A loyal following among the heavy metal aficionados at the Warehouse Nightclub in Headingley notwithstanding, the Death Valley Screamers have never really made it big in Britain,Arts.telegraph reports.

Our loss, perhaps - although even the most devoted fans in LS6 might have been surprised to see a quarter of a million Ukrainians moshing to lead singer Sean Carr's bone-jangling melodies in Kiev's main square last month.

This evening, the band's first album Just Crazy goes on sale in Ukraine and many pundits are expecting it to hit the top the charts. It could even make the top 10 in neighbouring Moldova. In the words of one newspaper commentator, it is the biggest British invasion of Ukraine since the Crimean war.

Mr Carr, a 36-year-old nightclub owner who learned his skills growing up in the Spanish beach resort of Torremolinos, has become a phenomenon in Ukraine. He cannot walk on the streets for fear of being mobbed by fans. Ukraine's version of the paparazzi stalks his every move.

The interest may have something to do with young Ukrainians embracing everything western after last year's Orange Revolution. But a more likely explanation is probably his forthcoming marriage to the daughter of Yulia Timoshenko - a multimillionaire, one of the world's most beautiful politicians and, until she was sacked last week, the country's prime minister.

It was 26-year-old Yevgenia who did the wooing that sparked off the relationship. The attractive and demure socialite spotted Mr Carr in a bar on Egypt's Red Sea Riviera and was captivated by his waist-length hair and the giant tattoo on his torso depicting an alien crawling out of his belly.

She weasled his mobile telephone number off the barman and began to deluge Mr Carr, by then back in England, with a flurry of text messages - even though they had barely exchanged a word - before getting on a flight to London.

"I sent her a message saying 'is that the beautiful lady that walked past me in the Ritz Carlton'," he recalled, speaking to The Daily Telegraph in between interviews with two of Ukraine's biggest television networks ahead of today's album launch.

"I then asked her if she fancied coming up to a bikers' festival in Leeds," he said. "She replied, 'I'll be there in three hours'." It was not until they had been together for several weeks that she revealed her family background to him.

Apparently mesmerized after hearing a home-made CD of Mr Carr's music, Miss Timoshenko insisted he resurrect the defunct Death Valley Screamers and bring them to Ukraine.

Hesitant at first, Mr Carr got in touch with Mick Lake, guitarist and backing vocalist who once played in his band, and who, after some persuasion, agreed to leave Leeds and come to Ukraine. After recruiting three locals to make up the rest of the band, they played their first concert at a bar in the spring.

"We were absolutely petrified," said Mr Lake. "But we started playing and the whole place just erupted. It was amazing. Even the secret police took their hats off and were dancing."

If Mrs Timoshenko disapproves of her daughter's choice of future husband, she has not shown it - giving her full backing to the band and expressing delight when they were chosen to play at independence day celebrations last month. "She was great," Mr Carr said. "She only asked one thing - that I wouldn't take my top off on stage."

But some sections of the Ukrainian press were dubious, questioning whether songs such as Killer and Bitch really had artistic merit.

They even poured scorn on the band's attempt to tap into local music with a specially written Ukrainian version of Just Crazy entitled Just Crazy Cossack.

Mr Carr says the criticism has mainly come from newspapers trying to besmirch him in order to undermine his future mother-in-law - one reporter even tried to find out if he ate hamsters.

And though he admits that his relationship has done much to publicise the band, he also insists that his music has cross-generational appeal. The Yorkshire rockers insist that they are not seeking fame and fortune, but will not turn them down if they come their way. "If we make it big, great," Mr Lake said. "If we don't, that's great too. It's been a laugh."


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