Ahead of a Headline show in London, that in the past with his band Role Models has sold out RPM caught up with Rags who was under his duvet sucking on some Honey and Lemons throwing off Manflu before Friday nights showdown with More Kicks, The Speedways and The Spangles. Friday night in London Town is always a special show and this one looks set to sell out again and with that line up its going to be memorable (Tickets Here

So Rags first things first – Friday night.  what a fantastic lineup. It must be great to get the support of some really excellent bands for what will be one hell of a nights entertainment right? I know! And the best thing is that all those bands sharing the stage with us are also really close pals! It’s gonna be a crazy party!

Who’s playing in the band Friday?  Is it the same line up that appeared on the recordings?  It’ll be the full lineup on Friday. While it is the kinda band that can play in various incarnations, acoustic duo, piano and vocals and all the way to full volume and huge sounding, we are trying to do as many as we can with all of us.

You recently shot a video for one of the tracks.  Care to elaborate on that for us? When can we see it?
 It’s for the song “Your Distance” and it’s in the editing stages right now. Shot by our good pal Craig Temple. What I’ve seen looks great so far! Can’t wait to share it! I don’t even look like a goblin in it! Loook out!
The BBC has aired a few tracks off the album as well which must be great. Finally, the word is spreading?  what have they had to say about the tracks? Now if Radio two or six would like to jump on board that would be good right?  Yes! It really is a thrill to hear your song on the radio! They have been playing “Your Distance” and “That World”. The latter was the “Track Of The Week” last week as well! There is also really cool news concerning the BBC that I’m afraid I will have to wait on, but I can say we are super excited about it!
What else is planned for The Digressions with Rich Ragany? how about some TV? more live dates?  More live dates and we are working on our second album. I have pretty much written it and the band is putting their incredible touches on it as we speak. Having said that, I think we are gonna let the ideas breathe a bit and not rush. I have done four full-lengths in 4 years now, and, while proud of the accomplishment, I feel I have jumped quick, not letting the previous release have a chance, ya know. But don’t worry! I can’t sit still. And the band is firing on all cylinders creatively.
Do you approach this band the same as Role Models?  I know its a different lineup and different feel to the songs but they share the same DNA and a lot of the personnel is the same will there be any of your other songs played in the set?  I’ll leave that for a surprise.
I’m really excited to hear the full band play the songs off ‘…Like We’ll Never Make It…’  those guys seem to have such a positive energy about them it must be a lot of fun to be around those very talented guys it must be said.  Yes! The chemistry is so wonderful. Nothing like making music with people ya love! I bet it is showing through. I am pretty lucky to be in two situations where the members are family! We are gonna tear it up!
Will you be looking for dates around the UK and maybe some festival dates this coming summer?  Yes sir! Like I said more live dates and chances to drink other bands under the table! I love that our band has this open, jangly positive sound, yet, and this is pretty common knowledge, we are a bit more nuts than most hahahahaha! All good clean fun kids. Leave it to the pros!
 
The Black Heart is sort of your home turf with some pretty memorable shows there with Role Models what are people going to get on the night? They are gonna get us playing and singin’ our hearts out and smilin’ and shots and jokes and tears and… You get it!
You must be stoked with the feedback for the album so far.  The press and bloggers and websites have loved it and really jumped on board with the music which must be pleasing? I am very pleased. A lot of people say reviews and such don’t matter, but I think they do. Especially when they’re coming from a wide cross-section of the media. Blogs and online magazines to print mags from the United States to Europe to the UK. The fact the songs have been received warmly, and have had people that far and wide champion it, means a whole lot to me. To us.
Well, there you have it folks, Rich Ragany & The Digressions live on Friday the 25th January  @ The Black Heart Camden Town London. See you down the front
Buy Rich Ragany & The Digressions and Role Models Here

February 2018

Foulmouthed Filthy February or something like that.

