SXSW 2012: R. Ring Makes SXSW Debut

Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery of R. Ring rock Austin for the first time

Mar 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm
click to enlarge Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery of R. Ring (Photo: Emily Maxwell)
Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery of R. Ring (Photo: Emily Maxwell)

Kelley Deal of The Breeders and Mike Montgomery of Greater Cincy bands like thistle and Ampline debuted their newest project to eager SXSW crowds Thursday and successfully left them craving more.

Deal (from Dayton, Ohio) and Montgomery (from Dayton, Ky.) formed R. Ring about a year and a half ago. Even though they have yet to release a record, the group attracted a substantial crowd to Frank's on Colorado Street, despite the fact that hundreds were waiting in line to see Tenacious D next door.

Earlier in the day R. Ring played at the DOWN showcase, which was a collaborative effort between Jason Snell, of the Cincinnati bands Chocolate Horse and Ohio Knife, and the local branch of design firm Landor.

R. Ring charmed the crowds not only with their performance, but also with their wit and gentle demeanor.

Before the show, I managed to snag an interview with the pair inside their van. Below is what Deal, a SXSW veteran, and Montgomery, a first time attendee, had to say about the festival.

CityBeat: What do you think of SXSW compared to other music festivals?

Kelley Deal: When I think "festival," I think like a main stage and over here's a secondary stage … I 'm used to it being in one kind of area, so It never feels like a festival here. It always just feels like a gig. I hear about all these fabulous things going on and I'm not from here so it seems like, yeah, I need to see this, but where is it? Mike even downloaded a SXSW app today. Mike, how to do you feel about that?

Mike Montgomery: I haven't used it yet. I just asked one person a simple question — where's this band playing — and this guy said, "I don't know, fuck off, get the app," so I got the app.

Neither one of us have looked at anything to do at SXSW yet. I just wanted to get here and figure it out as we went. I already feel overwhelmed, like there were a million bands and all this stuff happening. It feels like there's too much to think about, so I need to protect my brain as much as possible.

CB: What's the best way for bands to approach the festival?

KD: I prefer to get here and meander about instead of planning this rigid itinerary that you have to adhere to — that sounds like a job, not fun. The first thing we did was pull in and go to a knitting store, because I love to knit.

MM: It's overwhelming, I looked at the app briefly. There were so many words … that I put it back in my pocket.

CB: How does the scene in Cincinnati compare to a music town like Austin?

KD: It does have this trailer-park feel, but all the good parts, like the camaraderie … it's got this very informal quality/type of living, in a way. I haven't seen big beautiful houses with people just showing wealth for no reason other than they have it. All the places we look at they're very cute houses and it seems like they value art.

MM: (Cincinnati) is all I really know. I've been playing and working there for 20 years. You hear people bitch, "Oh, the local scene sucks," but get out there and go to another town, get out and travel. If you're only looking to play at your local club once a month, then it does get boring, it does get old and you play with all the same bands. But go to another city, meet some new bands and bring them home, get it going. I'm always impressed there's always new bands I've never heard of, there's always people doing stuff. It's inspiring that there's a lot of youthful energy and a constant supply of talent in the Cincinnati music scene — but everyone bitches about their hometown.

KD: That's what we're saying about Austin, that's what they're good at — supplying that lifestyle for themselves.

CB: What expectations do you have for SXSW? What do you hope to accomplish down here?

KD: I don't know, what are they offering? Is someone offering some shit?

It seems like any band you can ever think of is inside their box (at SXSW).

MM: We have no expectations. We're here to have fun and play some shows. When I talk about feeling overwhelmed by the conference and bands, I feel like there's something in the air with people thinking this is going to be an advantageous career move or something like that. So that's what neither of us are excited about — that we're going to get something — but it's nice to see people doing stuff in different cities. 

It's cool to see friends from home here, too. I was surprised to see so many guys from Cincinnati.

CB: Would you come back to SXSW?

MM: I'm not going to make it a life goal, but if someone invited us again, I'd definitely do it.