By Court Overgaauw
Tim Bogdachev AKA Russian Tim is the sort of guy who gets genuinely excited at the prospect of tossing on some short shorts and exposing his legs to the cold, just to recreate a hockey card from 1991.
It might be because the card in question features another Vancouver legend of Russian origin, Pavel Bure, and the namesake of the band he sings in, Russian Tim and Pavel Bures. It might just be that it’s a fun thing to do, and Bogdachev loves fun.
For the unacquainted, Bogdachev is a man who wears many ushankas. Lead singer, host of the weekly Rocket from Russia radio show on CiTR, and organizer of the annual Rocket from Russia Festival, which brings together what Bogdachev believes to be the best of Vancouver punk rock over the course of a weekend every summer.
To get an idea of Russian Tim and the Pavel Bures’ sound, imagine Fat Wreck’s pop punk cover junkies Me First and the Gimme Gimmes if they only played covers of Russian standards, and only sang in Russian, the way Bogdachev would have heard them as a kid back in Siberia.
Siberia is big. Like, humongous big. At 13.1 million square kilometers, it’s humongous enough that if it were a country on its own it would be the earth’s largest. Yet to most of us in the west, Siberia is known primarily for being cold, and for being the sort of place people are sent to as a punishment.
It certainly seems like an unlikely starting point for Bogdachev, a man who’s established himself as being one of the hardest working and most prolific members of Vancouver’s punk rock community (20 shows as a performer locally in 2018, along with organizing and promoting his weekend long festival).
Get to know Bogdachev a little better however, and it all starts to make sense. If you’re a young kid getting into punk rock without an established infrastructure or scene, you can either quit, or you can create. Bogdachev chose the latter and his early experiences played a major role in the development of the skill set he brings to bear on all of the projects he’s involved in, and his commitment to developing a scene where people feel welcome.
A strong sense of community make up a part of Russian culture that Bogdachev wishes was better understood in the West, where our perceptions are shaped by a media which focuses on politics rather than people.
“Russian people are very warm and will go out of their way to be hospitable and make you feel special,” he says.
Similarly, punk rock sometimes struggles to overcome a negative perception, not just from those outside the scene, but also from individuals who struggle for acceptance because they don’t mesh neatly with a sometimes narrow set of expectations. Bogdachev recognizes this and feels the best thing is for “punk rock to be itself, and remember that it’s better when it’s open. You do it for passion. You do it because you like it, not because you have to. That honesty, openness, passion, and respect should always be up front of everything.”
Bogdachev is pragmatic. His approach is to do what works in a practical sense, and not waste time worrying about things that are out of his control. Doing things this way allows him to maintain an optimism about the long-term viability of punk rock in Vancouver. As he puts it, his vision is always “glass half full.”
“I come from an environment where we had only one or two small clubs. Coming here where there’s five or six, I’m just amazed there’s an opportunity,” he says.
Even when asked about his band’s new album, Greatest Superhits, he resists the obvious opportunity for self-promotion and chooses instead to describe the record as a collection of songs that were “the most ready.”
He goes on to say that the album “won’t be life changing for anybody, but serves as an advertisement for our live shows, which for us is the key.”
The songs on the record capture some of the feeling contained in what the band describes as their “superFUN and megaENERGETIC” live performance. Letting everyone in on that fun, and the exchange of energy that arises from performing and connecting with his audience is something he’s grateful for, inspiring him to give his all with every show. It’s also the key to keeping it fun for Bogdachev.
Keeping it fun is the key to his continued involvement in the punk rock community in Vancouver, both as a musician and as a promoter of new music. “I want to have fun while I do this stuff, and as soon as I stop having fun, this will stop the next moment.”
Russian Tim and Pavel Bures perform live at the Wise Hall on April 20.Russian Tim and the Pavel Bures