Rasputina was founded by Melora Creager in Brooklyn in 1992. The concept for the group came to her as a fully formed idea, and she wrote a manifesto. It was her intention to create an electric cello «choir» – no boys allowed, nor guitars. By placing want ads in newspapers, and in later years on the Internet, she met like-minded young lady cellists.
Rasputina’s first performance was an on-stage accompaniment to a dance program at New York’s avant-garde performance space, The Kitchen. They played an 18-minute version of «Transylvanian Concubine» – a haunting song that would come to haunt them, as it was later remixed by Marilyn Manson, used in the television program “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and included in that program’s best-selling soundtrack album.
Melora grew up in Kansas, in a family very respectful of the arts. All members played an instrument, and the family occasionally played together as an ensemble, although not much music was available arranged for piano, flute, violin, cello and trombone!
Melora moved to New York at 18 to attend Parsons School of Design, where she majored in photography. While at Parsons, she began playing cello in rock bands. She became involved with drag performers, and formed The Fingerlakes Trio, a falsely geeky classical group that performed arch versions of disco hits. They appeared in the film, “Longtime Companion.”
In the late ‘80’s, Melora joined a band called Ultra Vivid Scene which was on the British label, 4 AD. It was her first exposure to the professional rock world. It was an exciting scene – UVS opened for The Pixies and Throwing Muses. Melora wanted something like that for herself, so she made Rasputina.
Rasputina is an anomaly in popular music. By not following fashion, and maintaining artistic integrity and musical enthusiasm, the group has thrived as time has passed. Rasputina exposes their passionate young fans to tales from history, and they inspire string players with alternatives to the classical world.
Rasputina made two albums for Columbia Records in the ‘90’s Thanks For the Ether and How We Quit the Forest. After a short break due to the birth of Melora’s daughter Hollis, they made two albums for Instinct Records Cabin Fever (2002) and Frustration Plantation (2004). Rasputina releases a new live album on April 25 entitled A Radical Recital, which will be available exclusively through the band’s web site and at shows.
Having pared down to just two cellos, and including the drummer as an equal member, the new, live album truly captures the spirit of Rasputina as a group. Melora Creager, composer and directress, has played the cello since age nine. Zoл Keating lives in San Francisco and began her cello studies in a storage closet in Northern England. Zoл also performs and records her own compositions, and is an avatar of looping techniques. Jonathon TeBeest is the first Rasputina drummer to be considered «one of the Ladies». He is a Minnesota native and has a background in the «ska» form.