I just recently got in contact with Brandon Rainer, trombonist for Vermont's River City Rebels. The band just released their third full length "No Good, No Time, No Pride" on Victory Records. Click below to read the interview in which we talk about topics varying from the band's writing process to politics to their future projects to front man Dan O'Day getting naked.
Adam: To start things off, state your name, your band and what you play.
Brandon: This is Brandon Rainer, Trombonist for The River City Rebels.
A: You guys just released your third full length "No Good, No Time, No Pride" on Victory Records. How would you say this record differs from your prior two?
B: This record took the best qualities from the first two records, especially the simple sing along style of the first record, to create this third release. Even though we like the second record, we feel that we strayed a bit from the simplistic style of "Racism, Religion, and War." We love playing live more then anything. So we wanted the songs to be catchy enough that you'd hear the album once or twice and be able to come to the shows and sing along.
A: This time around you recorded with Darian Rundall, who's worked with 98 Mute, 1208, Pennywise and the US Bombs. What were the sessions like for this release?
B: Darian's a great guy and did an amazing job on US Bomb's "The World." That record was the reason we recorded at Stall #2 with Darian. Making an album is always super stressful but recording with a guy with Darian's experience made it easier. It would've been nice to have a little more time to record but i think we made the best of the time we had. The first two albums had elements we weren't happy with but I think we get better with each time we go to the studio. We've learned from our mistakes and we're getting closer to making an album we're 100% satisfied with, if that's even possible.
A: Can you describe the writing / recording process you guys undertake?
B: Dan O'Day wrote about 95% of everything on the album. I wrote one song "No Pride" and everyone's thrown in an idea or two on the record, but there's no doubt that this is Dan's band. He started it and we all have our trust in him and his songwriting. That doesn't mean we didn't have our disagreements in the studio every now and then. haha. As far as recording goes, everything was done separate. Drums first, then guitars, bass, horns, lead guitars, lead vocals, then gang vocals. Dan was the busiest of us all because he sung and did half of the guitar works. No beach breaks for poor Danny.
A: The Rebels line-up seems to be constantly shifting and changing from each album. How has (if at all) the group dynamics changed this time around now that Dan O'Day is on vocals?
B: Every one of our past singers were great in their own way. Ward and Dan McCool were both great in the studio and have great voices. And even though neither of them were bad live, their stage presence was never anything over the top. Dan is great on stage and has worked very hard on his singing. Singing doesn't come natural to him so he's had to work on finding his range and style which I think gets better with every show. We've gotten stronger with every line-up change. RCR has never been about a specific person which is why we've gotten away with these changes. This is without question our strongest line-up yet and I don't foresee any changes. Except our sax player Rylan. If anyone would go it would be him because he sucks pretty bad.
A: The song "Sucha Bore" that kicks off the new album has a guest appearance from the Duane Peters of the US Bombs. How did that collaboration come about?
B: Well Duane had contacted us a year ago or so saying that he was a fan of the first record and he wanted us to a song for his "Old Skars and Upstarts 2001" album put out by his label, Disaster Records. So we went into the studio and recorded "Life of a Rebel" In my opinion that version is better then the version on "Playin to Live, Livin to Play." Anyways, we've kept in touch with him and when it came time to do the new album, we wanted Duane to be apart of it. We asked him if he would record a little spoken word for a song and he wanted to help out. So he recorded a little rant for us on a mini disk we sent to him. We picked it up at a Bombs show we saw in Orange County when we were in California recording the album. We gave Keri Martinez one of our albums that night and he called up the studio a few days later asking if we wanted him to lay down a guitar part for a song. And that day he came down and listened to "Drunken Angel." It took him 45 minutes to come up with that solo and took him one take to get it down. It was something else. He's a true pro.
A: As for the band's future, I hear there is a split with Six Gun Radio in the works. What can you tell me about that?
