The Violent Femmes
American Music Email List
March 28, 2004
Email List archive available online at Geocities
Tour Dates: (new dates in red)
4/17/07 Columbus, Ohio PROMOWEST Pavilion Ticketmaster
04/22/04 Iceland, Reyjavik Broadway Entertainment Hall Tickets onsale 12th April
04/24/04 Zagrib,Croatia Tvornica Cross Radio or VIPnet
04/25/04 Belgrade,Serbia Hala Sportova Cross Radio or VIPnet
04/27/04 Turkey Istanbul Manhattan Music Club Cevre Sok. No. 7. Ph: 427-62 63
04/28/04 Greece Salonika Mylos Salonika Didi Music
04/29/04 Greece Athens Rodon Club Athens Didi Music
05/01/04 Tramore, Ireland South Club Ticketmaster Ireland
05/02/04 Dublin, Ireland Olympia Theatre Ticketmaster Ireland
05/03/04 London,UK Astoria
05/04/04 Nottingham, UK UK Rock city
05/06/04 Belgium, Antwerp Arenbergschouwburg Tickets direct
05/22/04 Washington, DC RFK Stadium
06/11/04 San Francisco, CA Shoreline Ampitheater
08/21/04 Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Zoo
09/03/04 San Diego, CA Del Mar Race Track
09/04/04 Anaheim, CA House of Blues
In This Issue:
Album Covers AIRING AGAIN on MTV2
RE: Album Covers
Concert Info for Belgium 5/6
RE: VF on MTV2
Good Times Interview with Brian Ritchie
MTV2 Album Covers
Set those VCR’s and DVR’s! The ALBUM COVERS episode is airing again on MTV2!
Thursday 4/1/04 at 8:00am EST
Monday 4/5/04 at 1:00am EST
The audio for the Album Covers performance will be available for download on itunes on March 30
More pics of the gig available at Arlene’s Grocery site.
RE: Album Covers
The Album Covers show was spectacular. It just shows how strong the material is when another band can play the songs and the same energy pours out of the music. Gordon and Brian seemed to be to be charged up by the effort that Guster put into recreating the album. I also thought you could see Guster’s love for the music as they played each song. I especially liked when Gordon and Brian gave their critique of Guster and said something to the effect that they are a much happier band then us, but then again every band is happier than this band.
They also noted that they thought this exercise was great for Guster. Hopefully it was great for VF too and it will inspire them to get together and make more sweet music.
Concert Info for Belgium 5/6
About the VF concert in Belgium the 6th of May, the tickets are at 22.50
Euros. The city is close to France and Holland.
Here is the websites to book tickets:
From the venue:
The site is in Flemish (!). If you don’t speak this language (I speak
French), “kaarten” means “tickets”. The rest should be relatively OK. Don’t
hesitate to contact me if necessary.
RE: VF on MTV2
I was just checking out the Guster website, and they had all the dates listed that the MTV2 show with the Violent Femmes and Guster was going to be airing. I was excited as I’ve been eagerly looking forward to it for quite some time. However, it looks like the last one was March 18!!! It’s now the 22nd!! I just have to say, I understand how things like that can be missed, so I’m not mad about not getting something from this mailing list…But I went on the mtv2 website to try to get some info about reruns (because let’s face it–what’s not rerun a gazillion times on those channels?) and there are no more listed? I seriously think I’m going to go puke right now, I’m so disappointed. If it’s not rerun, is there anyway to get a copy?
Good Times Interview with Brian Ritchie
Let Me Go On (from Good Times Magazine)
Violent Femmes acoustic bass player Brian Ritchie talks about busking and fatherhood
By Amanda Martinez
FOREVER FEMMES (L to R) Synergy happens whenever Gordon Gano, Brian Ritchie and Victor DeLorenzo take the stage. The Violent Femmes hit The Catalyst on Friday.
Historical fact indicates that in the early ?80s, a glut of teenage angst swelled in the unassuming, Midwestern town of Milwaukee. Spokesmen of the revelation/alleviation campaign, Brian Ritchie, Gordon Gano, and Victor DeLorenzo set out to represent the tenebrous masses, forming the alternative, makeshift band, Violent Femmes. Their method: raw, unplugged folk-punk via battered, homemade, acoustic instruments. Their platform: demands for recognition, death to subtext and shock-value declarations. Producinga such plight-articulative anthems as ?Blister in the Sun,? ?Gimmie the Car,? ?Kiss Off,? and ?Add it Up,? the Femmes have ascended to cult status, snapping up every successive generation of raw, wronged, hormonal youths and maintain a permanent space in the minds of each generation?s perpetual 17-year-old, still clamoring for social justice or at the very least, consideration. The Femmes hit Santa Cruz in a Friday night gig at The Catalyst.
Hell on Earth
Bass player, Brian Ritchie refers to high school like a veteran reflecting on his trench-time: ?It was pretty bad I think for all of us to varying degrees. I barely got out of there. I had to play a chess match against one of my teachers which was going to be decisive as to whether or not I would graduate?I beat him but I don?t know, maybe he let me beat him.?
In the early stages of their rebellion circa 1981, Ritchie and Gano performed at Gano?s National Honor Society induction ceremony replacing their promised tame and inane performance with the song ?Gimmie the Car,? a raunchy romp of unbridled, wishful thinking that features the lyrics: ?I got this girl I wanna?Come on dad gimmie the car?cause I?m gonna touch her all over her body.?
