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xmag.com : January 2001: Rick Bain

I first heard of Rick Bain more than a year ago, as a brash young man responsible for a rather remarkable tape that was circulating around town. On the tape, Bain performs the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds"--surely a pop sacred cow if ever there was one--in its entirety on a four-track recorder with just guitar, bass, keyboards, minimal percussion and voice. What's remarkable is not just the chutzpah required to take on such an acknowledged masterwork, but the fact that he did it so well. His lark recording displays a vast reservoir of patience, skill, meticulous craftsmanship and above all, an unwavering, non-ironic love of pure melody and all things pop. Last summer, Bain and his new band the Genius Position put out their debut album Crooked Autumn Sun (Official Records), a thickly textured chunk of radiant groove pop that was read by some as coming under the direct influence of their tour mates the Dandy Warhols. Regardless, Crooked Autumn Sun stands on its own as an impressive "Chapter One" in what will no doubt be an engaging volume of spiffy sounds courtesy of Rick Bain and the Genius Position.

Our interview took place at the Cobalt Lounge on a chilly-ass December night. Present were Rick Bain (guitar, vocals), Michael Ford (drums), Joe Kaczmarek (organ) and Eric Pfau (keyboard bass). At one point, their new guitarist, a lad named Nick turned up, but was quickly asked to leave when he could produce no drinking-age I.D. After waving "adios" to Nick, the band regaled me with tales of dangerous jackets, dandy friends, lofty ambitions and of course, shagging.
 
Exotic: Now that your first album Crooked Autumn Sun has been out for a few months, have you had a chance to reflect on it? Does it still sound good to you or are you completely sick of the material?
Rick Bain: I'm actually still impressed with it.
Exotic: Is there anything you wished you had done differently or had more time to develop?
Rick Bain: It was originally supposed to be a double album. It was going to be a half pop record and half stoner record. But we had to finish it in time to go out on tour with the Dandy Warhols. So it came out two-thirds pop and one-third stoner.
Exotic: Is there any music you've heard recently that's inspired you?
Rick Bain: Seeing the Brian Jonestown Massacre in L.A. was really cool.
Exotic: Aren't they on about their 48th lineup change? Man, those guys are intense! They get into fistfights on stage!
Joe: Yeah! Our very first show was opening for those guys at Berbati's Pan. After venting at his band for like an hour during sound check, Anton [Newcomb, BJM's frontman] left his jacket on stage. We got up to do our sound check and Rick moved Anton's jacket out of the way and Anton screams from the back of the room "Hey! Don't fucking touch my jacket! Quit fucking with my jacket! I'll fucking kill you!"
Eric: And he meant it!
Joe: You could see the look in his eyes and see the craziness. But he's also a cool guy.
Exotic: Do you relate more to contemporary Brit-Pop or classic psychedelic rock?
Rick BainRick Bain: You take, like, the Tom Pettys and the Bob Dylans, the American stuff...that's what we always think we're trying to do. But then there's the Beatles influence and the Pink Floyd instrumentation.
Exotic: What is your composing procedure?
Rick Bain: We keep the chords that are most exciting. Then a bass line, melody line and lyrics, in that order. Ideally, the music will influence the lyrics.
Joe: We've been guilty on more than one occasion of performing songs live that had no lyrics. Rick just tries to make them up as he goes along.
Exotic: How has the critical response been to your album?

Joe: There is one reviewer in Portland that has never said anything nice about us. I doubt he's ever seen us and I doubt he's heard more than a few seconds of the first song.

Jagger could seduce a four-year-old girl, but could he put a tear in the eye of both the girl and her grandmother? John Lennon was a starry-eyed shagger.

