Interview: Mike Montgomery and Kelley Deal of R. Ring

R. Ring

If it hadn’t been for an altogether different opportunity for musical collaboration, the world may have never known the sonic pleasures of unorthodox rock duo R. Ring.  Introduced by celebrated Dayton/Cincinnati rock act Buffalo Killers, a casual friendship between The Breeders’ Kelley Deal and Ampline’s Mike Montgomery, from Dayton, Ohio and Dayton, Kentucky, respectively, became an official band. Teaming with Gem City-based Misra Records, the duo released their debut 7” on Oct. 30 to much critical praise.

Ghettoblaster caught up with the duo as they rehearsed for a pair of Ohio shows, as well as a European tour to support the release of a new EP overseas. This is what they said about their collaboration and the band’s near-term plans.
This week you will be rehearsing for the upcoming R. Ring jaunt overseas, correct.  Does practice make perfect?
Hopefully not! We need some wiggle room in these songs.  Practice makes us more practiced! –Mike Montgomery
How did you guys meet? Was there a particular event or catalyst that inspired you to decide that this was the right time for a collaboration with each other?
I was invited to contribute to a GBV tribute record called Sing For Your Meat. I asked the Buffalo Killers to play with me on it. They are a great band from southwest Ohio. -Kelley Deal
They were recording with me at my studio in Cincinnati and we became friends through that project.  When another Ohio band asked me to open a show for them solo, I expressed my nervousness to Kelley who offered to sing with me to assuage my fears.  After that, other people asked us to play some shows and it just sort of grew from there. -MM
What is it about working with Kelley that catalyzes you in your work together?
She has an inspiring enthusiasm for sonic exploration. “Music” for her is not relegated to a band setting. That is refreshing. Her willingness to experiment forces me to think outside of the shit I would naturally play on a guitar.  –MM
Kelley, how has collaborating with Mike differed from your past collaborations, in particular your collaboration with Sebastian Bach…
That’s like asking me to compare a mighty oak tree to Mars. They are both wondrous things but they are not of the same world… -KD
R. Ring has a show coming up in Columbus and I noticed that tickets were limited to 100. Is this kind of intimate setting the ideal setting for experiencing R. Ring and live music of your ilk?
Yeah. I think we fit sonically in smaller rooms better than big, loud clubs or bars. The songs are all over the place texturally and there are no drums to steamroll over chatter, so the chance to grab an attentive ear is always more appreciated than the “rock slot” at a party palace.  -MM
Mike, you produced the first R. Ring 7” for Misra, correct?  Was it difficult to wear both artist and producer hats?  Does your approach differ in either capacity?
Kelley and I were both very hands-on with the Misra 7″   She learned the board pretty quickly and would hit the buttons and turn the knobs while I was tracking my parts.  She’d make a good tape op! 
These days it seems like the lines between artist/producer/engineer/mixer/masterer are getting more and more blurry.  I started recording music as a kid to understand my own music better and my interest has never really changed or wavered.  While I have gotten the chance to record/produce some amazing music over the years, I never really set out to  be an ‘engineer’.  As far as my approach to recording versus playing or wearing different hats is concerned… I guess the hats don’t feel that different.  I very rarely have the opportunity to play while someone else is at the console so I don’t really know any other way.  -MM
Are you engineering or producing other records that you’re particular stoked about or positively challenged by?
I am always very excited to work with the Buffalo Killers and they’re in right now (I should actually be mixing at this very moment). I just mastered an album for a Cincinnati band called Dessa Sons that’s really cool.  Locals Alone at 3a.m are working on an EP. Jeremy Pinnel and the 55s are a talented Honky Tonk group… I guess I find something to like about everyone I work with.  Just getting sounds is still a magical experience for me.  
R. Ring has always had a focus on packaging, with the first demos being released at South Park Tavern with special packaging, and then again with the whimsical cover art for the 7” on Misra.  Is there a particular packaging by another artist that you’ve found to be inspirational in your own endeavors?
Porcupine Tree and Aube had some really thoughtful and unique packaging. Mike and I both like working with our hands and making things so it’s a natural outcome.      
The artwork for the Misra single is the brain-child of artist Ali Calis, from Able Projects in Cincinnati. I couldn’t even begin to guess where the inspiration for his stuff comes from! –KD
Oh I don’t know that it sets us apart from anyone… We both just enjoy tinkering with materials to offer a tactile experience with the music.  I can’t think of other cool stuff I’ve seen lately… I blame my brain and too much soldering. -MM
What was it about Misra that appealed to R. Ring in terms of label support? Will they be releasing future output by R. Ring?
Misra is easy to work with and everyone got along. It was a very stress-less arrangement and we were both looking for a real low-key ease into the turbulent waters of record pressing. -MM
Leo Deluca is the reason we worked with Misra on the 7” and we look forward to working with him and Misra again. He’s from Dayton, a music lover and a musician so it’s a great relationship. -KD
What plans do you have for future releases and how will this differ from your past output?
We have an EP due out any moment in Europe and we plan to continue writing and recording when we get back from our trip. -MM
Kelley, you will head back out with the Breeders beginning in May, correct? How will the Last Splash celebration impact R. Ring’s activity?
Well it will limit the activity of R. Ring, but I’m not complaining. What a great problem to have! –KD
So, will R. Ring participate in SXSW or CMJ this year?  How about a full U.S. R. Ring tour?

We will be in Europe during the sxsw timeframe and when we return the Breeders will be gearing up to hit the road, so I’m not really sure what the rest of the year looks like for R.RING.   Thanks so much for taking the time to do this! -MM
Are you still working with the guys in Ampline Mike?
We are indeed still a band and are playing Feb. 21 at Blind Bob’s.  We’ll have a new split 7” with surf weirdos Daikaiju in tow. –MM
Kelley, how did the Breeders collaboration with Buffy come about all those years ago?
Sigh, Buffy…  The Breeders were big fans of the show and we learned the theme song and played it live and even recorded it as a b-side. I think someone associated with the show discovered that and invited us to be the musical guest. Yay! –KD
Can we expect another knitting book in the future?
I am planning on creating one-off patterns of designs I feel I MUST share with knitters but no plans for an entire book. Thanks for asking! -KD
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