Zrada 2.0: Expect rye bread and vodka shots

Ukrainian-punk act rings in the New Year at the King’s Head

  • Local band Zrada will ring in the Ukrainian New Year at the King’s Head. – Supplied

You’ve survived the Mayan apocalypse, but can you handle a live Zrada show?

“We played this beer tent in Toronto (for the Toronto Ukrainian Festival), which was the craziest show - people throwing rye bread and pouring vodka down their throats,” Zrada drummer Nick Luchak, recalls.

“There were live wires and pools of beer everywhere.”

“Not to mention, (the venue) was collapsing and could probably only hold 50 people, but there were 300 (people) in there,” adds guitarist/vocalist Dobryan Tracz. “It was fantastic!”

After releasing its second full-length disc, Ethnomachina, in 2011, Zrada (pronounced ZRAH-da), took a year off “to invest in Alaska Airlines, save democracy and dabble in shipbuilding,” as cheekily stated in the group’s online bio.

Having undergone a few incarnations since the band’s original debut in 2006, Luchak and Tracz are joined by new bassist Alex Derlago, and returning members Andrijko Semaniuk (accordion, vocals), Andriy Michalchyshyn (vocals, trumpet, guitar) and Mikhas Chabluk (violin, vocals), and are ready to take 2013 by storm.

Zrada is kicking things off on Thursday, Jan. 10 at the King’s Head Pub with a comeback concert in honour of Ukrainian New Year.

For the lucky folks that snatched up tickets to the show before they inevitably sold out, a high-energy performance is in store - but don’t expect any typical Ukrainian polka fare from these guys.

“The word ‘zrada’ has got negative connotations. It means betrayal or treason,” Tracz says.

“It was a deliberate choice because we’re doing a different kind of music than what’s acceptable in the Ukrainian community. ... We do a lot of traditional songs, we just make them our own. The traditional Slavic-Ukrainian melodies are beautiful melodies, we just energize and distort them.”

Culling from such other diverse musical influences as ska, metal and classic rock, Zrada’s cornered a niche market of dedicated fans.

They’d love to play to larger audiences, and are keeping their fingers crossed that the performer’s application they sent to the Winnipeg Folk Festival is accepted in 2013.

“The biggest issue we’ve had is trying to break ... and get more out there, despite the fact that it’s all Ukrainians,” Luchak says.

“Yeah, we were talking today about how originally it was just our friends and family coming out of obligation,” Tracz says. “Now people are coming because they actually like it.”

Though the band’s lyrics are sung entirely in Ukrainian, the message is clear: Zrada is wholeheartedly committed to delivering a great performance.

“There are a lot of good shows we’ve played ... (like) the one that we played in Toronto where you had H1N1. I thought that was a great show,” Tracz says to Luchak.

“I don’t remember,” Luchak replies. “I was dying.”

Published in Volume 67, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 10, 2013)

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