Elvis isn’t dead, he’s red 

The King came to Igor Yuzov in a dream

Who: The Red Elvises

Where: Buffalo Bill’s

When: Monday, Dec. 8 & Tuesday, Dec. 9

Tickets: $10

There’s a whole subculture devoted to Elvis sightings. The King’s turned up everywhere: diners, gas stations, communes, even in the dreams of a California residing expat-Russian rock ’n’ roller.

It was 1995 and Igor Yuzov needed a name worthy of his band’s wacky brand of surf punk rokenrol. He claims it was the King himself who suggested The Red Elvises.

"I really had a dream with Elvis coming in my dream and telling me to call the name that," says Yuzov. "It sounds really weird, but that’s what really happened."

Bizarre, but fitting. Though they’ve never tried to be anything but a band playing surf-a-go-go rock ’n’ roll with Jerry Lee Lewis-style insanity, The Red Elvises have always had an element of mystery. They received a big break when asked to provide the entire soundtrack for the 1998 cult movie Six-String Samurai, a kung-fu road epic featuring a Buddy Holly figure fighting the powers of heavy metal for rock ’n’ roll supremacy in a post-apocalyptic world. But like the movie, the band was so far-out it was hard not to wonder whether or not they were playing a colossal joke.

Their strong accents were attacked as too over the top to be real, and Yuzov said one story used a California license plate on their touring van as proof that they weren’t really Russian.

Though his heritage is for real, the whole thing pretty much slides off his back, since he himself admits the very concept of a Siberian surf punk band was always a joke and still is. Eight years later there are no expected declarations that The Red Elvises are trying to break from the "are-they-or-aren’t-they-Russian" underground notoriety and be taken seriously for their music. He laughs as he describes the two newest Elvises to play alongside him and co-founder Oleg Bernov as being from surf capitals Kazakhstan and Minnesota.

Besides, when Elvis speaks to you in a dream, you don’t think twice, you go out and play rock ’n’ roll all over North America, Europe and Asia. You might even end up back in your home country where the fans of today know the words to your songs in both Russian and English.

Which leads to the question, does Elvis speak Russian? Eight years later Yuzov’s accent is still thick, so back in ’95 he must have still been in the phrasebook stage, more apt to dream in his mother tongue.

But Yuzov says the King most definitely spoke English that night.

"Elvis doesn’t speak that much Russian," he confirms, confidently, like he knows something...

Check out the Siberian surf gods on Monday, Dec. 8 and Tuesday Dec. 9 at Buffalo Bill’s. Tickets $10. Call 604-932-6613 for more information.


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