Today’s a big day for Aleks And The Ramps. They’re releasing a stack of music (new single and two previously unreleased records), recovering from the fatigue of putting together their latest video clip and pairing all their socks and finding matching sweaters for their upcoming tour. They dropped in to bend our minds as well which is, you know, weird.
We don’t want to know about the painfully hip bands your press release says you’re influenced by. Take us back to your bedroom when you were 14. What band posters did you have on the wall?
In my household we weren’t allowed posters. “Posters* are just another way of the devil trying to read your thoughts!” my father would explain whenever I asked for the Smash Hits with the fold-out Billy Ray Cyrus poster. Oh, how my heart ached. And breaked. One day my heart blew up, destroying the house and all the family. I rose from the ashes, a pimply adolescent phoenix, able to adorn my walls with whatever decorations I wanted. Oh, how happy I was.
*And still imagery of any kind.
Take us back to the first gig you went to. Where was it and what was the venue?
When I was about 18 months old, my mother took me to see a John Lennon tribute band at the Southern Cross Club in Woden, A.C.T.
During an extended solo in “Come Together” the man playing the role of John Lennon (I think his real name was Greg Rankin, who went on to be the first to practice kinesiology in the Woden Valley/Weston Creek area.True fact!) lent down from the front of the stage and clasped hands with those in the front row, everyone clambering to make physical contact with him, as though he was some kind of healer. Or the actual John Lennon.
My mother was among those people, cradling me in both arms as she swayed and sung along. I was taken out of my mother’s arms suddenly by Greg and held aloft, a re-enactment of the opening scene of the yet-to-be-conceived film The Lion King.
As the band reached the crescendo of the song (they wrote their own dramatic outro, the original recording being just a slow fade out, which never works when performed live) the smoke machine was going “fucking nuts, dude!” (as my mother would later say) and people were waving their limbs and heads in a cult-like fervour.
As I looked out in the audience, I knew then that one day I would return to Pride Rock, battle Scar and lead the inhabitants of the Pride lands and the circle of life would be restored.
What’s been your worst gig and why are you glad there’s no footage of it on Youtube … yet?
Our worst show ever was playing to a slithering, oily mass of writhing flesh in a Palatial L.A home. We were terribly out of tune and the acoustics were woeful. I’m glad it’s not on YouTube, because my mother looks at YouTube, and it’s not fit for her eyes. It is on Xtube, redtube, spankwire, pandoratube, tnaflix and last I checked, wankspider.
How about the best?
Chuck out the rest!
Tomorrow’s payday, so we’ve only got $20 to get you drunk. Where do we go and what do we buy with it?
I’m gonna buy a Paper Doll that I can call my own. A doll that other fellows cannot steal. And then the flirty, flirty guys with their flirty, flirty eyes will have to flirt with dollies that are real. And then I’m gonna settle down, buy a house and have some kids with it. We’ll go camping in the Otways in Summer and skiiing in Wanaka in Winter. Oh the times we’ll have. I can’t wait.
We’ve been looking in the $2 bin at Dixons Recycled and also bidding on eBay – what releases are we looking for there that your band has put out?
Let me answer this question with a question. How you ever opened a CD cover to find the wrong one in there? Boy, I hate it when that happens. Have you ever opened up a CD cover and saw a swirling psychedelic vortex, complete with backing-running clocks and E=MC ²s floating around, leading down into a single point of pure nothingness, the void, abyss, singularity etc.? Yeah, me neither. What of it? Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
What’s been the worst day job you’ve ever had?
I worked as a boom gate operator once. And by once, I mean only one shift, which lasted exactly 2 hours and forty seven minutes. It was in the carpark of the Tuggeranong Hyperdome, before they installed automated boomgates. It was a public holiday (can’t remember which one, Jesus Day or some such thing) so I encountered very few motorists. And by very few, I mean none.
Some kids were getting drunk in the park near the lake, and they wandered up and asked if they could ride on the boomgate while I made it go up and down. “No” was what I initially said, but they persisted, and I just finished reading a walkthrough of Heroes of Might and Magic that I was going to try when I returned home, so I had nothing else to do.
One of them put his his t-shirt over the boomgate, between it and his skin. So when it went up, he was hoisted up by his shirt and slid down the gate, crashing into the “stem” (I guess you’d call it) of the boomgate, his genitals taking the full impact. He immediately vomited quite violently, a great volume of Kingsley’s Crinkle cut chips, vodka, and orange juice being expelled from his body, all while hanging by his t-shirt to the base of the boomgate. I was a little distressed, so went home early, failing to fulfil the responsibilities I had been entrusted with.
The carpark management never invited me to do any more shifts.
Suppose we put a gun to your head and force you to kiss a member of another Australian band. Who, which band and why?
I’d opt to kiss Michael Hutchence. That way, when you hear from my lawyer, you’ll be presented with charges of grave robbing as well as threatening my life with a gun. Don’t mess with me, bucko.
We’ve been showing off your new film clip on Tone Deaf. What did it take to make it and how did you develop the concepts?
Concepts don’t look like they do in your head when you make ‘em into a music video. So usually we just tape a bunch of tropes together. Either that or set fire to stuff and film everything in slow motion. “Concept” is either a loose term or a dirty word in this band. Sometimes it’s a loose dirty word.
Besides, obviously, the music what else do you do to keep up the “hands on” approach in the band?
Hmmm, I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. I’ll tell you one thing though: when we started making our new record, we tried using a random number generator to write all the songs for us in Abelton Live. We had heard that that was how MGMT wrote their last record. Upon completing the record and submitting it to our label, we were told that we might need to do it again, with a more ‘hands on’ approach this time. Apparently that MGMT record wasn’t so well received either…
From November 10 – 13 you’re doing a fair bit of travelling. What are integral inclusions to the Aleks And The Ramps tour suitcase and how do you normally ready yourself for a full-on run of shows?
Our collection of ventriloquist dummies. Tough black plastic bags. A small shovel. Fake ID’s. Fake moustaches. A fake leg. The lyrics to Gloria Estefan’s greatest hits. Hot sauce and a box of back issues of Juggs.
Good Lord. Righto, today Aleks And The Ramps release their latest single “Middle Aged Unicorn on Beach with Sunset” (check out the cool clip for the song here) along with their past 2 (and previously unavailable) albums Pisces vs Aquarius (2007) and Midnight Believer (2009).
And! Here are the Aleks And The Ramps tour dates:
Thursday 10 November 2011- Buffalo Club, Melbourne, Australia – with Near Myth and Seagull, doors 8pm, $10
Friday 11 November 2011 – The Gate, Artarmon, Australia – with Charge Group, Valar and N. Martin. More details here.
Saturday 12 November 2011 – Emma Soup, Newcastle, Australia – with guests TBC
Sunday 13 November 2011 – Newtown Festival, Newtown, Australia. Free entry, 230pm show.