Tucson band The Working People release debut 'Gimme Some Head'

Emerging from the garage during the early months of 2023, brandishing guitars like jackknives, embracing the “fiery sadness called desire” that Patti Smith spoke of coupled with the verve and free-spiritedness exemplified in the “Queen of Rockabilly” Wanda Jackson’s “Let’s Have a Party” (1958), Tucson’s The Working People recently released their debut single.

Delivered with the velocity of a skateboarder on the downslope of a half-pipe ramp after taking a deep drag from a cigarette, on “Gimme Some Head,” The Working People exude that priceless ephemeral commodity that eludes many fledgling bands: attitude.

Fronted by Marina Oleshko — whose vocal stylings fall somewhere between Ari Up of The Slits and ’80s new waver Lene Lovich — The Working People compel listeners to take a big bite from the succulent apple of original sin.

What better way to give prominence to wantonness and sex positivity than with audacity?

“Gimme your arms / Your long slender arms / And I’ll pull you closer.” – from “Gimme Some Head”

Originally from Russia, Oleshko was born in Dzerzhinsky, a small town about 12 miles outside of Moscow, on the bank of the Moskva River. At the heart of the town sits the Nikolo-Ugreshsky Monastery — a Russian Orthodox abbey dedicated to St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker — believed to have been founded as early as 1521.

Her early life was filled with music: “Russian folk, classical music, rock, post-punk tunes, and the Beatles, of course,” Oleshko told the Tucson Sentinel.

At a young age she developed an affinity for performance, feeling the lure of the stage.

“I started doing ballet when I was about 8 years old. It was a big part of my life,” she said.

“Performing was by far one of my favorite things to do as a child,” she said, recalling life in Dzerzhinsky.

“I grew up in a beautiful place. However, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the subsequent advent of hypercapitalism” — a relatively new form of extreme capitalism that pushes for continual exploitation of natural resources and pits human rights against powerful economic interests at the expense of traditional values — “made things difficult.”

“Working class people who were previously guaranteed a living wage, were now uncertain of the next day,” she attested. “Many people, like my parents, chose to seek opportunities abroad to support their families.”

Oleshko was on the cusp of 11 years of age when her father landed his first job in the United States.

“In the beginning my mother and I would come stay with him for a few months and then go back to Moscow,” she recalled. “Seventh grade was the first full academic year I spent in the American school system.”

She would go on to study at New York University before transferring to the University of Arizona.

Once in Tucson she soon felt a new tug on her heartstrings.

“It didn’t take me too long to fall in love; there is something about this place,” Oleshko enthused.

“I completed my bachelor’s degree in Art History at the UA in 2012. I took a break from academia to work and raise my son,” she said, adding, “I completed my master’s in 2023, focusing on the history of photography.”

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Oleshko’s aptitudes abound: academia, art, ballet, fashion, music, photography.

Initially performing as a solo artist, circa 2022, her name began to appear on handbills — often sharing the stage with her musical accomplice Oh Black Sea (né Michael Welborn) — for happenings at local venues: Crisol Bar, Groundworks, Minibar, Templeton’s, and others.

“My solo repertoire mainly consists of covers of my favorite Russian songs, many from the 1960’s,” she noted.

Her newest project, The Working People — whose sound Oleshko described as “post-punk does ’50s” — started to take shape in March of 2023.

“It became a sort of natural evolution from songs that Michael and I were writing and covering.”

Consisting of Welborn (guitar, vocals, bass), Dav Foley (drums), and Oleshko (vocals, guitar, tambourine). With contributions from Christopher Stryker (bass, vocals) and recording contributions from Lucas Steele (bass, vocals, synth), and Evan Tuohy (guitar), on the band’s first foray into the recording studio, The Working People emerge with “Gimme Some Head.”

“We recorded the single in September 2023 at Midtown Island Studio.” Veteran producer/audio engineer Matt Rendon spun the dials for the session. “It was my first time going through the process,” Oleshko enthused. “Matt was super patient, he answered all of my questions, offered feedback, and helpful suggestions.”

“I found it awesome.”

In art sometimes the most difficult thing to do is what’s most simple.

Punk rock songs are short, loud, and fast. When you have two minutes to convince a listener — weeding out every other option — instinct is your pilot.

Capturing that undefinable something, “Gimme Some Head” is a one minute, 58 second onrush of unrelenting garage-punk magic that decimates everything in its path, just like fire would.

Like the many intemperate rock ‘n’ roll forefathers that behaved as a model, Welborn wrote “Gimme Some Head” during a dipsomaniacal episode. “According to him it was ‘a couple of beers and a few shots,'” she recalled, laughingly, as to the songs origins.

So, what is next for The Working People? When asked, Oleshko replied, “There are more tracks, but we don’t know yet. Most likely we will be releasing another single very soon.”