Released at the end of last April, No Exit is the first Resonars album in 5 years.Once again, Matt Rendon, the mastermind behind the band, is handling all aspects of the recording and engineering at his very own Midtown Island Studios.
He is playing most of the instruments but could also count on the help of some friends like Resonars live drummer Johnnie Rinehart who plays on half the tunes and elsewhere live members Ricky Shimo & Travis Spillers played bass & sang on two numbers.
It was time for this blog to have a very enlightening chat with the man himself. Here we go:
1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about The Resonars to introduce yourselves? Can you tell the full story of what once was a band and now more or less is you alone when studio work is concerned? Who is playing what instrument in the "live" band?
The Resonars are a four-piece band from Tucson, AZ - Matt Rendon (guitar, vocals), Isaac Reyes (guitar, vocals), Johnnie Rinehart (drums) and Ricky Shimo (bass, vocals). Isaac, Johnnie and Ricky all play in the band Lenguas Largas, who many people consider, myself included, to be the greatest band in Tucson.
In 1998, after several years of playing in a full band version of the Resonars, Star Time Records put out the first LP - The Resonars, an album consisting of demos made from 1995-1998. The early band (1991-1997) was myself, Mario Cordova on bass (replaced by Forest Dunn in 1993), Eric Royer on guitar and Dustin Moyer on drums. Towards the end of the band I didn't feel we had the right amount of energy for the songs I was writing, so I started making demos to hear what they would sound like played the way I wanted.
Also, in the 1990s, the Resonars were marginalized by local music-goers, press and radio for being 'stuck in the sixties' or some bullshit. We played to 5-10 people most of the time and never caught on there because most of the Tucson music scene was consumed with desert rock, a regional form of alternative country. We weren't part of that, and didn't want to be part of that, so the band stopped playing shows and eventually broke up. Well, that first record caught the attention of Get Hip Records in Pittsburgh and they released the next three records (Bright And Dark, Lunar Kit, and Nonetheless Blue) and after that we were picked up by Burger Records in Fullerton for the next two (That Evil Drone and Crummy Desert Sound).
From 1998-2012 the Resonars never played a show. It wasn't until Sean and Lee from Burger asked Isaac to ask me to put a Resonars together for SXSW 2012 that we started playing again. That version was James Peters on drums, Jeremy Schliewe (from Harsh Mistress) on bass and Isaac on guitar. The next year Ricky joined on guitar and we played like that for two years and was the band that toured Europe in 2013. After that James quit and the band was put on ice for a while because Lenguas Largas had a lot of activity planned for the following year. After that, things got kooky.
We decided to start again, we got Johnnie in in drums and my wife Cherish (from Sea Wren) on rhythm guitar but then Jeremy quit and Ricky came back to fill in on bass and Cherish felt like she couldn't do it anymore. Again we stopped playing but soon after picked up Andy Puig on guitar and Nate Gutierrez on bass and that lasted for another year and then Andy quit and I just figured - forget it. When the Resonars were offered to play Purple Weekend in December 2018 I thought - well, who are the three guys I trust more than anyone and with whom I'll have the most fun? It was easy - Isaac, Johnnie and Ricky. So that's the band now and forever more.
2) About the latest released full length record "No Exit", what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?
The recording process was pretty hasty and rushed. I kept Trouble In Mind waiting for five years. The problem was is that I also run a recording studio called Midtown Island and I hadn't yet learned to balance my creative energy, as pretentious as that sounds, but it was true, I was doing so much work for other bands my own writing suffered. So somewhere in the middle of 2017 me and Johnnie just started bashing away at new songs. We would pick a day and make sure we had a new song ready to go every time. Johnnie listens to the song, we take three or four rehearsal runs and then press record. I prefer players who are on their toes and can think fast and play what's best for the song and Johnnie nails it every time. After that it's bass (handled by either Johnnie or myself), vocals and then overdubs. Ricky Shimo plays bass on Louise Tonight and Travis Spillers (from Freezing Hands) co-wrote and sings lead on Gotta Get Out.
3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios?
I've been using a 4-track Vestax MR44, Otari 5050 or Alesis LX20 on the Resonars tracks. I hate the use of computers for recording and think it spoils musicians. We will never go beyond eight tracks because any more puts bands in a false sense of security. On 8-track, decisions have to be made on the fly and you have to live with them so it's gotta be right.
4) Could you explain what you meant by naming your latest album "No Exit"? Are you talking about the state of the world, the state of the music in general or is this something about your personal life? When we built the studio we bought a pair of double doors from a construction site that had the frame and hinges facing the wrong way - so it reads NO EXIT from the outside. I couldn't think of a title for months until one day I looked up at the door and it hit me. I suppose No Exit, to me, refers to me and my friends who have been making records for so long. We know we're gonna do it until we're physically unable so No Exit, while seeming negative at face value, is really a call of encouragement. What the fuck else are we gonna do? We all have shitty jobs and no hope for this country, we might as well fight it out doing what we love and bring some beauty and creativity in to the world.
5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?
Nonconformity. All my songs touch on it in one way or another. Do what you love. Don't let friends or family pressure you in to making decisions off your chosen path.
6) The Resonars are described by some people as a being a "60's psych/garage" band. Do you agree with this label? Are you proud of it or do you consider there is way more than that?On our web page we call ourselves 'psychedelic garage-pop' which I stole from a Bob Pollard quote. That's about right. I don't care for the 60's tag because we don't dress like the 60's and we don't put ourselves out that way. I told the story in an interview a while ago that when we played the Purple Weekend festival in Spain, people were taken aback by us because we don't give a fuck about dressing up, we care about blowing your brain out with 45 minutes of loud rock and roll.
7) To what kind of music did you listen to as a teenager and does it still influence your today work? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.
I was a teenager in the 1980s and I hated absolutely everything I heard. Granted, I was only exposed to the radio and MTV and played football so I didn't come in contact with any music nerds. Luckily my older brother Mark always had 60's stuff pumping out of his room and I loved that stuff from day one. By the time I was 12 I knew most everything by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Byrds, etc. and was studying liner notes and seeing names like Elias McDaniel, McKinley Morganfield and Chester Burnett. I looked up those cats and it opened up a whole new world to me. I would say that my teenage years were pretty much about the Who, the Beatles and the blues. More than anyone, though, and I think this is fairly obvious, I'm influenced by the Who circa 65-69. I love the athleticism of their music and their particular energy connected with me when I most needed it as a kid.
8) Do you have a new video on YouTube featuring a track from the new LP??We haven't shot any videos but there is a video out there that our local NPR affiliate shot of Johnnie and I recording Gone Is The Road. It's not on YouTube though and I've no idea why.
9) What can concert goers expect at a gig of The Resonars? Are you playing any famous cover songs in concert?
Well, as mentioned earlier they can expect a loud, dynamic set of catchy 2:30 songs. You know - Fender Twins, Marshall half-stacks, Ludwig drums, two Fenders and a Gibson. We don't play any covers these days.
10) Are there any bands in The world today you consider yourself close to musically speaking?
Hmm. If we're close musically to any other bands, it would have to be the Tucson bands with whom we all share members - Lenguas Largas, Freezing Hands, Free Machines, Anchorbaby - we all record and hang out at the same place so there is definitely a cross-pollination of ideas and a core sound that pulses through all the bands.
11) Anything you wanna add?
Nah, I'm cool. Thanks, Eric!
PURCHASE IT HERE: https://theresonars1.bandcamp.com/album/no-exit
Excellent interview; thank you!
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