Last updated: 06/02/2011 12:00:00 PM
Who are they? Rasputina - or the Travelling Ladies Cello Society; headed by Melora Creager, Julie Kent, and Agnieszka Rybska, have been entertaining crowds since 1992, when Melora placed an ad requesting cellists for a rock band. Julia Kent, originally a Canadian, responded, and Rasputina was born. So why do they call themselves Rasputina? According to Melora, "We had a song called Rasputina; I was just into Rasputin at the time, and it seemed to have all the perfect connotations for who we wanted to be, or what we were trying to do." The two were having trouble rounding out their trio until Agnieszka Rybska, originally from Poland, responded to their ad.
What then? Well, Melora describes it this way: "We haven't gotten any reaction or affection from indie kind of circles. A lot of people liked us in those circles, but they didn't know what to do with us...Our A&R guy, Jimmy Boyle saw us at some festival shows. Thought it was great, believed it would actually sell, and somehow convinced Columbia. They've been very nice so far." Their first album, "Thanks for the Ether," was produced in 1996. They have opened on tours with Bob Mould and more recently, Marylin Manson. They have appeared on the Regis & Kathy Lee Show and Late Night with Conan O'Brian, as well.
The unique sound of three cellos, Melora's sweet voice and the occasional drum beat fit in well with the trio's Victorian image. But don't those clothes get uncomfortable? Melora on Rasputina's corsets: "It's just made split, like bloomers are split, because all those ladies couldn't be taking off all these layers to go to the bathroom either. It's hard to be historically accurate enough to get that concept to work. If we have a body suit on or something... Our last show in New York, I had my period, and I had the corset, and I had a bladder infection, and that's like forget about it. Well, I got sick enough from that, that I can't wear the corset for a week or so. It's really bad for my kidneys, so I'm corset-less for this small west coast tour."
While Rasputina has not toured recently, they have not stopped creating music. "Transylvanian Regurgitations" was released after Rasputina's tour with Manson, and clearly showed Manson influence - in fact, the album features a Manson remix of "Transylvanian Concubine". Although the album is pretty much a regurgitation of tracks from "Thanks for the Ether" (since it contains three versions of Transylvanian Concubine and other tracks direct from the first album), it served as a nice transition from the largely acoustic cello sounds of the first album to the more distortion filled "How We Quit the Forest."
Rasputina teamed up with producer Chris Vrenna to create an album that retained their original sound yet added depth to the music with heavier drums, distortions, and sound effects. "How We Quit the Forest" has received extremely favorable reviews; hopefully, the band will follow this success with another tour!