R ingo Deathstarr wants to entertain us!
By Tim Anderl
When some musicians grow up, they abandon teen angst and volume, picking up those dusty acoustic guitars, trying desperately to channel Neil Young and Springsteen. Others remain comfortable in their well-worn Nirvana shirts, channeling age and experience into faster and louder mind-melting exploits. The phenomenon that fits Ringo Deathstarr, a band whose output channels its fuzzy guitar flood from like-minded forefathers, The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, and injects it with youthful energy, is clearly the latter.
What is currently causing the majority of angst for Ringo Deathstarr’s Elliott Frazier, as well as this aging journalist, is that the trio’s travels through Washington State have landed them in a cellular no-man’s land. After no less than four disconnections, and a lot of awkward false starts, we managed to ask and have answered some questions about the band’s new album Mauve, which dropped via Sonic Unyon Records on Sept. 25 and follows the wildly heralded Colour Trip, a record that earned the band a support slot on the Smashing Pumpkins’ European tour. Frazier also happened to mention an affinity for Dayton music, knowing people who are weirder than Billy Corgan, and some other stuff. Here is what he told Dayton City Paper…
Today (Sept. 25) is a pretty big day for you guys with the release of Mauve. Do you anticipate that at this time next week you’ll be celebrating a place on the Billboard charts?
(Laughter) I don’t know. I don’t really think about that kind of stuff. – Elliott Frazier
I was surprised to see Dayton on the current routing on your itinerary rather than Toledo or Detroit, cities that love noisy, shoegazer stuff…
I’ve always wanted to play in Dayton. Dayton’s got Kim and Kelly Deal. There was also a band that I liked called Morella’s Forest. That is one of the bands that got me into this kind of music. I discovered them while I was living in Beaumont, Texas. One of my friends had this Christian alternative music magazine and I found out about them that way. They were my springboard to Starflyer 59, and ultimately, Sonic Youth. Their music really set me off in this direction. -EF
You guys will also release “Rip” in 7” format?
It is released in 7” in the UK. The label in the UK is more into releasing vinyl 7”s. It is out on Club AC30. -EF
There is a picture on the cover for the “Rip” 7” with four dudes in it. Who are those guys?
The brother of the guy from Club AC30 and his friends played a gig where they played a set as The Jesus and Mary Chain. It added some flair to it. He had a bunch of photos and that was one we chose. We thought it was funny. A lot of people are confused. That was the point. People look at it and know that we sound like the Jesus and Mary Chain so they see a picture like this and get a kick out of it. One of the guys in that picture looks like Pete Townsend. It’s pretty weird. People ask, “Where’s Alex (Gehring)? Is Alex out of the band?” (laughter). -EF
What were the biggest differences you experienced in making this record vs. Colour Trip?
For Colour Trip we’d just gotten the deal from AC30 and we didn’t have any sort of budget originally and we didn’t have a lot of the songs ready. AC30 gave us a budget and we went right from tour into the studio. So it was pieced together in the studio. We used a lot of sampling. This record was all done. We had the songs ready to go, had rehearsed them and so we didn’t rely on near as much studio trickery. For the most part it is straight up live. -EF
A lot of the band’s press cites My Bloody Valentine as a major touchstone. Who are your legitimate influences?
There’s Nirvana, Black Flag, Dinosaur Jr, stuff like that. Most of the stuff that is popular now doesn’t excite me. I try to stay in touch with the bands that I loved when I first started playing music. I just want to get faster and louder. -EF
So this is the inner teen angst of Ringo Deathstarr set to tape?
This record definitely expresses frustration with the way music is today. Every generation there are bands that reject popular music. The same thing happened in the ‘70s and ‘80s. People today think a band is a laptop today.
For us it is about the live show. We want to get up there and play some crazy guitars and have fun. When I go to a show I don’t want to think too hard about who someone sounds like, or compare them to anyone. I want to see that they are having fun and that the crowd is having fun and that it sounds cool. -EF
So you did the European leg of the Smashing Pumpkins tour recently. Did you meet Billy Corgan and is he as tumultuous as the press makes him out to be?
He’s pretty nice. He’s a weird guy, but I know people who are weirder than he is. He was nice to us. We talked about pedals, pre-amps and other random crap…old jobs he used to have. Relatively normal stuff. -EF
How did the crowds receive you guys?
The crowds were great. Obviously they are there to see the Pumpkins and just want to hear them play, so when they cheer for you, that’s a good thing. We got a lot of new fans. People are telling us, “Hey, we saw you with the [Smashing] Pumpkins, when are you coming back?” So that is cool. -EF
You are located in Austin, Texas now right? Have you found some kindred spirits there?
Yeah, ten years ago I was blown away by And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead’s Source Tags and Codes. I used to fantasize about playing with them. I actually got to sit in with them at South By Southwest because their drummer was on tour with their other band and I got to fill in for two gigs. That was a realization of another big dream I used to have.
Last summer we spent two weeks with them on the West Coast with them, and we did five shows with them in Europe. Those were cool trips. -EF
Have you ever received any feedback from the man behind the moniker (Ringo Starr) that he’s paid any attention to you guys?
He definitely knows that we exist. We haven’t had a direct contact with him, but we have mutual friends with his granddaughter. That’s about it (laughter)? –EF
Ringo Deathstarr will perform on Wednesday, October 10 at South Park Tavern, 1301 Wayne Ave. Also on the bill are Oh Condor and Lab Partners. Admission is $5 for all ages. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information, visit ringodeathstarr.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@daytoncitypaper.com