B: We actually just bought studio equiptment and installed it in Dans basement. So now we're going to have the oppertunity to record more 7 inches, which is something we've been wanting to do for a long time now. Also we're going to be recording demo's for any bands that are interested. Just get in touch with dan at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are 2 tentative 7 inches in the works right now. One's with Six Gun Radio and the other is with Worthless United, a kick ass band and friends of ours from New Jersey. But as of right now there's nothing set in stone with either of those projects, but we'll keep you informed.
A: "Small Town Pride" has always been a big staple of the Rebels thematically. What's the scene like in and around Burlington? Are there any local bands you'd recommend people check out?
B: Burlington's a great place for us. The scene keeps on growing too. Every time we play there there's new faces in the crowd along with kids who have probably been to 20 of our shows which is great and shows that we must be doing something right. There are a ton of strong bands in Burlington that help keep the scene as strong as it is. Static Age; featuring Drew and Adam, 2 ex guitarists of RCR; The Foodstamps and My Revenge are usually the bands we play with up in Burlington.
A: As always the Rebels have incorporated a good amount of social commentary in their lyrics. What are some of the issues that you, personally, feel strongly about?
B: I'm personally very Anti-Bush. I originally thought that Bush getting elected, i use the term elected loosely, would be the best thing that's happend to punk rock since the Regan era. But there hasnt been as many bands speaking out against him as i had origionally thought. Everyone in the band is a huge fan of Michael Moore and his website www.michaelmoore.com is a great way to get involved in the government and see just how awful this man truly is. God-damn republicans. Everyone needs to vote in 2004 and get this creep out of office!
A: Recently on your tour with the Voodoo Glow Skulls and Ten Foot Pole there was an incident in Jacksonville, Florida that "got blown way out of proportion and landed Dan in jail." Can you shed any light on what happened there?
B: Well basically, Dan got naked onstage for our last song of the night. One person watching got offended (what a lame-o) and basically told the police on him. So they arrested him and he spent the night in jail. It was all over the local news down there. They must not have much to do there i guess. At first he was charged with a Felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison! Believe that?! But those charges were reduced to a misdemeanor and he wont be doing any jail time. He may have to mow some lawns or rake some leaves for community service, but it beats jail. So basically you can rig presidential elections in Florida but dropping your drawers, that's a no no.
A: You've toured heavily in the past few years, did any venues or bands you've played with stand out as your favorites?
B: As far as venues go 242 in Burlington has always been my favorite. I think we've outgrown it though. I never thought outgrowing a venue would be a bummer but in this case it is. Valentines in Albany is always great for us. We just played CBGB's with Roger Merit and the Disasters a week ago which was just a thrill. Venues don't matter as much to me as the bands and we've met some pretty good bands along the way. Bands like Madcap, Worthless United, The Mansfields, Roger Merit and the Disasters, Voodoo Glow Skulls and Leftover Crack are good friends of ours.
A: Now I asked our readers if they had any questions and these are some of the responses I got (aside from "Why do you guys suck so bad?" which you can answer if you really want too, haha). Ok, the first one of merit I got was:
What type of trombone and what size mouthpiece do you play on?
B: I play on a Yamaha and use a size 7C mouthpiece. Man that doesn't sound nearly as cool as saying I play a Gibson les Paul or a pearl, fuckin lame trombone.
A: How long have you been playing?
B: I've been playing for 13 years now
A: There has been a rumor that some River City Rebels members were going to form a side project with Adam Taylor, former bassist of Grand Prixx. Is there any merit to this?
B: Adam, Chris and myself go to the same college, Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire. Before Chris joined RCR, Adam and him collaborated on some songwriting, but nothing serious. We all remain good friends but there's no side projects with Adam, or anyone for that matter, in the works.
A: Finally the most important question: Dan has said that the band knows you as the "Iron Giant." Why is that?
B: Well my friend Chris, who plays bass for Lost City Angels, gave me that nickname and it's just stuck for some reason. We've been friends since middle school and he's always had a knack for creating nicknames for me whether I like them or not.
A: Thanks to Brandon of the River City Rebels for getting in touch for this interview. For more on the band check out Victory Records.