The brilliantly named Ringo Deathstarr are an Austin-based band who need to be on your radar. They’re the ADD cousins of My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary chain, crafting three minute bursts of noise-bliss that will shred your ears and leave you asking for more.
After numerous line-up changes, the one constant is singer/guitarist/mastermind Elliott Fraizer. The band (well, actually it was just Elliot) completed one EP in 2007 to rave reviews from indie mags everywhere. Kip Berman from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart name checked them in an interview and the buzz has steadily increased.
With a new line-up and a new album being recorded, we thought this would be a good time to touch base with Elliott and get a finger on the pulse of Ringo Deathstarr.
As you know by now, I like to add a few videos to each interview so that you can listen to them for yourself. Their reputation for being MBV-loud, makes finding videos to post a bit of a challenge. Turn these up to 11, flick the light switches on and off to get a good strobey effect and dream on.
TDOA: In recent interviews you’ve talked about the lineup changes and the
more colaborative writing process. Do you sense a change in the sound
or style of the band as a result?
EF: The sound is still the same vibe, but yes it is changing. But, nobody wants to do the same album over and over.
TDOA: After doing the bulk of the work on the EP, do you find it
difficult to loosen the reigns and let other musicians influence the sound?
EF: It just depends on the song. Sometimes I have the whole song already mapped out before showing it to the band, but it is great to have everyone writing, ’cause we like variety. I only did all the work on the EP because I had to, not necessarily cause I wanted to.
TDOA: You wear your JAMC and MBV influences on your sleeve (thanks for
not being as coy as most bands!). The U.S. generallly missed the boat
on these bands when they were in their heydey. Do you think bands
like RD can capture the American ear this time or do you have to go to England to get your just dues?
EF: I think that with the success of A Place To Bury Strangers and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, that people are perhaps ready for the noise pop dreamy sound. I think the reason it didn’t catch on a long time ago was because of GRUNGE. Right now, I think it works because people want more interesting guitar sounds than the same old rock n roll. I think electronic music is popular because, to a lot of people, the sounds are more interesting that just a guitar and a drum kit. But when they hear more unusual guitar sounds, it attracts interest, I guess.
TDOA: We’ve been extolling the virtues of Austin on our site for a while. Any thoughts on why the Austin music scene appears to be so vibrant?
EF: Because it’s so easy to be in a band here. I mean, its like saying, “Why is the acting scene in LA so big?”
TDOA: What influence did bands like Sixteen Deluxe and some of the older Austin bands have on you?
EF: I was not here when Sixteen Deluxe was around, but I met the guitar player, Frenchie, in 2002, and I have only recorded with him or at his studio ever since. What a dude!
TDOA: The lead singer of The Horrors gave an interview in NME recently in
which he suggested that Facebook, MySpace and music blogs should be
blown up because they’ve created a plethora of bad underground bands.
How do you feel about the internet as a marketing tool? (BTW, not
trying to lead the witness here, even though we’re “part of the problem”).
EF: It has its ups and downs. I agree about the tons of bad bands, but if you are a good band, it makes it so easy to get heard. It is hard at first to convince the world that you’re not just another shitty band. One of my favorite books is “Our Band Could Be Your Life” by Michael Azzerad, and the bands in there didn’t have the internet, they just toured a bunch and put out lots of albums, but they made a big impact on lots of people’s lives.
TDOA: How did you connect with Pains of Being Pure at Heart and can you tell us about your experiences with them at SXSW?
EF: Kip, the singer, had mentioned us in an interview or something so that’s how I found out about them, so we just contacted each other, hung out in New York when we were there, and they are just great. We played CMJ with them, but at SXSW they had 50 shows a day so we couldn’t play with them.
TDOA: We talk to a lot of bands that struggle to get publicity, record
deals or spots in festivals. Can you share your secrets on how RD has managed to be a part of SXSW?
EF: After we released our EP and it got good reviews we applied to SXSW and got in. I guess you just gotta be doing something that people want to hear. When I first started this band, friends would tell me that it was a stupid idea, but after 3 years it finally paid off. I guess some bands just give up too early.
TDOA: When will we see some new music from you guys? Any plans to tour this summer?
EF: We are recording an album now, but we have no money so it will take a while. We have a couple of releases coming out at the end of the summer in the UK and Japan. We will tour at the end of the summer I suppose.
TDOA: What bands are you listening to these days?
EF: MBV and JAMC, of course!
For more information about Ringo Deathstarr, visit their MySpace page at: http://www.myspace.com/ringodeathstarr