It's not often that I'm inspired to ask a few (hopefully) more humorous questions in anticipation of a band's interview responses, but the brand new duo of R.Ring (friends Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery) make it easy. They have shown in true zany style throughout their lighthearted live and written interviews and performances that part of their ethos is to make and take the simple joy and spirit of being in a band where and when they can find it.
Both Kelley and Mike initially came together through a mutual friend; Kelley being known for her part in sister group The Breeders, as well as The Kelley Deal 6000 and The Last Men, and Mike of course, from his band Ampline. The duo, who were recently signed to Misra Records, will debut a 7" record release in the fall and are currently performing for dates across the East Coast.
Their music is introspective and warm, and with the added instrumentation of harmonies and the occasional thump on a guitar or stomp on the floor, their style as a duo takes on a very different tack compared to their other projects. The songs border on a great simplicity that could be considered 'folkist post-rock,' but the construction of their ideas often map their songwriting and vocals into places that are unexpected, and more often than not, surprising.
Join R.Ring on Monday, May 14th, when they will perform here in Philadelphia with special guests Boog, at The North Star Bar (2639 Poplar Street, Philadelphia PA, 215-787-0488).
Get your advance tickets by clicking here:
The show begins at 8 p.m., and is 21+.
Girl About Town: R. Ring hold a long and shared history of first sightings and then first meetings. Are you really both like the orange to the banana in the band logo? I would like to write what I mean here, but I'm not sure, and I think having your answer would be far more entertaining! First of all, is Mike *really* the banana, he seems as though he might be the 'quiet to Kelley's riot' between the pair of you, and second, for Kelley: is that orange a Tropicana?
Mike: I thought I was the orange. Now I'm confused! Our friend Ali Calis at Able Projects (who screenprinted the posters) has a unique way of perverting the most naive of concepts. These fruit porn characters exist in his brain.
Kelley: Im just thrilled to have an image that's been nicknamed 'fruit porn'!
Carly: I recently had a dream where I had to play in a band but no one could locate my throne/seat, drumsticks, and my cymbals for an auditorium high school lunch room show (anxiety!) and the rest of the band was waiting for me to begin! It was a nightmare where someone kept trying to hand me a big bouncy ball instead, and they kept yelling at me, "Go on! Go on!".
As there are only two of you in the band: what's the worse thing that could happen before a show for you, and also; do you support one another's flaws and concerns over differences in opinion when it comes to writing and performing live, or would you say you were on the same page?
Mike: You could probably use a bouncy ball as a drum throne. Seems like it would be real comfy. As far as supporting each other's performance flaws... We never have any!
Kelley: As far as being on the same page, I think we understand and share each other's instincts for what the important elements of the songs are.
It's silly, but when I think of duo writing, lately, I think of Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen creating Portland's theme song for the Mayor, i.e. leaving crazy song snippet messages for eachother via telephone night and day. How do the ideas flow for you as a duo and what inspires you?
Mike: I am not familiar enough with that program. Kelley writes some songs, I write some songs and we sometimes tinker with each other's ideas until things sound good to us both.
Kelley: I don't really have guitar chops, so I've learned that working within your limitations is often the way to discover something that sounds good or interesting.
Mike: I think with that in mind, we each approach writing and playing differently. She sometimes plays progressions or picks melodies to sing that I would never even think of, so it's fun to sort of melt and twist each other's ideas. We do send song snippets and we do quickie recordings at practice. Sometimes those little things are more interesting than the flushed out ideas! Notes just float around in the cosmos. Sometimes you're lucky enough to catch a few of them.
Are the songs that are created with R. Ring in mind something that you will continue to record wherever and whenever you can, or will it become a studio thing? Also, what is the setup like when you record: or is it more of a Kitchen Party (everything/anything goes)?
Mike: I have a studio in Cincinnati where we have done some recordings. Kelley is also very tech savvy and has myriad recording devices at her place. So far, we've been wrestling with the idea of what type of format would best fit the songs. I love the things we've done at my place and I love the things that have been filmed or recorded live and I also love the songs we've recorded in her kitchen. To answer more specifically, I guess we don't have a 'typical' setup. We have plenty of tools at our disposal, it's just hard to decide which recorded version of any particular song is going to end up being the 'one.' so far, we've only just recently put out a very limited number of hand-made packages containing two songs recorded live in the kitchen. For our single that will come out on Misra this fall, we're still tossing around ideas.
