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Dead Rider

Dead Rider

An interview with Todd Rittmann
by Dan Vierck
March 2015

Dead Rider Will Take You Where They Want to Go.

When I asked guitarist and vocalist of Dead Rider, Todd Rittmann, if there was a slogan or marketing pitch for their next release, a 7” single on Drag City records, he said ‘No.’

2014’s Chills on Glass (Drag City) is a dark behemoth. It’s an album that leads you somewhere you’re not sure you want to go. The music beckons and roils. Each song has an echo of familiarity, but they all tumble from beginning to end inside a horror movie fun house kaleidoscope. Rittmann’s voice is dry but with a bite; a little bitter with pronounced hops if you’re a beer person. When a song or the album is over, if nothing else, you’ll have a great story to tell your grandchildren.

The quartet assembled around 2009, and released two albums on Tizona Records previous to Chills on Glass. Rittmann is the lynchpin member, joined by Andrea Faught on keys and trumpet, Thymme Jones on keys, and Matt Espy on percussion. They are an incredibly tight unit, capable of the tightest grooves and the most intense, purposeful slash and burn noise barrages. Dead Rider’s music is not the soundtrack to William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, but they might be a band born of that world. Intellectual by design, they retain primitive but carefully considered inconsistencies in their execution. If David Byrne were possessed by the ghost of Kurt Cobain, Dead Rider would be the best case scenario for any music that came from that. If the devil himself were sauntering up to you, playing good cop, swinging hand cuffs of fire around his long ashy finger, Dead Rider would be the soundtrack to that scene in your biopic. Rittmann seems to have rationalized his tumult and harnessed but not broken his neurosis. The heat of the music is pure, but it is also incredibly focused.

Rittmann was kind enough to talk with me about the history and momentum behind the band, as well as what he hopes an audience gets from a performance.

Maximum Ink: You said in another interview that you want to drive the audience crazy. Where does that come from?
Todd Rittmann: People need to be woken up and driven crazy. There’re too many things in this world that massage your expectations, and we’re not into fulfilling your expectations.

MI: Are there things you won’t do in Dead Rider? And is it because you don’t want to, or because you don’t think the audience would appreciate it?
TR: We don’t do a lot of thinking about what the audience – in quotes – might prefer to hear. I think that’s an artistic trap, and it’s not even our motivation for doing this in the first place. We just want to blow our own minds. Generally we’ll steer away from things we’re already familiar with and super-comfortable with. We’re trying to take everyone in a ride out of their comfort zone – including ourselves. But I don’t want to paint the picture like we’re creating completely abstract noise. We like to keep one foot in that traditional rock form, and that helps provide some contrast and a jumping off point for some of the other ideas.


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Colorphase

Madison Quartet Rides Grooves Hard, Fast, and Tight
by Dan Vierck
May 2013

If Colorphase is a bandwagon, it’s a party bus. And you better get on before the only seats you can find are the nosebleeds.


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2125 ViewsPermalinkColorphase Website
Outshine

Outshine

Sweden's Outshine is Touring Through the Midwest all Month, and Aims to Eclipse Stateside Rock
by Dan Vierck
February 2013

Nothing about Outshine is lost in translation. The songs are about drinking, hard relationships, and the love of music. Their sound is deeply rooted in the industrial booming of bands like Black Sabbath, and in the plain vocabulary of frustration and desire touted by every blue collar hard rock band worth even half its voltage.


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In the spotlight practicing their religion

A Torrid Affair will Stay with You

The Profile of A Torrid Affair
by Dan Vierck
January 2013

The soundspace where Annabelle and Rocky of A Torrid Affair meet is a deftly managed menagerie of sounds, lifted out of your most sepia-tinted dreams.


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The Scarring Party

The Scarring Party

Audition with The Scarring Party
by Dan Vierck
August 2010

I met Isa Carini at a roller derby tournament. I immediately recognized her as the dress-wearing, tuba and trumpet and whatever else playing femme fatal of the Scarring Party. I tried to be coy. She was selling cigars, jewelry and PBR tallboys. I bought several pieces of jewelry. I asked her if I could watch the band rehearse sometime, she said No. She said though, that the band was looking to replace someone who’d just left, if I played. As it turns out, I didn’t.

