|ISSUE 10.1||Spring 2000|
BIG NOISE FROM THEM WRANCH
I caught up with Them Wranch as they were returning from a show at the Union in Athens, promoting their new album Big Noise From East Maynard. The very tired, very malnourished and very bad-hygiened band -- Andy Ranch (guitar/vocals), Joe Patt (drums/vocals), and Gerry Morrison (bass/vocals) -- and I sat down to talk about the beginnings of the band, their sound, what's next for the band, and of course, the new record.
Chad: Let's start off very basic, how did the band get together?
Gerry: It's pretty simple, I was working with Joe's ex-girlfriend at a Mexican restaurant here in town. So Joe would come in and get a bunch of free food.
Joe: That's not true, I paid for everything.
Gerry: And he told me about this band he was in, the Hairy Patt Band. Said come check them out, so I did. And we kind of became friends.
Andy: And I worked with Joe's ex-girlfriend, the same girl, at the Wexner Center and she told me that her boyfriend was in a band and all that and he came in one day, and I knew he was in the Hairy Patt Band. I was a fan. She introduced me and once he said, "Oh yeah, I've been jamming with this guy Gerry" who I had met three or four years ago. One day they said, "Why don't you come over, we're gonna play." And there was another person or two there and it was alright. But when the three of us were actually alone, we just kind of went boom, wow.
Gerry: It wasn't expected.
Andy: It wasn't planned, like, we're starting a band.
Joe: It's like when you're going out with a girl, you know, and you just end up in a relationship. I just wanted to fuck these guys.
Gerry: He still does.
Joe: Yeah, I guess that's it. Then we just got a couple of gigs and the rest is history.
Chad: And the first show was the Halloween show.
Joe: We played at our apartment, where Gerry was living at the time.
Gerry: I was living on Clinton Street, and it was the first time we played in front of people -- Halloween of '96.
Andy: We didn't know each other that well and our friends weren't mutual, but we had all these people sitting in a room. And the way it happened to be set up, to get to the door you had to go past in front of us; and it was just us three playing as loud as we could; and it was just all of these people staring at us. It was kind of funny.
Joe: It was a very small room at top volume. I wish we had a tape of that show, we'd probably cringe. But the sound in that room was fucking great.
Chad: The songs at the time, were these the songs that you guys started out with on the tape?
Joe: Yeah, there's still a couple that we do.
Gerry: On the album (Big Noise at East Maynard) there's a couple.
Joe: Like "Vampire Daddy" was our first Halloween tune.
Joe: And "Premium Rock." We've had a lot of tunes that have ...
Andy: ... fallen by the wayside.
Chad: And going from that to the new album, there's only a couple of songs left.
Andy: We've joked about telling people that if they bring those tapes, we'll give them a discount on the record. First of all, the quality of some of them was just embarrassing.
Gerry: Yeah, it was embarrassing and they were way overpriced.
Joe: But you've got to go through that shit when you're in a band. It's like, I listen to tapes of the stuff we did and it's just like "oh, man this is awful" and I'm sure that there were people who came to see us when we first started playing, but you have to do that, you know. You can't expect to go out and, boom, be fucking amazing. Maybe some bands do, but where do you go after that. We've developed a lot over the past few years. I think that it's probably been good for us.
Chad: How did Them Wranch become the name?
Gerry: There was a bar on Summit, a bar called The Ranch.
Andy: They just took the sign down and it was so cool, it was sort of like a country bar. That bar was really great. So, we would walk there after and drink beer, and that's where we would always go. And one day, we were trying to come up with a name. The cool part was Them Wranch came about when my uncle was recording in a studio. He records in New York. And Ray Davies from The Kinks was recording there. He was saying, "My nephew's in a band," just telling him about it. And he's like, "they're called The Ranch." And Ray Davies is like, "what," and he said it again, and Ray Davies said, "Them Wranch." My uncle told us that, and we had to change the name because there were other The Ranch's all over the place, so, we were like, that's awesome.
Gerry: It's good to have a band name, where we're probably 100% guaranteed that there is no band in the fucking world called Them Wranch.
Andy: Sometimes I think that that's a really bad name, like it's the dumbest thing ...
Joe: I love the fucking thing. I think it's one of the best band names ever.
Andy: I would disagree with that, but I think it's got something to it.
Gerry: It's better than Grab Ass.
Andy: The Runs and we had a couple of other things.
Joe: We actually changed our name for a brief period to The Slips, for one show. We opened for this Japanese band.
