February 6, 2015

2009 New York Rifles Interview

Here's another local interview from the vaults. Originally posted on Popwreckoning in 2009. I saw the New York Rifles play a handful of times around Portland; they always seemed to get on good bills. It looks like they might be on hiatus, but I wouldn't count the scene veterans out just yet.

Good band name origin story too.


The New York Rifles just released their kick-ass second album, Make A Wish. It's packed with snarling garage rock that's catchy, fun and even better live. Shortly after seeing them play the Doug Fir I was able to ask founder and front man, Scott Young, a couple questions via email.

Quickcrit:  How did the band come together?

Scott Young, New York Rifles: I formed the original NYR from remnants of a previous band that line-up played for a couple of years and release a CD on eMpTy records then split up. I was involved with the female member of that line-up and we split up, hence the band ended. Then the CD started getting some attention. Charting on a few stations including KEXP and hovering on their chart for 3 months. I started getting offers for shows and on airs so I decided to re-build the band. I took some dates that were offered without actually having a band. I had our original drummer, found a bass player and found the last member Kari fifteen days before we had to go to Seattle and play live on KEXP and had our first club show together that night. It worked out and this line-up has been together for about two years.

QC: How did you come up with your name? Is there a story behind it?

SY: It was an accident really. I was painting a mural in the Odditorium, which ended up being 120 ft. long and 20 ft. high. The largest mural I've ever done. The Odditorium is the Dandy Warhol's recording studio/practice space/party place/etc./etc. I had a previous band that had come to an end. I started a new band and had shows booked with no band name. We couldn't come to a name that we all liked. I had finished up painting one night and was having a beer with Courtney of the Dandy's and brought up that me and my band mates were trying to agree on a name. He said that he and his drummer Brent always come up with band names. So he looked at me real Courtney serious and said "you should be called New York Rifles." First thing I said was, "we're not from New York."He just stared at me. Anyway, New York Rifles is the nick name of the 52nd infantry which fought in the Civil war. I had shows booked for my band and we decided we'd just use the name for those shows and it would give us some time to come up with another. I don't know if the name just worked or if we were just too lazy to come up with something else. Though it's kind of nice having a name that no-one in the band came up with. If someone decides they don't like it they can't blame a band mate.

PW: The Pacific Northwest and Portland in particular has a long history of great garage rock bands. What's the scene like now?

SY: There isn't so much of a scene, it's more like a whole bunch of little scenes. There's a great variety of music. We don't really fit with anything exactly. We can play shows with punk bands, but we're not really punk. We can play with the 70's glam thing that's happening here, but we don't quite fit there. We play with pop, grunge, rock, and garage rock bands, but we always seem to be in a slightly different place than any of the scenes that are happening here. I don't know, it's odd.

PW: How would you describe your music?

SY: I have no clue really how to classify us, not that we can't be classified. I guess it depends on which of our songs you're listening to. I don't think I can ever know exactly what we sound like because I'm in it, I can't hear our songs, not like I hear other bands songs. We've had reviews that compare us to The Sex Pistols, Roy Orbison, The Cars, Peter, Paul, & Mary, The Undertones, Blue Cheer and many others that you would never think should be put together. So I really don't know what we do.

PW: Who would you say are your main influences?

SY: That's a difficult question because I could list pages of bands/musicians that I like and am probably influenced by. So I'll say this, I wrote a song once and it sounded familiar. Something about the vocal melody, but I couldn't place it. Then finally it dawned on me. It was similar to a Journey song I had heard a million times on the radio. I'm not a fan of Journey, never have been, but I was more or less unwillingly influenced by that song. I don't think we always know what our influences are.

PW: What inspires your songs? It seems like quite a few on your new album deal with sex and violence.

SY: The songs are written mostly from actual experiences of some sort and people that I've had some interaction with. I don't feel there's so much actual violence on the record as there is internalized struggle. Mostly the songs are my way of trying to understand why people do the things they do and sometimes why I do the things I do. And a bit of just story telling.

PW: Are you excited about your West Coast tour? Any plans to go further?

SY: Yes very excited to get out and play. We're going to focus on touring the West Coast and the Rockies, going out every three or four months. We're looking into touring Europe sometime in the near future hopefully.


CarBot said...

I used to work with Scott and always knew he had a band but it wasn't for a couple more years till my best friend (who also worked with Scott) had just got one of their CD's and we both loved it! I just discovered they're on Pandora and Beats Music!

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