June 27, 2011

Through The Kaleidoscope: An Interview With Ringo Deathstarr's Elliot Frazier

Ringo Deathstarr
Clicky Clicky has worshipped at the altar of Ringo Deathstarr since we were turned onto the band by the Spoilt Victorian Child blog and record label in early 2007. The Texas-based shoegaze titans (back then we think HQ was Beaumont, but these days it's Austin) made a formidable first impression with beautiful, delicate demos and squalling guitar anthems, and -- as we note below -- singer and guitarist Elliot Frazier has consistently delivered on the promise of those early recordings. The band's performances are riotous, the Deathstarr's "fuck it" attitude is refreshing, and we couldn't be more excited for the trio's show this Saturday at Great Scott in Boston, Mass. Although Twitpic currently places Ringo Deathstarr at Steve Albini's Electrical Audio studio, and the band is in the midst of an ambitious U.S. tour, we were able to convince Mr. Frazier to sit still long enough to type up responses to a couple rounds of questions, which we present below. The Deathstarr has local support for Saturday's show from Young Adults, making the night a no-brainer. Check out the interview below, then come on out for the filth and the fury. We reviewed Ringo Deathstarr's hotly anticipated debut full-length Colour Trip right here in May.

CC Ever since the time I first became aware of Ringo Deathstarr in February 2007, the band's aesthetic has remained fairly consistent. Even accounting for the more articulated, dancey rhythms of the recent singles and the full-length, Ringo Deathstarr's vision hasn't drastically changed over the last four years. Frankly, as a guy who has had his share of disappointments with bands changing their sounds too drastically (say, Rocketship's transformation from twee-gaze dynamo to the more electronic/dance oriented stuff), we are extremely grateful you've stayed the course. Is consistency something you consciously consider as a songwriter?

EF Yes, we feel your pain. We don't want to change our methods for playing music, i.e. gradually get softer or less guitar-oriented. But, we don't want to do the same record twice. Our sound will evolve, but I don't think we will stop playing fuzzed-out songs with poppy melodies any time soon.

CC Is there still some musical perfection you're trying to attain? Have you ever written a song and said, "well, it's never gonna get better than that one."

EF No, I've never thought that. I do think we can't get our next record to sound any more like Loveless, for example. We don't want to either. So, we will just try and have a different vibe, maybe more energy or whatever.

CC Will the band ever record a studio version of "Your Town?" Do you guys ever play it live?

EF There is a studio version on Sparkler, which is coming out on vinyl next month. We have played it a few times.

CC I think I read Sparkler is getting issued in England now?

EF Yeah, [it's] gonna be on vinyl. Why should Japan be the only place with that album?

CC As far as I can recall, your first release was via a small U.K. label. And the footage of the Japanese shows in particular suggests that Ringo Deathstarr is far bigger in Japan than the U.S. From your perspective, does it seem like non-U.S. audiences "get" Ringo Deathstarr more than domestic fans? If so, can you think of anything to attribute that to? The disparity perplexes me.

EF Yeah, I suppose the other countries get it more, probably because they are smaller... the same thing has been true for many bands in the past.

CC Have you (or anyone in the band) ever had your heart broken by a band that just changed too much, all at once?

EF Death Cab For Cutie, Green Day, Interpol...

CC You work at American Apparel. Alex's Tumblr (I'm not a stalker, I swear) gives me the sense that she is more about fashion than you are. Is the gig at American Apparel just a job, or do you have any greater interest in fashion at all?

EF We are into fashion for sure. I used to aspire to be a fashion photographer, but I didn't move to NYC or LA right after high school so it didn't work out. I like used clothing stores the best. American Apparel is just a job though. I receive and send shipments.

CC Given that interest in fashion photography, it seems odd that Ringo Deathstarr is, shall we say, under-merchandised? I think I've only ever seen one Ringo Deathstarr t-shirt design, and that was recently on Facebook. I don't even know if you actually sold it. And we read things and talk to bands all the time talking about merch being a high-margin, potentially formidable revenue stream for a touring act. Is there something distasteful you find about merchandising Ringo Deathstarr, or is it just a matter of limited resources?

EF We have been making our own shirts since the beginning of this year. but it takes a lot of time and money to make the amount that we need. Time is the biggest resource that we lack.

CC How did you get away with playing a dozen shows at South By Southwest this year? I am surprised promoters in Austin don't come back to you with a little, "well, you guys are here all the time...."

EF SXSW is just its own entity, so it doesn't affect the promoters at all. We try not to play too much in Austin, we did Chaos In Tejas recently in May, and won't play there again 'til July 16th. SXSW is more about playing to as many people as possible, since there's a lot that are from out of town.

CC Do you already have songs for a new record? Will there be new Ringo Deathstarr music in stores before the year is out?

EF Yeah we have some songs. I can't say either way if it will be released before year's end. Probably a single or something.

CC Ummmm. Weren't you a quartet for a while?

EF The band has been a 3-piece, a 4-piece, a 3-piece again, a 4-piece again, now back to three.

CC You collect VHS tapes. Your house is on fire -- which cassettes get stuffed in your pants as you flee the inferno?

EF "Kids," "Encino man," and "Goodfellas."

CC Really? A Pauley Shore movie is in your top 3? Or are you more of a Brendan Fraser fan?

EF If you're edged cuz I'm weezing off your grindage, just chill. Cuz if I had the whole Brady Bunch thing happenin' at my pad, I'd go grind over there. So don't tax my gig so hardcore, cruster.

CC You got it.
Ringo Deathstarr's "Imagine Hearts"


Bryan Hamill - Executive Editor said...

Intelligent and insightful questions aimed at one of my favorite bands? Yes please. Well done Clicky Clicky.

Unknown said...

Thanks Mr. Hamill.