Monday, December 9, 2013

Ramma Lamma

     Ramma Lamma are a melodic hard drivin’ Rock ‘N’ Roll band who’s music is rooted in 70’s rock. More specifically somewhere in the lands of Detroit glam rock queen Suzi Quatro and Boston’s searing DMZ. It’s heart bursting Rock ‘N’ Roll played fun, fast, and mean by boys and girls that know their craft. After all, co lead singers Ryan King laid waste to many a soul with Rip-Off Record’s Kill-A-Watts and later he and Wendy Norton in the punk-y power pop trio Plexi 3. Ramma Lamma has a hand full of 7”’s for your listening pleasure on various labels (see below). So relax boys and girls, you’re sanity lies in qualified hands!

Interview by Jay Castro

Who’s answering the questions here?

Who is in the band and how do they earn their keep?
WENDY: Wendy Norton and Ryan King play guitar and sing. Daniel James plays bass, and we have two drummers - Bart Farrara (Milwaukee shows) and Sam Reitman (road bork).

Ryan: Guitar/Sings

Where are you all from originally?
WENDY: I was a country kid raised in the woods outside of Sugar Camp, Wisconsin.  My mom got me into Elvis when I was six. I pretended not to like it at first because I had just gotten off of a big “time out” but she caught me dancing so I had to admit to loving it. She let me stay up late to watch the 5 part, made for TV movie about Elvis that week and it was all over from there.

DAN: I grew up in a trailer court in a college town in Central Wisconsin. All the locals were total hicks and the college kids were all hippies. Two totally different worlds and they were both kinda lame from a Rock ‘N’ Roll dude's perspective.  I was a total hesher.

RYAN: Wauwatosa, WI (a suburb of Milwaukee).

What is the band’s origin story? When and how did you all meet and come together?
Wendy: Ryan and I’s previous band, Plexi 3, had come to an end due to our irreplaceable bassist, Adam Widener, moving to SF, so we were settin’ our sights on our next project. 

At the time we were getting back into the classics, hard, stuff like Flamin’ Groovies, Slade, Wizzard, Suzy Quatro, etc. and diggin’ on all the Glam comps that had been coming out over the past decade or so. We wanted to get back to that sort of primitive/fun style of playing so that’s the kind of songs Ryan and I started writing.

We started under the name Roman Fingers (named after the horrible Suzi Quatro tune), played one show, and decided to make some adjustments, and over the course of a year or so we finally found the right formula, which is the Ramma Lamma you know today.

DAN: Ramma Lamma was going for at least a year before they asked me to join. They were doing this thing at first where Wendy or Ryan would play guitar and sing for half the set, and then they'd switch instruments for the second half of the set. I remember being kinda bummed when they started, because people in Milwaukee were starting this kickass rockin' glam punk band and I didn't get asked to be in it. Then after they had a couple singles out Wendy asked if I wanted to play bass and I was like "finally."

RYAN: Wendy and I were in Plexi 3 and the Monitors together (both writing) and wanted to do something more Rock n’ Roll. Both of us started out more or less playing basic garage punk type stuff. So in a way it’s a return to what has always been the most fun kind of music for us.

Razorcake described your music as “70’s arena teen pop.” However I also detect bands like Radio Birdman and DMZ in the Ramma Lamma arsenal, 70’s rock that’s catchy but with a harder edge.  Are you guy’s fans of either of the above-mentioned bands or am I totally off the mark?
Wendy: Yeah man, that 70’s arena teen pop is a more fitting description of our dear friends in COZY than Ramma Lamma. I try hard not to paint myself into a corner writing songs for Ramma Lamma, though, because it can be easy to get genre tunnel vision, then I get bored and uninspired to write. Our stuff varies from sleazy/bluesy Trex-esque mellow jams, to proto-metal 60’s stoner rock, garage, punk, pop, pub rock like Dr. Feelgood. When its time to self edit I just sit back and think, “Would Roy Loney approve?” If so, the song stays.

DAN: Radio Birdman is one of my faves. I think there was talk of Ramma Lamma doing a DMZ cover set for Halloween this year too. We definitely never practiced for it or anything.

