Rat Pit returns to Winona with New Album
The St. Paul psych-rock foursome Rat Pit returns once again to Winona to delight us with their quirky slacker pop jangle, infectious hooks, and vocal trifecta. Originally formed in July of 2012, Rat Pit has lent their energetic grooves to stages like First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry, The Turf Club, The Fine Line, and even some Winona locales such as Ed’s (no name) Bar, Holzinger Lodge and as Mid West Music Fest alumni playing in 2013 and 2014. With their 2015 Winona reappearance, comes not only a new year and a first time at Broken World Records, but a new 16 song debut album entitled “Birthday Season”.
The Interview Part:
Watching these germs of a song become fully realized tracks on the album has been very satisfying creatively
How long has your debut album “Birthday Season” been in the works and where was it recorded?
Ian – We’ve been playing a lot of the songs from ‘Birthday Season’ since the day we started the band. Recording was an off and on process that started sometime in November of 2013. About 97% percent of the album was recorded in my basement in St. Paul using all our own gear and a bunch of soundproofing that Jon and I built.
How is writing handled in the band? Is their a primary song writer or lyricist or collaborative process that would typically take place?
Sam – Ian, Jon, and I all share songwriting responsibilities. Most of the songs on the album were written individually, and in many cases have been floating around for 4 or 5 years. One of us will come to the band with chords and lyrics, and then the rest of the musical arrangement is collaborative. There are a couple tunes on the album that were born out of pure collaboration, whether that be a late-night jam, or an afternoon spent messing around with an idea as a group. Watching these germs of a song become fully realized tracks on the album has been very satisfying creatively.
Is Mars your native planet? Are you Martians?
Jon – Haha, It’s a valid question. When “Mars is Our Native Planet, We are Martians” was invented, I probably thought I was an alien. We used to play the song with an outro where we’d progressively transition from singing the chorus normally to singing with a martian accent, which is basically incomprehensible gargling. Unfortunately, we dropped the idea a while back.
What are some musical influences?
Tyler – I grew up listening to a lot of oldies and doo wop stuff. It’s what my dad would have on around the house. Like The Platters, Dion and the Belmonts. I’m a big Dr Dog fan, Deer Tick. And I wish Tom Waits could read me bedtime stories.
Jon – I agree, Dad music is huge on a young boy- The Beatles, Billy Joel, Stray Cats. Newer bands I love- Wilco, My Morning Jacket, Mac DeMarco. Sam and I used to be in a folk/bluegrass band in high school so there’s also influence from that music too.
Ian – Joshua Homme and Queens of the Stone Age have definitely been the biggest for me so far. It’s a wide variety of things though; Bowie, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Parliament/Funkadelic, Iggy Pop, T. Rex, Arctic Monkeys, Beardo, Ween, Beck, Danny Brown, the other guys in the band, The Voidz, the 90’s in general, Nirvana, Praline, Talking Heads, Watkin Tudor Jones, Weezer, Michael Bolton.
You obviously keep coming back to play here. What are your feelings about Winona?
Tyler – Personally, I really dig Winona. It’s not too far from The Cities, just small enough that it’s a nice little escape, and big enough that there’s always something to do. And, I mean, Boats and Bluegrass! Come on! Best weekend of every year.
I saw you played at Holzinger Lodge awhile back with some local bands. I was bummed I didn’t get a chance to see you guys there (though I did catch your set at MWMF 2013). I grew up seeing a lot of very memorable shows and bands at Holzinger as a youngster in my formative years, but you just don’t see many of those kinds of D.I.Y. affairs being put together around here these days. Do you enjoy playing those uncertain, off the cuff, maybe you’ll have a sound guy or maybe not, B.Y.O.B. sorts of gigs or do you feel more comfortable in a proper venue where you kind of know what to expect?
Jon – We’re down for anything but the DIY shows are usually the most memorable, but also require the most work. We owe the Holzinger shows entirely to our buddies from Jaybone Bell and Restless Light. They’ve thrown a party show up there the past two years and they’ve been magical. The vibe of a figure-it-out-yourself show is special and those nights rank high as some of the best in my life. I’ve met a lot of great people at those shows and the friends and support we have in Winona are the main reasons we keep coming back. We’re hoping to do another show up there this year but nothing’s planned yet.
I read in your band bio you were conceived in the back of a ’98 Saturn SL4—can you elaborate on that?
Sam – We spent a weekend partying at our buddy Ye Olde Bashoon’s cabin back in 2011, right when we were starting to think about making the band a reality. We jammed all weekend, and ended up spending a lot of time in Jon’s Saturn, which is still a band vehicle. Sometime that weekend, somebody started calling that car the Rat Pit. We all thought that would make a pretty funny band name, and the rest is His story.
I almost bought a ’97 Saturn that I found on CarSoup.com but ended up getting a 2000 Chryslyer Voyager instead. Do you think I made the right life choice?
Ian – I’d be lying if I said you didn’t. There’s some strange magic with those ’98s. Great year. I just don’t know if you could capture that same kind of super-positive aura in a ’97… plus, what’s more rock and roll than a van?
You’ve played a couple Mid West Music Fests now and you’re back again this year. What are you most looking forward to?
Tyler – The variety of music, most definitely. So much music! Playing is a blast, but being able to bounce around to different venues and sniff things out is a lot of fun, too! Like candy in a kid shop…