From Unearthing The Music
Pērkons (English: Thunder) is a Latvian rock band formed in 1981. Over the course of its history, the band’s members have included: Ieva Akurātere (vocals), Juris Kulakovs (composer, keyboard), Juris Sējāns (bass, vocals), Leons Sējāns (lead guitar), Raimonds Bartaševičs (vocals) and Ikars Runģis (drums).
The band came together in the early 80s and still performs at various concerts and festivals. Its output spans an eclectic range of genres ranging from instrumental and classical music to rock ’n’ roll and hard rock. Most of their songs are a combination of all these genres, which is what makes Pērkons sound so unique. Back in the day, their songs were akin to folk songs for youth. They collaborated with famous young poets of the day like Māris Melgavs and Klāvs Elsbergs, and later with many others, together creating meaningful and powerful songs with multifold layers of meaning. Through their songs they address topics nobody else in popular music dared to speak about. As a result, many times they found themselves in trouble with the state authorities. Their most popular songs include "Slidotava", "Pie baltas lapas", "Gandrīz tautasdziesma", "Mana dienišķā dziesma", "Balāde par gulbi", "Labu vakar" and "Mēs pārtiekam viens no otra" (topped the Mikrofons music chart in 1989).
In 1983 they were banned and forced to find another way to play their music. They continued to play as an ensemble representing the Soviet collective farm Padomju Latvija (located in Spuņciems). They made no mention of the name Pērkons. Together with the renowned composer Imants Kalniņš they created the rock opera "Ei, jūs tur!" (songwriter Viks, inspired by the novel by William Saroyan). The leading roles were played by singers Ieva Akurātere and Raimonds Bartašēvičs. Backing vocals supported by the Daile choir and conductor Gido Kokars. A second part of this huge musical piece named "Kā jūra, kā zeme, kā debess" (a poem by Māris Čaklais) was written by Imants Kalniņš, Juris Kulakovs and Juris Sējāns. These masterpieces were recorded officially and published in 1995. After their ban, their collaboration with composer Imants Kalniņš was vital in that it provided them with a stage to perform on. They would perform some of his songs (Kas dzīvo tanī pusē, Vēlai stundai) along with their own (Pie baltas lapas, Tu). Meanwhile they recorded two illegal albums, Mākslas darbi and Ar zibeni pa dibenu which were copied and distributed illegally. During the summer of 1985, the band performed at a concert in the town of Ogre on July 6. Their performance provoked a scandal. After the powerful concert on the open-air stage, the primarily teenage crowd made its way to the train station and headed back to Riga. Caught up in the ecstasy of the moment, the teenagers were so delirious with joy and pent up adrenalin that they proceeded to demolish two train compartments. In their search for a scapegoat to blame for this breakdown in law and order and blatant show of disrespect for the Soviet system, the powers-that-be settled on the band, which was immediately banned from performing anywhere. The following year, the well-known Latvian documentary movie filmmaker Juris Podnieks released his controversial documentary Vai viegli būt jaunam? (Is It Easy to Be Young?, 1986) about the perestroika era including this concert and the subsequent demolition of the train. In the aftermath of these events, lead singer Ieva Akurātere joined another band, K. Remonts, while Juris Kulakovs studied composition at the Latvian State Conservatory. Together with singer Edgars Liepiņš they created a concert programme and became well-known artists in their own right.
In 1987 Pērkons re-emerged to perform at a song festival in Liepāja – Liepājas Dzintars 87 in the guise of an ensemble representing the fishermen's collective farm Selga from Tukums District. They won the main prize and at the end of the year their song Gandrīz tautasdziesma finished third in the Mikrofons chart. To their fans’ delight, they were once again allowed to perform on stage and even appear on TV and radio. In 1988 lead singer Ieva Akurātere became one of the freedom movement’s leading female activists with her folklore songs. "Reiz zaļoja jaunība" finished third in the Mikrofons chart in 1988 and her song "Manai Tautai" became the unofficial anthem for the freedom movement. The band’s rebellious songs "Mana dienišķā dziesma" and "Zaļā dziesma" also made it into the top ten. In 1989, the band finally managed to record a legal album named Ballīte. Pērkons was invited to tour the USA. There they visited Latvian communities and their concerts were a great success. In 1990 they recorded "Latviska virtuve" (cassette), which they sold on tours abroad.
