Aleks and the Ramps have been doing a lot lately. Touring the nation after releasing their album Midnight Believer, they found time to grab an office and fire up the speakerphone to tell me about their music and their love of deep friend confectionery.
Their creation, much like my creation, was an accident, Aleks tells me.
“Well it was a little bit of an accident, I recorded an EP on my own, then got some friends in to help. I got my friend Simon to mix it, he is now in the band. Then we figured we’d form a temporary band so we could launch the EP, like a one off show.”
What the band didn’t plan for was the stunning success of their EP Launch, the music quickly embraced by the scarf-wearing, Coopers Pale-drinking crowd of Brunswick.
“People seemed to like the music, and I don’t know how the fuck it happened but somehow there were heaps of people there, and I got kind of freaked out. So I went for a walk and had a snickers to avoid Mick Turner from the Dirty Three, cause I fucking love that band. Deep fried snickers ease the nerves.”
This mention of deep fried chocolate sparks a ten-minute debate on whether snickers or mars bar is better deep-fried. For the sake of convenience I’ve edited the transcript but for the record, Mars Bar came out on top.
Anyway, it’s clear the band is very tight, and their international adventures have only strengthened the bond. They recently popped over to New Zealand for a quick visit.
“We went to NZ earlier this year. I definitely think NZ-ers are different, they heckle so much more, and they’re drunker and rougher. They’re still funny and friendly, and they bought us drinks and offered us places to stay.”
They then entered Canada and the USA armed with nothing but the adult version of a permission slip from your mum.
“Canada last year. We dipped into the States, into Washington, but illegally. We didn’t tour Canada legally either. We basically had letters from our mums saying we were really nice and just wanted to play some music. Like a permission slip. Although we did have a letter from the festival (North by North East) saying we were exempt from visa requirements.”
While the rest of the band presumably sits in a refugee camp on the USA-Canada border being subjected to cruel punishment, Aleks is here talking to me, explaining how the band gets their strange sound.
“We’re five people who listen to lots of different music, so when we get together we can’t just say, lets sound like this, and we don’t want to do that. In terms of songwriting, there are so many types of music floating around. I listen to Neil Diamond, I like him, but I don’t think he is an influence.”
While Neil Diamond is probably kicking himself, it’s great for the rest of us. The unique sound of the Ramps hasn’t gone unnoticed. Their single Antique Limb, is getting high rotation on radio and thus far Aleks is pleased with the progress.
“Yeah it’s going well, we’re pretty happy. People seem to like it, I was shown a print out the other day with some statistics and apparently it was the most played song on community radio or something. We beat the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.”
I ask Aleks if the band stressed over what single to release, knowing that the song would act as an advertisement for the entire album.
“No way, well yeah. The single is like the bait to lure them in, it is like the mini sized bounty to our pack of Cadbury Celebrations.”
That’s the third chocolate reference so far for those counting at home.
Moving away from chocolate just briefly, I wanted to know about the tour. They recently rocked out at the Hoey, and are heading off to Hobart, Adelaide and Melbourne. It’s almost nationwide!
“Well it is, if you imagine the nation isn’t as wide as it is. Say it extends to Adelaide only. And Sydney. And Hobart. Melbourne too, obviously.”
The set list will be tastier then a mars bar (deep fried or otherwise), packed with songs from the new album, which was recorded, mainly in a shed? According to the bio. I’ll get Aleks to sort things out.
“Actually it is true. We did a session in Eastern Bloc studio, in Hawthorn. That was drums, bass and guitar. Then we did the idiosyncratic stuff and the vocals we saved for when we weren’t spending thousands of dollars, and just recorded them in our shed at the back of our house. The majority of it was done in the shed in Brunswick, but it is important to do the drums properly so we needed the studio time.”
He makes a good point, and when the songs sound that good, who cares if they were recorded in a shed.
Check out http://www.aleksandtheramps.com for more info.
Midnight Believer is out now through Stomp.