There’s really no way to get around discussing Ris Paul Ric (aka Chris Paul Richards) without first mentioning his former band, Washington D.C.’s Q and Not U. Q and Not U existed for seven years and three albums under the Dischord Records flag, and then ceremoniously gave it all up in September of 2005, when the band accomplished all that they had set out to achieve.
The collective members of Q and Not U were never ones to rest on their laurels though, and even before the band was done, ChRIS PAUL RIChards had begun work on what would become his first solo outing (‘Purple Blaze’) with help from producer Tim Hecker. Richards had written the majority of the material on ‘Purple Blaze’ during some downtime, and just as the band decided to call it quits, the opportunity for Ris Paul Ric to move out of the bedroom and into the live forum arose.
Ris Paul Ric is not just a solo version of Q and Not U though. There are entirely new, unexplored forces at work in the music of Ris Paul Ric. Sure, the urgency, the rhythm and the vitality of Richard’s songwriting remains; only now it’s more hushed and lifting and contemplative.
In the simplest terms, Ris Paul Ris is the sound of an accomplished musician taking chances, moving in new directions, and doing his best to share it with the world around him. Q and Not U may have been an amazing musical experience, but everyone must ultimately move forward in life….
I’ve always felt that the crux of musicians pursuing new work prior to being in a well-known band is that it’s impossible for most people to accept the musician within the context of the music they’re currently writing. It seems like you’re going to be known as the “guy from Q and Not U’s solo project” for some time to come. Do you see that as a good or bad thing and why?
I don’t sweat it too much because by the end of our run, Q and Not U had started to earn a reputation for being somewhat unpredictable. Music has always been a liberating force in my life, so this is just another chance to throw expectations to the wind and do what feels right at the moment.
Your former band ended and it seemed like you went straight into touring and performing under the Ris Paul Ric tag. Where do you find the motivation to continually get out there and perform? Is it a habit at this point?
It’s hard to say if my desire to tour has become compulsive at this point, but I still really enjoy travelling, connecting (and reconnecting) with people outside of my daily life in Washington, and ultimately, playing live music. After loving the people close to me in my personal life, there’s nothing more important or rewarding to me than getting up and trying to communicate with people through these sounds. The exchange is a wonderful and mysterious thing that I really treasure.
I first heard of Q and Not U through a mixtape and an early live show. I first became aware of Ris Paul Ric through MySpace. What are your feelings on the drastic changes listening to music and even finding out about music has experienced because of new technology? How do we balance the perfect mixtape with the continual barrage of new music we experience because of technology like the Internet and file sharing? Don’t you like answering loaded questions?
Technology is constantly changing and it surprises me to see musicians panic in the face of it. Did the Beatles panic when music shifted from a singles-based market to albums? No, they made Sgt. Pepper’s. I think as we move back to a singles driven market, musicians are going to have to adapt, and ultimately, step their game up. The same goes for the heavier musical traffic running through everyone’s ears these days. It’s not like there’s more music out there – everyone just has greater access. So musicians have to make something even better, or more unique in order to get heard. I think that’s a wonderful situation for everyone to be in.
How do you approach writing Ris Paul Ric material, in which you are the only collective member contributing to the material? Is the process simpler or more difficult than writing within the context of a full band? You mentioned it being “more improvisational.” Is that a product of being completely autonomous within your own songwriting?
I think it is simpler, but there’s a lot more doubt involved. In the band, I felt like I needed my bandmates approval to validate any and all musical ideas – I really trusted them and ultimately, answered to our democracy. With this project I’m obviously free to do whatever I want, but I find myself cross-checking myself frequently to perhaps conjure the ghost of collaboration. It’s like any endeavor, really. Going it alone can feel both liberating and lonesome. That’s the interesting part about it.
What are you intentions with Ris Paul Ric? Will it grow into a full band or stay in the bedroom? What does the future hold?
I don’t plan to ever recruit backing musicicans for this project, but who’s to say? My friend Dan Caldas helped me out this summer, and while I really enjoyed playing with him, I think I get more out of this project from doing it on my own. But I’m scheming to form another band this winter, so we’ll see how working on this Ris music responds to that.
And finally, do you still dance when you play live?
Well, I peform standing on top of a Fender Twin Reverb combo amp. So I dance as much as I can without falling off.
For more information on Ris Paul Ric, log onto <http://www.academyfightsong.com>