It’s something I’ve touched on before - the fact that musicians with any kind of solid foundation could always make the choice to coast on past accomplishments. Most don’t, some do, and others just go, “Yeah, well. Whatever. We have other plans.”
R.Ring falls into that last category.
With Ignite The Rest, the duo of Kelley Deal (The Breeders) and Mike Montgomery (Ampline) have taken most of what they’re known for, for lack of a better term, inverted everything. It’s an album that skirts the line of experimental - and yes, it is experimental in both song structure and lack of song structure - but ends up being more approachable than the term might lead you to believe.
It’s a welcome dissonance that permeates the entirety of Ignite The Rest, a kind of cohesive mess that never gets overwhelming, but feels like it really wants to. Between Deal and Montgomery alone, there’s not an insignificant amount of talent to capture. But with all of the other players they’ve brought into the mix, songs that could lose focus or extend a little too far into the rangy, tangential pieces they hint at, become episodic fits of disquiet. Not quite noise for the sake of being “noise,” but there’s enough of an amoebic quality to each track and to the album to keep it from becoming atmospheric to the point of losing momentum.
To help explain the process of creating Ignite The Rest and provide a little more background, we were able to ask Mike Montgomery a few questions about the band, the album and R.Ring’s plans for the near future.
[We’ve left his answers unedited]
Would you be so kind as to introduce yourself, give us a little insight into what you do and tell us a little bit about R.Ring?
My name is Mike Montgomery. I play guitar and sing in R.Ring. It’s typically a duo, so the majority of sounds you hear live or on recordings are either she or I. On our new full-length, ‘Ignite the Rest’ we did enlist some folks we’ve met over the years: drummers Kristian Svitak, Leo Deluca, Ian Kaplan, Jerry Dirr, Laura King and Joe Frankl along with cellist Lori Goldston. When we play shows we’ll either show up as a duo or bring one of those previously mentioned folks with us.
What was the catalyst for R.Ring’s inception?
I met Kelley six years ago when she asked the Buffalo Killers to back her on a song for a Guided by Voices tribute album called ‘Sing For your Meat’. They did the song, “Scalding Creek” and we recorded it at my studio, Candyland. Through that process we became friends and discovered our mutual desire to make music that was loose, limitless and without expectation.
Can you talk a little bit about the process of creating the tracks that made their way onto Ignite The Rest? How was translating them from a 2 piece arrangement to more, with percussion, strings and other instruments?
They all emerged organically… as seedlings from one or the other of us and we fleshed them out together… layering, taking away layers, demo-ing them.. travelling with them for sometimes years before finally committing them to tape. We just took our time and finally started building the album when we thought the songs were ready. Kelley plays in the Breeders still and I play in Ampline, so we both stayed quite busy with our other bands throughout the whole process of making this album.
It’s not easy to shed the skin of former projects, especially ones that are relatively well-known. How has R.Ring allowed you to reintroduce yourself musically to old fans, while piquing the interest of new ones?
Neither of us has any desire to molt. We comfortably wear every note that’s worn its way into and under our scales. Hopefully folks who like our other bands will like this music and vice versa!
What, from your previous experiences, have you brought to R.Ring that you perhaps didn’t bring to your other musical endeavors? Do you think this project would be what it is without that experience?
I think it’s inevitable that your life and musical experiences will weave their way into the fabric of your being.. it’s really hard to not play how I play and sound how I sound.. especially as you get older… habits, good or bad are there... with R.Ring, since we don’t have a specific line-up, we can be a bit more liberal with song structures, not really having to worry about how we might ultimately present a song ‘live’. Hopefully I bring the same open-ended curiosity to explore song ideas to every person I share music with. i.e. I would hate to think I do something differently or less-than with things that aren’t R.Ring.
After the record release and the record release show, what’s next for R.Ring?
The show April 19 is the first day of a tour with Jason Narducy’s band Split Single, so we’ll do those dates then head back out again in May and June and beyond!
Anything else you would like to add or mention?
Thank you so much for doing this interview!
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions!
R.Ring performs live this April 19 at Southgate House Revival, in the Lounge, at their FREE tour kickoff performance. Joining them are Split Single and Bicentennial Bear. Get to the gig, tell them CincyMusic sent you.