Ringo Deathstarr has carved out a considerable niche for itself on the noisier side of Austin’s neo-shoegaze scene, taking part in The Black Angels’ retro-revivalist Psych Fest last year, opening for the likes of The Dandy Warhols and fellow pedal fanatics A Place To Bury Strangers, and blowing minds in venues all across the country. This year promises to be an especially busy one for the band, with multiple tours and a new full-length scheduled for release at the end of summer. In anticipation of Ringo Deathstarr’s East Coast tour—which kicks off tonight with a bon voyage show at Emo’s—Decider spoke with frontman Elliott Frazier about the band’s “more the merrier” approach to labels, which cities its drummer has puked in, and why he hasn’t smashed a guitar in a while.
Decider: You’ve been through numerous lineup changes over the years. How did this current group become the magic lineup?
Elliot Frazier: Basically, everyone has made the sacrifices that former members were unwilling to make. Now we have everyone on board to really go for it.
D: The newer songs definitely sound like you’re all really going for it—particularly the “In Love” single, which seems much more intense than some of your earlier stuff.
EF: That’s funny, because that and [b-side] “Summertime” were some of the first songs I wrote. I wrote “Summertime” before I even moved to Austin. I wrote that song and “Some Kind Of Sad” around the same time, and the band I was in didn’t like them and didn’t want to play them. And now they’re two of our most popular songs, and the guys in that other band aren’t really doing anything. [Laughs.]
D: How is the full-length coming along?
EF: The drums are all done, and now we can just go in one day here, one day there to keep the costs under control. We have labels that are going to release everything, so now we only have to pay for recording. Fan Death Records is re-releasing our EP on vinyl, and Stickfigure is going to do a 7-inch as soon as we submit the songs, which should be next month. [Spoilt Victorian Child] is interested in putting out a 7-inch as well. Custom Made Music is going to put out the full-length at the end of the summer.
D: Do you feel a loyalty to Spoilt Victorian Child since it was the first label that gave you some support?
EF: Yeah, even though they can’t really do much in the way of distro over there. [SVC owner Simon Pott] has only done digital releases before. He doesn’t have a big track record, so he can’t get big deals with distributors and everything. But his goal is always to have someone bigger pick up his bands. He’s just trying to find music he likes and thinks should be heard, and he does his best to send out promotional copies and stuff like that. He got us written up in Magnet and Pitchfork. Our CD was actually the first physical thing he released, and our 7-inch will be the first vinyl he’s released. He’s establishing himself more, and his label’s growing. Right now we’re just in a position to take what we can get. We’re not gonna work exclusively with anyone unless they make us an offer we can’t refuse. If you want to make us an offer, the more the merrier!
D: How was it booking a tour without significant label support?
EF: It was really hard. I was trying to book a tour that would take us up through the Midwest into Canada, back down the East Coast, then back here for South By Southwest, and then immediately to the West Coast after that. But the Midwest, it was impossible to get any shows. I got a show in Lawrence, Kansas and Des Moines, Iowa and that was it.
D: Do you have a favorite place to play outside Austin?
EF: D.C. has always been good for us. The first time, we played this place called The Wonderland Ballroom. That show was amazing. Our drummer puked after the show. I don’t know what was wrong with him. New York is awesome too, because a lot of the bands that are doing similar things—like Death By Audio—are all up there, and we make new friends every time. Also, I have an aunt up there, so I have a place to stay. [Laughs.] That’s also one of the places where we had a lot of support early on with college radio and a lot of people talking about us.
D: Many of your shows have ended with the band smashing its gear. Doesn’t that get expensive?
EF: Well, we haven’t really done that in a while—or at least, I haven’t to the extent I used to because all my guitars got too messed up. One of my guitars has, like, five cracks in the body, and my other guitar has a big crack in the neck. The last time I did it was in Houston. This guy got onstage to tell us we had to get off because he was in the band playing after us. I got so pissed off I started flinging my guitar around, and the neck hit the floor and cracked. It was really expensive to fix, so I decided that until I get a new guitar, I’m not gonna do that anymore.