At the start of 1991, the band participated in the Barricades resistance protests and mostly played in the Old Town of Riga. The following year, in 1992, they participated in the project Bagātību Sala together with the Latvian National Theatre. Slowly though, life and work obstacles got in the way and the band became less active. In 1993 and 1994 their output was restricted to a few new songs and some compositions for the TV show Horoskopi, Horoskopi. Ieva Akurātere became the lead singer in the band Simulācija and played roles in various music projects. Juris Kulakovs composed music for movies.
In 2006 Pērkons celebrated its 25th anniversary at Dzintaru koncertzāle. In 2009 they reformed for a big concert celebrating 51st birthdays of band members Ieva Akurātere and Juris Kulakovs. In 2011 the band took part in the Rīgai 810 celebrations together with a choir from all over Latvia. In 2013 Pērkons embarked on a tour of Latvia entitled "Sapumpurots zars". The following year, in 2014, the band was honoured with a prize for its lifelong contribution to Latvian music at the Latvian Music Annual Awards Ceremony. The same year numerous music bands and musicians joined forces to pay tribute to the band, recording the Pērkons Tribute album. In 2018, Pērkons released the album "7os no rīta", recorded in collaboration with Reinis Sējāns, Egils Melbārdis, and Rihards Saule, featuring new songs and songs never released for. Meanwhile, Ieva Akurātere and Juris Sējāns celebrated their 60th birthdays with a new tour of Latvia named after the song "Gandrīz tautasdziesma".
The 2020 creative and informative historical exhibition and movie were made, organised, and produced by artist Cory McLeod at the Wende Museum of the Cold War about Pērkons. The theme of the exhibition was a resistance movement in politics, society and culture. Pērkons attracted rebellious youth all over the Soviet Union and contributed to a cultural awakening.
On June 1 2021, the band released a new album online. Written by Imants Kalniņš, performed by Pērkons, the rock opera "Ei, jūs tur!" The new album contains restored versions of songs originally recorded at Imants Kalniņš apartment in 1984. The new album is available online here and was released in honour of Imants Kalniņš’ 80th birthday.
- Juris Kulakovs (keybord, compositions)
- Ieva Akurātere (lead vocals)
- Juris Sējāns (bass, vocals)
- Leons Sējāns (lead guitar)
- Raimons Bartasevičs (vocals)
- Ikars Runģis (drums)
- Nauris Puntulis – voice (1982 - 92)
- Dainis Strazdiņš – drums (1981 - 88)
- Troksnis (1983)
- Latvian Television show (songs Pie baltas lapas, Tu, Vēlai stundai, Kas dzīvo tanī pusē) (1985)
- Gandrīz tautasdziesma (1987)
- Kā pasakā (1987)
- Zibens gaismo tavas acis (1989)
- Kamēr es tevi mīlēju (1990)
- Un aizlido tērpa putni (1991)
|"Mākslas darbi" (1981)||1983||1994 “Dziesmu izlase #1” (2 cassettes, CD)|
|"Zibens pa dibenu" (1982)||1983||1994 “Dziesmu izlase #1” (2 cassettes, CD)|
|"Ei, jūs tur!" (1984)||1984||
|"Kā jūra, kā zeme, kā debess" (1984)||1984||
|"Klusā daba ar perspektīvu" (1985)||1988 — 1989||
|"Labu vakar!" (1987)||1988 — 1989||
|"Latviska virtuve" (1991)||1990 — 1991||
|"Balle!" (1995)||1990||1995 cassette ("Gailītis-G")|
|1994||"Dziesmu izlase #1: 1981—1982"||2 cassettes, CD|
|1996||"Dziesmu izlase #2: 1985—1987"||cassette, CD|
|2002||"Dziesmu izlase #3: 1990—1991"||cassette, CD|
|2018||"7-os no rīta". Collected recordings’ 7th album (1983-2018)||CD|