February began with a road trip to see a band who for me has been my go-to pilgrimage in North Wales for The Gathering weekend for the last quarter of a century (almost). A weekend celebrating the music of Mike Peters & The Alarm reached a high point on the Saturday night as a Four-hour performance rounded off an impressive weekend. I’ve enjoyed going for almost quarter of a century where special guests have included Billy Duffy, Craig Adams, Steve Diggle, Pete Wylie, Dave sharp, Ian McNabb, Eddie McDonald and a whole bunch of other musicians I’ve forgotten and I’ve managed to attend without missing a single year.

I must admit the thought of such a marathon performance on a Saturday night filled me with dread can any fans watch for four hours? The answer is a resounding yes! It flew by and was one of the best Saturday night shows I’ve ever seen Peters perform especially when he was joined on stage by Craig Adams for the final hour (that still doesn’t sound right – the final hour). Roll on February 2019 when I can do it all again.

 

Staying on the live front, Other RPM scribes went to some far-flung countries to catch their Rock n Roll with Craggy taking in an excellent show from Fertile Hump live at Kabinet Muz, in Brno. but a large gathering of writers took in a show or two when the Damned went around the UK this time with the added excitement of Paul Gray back in the fold for the first time in decades which was rather nice.  Seeing the Damned with a new album in tow and playing sold out shows all across the UK in decent sized venues was awesome and it has to be said so were the band.  Gray seemed to give them a right shot in the arm just in time for this stint of dates was easily the highlight of February. But with the recent news of our Brother Scott Sorry battling a serious illness the Rock and Roll community rallied and a series of benefit shows were arranged to raise funds for Scott at such a difficult time what with the American Health system being what it is  The likes of Role Models, Main Grains and  The Empty Page rocked out at The Parish to rave reviews whilst Wakefield Warehouse saw the Professionals, the Wildhearts, Massive Wagons and Sonic Boom Six take care of business and send Positive vibes across the ocean as well as money raised at these spectacular shows.

Before Feb was done The UK also saw the return of Bullets And Octane and Ben attended a memorable show in York that proved that Gene Louis had lost none of the fire he had inside his beating heart when he first toured the UK.

 

As for recordings to hit the shelves, historically early in the year, things open slowly in the music business and January being about new resolutions before finally seeing new releases hit the shelves, so, Feb saw an avalanche of really big hitters for RPM writers.  We had the release of Imperial State Electric’s Live album ‘Anywhere Loud’ as well as some garage awesomeness from the likes of the Cavemen and The Bellrays getting round to release records. 

Several writers were also impressed by the latest Buffalo Tom long player ‘Quiet And Peace’ with Craggy picking it as one of his albums of the year. February belonged to a few foul-mouthed releases, the first came in the shape of Jonesey with their self titled long player with its down n dirty sleazy punk rock n roll and song titles and lyrics that would make a sailor blush no doubt about that. But one of the years highlights hit us like a sledgehammer between the eyes has to be Motherfuckin’ Motherfuckers with ‘MFFFMF’ (I think that’s the correct amount of F’s) inspired by Supershit 666 and the idea of some friends from the most splendid Bitch Queens and Oz and Lee from the mighty Hip Priests recording a mini album packed full of songs that were written in the shortest of times. I’ll let Lee Love tell you, good people, what happened, ” Ah the dumb Lee Love story. Well, me ‘n’ Oz went To Basel for a few days to hang out with our mates from Bitch Queens and we ended up getting pissed (as you do) and I was winding them up saying I could write and get em to record a mini album in a day. So we went into the Queens studio the next day and played through everything once maybe twice and hey presto it was done”.  Creating that Copters supershit 666 vibe.

To be fair this pack of loons rose to the occasion and absolutely knocked it out of the park in fact they didn’t just knock it out of the park they followed out tied it to the back of their pick up truck dragged it around the wood then kicked any life left in it out then did it all again for shits and giggles.  An absolute giant of punk rock n fuckin roll – make no mistake about that! Motherfuckin’ Motherfucker should and one day will rightfully be seen as a classic of its genre.

 

Also, The motherfuckin’ Dwarves were taking back the night in February as well and a jolly fine record that was.  Maybe it should be renamed Fuckin’ foulmouthed February from now on.  What a month. Outstanding stuff.

