‘The only ideas I try to implement are those that I believe in a hundred per cent,’ says Andrius Mamontovas. It is almost scary to think what he might have done if he was not so picky. The year 2017 marked the 50th birthday of this singer and musician, considered the most important figure on the Lithuanian pop and rock scene. In 1983, he formed Foje, arguably the biggest and most influential Lithuanian band of all time. For the 60,000 people who gathered in Vilnius to witness the group’s last show in 1997 (an achievement nobody has yet managed to equal), Foje was much more than a rock band: the music and the lyrics are still the soundtrack to everyday life for a whole generation, and their record and ticket sales remain unparalleled. Moving on to a solo career, Andrius showcased an even wider array of talents, making his point as a promoter of massive charity gigs and campaigns, and a successful producer, actor and film composer (not to mention the 19 solo albums so far), who has performed all over the world, from China to the USA. Theatre-goers will recognise him as the leading actor in Hamlet, a touring production by the acclaimed director Eimuntas Nekrošius that has been performed more than 200 times around the world. Art house cinema fans may be aware of his roles in Loss (2008) and Hong Kong Confidential (2010). Loss brought another moment of triumph, when Andrius won the Best Film Composer Award at the Shanghai Film Festival. Even those who follow Eurovision will not forget his face for a long time: in 2006, Lithuania’s best result ever was achieved by LT United, an ‘all-star group’ formed by Andrius. They proved that you can get into the Top Ten by writing a humorous mixture of nursery rhyme and football chant: We are the Winners was described by Eurovision fans as probably the weirdest episode in the history of the contest. Having shared a stage with Sting, Bryan Adams and The Sugarcubes, Andrius has a collection of several dozen music awards, and is considered an undisputed authority when it comes to Lithuanian pop music (after all, he did not get a President’s Award for his musical achievements for nothing). He marked his 50th birthday in style, with two sold-out shows in Lithuania’s biggest arenas. ‘The thing about turning fifty is you understand that you only have time for things you really care about,’ he said of the occasion. Known for his melodic pop rock, he is ready to turn another page, hinting at a certain change of direction for his upcoming album. Thirty-five years down the line, Andrius Mamontovas remains popular and relevant, with new generations of fans discovering his music.
Stream/download this: Laužo šviesa (by Foje) / Geltona. Žalia. Raudona. / Marso kanjonai