Vocals : KROKODIL
Drums: RASPUTIN VOLKOV
Bass: VERKHOVNYY MUDAK
Guitar: NICKOLI MUKHAILOV
AP Reporting - Nov. 4th, 2017 -
Национальный день единства (Russian National Day of Unity)
In the fall of 1982, three shipmates on the Soviet Papa-class submarine K-222 on patrol in the North Atlantic picked up a pirate radio signal, apparently coming from the Isle of Koch. The three men sat by the receiver, transfixed. This certainly sounded nothing like the music of their homeland! Raw, energetic, and incredibly angry, it touched a nerve in the trio despite the poor reception and omnipresent static. The song? “I Hate People” by Anti-Nowhere League.
Early in 1983, all three left the Navy, having had their fill of seamen. Knowing nothing of music, they procured instruments and learned to play, hoping to capture the sound they heard so briefly months before. Dmitri picked up the guitar, Pieter stole a bass from the band at his sister’s wedding, and Vladimir built a drum kit out of old oil barrels and trash can lids. They were lacking in musical training, but not ambition. None of them were able to play an instrument and sing at the same time, so their early songs were instrumentals.
Enter Dmitri 2. A veteran of the Soviet army and Gold medalist at the 1980 Olympic Games, Dmitri 2 was a giant of a man, capable of punching completely through his opponents. In 1982, the government forced him to retire after he “accidentally” killed three sparring partners. He came out of retirement briefly to fight an exhibition match against the British champion, a fight which ended in tragedy with “Pip-Pip” McTavish being beaten to death when his corner man couldn’t find a towel to throw into the ring. (The missing towel, incidentally, was later found in the possession of one Ford Prefect.)
After months of practice, they played their first show late in 1983. When pressed for a name for the band, Dmitri 2, known across Stalingrad for his temper, simply said, “I must break you.” Famously, Brigitte Nielsen was in the crowd to see her nephew’s band, Crap Nuggets. She overheard this exchange and told her boyfriend, American “actor” Sylvester Stallone. Stallone spent months in Stalingrad, following Dmitri 2 around, finally basing the character “Ivan Drago” on him.
The gig was a success, and soon I Must Break You, the name that stuck with them, were headlining mid-size venues across the Soviet Union. Musical stardom of a level unheard of behind the Iron Curtain seemed inevitable. It was then that tragedy struck for the first time.
Vladimir, having spent years working on the engines of a nuclear submarine, developed a rare form of cancer. He nearly quit the band when told he had but six months to live, but decided he wanted to die doing what he loved best: annoying the Politboro. The band continued to tour, and in East Berlin, Vladimir learned his cancer had gone into remission. Unfortunately, the next night he was killed when his oil-drum drum set got too close to an open flame, igniting the oily residue inside. The fireball was clearly visible for miles in every direction.
This was just the beginning of the band’s troubles. Pieter went out for cigarettes before a show and never came back. But he’s going to walk in any day now, we just know it. His replacement, a burly Swede named Svenagain, was beaten to death with a bass. The fish, not the guitar.
The band continued to go through line-up changes throughout the late 80s and 90s. Every time it seemed that the band was about to hit the big time, something would go wrong. 1989, Dmitri 2 entered the ring for a charity boxing match against Dolph Lundgren, the actor who catapulted to fame by playing the character based on Dmitri 2. In a cruel twist of fate, Lundgren punched Dmitri 2 so hard that his head actually came off his neck.
In 1991, the band emigrated to the United States, hoping for a fresh start in the land that gave the world Agnostic Front and Slayer. Sadly, the ship the band was traveling on was struck by an iceberg. There was only one casualty: Dmitri, the last surviving original member.
The survivors decided to carry on in his memory. The band continued to be snakebit, however. Ironically, they were at their highest point in America when their bassist was an actual snake. For a period in the late 90s, the band debuted an all-female lineup, scoring a prestigious slot opening for L7 on their tour.
Not all members have left the band via death. There have been many who have walked away due to marriages, divorces, stage fright, and prison terms. Harmonica player Frank, considered by many to be the most superfluous member of the band ever, disappeared after sound check one day only to be found three weeks later selling Bibles in the Omaha, Nebraska airport.
Despite the problems, the band persevered. After some lean years in the first decade of the 21st century, the boys have emerged as a force to be reckoned with.