R.Ring: Not A Cop-Out

Ohio duo R.Ring fills debut Ignite The Rest with familiar-yet-new songs

When R.Ring began seven years ago, Kelley Deal and Mike Montgomery entertained few expectations regarding their professional pairing. Guitarist/producer Montgomery had his post-rock band Ampline as well as his Candyland studio. Deal was occupied with the intermittently active Breeders. They met when Deal was tapped to contribute to a Guided By Voices tribute, and she asked Cincinnati’s Buffalo Killers to accompany her; the Killers suggested recording at Candyland. Montgomery recorded the track, then he and Deal worked on the mix and in the process discovered common creative ground and forged a musical partnership, but neither one considered R.Ring’s potential permanence.

“I didn’t think I’d still be alive after this much time,” says Montgomery.

“That’s my answer, too,” says Deal. “I didn’t think Mike would still be alive  after this much time.”

From the start, neither participant was interested in the lather/rinse/repeat cycle of albums and tours and contented themselves with occasional limited-edition merch-table/mail-order singles. With a handful of those cataloged, it occurred to Montgomery and Deal their singles to date could constitute a potent record, which has become their full-length debut, Ignite The Rest (SofaBurn).

“It was never our intention to make an album,” says Deal. “We’ve both done our share of studio-rat time, so I wanted to play live. The idea of doing singles came out really organically, and honestly, it wasn’t until a year and a half ago that I was ready to put these out on one record. It was just time.”

“They were all written for the album,” says Montgomery. “We reverse engineered it. In- stead of taking singles from our album, we made an album out of our singles.”

Ignite The Rest is striking in its cohesion and continuity. Some are taken directly from the singles (“Loud Underneath,” “Singing Tower”), some were re-recorded (the gorgeous “Steam”), others are brand new or old and never recorded (“100 Dollar Heat” and “Cutter,” respectively). They still sound as if they emerged from a single session.

“I think that has to do with the fact that they were all recorded at the same place with the same engineer and the same gear by the same people,” says Deal. “There’s something to be said for how that affected the musical conversation. And if nothing else, we definitely have a point of view.”

It’s not a cop-out for R.Ring to package its singles for its debut. The original seven- inch copies were produced in such limited quantities that they’ve barely been heard—“Unwinds” was part of a European tour promotional single—and Ignite The Rest will likely be the band’s first exposure to a wider audience. The bigger headline generated by the release of Ignite The Rest is R.Ring’s place in the musical world. Although Deal and Montgomery remain actively involved in their respective bands/projects, the past seven years have solidified R.Ring as a real entity and proven it’s not a transient fling. “I’m not going anywhere,” says Deal.

“There’s nothing fleeting about it,” says Montgomery. “It’s permanent in the sense that it’s always in my mind. It’s something you take into consideration when you’re allocating time for a family vacation or a tour with your other band or a work project. It’s like, ‘What does that do to R.Ring?’”

—Brian Baker