Smile Politely

Connecting-the-dots with R. Ring

Experience isn’t always everything, but it sure does help. We know it is typically a good thing to have experience at something, and it helps when you continue to keep doing something within the same field. Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery make up R. Ring and have plenty of experience to go around. The Breeders is just a place to start with Deal — someone who has identical DNA to her twin sister Kim of Pixies fame. Hell, she has other successful hobbies and even has a book to prove it.

We got the chance to discuss the band, the story behind the formation, recording, and other details about their chemistry as musicians. Both of them were present to answer the questions I had for them, but Montgomery took the reins with the interview while he said Deal was “talking to herself in the other room” at one point in the interview.

We began by discussing the fruition of the band itself. These projects seem to happen at any random point in time if the right people are in the mix. Montgomery explained that in a way, this was one of those situations. When I asked him about how they met and how this project came to fruition, he discussed how the two met through Buffalo Killers, an Ohio three piece comprised of Andrew and Zachary Gabbard along with Joseph Sebaali. “Kelley tapped them to be her band on their Guided By Voices cover of “Scalding Creek” for the GBV tribute album out on the No More Fake Labels imprint,” Montgomery explained. “She met them at the All Tomorrow’s Parties Fest The Breeders hosted and I knew them from recording them.”

Buffalo Killers hail from Ohio, which just so happens to be where Montgomery has his own studio — calling it “a connect-the-dots through Ohio evening.” The tribute record features the likes of The Flaming Lips, Thurston Moore, and Lou Barlow, among others. This is no amateur shit. Apparently, Deal and Buffalo Killers hadn’t even been in the same room to play the song before recording the track. Who needs practice anyways?

Inspiration doesn’t always have a specific origin for each individual in a band, even if the bands have the same vision for the type of music they are making. Deal and Montgomery have similar thoughts on what type of music they are looking to create with R. Ring, but as Montgomery makes clear, “Kelley enjoys exploring her limitations and I enjoy limitless exploration.” Opposites do, in fact, attract at times.

Montgomery talked about insipriration as well as working with Deal and the chemistry between the two musicians. Besides, most duos that excel find out what the other person hasn’t thought of yet and brings a different perspective to the same idea. When I asked Montgomery what he found most interesting about playing with Deal, he claimed “We each play shit the other person wouldn’t readily think of — it’s a good mix.”

Much of his work outside of this project has been as a producer and sound engineer, as well as playing in the indie/prog rock outfit Ampline. With a lot of experience in the field of recording, I figured that it would change the way the recording process worked, but the more I thought about it, most musicians I have met know a lot more about the ins and outs of recording than the average individual (for example: me). When I asked about whether or not that changed the way the two would record together, Montgomery said that “I don’t think it had any impact on the songs. Kelley has a production ethos to be reckoned with.” 

Speaking of recordings, there are very few of these available at this point. Most of what I’ve heard has been through the videos posted on their website when they played South By Southwest in the Texas state capital building. “It was a blast. It was beautiful and sounded great. All marble and dome-y. There’s a video of “100 Dollar Heat” from there online.” 

“Fall Out and Fire” is another one of the videos and a recorded track I got the chance to hear (and you can hear over at SXSW’s website) when I spoke with them. I asked Montgomery about the tracks, but that one in particular, which he believed is one of the better indicators of what the band sounds like: “We both thought that song was walking the line between sparse and dense. It’s a good representation of how we sound. Some others we’re recording have a a bit more tinkering on them.”

We’ll have an even better indication of what the project sounds like in the near future; the band has much more where these few recordings have come from. “There is more. There will be more,” Montgomery insisted, “We plan to continue releasing 7”s.” They’ve already been planning on releasing one single on Misra Records, a label which was a “connect-the-dots” situation as he explained. “Leo from Misra is from Dayton and liked Kelley’s music past and present.” Even though we know a lot about Deal’s and Montgomery’s past, there still seems to be a lot of question marks surrounding what is in store for these two. 

When it came to C-U, Montgomery wasn’t a stranger. “I’ve played there with other bands in the past and I saw Rose [Marshack] from Poster Children on the sidewalk once. I also like your export HUM.”

They’re playing at Mike ‘N Molly’s tonight with a couple of locals to make them feel welcome. They’re also planning on doing an in-store performance at Exile on Main, so that’s something to be on the lookout for as well. Also — have you ever seen a wood burned, hand-made cases (above right) for an album? Because I haven’t. They’ll have a limited amount for their July tour, so get ’em while they’re hot (hopefully they’ve cooled by now).

Hopefully, there’s something memorable and different that happens to keep things interesting. When I asked about the band making their way across the country and making sure the experiences don’t get stale or boring from city to city, Montgomery put it pretty plain and simple: “We’re both easily amused.” C-U amuses us, so hopefully it does the same for them.

R. Ring plays tonight at Mike ‘N Molly’s with Megan Johns Band and Deathtram at 9 p.m.

Executive Editor

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