Interview with Ritt Momney

Evolution is a tricky topic, especially in Utah. And if you were to name your band after the most famous Mormon in the country, you might assume that a lot of controversy would come with it. But local band Ritt Momney hasn’t found that to be the case. Yet.

With that said, it’s impossible to talk about this indie rock/pop group without noticing the transformations they’ve undergone since the band started 3 years ago. Only one original member remains, they have found a new age niche and taken Spotify’s bedroom pop playlists by storm. K-UTE Radio’s Jackson Card and Max Becker sat down with the up and coming group to talk about the creative process, future plans, and life in general. With a California tour coming up and an album in the works, it looks like this could be a breakout year for Ritt Momney.

New Beginnings

The current iteration of Ritt Momney, consisting of Jack Rutter on vocals/guitar/keys, Jonas Torgersen on guitar, Noah Hamula on bass, Auden Winchester on keys, and Sam Olson on drums, has only been together for a couple months. They found each other in classic Small Lake City fashion: childhood connections and high school parties. As Jack put it, “It was just kind of a string of people pulling each other along.”

Their memorable name came up during a jam session but was not borne of any particular feeling for the former presidential candidate. “It was not thought out at all, whatsoever. If we would have known [the band] was going to be this big of a deal, we definitely would have thought it out more. We like to keep it really neutral. We don’t want to be trashing on him or loving him either.” The name seemed a better fit for their initial style but the group doesn’t mind shaking expectations. “I’d rather have an odd fitting band name than a too fitting band name… It gets people talking about us.”

People are Talking

The hype around Ritt Momney has been growing steadily over the past year. They now have 100,000 monthly listeners (per Spotify) and generate more listeners in Los Angeles and Chicago than in Salt Lake City. Their unique blend of classic indie themes and chord structure, electronic production elements, and Jack’s signature croon has led to an explosion of popularity since “Something, in General” hit streaming services in 2018.

Their music takes on an undeniably endearing quality without being trite and it resonates deeply with listeners. That authenticity stems from their personable songwriting process.

Creating a New Sound

After the initial band left in 2018, Jack realized he could craft the band’s sound in a totally different way than before. “I’d gotten better enough at producing so that I could do my own stuff just on my computer at home. It’s so much easier to just use the electronic stuff because I can’t play drums at all but you can quantize it in logic. So that was somewhat convenience but also taste, I guess. I think we all agree the super basic indie rock feel of “Young Adult” and those earlier songs is just straight down the middle of indie rock. I think we all like the newer stuff better. Like more electronic, more experimental stuff.”

For as much credit as the band wants to give him for his brilliant writing, Jack concedes that he couldn’t do it alone. “Sending it to these guys and having them critique it is such a big part of [the process]… [and] the jam sessions kind of bring the songs life, make them different. When we’re trying a bunch of stuff… everybody’s had their input through just jamming together and thinking up parts.”

Art Over Business

The band runs the gambit on influences (from Feist to King Gizzard to James Blake) so the final output is never what you’d expect but it flows together seamlessly. Even at their live shows, the band doesn’t play exactly what’s on Spotify or Soundcloud. “[The music] kind of changes every show honestly just cause something might sound better the day before the show when we’re practicing it and then we put it in. We don’t have the attention spans to just play the same songs over and over. We kind of just want to switch it up for the sake of switching it up.”

Keeping it fresh is a crucial piece of Ritt Momney; in their music and their shows. They don’t want to sacrifice their creative freedom to appease fans or a label. As idealistic as that sounds, maintaining autonomy over their sound is a main priority for Jack, saying, “I think down the road, I definitely don’t want to ever be business over art.” Their sound is still developing and is going to continue to evolve as the group moves out of their teens and the confines of their hometown. Some A&Rs have reached out but the band isn’t ready to enter that stage of the process just yet. They’ve only just begun exploring what Ritt Momney could be and they don’t want to ruin the magic with industry pressure.

Future Plans

The group has plenty on their plate with four California tour dates this month, a South by Southwest performance in March, an opening gig for Death Cab for Cutie this May, and an album set to be released this summer. Jack’s been working on the album for a while but doesn’t want to commit to a release date just yet.

“I need to stop being such a perfectionist about it cause I just spend way too much time like, ‘Oh no, I need to figure this out’ or ‘I don’t like that anymore, I’ll just scrap it.’ So hopefully the rate at which I’m finishing songs will start picking up. I wouldn’t say we have a timeline but definitely this year. 100% this year. Should be before the end of the summer. Like 95% before the end of the summer.”

