Interview :: Aleks Bryant of Aleks & The Ramps
April 19th 2012
[Aleks Bryant: second from the left, with the awkward ‘HEY-I’m-sitting-on-your-lap’ face.]
“Middle Aged Unicorn on Beach with Sunset”. If this song title doesn’t tell you anything about the quirky, pop eccentricity that is Aleks and the Ramps then allow me to tell you that the video clip to this single starts off with a stuffed toy pig burning in the most artistic way you can ever imagine (seriously, youtube it). It then progresses into beautiful psychotropic pictures and kaleidoscopic flowers accompanied, of course, by the joyful and upbeat introduction of the song. And then – the sweet baritone of lead singer Aleks Bryant lulling us, into a deep (sober) stupor.
But it’s not just their music and video clips that are like a toxic waste site gone right. It transcends into their live shows as well, where you can experience anything from the band coming out on stage with glittered faces and matching basketball uniforms to a choreographed dance routine to a Beyonce melody. Everything to do with this band is a completely unique experience.
Yet as lead singer, Aleks Bryant, explained to me the other day when we had a chat on the phone, the recent FACTS tour received a lot of different receptions ranging from complete disinterest to actual obsession. Perhaps the fun oddities of Aleks and the Ramps are an acquired taste.
“Regional shows are pretty bad for us… [Laughs] I don’t think we have… Well I don’t want to sound too condescending about people that live in the country, but I guess they don’t like it that much [Laughs]. Geelong is one of those places where anyone who is interested in art or music or anything… basically anyone who isn’t a total bogan… just moves to Melbourne once they get out of High School.”
But these regional opinions aren’t necessarily aimed uniquely to Aleks and the Ramps. Some cultures definitely prioritize musical interest over others. As the band found on their recent tour, Japan seems to be on a whole other wavelength to the rest of the world. That’s probably because they have a dedication to anything they get themselves involved in and often “hard line it into their culture”.
“It’s kinda awesome but it’s kinda weird as well because we’re not used to that…” he said a little nervously. “This one girl, she saw us playing in Kyoto and then came to our show in Tokyo, and she came and introduced herself. Pretty difficultly, she was a painfully shy Japanese girl and she was just like “Yeah, I saw you guys play in Kyoto and I caught the bus up here and I need to catch it back tonight to get back to work tomorrow.” It was really lovely, but at the same time it was just like, oh jesus, that’s an enormous length to go to see us play, I mean you should’ve let us know, we would’ve put you on the door or something.”
So there I was expecting Aleks Bryant to simply be an eclectic character, but he also proved to have a real sense of humility. The band has many strange and interesting aspects to them, but there is a significant depth in their lyrics that adds an immense amount of value to their art.
“I kinda had an idea of making a party album musically but then lyrically was a little bit caustic or even depressing or dictatingly irritated.”
I compared this recent recurring theme within music to records such as Visions by Grimes or the more commonly known, *rolls eyes*, Torches by Foster the People; deceptively upbeat musical backings masking the depressive and bleak lyricism that Aleks was well and truly familiar with.
“Well it’s pretty common even in mainstream pop songs for them to be pretty depressing. Like even the Australian pop classic ‘Khe Sahn’, people are like, “YEAH FUCKING KHE SAHN, IT FUCKING RULES” … it’s actually a pretty bleak song.”
The idiosyncratic quirks that Aleks and the Ramps live by are so unique and incredible that I hope one-day people will appreciate them enough to be a reflection of the music of our generation. So when I asked what individual track Aleks would choose to preserve for millions of years for aliens to discover after our species had completely died he simply replied with, “Fuck, I don’t know… I hate them all equally.”
And then the interview was cut short as the emergency evacuation alarm went off in the building where we were talking, and it seemed really appropriate. Perhaps the end of the world was already coming…