This was a little after the Scarring Party had released Come Away From the Light, the follow up to their debut, A Concise Introduction. Their music is definitive, iconic and creepy - sounding like nothing except things that are scary. The sound is exclusively acoustic, arrangements consisting of banjo, guitar, bass, tuba, accordion, typewriter, xylophone and any number of odd things the band manages to scrape together. This is not for the sake of novelty - a band after anything so cheap would’ve bowed out by now.


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Joel Pingitore and the Playground of Sound on the cover of Maximum Ink in March 2009 for MI's 13 Year Anniversary Issue

Joel Pingitore and the Playground of Sound

by Dan Vierck
March 2009

Joel Pingitore isn’t wasting any time. He has been performing with his most recent group, The Playground of Sound, for only six months and they’re already booked and/or played 150+ shows. Besides a weekly show at The Dam Bar in Belleville, WI and a once-a-month visit to Stella’s Speakeasy in Stoughton, WI the band is fresh of a stint of gigs at Bike Week in Daytona Beach. In an e-mail interview Pingitore admitted he wouldn’t mind a show every day.

“Naturally,” He also conceded, “it’d be fantastic to be ‘The Next Big Thing.’” With an energetic six month old band that’s already working on an album and playing outside the state, however fantastic the dream, they seem to be aiming for it. On a more realistic, and partially realized note, Pingitore also said “I’d like to see [the band] as a nationally touring act.”


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Children 18:3 from Minneapolis, MN

Children 18:3

by Dan Vierck
December 2008

Children 18:3 are a dream come true for nearly any general fan of music. The music is easy to swallow but exciting and stands up listen after listen. They are, however, a critic’s nightmare.

This Minnesotan three piece shamelessly (and rightfully so) defines themselves with elements of pop, punk, rock and aesthetics that can be so polarizing it’s kind of a wonder they have the massive fan base they do.

If a Children 18:3 newbie doesn’t run when they hear “Christian Rock” they might when they see the band’s long haired, greasy, mascara’ed front man. Or, if they don’t turn the other cheek when comparisons to Alkaline Trio turn up they might turn the page when they hear this trio is a band of siblings.


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Chicago's Cameron McGill

Cameron McGill And What Army

by Dan Vierck
November 2008

Cameron McGill is a pop-fectionist. What should be needless to say, is that this has nothing to do with aesthetic, marketing or sales. Be it McGill solo or with his Chicago-based band What Army, the music doesn’t just take center stage, it’s the only thing meaningful thing on the stage.

McGill’s music is the new smooth voice of the Midwest. People like Bright Eyes, Devandra Banhart, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, Jentri Colello and Madison’s whole alt-country scene plus so many more have started or taken on this quest of giving our green plains an audible, distinct, interesting and unique musical pulse. McGill’s place in this line up is on the radio.


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Madison's Patchwork - photo by The Canopy Agency

Patchwork

by Dan Vierck
September 2008

Jeremiah Nelson named his dog after Bob Dylan. Influences aren’t nearly as direct when it comes to Nelson’s band, Patchwork - which released its new full length, “Take Me Down the Interstate” on Aug. 15 at the Frequency in Madison, WI.

“You draw from enough sources that it becomes unrecognizable,” he says over a bagel and cream cheese while Zim, the black lab, explores the sunny porch of Nelson’s Williamson-area house. “A lot of the time it’s my friends,” he says. We talk about Oskosh fav Attack Octopus - who seemingly couldn’t be more dissimilar with its busy, sparkling, crackling, tangy arrangements, odd time signatures and overall challenging sound. In this context, Patchwork is definitely roaming Dylan-esque territory.


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2363 ViewsPermalinkPatchwork MySpace
Robstock 2008 in Whitewater, Wisconsin

Robstock 2008

by Dan Vierck
September 2008

Whitewater’s Robstock 2008 is showing all of Wisconsin that worthwhile music festivals are not just for bigger cities like Madison or Milwaukee. The event, boasting 5 music stages, 3 beer tents, a mini petting zoo, magic, psychics, face painters, a bonfire and “mad jugglers” is going down Sept. 20 at The Fuzzy Pig, N8660 Clover Valley Rd., Whitewater.


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2408 ViewsPermalinkRobstock 2008 MySpace
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