Sunday, December 30, 2012

Russ Rankin-Sounds Good

Russ Rankin is lead vocalist and songwriter for Fat Wreck Chords bands Good Riddance and more recently Only Crime. Russ's new solo effort "Farewell Catalonia” (out on Paper + Plastick Records) was released in 2012 and he has since been performing solo shows in support of his latest work.

Whenever I get to speak to musicians for this blog, I always ask them where they fit. 

Is Russ Rankin an “analytical theory based” musician, or more of an “I play what sounds good/self-taught” musician?
"I would put myself mostly in the 2nd category you listed although I have recently begun to study music theory a bit more, mostly inspired by my introduction to jazz."

Here's a link to Good Riddance's "Salt" You won't find much jazz in this selection, but the chord progression and vocal melodies and harmonies suggest that when Russ plays "what sounds good" it comes out enjoyable, provided you like hardcore/punk music. 

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue music?
"I thought about trying to sing punk rock when I first bought and listened to Bad Religion’s “Back To The Known” ep. I thought it was amazing the way they used vocal melodies to deliver a potent message."

Bad Religion is pretty influential. Devin Peralta of Cobra Skulls also sited them as an early inspiration.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of your musical persona?
"The obvious advantage has been the modest platform it’s given me to speak on issues important to me (animal rights, politics etc). The disadvantage would have to be the inability to hide and be anonymous in the music scene. Having to be extra conscious of everything I did or said, who I hung out with. It comes with the territory and I have learned to deal with it. It isn't nearly so extreme lately as my band(s) aren't really hugely popular but it’s still a thing."

What is Russ Rankin most proud of?
"I would suppose it would be when Fat Wreck Chords agreed to release our music because it turned us almost overnight from a struggling local band into an international act. The most humbling thing has been the thousands of people who have been inspired by our music to make positive changes in their lives."

What is your typical process when writing a song?
"I usually just play around with riffs on my guitar and when I find something that catches my ear I decide whether it will be a better verse or chorus and then I go about trying to fit a good vocal melody over it. 
Other times, a vocal melody just appears in my head (this happens a lot while I’m out in the water) and then I have to try to remember it until I can get home, grab my guitar and put a chord structure underneath it."

I love hearing about musical "Ah-ha!" moments. Guess who is responsible for Russ Rankin's? 
"My Ah-ha moment was listening to Bad Religion’s “Suffer” album. I was blown away. I thought it was a tremendously thought-provoking and powerful experience and it opened my eyes to the possibilities of punk rock music as a mechanism to inspire conscious thought behind a wall of ear-pleasing melodic information."

If you could get everyone you care about to listen to one song,what would it be and why should everyone you know check this out?
“Love and Ire Song” by Frank Turner is pretty powerful. It’s about hope, disillusionment and growing older. It gives me chills. It inspires me and at the same time it makes me want to quit writing music because I know nothing I write will ever be that profound."

My 2 cents, I can't help it...
After viewing and listening to Russ's big moment, I can't help but point out the musical simplicity of the song. Frank Turner is strumming the ever popular I-IV-V chord progression. (V7 if you're knit picky) 
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I-IV-V is so commonly used because it simply sounds good. We identify with these chord changes, and when pointed lyrics are passionate delivery are layered above.....Well, "Ah-ha!"

Ixnay on the "ub-step day"
We've seen what inspires Russ, but what is he NOT a fan of?
"I don’t care much for dub step, and I have never been a fan of the punk/ska fusion. I loved Operation Ivy but at the same time I think we have to blame them for all the bands that came after."

Thank you for taking the time to share your musical story. Anything else you’d like to add?
"Thanks to anyone who’s ever supported me or any of the bands I've been involved in."

1 comment:

  1. If I ever get a tattoo, it will be the burning kid on the cover of Suffer. Good Riddance is a long time fave of mine. Great interview.