Russia, Rhode Island, Ringo and “R” ‘nges

How They All Apply To

KARRY SARKISSIAN

You are the only adult actor in KELTON’S DARK CORNER 2(KDC2) that knew Director Vasily Shumov in Russia, as a Member of his musical group, Center (you could say that, as drummer, you were the band’s “answer” to Ringo Starr). How did you get started in music?

Thank you, first, for even putting my name next to Ringo’s! I started to play violin when I was only 7. This fantastic instrument is better appreciated and mastered by a mature musician, but before you get there - it takes hours, and hours, and hours of practice and is more like torture for a little kid of that age. I gave it up only when I was 14, only to switch to drums and percussion. So, I just changed the instrument, and that was OK with my parents. Drumming was very challenging as well, but my motivation was much stronger: I could drum along with my favorite bands and feel great about it!

How did it come about that you met Vasily and joined the band?

When in high school, we had a very special circle of “cool dudes” that were well educated in modern rock culture, don’t forget that we are talking about late seventies in Moscow, where western music was technically forbidden and, of course, very hard to find. During my first year in college, I started to play a very boring art-rock in the band called “Portret” and one of my “cool dudes” told me that the very cool “Center” was looking for a drummer. After a short and informal audition, I was hired in Vasily’s band that I am still a member.

Were there any musicians that particularly influenced you?

Most of all Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple. My favorite drummers were John Bonham, Ian Paice, and Billy Cobham.

There was an “A” feature film that you, Vasily, and Center appeared in back in Russia, which utilized the group in the way that musicians were used in TITANIC. What was that like?

Oh yes! It is called “Weekend” by a great Soviet era Director Igor Talankin. We were a band on the river cruise ship. The movie had an all star cast, and that alone was an exiting experience for us. The entire soundtrack was written and performed by Center. I sang one of our early super hits “Nautilus.” (Did I hear Ringo and “Yellow Submarine” in the background?)

You contributed some historic Russian memorabilia to an interesting video that Vasily directed. What was it about?

The name of this video is “It was a bumpy ride.” About a year ago, I spoke to Vasily about turning my large collection of Soviet pins into an art project that I named first “Memorabilia.” Every pin is an amazing artifact, which tells a story of one or another period of Russian history. One pin, for example, was worn on my military uniform during a mandatory service in the Soviet army. So Vasily did the animation and wrote a musical part to it. It is now a part of c-e-n-t-e-r art project video collection.

You are also a language professor in Rhode Island. Tell us about that.

I am a language professor by trade. I graduated from Moscow State Pedagogical University with specialization in French and lived and worked for many years in Brussels, Belgium. Now I teach French and Russian at University of Rhode Island and a couple of colleges in Massachusetts.

The first KELTON’S DARK CORNER actually “premiered” on a cable TV show that you have in Rhode Island. What is your show like?

During one of my visits to LA I said to Vasily that Kelton’s Dark Corner is ready to be shown to larger audience. At that time, I had our c-e-n-t-e-r art project show running for a few months on Public Access TV Channel 18. So when I came back to Rhode Island, I’ve put together a one-hour show with the film and interviews with the cast members on making of KDC. This is how Kelton’s Dark Corner premiered on TV. The show is running every Saturday and Sunday, and I am planning to make a big program with KDC2 very soon.

Your cousin was in the Academy Award-winning film CRASH, which inspired you to want to appear in KDC2(another film with Oscar potential!). Can you tell us more about that?

This is the one our family is proud of! David did an excellent job playing Lucien in this Oscar winning movie. It did inspire me a lot. I was in a few movies way back in Moscow, but Kelton’s Dark Corner 2 is my Hollywood debut.

Are there any current projects of yours that you would like to tell us about?

I am working on a new video for c-e-n-t-e-r art project and also finishing writing material for my first album titled “N.K.A.”