Hard-rock Russian band Louna launches American tour

From Russia with love

Russian hard-rock band Louna is coming to America. It’s the first time the group has performed in the U.S. and the first visit any of Louna’s members have made to the land that created rock ’n’ roll music.

The most popular band of its kind in the former Soviet Union, Louna tours in Russia, The Ukraine and Belarus and fills arenas in Moscow. Early this year, the Nashe Awards, an event similar to the Grammy Awards, named Louna’s front woman, Lousine Gevorkian, Russia’s best female rock vocalist. The band also released its first English-language album, “Behind A Mask,” in April.

Gevorkian sees Louna’s 26-city American tour with The Pretty Reckless as a great opportunity.

“Yes,” she said this week from Moscow, “it’s a big step for us as a young hard-rock band from Russia. We want to share our Russian experience of rock with guys who listen to rock in America.”

Obtaining visas to travel to the U.S. was a long, expensive process, said Travis Leake, the band’s American manager. Finally, the American ambassador to Russia helped make the trip possible, Leake said.

Like young people throughout the world since the 1950s, the members of Louna embraced America’s rock.

“For any musician, in England, France, Spain, American music is the main thing in rock,” Gevorkian said. “Our guitar player, Sergey (Ponkratiev), you cannot image how huge a huge fan he is of Metallica.”

Gevorkian’s favorite rock acts include southern California hardcore group Bad Religion and British classic-rock band Pink Floyd. System of a Down, an American band with whom Gevorkian has Armenian ancestry in common, is another of her favorites.

“I fell in love with metal music and nu-metal music when I heard System of a Down,” she said.

Louna is socially conscious but not overtly political. When Russian artists criticize their government, of course, they run the risk of reprisals.

“It’s always been hard in Russia for artists,” Gevorkian said. “But young people really want to fight for human rights, for freedom. And our political guys, they really see that the citizens are upset. Our politicians are really surprised that people are angry. That’s why I think they will fix some of this stuff.”