Any self-respecting music journalist knows that interviews are best conducted when all participants are well-rested, well-hydrated, and well-prepared. But this isn't music journalism. This is motherfucking rock 'n' roll, man, and the following interview with Rikers, a great new band from Toronto, Ontario, was drunkenly scribbled down on the backs of old Matadors band flyers with a green medium-point Sharpie that I borrowed from the bartender. (As an aside, I am a fine-point girl myself.) So strap in, fellow sleazesters, and let's do this, shall we?
I just looked over my green Sharpie notes. Yikes. It appears as if a little exposition is necessary before we begin...
I had given the first Rikers EP (which you can download for free here) a quick listen, and I liked the lush, shimmery, sway-and-stare-at-your-Chuck-Taylors vibe the band had going on, and, since my dude was out of town last Thursday night, I grabbed my motorcycle boots and a couple of hot girlfriends and headed downtown to check out the band.
A band was playing when we got there. (I don't know who they were; we were drinking.) And then Rikers hit the stage at 11:20. The keyboardist wore sunglasses, the lead guitarist wore a sweet 70s 'stache, and frontman Ryan Kennedy wore a fur collar over a beer t-shirt. Very rock 'n' roll. (As an aside, some of these details may be erroneous. The bass player may have been the guy with the mustache. And Kennedy's t-shirt may have been a tank top. I was well on my way to hammered by this point. Some nights are just like that, can I get an amen, brothers and sisters?)
Despite the fact that the winter school night crowd was minimal, Rikers played an amazing set of 80s-inspired new wave (including a panty-dampening cover of "So Alive" by Love and Rockets) led by Kennedy's dreamy vocals and veteran stage presence. I don't know how old he is because he wouldn't tell me, and I don't know what other bands he has been in because I forgot to ask, but my money's on a few years spent in dirty basement clubs honing his craft. And the band was tight, man. Tight.
After the show I used my not-inconsiderable Sleazegrinder credentials (along with the fact that one of my hot girlfriends is the Music and Promotions Director at the local university radio station) to wrangle this drunken "interview" out of Ryan Kennedy.
Holly: Do you feel comfortable representing the band?
Ryan Kennedy: Haha! Did you see me up there?
H: Excellent point, sir.
RK: Where do you want to do this? Should we go upstairs?
H: Sure. It's pretty noisy down here. [The four of us tromp/stumble upstairs to the bandroom and sit/collapse onto various secondhand seating options.]
H: So, did you get your shirt out of a case of beer?
RK: No, I got it at [something about a relative's secondhand clothing store in Peterborough].
H: Did you deliberately choose to wear a t-shirt that at one point came out of a case of beer?
RK: I hadn't planned on it because I pulled it out of my bag. [I'm not really sure what this means, or if
I'm deciphering my Sharpie scribbles accurately. Let's move on...]
H: How old are you? Or is it not fair to ask?
RK: It's not fair to ask.
H: Haha. Okay. [At this point, recognizing my imminent doom, not to mention being an old pro at the interview gig, my radio girlfriend jumps in.]
Radio Girlfriend: What is your favourite place to play?
H: [thinking] Good question!
RK: I like the El Mo [that's the El Mocambo] and the Horseshoe [which I always type as "Horseshow"-this was no exception. These are both excellent dirty clubs in Toronto, although the Horseshoe Tavern may be the smelliest in the country. Rock 'n' roll is many things, but freshly-scented it is not.]
H: What items are on your rider?
RK: In all seriousness, [For some reason, that's as far as I got in my notes, although I had lots of
room. There may have been something about sandwiches. Possibly some fresh fruit. Also, at some point during the interview, the guy with the mustache came into the room to grab something out of his bag. I told him I liked his mustache. He might have thought I was joking, because he left rather quickly. I was serious. I really like mustaches.]
Radio Girlfriend: [Coming to my rescue again.] Are you planning on releasing a full-length record?
RK: We're working on a couple of EPs that will be released in March.
H: Cool. I liked the first EP, but it is more mellow and shoegazey than your live show. Man, you were so great! Were you impressed that we recognized "So Alive"?
RK: Ha! Yeah.
H: That was an awesome cover. By the way, how do you feel about the penises in the bandroom?
[This deserves an aside. The bandroom at Call The Office is painted black to cover the countless cock-and-balls drawings made by drunk boys in bands. Visible beneath the paint, like the crouching woman in Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," is a gigantic arching penis. Since I was sitting directly across from it and Kennedy was sitting directly under it, I found it rather distracting. Plus, I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I was pretty drunk.]
RK: [laughing] Yeah, that is a big penis, isn't it? [Or something like that. I forgot to write it down. We did talk about dicks for quite a few minutes.]
H: Do you have an Eiffel Tower penis? [In silver marker below the Gilman arch is a rather creative drawing of a cock-and-balls shaped like the Eiffel Tower. The workings of the male mind never cease to amaze me.]
That's it. That's all I have. Sweet mother of fuck. I did manage to keep the sleaze in sleazegrinder, though, so, you know, there's that.
Thanks to Ryan Kennedy for being a good sport, and thanks to Rikers for putting on a great show. During the month of January, the band is playing residencies in Toronto at The Garrison on Wednesdays and in London at Call The Office on Thursdays. Do yourself a favour and check 'em out if you're anywhere near Downtown Canada in the next month, download the Easter Eyes EP, and watch for two new EPs this March. This band is going places, trust me. I'll keep you posted...