Ritt Momney has shown their ability to evolve and defy expectations, so however long the wait, I’m sure it will be worth it!

Vampire Weekend Should’ve Stayed Quiet

For the past couple years, Vampire Weekend has been pretty quiet. In May 2013 they released their 3rd studio album Modern Vampires Of The City. The album did particularly well and left the New York City based band at the top of the Indie Rock world. MVOTC debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart and won the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album in 2014. As a fan, I particularly enjoyed this album and thought it was a step in the right direction for Vampire Weekend. I still vibe to “Diane Young”, “Unbelievers”, and countless others from the album.

The Departure of Rostam

In 2016, Vampire Weekend saw their first stage of turmoil when Rostam Batmanglij announced that he would be leaving the band. Although they insisted that they would continue to collaborate on future projects, I knew this was the end of Vampire Weekend as we knew them. As a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Rostam was a huge part of Vampire Weekend’s sound and they lost a tremendous talent with his departure.

Rostam Batmanglij
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

As the years passed, I mostly forgot about Vampire Weekend. In my mind, they were a band that came together, released 3 spectacular albums and then broke up. For me, that was enough. Bands can’t stay together forever. Artists need new projects and to move in new creative directions. I would rather that a band completely dissolve than start releasing music that would taint my perception of them. Unfortunately, Vampire Weekend did exactly what I feared.

Harmony Hall/2021

On January 24, 2019, Vampire Weekend broke their 6 year silence with the release of “Harmony Hall” and “2021”. These two singles will be featured on upcoming album Father Of The Bride that will be released later this year. “Harmony Hall” starts off with a quick moving acoustic guitar riff. At 40 seconds the vibe completely changes into an ultra poppy dance groove. The whole feel of the song just seems forced. It’s almost too uplifting. Too flowery. It lacks authenticity. It doesn’t seem like the Vampire Weekend I fell in love with. While they were never a really hard band, they seem to have lost any sense of rock they previously had. The song could fit in any generic Disney movie during a montage scene. There is a cute reference to their song “Finger Back” with the lyric “I don’t wanna live like this but I don’t want to die”. Aside from that there is nothing captivating about the track.

Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend
Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images

“2021” is a short song, only 1:38, and features a sampled voice as a rhythmic element. It’s like they heard Bon Iver and James Blake using samples and thought it would be a good idea to throw it in. However, they don’t do anything innovative or even interesting. At least the song ends before the boredom consumes me.

How much for a ticket?

If you are wondering, Vampire Weekend is making a stop in Salt Lake City for their Father of the Bride tour. They are playing at the Complex on Oct. 6th and are charging $60 a ticket before fees. That’s right, $60! Well I probably won’t see you at the show. I’ll be at home wishing Vampire Weekend would’ve just stayed quiet.

Dancing the Night Away with Passion Pit

Every so often I need a night of dancing, pressed against 1000 sweaty bodies, screaming lyrics into the air. You can imagine my excitement when I heard Passion Pit was playing at The Depot. I was in for a such a night and a memorable one at that.

Opening band Courtship did little to entice me. As soon as they took the stage I leaned over to a friend and whispered, “I’m probably not going to like this band.” I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but it was just so tempting. Hailing from Hollywood, they were the embodiment of LA hipsters. 4 good-looking boys played unoriginal indie-pop, dressed in designer clothes made to look like they came from a thrift store.

The music was pompously poppy and portrayed the sense that everything is happy and magical. Songs seemed to lack depth and complexity. The crowd went crazy as they covered “Hey Ya” by Outkast. The guitarist, who was essentially a glorified hype man, told a story about seeing Passion Pit years ago and how it was a dream come true to open for them just one year after forming a band. Dreams aside, I couldn’t wait for them to finish their set and Passion Pit to take the stage.

When Passion Pit front man Michael Angelakos stepped into the light I knew we were in for a show. He has a tremendous amount of swag in his shirt and tie, casually undone and untucked. He is confident and relaxed with the crowd that is looking to unwind themselves. Eager anticipation sweeps over the audience as they wait for the music to begin. Passion Pit jumps into “I’ll Be Alright” and the crowd erupts. They know every word and boogie with the music.

Passion Pit is currently touring following the 2017 release of their fourth studio album Tremendous Sea of Love. Formed in 2007, the indietronica band from Cambridge, Massachusetts has known moderate success. Manners (2009) and Gossamer (2012) performed well both critically and commercially. While their most recent albums have been less well received, Passion Pit continues to make their mark in the electropop world.