Gano was expelled from dork central, officially launching his descent into the glamorous, debauched life of the rock musician. Ritchie introduced snare drum extraordinaire, DeLorenzo, into the mix and the trio began experimentation with their rugged sound.
?It was pretty organic,? Ritchie says. Gordon had never been in a band before so he was kind of like a blank canvas and ?Victor and I ? we?d been in bands together so we already had a strong rhythm section approach?We didn?t rehearse at all. The first time we played together we were at a coffeehouse ? I think that might have even been the first time Gordon met Victor. So we just took out the snare drum and this bass guitar I made myself and started [laughs] playing and that was about it. It?s been that way ever since.?
The Way of the Amish
Ritchie?s musical tastes in jazz and folk determined his preference for acoustic instruments. His lack of wheels nixed the option of the behemoth upright bass, inspiring Ritchie to change the tuning pegs and bridge of a guitar and apply bass strings. Needing to fill the instrumental gap between Gano?s sparse guitar chords, and DeLorenzo?s minimalist drum assemblage, Ritchie developed an aggressive, melodic, rhythmic style, giving him exclusive rights to put the smackdown on the lethargic strumming of his bass guitar-playing peers on MTV Unplugged. ?Basically I beat the hell out of it,? Ritchie says. ?I play really strong and try to play really clearly.?
The band?s brand of distortion-free rockin? out turns attention to its razor-edged lyrics. ?It?s like the lyrics are the heroin and the music is the needle,? Ritchie says. ?You need them both to really get the full experience and I think we back up the words really well. One of the reasons that we decided to play acoustic instruments was that we thought the words were strong and that it would be a shame to bury them under a barrage of noise.?
?Lyrics don?t work on their own though,? Ritchie says. ?I mean, all you have to do is read Lou Reeds? [Velvet Under-ground] book where he published his song lyrics as though they were poetry and you can see: ?Uh yeah Lou, stick to making music,? because it just doesn?t work.?
According to Ritchie, Gano?s sole songwriting efforts as the band?s tortured mind representative, uphold a consistency of vision. Ritchie deftly derails any insinuations of his total agreement with Gano?s lyrical philosophies. ?I don?t think anybody can get behind the lyrics of any song,? Ritchie says. ?I?m sure that Bob Dylan wakes up in the morning and he probably thinks, ?Why hadn?t I just kept my mouth shut for the last 50 years??
On the Fly
The final enhancement of the Femmes? rough-edged sound is attributed to plenary spontaneity. The band is not too keen on practicing. Ritchie sort of explains, ?We basically never?never is not the right word?let?s just say almost never rehearse. Sometimes if we have to, like if we?re trying, like last time, well actually we didn?t rehearse that time either. Somebody requested a really obscure song?but we just talked about what we thought the chords were. And then we got up on stage and did it.?
Besides the rehearsal repugnance, the Femmes refrain from crafting premeditated, concert set lists, playing songs that fit the moment and the crowd. Band members also derive great enjoyment from their unique instrumental improvisations. ?When you go to see Eric Clapton for example, he?ll be improvising a lot,? Ritchie says. ?Those are called guitar solos, you know, but the rhythm section is basically just vamping or grooving or doing the same thing, whereas in our case, we are all improvising freely together. It?s really democratic?It?s a certain kind of improvisation that you don?t hear so much in rock.?
The Violent Femmes? first performances were dedicated to the less-than-lucrative career of busking, which for the benefit of straight-laced minimum-wage workers, means playing on the street for change. Happily toiling in obscurity in 1982, the Femmes were spotted by Pretenders? guitarist, James Honeyman Scott who recognized potential genius and asked the Femmes to open for his band that same evening.
Using the opportunity to score future gigs, the Femmes stepped onto the music scene to critical acclaim and flocks of worshipping fans. The band has since resorted to busking less and less. ?We haven?t done that in a long time,? Ritchie says. ?Somebody showed me a photograph of us doing it in Australia maybe 10 years ago, but I can?t remember. We don?t really have to do that anymore [laughs]. We used to do it for money.?
A year later, the band released its self-titled debut on the Slash label. Mysteriously the album failed to make the Billboard top 200, but began a slow, steady burn of popularity that, a decade later, resulted in the achievement of platinum status. This unprecedented occurrence is no doubt attributed to benevolent, older siblings who offered the anthem-packed record to frustrated brethren as a right of passage.
No, they were on a break?a two-year break between ?86 and ?88, during which the three members pursued independent musical projects. The band reunited with a refreshed perspective and continued touring and recording throughout the ?90s.
Currently in its third decade of performance, the band?s self-image has undergone extensive evolution. ?Obviously when you start a band it?s an open book ?. Some days we probably think, ?Wow, we?re the greatest band since the Beatles ?. We?re going to become icons. They?ll carve our heads into Mount Rushmore.? And then other days we probably would think, ?Well it?d be really cool if we got to make a record? ?. I think we always knew that we had something special. But now we know exactly what we have which is basically a sound, a following, and the ability to go out there and entertain people.?
The band members engaged in the more literal form of evolution, each starting families and raising children. Did fatherhood propose a threat to the band?s restless reputation of irresponsible revelry?
?Well I remember once I was walking down the street, the day after a performance with my son in one of those little, uh, baby knapsacks that you wear on your chest and ? a car pulled over and a lady rolled down the window and she said, ?I just saw you play last night and you shouldn?t have any kids,?? Ritchie says. ?I just said, ?Thanks.? I thought oh well, she likes the music enough to go to the concert, but she doesn?t like the performers enough to think they should reproduce.?
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