Having garnered a nomination for Rolling Stone Australia’s best new artist in 2009, Sydney’s the Black Ryder have impressed the right people on their way to large scale recognition. Appearing earlier this year at 2010’s Playground Weekender Festival, the Black Ryder found time for a beer and a chat with Soulshine’s Leigh Plover and Max Easton.
In 2008, The Black Ryder burst onto Australia’s music scene from not only obscurity, but from non-existence. Formed initially to support tours by the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Brian Jonestown Massacre, the band’s core of Aimee Nash and Scott Van Ryper devised a plan to record an album under the Black Ryder moniker. That album became ‘Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride,’ a record which reached Rolling Stone Australia’s ‘Albums of 2009’ list and gained them a nomination for Rolling Stone’s ‘Best New Artist’ award. Indeed, praise was widespread, with positive reviews spreading faster than swine flu paranoia, which was also quite prevalent at the time.
With pressure to tour rising from the hailstones of praise coming from across the globe, they finalised a band line-up, consisting of Aimee Nash, Scott Van Ryper and the new addition of Jules Ferrari , Archi Read and Nick Kennedy. In 2010, this line-up has delivered them into the coveted support slot for 80’s post-punk legends The Cult who they’re touring the country with in May. Earlier in the year though, we caught up with Aimee, Scott, Jules and Archi after their mid-afternoon set at Sydney’s Playground Weekender for a beer and a chat.
Aimee: Originally, we started this as a recorded project, but then things began to go so well that we decided to start playing more live shows.
Scott: We’ve got ourselves a new drummer, Nick, who is great…so we’re rehearsing and everything feels like it’s just stepped up a bit now. We’re feeling so good about it and it makes you want to play a bit more. So the whole idea of not playing at all is lessened, cos we feel so good about what we can do.
Archi: The recorded stuff is translating so well to the stage right now. These guys [Scott and Aimee] produced something with such a lot of time and effort put into it and you see a lot of bands like that who try to do very atmospheric stuff and it doesn’t work, but now with the addition of Nick, it just feel s great.
Scott: So today was really our first show with this line-up. I think the best thing was the fact that there were people approaching the stage…people weren’t leaving, but were being drawn into it.
And ‘drawn in’ is a term that seems to be becoming more and more appropriate with each murmur that comes out of the Black Ryder camp. A quick glance at any of their social networking pages reveals a flood of queries about the album’s release date in territories all over the globe, something that pre-empted their Australian release.
Scott: It’s a massive relief to finally get it out there after all this time. To be able to answer all these people asking us when we were releasing it was a great feeling and now we’re getting some shit from overseas figured out, but that’s coming very soon as well. We’re just about to release it in the States.
Aimee: They’re good labels too; one of the labels is a vinyl only and digital download thing. They’ve got these high grade vinyl and amazing artwork…they’ve signed some really good artists that we love, like Wooden Shjips and Dungen. They’re on the label as well, and they’ve got their own recording studio in Brooklyn, so we can record over there and they’ve got a record store. So they’re kind of just…the cool people. Because the industry has changed a lot, and it’s good that it has changed I guess because for bands now, it’s become a lot harder, but become a lot easier in some ways. The way people listen to music is so different…
Jules: I think you really gotta be listening to music through the internet now, because there’s what’s happening on the radio and what’s commercially happening, but then there’s what’s really going on…and more people are seeking out music for themselves.
Aimee: Yeah, definitely. The industry is fucked in that artists really struggle to make a living or any money off releasing things and that’s how it’s kept changing, but now it’s more about touring…
Archi: Even the big names like Madonna are just signing touring contracts now, and labels are trying to get in on merchandise and that sort of thing.
Aimee: That’s what’s cool about this label we’ve signed with in the States though. Everyone gets shit for free now, but people want to collect vinyl to have that feeling…
Archi: In 2009 in the UK…vinyl sales were up 800% on the year before, and that reflects what people think. Downloading digital is great, but I think people are sick of it, they want something real.
Aimee: So starting in the new year, we’ve got a release in America, a release in Japan, the UK and Europe are still being worked on…and we’re actually talking about playing a bit more.
