith No More member] Billy Gould was producing it at home, in the studio in his basement. We were talking about bass, drums and guitars that need to be recorded live, and Jack is the man. He records stuff the way it is, and that’s the hardest thing in this industry.”
The band found its way through it with joy. But Kultur Shock has been negotiating the maze for a decade now, since Yevdjevich came to America from war-torn Sarajevo, where he’d been a session musician. His career interrupted by the fighting, he tried to relocate elsewhere in Europe, but no country was willing to take Bosnians. Sponsored by Joan Baez, he made his way to Seattle and presented a play about his wartime experiences, Behind God’s Back. From that production the first, acoustic version of the group was born, playing in clubs and restaurants around town.
“I worked with Jack when I first came to Seattle; [Nirvana’s] Krist Novaselic introduced me to him,” he recalls. “In fact he recorded our first demo, the first four songs we ever did, acoustic with punky playing.”