 

Camden Black Heart – January 25th a Friday London Town. Roll up, roll up. As the festive period is upon us what better way to show your loved ones that you care than with a ticket for the hottest show in town?  Damn it’ll be the only show in town.  Camden Black Heart is the place to be and the date to pencil into your diaries is Friday 25th January. Tickets are available Here. Just to let you good people know that this will sell out make no mistake about that and with a line up that boasts The Spangles, The Speedways and More Kicks this isn’t the time to sit on your hands and wait.

 

We spoke to Rags who was so excited about this line up for his solo album release show he could hardly get his words out (those who know Rags will find that hard to believe and therefore appreciate just how excited he was/is) All the bands on the bill have brand new records out or on the way and its an exciting time for Rock and Roll so this isn’t a show you want to miss folks trust me.

We’ve already reviewed The Speedways and Rags albums but don’t take our word for it look what others have already been saying about …Like We’ll Never Make It…

“Rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t get more genuine than this. This is the life-affirming gospel according to Rags. Buy it”. Ginge Knievil – Mass Movement Magazine

“Cult power-pop alchemist aims high with perfectly executed crossover album” 9/10 – VIVE LE ROCK

“Like We’ll Never Make It” is a collection that, if it came from across the pond, would see the protagonist hailed as an Americana superstar, over here it is the work of a gifted songwriter and a fine band. Rating 9/10 – MaximumVolumeMusic 
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WITH SPECIAL GUESTS…

MORE KICKS – London Power-pop upstarts. Incredible live band with killer songs that will be fresh off a tour of Spain.
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THE SPEEDWAYS – Another amazing band that Radio Free Amaericana descibes as “…like a cross between the Nerves and The Ramones” They are NOT WRONG!

The Spangles – Punk Rock n Roll from members of well-loved bands The Main Grains And The Idol Dead. Another live detonation ready to be ignited!

Tickets Here

You’re currently on tour with Michael Monroe and are about to hit the UK with MC50.  Must be cool gig to get playing in a band with Michael, Sami, Steve and Karl and then getting to play as guests with the likes of Wayne Kramer must be a dream job?

Oh yeah, I mean I grew up with the Hanoi Rocks stuff and I loved it, and these guys are some of my best friends in the world. It’s a rare situation being in a band where there isn’t one arsehole who makes it a nightmare being on the bus, haha. We all get along so great and I think you can see that onstage as well. And those guys are total badasses at what they do so it makes it so easy every night onstage when you know you can rely on everyone else to be killing it. 

The MC50 thing is great for us as well, hopefully, it’ll get us out in front of some people who might not know us and may be surprised by what this band is all about. I think it’s a great fit. Hopefully, we don’t get bottled off! 

You’ve also just finished recording the new album.  When can we all get to hear the new songs?

Hopefully soon, but I’d guess sometime in the spring. We’ve taken our time with it, making sure the mix is right and that that the record is the best it can possibly be. So we’re just going into mastering now, we haven’t really even thought about release dates yet.

How does the writing work within the band?  What with you guys spread out all over the globe?

It really depends. For ‘Blackout States’ I went to NYC with Steve and Karl and we spent a week working out ideas and then finished them up at home. This time we couldn’t really manage to find the time when we could do something like that so everyone did a lot of work at home and then sent demos around. Steve and I will find hotel time when we can and bash around ideas – we wrote one of the new ones in Tokyo last year – but mostly it’s been a case of sending finished songs to each other.

You’ve also gotten together with a few Black Halos to record a new record with those guys as well? Do you get bored easily? 

Ha! I just try to keep busy, I don’t like having a lot of down time. The Black Halos thing has just been rolling along slowly, I try to work on stuff when I have gaps in my schedule. We’ve got enough songs for a record now but we don’t really have a complete band line-up. Jay Millette from the original Halos lineup just played on some stuff but I don’t think he really wants to tour these days. John Kerns has been playing bass and I’d love it if he’d come along for the live shows as well. We’ll see. Karl Rockfist played drums on some stuff and so did TV from Radio Dead Ones. There’s not a lot of pressure on this stuff yet, we’ll probably make some real plans once we’ve recorded a full album. Right now it’s just a bunch of demos and a few finished-sounding songs.

