Although Latvian rockers Brainstorm never won the Eurovision Song Contest -- they finished third in 2000 -- they are nevertheless one of the handful of competing acts to have established a credible international presence in the aftermath of their appearance. Jonathan King, the English pop impresario, described them as "the cream of the contest. They enjoy themselves, they smile on-stage, and the lead singer has such charisma, such star quality." Other highly publicized admirers include Bob Dylan, Anton Corbijn, and Michael Stipe, while the band has toured Europe behind Depeche Mode, R.E.M., the Rolling Stones, and the Cranberries, among others.
Brainstorm formed in Jelgava, Latvia, in 1989, around childhood friends Renars Kaupers, Janis Jubalts, Gundars Mausevics, Kaspars Roga, and Maris Mihelsons. The band's original name was Prata Vetra; Brainstorm is its English-language translation, adopted around the turn of the century, as the group's renown began to spread outside of Latvia. Brainstorm released their first single, "Jo Tu N?c" (Because You Come), in late 1992, around the same time that they finished ninth at the Latvian talent show Michrophones. Their debut album, Vair?k Nek? Ska?i (More Than Loud) followed in 1993 -- as with most domestic albums, it was released on cassette only, although a CD has since appeared. It was accompanied by the hit "Ziema" (Winter). A limited-edition EP, Vietu Nav (There's No Space) followed in 1994, before 1995 brought their biggest hit so far, "Lidma??nas" (Airplanes). Brainstorm's second album, 1996's Veronika, consolidated this initial success, spawning the hit singles "D?rznieks," "Apels?ns," "So Dziesmu Es Dziedasu Tev," and "Ciekuri," while a taster for their next album, "Tavas M?jas Man? Azot?" (Under My Wing Is Your Home) went on to top the Latvian chart for over two months.
The LP Viss Ir Tie?i T? K? Tu V?lies (Everything as You Wish) followed in 1997, together with further hits "Mans Draugs" (My Friend) and "Neatgrie?an?s" (No Return). In 1997 the band was also filmed for the VHS Prata Vetra Par Sevi Un Reiganiem. After they signed to the major label Microphone, Brainstorm's fourth album, Starp Div?m Saul?m, would become their first international release, under the title Among the Suns. Recorded in Sweden and Denmark, it featured no less than five hit singles, including the title track, "Puse No Sirds" ("Half of a Heart"), "Lec" ("Try"), "Prom Uz Siltaj?m Sal?m" ("Ain't It Funny"), and "Tu Izv?l?jies Palikt" ("Welcome to My Country"). Although Brainstorm had long since established themselves in their homeland, it was with Eurovision and the single "My Star," that they made their mark further afield -- it was released in 18 countries worldwide, including the U.K., Germany, and Scandinavian countries. A compilation, The Best of Brainstorm 1989-1999, allowed new fans to become acquainted with the band's past, while Brainstorm set to work on their fifth LP, 2001's Ka??ns, Kur? Atteic?s No J?rasskolas (Online), which went gold in Poland, with the single "Maybe" rising in its wake.
The concept album Dien?s, Kad Lidlauks P?r?k T?ls (A Day Before Tomorrow), recorded with producers Alex Silva and Steve Lyons, was released in 2003; Anton Corbijn designed the album's sleeve. That year also saw Brainstorm become the first Latvian band ever to release an in-concert DVD, after Dienas, Kad Lidlauks Parak Tals was shot in Riga on the final night of the band's latest tour. A second DVD release, Kakens Kurs Atteicas No Jurasskolas, capturing a televised concert from 2001, has since joined it on the shelves. Sadly, the band's rise was interrupted by the death of bassist Gundars Mausevics in a car accident in May 2004. The following year's Four Shores album -- the band's seventh -- was dedicated to his memory. Quickly reconstituting, Brainstorm have since spent much of their time on the road around Europe. ~ Dave Thompson