Most bands go out with a final record, a last show, a bitter implosion. Not many peter out on a Razorcake interview. But Ringers were calling it quits in only a few weeks time, so we started making funeral preparations. An obituary was conducted over a bottle of whiskey, about two hundred cumulative cigarettes, and the muted din of a Pearl Jam rip-off band. And maybe it was knowing that the end was near. Maybe it was the whiskey. But for some reason, that interview went on for hours. Since Todd didn’t want to put out a special edition Ringers-only issue (#55), some of the fat was sheared and saved for the web. We were left with a full tape recorder and promises of a last show, which never panned out. Too bad, but the songs that would have been played—comfortably nestled between a passed-out Tim Armstrong and, I don’t know, an involved, slightly disappointed, actual punk—will stand the test of time. Just ask Barker’s grandma—she loves that shit.
If you want to read 8,386 more words from the Ringers, please accept this invitation to purchase the print version of Razorcake Issue #55.
Dave: As a primarily Boston and Brooklyn-based band, how many times would you all say you’ve taken the Chinatown bus?
Barker: I used to be in a band in Brooklyn, and once a week, every week, for an entire year, I want to say.
Justin: That’s an exaggeration, every week?
Barker: Yes, every single week for a year. I had my work schedule worked out ‘cause I would come here and practice with the Young Men every single week. I would do Man with a Van jobs with Jamie. I don’t know; you do the math.
Justin: Since 2004 until basically six months ago, I was probably doing it once a month, which is a real number.
Justin: I just spent so much fucking time on the Chinatown bus. I feel like I have this year backlog of anger that I need to express.
Barker: Everyone has that anger.
Justin: There was a time period where it was like, twice a month. I’d go up, we’d play all night or I’d get on the 2:00 AM bus. Let’s say four years, average of once a month, so four times twelve…forty-eight. Work it out.
Barker: You do the math. We have some homework for you guys.
Dave: What’s been your worst experience on it?
Justin: Every time.
Barker: You’ve had far worse experiences than I do. I think I might be the bad guy on there sometimes.
Ross: I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences.
Justin: It broke down once on the side of the road. They wanted to move us to another bus, but they couldn’t ‘because the bus had died, so they couldn’t open the side. So there were just two buses for like an hour and a half. Finally this sports car pulled up and these two “mechanics” showed up. We’re all like, “Ah, the mechanics are here!” And they just started wailing on the side of the bus with like, a steel pole.
There was a time the bus over sold and I got in a rented car with five strangers. Two girls who were on a reality show, this guy who was my camp counselor when I was eleven years old, and these two college kids who were freaked out. The two girls were trying to put the moves on this guy. They stopped the car in the middle of 84 ‘because she leaned over to kiss this guy and then the car went into park and we screeched to a halt. This one girl went to Harvard and this other guy went to Wentworth or something like that, and they were just so bummed out. We stopped at the Pilot—which is our favorite rest stop, it should be said—and they bought The Cars’Greatest Hits and played “Just What I Needed” on repeat for two hours. I looked back and they were so sad. It’s bad. I used to see a romance in it, I’d be like, “Cool, man, I’m sneaking into Boston on the bus!” That just went away.
Dave: So Ross, you never got off, puked, and went to work?
Ross: Okay. That had nothing to do with the bus itself, and I think it was a Greyhound. We played a show in Brooklyn at Lulu’s with Pink Razors. I worked a messenger shift in Boston that day, took the bus down, and rode my bike to the show. It was my first time riding over the Williamsburg Bridge and I didn’t realize there was a lane for bikes above, so I rode with traffic and everyone was honking at me. I was really stressed out. I got to the bar and I was like, “Man, that Williamsburg Bridge, it’s a nightmare to ride over, huh?”
Barker: Which lane did you ride in, like the far right one?
Ross: No, I was riding with traffic; there were tire holes too, so I was swerving around them. Everyone was yelling at me. It really sucked. We played the show. There was a bunch of buddies there and everyone was buying me shots and stuff. You put me on the bus.