Andy: Then we had the first single coming out and we said, "We've got to pick a name," and this was it.
Gerry: Good old Ray Davies.
Andy: He uttered our name. He uttered our name improperly.
Chad: Last general question, I promise. Describe your sound.
Joe: It's a danceable, high-energy ...
Chad: Not from the press release.
Joe: It's a raw, edgy sound.
Andy: I think that the easiest way is just to name a bunch of things, you know, because there's always punk and garage. I think we go everywhere from garage, to psychedelic, to punk, to blues, pop, roots, twang.
Gerry: All over the place.
Andy: And I just think, like, this just indicates the tastes of all different types of music we love. I just think that we let ourselves get inspired by other things.
Gerry: I would just say that it is rough, edgy, rock and roll. Edgy.
Joe: Both the sound and lyrically.
Andy: Tragic and loud.
Joe: That was in the Alive. Tragic and loud.
Andy: But we are definitely loud.
Gerry: Sloppy and loud.
Andy: I think that our music is designed to be tight, and it is tight in its way, but there's definitely fumbling. None of us are technical musicians. There's always a touch of the human, but we deal with it.
Joe: It's better now than it was, but we're still developing.
Andy: We're all picky of new bands. There's certain ones that just catch us and we love, but we're all into old music. We all love '50s, '60s, and '70s music and there's definitely that element in what we do.
Chad: Let's talk about the album. Why was it recorded at a lot of different locations?
Andy: I think the first thing would be finances and time. We all had jobs and we didn't have anyone paying us to be in the studio.
Joe: Just a curiosity, just trying different people.
Gerry: Just kind of a trial by error. We would record and we weren't satisfied and would try someplace else and weren't satisfied. It just took a lot of different ways to record to get the sound that we wanted.
Andy: We would record four or five songs with one guy, and two of those songs we would be, like, "Wow, that really came out good." Then, songs like "Premium Rock" and "Whip" that have been around since the very first show that we did, we tried those four times and never got it. Then we finally got one that we were satisfied with. But all the people that recorded with us did a really good job.
Chad: How did you decide on the concept for the album cover?
Joe: We had talked about an idea for the Halloween single, like a couple of years ago when you [Andy] did the matches.
Andy: I would do matches, just to hand out for shows. I had a color copy of a bunch of them before I handed them out, all lined up, and we thought it would be cool for a Halloween 7". We had a different idea for the single, then I was talking to the guy that helped us do it on the computer and he was like "Yeah, that should be a cover that we should pursue." I just took a bunch of records from Joe and Gerry.
Joe: Yeah, there's an interesting mix on the cover.
Andy: I have a degree in drawing and I don't do anything with it so it's kind of nice to do something kind of by accident.
Joe: You will now, it will become a craze.
Chad: We'll take you one by one on this one. What's your favorite album on the album cover?
Gerry: I don't know, it's kind of a toss up. I'm going to have to go with the Country Teasers. But then there's like, Who's Next, which is one of the all-time classics, one of my all-time favorites, and this Cramps one, Bad Music for Bad People. And Vampire on East Maynard is a pretty good one.
Andy: I've had a period in the last couple of years that I was just obsessed with the Zombies. But I think my all-time all-time favorite all the way through is this Emma Thomas record. And then the Them Wranch singles, man, those are pretty good.
Joe: "Shit Sandwich." Definitely the Country Teasers, we've played a lot of shows with those guys. This album reminds me of, you know how great pieces of music take you back to a certain time, this takes me back to the summer of '97 when we were really starting to buckle down, and I had quit the Hairy Patt Band. It just takes me back. Then there are two on here, coming from a drummer's standpoint -- actually two of my favorite drummers of all time. One is Bill Ward from Black Sabbath, Volume 4, and (the drummer) from Can, a German band.
Chad: Why did you pick "Premium Rock" as the single?
Joe: Oh, did we decide on that one. I listened to that Friday night and it's a good solid tune.
Gerry: Rhythm and melody.
Andy: And it's like, we're having fun. We're laughing.
Gerry: There's hand claps in it man, like the Monkees.
Andy: When we were recording that song, we had all had a beer so we were feeling a little crazy.
Chad: What's next for Them Wranch?
Gerry: We're trying to get into other cities.
Andy: We want to get into more clubs to play, because that's important to us.
Joe: That's the immediate thing. Besides that, playing out, recording some more, trying to get some more records out.
Andy: We've talked about, for a year or so now, getting another guitarist. Go in a new direction so we're not stagnant. There's only so much that a three-piece can do.