Feb. 13, 2013 - Issue #904: The Sugar Trade
ManRayGun has been weaving one of the more interesting musical tapestries in this city over the last several years: the band is bent on exploring and twisting ideas into uncommon shapes, refusing to take the easy route with its songs. As the group prepares for its fourth annual show at the Blue Chair, singer/guitarist Everett LaRoi answered some questions about the band and its future.
VUE WEEKLY: You've got a new drummer in Scott Lingley, reuniting the rhythm section of Old Reliable in a new musical environment. How has the change affected ManRayGun?
EVERETT LAROI: Scott Lingley brings with him a unique palette of sounds and technical chops that has really reinvigorated some of the older tunes and made them feel new again. It never fails to amaze me just how much a song can change with a different drummer behind the skins. It's just a different feel. I have always been a firm believer in the idea that the best rhythm sections come from bass players and drummers who are friends. Basically, if your drummer and bassist don't get along your rhythm section will probably suck! That Tom (Murray) and Scott go way back together and are great friends was evident from the first song we played—they just locked.
VW: How close is the band to finishing the next album? Has a complete vision of the work emerged yet, or are you still sculpting the album out of all the ideas?
EL: It's still a ways off yet. We have about 15 new songs written for it, but we're still experimenting with sounds and production approaches. There's going to be some really sparse stuff and some really orchestrated stuff. We started recording basic tracks about three weeks ago and we're pretty stoked about how it's coming together. But ManRayGun is a group that likes to experiment in the studio. Once a song has begun to take shape lyrically and melodically and starts to sound finished, someone usually says "Well that's OK—how can we make this a little bit more fucked up?" It sounds crazy, but another thing we've discovered is that sometimes we can get a better end result if we kinda get in each other's face a bit—just to stir things up creatively. The working title of the release is Outside Thoughts, and we plan to have it out by summer.
VW: The band members are constantly engaged in a number of other projects. How do you decide if an idea is something for ManRayGun or for a different group? Do musical ideas ever cross the boundaries of different projects?
EL: Yes, between the five of us there must be close to 20 bands we play in! How times change. When I first started playing music as a teenager my band was sort of like my tribe. Joining another band was frowned upon and viewed almost as an act of betrayal. These days everyone plays in a bunch of groups and everyone's fine with it - except that it takes 20 e-mails to nail down a practice! In any case, it's actually very healthy because everyone is constantly enlarging their frame of reference by working in different genres and keeping their chops up by gigging and recording regularly.
Sometimes I'll wonder if a song is for one group or for another, but usually it's pretty clear what project a song will work in. I have no issue with recording different versions of songs with different groups either and I expect that will happen soon.
VW: ManRayGun has turned this upcoming show at the Blue Chair into an annual event. How does a listening room like the Blue Chair affect the performance and the music? Is there anything that you do differently at this particular show to change it up from other gigs that you play?
EL: It's become a regular gig for us partially because it sells out every year but mostly because the food's so good (haha). Seriously, though, as a band we really just try to play to the room—not only in terms of who our audience is, but also what the room sounds like. You can't just play the same way everywhere you go, plus, that would be boring! As much as I like turning my amp to 10 and getting feedback, for some reason I have yet to feel inclined to do that at the Blue Chair! It is a great place to showcase quieter tunes (in part because of Kirby's skill behind the soundboard), so we plan to do some of that. Last year we did a 100 percent acoustic show (no amps). This year it's going to be a mishmash of new songs we're working on for the new album and a selection of tunes we've reworked with our new drummer.
Sat, Feb 16 (8:30 pm)
Blue Chair Café, $15
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