Every now and then, either intentionally or otherwise, a band will write a song that sticks with you after only hearing it once. With me it has happened numerous times, such as The Fire Theft’s “Heaven,” The Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” or Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”
Every now and then, either intentionally or otherwise, a band will write a song that sticks with you after only hearing it once.
With me it has happened numerous times, such as The Fire Theft’s “Heaven,” The Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers” or Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.” Over this last week, while corresponding with Nathan Szytel and Dominic Castillo from The Ravishers, it has been their song “Keep You Around” that I can’t seem to shake.
Portland’s The Ravishers have only been up and running for a fairly short period of time, starting in late 2008.
Though the band had spent considerable time together playing under the name Dominic Castillo and the Rock Savants. Though when Dominic Castillo, Jonathan Barker, Kelly Anne Masigat and Nathan Szytel incorporated Eric Moczygemba into their lineup on bass, they felt like a new band. And so they were reborn as The Ravishers, writing, as they put it, “polished indie rock” songs that will enjoyably stick with you.
Szytel and Castillo were kind enough to take time this past week and offer some insight into the band’s past and current affairs.
Richard D. Oxley: What is the band’s recording/album history thus far? Is there anything in the works?
Nathan Szytel: We have an EP that we just released, Singles for Singles. We are also almost done with a full length that should be out in the summer of 2009.
RO: Is there any style you aim for? Are there any effects, instruments, special tools you use to gain a specific style or feel?
NS: Our instrumentation is pretty straightforward. What we spend an exorbitant amount of time on is how to bring those instruments in and out of a song in a way that makes it interesting. The secret for us has been to not play a part just because you have an instrument in your hands. It needs to serve the song.
RO: Could you explain that “secret?”
Dominic Castillo: We were recently recording a new song for our upcoming full length (at the Secret Society—great studio!). During the process I realized my guitar part didn’t contribute to the song, so I cut it. It’s easy to fall in love with a part, because, after all, you’re supposed to be making music, but sometimes a song is a zero-sum game.
Your part exists at the expense of something else that’s happening at the time. It’s a lesson we learn over and over again and it forces us to ask what is important in a song.
RO: What is the songwriting process like? Does the band collaborate on a song or does one person bring a song to the band? Are there one or two main songwriters?
NS: Dominic writes the majority of songs with some collaboration with the rest of the band.
RO: Dominic, are certain aspects of a song more important than others?
DC: There aren’t aspects of a song that are more important than others for me. I like being caught by a song, whether I’m listening to the radio or writing. I just want the song to catch me.
DV: Why the name change in general after gaining one person? Did the band change very much?
NS: No, the band hasn’t changed drastically, but any creative venture can benefit from a breath of fresh air. The name change did not completely grow out of gaining a new bass player. The change was more so that the band could breath, and to reflect how we had “grown up” as a band, so to speak.
DC: We wanted to try a new direction and it just felt good to do a name change and just start fresh. We had a new batch of songs—I think everyone was ready for a change.
RO: Was the style, feel and sound of Dominic Castillo and the Rock Savants very different from The Ravishers?
NS: I would describe it as a progression or a refining. Even though some of us have been making music for a while, we are still getting better!
RO: If The Ravishers were a sandwich, what would it be called and what would it be made out of?
DC: If I was smarter than I am it would be much sexier of a sandwich, but sandwiches aren’t very sexy. Man, I am trying to think of the sexiest sandwich.
It is definitely on a baguette, definitely gonna have some prosciutto and some Genoa cured meat, and probably for cheese it’s gonna be a Fontina cheese, and then probably a few pepperoncinis in there to spice it up a bit. The sandwich would probably have to be eaten while making love—that is the most important part of the sandwich.
Hot steamy sandwich love. It would be called The Ravisher … ah man, I am going to go make one right now.