Giorgi Benidze tried living the usual life with a steady job, but found only one constant theme of happiness – music.
Benidze, 32, also known as “Gosha” to his audience, played acoustic guitar in the central undergrounds of Tbilisi since 1996 at age 19. Having no money he headed to the underground walkway near the opera house, playing songs by well-known Russian rock stars like Viktor Tsoi and Boris Grebenshikov, and U.S. artists such as Pink Floyd.
He never studied music, but graduated with an IT degree from Georgian Polytechnic University. Afterward, he was always on the run, moving from job to job, working at Internet cafes and advertising companies, fixing windows and never working in one place more than a month.
“I even collected empty bottles for money and sold them to factories,” Benidze said. “It was the most punk job I have ever done.” It was clear at that point that music was the direction he wanted to take.
Benidze worked with different bands and formed his own punk rock project called “Tetri Alublis Muraba” (White Cherry Jam). The band existed for three years until 2002.
Later on, he formed another band called “Circus Closet,” and this time they managed to record an English-language album titled, “Luquid Sun,” with a circulation of just 100 CDs, only actually selling 7 copies.
Despite their lack of success, the band is actively working on a second album. When describing the band’s music, Benidze said although they call it “Indie pop”, it is different from all the things they listen to and free from any kind of influence.
When remembering the last time he played in the underground he said it lasted for several months. Everyday he went out with his guitar for a couple of hours at a time. It was never a case of income for him, but rather fun, he said.
“Pavle, Tsie, Avto (fellow underground musicians) are considered to be street musicians, they have been standing in the streets and performing for months,” Benidze said. “It was about income for them. Some were even making a living and helping their families. For me it was always a hobby.”
Benidze added that his generation has mostly left the streets and moved on to performing at other venues. He feels skeptical about going back to that kind of work. For now, he said the band is focusing on recording “Circus Closet” in September. Afterwards, the band plans to hold concerts at least once a month.
The article was published for Georgia Today July 24, 2009 issue.