An interview with Black Ramps

Who are your major musical influences?

Warren: Well, I have to say pavement. not because they had a defining impact on my musical taste but because SM is our ‘friend’ on myspace and without him the whole thing would collapse like a pack of cards. No, pavement have a lot to answer for in my book, along with Sebadoh, Silver Jews, Sonic Youth, and, of course, British bands like Black Sabbath and My Bloody Valentine. I?d even go to as far to say David Bowie and John Lennon although the prior is for his acting and the latter for his acting up. I?d like to be more provocational, I just don?t have it in me.

Rupert: Drum-wise ? Budgie (Siouxsie and the Banshees). Musically ? Pixies, Grandaddy, Sonic Youth, Mogwai, God Machine, Buzzcocks. It isn?t necessarily the obvious stuff but more the hidden ingredients that go into making ?Ramps Soup? .

Andrew: Marvin Gaye, Otis Readin, Curtis Mayfield, anything by Kim Deal, early Mercury Rev, Luke Vibert and DJ Shadow.

What influenced you towards being actively involved in creating music?

Warren: I grew up in the real country side. There wasnt even a road when we moved in, so I never could learn to skate – I made do with playing guitar instead and generally recording stupid music on anything that had a record button. I think that was the Lou Barlow influence kicking in — I even did a song with a 3 string guitar on an old Alba dictaphone. That was indie rock and roll. I still have it, actually (the song not the dictaphone).

Rupert: If you like hearing music that much, I guess there?s some point where you want to produce your own. Although you could turn out to have no ability… luckily no one happens to have discovered our lack of ability yet.

Andrew: My dad was a drummer in his youth, I think he got me started.

What do you find to be the best part about touring?

Warren: We are just planning a tour at the moment, and it?s making me think there are a lot of places in the UK that I haven?t been to. I guess if you take that further there are a lot of places to go and a lot of people / things to meet and see in the world. I?m starting to realise the scale of the earth, even locally, and thats quite exciting. I?m also looking forward to killing time on the road by challenging Rupert at crossword puzzles and pronouncing words backwards contests. It will also give Andrew and me the chance to catch up on the latest developments in evolutionary biology, artificial intelligence and mind science. We are both keen armchair scientists.

Rupert: I am just looking forward to new people hearing us. Also I think people elsewhere in the country are going to be more open to us. We?ve only really played most in London where people are the most cynical of new music (too much choice). We have had a good reaction so far in spite of this.

Andrew: I don’t know yet. I’m looking forward to having a real rider.

What inspires you to write music?

Warren: Really, I can?t help it. I don?t know anything on the guitar (except Guns and Roses songs) and I?m long past the age when playing those is acceptable even in private. I also have a bad memory for our own stuff. That means that all I can do is play something new. Somehow words go with the music and well, how can I say it — the donkey is at the derby. I think lyrically, I get excited by individual words or turns of phrase and it?s just like I have to stretch them out, we have this one song called ‘Sunset at Deer Creek’ — I saw that in the TV guide, its the name of a commemorative plate, I just thought when I saw it that you could have some fun with a title like that. I think that?s why a lot of our songs the title crops up in the first line. i like to keep things A-B. It?s pretty much stream of consciousness stuff really; making connections between things that wouldn?t normally be connected in everyday life, kind of like a quasi-reality. Oh, and TV. Oh, and my wife.

Rupert: I just get inspired being part of a good band and getting to look forward to hearing Warren?s often hilarious, classic lyrics.

Andrew: I don’t need to, Warren writes enough for 5 bands.

What would be the ideal album for you to make, given infinite resources?

Warren: Perhaps spend a lot of the money on a big time producer like Steve Albini, bring in Thurston Moore as second engineer, set up a mobile studio and record it at Gracelands. And now that I think of it, wouldn?t it be cool to record in space? Get me the European Space Agency on the phone… no wait, if no one can hear you scream maybe no one can hear your space rock jam either, I?ll have to sleep on that one. Whichever, I definitely think I?d rather make a whole bunch of shorter records than one massive epic. You know, really cool groups of songs rather than 80 minutes of randomly assembled songs, I think that?s why I like old records more than ?Greatest Hits? CDs. It?s all about context, I think.

When performing as a group, do you find there to be anything in particular that helps your creativity?

Warren: I think it helps that we have known each other for a long time, that makes it pretty easy to play together. Also, though, it makes a massive difference if there is a decent crowd. Must be some kind of spiritual energy thing.

Rupert: When you?re playing live, it?s getting an obvious reaction to feed off. When we?re in ?the lab?, constructing, with only ourselves to impress, it?s as simple as concentating hard to blot out distractions and locking ourselves in until we start to run out of oxygen / have one good tune at least. Whichever happens quicker.

Andrew: A distortion pedal.

What are some of the albums that have influenced you most as a writer?

Warren: Sebadoh III – on Andrew?s dad?s record player. I think I had made up my mind before the end of the first song that I was going to make records like that. Of course, it took more than 10 years until we managed to start the band but hey, we got there eventually. Anything by SM / Pavement – especially Brighten the Corners and Wowee

Zowie — I read a write up online somewhere about that record recently, they said you can always tell bands influenced by Wowie Zowie, as they start their albums with a quirky ballad – I was wanting to do that with our record so it must be true. Wowee Zowie I think I fell in love with from the NME review before I?d even heard it. That must have been some write up. Also though things like Otis Reading (I think both Andrew and I would have Otis Blue in our top 10 records), early Black Sabbath and Sonic Youth (especially Sonic Nurse) for the guitar sounds, Grandaddy – you know, the way they link all the songs together with recurring theme.

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