JOhN RaMeY EXL
I just want the kids that come to our shows to not be scared to be who they are.
John By John:
My name is John Ramey and I am not only the devil in a skin suit scratching at the cavernous walls within myself, but I am also the Noise God of EXL.
Call me whatever you like, but don’t you dare tell me I wasted my money on my pedals.
Throw flowers at me when you see me. Embrace me. Remember my scent.
Tell me I’m the Beyonce of my band.
AH: I have watched your band Eyes on Lips play a few times now and I love you guys! Tell me a bit about this band!
JR: I was really happy that you were there! I hope you had fun. I have seen your blog a few times and I really love anything that gets some rad bands out and about. Also, you're really beautiful in person. So, thank you! Anyway, Eyes On Lips is a band that started last year around March. The band consists of Kyle playing guitar, Josiah playing drums, and myself playing bass. Our band name came from a Self Defense Family (at the time they were called End of a Year) song titled Bo Diaz. We also go by EXL, because our first T-shirt designs had the letters with two hammers in a circle and then Kyle made one with the hammers being inside a circle. He then made a joke about us being known as EXL and then commented that we will be known as “Extra Large”. So, we are a band of many names. The relationship among us is a relationship like any other. We love each other and we have a similar taste in humor so for the most part, everything is great. We've been friends on and off since we were all 13, so we know each other pretty well.
AH: What instrument do you play in Eyes On Lips?
JR: I play bass in Eyes On Lips, or as I like to say: “I play the pedalboard in EXL”. I started diddling on acoustic guitar when I was 19. I tried to teach myself but it didn’t work out. Kyle asked me to play bass for the band known as “Candlelight” at the time and I agreed because I went through really bad breakup of sorts. But we had to change the band name which consisted of: Mildred Pierce, Deer Spirit, Green Mind, Kyle and the Color Punk, and some others. I had to learn how to play bass under Kyle’s direction and it was difficult but I’m usually able to do whatever he asks me to unless he pulls a Pace House and writes a weird time signature. I actually have an acoustic side shitshow called “John’s Nightmare Door” and I’ll link that so everyone can scream at my homoerotic lyrics. So, I guess I started being serious about playing music when Kyle didn’t want me to be hung up on someone that wasn’t worth being hung up on. It is better to have loved and lost and be in a band than to be nothing at all.
AH: Favorite part of being in a band/ worst part of being in a band ?
JR: My favorite thing about being in a band is the learning process of how to play music. I’m still a fetus when it comes to music and I grow with the band. The worst part about being in a band is the schedule conflicts because playing music is my favorite thing to do (other than cry to Sonic Youth) and when we can’t play a show because of work/college it sucks.
AH: How long have you been involved in local music?
JR: I have been involved in local music since I was a junior in high school. I was a huge supporter of Kyle’s band “Extralife” and I really thought it would be cool to be in a band. I would try to go to every show and it’s really something watching him live. He just bleeds spontaneously like a period but every show instead of once a month or something. Since being in a band, local music has literally changed my life. I have made some of my best friends from it and I just wish everyone would pick up some rocks and clack ‘em together and record it and say they were a band and perform it live.
AH: I understand you are a part of a group message focused around people that love gear. What is Gear Chat/ role does gear play in your life?
JR: I AM IN GEAR CHAT, GEAR CHAT IS MY LIFE. I started getting into gear when Kyle asked me to buy a tuner. I said I wasn’t going to go any farther but I hit up Ryan Valentine and Clint McDuffie and I slowly was convinced to let Ryan build me a distortion pedal. Now here I am 22 pedals later. I love gear so much now. I think the shittier the gear, the better. Why spend money? Become HUM. I have the majority of my dream gear, but I would love to have some of those cheap Danelectro pedals just to mess with them and get some squeakies out of them because I love high pitched frequencies. Josiah hates them. The relationship among the band revolves around frequency.
AH: When playing music/writing music what inspires you?
