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LAist Interview: The Ringers - A Freak Show in the Circus of Love

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“I gave away my Metallica tickets to see these guys!” a blond woman confided to me in the ladies room last Wednesday night at the Viper Room. I looked at her incredulously.

A young man in tiny short shorts, a leather belt, bow tie, and nothing else, held the answer to my unasked question. When Joe Hurley takes the stage, everyone notices. Like a sprightly mix of Hugh Laurie and Iggy Pop, Mr. Hurley is mesmerizing to behold. Not even the half naked women who bounced on stage could eclipse his performance; they might as well have been wooden posts for all the fanboy attention they didn’t get.

Backing up the Ringers front man stood the devilish duo of Joe Robinson on lead guitar, Joe Stiteler on the bass. The pair punctuated Hurley’s bombastic performance by flirting with the crowd and romping across the stage with what appeared to be genuine fraternal affection. The rhythms were supplied with frenzied enthusiasm by Patrick Hurley. The fierce punk rock that howled from the stage was greeted with equal force by the crowd, which began the night as a stiff hipster mass and gradually transformed into a writhing sea of ecstasy. At one point, they hoisted a drenched Joe Hurley in what was possibly the smallest crowd surf I have ever seen. It was an awe-inspiring sight.

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"Holy Zipper" - The Ringers


Elated about their second album, Headlocks and Highkicks, coming out this week the Ringers were gracious enough to grant an interview. I caught up with them lounging around a coffee shop on Melrose.

So what's it like being part of the growing Los Angeles music scene?

Joe Hurley: We're not just another LA band. We're from Van Nuys.

Pat Hurley: You know, if you can establish yourself, undeniably, in L.A., then you can establish yourself anywhere.

So how did you guys get started?

Joe Hurley: It was kind of like me and Stiteler over the course of a couple months, we had a girl drummer, but I feel like the Ringers really started when Robinson joined the band and Pat joined the band. It really got the ball rolling. He (Stiteler) picked up the bass to join be in the band.

Really?

Joe Stiteler: Yep, he called me up one day and say "Hey, we need a bass player." So I went down to the pawn shop and bought one. And I stumbled through it for two or three years and here we are.

Do you see music as an art form or do you see it as a way to meet chicks and get free drugs, and have a good time?

Joe Stiteler: That's a loaded question!

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Joe Hurley: Look artists do drugs too...Andy Warhol for example.

Joe Robinson: I think we're entertainers. As we grow as musicians together, and we get more and more complex with our songs. For the most part, though, we kinda bring the show behind such an eccentric front man it's easy for us to do so.

I was listening to your song "Apocalypto" off your new album. The song itself has a lot of really violent themes, and I was wondering whether you hinting towards a political statement?

Joe Hurley: You know, this song in particular is not about the war or anything although it definitely could be interpreted like that. It was more about the story between a father and a son, and growing up in the old days in a traditional family. When you're growing up in this thing where it's like, "This is the way it is, at this age you do this, and this is how you become a man" - it's about resisting that and choosing your own path in life.

So it's a coming of age story?

Joe Hurley: Coming of age! Exactly. But I like how it can be translated a lot of different ways.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen at a show?

(Pointing at Joe Hurley)Joe Stiteler: He snorted a line of dirt in Austin. He made a cocaine line with his forearm and sniffed it.

Joe Robinson: Yeah, it's pretty much what he does on stage.

Pat Hurley: Remember when he threw the Red Bull can at the handicapped guy?

Joe Stiteler: Yeah, he squashed a can and threw it at a guy in a wheel chair.

What?

Joe Hurley: So I see this huge group of people, this guy wheels by, and I've already committed to throwing the can in this guys direction, so if I stopped now he would probably think "What you can't treat me like everyone else?" So I threw it at him and it bounced off his chair. And the dude was excited, he was like "Woohoo!" It's all about equality, you know?

You have a song about a missed flirtation with a nun called "Holy Zipper." Is it a true story?

Joe Hurely: Yeah, it is.

Really? You had a thing with a nun?

Joe Hurley: No, no, I was buying a lot of porn at this garage sale in Oceanside. I bought 20 magazines for five bucks. And I was going around the sale and I was rolling them up and putting them inside vases, in the back of car windows in the parking lot, and passing them out like they're flyers, you know ... . And this nun and this father came strolling by. Anyway the nun saw me and we exchanged glances, and I dunno, she was a really attractive nun. So I started thinking and I put myself in a storytelling position, I know they have the same thoughts as everyone else. So even though I didn't get in her pants, I wrote a song about it.


Anyone who has the audacity to renounce Catholic celibacy is all right with me. Isn't that what rock 'n' roll all about? Tempting nuns to stray? The Ringers will be hosting an album release party for Headlocks and Highkicks tonight at the Roxy. All are invited! To listen to more from the Ringers please go here.