A multinational Austrian band that performs Russian-style ska music, Russkaja are first and foremost a live performance act well known for inspiring an exceptionally enthusiastic (and often vodka-fueled) response from their audience. Russkaja's reputation as a concert attraction led to their eventual crossover into the Austrian mainstream in 2008 when the band's independently released debut album became a Top 20 hit. Based in Vienna, Austria, the band is comprised of Georgij Makazaria (vocals; born September 5, 1974, in Moscow, Russia), Hans-Georg Gutternigg (trumpet, trombone, tuba, vocals; May 11, 1973; Linz, Austria), Manfred Franzmeier (saxophone, clarinet, vocals; January 16; Wels, Austria), Antonia-Alexa Georgiew (violin, vocals; June 20, 1985; Hamburg, Germany), Zebo Adam (guitar, vocals; August 2; Vienna, Austria), Dimitri Miller (bass, vocals; November 2, 1980; Uzhhorod, Ukraine), and Titus Vadon (drums, vocals; May 25; Vienna, Austria).
Russkaja were founded in 2005 by vocalist Georgij Makazaria, who, after moving to Vienna in 1992, had formerly been a member of the Austrian metal band Stahlhammer. Several of the other bandmembers of Russkaja were also formerly in other bands: guitarist Zebo Adam is formerly of Die Hallucination Company; saxophonist Manfred Franzmeier is formerly of Hot Pants Road Club and also performed with Madrid de los Austrias; trombonist Hans-Georg Gutternigg formerly performed with Franz Welser-Möst and Joe Zawinul; drummer Titus Vandon is formerly of Drahdiwaberl; and bassist Dimitri Miller performed in various bands in his native Ukraine.
Signed to the independent Austrian label Chat Chapeau, Russkaja debuted in 2006 with a four-track EP, Dawai, which showcased the band's propulsive ska musical style and blend of Russian- and English-language lyrics. The band's full-length debut album, Kasatchok Superstar, followed in 2008, preceded by the maxi-single Dope S**t (2007). Kasatchok Superstar became a Top 20 hit in Austria, peaking at number 15 in its second week of release. In support of the album, Russkaja toured Austria and Germany, also performing one-off shows throughout Western and Eastern Europe. ~ Jason Birchmeier