Scott: We’re gonna do an East Coast tour [This interview occurred before the Black Ryder secured the support slot with the Cult.] The plan for us is to try to relocate overseas during the year. Because it’s just too expensive to travel back and forth when you tour overseas. We’ve got most of our audience overseas too, so it’s probably wise to get over there. I don’t think with our type of music that we’d ever get a big audience here. Last year though, we were quite amazed to be included in Rolling Stone’s best albums of 2009.
Aimee: We got nominated, but didn’t win for best new artist too…and I didn’t even know we were nominated, I must have been having a cigarette or something cos we just missed it.
Scott: That’s not the sort of thing we were expecting, didn’t think it would happen for our band.
Archi: Oh, come on…[laughs]
Scott: I thought we’d be the kind of band that would go under the radar, so I was quite surprised.
Aimee: We’ve been very fortunate from the beginning. We’ve always had good people and good friends associated with what we’re doing which makes everything so much more enjoyable. We did the recordings and Scott engineered it and we mixed it, and Craig our friend worked on recording some drums for the album…and we had people from Black Rebel and Brian Jonestown working on the album…just all of these great people in our lives came together, with Jules and Archi playing in the band and now Nick. It’s just been so great for us…
Scott: Everyone who’s involved with us are our best friends….and that’s really important to us.
Aimee: We worked with our friend Michael on the clip and the artwork and stuff too, and he’s got a great idea for the next clip, so we hope we can do that in the next couple of months. It’s fun to have that visual creative side as well. The next show we play we want to use projectors and we’ve got a friend editing all these settings on images…
Scott: The stuff we do like the video and the projector work and everything is without a label and without a budget. So anything we do is on our own budget…which is pretty well nothing. So that creates an issue with dealing overseas, because that becomes all about us retaining creative control versus getting the money upfront…and god knows we need the money to do stuff. People that you work with want to have some control and an input; the engineers and the studio you work with, but it’s just not something that we want to do.
Aimee: There’s deals that we could have gone for that would have completely screwed us over, but we would have had a large chunk of money in hand. A label would be like, ‘we’ll give you eighty thousand dollars right now to take the album and distribute it around the world…no, we don’t have the capability to distribute it anywhere else but Australia…but we want it for the world.’ You know? Stuff like that…but we would have had money.
Scott: It’s true that we would be rich motherfuckers now, if were stupid motherfuckers then. It comes down to how much you believe in yourself…people come along and throw dollar signs in the air and if you believe in what you’ve done…then there’s a fortune you can miss out on…
We figure right now, that it’s the first time that we feel especially good about things. Aimee and I spent so much time on this album producing it, that it’s hard to replicate live…and this is the first time that it’s really come together. Certainly our show would be so critical to have background visuals, so it’s hard to get our show right at a festival, but it went really well today and we’re so happy about it.
Before landing the coveted support slot for the Cult, the Black Ryder were having varied discussions about how to do an Australian tour properly, if at all.
Scott: We have a lot of problems with getting the right venues, like we really need to know from someone who lives in Brisbane which venue we’re suited to. Because we don’t want to play the Zoo and only half fill it…I would almost prefer to play the Troubadour and sell it out. When we played the Troubie with the Morning After Girls, I just remember having such a great time…it was like playing in someone’s loungeroom.
Aimee: We had this real non-tour policy, cos if you’re gonna do the hard slog, you might as well do it in Europe or America, cos the equivalent of Sydney to Melbourne, if you’re in America, equates to about three or four reasonably sized towns and bars to play at. We’re mates with Regular John and those guys tour relentlessly…they’re always on the road and still working day jobs, it’s just such a hard slog here. If you’re gonna do it, you gotta really do it.
The Black Ryder are touring nationally in support of the Cult throughout May on the following dates:
Wednesday, May 5th
The Tivoli, Brisbane, QLD
Thursday, May 6th
The Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney, NSW
Saturday, May 8th
Palais Theatre, Melbourne, VIC
Monday, May 10th
Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide, SA
Wednesday, May 12th
Metro Theatre, Perth, WA