RYAN: Yeah, actually DMZ “Relics” on Voxx records is one of my all time favorites. The lead guitar on that record rivals James Williamson on Raw Power in my book. As far as the teen thing goes, there are touches of that. We listen to a lot of 70’s rock, but it’s all over the map. I like a band like Flamin’ Groovies, who basically did whatever they felt like within the Rock ‘N’ Roll umbrella.

Speaking of your music, you released a Christmas EP a couple years ago. It included a song called “Merry Christmas to a Rock N’ Roll Lady”. Who is that song about? 
RYAN: All of the lonely rock and roll babes across the world. I had the idea to do an Xmas single with Steve from CPR Records. That song was a joke, I came up with it in about 2 minutes on an acoustic guitar in my kitchen.

Listening to your records, it is tough to pinpoint influences to any one era of Rock N’ Roll. I hear most of them in your music. Is there anything other than music that inspires your songs? Things like films, books etc… What kinds of things do you all like doing when taking a break from Rockin’ and Rollin’?
Wendy: Ramma Lamma definitely likes to sing about sex and partying, which is a big time hobby for all of us. When I am not rockin’ and rollin’ in Ramma Lamma, I have another band I play drums in called Rat Lips, all girl and PUNK AS FUCK! I also enjoy drawing, painting, sewing, plants, giving music lessons, and cooking food for my friends and band mates.

DAN: This is pretty much all I do. Rock ‘N’ Roll all-night and party every day. I got a pretty square job, but who wants to talk about that? I play in a bunch of bands. I play lead guitar in Chinese Telephones, but we're not that active anymore. I just started playing drums backing up my buddy Kurt Baker. I'm working on a solo album too. I just counted the other day and realized I'd played in nine different bands in the last year. I like chicks and drinking beer and comic books and whippets.

RYAN: I read a lot of comics, watch a lot of old horror and B movies. I have written a song about the 1974 Australian biker film “Stone” as well as the 1987 film “Street Trash,” highly recommended for fans of Repo Man/Troma studios. Both of those should hopefully be on our upcoming LP. 

I read that out of all the different art forms, music has the power to alter a person’s disposition the fastest. Do you agree with this? Do you have any favorite music that you can put on that will always lift you up from a slump?
Wendy: Because music is more aggressive than say, a painting, I certainly agree with that statement. However, if you choose music as your medium you are choosing the harder path because you have to rely on other people to get your art out there. Unlike a painter, which involves a whole lot of organizing, communication, and you kinda end up being the leader of a small gang of miscreants. Which is rad, but more work.

I like to listen to spazzy beat music or girl groups when I have a bunch of chores or tedious tasks to do, and also when I am at work, because it’s the “safest” weird music you can play in public without people bitching.

Serious slumps, or a case of the “thinkies,” require good food and exercise, not music. Temporary relief can be sought out from a 3-minute pop song, but I tend to simplify or trivialize my situation if I turn to records for relief, which makes things worse in the long run. 

DAN: My favorite record when I'm feeling down is the second Dictators LP, Manifest Destiny.  I just read some dumb review from some blowhard rock journalist that totally slagged it as sellout crap and the worst album in their catalog. I wanna punch that guy. I got my DFFD tattoo ‘cause of that album. It's healed many a broken heart. Thin Lizzy's Bad Reputation kinda has a similar effect on me.

RYAN: Great party records, I guess. Anything you put on right away after you’ve drank a few. Like if you could only keep 25 records or something what would they be. For me: Supercharger “Goes Way Out,” MC5 “Back in USA,” and The Who “Sings My Generation.” Lately I’ve really been digging the Lew Lewis Reformer LP, on Stiff Records.

If you could tour with any band/musician from times gone by, who would it be and why?
Wendy: Slade. I imagine life would be perfect in every way, but if we were to get real here for a second I think the best possible combination would be us and Guida!! And COZY, LOLA COLA and MICKEY!

DAN: Thin Lizzy or the original lineup of Alice Cooper. I wouldn't even really need to tour with them as much as just get a chance to see them live when they were around. I mean, both groups kinda exist in bastardized forms now, but fuck that shit.

RYAN: Probably The Damned, Brian James Era. They just seemed like the most fun and outrageous band in their early years.

