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Ringo Deathstarr - Interview

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 16 / 6 / 2016

Ringo Deathstarr - Interview


Anthony Strutt speaks to Austin, Texas-based shoegaze trio Ringo Deathstarr at a gig in Leicester about their recent third album,'Pure Mood', and their influences

Ringo DeathStarr, who hail from Austin in Texas, have been around since 2006, first coming to the shores of the UK in 2009. The group, which consists of Alex Gerhring on bass, Elliott Frazier on guitar and vocals and Daniel Coborn on drums, have now recorded studio three albums to date, ‘Colour Trip’ (2011), ‘Mauve’ (2012) and ‘Pure Mood’ (2015), all of which have been released in the UK through the Club AC30 label. They have also put out ‘Sparkler’ (2011), a compilation of their earlier material. The group has drawn strong comparisons with 80’s shoegaze bands such as Ride, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Ringo Deathstarr at a gig at the Cookie in Leicester on a UK tour in March about life on the road, and how nu-Gaze isn't really shoegaze at all. PB: The band hail from Austin, Texas. It is, I believe, a place rich with history. AG: Yes, it is a good musical town. I would say that there is more musical history than actual history (Laughs). PB: The only band that I really know from there are the 13th Floor Elevators. You have drawn musical comparisons with them. Can you hear them in your sound? EF: I have never listened to them, to be honest. AG: I have never listened to them but I met Roky Erickson recently. PB: Was he still on this planet? AG: Sort of! He was very nice and friendly, but it was strange meeting him. PB: Is there any other Austin band that you feel you have a connection with? EF: And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. They used to be like far off rock stars, but the longer we have been in in Austin the better we have got to know them and we have become friends with them. AG: We saw Holy Wave last night who are also from Texas. They are awesome, too. I really like them. PB: How did the three of you meet then? EF: I met Daniel at high school, when we were living in Beaumont, Texas. I then moved to Austin and met Alex at a clothing store, and just mentioned to her that we needed a bass player, so she said she played bass. Then Daniel moved to Austin a year later, and so that's how we came together. PB: Were you in any previous bands at all? AG: Me, very little. I was in high school before joining Ringo Deathstarr. DC: Nothing real. EF: I was a drummer before. I had a whole different musical career before this band. Before this, I played drums for a British band called Nick Armstrong and the Thieves. They were from Nottingham and then they moved to Austin, but the drummer went back. He is now with Spiritualized. I thought I was going to be famous but nothing ever happened. PB: The name Ringo Deathstarr is a bit of a mouthful, Are you Beatles fans or ‘Star Wars’? EF: I was always a Beatles fan, more so than ‘Star Wars’. I don't know much about ‘Star Wars’ other than it is a good movie. PB: Is there any reason why you chose the name? EF: No, I had just watched ‘Dig!’, the Brian Jonestown Massacre/Dandy Warhols movie, and it seemed like a similar sort of name. PB: Has Ringo Starr given you his blessing to use his name? EF: He tried to get us to change our name through his solicitor, but he is now in my circle of friends which is kind of weird. PB: I first saw you at the ICA in 2009. Was that your first show here? Had you done any UK shows here before that? DC: Our first UK show was in Nottingham. It was really bad. All of our shit didn't work. EF: We are never going to play Nottingham again because of that show. PB: Prior to signing to Club AC30, did you release anything back home? EF: Yeah, We had an EP, a five track EP, and we had a 7 inch too. Those got combined into the ‘Sparkler’ album. PB: Have you always been a three piece? EF: The band started off as me and two other dudes. It was always a band. Everyone kept on quitting during the first two years. There wasn't any other band doing what we were doing. Everyone kept saying, “You are too crazy. It ain’t going to work.” And finally I got these two. AG: And it's been ten years now. PB: Do you find it writing and recording easier now that you have been doing it so long? EF: Yeah, because we know our strengths and weaknesses. AG: It is more than that. We have just done enough of it. PB: You have got to play live to sell a new album. Do you prefer live work or studio work? DC: Live. AG: A mixture. I like recording. It is one of my favourite parts but you have live shows where it just feels so good. You think then that's why you are doing it. Then you have really shitty shows (Laughs). We have had our fair share. PB: Club AC30, along with Sonic Cathedral, are the premier Nu-Gaze labels. Would you put yourselves under that banner? The original Shoegaze scene was huge but quickly got tainted. AG: I don't know what any of that means. PB: Nu-Gaze means the whole Ride/Slowdive/Thames Valley/Creation Records late 80’s/early 90’s scene, updated for the new century. EF: To me, Nu-Gaze just seems like the whole 80s scene in the States. Everything has to be done in a certain way. It's very ridged. There are lots of rules. You stand there with your arms folded, look like you’re bored. I can't stand, that when people stand in front of me when I'm playing a fucking show, and these losers, you know the type, are there. I just point to them and say, ”What's wrong with you?” I know when they say Shoegaze they mean something like Moose or really boring. It still has that feeling to me. AG: We don't want to be boring. EF: If I was talking to my Grandma, and I said that I was in a Shoegaze band, she would be like, “What are you talking about? What have shoes got to do with music?” PB: You are signed to Club AC30 over here. Are you happy with them? EF: We just license stuff to them now. For the first two records we were signed in a more traditional sense, but then we became more self-contained. They do a great job though with the press and PR and radio. PB: You apparently spent more time recording ‘Pure Mood’ than any album you have ever done before? AG: It was recorded by ourselves in our rehearsal space. EF: We had no time clock to worry about but we were all working day jobs, so it took a long while. PB: Do you sell a lot of records? EF: We sell a hell of a lot illegal downloads. DC: We have no way of telling what we sell. PB: There's a track on ‘Pure Mood ‘called ‘Heavy Metal Suicide’, which is a massive sounding number. How did that come about? EF: I just had this riff and I made this vocal part. I wanted it to sound like Alice In Chains, and I had this separate demo which was like Dinosaur, Jr or something, and so we just put them together. PB: Club AC30 have for a while now experimented with the way they deliver vinyl records. I believe they did one with you on raspberry or strawberry-flavoured vinyl? DC: That was shadow. It was supposed to be on cherry blossom. EF: It was some sort of experiment. It was the pressing plant that brought it up, and we just said whatever. AG: It worked on some and not on others. I think they just sprayed inside the sleeve and then put the recording in (Laughs). PB: Now that we all live in the internet age has being on Facebook and social media helped? EF: I think we wouldn't be successful without social media. The companies are making it harder for bands, because back in the days of My Space you had a page and that was that. Now you have a Facebook page and you have to shift stuff via that, but Facebook want bands to pay them. If not they limit how many people can access the information you post on it. AG: They say if you pay us $5 then more people will see it. Now the best way is just by uploading a JPEG of a picture, and that just about gets through. PB: What are your future plans? AG: We are in the middle of this UK tour, and then we will doing a few more dates back home after that as well. EF: I'm also expecting a kid in May. PB; Thank you.

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Ringo Deathstarr - Interview

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Pure Mood (2016)
Sublime third album from Austin, Texas-based shoegazing/psychedelic act, Ringo Deathstarr
Mauve (2012)
Shadow EP (2011)
Colour Trip (2011)

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