Interview for Digital Earbuds (USA) | Press | Privet Earth
Artists For Your Earbuds ~ Issue 12

March 24, 2014

Digital Earbuds

Privet Earth ~ At 19 years old, Ivan Smirnov made his journey from Russia to the United States chasing his musical dream of writing and performing music. I discovered Ivan and his band, Privet Earth, after they won the Fiat Band Prix battle of the bands by getting the most listener votes to out distance over 6000 other artists. And like most discoveries, I was hooked on my first listen to the song, Forest Queen (see video below). So slapped down some cash and bought their album, "Breaking the Ice" and my earbuds haven't been the same since. Figuring that was good enough to qualify for my blog, I reached out to Ivan. Thus, a collaboration begins. I'm proud to share our e/interview which made me an even bigger fan. And of course, who can resist Megan "Whiplash" Mullins ~ 'nuf said....

D.Buds: Hey Ivan Smirnov! Ever since I discovered you and Privet Earth on ReverbNation, I've been pushing your tunes through my earbuds; especially the songs from your "Breaking The Ice" album!You've been described as, "...the band who American critics are already calling 'a savior of rock-n-roll'" How do you feel about that quote.

Ivan: I've always thought rock-n-roll was my savior!

D.Buds: So you came to the US from Vologda, Russia sometime after 2003 to make music. But you were already writing and composing music in Vologda. What was so intriguing about Los Angeles?

Ivan: I would say, 'Was there anything that was not intriguing?' LA was a dream place to me. And I would be lying if I said that I came here for something other than to meet a beautiful girl and become a rock star.

D.Buds: I laughed out loud when I read that you and the band are like "...a love child of 'Queen' and 'Guns and Roses' being reborn in the fresh snow drifts of Russian winters and flown into the modern alternative land of the White Stripes, Foo Fighters, AWOL Nation, and Dead Sara." Damn Ivan! That's a huge range of music! So, tell us in your words. Who/what bands have the most influential hook on your musical soul?

Ivan: It changes all the time. I grew up with a mix of The Beatles, Queen, and Russian Classical composers such as Tchaikovsky. I listened to a good dose electronic music, and went through teen rebellion with GNR and Nirvana before finally coming up with my own thing ~ Blitz-Rock. But I guess there is one artist who influenced me the most in many ways beyond music. That artist is John Lennon.

D.Buds: Just curious ~ what is your favorite John Lennon song and why? What about Freddy Mercury?

Ivan: Imagine is definitely his best. But my personal favorite is Across the Universe. I love every song that Freddy Mercury sings. He could record himself singing a Webster dictionary, and I would buy that record just to enjoy his voice again!

D.Buds: I believe you have an interesting story about how you met your drummer, Megan Mullins. Can you share that?

Ivan: It was late 2012. I was looking for a 'kick ass' female drummer for my music video. So, I put out an ad on Crag's List asking if there was a female Dave Grohl version out there. Well, Megan was the first one to reply. She just moved to LA from Texas and was looking to join a band. After I saw her energy and explosive "Whiplash" stage persona, I didn't bother auditioning anyone else.

D.Buds: You're quoted in your bio that you had "a lot of struggles" when you first came to the States. Can you share what some of those were and how/if you've overcome some of those early challenges?

Ivan: I came to the US alone at 19 years old with no money, no relatives or friends; nothing. That alone spells 'struggle'. I've been through homelessness. I worked as a cleaner 7 days a week just to stay afloat. I played the streets a lot. And I lost a good friend to suicide. It's been a rough ride. But I've met a lot of awesome people who have helped me along the way, and later became a part of the Privet Earth team. That's why I answered the first question the way I did. Rock-n-roll has been my savior. It saved my ass!

D.Buds: Is your family here or still in Russia? Without getting too political, how do you feel about the recent crisis between Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea?

Ivan: My family still lives in Vologda, Russia. It's a beautiful, cozy small town with a lot of gorgeous cathedrals and churches. Some of my relatives also live in Saint Petersburg, which is where I was born. Unfortunately, I've never been to Crimea, so it's really hard for me to judge from here what's REALLY going on there. I also find it difficult to trust ANY media on this subject. It's a sad situation, and I hope that this time politicians exercise some true democracy and make decisions according to what people actually want. And I pray that the violence finally stops. Russians and Ukrainians are like brothers and sisters. Let's never forget that!

D.Buds: It appears 2014 was a big year for Privet Earth thus far! In February 2014. you achieved a rather lofty feat when you "...surpassed Papa Roach, Motley Crue, Blondie, Chaka Khan, etc. to become the #1 rated Rock Band in the World..." on the ReverbNation Charts. You were also selected by ReverbNation to be one of its Featured Artists! To top all that, Privet Earth became the #1 Artist in ALL Genres on ReverbNation in March 2014! To what degree has this recognition pushed the band forward?

Ivan: Yes, it's been a blessing. We've got a lot of new fans worldwide. And hopefully, that's going to lead to a big tour in the near future! Thank you to the ReverbNation Community for recognizing Blitz-Rock!

D.Buds: In January 2014, Privet Earth was announced the Grand Prize winner of Fiat Band Prix National Competition. Tell us little about this competition. What was the grand prize?

Ivan: Fiat Band Prix was the biggest 'Battle of the Band' we've ever been in with over 6000 bands! So winning the whole thing was just a crazy feeling! As winners, we were flown to Miami, where we made a special appearance on VH1's Top 20 Video Countdown with Jim Shearer. It was nothing short of a blast! We want to give a 'Big Thank You ' to Fiat!

D.Buds: So what projects or performances are you guys up to as we speak?

Ivan: We have finished working on our underwater music video. It's being edited as we speak. Shooting this video was quite a challenge, but we made it happen. It's going to be something very, very special, so stay tuned!

D.Buds: I always ask Digital Earbuds artists who they have playing in their earbuds right now? Can you tell us who's been occupying that space between your earbuds? What about your band members?

Ivan: I'm currently listening to the new wave of electro-indie and rock artists such as AWOLNATION, Foster The People, Dead Sara, and Fitz and The Tantrums; just to name a few! There's a lot of exciting new music coming out of South Cali right now.

Megan: At any given moment you can bet I'm listening to a playlist I call "Whiplash's Workshop" full of classic rock tracks with incredible drums! As for new music, currently I'm hooked on the band Barbarian Overlords and their new album "Rise Up". It has a tasty Led Zeppelin feel.

D.Buds: One last "long shot" question before we close; The Canadian-Ukrainian duo, Ummagma, is about to collaborate with Digital Earbuds for a Featured Artist Issue scheduled for early April. Want to do a shout out to a Ukrainian artist caught up in the current crisis?

Ivan: Definitely! We'd like to give a 'shout out' to Ummagma and all our fellow artists out there in Ukraine and Russia who were affected by this crisis. Stay strong, and let the music unite us all!

D.Buds: Ivan, thank you for taking the time to share with D.Buds, and welcome to the growing number of artists who have appeared on these digital pages. What final words would you like to share with your audience of readers and listeners.

Ivan: Never give up! Love one another! And never give up on love! Blitz out! ~*

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