R. Ring: Interview with Mike Montgomery
R. Ring are Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery, she from Dayton, Ohio and he from Dayton, Kentucky. You know Kelley from the Breeders, the Kelley Deal 6000 and as the most famous knitter in rock’n’roll, while Mike is a member of Ampline and part-owner of Cincinnati’s Candyland Recording Studio. It’s two guitars and two voices but…what guitars and voices! Hairs rise on your arms when you hear their debut single ‘Fallout and Fire’, a miracle of minimalism and emotion, which was a 7” single released by Misra Records in October 2012. The b-side of that single featured Kristian Svitak from Cleveland on drums, who played some R. Ring shows in the US but is best known as a professional skateboarder and founder of 1031 Skateboards. There’s a new R. Ring EP, Rise, just released by Mass Market Recordings and available from their shop.
R Ring have a European tour in March, calling at:
March 4: De Grote Post, Oostende (BE)
March 5: L'Entrepot, Arlon (BE)
March 7: Cavern Club, Exeter (UK)
March 8: The Lexington, London (UK)
March 9: The Cluny, Newcastle (UK)
March 11: Vera, Groningen (NL)
March 13: LuxorLive, Arnhem (NL)
March 14: Paradiso, Amsterdam (NL)
March 15: Mezz, Breda (NL)
March 16: Paard, Den Haag (NL)
March 17: Vooruit (Balzaal), Ghent (BE)
Tickets for the Lexington show, where the supports are Golden Grrrls, Slushy Guts and Equinox the Peacekeeper are here.
We spoke to Mike on 28 January 2013. (Interview by Elisabetta P and Ged M)
SXP: This started as a one-off performance - when did the idea of playing together regularly occur?
Mike: As we were preparing for that first show I think we both were enjoying it and thinking of it as something that could last beyond a 'one-off'.
SXP: Now that you’re touring Europe, is R Ring a serious prospect – and can we expect an album?
Mike: We are both very excited to visit your continent. It is 'serious' in that we will continue to make music together until we grow weary of each other's presence. As for an album, we tend to focus more on little bits at a time, so I'm not really sure. That question has been coming up a lot lately. I suppose it's the traditional way for a band to present a complete thought... We just haven't committed ourselves to that arduous process yet.
SXP: Do you think the fact that you’re both from Dayton, one in Ohio and the other in Kentucky, is just coincidence or were you fated to work together?
Mike: Both fate and a lack of imagination on the part of midwestern urban planners.
SXP: A lot of musicians who are geographically far apart use technology to collaborate. Do you exchange ideas over the internet or do you save it till you come together? And who contributes what?
Mike: I fucking hate computers.... I fucking love computers. I'm so torn! We're only an hour apart. We do send songs and riffs and snippets back and forth, but it's more of a greeting than a homework assignment. We play, write and record when we're together. Sometimes we each have whole songs, sometimes we lend each other a hand with chords or words, etc. Just depends on the moment. We're good editors for each other.
SXP: You’ve said that R Ring is a “stark departure” from your previous bands. Is that intentional, to put some distance between those projects and this band, or does the music just reflect the two of you?
Mike: I think the instrumentation sort of steers us sonically more than any intentional desire to distance ourselves from our other bands. Kelley loves playing in the Breeders and I love playing in Ampline. R.RING allows us both to write, play and sing in a different way that's equally rewarding to what we get from our bands.
SXP: You’ve played with a drummer (and professional skateboarder) in the US but for Europe it will just be the two of you. It that stripped-down sound going to be your trademark or could you see R Ring as a bigger band?
Mike: We've always been stripped down. Kristian (Svitak) was travelling with us on a few tours when the idea came up. He's such a positive guy to be around we're glad to have him whenever he's around. Kelley and I both enjoy the process of making interesting (to us!), sparsely arranged music, so we'll likely go this route for awhile.
SXP: When we see you, how much of the material will be new songs and how much will be versions of songs you’ve written for other projects?
Mike: It's mostly new material. Some we've recorded, some unreleased. Some from a new EP called 'RISE' that we've made especially for this tour. Dutch label MassMarketRecordings is putting it out for us. It will be at shows and in stores.