Exotic: You toured with the Dandy Warhols during the summer and some reviews have offered up a stylistic comparison between you two. Has their involvement been sort of a mixed blessing? Sometimes when an established band helps out a smaller one, the influence of the bigger band tends to obscure everything. One writer I talked to actually called Rick Bain & the Genius Position "Dandy Warhols proteges."
Joe: We get a lot of that shit in this town. I think it's exclusive to Portland and maybe the Northwest.
Eric: I think a lot of it is--and I hate to say it because I'm most responsible--that damn keyboard bass.
Exotic: Ah, the key bass, just like Zia from the Dandys plays!
Rick Bain: There is that influence, but the key bass allows one of my best friends in the world to play in the band with me.
Eric: It's the only thing I can play!
Exotic: So do you have to take your shirt off on stage?
Joe: He doesn't quite have the boobs for it.
Exotic: You can always tell a band's self-esteem level by their stage presence. Some bands have guys that just stare at their shoes and mope while others actually move and groove.
Joe: We're performers! We want to make it as fun to look at us as it is to hear us.
Eric: We've made ourselves easy targets by trying to be entertaining. But you gotta wiggle your ass a little bit. Some people resent you for that.
Michael: Portland especially. They seem to embrace the shoe-gazers.
Exotic: I guess it's the old "Dandy Warhols vs. Elliott Smith" debate.
Joe: That's right! It seems to be the way things break down in Portland. The indie-rock, Elliott Smith, Quasi thing and then, like us and the Dandys...
Rick Bain: I'm just not sad.
Joe: We just want to have a good time! I love Elliott Smith records, I think he's a great songwriter.
Rick Bain: I do, too, but I think Elliott Smith has more of an ego problem than Courtney Taylor ever could. Do we really give a shit about all that shit?
Joe: Some people do...
Exotic: What was the Dandys tour like? How far did you go?
Rick Bain: Physically? Courtney didn't
touch me and I didn't touch him.
Exotic: Did the Dandys' crowd like you?
Rick Bain: Yeah, I think they did.
Eric: It was a nice challenge for us because we had a virgin audience to what we were doing and each night we had to win them over. It seems like we did that every night.
Exotic: Were you competitive with the Dandys? Did you try and blow them off the stage?
Eric: Every night! But it was friendly competition.
Joe: It was healthy. I think they played better with us opening for them. They're a great live band, but I think we gave them a run for their money.
Exotic: Did you get any girly action on the Dandys tour?
Michael: There was no time! We were always worried about getting to the next city on time.
Joe: We did better on our own tour. With the Dandys there was no time to hang
out and hook up.
Rick Bain: Well, in New York, Joe had two girls fighting over him.
Joe: I'll tell it! There was this one girl I really liked and I invited her to this party but she couldn't come. So I asked this other girl and made out a little bit and the other one showed up and I didn't know what to do. I really liked the first one a lot, so I kind of told the other one to go away.
Exotic: After making out with her?
Joe: Well, I didn't really tell her to leave, it's just that the first girl showed up and got
really mad and kind of made a scene.
Exotic: What a stud! What's your next step career-wise?
Eric: To be heard of.
Joe: We're trying to book another U.S. tour in the same cities we were in with the Dandy Warhols. We're trying to get our label to really get behind it with publicity and radio support. We've been working backwards. We had no album distribution when we toured with the Dandys. We got our records done on the day we left!
Exotic: Do you spend a lot of time thinking about band style?
Rick Bain: Not as a band, but I think individually we do. We like to look good...
Joe: I think we've been wearing the same clothes the whole time. We don't have any money! I have one pair of jeans and one pair of corduroys!
Michael: There were a lot of reviews when we were a young band that focused on the clothes we wore and the clothes our fans wore instead of anything we played.
Exotic: Do you think your music is sexy? Do people get into the grooves in a
sexy way?
Rick Bain: We get a lot of that. I think our music is sexy. Music is great to make love to.
Eric: I like fucking to it.
Exotic: Beats the weather channel, I suppose. Now, when people say there are Beatles fans and Stones fans, they're talking about the Beatles representing a sort of idealized, starry-eyed love and the Stones being more about slipping out for a quick shag. Where do you guys fall in line?
Rick Bain: We're both. We're starry-eyed shaggers. I like the Stones, the whole
take it out to the van and shag thing, but I love every Beatles song. I can't say that about the Rolling Stones. Jagger could seduce a four-year-old girl, but could he put a tear in the eye of both the girl and her grandmother? John Lennon was a starry-eyed shagger.

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