Do you have to get into a different mindset when writing for The Monroes perspective compared to the Black Halos or with Rags?  is there a different pressure involved?

I wouldn’t call it pressure, although I suppose it was at first with Monroe. There’s such a high standard of writing with that band that I was worried that my songs weren’t going to be up to scratch. But now it’s pretty relaxed for me, I kind of know what works and what doesn’t which makes things a lot easier. So I wrote a lot more for this new record than I did for Blackout States. As with anything though, you need to get into a certain mindset for what suits the band and the people that you’re working with. So I know what’ll work for the Halos, and what’ll work for Michael. 

With Rags it’s usually just me and him having a bunch of drinks and a laugh and if something comes out of it, cool. He’s such a great, prolific writer that my involvement in his stuff is usually pretty minimal – I’ll maybe say ‘change a chord here’ or ‘try this bridge’ etc. The bulk of the work is always coming from him.

I don’t suppose you’re going to give away any of the titles of the songs or give us any idea as to what to expect?  

For the Monroe record? Well, I don’t want to give too much away right now. It’s a much more broad record than Blackout States. There’s still some raging punk rock but there’s a lot more diversity in the stuff. I mean we’re not going funk or anything but I think it sounds like a band that’s getting comfortable enough to stretch out more than in the past. We’ve got some great guests on it as well – Nasty Suicide plays some guitar and it’s the first time he’s recorded with Michael and Sami in something like 25 years. So that was cool to be a part of. There’s a couple of other people on there as well. Some surprises 😉 

The artwork and merch also involve yourself and you’ve certainly been responsible for some amazing pieces.  Do you have a particular favourite sleeve you’ve come up with? does it get inspired by the music or are you always coming up with new ideas?

No, I tend to look for inspiration once I get a job. Normally I ask if someone’s looking for a certain vibe and then work from there. It depends on how much free reign I get as well – some bands that I’ve worked with in the past want to let every member have their say in things and it ends up as a sort of ‘design by committee’ situation and that pretty much always turns out awful. As far as favourite stuff that I’ve done… it’s hard to pick one. Feel free to go check ‘em out at my website though *cough* turningrebellion.com. haha

It must be inspiring working with such talented and creative people. You’ve always surrounded yourself with people who work really hard at their passion.  Are there some projects that really stand out that you’ve been involved in?

Honestly, it’s this band. Everyone’s got such a great work ethic and we all complement each other really well. Making records with these guys is such a blast – it’s an amazing feeling hearing my home demos get taken to the next level and turned into these fully-realised songs. I love working with Ginger and Jon Poole as well – two absolutely insanely talented guys who push me to work harder and be better at what I do when I’m around them. When we’re not in the pub, that is.

Taking a look at what you’ve done so far take us back to where it all began.  what or who were the main reason you got into playing the guitar and wanted to be in a band?

Oh that’s an easy one. My parents took me to see Queen when I was 8 and that was it. Brian May ripping into the Bohemian Rhapsody guitar solo COMPLETELY sold me on playing music! So by the time I was 12 or 13 I had bands with my school friends playing Black Sabbath and Judas Priest covers (because that’s all I could really manage to learn how to play – Paranoid and Breaking The Law!) and then I never really stopped. Early records I loved were things like Adam & The Ants and The Pretenders. David Bowie. Then I took a little turn into metal for a while – I’ve seen Iron Maiden so many times dude, hahaha! But funnily it was those Hanoi records that made me look back to stuff like the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders. Seeing the Ramones when I was 18 or 19. Discovering Stiv Bators catalogue of stuff. You know, you keep looking and finding new music and it leads you down these little paths of discovery. I still love it to this day. There’s so much great new music out there that makes me want to keep playing and writing.

You’ve played on plenty of records over the years are there any that people might be surprised to find you had a hand in?

Probably the weirdest one is a single that I recorded a few years ago for Andy Cairns’ birthday. It’s me, Michael McKeegan & Neil Cooper from Therapy?, Tim Wheeler from Ash, Ricky Warwick, Diamond Dave (beloved radio host) and we were called The Gemils. We covered Another Girl, Another Planet and also did one original song called Purveyor Of Quackery. Only 10 vinyl copies of the single were pressed and they were given out to the band members and Andy for his 50th birthday. Possibly the rarest single ever! 

