Having released The Raw Dents last month, Chicago experimental-rock outfit Dead Rider returns to St. Louis tomorrow night at Cranky Yellow. The band, whose shows are described as having a "funhouse" feel by frontman Todd Rittmann, has played in St. Louis before at the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center. We talked to Rittmann about The Raw Dents and his guarantee for those heading out to the show: "You'll get your money back if you feel like, 'Oh, I've seen this before,'" he says.
Dani Kinnison: How is your newest record, The Raw Dents, doing?
Todd Rittmann: They're selling really well. There's been a lot of great response to it. Other than that, our work is done on the record. I'm really proud of that record. It's the best thing I've ever done. I can't speak for the rest of the band, though. They've all done some pretty incredible things. Noah's [vocals, baritone saxophone, keys] been in a bunch of great bands, like Mucca Pazza, and he's also a solo performer under the stage name Ssssnake. Andrea [vocals, keys, trumpet] moonlights in the best band in the the world, called Cheer Accident. Matt [drums] has been in a bunch of great bands, including Atombombpocketknife.
What has the listener response been like?
I think people are finally starting to pick up on the funk aspect of our music. We're all definitely inspired by funk and R&B, although we're not trying to do some version of that. We do in fact take a lot of inspiration from music that has a serious groove in it and that works with a lot of minimal parts that all create a bigger whole, better than everybody just blasting on their instrument all the time...kind of trying to do something more than that. We want you to hear everything that everyone's doing and not just create some giant wall of sound. It seems like people are picking up on that, and I'm glad about that. It's good that people understand what you're doing. I don't want to be misunderstood all the time. That's no fun.
What reaction or response do you want people to have?
I'm not sure I would even dare to have expectations on what I would like the audience to take what I am doing. We just want to blow our own minds, you know? I would want people to be amused, confounded and delighted. It's a bit of a funhouse. It's not like I'm expecting to be dancing, but from what I've found it's quite danceable.
What do you want people to get out of a Dead Rider show?
I would hope anyone coming out to hear this for the first time understand that it's not some kind of sing-along. We're trying to take some chances with the music we're making. We're trying to really play; we're not just looking to re-create the record. It's OK to feel lost sometimes. But definitely, know that there's a message to what we're doing. Sometimes that message just happens to be, "Let's get totally lost and find our way back."
What kind of audience do you want to reach?
I want everyone to like what I'm doing. I think everyone should, too. All-inclusive. It's all ages and all mindsets. It's just fine if you want to rock out to what we're doing and don't dress like us. You can join the party. It's like pro-wrestling or NASCAR -- it's for everybody. It's for the whole family.
Dead Rider plays tomorrow night at Cranky Yellow at 8 p.m. with Skarekrau Radio, the Conformists and Britches. A $5 donation is strongly suggested.
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