If you were lucky enough to see the Make-Up sometime during the last six months, you were also probably lucky enough to catch another great DC combo - the Ruby Dare. In a world where the commodity of rock is, sadly, no longer plentiful, the Ruby Dare deliver heaping portions at every outing with their unique brand of bluesy/funky/unclassifiable-y groove. They were gracious enough to be interviewed by Jesí Grew for our debut issue just before another great set at Brownieís in NY, sitting on the Avenue A sidewalk and noshing some goodies from the 2nd Avenue Deli, 9/5/98
I know you guys used to be known as the Shivers. How long did you operate under that name?
Ryan Chaney [vocals]: About a year and a half.
And what made you change it?
R: We were on PCP [a NY based label] at the time and there was some alternative country band. Their label called PCP and told us that they could possibly sue. I donít think anything would have come of it; it was just a better idea to change it.
So there wasnít any actual legal pressure?
Cinar Akcin [drums]: No. We could have changed our name to something like Shivers, Inc. and they would have been fine with that. But we just didnít want to deal with it or get confused with some other band. Eventually they broke up, I heard.
R:Weíre not a threat to anyone. Not yet, anyway.
Your new album [Lurk Late and Strike Straight] is on Secret Police. Is that your label?
R: No, itís a small DC label. Itís pretty new but it has a few bands on it now. Itís distributed through Dischord. The guy who started it kinda wanted us to be his pioneering band, so...
Do you know anybody else whoís on it?
C: The Jerks are going to be on it, I think, and Savage Boys and Girls Club.
The album was recorded at Inner Ear, and, well, you guys are from DC so itís probably not a big deal to you, but it seems legendary to me.
R: Itís a really cool place. Don Zientara, the guy who engineered it, heís great. Heís the one who does all the Fugazi stuff.
C: We also recorded with Nick Pellicciotto. He does live sound for Fugazi, and actually we owe a lot to him. He did a huge amount and put a lot of his effort into it. I think it sounds okay. I donít know if Inner Ear is a great place for us, though; it sounds really clean. We recorded once at this place in Brooklyn, Plaintain. It had this hollow echo that was great. Inner Ear seemed very clean and absorbed, so I think at points the edge of our music was lost. But at the same time, we made up for it in other areas.
So you were maybe looking for something more dense or rough or...?
C: Well, Iím not really an expert in terms of sound, but maybe something a bit more raw, essentially, and not so polished. I think on some songs, like "Fever," at the end of it, it doesnít sound polished at all and maybe captures the intensity that we sometimes get on stage. Really, though, no regrets. Theyíre great people to work with and they really know what theyíre doing.
Now, Iím not from DC (as Iíve made abundantly clear), so I have a romantic idea in my head about the place, and it seems that for a long time thereís always been something interesting going on there. As folks who are from DC, do you see it that way? Is that intimidating?
C: Yeah, I think itís really creative in many respects. Thereís a lot of novel ideas coming out of there Ė bands like the Make-Up and the Monorochid [R.I.P.] and the Cranium. Itís really not that intimidating. Itís a really small environment so youíre running into the same people all the time and sharing ideas, and thereís almost this confluence of ideas going across in music. I think, at the same time, that itís competitive in many respects, so it forces you to be a little different or eccentric in the way you approach your music.
I was wondering about that because when I was on tour this summer we were in DC and while parking the van we saw Raquel from the Cranium. Just walking around, you know, no big deal, probably on her way to a show (not ours, unfortunately). Sheís in what we considered a pretty big band and yet sheís still out and about checking out the local scene. For some reason this blew us away. Also, we drove down to see Fugazi play a benefit at the Sanctuary, and it seemed like every person from every band in DC was there, like one big happy family.
C: Thereís definitely a great community in the area. At the same time thereís a small clique mentality that can get incestuous at times, in regards to the music itself. But youíre right, it is a great community and you do run into people constantly, and luckily this leads to a lot of cool ideas.
Is there anything you guys latch on to there musically right now that you find interesting?
C: This is just for myself. Out of DC, I guess Skull Control, because we have a lot of similar ideas musically, maybe the choppiness. I like Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Starlight Desperation, from California, we played with them for a little while. I like their music and the way they approach it. I canít speak for the rest of the band, but thereís nothing we specifically latch on to. Thatís what I think is strong about our music, because I think it keeps us from sounding like other bands and keeps things original.
Latch on to was probably a bad word. I guess I meant just music going on now that you find interesting. Here in NY, I know youíve played here [Brownieís] before, and I know youíve played the Cooler. How do you find playing here in the city?
C: Itís been hit and miss. A lot of places weíve gotten great response and there are people who have given us a lot of support. Weíve played all over, like here, the Cooler, Coney Island High, the Continental. Weíve been shown a lot of respect, and at other times itís a bit frustrating, I guess because thereís so much else thatís going on.
