Friday, October 12, 2012

Talking Trash With Detroit Legend Ricky Rat

When I was 12 or 13 years old, my friends in a band called Vendetta played their first live show at The Ritz. My best friend's mother was nice enough to load a bunch of us kids in the car and take us out to the show, but when we got there we found out you had to be 18 to get into the club. Instead of turning around and taking us home she spoke to the owners and they agreed to let us come in and see our friends band play as long as she sat with us and we left as soon as they were done. I believe they even gave us free pitchers of pop to enjoy while we watched the show. This was one of the first times I ever saw a live band and was the first time I ever saw a local band in a club. 
One of the most vivid memories I have of that night is of a flyer on a wall that was promoting an upcoming show by a local punk rock band called Trash Brats. I remember staring at the flyer and wondering who they were, why they were dressed so awesome and who made the cut and paste flyer that was on the wall. I miss the days of homemade flyers that were put together in someone’s basement and duplicated in black and white on a copy machine. That is one of the aspects of pre-internet promoting that I miss the most. 

That night I saw one of the Trash Brats walk through The Ritz about an hour after I looked at the flyer. I stared at him. He had on a leather jacket, had big black hair and looked cooler than anyone I had ever seen. Apparently their mothers let them dress the way they wanted to and I was jealous and intrigued. I am not sure why he was there that night. All I knew was that I had to see what the Trash Brats were all about. Over the next few years I saw the Trash Brats play all over the city and grew to become a fan of their brand of punk rock. 

They were known for epic stage shows and great glam punk style. Every time I saw them I looked at them with the same awe, interest and intrigue. The Trash Brats are legends in Detroit. They are what we are talking about when we talk about the Detroit punk scene. They were formed 25 years ago and are just as relevant today as they were then. They are finally playing a reunion show at Small's tomorrow and I wanted to talk to them to find out what it means to reunite and what changes they have seen in our city over the last 25 years.

HipinDetroit- What is the biggest difference in yourself from 25 years ago to today? 

Ricky- I hope I'm wiser, but that is debatable! More road-worn and worldly-that's for sure.

HipinDetroit- How has your music changed and grown from when you started playing? Do you play any of the songs you wrote 25 years ago today? 

Ricky- I have always written and played in a similar style. I could never be one of those people that could do a punk album and then a jazz album and then a country album and so on. In my solo sets I still play a Trash Brats' song or two.

Do you think Detroit music had gotten better or worse in the last 25 years? How has it changed in your opinion?

Ricky- Music-wise, there is always a lot of talent in Detroit but the scene has gotten much worse. I think there are just too many clubs, too many bands, too many options. When you mix in the internet and all of the other distractions, you get a lot of people scattered all over and not as into seeing live music as they used to be. My favorite cities to play these days are definitely mostly in Europe. Places like Berlin, Madrid and all over France.

What is the first memory you have of playing together as a band?

Ricky- Brian, Troy and I first learned our instruments, guitars and drums, at the same time back when we were 13! We would jam all into Troy's little bedroom and try to play songs all the way through. It's nice that after all of these years we still play together and more importantly that we are still good friends.

HipinDetroit- Do you have any regrets as a band, as a person, as a performer?

Ricky- Not really, of course mistakes are made but that’s what happens when you are young and doing things on the fly. It would have been nice to have had more label support or whatever but I am pretty proud that we did almost everything ourselves without much help from anyone else. (Managers, booking agents, labels etc.)

What would you tell a kid who wants to get into music and play in a band today? Any advice or guidance?

Ricky- You have to work harder than ever for it. Don't just rely on sources like the internet to promote-get out and do it the old fashioned way in person! Don't give up so easily. If you have a good band going, take some time to really get your songs and performance down right. I think some people expect things to happen too fast these days-in our "instant" culture.

HipinDetroit- Can we expect you boys to be dressed in full glam on Saturday? Do you still like to put on the glitz for a show?

Ricky- Haha. I will do my best to look as pretty as ever and I am sure the other guys will do the same. We have always been a flashy band who puts on a great show.

Some great advice and insight from a Detroit legend. Head out Saturday to see what will no doubt be an epic reunion of punk rock royalty and an anniversary of my favorite venue in Detroit. Thanks so much Ricky for letting us into your head!


No comments:

Post a Comment