When you’re writing songs how do you go about it?  Is it a guitar part like a riff or a melody that comes first and do you come up with lyrics as well and hows your drumming?

It can be anything. Sometimes it’s a riff or a melody but usually I get a spark for a lyric and start working it into a chorus. I often get ideas while I’m out walking my dogs so I end up quietly singing them into my phone while pretending I’m on a phone call so people don’t think I’m an absolute lunatic. From there it’s a case of working out melodies and writing lyrics that fit. So generally speaking when I’m writing for Michael I’ll try to inhabit his headspace a bit and then write the lyrics from that point of view. Then I’ll demo it all up at home and send the guys a complete song. As for my drumming, well that’s what drum machines are for my friend!

What’s the best thing about your job? Live? Studio?  the creative aspect of writing?  and on the flip side what do (if anything) you least look forward to.  (Travel) (hanging around) making a video or waiting for the records to come out once they’ve been finished?

Touring is fun for sure. Being on the bus, playing the shows – I love those parts of it. I like making records and designing merch, doing the album artwork. That’s all a lot of fun. The airports and soundchecks, missing my family and the endless hours of waiting around I could live without. I’m not a fan of photoshoots and making videos either but they’re a necessary evil, haha. Honestly though, I really can’t complain about anything – this is my day job and it’s the best job in the world. 

A few quick questions.

Do you have a favourite song to play with Michael?

You know, it’s a blast playing pretty much everything in the set. It’s nice to be able to change things up and play some new stuff but I’m not sure I have a favourite. Right now we’re doing an acoustic set in the middle of the show and that’s a lot of fun because it’s something different and refreshing. But then I also like bashing people over the head with the punk rock hammer as well

How does it work when picking a set list?  

There’s just some stuff that we have to play. It’s expected that we’ll play some Hanoi and we’ll play some of the bigger solo songs. So there’s stuff that’s just always there and then we try to mix up the rest of the set as much as we can. I try to stay out of it for the most part because having 5 guys try to pick 20 songs over email is an endless and frustrating experience, haha!

Are all the Hanoi songs fair game and what would you like to play that hasn’t been in the set list yet?

Yeah I guess so. I haven’t really thought about it too much. We’re not gonna play any of the Hanoi ‘reunion’ stuff but we’ll dig into the original band’s material a lot. Right now we’re playing ‘Lost In The City’ and ‘Lightnin’ Bar Blues’ which we’ve never done before. As for stuff I’d like to play – I just want this new record out so we can play some new songs!

When the Monroe album comes out can we in the UK expect a headline tour?  what about some summer dates and a return to Rebellion after this years show-stealing performance easily the best set played at the festival by anyone.

I’m sure we’ll be back to the UK sometime next year. We’d love to do Rebellion again if they’ll have us – it was a blast! I really wasn’t sure how we’d go over but the crowd was fantastic. So we’re looking at summer festival offers now and we’ll see what happens. We’ve got a few in Spain already and hopefully, we’ll get back over to see you guys as well. I think things will become a little more clear once we’ve got the album ready to go!

Thanks for your time Rich hopefully I’ll catch you on a show somewhere sometime in the near future and I look forward to hearing all this new music you’ve been recording.  Exciting times.

Thank you, Dom, always a pleasure! Hope to see you soon

As the nights draw in and we speed towards Christmas and the mornings get darker and colder what better way to soundtrack the trip to work than with three of the best from three of our favourite bands.

Up first has to be a topical one from this past week as Generation Sex took the stage to perform some classic tunage it simply wouldn’t be fair to pass up this opportunity to play this classic from 79

 

Another classic from the vaults and topical seeing as a new movie hit the theatres this week the movie in question is Bad Reputation and that can only mean Joan Fuckin’ Jett!

Now settle down boys and girls because to finish off this awesome and uplifting trio of video smashes is Role Models and a song from their last album ‘Manette Street’ which also appears on Ginge Knevils charity album that can be purchased here