The Ringers on the Rocks
Written by: Skye Breiling & Daphne Yang | Photography by: David Myrick
These modern days, the ever-expanding pool of new musical talent is like a rolling tsunami with a crest that just never seems to break. Even to the consummate music obsessor, wading through washed up flotsam and jetsam of either too derivative, copycat or just plain awful music, can prove to be quite the task. Most of us turn to online music purveyors such as Pitchfork, Brooklyn Vegan and local blogs, to help us sort through the wreckage to find that one baby seal that's still alive and kicking.
The Ringers may just be one of those wide-eyed baby seals, but let's be clear that this is no PETA campaign. The group is paying their dues. And while they're known around the LA scene as guys with huge humble hearts, The Ringers play the type of rock n' roll that's difficult to stuff into a genre. Which is what makes their fans so dog-eared loyal. It's the type of attitude that ended up pulling other positive movers and shakers into their orbit. It's what got the band into SPIN magazine, gigs with some of the industry's biggest acts, residencies at the Viper Room and OC's popular underground music venue, Detroit Bar, an episode on Miami Ink, and a performance in the widely accessible comedic feature film Accepted (2006) as the only unsigned band to play in the movie and on the soundtrack.
Their second LP, Headlocks and Highkicks, is a raw but polished and unpretentious gem. It's difficult for many artists to balance originality for radio playability but H&H displays this beautifully. Songs like "Verge of Attack", and "Tell Me All About It" are driving songs with introspective lyrics. Patrick Hursley pulls double duty as Joe (the singer's, not the bassist's OR guitarist's) cousin and full tilt drummer. What sets them apart from the rest of the flotsam is the distinct happiness that permeates their live shows. There are only a handful of other bands that come to mind who do this – Matt & Kim, and Dan Deacon being two. All three have the same uplifting cathartic feel to their raucous live shows.
To the unseasoned audience member, the first show can deliver quite a shock. Singer Joe Hursley tends to hurl objects arbitrarily, spit into the air, and unleash his testosterone moves on an unsuspecting crowd. It has garnered him attention for possibly being the second coming of Iggy Pop. This comparison alone should entice the uninitiated to enjoy the spectacle. Instead of opting to add more instruments, or conforming to trendy styles (bassist Joe Stiteler sports a denim tuxedo and mini-mullet), The Ringers have played to their strengths of great lyrics, catchy melodies, and finger flicking guitar work by axe handler, Joe Robinson.
The Ringers want fans to smile, and thrash about like a 300 lb. metal head. As Stiteler describes it, “The tight musical synchronicity and ferocious energy stay the same, while the stage interaction and audience participation remain unscripted and frenetic.” More succinctly, Robinson quips, “Our live show is a sure ticket to audio and visual whiplash.”