Interview with The Rassle
As our pleased ears have told us, bands that form with members from other influential bands are usually victorious. In regard to these sometimes-called “supergroups”, one reputable name is Jonathon Donahue, whose short but praised presence in both the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev make him a rare example of a musician treading between two of the most acclaimed acts in a given genre and time period. The Rassle contains four members that can relate somewhat to Donahue, at least in his juggling of work between two bands that some consider chronologically suitable rivals. The Rassle, which focuses on reviving the post-punk sound, has extreme chemistry despite the members’ mixed backgrounds. It is probable that this instant chemistry was a result of The Rassle’s make-up and experience, which includes former Virgins affiliate Erik Ratensperger, Marc Solomich of The Takeover UK, and Reed and Blair Van Nort of Young Lords.
The Rassle formed after a long acquaintance and a short history of playing shows together, mostly at random venues in New York City, soon forming the name The Rassle. “It’s a slang word,” Blair Van Nort says on the name. “Reed and I are brothers and we come from a small state in the south called Texas and we used to joke about rassling when we moved to New York many years ago. Things like: “Rassle me up a 40 when you’re at the bodega.” Or, “If you don’t clean up your room I’m gonna rassle your ass.” We just thought it was a funny word but also loaded with enough context to make it a good band name,” he explains. “And we also liked that people might not be familiar with the word, so they could apply their own contextual imagery without the words defining the band first. Kinda like when we were kids and heard about Oasis. We didn’t think about what a stupid band name it was, ’cause we had no idea what an Oasis was.”
With the age of technology at its prime, we are frequently seeing bands take advantage of it by setting up extensive MySpace pages, twitters, blogs and websites. Characteristically, The Rassle’s Myspace page is vague and has a sense of humor to it. With Biggie Smalls and Little Richard listed as their musical influences, and a minuscule amount of friends, first-time viewers might question the band’s legitimacy. “We’re still so new,” Erik Ratensperger says on their lack of Internet partake. “We only launched these songs a few months ago, but it’s nice to see such a positive response so early. This is definitely not a side project; when we started this, we didn’t know exactly how it was gonna go, but we quickly realized that something was there. It was pretty magical, it just sparked and we decided go full steam,” Ratensperger finishes, before Reed Van Nort quickly pipes in, “Who’s on MySpace anymore anyways? I think as Seth Meyers put it: MySpace: The Abandoned Amusement Park of the Internet.”
So with Young Lords and Virgins influences present, should we expect a similar type of listening experience from The Rassle? “This is an entirely different band,” Ratensperger boldly states. “I think the music we are making now is a lot better than what we did with Young Lords,” Blair Van Nort adds. “But we are older now and have learned a lot more about making music and we have a clearer vision of what we want to see when we reach the light at the end of the tunnel.” Though they aim for a fresh style, the band incorporates a cumulatively equal style in the songwriting process. Ratensperger sees the process as mutually beneficial. “It’s a collective effort. It’s really nice when we’re working on something and everyone’s just bouncing off each other with different ideas on what might make a song move,” he said. “But because this is still so new, I think we’re also still learning the process as we write and record more songs. It also usually also involves a few cold ones and Doritos.”
Being an unsigned band fairly new to the music scene, The Rassle decided to take the initiative and recorded a few demo songs on a cheap microphone in their apartment. “From the beginning we decided to throw the kitchen sink at these songs,” Blair Van Nort says on his band’s loose recording process. “We had all been in bands that got pigeon-holed into these genres and styles and we were super reluctant to allow this new project to be defined by his or her dogma. So we tried adding and subtracting lots of different sounds and instruments until we found the parts we felt added up to the highest degree of sonic purity. But ultimately you know we were super limited by our tools since we made these songs at our apartment using Garage Band and Pro Tools Lite, but I think it turned out great. We stumbled into something so much more honest and true to ourselves being cramped in our tiny apartment but dreaming big.”
With a few rough songs, some upcoming shows in the New York/ New Jersey area, and an optimistic attitude, The Rassle have already began their journey of taking over the indie rock world. “We just really wanna make music that inspires other people,” Blair Van Nort says on his band’s goal. When asked for a few last words, the guys summarize in a few of their own lyrics. “Celebrate the days!” Blair exclaims, as Reed pipes in, “If it’s all you got!”
RIYL: MGMT, The Virgins, The Takeover UK, Young Lords, Black Kids, Mystery Jets, Good Shoes, The Maccabees, The Pigeon Detectives, The Teenagers, The Strokes, Passion Pit, Klaxons, Two Door Cinema Club, The Kooks, The Clouts, Blonde Acid Cult, Dear Future, The Redwalls