Ringo Deathstarr, a three-piece outfit from Austin, Texas, is conjuring a unique response to the noisy and melodic, guitar pedal-loving, shoegazing, dreamy bands from the late 1980s and ’90s. Dashes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine blend seamlessly with the band’s own inventiveness and ingenuity for a high-octane ride though noise pop’s most cacophonous territories. Last year the band delivered its celebrated mini-album/EP God’s Dream and will release a new record later this year.
Ghettoblaster Magazine recently spoke with RD’s Elliott Frazier about lessons he’s learned during the band’s tenure, the differences between domestic and international tours, and his love for former Dayton band Morello’s Forest.
Ringo Deathstarr has been a band for about eight or nine years now. What are the most important or impactful lessons you’ve learned about being a musician and being in a band during your tenure?
Wow … so much to think about! I’d say we are great at touring, as a band. We have endured some punishing times and made it out stronger. Also, we know the roads and we know how to get by while sleeping on floors and such. We are grateful to all those folks who let us crash. Personally, I have learned so much about the music business by trial and error, mostly error! Since we don’t have a manager, we just have to make it up as we go. Also, I have learned enough about recording to allow us to record ourselves.
Do you have any feelings about the shoegaze bands like Slowdive and Ride who called it quits during the ’90s and who have been reuniting as of late?
I feel personally responsible. I started this band because those bands didn’t exist anymore, then they all started coming back! It’s as if our music cast a spell that conjured them all up from the abyss.
Does living in Austin provide inspiration for you as a musician? Is it a competitive scene?
It is not really competitive per se… I mean, there is nobody to compete with when everyone is doing their own thing. Maybe I have just learned to not feel like I am competing with others who are winning too. Jealousy can drive you crazy. The most inspiring musician in Austin for me is Jason Reece from …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead.
Do you prefer touring the U.S. to overseas?
Well, our shows seem to always be more populated and more lucrative overseas. The U.S. is so gigantic and our fans are more spread out. In the other countries we get hotels and bottles of wine and whisky and meals and it’s smaller and in some places they just go wild. Japan is like the most insane dream ever. Touring the U.S. is totally different. You show up to the venue and they are like, “Here are your drink tickets, two per member and they are good for Pabst Blue Ribbon.”
Do you find that your records are better received domestically or abroad?
It is hard to say. We have sold out of vinyl everywhere, but that is because there were not enough made. But our old stuff will be re-issued later this year, around the time of our new album.
You reunited with Chris “Frenchie” Smith, who recorded your debut, for the God’s Dream EP. Was it comforting to be back in his capable hands?
Oh yeah. Frenchie is a monster. I love watching him work and listening to him talk about recording. He is not timid with the studio. Lately he has been really, really, really into Roy Thomas Baker.
One of the songs on the record is called “Bong Load.” What is your position on marijuana legalization?
It is time to legalize and tax and regulate it, of course. And set all the prisoners free who are serving time for possession. That would be a great start.
You’ve been to Dayton a few times in the past. What is it about the city that keeps it on your tour routing?
Actually we have only been once! This other time we just slept there after our show in Detroit, to save time on the drive the next day to St. Louis. But I don’t know. I have always wanted to play Dayton when I was younger, before I had been out of Texas because I loved Morella’s Forest and I loved the idea of Ohio for some reason. Obvious musicians like Chrissie Hynde, Devo, Guided By Voices, Breeders and 3rd Rock from the Sun all contributed to this need to go to the Midwest.
Anyway, it took us years to get a gig in Ohio. It was easy as pie to play in New York City, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles, but not Ohio! So, since we have only played in Dayton once and Cleveland once, we are getting our revenge this time by playing four shows in Ohio.
Will you be road testing any new material during your upcoming dates?
Yeah we will be playing a few new ones. All I can say about our new songs is that they are the best we have ever written. We are trying to play a broad spectrum from our entire catalog as well, with some songs we have never played before.
(Ringo Deathstarr will perform Friday, July 24 at Canal Public House, 308 E. First St. Oh Condor, R. Ring and Moira will also perform. Admission is $7 and the performance is open to audiences 18 and older. For more information, please visit ringodeathstarr.org.)