Is it a relief to have a real 'Road'-ocracy when it's just the two of you on the road versus a whole tour full of people? Who does the map-reading and who does the driving? Is GPS involved?
Kelley: We just dropped off our sometimes tour comrade Kristian Svitak at his house in Cleveland. We miss him already! GPS is currently engaged.
Mike: I think any person that's ever travelled with a group of people understands the difficulty of meeting everyone's needs. On one hand, the less people, the less needs, but on the other hand, sometimes it the 'more the merrier' idea. If you're in a traveling band long enough, something must be going right or you'd kill each other or stop doing it. I love driving around with my friends in Ampline and I know Kelley loves touring with everyone in The Breeders. As far as the two if us, it's not better or worse. It's easy in that we can take a smaller vehicle because we have less gear. Neither of us really care where we eat or what we do, so trips have been an enjoyable breeze so far.
Tell us about how R. Ring became a part of the Misra roster of bands, and the upcoming 7" record release. When can we expect it, and will it include previously unreleased material? Colored vinyl, etc.?
Kelley: Leo Deluca of Misra is from Dayton, OH and we started talking through mutual friends. He became interested when he found out I was doing something new. The single will come out this fall. It will be new tunes. I'm open to colored vinyl. What's your favorite color?
Carly: Thanks for asking... My guilty pleasure immediately migrates to hot pink or marbled pink because of the reissue of The Go-Go's "Beauty and The Beat," and also because of the Pretty In Pink soundtrack LP, but I could easily go for a see-through blue as well.
Skateboarding and knitting are two continuing themes that seem to be 'woven' into your bios and interviews (as well as, of course, both being in different projects; Ampline for Mike, and The Breeders for Kelley). Kelley: are you great at skateboarding too (what's your fave trick if you are) and Mike: are you proficient at knitting? Ever thought of yarn-bombing a skate-park along your tour?
Kelley: Whenever I get near a skateboard Mike and Kristian insist that I get far away from it. This might go back to your question of 'what's the worst thing that could happen before a show'....my favorite thing to try and do with a skateboard is to kick it back and forth with Kim and try and pop it up with our toe and catch it. The assholes have named it the 'double fracture pop'.
Mike: I have tried to learn a few stitches or whatever you knitters call it. I made a collar for my dog Comet, but he's only allowed to wear it to formal dinners.
Besides playing out and meeting new people, what activities are you most looking forward to on your tour dates this month?
Mike: Playing out, meeting new people, meandering around the country... That's plenty!
What has been your favorite new song to play live, and why?
Kelley: For me lately, it's been "Cutter", but Mike wants me to change to name so we don't get sued by Echo & The Bunnymen.
Mike: For me it sort of changes each night. I tend to have a series of satisfying moments rather than one favorite song.
Do you ever argue about whose musical tastes are better or do you have a story about finding an amazing record release while out on tour--what inspires you? Care to leave us with the R. Ring Top 10 song list?
Mike: As much as I love record stores, I find myself overwhelmed in them lately, so I really don't do much music shopping when I'm travelling. Oddly enough I don't think we really care about each other's musical tastes. I just figure we must share some common sentiments about what makes songs exciting or we wouldn't be able to play together. Everything inspires me: work, life… Everything. As for a top ten song list... I suck at organizing my thoughts. I am bowing out of your request. I have been listening to these bands: OFF, Buffalo Killers, Simon and Garfunkel, FOOD.
Kelley: I really like Marine Girls, Motel Beds, and Water Liars. Thanks Carly!
Remaining R.Ring Tour Dates:
MON May 14 - North Star in Philadelphia, PA
TUE May 15 - DC9 in Washington DC
WED May 16 - Garage Bar in Durham, NC
THU May 17 - The Lab in Asheville, NC
FRI/SAT May 18/19 - Nelsonville Music Festival*
*Plus playing in the Acoustic Cabin. Nelsonville, OH