Monday, 1 November 2010

Q & A with Dave Fritz of Ramona

1) What was the first song you learnt to play on the guitar and who taught you to play?
Dave Fritz: “I’m self taught and I learned the basics from a Beatles songbook. I forget which song I learned first but it would have been one from that book.”

2) Is it important for parents to hate their children’s taste in music?
“I suppose that’s been an important factor in the history of rock music. Children rebel by latching onto popular culture that their parents don’t approve of. It’s usually a combination of fashion, music and drugs and I think the best music has always come from those periods of youthful rebellion. 50’s rock and roll, the Mod movement in the 60’s, punk rock in the 70’s, these were all brilliant Rock eras. I’m looking forward to the next rebellion because things have gotten pretty dull and I can’t think of any artists from the last decade that will have any lasting impact on music.”

3) Elizabeth Kubler-Ross once wrote: "Every individual human being born on this earth has the capacity to become a unique and special person, unlike any who has ever existed before or will exist again. But to the extent that we become captives of culturally defined role expectations and behaviors - stereotypes, not ourselves - we block our capacity for self actualization." Do you agree with Ms Kubler-Ross?
“I’d agree with that statement. I know several talented people that have never developed their skills because they’re led to believe there is no future in pursuing those interests. There’s that famous line from John Lennon’s aunt, “A guitar’s alright John but you’ll never earn your living by it.”
Culturally we’re taught to go to school, get a job, then a spouse, a house and procreate. That may be fine for some people but for creative people that’s a prison sentence. I’m thankful my parents supported all my dreams and aspirations no matter how crazy it might have seemed to them at the time.”

4) How good were Junior Achiever and are you proud of what they achieved?
“I engineered and produced “All the Little Letdowns” with lead singer Gene Champagne and it’s the best record I’ve ever worked on. Gene wrote some really classic pop songs and it sounds great technically, I’m really proud of that album.
How do you measure a band’s success? We didn’t sell a million copies of the CD but some of our songs ended up in television shows, we played to a few thousand kids in Japan and I made some really great friends along the way.
I spoke with a woman in Tokyo who was an English teacher and she used Junior Achiever lyrics in her lessons. I think that’s pretty cool, I’m proud of those accomplishments.”

5) Could you live in Tokyo? (Do you like the food and the way things are in Tokyo)?
“I think I could live there for a short time. I love Japan. It’s difficult to explain what Tokyo is like to someone who hasn’t been there. Like New York, London and Paris there’s an amazing vibe in Tokyo.
You’re constantly surrounded by these giant neon billboards, the public transportation system is amazingly efficient, trying to order food is an adventure, the kids are into fashion and are fanatical about music, there is a historically based culture of politeness and respect for others. All of these things contribute to what makes Tokyo great but most importantly for me it’s the people. They are warm and wonderful hosts.
Unless you speak fluent Japanese I think you might feel a bit isolated after awhile. In Tokyo I met up with an old friend from school who married a Japanese woman. He’s lived there for six years and says at the end of the day he always feels like an outsider.” 

6) Are there any current bands that you consider better than Ramona?
“When I wrote and recorded the Ramona EP I was really inspired by Graham Coxon, Motion City Soundtrack, The Wannadies and Weezer’s Pinkerton album. Currently I’ve been listening to The Wombats, Twisted Wheel and the new Futureheads record.”

7) Where would you like to be in ten years time?
“If I’m still recording music in ten years I’ll be happy. I’ve never been very good with making long term plans for my future!”

8) (I notice you quoted Pablo Picasso’s observation about good artist’s steal). So many of the great British bands of the past (Who/Kinks/Beatles/Stones/Roxy Music/Clash/Pistols/Blur etc) featured ex art students. Do you think it’s important for bands to have influences outside of music and to be well read or well travelled?
“It’s funny you bring that up because a recent review of our EP criticized me for saying that! The author was upset that I “ripped off” other artists and that I wasn’t totally “original”.
She missed my point entirely. Art is about inspiration and much of that inspiration comes from other artists and reinterpreting their work.
If I rip off other artists it's in the way I choose to play a chord in a song like Pete Townsend would or how Another Mouth to Feed is my attempt to rewrite a Jam song.
I think reading and travelling expands your creative palette and point of reference. As an artist trying to interpret life it’s imperative that you experience other cultures and other forms of art. I would think your work would be pretty one dimensional if you didn’t.”

9) Do you tend to write more music when you’re happy or when you’re sad?
“I’d say I write when I’m sad, when I’m happy I’m busy out being happy.”

10) If you could produce an album for any band or singer alive today who would you pick?
“This might seem cliché but I’d love to do a record with Paul McCartney. It would be a serious education in the recording process and it would probably look really good on my resume.”

11) (In terms of being in a band) define success?
“A stranger telling you that your song saved their life.  I got an email from a young girl whose boyfriend had beaten her up really badly. She said she felt like “letting go” during the ordeal but the words from a Junior Achiever song kept her from giving up. I cried when I read that email.”

12) What is the most recent song you’ve written and how did it come into being?
“It’s called Dirty Little Secret and I was trying to rip off The Kinks!”

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