You mentioned some folks youíve played with, in particular the Make-Up. How was that?
C: It was great, to see a fellow band from DC at that artistic level, and how they do outside DC. It seems many people find their sound interesting and novel, and some donít really know how to approach it. At the same time, just to get a lot of compliments and feedback for your music for us, and for them at the same time, was really interesting. Just touring with them, theyíre really great people, really warm and they have a great sense of humor.
A band like the Make-Up definitely has a political edge, or an ethos. Do you see your band as having that at all?
Mike Maran [bass]:We definitely donít have an agenda. Thereís some bands that present themselves very well on stage doing that. Itís the kind of thing thatís really hard to do going out from the get-go, because if you do it half-assed it really shows. Speaking for myself, I donít really see the point in doing something that uniform.
R: As far as political agenda is concerned, they almost always turn into schtick. Itís very difficult to create any sort of coherent ideology on stage without it appearing cheesy. I wouldnít say the Make-Up have an agenda. Itís more of an ethos. They definitely create an aura about themselves.
M: If we had enough money, I wouldnít mind us all dressing the same, in suits or whatever.
R: I donít mind ideologizing or anything like that, if thatís what you wanna call it. But I find that once it starts getting coherent, it takes itself way too seriously.
C: I donít think weíve ever used that as a medium, so I donít think it's really a consideration at all.
Any other bands you enjoyed touring with?
R: Candy Machine was awesome, they were so much fun. Theyíre a little bit older than us. Theyíre really chill, witty people to be around, even when our tour was not going that well.
Is there anybody youíd like to tour with?
M: There are bands that I like now, but I donít think thereís a whole lot of them weíd necessarily be compatible with. I like Golden a lot, but theyíre a lot more classic-rock sounding. Bad Seeds are great too, but I donít think we would come off too well in front of their crowd.
Burleigh Seaver [guitar]: I donít like any of those bands, so...
R: Iíd like to play with the Rolling Stones at some pointÖWe seem to have a lot influences that we donít sound like at all. Cinar and I like Nick Cave. I like Tom Waits and some country stuffÖMike and Burleigh have very eclectic tastes.
I can definitely see the Tom Waits influence, at least lyrically (although, of course, I didnít see it before you mentioned it), because he likes to write about those real seedy, down-and-out characters.
R: Heís great, heís a showman.
Have you ever seen him live?
R: No, unfortunately. Iíd love to.
So would I, if he ever dared hit the road again. He hasnít toured in at least 10 years.
B: You know why he hasnít toured? The original Chester Cheetah, they copied his voice for that. He sued Frito-Lay and won something like 10 million dollars, so he doesnít have to tour anymore.
Thatís the way to go.
M: Birthday Party, I like. Jesus Lizard. Late 80ís Touch and Go stuff, but I donít think we necessarily sound like that. I guess because we listen to different stuff, I hope itís hard to narrow it down to one or even a few. You could say the bass player sounds like so and so, the singer sings like so and so. We got reviewed about a year ago, and the guy said we sounded like somewhere in between Shudder To Think and Scratch Acid, which was probably one of the more on the ball observations. I really like Scratch Acid, although these guys donít, and these guys really like Shudder To Think.
I hate the fact, though, that whenever a band gets reviewed, other bands are the immediate points of reference and points of comparison. Points of comparison because if you canít relate them to another group, the music doesnít have worth, and points of reference because itís like a contest: ĎLetís see if I can compare this band to the most obscure band I know and show off my indie-rock knowledge.í
B: I know weíve been compared to Birthday Party and Talking Heads. Bauhaus, Iíve heard, too. You [Ryan] got compared to Peter Murphy.
M: Itís lame but itís a necessary evil of reviewing things. The alternative is deciphering what someoneís trying to say when they write ĎThe guitar is broadcasting itself across the universe with acid-translucent bass-lines...í Itís kind of entertaining to read but it doesnít give you a whole lot to work with.
Do you guys have anything coming out any time soon?
R: Weíre on a couple of compilations. Weíre on one with Golden and a couple of European bands. Apparently you can only get it in Sweden and Spain. Weíre gonna try to record soon. We have some ideas. We havenít set anything up yet, but as soon as possible, I think. Weíll be touring in October, definitely. Weíre gonna try to do a West Coast trip. Hopefully from LA all the way to Seattle. After that, itís anybodyís guess.
The Ruby Dareís debut album, Lurk Late and Strike Straight, is out now on Secret Police.It has been spotted at many reputable outlets, such as Kimís and Generation Records. Should these places be inaccessible, write Secret Police at: PO Box 2804, Kensington, MD 20891. They also appear on the Lovitt Empire compilation, with the Monorchid and Bluetip. Their latest 7", Fever b/w Wedding Day, is out on Irony Records, PO Box 5431, Richmond, VA 23220. Check em' out on the web at The Ruby Dare Homepage
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