The crowd helped carry the concert and made it special. Due to Angelakos’ singing style, the vocals are fairly quiet. The voices of 1000 others singing along amplify the music and fill the room. Their love and help is appreciated and expressed by Angelakos. He jokes that his voice was never that strong, but the always energetic crowds of Salt Lake do the work for him. Passion Pit played the hits for around 70 minutes, including, “Sleepyhead”, “Carried Away”, and “Lifted Up (1985)”. After a brief exit and chanting from the crowd, Passion Pit returned to the stage to play “Talk a Walk”, the cherry on top of the sundae.

Passion Pit put on a marvelous concert. Michael Angelakos was entertaining and got the crowd involved. The dance-heavy show didn’t drag on and tire out the fans. The sound quality at The Depot is always top-notch. At the end of the day there is nothing better than live music, especially when it’s as good as Passion Pit.

Why I Go to Concerts: Beach Fossils at In the Venue

It’s seven thirty on a Saturday night. The doors to In the Venue were supposed to open thirty minutes ago. Instead, the line wraps around the corner and half way down the block. The heat is almost unbearable. The people in line squeeze together trying to hide under any shade they can find.

An hour passes. The heat has somewhat subsided as the sun begins to set, but everyone just wants to get inside. Ablebody begins to play. The sound echoes through the windows with hundreds of people still outside. I hear some voice their frustration saying they came just to see this band. The line slowly begins to move. By the time I get inside, they are wrapping up their set list and I hear only one song.

The second band, She-Devils, only has two members. Their performance struggles to captivate the attention of the audience. The instrumentation sounds disconnected from the vocals and the music unpracticed. Some listen silently while others converse.

The headliner of tonight’s show is Beach Fossils. The indie-pop band from Brooklyn, New York has experienced moderate success since their formation in 2009. They are currently on a world tour showcasing their June release, Somersault.

When Beach Fossils gets on stage, there are issues equalizing the music. Frustration sweeps over their faces as they converse with the engineer. “Can I get some more keyboard in this monitor?” “More guitar over here.” The lead singer, Dustin Payseur, leaves the stage to try and mend the situation.

After thirty minutes, everything sounds good and the band begins to play. The tired audience has little energy during the first couple songs. After a slow start, a couple people start to dance and their excitement radiates throughout the rest of the crowd. Within seconds the entire vibe changes. “I was wondering when you guys were gonna wake up”, Payseur asks.

I somehow find myself three rows from the stage with nothing to do but enjoy the show. For the next hour, I dissipate into the crowd. I am entranced by the music and the motion of those surrounding me. The outside world seems disconnected and my entire existence seems limited to the five hundred people under the same roof.

Many artists love playing in Utah solely for the passion of the audience. Utahans always show their appreciation for a good performance. Several concertgoers hopped on stage then surfed off into the crowd. While mosh pits may not be customary at indie-pop concerts, in Utah it is expected. When the enthusiasm of the crowd went up so did the band’s. They played a variety of fan favorites including Saint Ivy, Daydream, and This Year.

At the show, I was reminded why I go to concerts. Despite the heat, the long lines, and the problems with the tech, I genuinely enjoyed myself. For a short time, I was able to forget about everything outside of the venue’s walls. I didn’t have to worry about school, work, or the current state of our country. I could just listen to music and dance with my friends.

Twilight In Ogden: Miike Snow & Klangstof

Ogden Twilight has not disappointed me yet. If you’ve ever driven to Ogden from Salt Lake City, you may know how bad traffic can get between Farmington and Ogden. On the way to the Miike Snow concert, the traffic doubled due to an automobile accident. That did not stop me from seeing Swedish band Miike Snow and Dutch/Norwegian band Klangstof with a spotlight on local heroes New Shack.

Driving an hour north is usually worth it when going to the Ogden Amphitheater. It’s a very nice, friendly, and welcoming venue. When I arrived, I bought myself a frozen pink lemonade, and smoked while I waited for Klangstof. A very clear day, only a few small cirrus clouds in the sky. The place was getting packed. Due to the traffic, I only caught the last few moments of New Shack’s set. I listened to their music on SoundCloud when I got home. New Shack is from Provo, UT and they have a very new age indie pop sound.

Klangstof is a progressive/indie/alternative-rock band. The drummer would go back and forth from drum pad to traditional drums. Sometimes, you can tell when a band stumbled into the music industry; Klangstof is not one of those bands. These guys look like they have been on the grind for a while, and they are now on tour with Miike Snow. I fell in love with Klangstof‘s singer Koen Van De Wardt. He said the band, Miike Snow, had an incredible Swedish tobacco, but it stops working. The joke fell flat but I laughed.

