Throw together a pair of Bosnians, a couple of Bulgarians, three Americans, and a bassist from Japan and you've got culture shock. Or at least Kultur Shock, the Seattle-based band who freely mix punk and metal with Balkan brass.
Leader Gino Yevdjevich became a professional musician in his native Sarajevo when he was 16, making a good living playing commercial music. All that changed in 1991, when the war in the former Yugoslavia began. With no money and precious little food or electricity, the local artistic community made art for itself – and found it well received as locals braved snipers and bombs to get out of their houses.
However, he left for the U.S. in 1994 under the sponsorship of singer Joan Baez and ended up in Seattle starring in a play with music about the Sarajevo conflict, Behind God's Back.
The band Kultur Shock came after the play closed, playing acoustic music in restaurants. Advised by Krist Novoselic (who has his own Croatian roots in the Balkans) to play louder, they began doing so – and found themselves thrown out of the restaurants.
After a brief hiatus, they returned to play Seattle clubs with guitarist Mario Butkovich, who'd been persuaded to move from his new home in Portland. Brad Houser (New Bohemians, Critters Buggin') took the bass slot, with Amy Denio and Jessica Lurie filling out the horn section.
In 1999, they recorded and self-released Kultur Shock Live in Amerika, which documented the outfit at the first full stage of their development. While the music they played was all traditional, the treatment of it certainly wasn't, with loud electric guitars complementing the twist-and-turn horn lines. It was, Yevdjevich admitted, "a party album," and though often impressive, it didn't do them full justice.
Changes in personnel ensued. Houser left, to be replaced with Masa Kobayashi from Tokyo, and a second guitarist, Bulgarian Val Kiossovski. With that lineup, they began to make their first studio record, along the way signing with Kool Arrow, the label run by Faith No More's Billy Gould, and continuing to play local gigs as well as touring up and down the West Coast. The album, FUCC the I.N.S., appeared in late 2001, followed by Kultura-Diktatura in 2004 and We Came to Take Your Jobs Away in 2006.
In October 2008 Mario Butkovic and Masa Kobayashi left the band and the new line-up included some already known to the band musicians like:
Guy Michael Davis - well known for his amazing bass work with the bands Sage (mid 90s), Guardian Allien and BenJovi, is the new bassist, he plays banjo and bunch of other strange instruments, considering he grew up in Indonesia.
Paris Hurley - a violinist extraordinair substituted for Matty Noble for month and a half during the summer tour '08. In the process of it she became part of the band and was a natural choice for the forthcoming "Integration" album and the touring season.
Amy Denio recorded and toured with the band as a sax and clarinet player on 'Fucc the INS' and 'Kultura-Diktatura' .*
The last album "Integration" is released in 2009.
* from the interview of Val Kiossovski for the Bulgarian online radio Tangra Mega Rock http://radiotangra.com/?page=int&lng=en&id=183
Kultur Shock are:
Gino Srdjan Yevdjevic (Bosnia)- vocals, trumpet, djumbek
Val Kiossovski (Bulgaria) - guitar, vocal
Chris Stromquist (USA) - drums
Guy Davis (Indonesia, USA) - bass, banjo
Matty Noble (USA)- violin
Paris Hurley (USA) - vocal, violin
Amy Denio (USA) - clarinet, saxophone, vocal
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