The Ukrainians were founded by ex-Wedding Present guitarist Peter Solowka and his tenor-voiced, fiddle-playing slavophile friend Len Liggins in 1991, the year Ukraine regained its independence from the Soviet Union.
‘Oi Divchino’, was their first single and Len and Peter flew out to Ukraine to make a video for it. Shot in Kyiv’s (Kiev’s) outdoor ‘Museum of National Folk Architecture and Way of Life’, it was the first pop video to be produced entirely in the east for a western band. ‘Oi Divchino’ was an NME Single of the Week and The Ukrainians attracted a lot of coverage in the music and mainstream press.
Their first album, ‘The Ukrainians’, firmly established the group as the world’s major exponent of a new hybrid of traditional Ukrainian folk and British Indie rock music. The group was immediately embraced by rock, punk, folk/roots and world music fans alike, generating a real cross-genre appeal. The group was subsequently booked to play festivals and tours throughout much of Europe, including Glastonbury in the UK.
Word began to spread across the Atlantic, prompting sportswear company NIKE to approach The Ukrainians to record the soundtrack for a TV ad. The music accompanied footage of Ukrainian world champion pole-vaulter, Sergey Bubka and was screened globally.
The group next released their ‘Pisni Iz The Smiths’ EP, which included the group’s Ukrainian language versions of four classic Smiths songs. Voted No.1 ‘Single of the Year’ in Berlin it set the template for the band’s occasional foray into covering classic Western pop songs in Ukrainian style.
The ‘Vorony’ album extended the Ukrainians’ popularity to almost every country in Europe, and they toured Ukraine as guests of Ukraine‘s Ministry Of Culture. It culminated in a performance in Kyiv’s Independence Square before a crowd of 75,000 people, an internationally-televised event organised to celebrate the anniversary of Ukraine‘s independence from the Soviet Union.
The Ukrainians’ fourth studio album, Respublika, contained mostly traditional songs and in 2009 they released ‘Diaspora’, considered by many to be their best and most mature work.
In 2014 The Ukrainians released their first vinyl album since 1991. Called ‘Never Mind The Cossacks’ It sold out in one day. In 2015, The Ukrainians surprised their fans with a vinyl album ‘A Short History of Rock Music In Ukrainian’.
For 2016 the band celebrates its 25th Anniversary with a special programme.