interviews [ page 7]
Ricky are a Portsmouth based four piece who match summery melodies with beautiful Californian harmonies. James Lines is their frontman.
SXP: How long have you been together?
James: Ricky began as me and Guy writing songs in the summer of 2000. However, it wasn't until the release of You Set The Scene (our mini-album) in early 2002 that we had the full line-up.
SXP: Is there much of a Portsmouth music scene?
James: Despite being such a small city, Pompey has around 30 indie bands that I could name - which I think is quite a lot for one genre. However, there's no real collective 'scene' or 'Portsmouth sound'.
Because of the fact that we've achieved a certain level of success, we've become the target of a lot of bitterness from other Portsmouth-based bands. We get labelled as an "Oasis tribute band". Now don't get me wrong, Oasis are one of my all-time favourite bands, but I don't think we sound anything like them! When was the last time you heard Oasis using 12-string guitars, and singing in 3 or 4 part harmony?!!!
SXP: What are your feelings about your forthcoming tour with The Bluetones?
James: I can't wait for it. It's gonna be a great to play Manchester - a city that spawned some of my favourite-ever bands in The Hollies (ignore the MOR crap that The Hollies released after Graham Nash left - prior to that, they were brilliant), The Stone Roses and Oasis. The city has just got so much heritage.
The Bluetones were one of my favourite bands as a schoolboy, so it's a real privilege to tour with them. I've been into them since 'Are You Blue Or Are You Blind?' came out in 1995, and it remains one of my fave tunes to this day.
SXP: You've already toured with an impressive list of bands - who did you get on with the best?
James: We get on great with The Bluetones. I think that it's the first time they were supported by a band who actually grew up listening to their music - which must have been strange. I always end up knicking half of their rider, so they've learned to tolerate me!
The Crescent were really good blokes too - very down to earth and a good laugh. Joey (their drummer) stays in touch through email. I really like their album.
SXP: Would you agree that Teenage Fanclub, the Byrds and the Beach Boys are obvious references and do you consider that you have other influences?
James: Those three bands are very strong influences - as are Crosby, Stills & Nash. We're strongly influenced by bands who use West Coast harmonies, and I'm happy to admit it.
I wouldn't say that we're really influenced by any other bands. I'm a huge fan of The Doors, Love, Syd Barrett, The Beatles, The Creation and Buffalo Springfield - but I wouldn't say that those bands have actually had any effect on Ricky's sound.
SXP: Which song by another do you most wish you'd written?
James: 'Girl Don't Tell Me' by Brian Wilson, which appeared on The Beach Boys' 1965 Summer Days And Summer Nights LP. It's a great, great tune. The melody is wonderful, and the 12-string Rickenbacker guitar break is class.
We're definitely gonna cover it one day as a B-side.
SXP: Who of current bands do you enjoy?
James: I like a lot of contemporary bands, but there are very few which I love. I guess that today's music scene doesn't grab my imagination.
I really like The Libertines' LP and The Crescent's too. My favourite music of recent times are three tracks from the Doves' latest LP - 'Words', 'There Goes The Fear' and 'Pounding'. Three wonderful pieces of life-affirming music.
SXP: Did the garage invasion of 2002 ever make you think you were swimming against the tide with your lovely gentle sun soaked harmonies?
James: I think we'll always be swimming against the tide - how many harmony-orientated bands are there ever existing in one time?!
We just believe in what we do and don't try to 'capture the zeitgeist' by adapting our sound to whatever NME thinks is fashionable at a particular time.
Having said all that, it is a disadvantage to be so far removed from what is the 'in' sound. NME have ignored the Sunset View single. This is despite the fact that we've had great press from other publications, as well as mainstream national airplay on BBC Radio 2. I attribute this snub to our out-of-fashion sound. Or could I just be too fucking ugly? I guess we'll never know...
SXP: What happens after the release of the single and the completion of the tour?
James: We're unsigned and so to do anything is difficult cos it means the funding has to come from within the band itself.
However, we've recorded a brilliant second single, and are hoping (finances-permitting) to release it in the first week of July.
We'll just keep on releasing records for as long as we can in the hope of, one day, getting a record deal.
SXP: What's your idea of happiness?
James: Ricky getting a record deal. I can't begin to tell you what that would mean to me.
If we did get a record deal, then my dream would be to create the ultimate summer album. You know the way that listening to The Beach Boys and Byrds' records, it just feels like summer? That's what I want to achieve.
I want it to be a concept album, but not in a particularly lyrical, narrative-based kind of way. I just want the album to 'feel' like summer. Everytime that people listen to the album, I want every sensory connotationto scream 'summer!!' at them.