My Relationship With Music

No longer is this the beginning of a new year, so much for the “Welcome 2010” blog post. I had a bunch of cool topics rolling around to write about, but now that I’m here it’s difficult to nail anything down. I thought about doing a thing on one of my friends each month. It would be a good chance to edify publicly the people I care about, and I’d never run out of topics…unless I become a salty old shut-in, naturally.

Another idea I had was to talk about music. The problem with that is I have no idea how to approach it. Music is such a big part of how I’ve chosen to live my life, that trying to think of the whole thing in terms of one topic is staggering. I could break it up into a series of multiple blog posts, but let’s be honest.. I’m not that motivated to write in this blog. However, Iron and Wine’s cover of the Flaming Lips Waitin’ For A Superman just came on the iTunes, so maybe that’s a good place to start.

Ironically enough this song has been popping up somewhat often lately. I made a comment on Twitter recently that this song is one of my favorite covers ever recorded. I have no idea why. I’m not even a very big Iron and Wine fan. The Flaming Lips are one of my very favorites. There’s something about a classy cover of one of your favorite songs that can get under your skin.

I was born into music. When I was a boy, my dad was a DJ for some rock and country music radio stations throughout Colorado and the Southwest. Some of my earliest memories are of listening to records with my dad and my big sister, in our run-down little duplex on 7th St in Grand Junction. My mom’s influence had me singing. Church choir, school choir, show choir, musicals, you name it. When I left Arvada, CO for Nashua, NH in 1994, I left behind three different choirs.

The mixture of choral sensibility and rock and roll idolatry sent me on one a hell of a journey. I was discovering bands like Nine Inch Nails and Front 242 on my own. Through my friend’s older brother, I discovered things like Oingo Boingo, Consolidated, Ministry, etc. which led me to Teletunes on channel 12 in Denver. I slithered into the front range underground and incubated my tastes in all ages places like Ground Zero on the Hill in Boulder and Mercury Cafe Downtown.

Local punk rock was where I was at, and I wasn’t going anywhere. I was a 16-year-old punk rock terror. Running away from home to live in the city streets and going to local all ages shows every weekend. It was like that until I moved east.

Before you ask, No…My name is not Bojangles, and I’m not going to sing and dance for you, so don’t even bother entertaining it.

Punk was the deal for the rest of high school. Remind me to tell you about the time I went with Merrimack’s finest psychobilly three pieces, The Brain Bats to headline a show at CBGBs. It was an epic show with real, live, New York City punk rock blood, booze, and leather.

I was going to shows at places like The Rathskeller in Boston, and the Elvis Room in Portsmith, NH and I was discovering a new type of asshole…Muscle-headed hardcore kids. I wasn’t used to the way these pricks enjoyed shows. I had been going to violent shows for years, but these guys weren’t even trying to be polite. Even my small size wasn’t stopping them. I lost interest in being at live shows with bullies, and after The Rat closed in 1997 I lost interest in rock music all together.

Enter Ross; one of the worst influences I have ever crossed paths with and, to this day my very best friend. I had gone to rave parties before, my big sister was a rave queen in Denver in the very early 90s, and I had gone with her to a few. But nothing could prepare me for what this dude was about to introduce me to. I began going to underground parties, and giant massives in around 1997-98. I moved to Boston shortly after that and – with some of the closest friends I have made in all of my life – threw some of Boston’s most memorable underground parties for about three years.

I keep threatening to write down some of the stories that came out of this handful of years. I came out of it with a vast knowledge and love for Techno, House Drum & Bass, and Breakbeats. We partied all over Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and DC; sometimes Chicago, Detroit and up to Canada. Just to dance to our favorite DJs from all over the world. I read books, bought documentaries, listened, studied and talked about nothing but electronic music and rave culture. The music was fascinating, new and everywhere I went I met folks who had been to our parties.

Power Surge Production Loft, South Boston. Fall 1999

I left Boston for Virginia in the early 2000s. In Richmond, there was almost no electronic music. Besides that, my roommate and most of my new friends were tattoo artists…not a lot of Detroit Techno in Richmond tattoo shops, believe it or not. Before very long, I was back home to dirt and rock and roll. Living in the town that spawned the likes of Avail, Lamb of God and GWAR was like gutter-rat Disneyland. There was always an amazing show at a filthy bar, and PBR was cheaper than water. I developed a marked taste for drinking songs, murder ballads and good, hard-living country music. It’s also when I began to explore Hip-Hop. I left RVA to open a store in Virginia Beach, and that’s when working began to take more of my time than music.

I rolled back into Denver in the Fall of 2004. I had been on the most incredible ten-year adventure, and it was time to go back upstream. Within a year of being here, I met Joe from Chicago and Eric from Atlanta, who were both DJs in the late 90s. Around 2005 or 2006 a bunch of us grizzled old schoolers decided to put together a Denver Drum and Bass crew, and through this I’ve been able to stay close to music through my 30s.

I think that ended up being a pretty good post about music. There’s no way that I can explain how I lived my life or tell stories from my past without music. Likewise, it appears that I can’t talk about music without talking about my life. It has been my compass and sextant throughout all of my land-locked voyages. If there’s a common complaint from every ex-girlfriend I’ve ever had, it’s that I talk about music too much.

  • Mark

    That’s fuckin dope yo!! I enjoyed it throughly!

  • Jaime

    Me likeee

  • Jaime

    Hey has anybody else written anything about the old boston electronic scene?

  • Kevin

    Awesome post Rick. Since our paths crossed during our early “punk rocker” years it was fascinating to read the rest of your journey. Karin and I still look back at that crazy weekend in NYC with the Brainbats… hard to believe all the places that life and music have taken us…

  • Rick Ramos

    Jaime: I don’t know if anyone has, or not. I have so many photographs, and tons of memories to work with! I really should start recording the stories before I start to forget them. Maybe you should start telling your stories? I know you have plenty. 🙂

  • Rick Ramos

    Kevin: Do you remember the Candy Snatchers, who opened up for the Brain Bats at that show (with the guitar player who sliced his head open with a beer bottle)? They are from Virginia Beach, and they still played down there from time to time (when they could find a bar who would let them in). I mentioned that night to their guitarist one time, over half a decade after it happened. His face dropped like he had seen a ghost! “You were at that show?”

    Also, this pin is still on my jacket…

  • Jayna

    Loved reading this…it made my day! Maybe I will put together my journey with music and my life. Ricky I remember when we hung out one time and you went through my cd collection and we were spot on with the exact same taste. Much like Ricky I started out in good ole punk rock!

  • Rick Ramos

    Jayna: I totally remember that! I also remember you were stoked that I got to see Avail’s local shows. 🙂

  • Jayna

    love Avail! They are so great and I was totally stoked! HA!

  • Rick- What a great read! Thanks for sharing! I also know what you mean about the NY HC scene, everyone was so much more aggressive than what I was used to in VA and DC.
    I really hope you’ll take the time to write down all the shows (especially the Boston scene) you’ve been to. I’m starting to lose track of the hundreds and hundreds of live performances I’ve seen over the years.

  • Rick Ramos

    Scott,

    Those stories do start to fade away, it’s true. I hope you took pictures. 🙂