Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): Your first record Mornington Crescent Now Open was recorded, a video was made and even a record deal landed all before you guys had ever played a live show together. How did that happen?
David Fritz (DF): The record deals happened by accident. I had given a copy of the disc to an old friend in the U.K. who happens to run an indie label. He was eager to put the EP out over there and he did it as a co-release with a label in California. The icing on the cake for me was having it released in Japan.
Our bass player, Matt [Trotter], was the catalyst in making Ramona a “real” band. He loved the track ‘A Way Over’ and told me that when I decided to put a band together he was going to play bass guitar. So that really inspired me to get the band going.
We actually found our keyboardist, Elliot [Caroll], through an advert on Craigslist. She played some early shows with us, but has spent a lot of time in L.A. working on her own music. Elliot has a special “open door” policy with the band. Currently, she is in Toronto so we are very happy to have her playing and recording with us again. She has always been the missing puzzle piece in Ramona.
RMM: When you finally played a show together did everything go smoothly, was everyone comfortable?
DF: I honestly can’t remember much about our first show; I think it went okay. I suppose it has taken us some time to figure out who we are as a band, what Ramona’s identity is. With a few exceptions the first EP is pretty much all me, so it felt a bit strange to play the songs live for the first time. But now, two years later, I feel we are a much tighter unit and each of us contribute equally to the music.
RMM: When the album was released in 2010, how did promotion and touring turn out?
DF: We played a lot of shows in southern Ontario when the EP was released and it received some very favourable reviews stateside and in Europe.
Unfortunately I often see the EP available on torrent sites and as free downloads, but that’s just the way it is these days. Now you have to give your music away for free in hopes of selling some t-shirts or having people come to your shows.
It’s a double-edged sword really. You don’t need a record label to release your music now but you do need their money to market it.
RMM: Ramona is recording a new album now, British Racing Green. What was fuelling you, what was the inspiration behind the new songs written for this album?
DF: Aside from the song ‘Kids In Tokyo’, all of our songs seem to be about romantic relationships gone wrong. Cliche maybe, but these are the types of songs that have always appealed to me as a listener. I don’t connect with bands that have a political agenda, I respect their views, but I don’t feel like the songs relate to my life. Broken hearts are pretty universal.
So ‘British Racing Green’ is going to be more of the same lyrically. Musically the new songs are influenced by albums that I’ve been listening to over the last year. There’s more synth and drum loop stuff going on this time round but we still manage to sound like Ramona.
RMM: Where is the new album currently being recorded?
DF: The tracks are being recorded at Savile Row Studio in Toronto and it’s being mixed by Ed Krautner at Loudmouse.
RMM: I’m very curious as to the title of the new disc. Any particular reason for the title, British Racing Green?
DF: I am a bit of an anglophile. I lived in London for a couple of years and I am heavily influenced by British music. The first EP was named after a tube station in London and for some reason several of our new songs contain analogies to driving, so British Racing Green came out of that.
RMM: Will the new album be released by only one record label, as opposed to the first record being released by three different labels?
DF: We haven’t exactly worked out all of those details yet. Our American label wants a full album but I am reluctant to do that now that the market has shifted back to being singles driven. It seems crazy to me to release all of your songs at once – the shelf life is too short. I think its better to release a couple at a time to keep people interested. So you will probably see a few Ramona singles released over the rest of the year.
RMM: Who in the band is writing the majority of the lyrics? Were the vocals and guitar written first or did you all collaborate together at the same time?
DF: I write all of the lyrics and it usually starts with a rough demo that I bring to the band. From there we work out more interesting arrangements and vocal parts together. It’s a real collaborative effort these days.
RMM: Are you guys in the process of making any new videos to escort British Racing Green?
DF: Yes, we’re currently working on some video concepts for our first single, ‘Dirty Little Secret’.
RMM: You played a live show for Canadian Music Week. When can we expect to see the band on tour again?
DF: It’s been a challenge to tour over the last year as we have all have full time careers and families to juggle the band around. I feel like we’re picking up momentum again so you’ll be seeing more of us this spring and summer.
RMM: What can an audience expect to see at a Ramona show?
DF: You will see three very handsome fellows and one lovely lady. We guarantee that.
RMM: If you could describe the band’s sound in three words, what would you say?
DF: Infectious Power Pop
RMM: What has been the greatest opportunity for Ramona as a band so far?
DF: When I played with Junior Achiever, we did a two week tour in Japan. Three of the dates were as support for Shakalabbits. They’ve been around for ten years and are massive over there. I fell in love with the country and the people which inspired me to write ‘Kids In Tokyo’. I wanted to get it on our EP once the Japanese release was confirmed. Shakalabbits’ drummer Mah was moved by my song and agreed to play drums on it. I really bonded with Shakalabbits despite the language barrier, so it was amazing to have him play on the song. I get choked up now whenever I hear it.
RMM: Do you see more records to follow in the future?
DF: Sure. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of making music and I feel pretty confident that there will be plenty of broken hearts that will identify with it.
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