JR: When I write music, I usually just play the same thing a different way. I’m not really creative when it comes to song structure, but I can make some cool sounds here and there. I think my writing style is unique, because there really isn’t a style. I’m just a guy who listened to Goo and Leaves Turn Inside You too much. But in terms of playing bass, Kim Gordon and Kim Deal have been my biggest inspirations. I read Kim’s Girl in a Band and it really resonated with me on so many levels because she didn’t consider herself a musician, she considered herself an artist. Coming from a background of art, I really appreciate that and it made me comfortable in the band because I’m not the most musically talented but I work hard and if you work hard for something you usually get there or you die or you become Kyle. Kim Deal inspired me because there was a interview where she talked about “real bass players” and I love the way she sounds in the Pixies’ records. I’ve really tried to model my sound of a mix between Kim Gordon’s, Kim Deal’s, and Ned Russin’s bass tone.
AH: A couple of months ago you debuted yourself as a gay man..which is really awesome! What was that experience like and how do you feel now?
JR: I came out to my Dad about a month ago after a date with a guy. I like saying I’m gay, I like saying I’m queer. If we’re being specific, I’m homo-demisexual. I just like being close to dudes, y’know. Thank you for thinking it’s awesome! That’s actually how things have changed for me. People are very kind and accepting and having the support of my family and friends is the best thing. I haven’t had a single negative thing other than I talk about guys too much. I had a lot of fear regarding coming out as someone who wants to date the same sex because it was institutionalized, I guess. From movies to music, it was depicted as a scary process (which I’m sure it is for some). A lot of the joy I get from being open is the freedom of not giving a fuck about what people think anymore. I’m comfortable and I don’t see that changing. I just want the kids that come to our shows to not be scared to be who they are. That’s why I joke onstage about the past guys I’ve dated. Kyle’s supportive so that’s all that matters.
AH: Any advice for anyone trying to express/find who they are?
JR: For anyone who is having a hard time, there is some stuff you have to figure out and once you do, don’t internalize it. From my experience, I was my biggest obstacle and it really fucks you up to repress that. If you’re confident in coming out, do it. Make sure that you have a back-up plan though regarding living situations because once you come out, it’s hard to go back and some people just suck and won’t accept it. Be yourself. Be happy. Life is what you make it. Dating is fun but it can suck. You’re going to spend the night with the occasional high-school teacher that just wants to have sex with you, but if you’re certain that you’re not ready to do it, don’t feel pressured. Sex can be deep and meaningful, so don’t feel obligated to anyone. Never feel pressured and if anyone pressures you, punch them in the face or tell me and I will.
AH: You are a vegan! (yay!) What made you make this life decision?
JR: I have been vegan for almost half a year now and I was vegetarian for 4 months before that. So, nearly a year without meat. Becoming vegan is something that I’ve always wanted to do and with the help of the guys in Gear Chat (Ryan Valentine, Austin Snow, Clint McDuffie, and Taylor Adams), it was really easy. Ryan is vegan and he has given me so much knowledge regarding the lifestyle of not only being vegan, but making sounds and equipment. One of the smartest guys I know other than Kyle. I think if someone is interested, to definitely look into it. Don’t push your beliefs onto someone else, that’s not going to make someone want to adapt to the lifestyle. Be healthy. Take B12 supplements. Drink a lot of water. Understand that most things at your local store aren’t vegan like: petroleum jelly for example. It was a bummer for me but you can find lotions. I am so sorry that we got into this conversation. Be educated and educate those around you about the harmful ways that factory farming, milk production, and eating animals is on the body, psyche, and the environment. I dated a guy who had a tattoo that said: “Be The Change”. So, be that.
AH: Any last words?
JR: Thank you for this. I’ve actually gained some introspective knowledge about myself and I think you’re a beautiful person and I hope that you’re happy and I can’t wait to get lunch with you. Thank you for finding my band interesting enough to talk to and I hope you reach out to Kyle, because he is dying to do this. For the readers, thank you for getting this far. I talk a lot and it’s usually a train-wreck of words. Don’t stay the same. Always change. Always move.
“I know, it sounds like I’m someone else entirely now, and I guess I am” – Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band