Ross: Definitely. I showed up, the bus got back at eight in the morning right as my shift started, and I radioed in. I got off my bus, got to the first red light, went to balance, and barfed all over the handlebars.
Justin: I used to get off the bus and go straight to work, too. I’d get in at 6:30 AM and work at this restaurant at 8:00 AM.
Barker: I worked downtown. I’d get off the bus and go straight to Guideline Research. It’s this place in Boston where all the punks work. Not all the punks, but a few punks in Boston work there. Matty Buttcakes got everyone fired.
Ross: Are we gonna add a Buttcakes story to this thing?
Barker: Larry Clark’s son got me fired.
Brian: Another interview recently pointed out the fact that most of you don’t have large record collections. Why did you switch to vinyl only?
Barker: I like vinyl.
Ross: I used to have a giant record collection. I used to run a record store. I’ve been traveling around a lot more, and it’s been completely impractical to own records. I ended up selling my entire collection when I sold the store, and we went to Europe for a month. I was moving around every two months for a while. I lived in Richmond for a while and now I live in Brooklyn. That being said, I just got back into buying records. I think it’s my favorite medium to purchase and listen to music on. It’s just not personally practical for me.
Justin: I would add, too, that I appreciate vinyl a lot. I just never had a collector impulse for anything, really. I don’t hold onto things. That’s why I’ve never amassed a collection. But I’ve always liked putting out vinyl; it feels like a real neat medium to put things out on. So I think we all appreciate vinyl. I’ve just never been able to collect anything. I’ve always wanted to. Especially right now too, it’s like, what’s gonna go is CDs. The only difference with Hurry Up and Wait is that we just cut out pressing CDs, which are getting to be really, really silly.
Barker: I have CDs and nobody cares about them. I have so many records, you know? I mean, CDs suck.
Brian: So was vinyl always sort of primary for you guys?
Justin: Yeah, I think so. I think CDs just had a weird fifteen-year moment. Kids ten years from now are never ever gonna purchase a CD, probably. In terms of putting out records, putting out vinyl always felt more exciting. It’s actually real or something.
Barker: And that’s what the punks want, you know. People who listen to this band probably don’t buy CDs. Go on the pop punk records board and every nerd is buying shit for like, “Oh, I got this on Riptide Rush (A purple color named after a sports drink)!” I don’t care, but little Timmy in Buttfuck, Minnesota loves that shit. He bought every color.
Justin: I think it also used to be part of the punk idea. Records are coming back now. They’re way more popular for bigger bands, but for the last fifteen years, putting out records was a way of trafficking in your own little niche or community, whatever you want to call it. I’ve always liked that. When you talk to somebody who’s not involved with music, those people don’t even know records still come out. They’re starting to—because of the way things have changed in the last four or five years—but it always used to be like a weird choice.
Barker: And my grandma can listen to our records. She loves that shit.
Dave: You have to give up one forever: music or books. Which is it, and why?
Justin: Cool question, man. Uh, I don’t want to answer it.
Ross: Yeah, books.
Barker: Because music’s better.
Ross: Because, personally, it’s not that I don’t read, but I play in bands. That’s what I’m more passionate about.
Barker: I went to music school. I didn’t go to…book school.
Justin: “Hot damn, we’ve got a band!”
Barker: I went to Berklee. I didn’t go to Emerson or some other school.
Goose: I’m gonna say give up books too, for similar reasons. I listen to music more often. I’m in my car a lot; I listen to music all the time. It gets me through the day.
Barker: Books didn’t put me in this room. Tasty licks did.
Justin: Where did books ever get me? Guitar got me right here!
Ross: Books didn’t get me strip searched, all right?
Justin: I don’t know. I’m gonna defer.
Ross: Do you think we’re gonna be mad at you if you say music?
Brian: You gotta answer. Everyone else answered.
Justin: I don’t know.