Straight outta NYC and straight to your heart, Rips have released a debut album that reminds us how great an electric guitar can sound. “Rips” is raw and vital and hints at greatness. On the eve of a twelve date US tour, the band found time to answer a hatful of questions for Gigsoup. On the way, we get Sinatra anecdotes, “Star Wars” critique and a potential Apple conspiracy theory.
So gentlemen, how did you get together?
The band got together 4 years ago as a way to blow off steam, and there were no goals in mind at all really beyond playing a gig here or there, but it became more serious after two years or so
What makes Rips sound like Rips?
Interesting chord progressions are really important to us maybe more than anything. Once the work is done in that regard, you’re automatically in a better spot to write a decent tune if the bedrock is quality stuff.
What’s in your record collections?
Lately, I’ve been trying to broaden the horizons beyond rock, jamming the great Ahmad Jamal and Yusef Lateef in particular. As for local bands we love Poppies, Eyes of Love, and Silk Sign.
Does coming from NY with its constant stimulation and incredible musical heritage influence or intimidate you?
I don’t think we really see it as this continuum. Looking back at the work the Velvet Underground did, and everything that went down at Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs, it feels like a complete different world from what we do in so many ways. It’s this mythological past that we’re not really related with at all, though we certainly respect and revere that it happened.
For example, we don’t ever play on Manhattan now that Cake Shop is gone. Not that we’re opposed to it, there are just less gigs happening there besides the bigger venues. And how many Brooklyn gigs did the Velvets or the Ramones play? I don’t think the thought, “We’re in NYC, let’s make NYC music to honor the local musical past” is something that’s ever been on our minds when we’re writing songs, though the fact that this is written about us flattering more than anything. So no complaints! Long story short, creativity operates best when it’s from a blank unconscious slate.
So on the album, there’s “Losing” and “Losing II”. What’s the deal with that?
Losing I is the oldest song on the record. The title comes from Frank Sinatra’s last words, which were reportedly “I’m losing.” “Losing II” was an important song for the second phase, or the rebirth of the band when we were in a slump, and we thought it would be good to somehow spiritually link the two, also noting that the riffs come from the same place, or “different sides of the same cloth.” Sort of like folding a long string so that the two ends eventually touch. We even having a “Losing III” in the pipeline that could be the next exit to get off on this highway.
If I said you were “retro” would you be offended?
I think we all certainly gravitate towards older sounding music. There’s a big push amongst bands today towards sounding like bands from the ‘90s, and I think we draw from music well before that era. I certainly wouldn’t say we’re a “retro” band, because the goal should be to take older sounding influences and make it sound new again, but I wouldn’t be offended at being called a “retro” band, because the bands we’re compared to we generally like, even if it’s not necessarily accurate. Also important to note here is that George Lucas disliked “The Force Awakens,” because he felt it was a “retro picture,” but I thought they did a nice job. Although after the prequel trilogy, expectations were perhaps a little lower for new Star Wars films, and that might have given it a boost.
What’s next for Rips?
Possibly another EP before the end of the year. And also more touring, maybe to the West Coast…
Vinyl, CD or MP3?
They all have their benefits. Records are great, though it makes it painful to move because you have to carry them in heavy boxes. CDs are the least popular amongst us, mainly because of Apple’s imperialist drive to eradicate the medium (also eradicating the 1/8 headphone jack, when will they stop? What’s the endgoal? I’ve lost two dongle adaptors already). If I was living in California going for scenic drives, I’d love a nice CD collection, maybe with a 6-CD changer driving up and down the coast. But we’re not joyriding in our cars in the concrete jungle for the most part, and there’s only one personal car amongst four members of the band. I fully acknowledge that MP3s aren’t great, but can’t argue with convenience, even if it does wildly adjust your thinking how you consume music. I’ve always wanted to try out Pono despite the scientific near consensus that it’s snake oil. I’ve actually never even seen a Pono in real life.
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