“Fall Out and Fire” is a beautiful song written and performed by beautiful people. These minutes of acoustic bliss serve as the debut single from R. Ring, a recording project that is one part Kelley Deal (of The Breeders, arguably the best thing about the 90’s) and one part Mike Montgomery (of Kentucky-based Ampline). Their dutifully crafted 7″ is due in October from Misra Records.
Everyone knows that lo-fi is the best –fi, and Kelley Deal is always a great bet, for, well, anything – regardless of whether it is knitting or rock n’ roll. On September 1, the last night of one of the band’s many mini-tour, R. Ring made a stop at The Union of Athens, Ohio- the same place that occasionally hosts a bizarre, sweaty glowstick orgy known to as “Dave Rave” became host to the intimate sounds emitting from two musicians who very obviously love playing alongside one another.
R. Ring set up a little after midnight, the band climbing over equipment and trying to fix a broken snare drum. From a fan’s eye, it’s surreal to watch Deal masterfully figure out her own sound settings.
“We play pretty quiet,” Montgomery explained to the sound guy, “It’s not like we have to be really loud.”
There was something strange, nonsensical even, about seeing a band like R. Ring perform in a very traditional bar-rock setting like the Union. In some odd way, the translation of the intimacy and intricacy of the band’s catalog, in a setting so accustomed to loud power chords and thrashing percussion-work, emphasized the beauty of the material they played that night. Thanks to a number of volunteers, the band made use of the broken drum – someone holding the drum head in place on a couple songs. This young, budding music journalist was lucky enough to be one of them.
Montgomery and Deal switched from round-bodied acoustic guitars to grunge-style mustang electric guitars throughout the set, even making time to cover Shellac‘s “Ghosts” – a surreal little number that they also played for fans packed into an old schoolhouse at this year’s Nelsonville Music Festival.
[NOTE FROM EDITOR ALLI: I approached Kelley Deal after this NMF performance while stupidly wearing a bandeaux bra and shorts, nervously spit out “I am so much a fan of yours and women and you,” turned red from the neck up, and ran away. This constitutes as perhaps the best 30 seconds of my life.]
Towards the middle of R. Ring’s Union set, they broke into the fantastic “Fall Out and Fire” (see above)– and it was obvious that the band knew they were playing some of their most impeccable stuff for the tiny crowd, a group that probably didn’t understand the kind of treat they were in for such a low door price. After the show’s majestic finish, Mike Montgomery took the time to follow up and answer a few questions for RASCAL.
Emily Votaw [for RASCALmagazine]: How does it feel to have the 7″ completed and ready for release at the end of October?
Mike Montgomery: It feels good to have our songs recorded and ready for release. We’ve done a few limited handmade self-releases but it’ll be nice to have a sort of ‘team’ helping out with this one. The Misra ensemble has been great to us so far and we’re in to their family of acts. We’ve toured with Black Swans, played with Southeast Engine and King Elk and stayed with Wooden Wand. We’re looking forward to seeing how it goes.
EV: Pitchfork described “Fallout and Fire” as having a “bare-bones” feel — do you agree with that description?
MM: Well, I don’t know if the song is ‘bare bones’. The track is actually pretty layered tonally, but the arrangement is sparse. Regardless of adjectives, I couldn’t be any happier with how it turned out.
EV: What was it like to do a special recording for Record Store Day earlier this year?
MM: The record store day release was a lot of fun. It gave us a reason to do a couple of songs with a different treatment And the guys at Omega Music have been great to us.
EV: Ampline started out very instrumental, how does that influence R. Ring’s sound?
MM: I think we both bring all of our years of playing music with other people to the table when we play music with each other.
EV: How did you choose “Mr. DNA” from Duty Now for the Future as a cover song? What other cover songs do you do?
MM: As far as the Devo cover, that was all Kristian Svitak’s idea. There is a thorough explanation of the how, why and when on the Phratry website, 1031 skateboards website, R.RING website and ESPN.com. As for other covers, we like to play the Shellac song, “Ghosts.”
Review and interview conducted by Emily Votaw.