From what I can tell, it can’t be easy to keep a band together. The way Koen kept all of his band mates engaged and relaxed showed me how real this band is. Very dual-sided, beautiful, light at times, with droning tones and complex shredding. This band was perfect for helping me release the built up tension from the awfulness of the world. After Klangstof‘s set, I felt like maybe things aren’t that bad.

After playing with the Pepsi Patrol, there was a brief introduction to the indie/pop/electronic band, Miike Snow, from the same host who introduces every Ogden Twilight I’ve been to. She introduced the band and then about ten minutes later Miike Snow came on.

This band had been apart for a little while working on solo projects. At first, they seemed to be very okay with me taking photos. It seemed Andrew Wyatt was even giving me some poses. I got carried away and kept taking photos. I’m very enthralled with this band in general. Towards the end, he seemed to break the pose he was making as soon as I lifted my camera (I don’t think bands like it when you watch their sets through your phone screen).

He kept a great and electrical energy the whole time; this band is so cool, Pontus Winnberg is my favorite.  The drummer, whose name I can’t find, had the key to my heart. the other band member, I can’t find his name either, absolutely stole the show with his sick licks. He was not regular bandmate Christian Carlson, he was not there on this particular night, however, he is a very important part of Miike Snow.

These guys are some real and professional musicians, which don’t always go hand in hand. I caught a glimpse of the setlist taped to the stage after the show and they had the encore they did on the set list. The encore song was “Animal”, a very popular song of theirs and I’m glad I got to see them play it.

This music definitely does not look easy to make happen every night sofor that, I thank you, Miike Snow. I can tell this band has made a real difference in people lives for the better. I’ve been a Miike Snow-Flake for a while now, it’s absolutely great music for dancing out the feels. Overall, a stellar end to the Ogden Twilight concerts.

 

New Shack- Soundcloud

Klangstof- Spotify

Miike Snow- Spotify

 

 

 

On the Radar – Glass Animals

“Twee vole go dig your hole/Squish squirmies in your nose/Tree hairs in your eyes/You smile so super quiet.” I have heard some strange lyrics before, but none as poetically odd as the ones featured in the song “Wyrd” by Glass Animals. Dave Bayley, the lead singer, is a genius when writing intriguing lyrics that’ll make your ears tickle with delight. Of course, the music itself is enough to do that.

Glass Animals are an English indie rock band that have entranced many due to their hip-hop inspired beats and trippy tunes. It all started in St. Edwards School in Oxford when Bayley would occasionally spend his free time writing songs and lyrics. It wasn’t until after college that he was able to convince his friends to start a band with him. Despite never being in a band before, Drew MacFarlane, Edmund Irwin-Singer, and Joe Seaward joined him by playing guitar, bass, and drums respectively. In 2012, they released their first EP Leaflings which caught the attention of producer Paul Epworth (Foster the People, Bloc Party, Crystal Castles, etc.). From there, they proceeded to work on their first album.

Their debut album Zaba was met with great reviews by critics, and it was well worth the praise too. Zaba happens to be one of my favorite albums because of the curiously phrased lyrics and minimalistic, psychedelic instrumental compositions. Zaba is exotic with a very jungle infused theme rhythmically all the while being a bit seductive with its soft, somewhat electronic ballads. The creatively made ambient sounds throughout the album are enough to make you want to really listen to what’s actually happening. It’s rare to find an album where all the songs are likable and mesh together so well, and yet Zaba does this almost effortlessly. “Gooey”, one of the band’s more popular songs, is deeply R&B inspired with some weird verses such as “Right my little pooh bear, wanna take a chance?/Wanna sip the smooth air, kick it in the sand?/I’ll say I told you so but you just gonna cry/You just wanna know those peanut butter vibes.” “Hazey” is a soothingly simple song filled with pops and snaps that make it hard not to dance to.

How To Be a Human Being, the band’s second album, was released earlier this year being the complete opposite of what Zaba was. It wasn’t shrouded in mystery or a dreamy atmosphere. On the contrary, their lyrics were more straight-forward, the tone was happier, and it felt like more of a groovy indie pop album. They decided to take a different approach and make a concept album where each song is a story about a different character. “Life Itself” for example takes the listener through a peculiar man’s life and the downward spiral it takes because he refuses to live in reality. “Youth” is a bittersweet melody about a parent giving up their child in hopes that they will live a better life. “Mama’s Gun” is a particular favorite from the album because of the sweet flute samples from The Carpenters and Bayley’s delicate vocals contrasting with the morbid subject matter of a woman with a mental illness, probably schizophrenia, murdering her husband.

