What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
Ilya Popenko: I started making music because I ran out of things to listen to that I actually liked. I felt like there was still an unoccupied territory in songwriting even though many complain that everything has been done do death.
The current line-up formed about 4 years ago with an exception of Sasha who started playing the baritone sax with us in the fall. Over the years, Mad Meg has gone through a number of changes in musicians, the vast majority of whom coincidently all left the USA for good right after we had parted ways.
Dan Veksler: My childhood was difficult, I needed a way to express my feelings, and music is what I found – I was drawn to it since before I can remember because of its power and magic. I’ve always been a musician. It saved my life.
I found myself in Mad Meg because invisible forces, who know better than we do, guide earthly affairs. It’s not anything I ever expected for myself. Mad Meg saved my life, too.
Igor Reznik: The first time I wrote anything resembling something I liked, it surprised me and it was when I was about 16. I realized, without actually knowing how to play an instrument back then, that I could get an emotional and therapeutic high from this process unlike anything else. I was extremely shy and the high I felt from playing and playing in front of other people made me feel much freer than in any real-life everyday situations. It took me years to be able to actually learn how to play something and be able to confidently push something I wrote onto others. With this said, I love the band’s dynamic more than anything else especially, if its members are diverse and able to share and accept each other’s ideas. I have been lucky in my life to meet very talented people, who accept me for who I am and with whom we can blend our ideas into something truly beautiful and real.
I have been in several bands which have broken up and also am in several acting projects today. I love Mad Meg for the freedom to be myself on stage and the energy which infuses each one of our performances and rehearsals. I also love the obscure humor our characters bring to Ilya’s rich and ironic view of the world.
The 5-6 of us are a bit weird in our own way and really complement each other. I am also in a psychedelic progressive project called Sons of Venus (along with Mad Meg’s drummer Ruslan Baimurzin) and Whoreson Carriage, a project started by Mad Meg guitarist Daniel Veksler. I love everything I do and would not pick anything else over this.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
Igor Reznik: Well, “Functioning Adult” was released on February 21 and “Look Away” released on March 6. Our previous release was a live album recorded in a female prison in Lithuania released back in November of 2019.
Dan Veksler: It’s a miracle we made it out of there alive, and were not torn to shreds by sex-crazed gypsy women inmates. You can hear on the record how scared we were.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
Dan Veksler: They change all the time. Today, mine are Tom Waits, Edward Hopper, Boris Grebenshikov, Rumi, John Lee Hooker, Bach, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Filip Marinovich, the masters of the Dutch Renaissance, my friend Tom Banger. The list goes on…
Igor Reznik: Morphine, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Gogol Bordelo, Leonard Cohen, but all band members have very different musical tastes. Altogether we are influenced by everything from old Soviet punk rock to The Beatles, to Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine. Non Music wise – I dig people who try various types of projects even when they are not the best at them, just because they are fulfilling. So I would have to go with someone like Henry Rollins, who does a bit of everything despite the fact that he is not the best at everything he does. I always admire people taking charge of their faiths and not paying attention to what is thought of them.
Ilya Popenko: It’s a mix between Dan Veksler and Igor Reznik for me.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
Dan Veksler: Mad Meg has a distinctive quality because of the way the elements blend together, or don’t blend. I don’t know. We’re jazzy punks with a rough core, but also some very clean edges. Who cares? I’d rather play than analyze.
Ilya Popenko: What differs is the lack of an overarching genre as such. Imagine 6 people playing 6 different types of music all in one song.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
Dan Veksler: Luckily, that’s impossible.
Igor Reznik: Fisher King; Mad Men, Birdman; Music: Nautilus Pompilus – Knyaz TIsheny (prince of silence I believe is the translation); Leonard Cohen – The Future; Pearl Jam – VS
Ilya Popenko: Albums: Tom Waits ‘Rain Dogs’, The Beatles ‘White Album’, Nirvana “Nevermind’ Movies: Coffee and Cigarettes, The Big Lebowsky, Pink Flamingos. Books: My choices would be all Russian I think.
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
Dan Veksler: I personally like both, but Mad Meg is really a live band – in the studio, we lose energy. Something about the atmosphere isn’t right for this band. Maybe it’s the expense…
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
Dan Veksler: There are many. In Estonia once all our equipment was almost destroyed in the middle of a concert by a skinhead who had returned from the army that day and found out his fiancee had not waited for him; we were saved by some older gangsters who just wanted to enjoy the show. Later, one of the people in the audience turned out to be a washed up Russian rock star from the 90’s, who now ran a gangster restaurant. He put us in his van with tinted windows, together with an enormous and very flirtatious woman, who kept bragging about being the niece of a very famous Russian gangster from the 90’s, and she kept saying “I can get you in anywhere. Anywhere!” The van took us to the restaurant, where we were shown into a guarded VIP lounge, and party-hardied all night. Then, at 5 in the morning, we carried all our gear to a local muddy bus stop about 1.5 kilometers away, and waited in the rain for a public bus to cross the border into Russia. That was in Narva – the old border between the Great Lithuanian Empire and the Russian Empire. There are two fortresses there from 1703, on either side of the river: a Russian one, and a Lithuanian one.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
Ilya Popenko: I’d say it’ll be a song titled Balloons and Medals. It’s not recorded yet, but soon. It was written on a drum instead of a guitar.
Dan Veksler: On The Roll, because it’s very sonically evocative of what it’s about.
Igor Reznik: hmm. Saving New York: It has an interesting rhythm, distorted bass, as well as cartoonish deep lyrics which tell a story. I am also digging our version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” which we made into a reggae version with throat singing.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
Igor Reznik: This year we are planning to produce a music video to one of our latest singles, tour Serbia, Russia, Mexico, and possibly Europe and record an EP to be titled “Monkey Boy”
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
Connect with Mad Meg:
2.Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mad_
3.Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/user-