Ohio duo tours with a little help from friends in advance of long-awaited debut album
Ever since R. Ring's Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery began making music together in 2010, the two have taken a purposefully unorthodox approach, eschewing the standard album/tour/album/tour cycle, opting instead to release limited-edition singles while hitting the road at their whim.
“It was a conscious decision to just do whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted,” Montgomery said recently on a three-way phone call with Deal. “I do remember Kelley saying things like, ‘Oh, we can't go out on tour. We don't have a new album.' Well, yeah, but we could just ... custom-make 50 handmade things and say, ‘OK, this is as good an excuse as any.' It doesn't have to be a proper full-length album with a label and all this stuff. You can go out and play shows whenever you want.”
One such tour involved releasing the song “Salt,” which R. Ring recorded for a cooking show hosted by vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz. “We created a single of that song with something else on it, and [Moskowitz] did a recipe for Cincinnati-style, vegan Skyline chili,” said Dayton's Deal. “I crocheted a hot pot cover, and that was the CD [case], and the recipe was inserted into that.”
For this tour, R. Ring is breaking with tradition and playing shows in support of a full-length release — the band's debut, Ignite the Rest, out April 28 on Sofaburn Records. Various drummers contribute to the recording (Kristian Svitak, Laura King of Fleshwounds, Southeast Engine's Leo DeLuca), while Deal and Montgomery handle all the guitars, keys and vocals on 12 songs that veer from pretty pop to skronky experimentalism.
While on a break from touring with the Breeders (the alt-rock act Deal has played in with her twin sister, ex-Pixies guitarist Kim Deal, off and on since the '90s), Deal met Montgomery during a collaboration with the Buffalo Killers on a song for a Guided By Voices tribute record, which they recorded at Montgomery's Candyland studio.
At first, Montgomery, who also plays in Cincinnati rock trio Ampline, had to learn how to make musical room for Deal. “I was always in three-pieces, so the guitar is doing the rhythm, noodles, melody lines — the guitar has to do all of it,” Montgomery said. “Kelley's really good at saying, ‘Look, dude. If you play every bit of everything, what am I supposed to play?'”
R. Ring's current tour will bring the band to Rumba Cafe on Thursday, April 20, with Split Single (featuring Jason Narducy of Verboten/Verbow and touring bassist for the likes of Bob Mould, Superchunk and Guided by Voices) and local act Bicentennial Bear. And even though this is a more traditional album-cycle tour, R. Ring is finding ways to mix things up and reunite with friends along the route.
“When we go to Brooklyn, instead of getting an opening band, Isa [Chandra Moskowitz] is gonna open for us,” Deal said. “Now, I have no clue what that means. I don't know if she knows what that means. A cooking demo? I don't know. But it's gonna be really interesting.”