Richmond: A Multi-Faceted Attack of Rock
This band caught me totally off guard. After listening to their self-titled CD, Richmond, I became impressed with their multi-faceted attack. A rock group with enough foresight to make music so eclectic that they appeal to a wide range of audiences has my vote as perceptive and intelligent artists.
When I asked the band's leader Derek Richmond about how their sound became so eclectic he said, "I did have a certain sound in mind before creating the band. The goal was purposely to 'not have' a certain style or sound. I have always preferred music, bands, and/or artist that have a diverse approach. I like a variety of musical styles too. I have always written songs without regard to routine and sonic commitment. My band mates are all into many different styles of music as well. Therefore, when I bring in a new song no one ever says this is like this kind of music or that kind of music. Everybody just starts playing how they hear it or how they think their instrument should fit into the song."
"I want sad circus clowns, many sad circus clowns for the release party. The types that wear the darker colors and an upside down smile outlined in black. I want 100 of them brooding around at the party."
MP3: "Dead Ends"
When I first read about the young Mick Jagger comparison regarding his vocal style, I could not hear it. As the album played on, I realized why someone would say that. Derek's take on this perception is a little different. He likes hearing from people in general, and thinks that some folks are smart, funny, rude, dumb, imaginative, or all of the above. Richmond views people that write about his songs and music the same way. The most interesting thing is when people make a comment(s) about a song that he never thought, meant, or even dreamed of himself.
Derek commented, "Part of the fun of releasing records/songs is seeing how they "grow up," like as if they were my kids. I make 'em, feed 'em, smarten 'em up, and kick 'em out once they can stand up on their own. You never know what is going happen to them once they are out on their own."
Although he sounds like Dad rearing his young pups on rock 'n' roll, he is merely giving his own unique viewpoint from the other side of the fence, something we all to need hear so we can stay grounded in reality and realize that the people that make the music are just like us.
The new self-titled release was set for a March 11th launch. Richmond wanted sad circus clowns, many sad circus clowns for the release party. The ones that wear the darker colors and an upside down smile outlined in black. He wants 100 of them brooding around at the party. God knows why, but as they say... to each his own. Every artist has a reason and motivation for what they do. To picture all of those clowns milling about is kind of dark and creepy. Who knows? He may be a horror flick fan! All kidding aside, for having that much vision and imagination, it comes as no surprise to me that he is the frontman and leader of the band.
How It All Began: Derek Tells All
"The band originally was me and a different drummer, guitarist, and bass player called Derek Richmond and The Honey Creme Robots. Nobody except myself was very much into the music. They were all super cool people but their hearts were not into my tunes. I put a lot of pressure on everyone and then they all split little by little. One day sitting in the Vera Cruz bar in Williamsburg, I ran into Peter, who was a friend of a friend, John Hobbs who is doing our album design (he and Peter are design partners). They did the latest Levi TV adds with the chick who steals the cool car and also the boy and French chick who push the car into the water. They are kind of like ad rock-stars in their own right... digression. He mentioned that he played drums his whole life. So I said, very cocky-like, are you a pro or just good? He said he was a pro. I liked his attitude. We met a week later and dug out his kit from the bowels of his past.
MP3: "New Taste"
"I met him at what he referred to as Babyland, which is the upper west side. He and I worked out the set from September to November 2001 and did a couple of shows as a power duo at Luna Lounge. We almost got Diane, the owner of the venue, to play bass with us. I would announce that we were looking for a bass player at shows. She came up to me after one of our gigs at the Luna and said she was interested in playing bass for us. However, she apparently did not like the fact that we were rehearsing in DUMBO (Brooklyn). She never called back. Then Peter pushed me to use my distortion pedal more and to take out an ad in the Village Voice for a bass player that read VILLAGE VOICE AD: BASS PLAYER, Yo La Tengo, Femmes, VU, must tour. I got the calls once the ad was out. In fact, the funny thing was I got a call from Diane and that's when she told me that she never called back originally because she didn't like going to Brooklyn for rehearsals when she could just rehearse at her own club.
"I booked the Red Room at the Coyote rehearsal space in Williamsburg. Peter then got the Flu. I had to try out 12 bass players in 3 hours on my own without drums. I purposely scheduled Sam for last because he sounded the coolest on the phone. We immediately clicked within seconds. A couple of days later the three of us played this shitty gig in Hoboken at the... I forgot the name, but it was in what looked like somebody's Uncle Vinny's rec room all styled out in Leopard skin patterns and mirrors... a real dive bar. I really liked it, but the guys running it were crooks and never paid us like they said. Then we got a gig in February 2002 again at the Luna. Sam's brother Claremont came to check us out. He liked us and then I checked out his band "West" (which Sam is also in). I liked his style. I asked Sam to ask his brother if he would be interested. Claremont jumped on board in late February 2002.
"An Indie booking agent saw us at the Metropolis Music Fest and booked us a show in March at the Knitting Factory. That was our second show with Claremont. To my great surprise, the sound was horrible. I just figured the Knit is such an institution that it would certainly have the best sound, but it was worse than the Hoboken dive bar. We packed the place even at 18 bucks a head. It was a lack luster show for me, and the highlight was when Claremont jumped off stage while we were playing to kick this guy's ass who was leaning all over his girlfriend.
"We went into The Atomic Recording Studio to record a demo of 'Stratosphere' and 'New Taste.' Dean at Atomic liked it and asked to send it out to some friends who were starting up a label. Celebrity Hotwax Records called a couple weeks later and asked us to do a single and an album on their label. They loved 'Stratosphere' as is and I had just finished writing 'Dead Ends.' It felt like it was a strong B-side. We booked more time to record 'Dead Ends.' Although at the last minute, Peter had to fly to South Africa to shoot those Levi ads for a month. We got Tom Mayer, another friend of a friend and fellow Detroiter. He recorded 'Dead Ends' with us.
"So I quit my day job. Sean Curneen of Celebrity Hotwax and I went on a 2 week radio promo driving trip around the South West and East. We got some good responses from the DJ's, notably WKRV out of Lafayette, LA and KOOP radio out of Austin. We just showed up at stations and told them that we were driving around from New York. The DJ's looked at us like we were crazy, so most of them checked out the CD and started playing it. We picked up a hitchhiker outside of Tallahassee, Florida. It turned out to be a photographer who works for Spin Magazine. As it turned out, he was not lying. His name is Yelle Wagenaar.
"After a guerilla radio promo tour, Richmond recorded the full length album in August over 7 days, 5 bottles of Jack, 2 1/2 bottles of Beam, 889 beers, 63 packs of cigarettes, 34 deli sandwiches at Atomic Recording in DUMBO. We finished the mixes and mastering in October 2002. The next day, Spin Magazine photographer Yelle Wagenaar did our photos up in Pennsylvania. We all crammed into my Toyota pick-up with a bottle of Beam and sleeping bags to do a freezing cold shoot in a waterfall. We played pool at the "Red Lion Inn" with a bunch of hunters. The record was complete."
Now is that a story about a recording session or what? It came right from the horse's mouth, no bullshit just the real deal. It doesn't get any better than that. Make sure you check these guys out, they rock.