You guys seem to play out quite a bit.  What has been the most memorable show you’ve played so far, good or bad?  Where was it and what made it so unforgettable?
Wendy: We have played some local street festivals and it always gets me going when I see some random, older locals going crazy because they haven’t heard what a loud, rock and roll guitar sounds like in the sunshine, with an open beer in their hand for a really LONG TIME. Sometimes they will come up to me after the show and talk to me about Lita Ford and the usual suspects, it’s pretty rad. Closest thing to a time machine.

Dan: My favorite mighta been with Cozy, Hot Rash, and Rabbit Holes in St. Paul, MN.  Much like the Point show it was in a basement, basement shows are always fun, and all the bands fucking ruled. I got to play an Ace Frehley cover with Hot Rash. Wait, how many bands did I say I played shows with in the last year? Add one more to that.

RYAN: We played a show in Stevens Point, WI that was a lot of fun. It was a packed basement show with all these kids going totally mental. We were also properly drunk at that perfect level of playing just good enough, but having a really great time.

I read an interview with Keith Richards where he said that anyone buying digital music is getting short changed.  Do you agree with this and if so, why?
Wendy: I have never bought digital music because I am a firm believer in the exchange of money for a tangible object. I also put all my stupid music up on the Internet for free. I will probably change my tune once our LP is finished.

Dan: Whatever. You lose sound quality with digital, but you make up for it in convenience. I buy everything on vinyl, and when I'm home that's what I listen to. I'm a busy guy though and I got no problem paying ten bucks a month to have Spotify on my phone. That shit's awesome. If I could take my record collection on tour with me for three months I would, but I can't. I love mp3s!
People from our generation might have this nostalgia for a physical product, but kids growing up today don't give a shit. They've never even seen a fucking CD. Vinyl's always gonna be number one for me, but whatever means you chose to enjoy your music in is alright by me.  I'm more interested in trying whatever kinda magic cocaine's been keeping Keef alive this long.

RYAN: I guess you don’t get the album sleeve. What are you supposed to clean your schwag on now?

I don’t like using the term “guilty pleasure” because I don’t think anyone should be made to feel ashamed of anything they like.  However with that being said, what to you listen to that you think a lot of fans may be surprised by?
Wendy: Let me break down my thoughts on “Guilty Pleasures” here for a moment. Since the entire catalog of everything EVER is available to download for free I don’t think that people are so dedicated to their niche as much as they used to be. Also, the lines between ironic and actual good taste have been blurred so much by the Millennials that it’s hard to say that anything could possibly be shocking at this point in time. I feel that all genres truly have their diamonds in the rough, even prog rock, but never RUSH because they are the worst band in the world!!!!

DAN: I used to hate the term "Guilty Pleasure" 'cause I was like "Why should I be ashamed of what kinda tunes I wanna listen to?" Then one day I realized I liked the song "She Don't Know Me" off the first Bon Jovi album. That shit's just embarrassing. I can't believe I'm admitting it here. I mean, I'll admit that I like "Runaway" but "She Don't Know Me" just kinda crosses a new line. Yet I still like it for some sick reason.
I like a lotta shitty pop music though. I'm a sucker for a good hook. I own a Kelly Clarkson 45.  That one Bruno Mars song "Kicked Out of Heaven" is kinda sick.  Sometimes I'll even get down with some nu Country. Even though they're singing about the corniest shit, like Jesus and watching your kids grow up and joining the army, and the production is horrendous, I can't deny I good three chord hook with a strong melody.

RYAN: I like a lot of sentimental wimpy stuff like Micheal Nesmith, solo country records, Sam Cooke, Donovan, oh and I’m a huge Rod Stewart fan.

What does the Ramma Lamma Rock ‘N’ Roll machine have in store for us in the near, or not so near future?
Wendy: We just recorded a demo of our first LP to take into the studio. After we finish our bout of summertime gigs we are gonna hit the studio. We generally record ourselves because we have been really unsatisfied, but we want to give the studio another try.

DAN: I don't know about any of that stuff. I'm just gonna drink some more of these beers and keep listening to this Giuda record.

RYAN: Recording an LP and touring somewhere outside the USA, hopefully Japan or Puerto Rico.

Where can people go to buy or listen to your great records?
RYAN: Check the Internet should be easy. Maybe Amoeba has some used copies of our 45’s, hey not everyone has good taste.

Stay tuned for gigs/tours/upcoming releases on Facebook:

Listen to songs here:

We still have a few records for sale from these fine record labels:

No comments:

Post a Comment