Sydney alt-country six-piece The Ramalamas have a brand new album Brass Razoo out this week and they are celebrating the release with a show at the Union Hotel on Sunday August 11th (4pm). Together for over a decade, the group play authentic Americana music and we were lucky enough to catch Chris Nielsen ahead of their show to subject to the infamous Six Strings questionnaire. Read on to find out what Guns ‘n’ Roses, 1975 and Obama have in common…
What was the album that first led you down the dusty path of Americana music?
I probably got hold of The Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead and Neil Young’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere around about the same time and that opened my head right up. Come to think of it, is there anything else you need?
What’s been your favourite gig you’ve played and why?
That time the Town & Country double booked us and we sat in the beer garden and drank instead?
Actually the US Consulate General contacted us to play our brand of “Americana” for Obama’s Inauguration. It was a humdinger of a night playing rock n’ roll and country back to the guys who invented it.
How did you learn to play your instrument – from friends, tuition, listening to records?
Guitar tabs with the intro to Sweet Child O’ Mine on notes passed in the back of the class room.
Do you feel there is a strong folk/alt-country music community in Australia?
Sydney has definitely seen an explosion of smaller bar venues embracing acoustic acts that are folk/country/bluegrass orientated. And there are guys out there like Vinnie (Ramone) on 2SER’s The Outpost fighting the good fight broadcasting to like-minded people. That said, I think The Ramalamas are pretty idiosyncratic in their approach and I’m not sure they’d say they feel part of any scene in particular… Ramalama Island.
What has been your favourite Americana release this year?
I’m digging on the newie from Shovels & Rope and The Felice Brothers release from last year but to be honest most of the time my playlist doesn’t stray too far past 1975.
What are the band’s aspirations over the next 12 months?
We’ll keep gigging behind this album for a little bit but we have at least another album’s worth of songs kicking around so it’s full steam ahead with getting those tunes down before the end of the year with any luck. An American Beauty to follow up our Workingman’s Dead eh?
Also in making Brass Razoo we discovered we have two rhythm sections so I’m excited about approaching the new recording with that up our sleeves. Be good to do some festivals if there are any organisers out there reading this, promise we’ll behave ourselves…