Glass Animals are slightly weird and mesmerizing. They have the ability to awaken your senses by painting a vivid picture with their songs. The amount of detail they put into their music is so amazing that it deserves to be listened to on a nice pair of headphones or a speaker to really appreciate it. If you are ever in the mood for calm yet whimsical music, I say Glass Animals is a must.

On Your Radar: Bad Suns

The moment I first heard the band Bad Suns, I became completely entranced with their music. There was something hypnotic about them that drew me in. Whether it was the singer’s soothing voice or their dreamy melodies, Bad Suns had me craving more.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Bad Suns is comprised of lead vocalist Christo Bowman, bassist Gavin Bennett, drummer Miles Morris, and guitarist Ray Libby. The band is often described as 80’s new wave as they tend to get comparisons to iconic rock artists of the 80’s such as Depeche Mode or Elvis Costello. It’s no surprise considering Bowman grew up in a very musical household where he became inspired by the records his father would introduce to him. He was so inspired that he learned how to play guitar and started writing his own songs. This would later help him when the band released their debut album.

Language & Perspective was a great introduction for the indie pop band. It set the stage for the young musicians and showed people they were ready to enter the music scene. The first single “Cardiac Arrest” put the artist on the map with its mellow, almost beach like vibe. Bowman ingeniously compares extreme feelings one might have towards another person to a cardiac arrest. “Sleep Paralysis” is a personal favorite from the album as the band finds a way to make this song pleasurable yet disjointed.

With the attention they gained from their first album, Bad Suns began touring with The 1975 and The Neighbourhood as opening acts. After many months of touring, Bad Suns released their second album Disappear Here earlier this year on September 16. Sophomore albums can be a little tricky for some bands because they’ve already developed a fan base and expectations are raised. This seemed to be no problem for them as Disappear Here is a perfect successor to Language & Perspective. The songs are catchier and have more of a depth to them. The opening and title track for the album “Disappear Here” is a nice welcome back to the band with an upbeat rhythm. Bowman has an extra zing in this song especially evident during the chorus. “Heartbreaker” touches on a feeling that many young adults experience: the fear of failed relationships. He pretends that he’s okay and can go on without her, but it’s an act.

Bad Suns is a modern, retro sounding band filled with spirit. Their honest, sometimes cynical, lyrics not only make them relatable, but prove that they too are learning how to navigate life. With the amount of optimistic energy they bring to their music, it’s a band that I consistently find myself putting on repeat.

Two Door Cinema Club – Gameshow

Fans of Two Door Cinema Club, myself included, have patiently waited for new material to be released. At times, it was uncertain as to whether or not they would come back as the band members were dealing with their own problems and projects. After 4 years of waiting, Two Door Cinema Club are back and sounding more confident than ever.

Produced by the infamous Jacknife Lee (Crystal Castles, Silversun Pickups, Weezer), Two Door Cinema Club’s newest album Gameshow is a modern take on classic rock music. Singer Alex Trimble names David Bowie and Prince as major inspirations for this album and it is evident, especially in songs like “Bad Decisions” and “Surgery”. The band has experimented a bit to add more of an electronic sound to their songs while still keeping their alternative sound that drew so many fans to listen to them. Yes, Two Door Cinema Club have followed in the path many other bands are taking with the 80s music revival, however, they do it in such a way that is refreshing and pleasurable.

The first track “Are We Ready? (Wreck)” reinforces the idea that Two Door Cinema Club has returned stronger than ever. Trimble makes some brazen statements as the song opens to the lyrics, “We are the sacred cow/Stand up, take a bow, you’re wonderful/You should be comfortable, don’t think at all”. Steady choir chants and handclaps kept my foot tapping throughout the entirety of the song.

The album’s title track “Gameshow” is one that is bound to be a crowd pleaser during concerts. It’s one of the most spirited songs on the album that gave me some LCD Soundsystem vibes. Trimble sings with a furiosity that I have not heard from him before. In it, Trimble is taking back control from the record companies and finally standing up for himself.

Many people have criticized Gameshow as falling short of expectations, but I say differently. The album is not revolutionary nor is it a giant leap forward for the band, but it is a fun and funky collection of songs that is bound to get a crowd thrilled. Trimble’s vocal ability impressed me because I did not know his voice was capable of such range. Guitarist Sam Halliday also deserves recognition with his outstanding guitar solos that are more prominently featured in this album. While not all of the tracks on Gameshow are my favorite, that doesn’t detract from the fact that I think this is a wonderful album filled with creativity and ambition. After 4 years, it was definitely worth the wait.