TMG is pleased to present another introspective artist interview, this time with the San Fransisco Groove Psych band, Ray Gun!
Catch them at 50 Mason Social House this Sunday at 9pm!
RAY GUN is here to bring soul music into the Space Age. Pulling sounds from a wide variety of influences (shuggie otis, al green, the beach boys, cream, csny, wilco, dr. dog, spiritualized, tame impala) RAY GUN set out on a mission to make music that not only grooves, but explodes with cosmic energy – a sound they’ve coined “groove psych”. Hailing from San Francisco, the members of RAY GUN formed their brotherhood in 2014 through their mutual obsession with all things music. The band has since been set on taking their live performances to the next level, expanding heavily on their demo EP, “Retrograde” (written/recorded by Cam) as well as writing and recording songs for their next release.
Let’s check out their live performance of Hang Around!
Now here’s Ray Gun’s exclusive interview with TMG!
1. What’s your band’s name? Where’d the name come from?
For a while I’d written in a folky, “old West” vein, but last year I released a demo that strayed from that. It was spacey, and a little retro, and I chose the name “Ray Gun” for the project. We formed the band around that material, and everyone dug the name, so it stuck.
2. The Yellow Collar Collective is all about the daily grind musicians go through to perfect their craft, what has been your biggest struggle and accomplishment as a musician?
Keeping a band together in San Francisco is both! We need to practice a lot and listen closely so that we can improvise together effectively, and getting a group together with the write work ethic and chemistry, then balancing it around conflicting schedules, is crazy. It’s a busy place and if you’re not committed to something, that alone will kick your ass and weed you out.
3. What other instruments can you and your fellow band members play?
Besides guitar, I play bass. Mike, our drummer, also plays guitar and bass, and our keyboardist John plays a mean pedal steel. Our bassist Dom drums, is playing all this month in FOGG Theatre’s production of The Cable Car Nymphomaniac.
4. Why’d you start making music and why specifically did you choose your genre?
We formed after Mike had heard the demos and contacted me about forming a band around the songs. We were offered our first gig around the same time, so once we got everyone together we had to scramble a little.
It made sense from the first practice — we all listen to psych and 60s rock and we share a lot of common influences. And when I started diving deeper into Motown, the sound we have now really took shape. The songs we’re writing now have everyone’s stamp, and they’re a bit deeper than the demos we started with.
5. Do you have any memorable musical experiences that have shaped who you guys are?
Bad shows are great for that. We had one where we had to troubleshoot gear problems in front of people for what felt like an eternity (but was probably more like 25 minutes). In the end, we got things going, but had less equipment to lean on, and had to really dig in with our playing. Most of the shows have been good, but the terrible ones can make you exponentially better.
6. Have you ever released any albums or are working on any now? Any special projects?
We’re mixing our first studio single, which is slated for a July release. We’d all packed into a car and drove down to LA earlier this year to record two songs at Comp-ny studios in Glendale. One track is a motown/rock marriage, and the other is more of a psych rock suite. Speaking of memorable experiences — it was Neil from Valley Queen who put us up down there. We ended up taking our gear over to his practice space and jammed together long into the night. It was a blast.
7. Do you collaborate with other artists? Inside and outside your genre?
Mike’s other project, The Nurseries, is a psych-garage outfit that has been playing around SF for over a year now.
8. What venues and events have you performed at in the past five years? Which has been your favorite?
We loved playing at the Brick and Mortar earlier this year, they’ve got a great space. El Rio is John and Mike’s neighborhood hangout. And the Hemlock’s been great to us. Our first show was at Goforaloop Gallery, which is an art space run by good friends of ours, and it was a masquerade ball. Semi-formal, glittering masks, lots of people, great way to kick things off.
9. How do you acquire shows and promote yourself? Do you have any recommendations for other artists?
People want a sure bet. Venues want to know that people are going to come in and want to see you play. Other bands want to make sure you sound good and fit well. So you have to bootstrap it. Start wherever you get a foothold, insist on bringing your best, and get the word out. We try to be tasteful, and not annoy people, but we’re not shy about using websites and social media, contacting who we need to contact (Mike especially), putting up posters and stickers, or whatever else.
Mainly, we have terrific friends who continue to support us, so our most important job is to remain grateful for that.
10. Do you have any mottos?
Fake it till you make it. I’ve also been caught using “rock and roll” as an exclamation once or twice.
11. What artists inspire you?
I love the Beach Boys, The Grateful Dead, and Dr. Dog. We all share a collective love for all things spacey, groovy, energized, and inventive. Al Green, Shuggie Otis, Aretha Franklin, Tame Impala, Jonathan Wilson, Father John Misty… there are just too many to name.
When we started playing together, we made a Spotify playlist of tunes we felt each other should hear. Some of our friends started following it too. That feeling of shared appreciation, that maybe the other guys hear things the same way you do, is inspiring as well.
12. What’s next for your band?
Ray Gun Konnichiwa Japan tour 2020.
13. What do you do when you’re not listening to or making music?
Besides work — Mike and I love disc golfing, John is a cook. Dom plays in pit orchestras around the bay, so he’s just always out playing.
14. What’s your favorite song right now?
The Dead’s version of “Viola Lee Blues.”
Thank you to Ray Gun for taking their time to do this interview for all of us!
Check out more of Ray Gun through the links below!
Once again, check them out this Sunday at 50 Mason Social House starting at 9pm!