“We All Live in a Shoegaze Submarine”
by Ryan Muldoon
It was somewhat surprising to learn that there are those among us who find the name Ringo Deathstarr to be, in the words of the All-Music Guide, “irritatingly cutesy.” Maybe I’m just easily amused, or maybe I just maintain a nearly life-long fascination with the former Mr. Richard Starkey, or maybe I just think that – despite the inevitable decline in appreciation for all things Darth Vader-related that comes from being a 36-year old father of two – the concept of a “Death Star” is still pretty bad ass.
Whatever it is, I have no shame in admitting to falling in love with Ringo Deathstarr immediately after hearing the name, and was even more pleased when I heard their music, more than capably holding up its own end of the bargain as well (as opposed to, say, Cannibal Corpse).
Singer-guitarist Elliot Frazier was kind enough to answer a few questions, in advance of their appearance at Austin Psych Fest 3.
What can you offer us about the origin of the band’s name? It’s such a perfect example of a winking portmanteau – very welcoming. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know about a band called Ringo Deathstarr?
The Dandy Warhols, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Ringo Deathstarr … why the hell not?
Was there ever the thought that such a name could make the band appear frivolous? Short of that, was there ever a hesitation with moving forward under a name that might (far-fetched as it may sound) attract the attention of two fairly litigious world powers?
Don’t put too much emphasis on a band name. I mean, there are people who told us to change our name but they don’t know what they’re talking about. Maybe we should have been called “Black Wolvvves”?
One thing the name does prepare the listener for is your band’s ability to leaven your sound with a bit of fun – or if that’s not a proper description, perhaps something like a lack or mordant self-seriousness. In what terms do you think of the band’s sound?
We want to sound like cool tunes. We want to be able to play … whatever. The album we’ve been working on will be proof of that. I want to be opposite of the lo-fi, sloppy sound that is popular now. When 30 year-old, ugly slobs pick up a guitar and pretend to not know how play, I’d rather listen to classic Brittany (Spears).
The band has been together for more a number of years at this point – how has the band’s sound changed over this period of time? I think of Ringo Deathstarr as having such an undeniable charm – but one that holds up so well on repeated listens. Was that there from the beginning?
Some of the first songs sucked pretty bad … but I think even though we sound exactly like My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain, it is still really different and fresh compared to most of the stuff out there. In the beginning, I just did the band to entertain myself. That’s why I chose to be a shoegazer
We won’t check your odometer to confirm, but the band seems to be on the road quite a bit – visit your local show-spot, and odds are Ringo Deathstarr was either there recently or coming soon. How has touring reflected itself in the band’s sound? How has it impacted the home lives of the members – positively, one hopes?
We love touring and once our album comes out, the real touring will begin. We have learned it’s best to bring our own sound man, ‘cuz the house engineers at the clubs just don’t understand what we want to sound like. We also learn what type of songs work best in a live setting. We all have jobs that let us take off to tour, which is awesome.
Favorite Beatles song – and why?
“A Day in the Life.” Pretty obvious why – that song rules!
In his biography entitled “White Line Fever,” Lemmy Kilmister expresses that part of his attraction to The Beatles stems from the fact that they were rougher than perhaps remembered today, from gritty Liverpool neighborhoods. Says Lemmy: “Ringo’s from the Dingle, which is like the fucking Bronx.” Reaction?
Yeah, England can be a tough place.
What music have you been listening to the most lately? And what will be your favorite album one year from now, if you had to guess?
Lately I’ve been listening to anything Alan Moulder has mixed, as well as White Zombie and a band called Guitar … reference points for how our album will be mixed. In a year my fav album will be the new record from My Bloody Valentine.
You played the first Austin Psych Fest in 2008 – what are your memories of that event? Is it true that the band did not appear at Austin Psych Fest 2 because of a clause in your rider that specifically forbids the band to play when audience members are potentially wearing headbands?
Memories of first Austin Psych Fest: we got to the venue, loaded in, found our free beer, went on stage and played, drank more, went to a Mexican restaurant next door, then watched The Black Angels. We didn’t play the last one ‘cuz we were in Atlanta the day before and didn’t want to drive overnight for 15 hours just to play in Austin. But the headbands continue to irritate us.
Are there any bands in particular that you are looking forward to seeing at this year’s Psych Fest?
The Raveonettes and The Vandelles.
What’s next for Ringo Deathstarr?
New album, music videos, international touring. Then .. repeat, ad infinitum.
Check out Ringo Deathstarr on MySpace – RINGO DEATHSTARR on MySpace Music