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The Rick Ray Band

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Rick Ray from 2010
MSJ: Can you give our readers a look at the history of your group and your involvement in music?
In 1973 I started the band Neurotic, a very heavy hard rock fusion band which lasted until 1985. That same year I started The Rick Ray Band, kind of a continuation of what I was doing with Neurotic but completely instrumental and that lasted until 1989. I then formed Riot Act in 1990 and was trying to make the music a little more accessible than the previous bands and that lasted until 2000. I then reformed The Rick Ray Band in 2000 and have been at it ever since.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music, what do you think you'd be doing?
I’m an artist also, so I imagine more time would go into that, but I draw a lot as it is.
MSJ: How would you describe the sound of The Rick Ray Band? 
Psychedelic progressive hard rock fusion with thought provoking lyrics.
MSJ: Who do you see as your musical influences - both in terms of the band and your personal musical vision?
My influences over the years are many, first and foremost, The Beatles.  Also, Robin Trower, King Crimson up until 1975, Captain Beyond, Genesis up until 1976, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Mahogany Rush, Yes, Blue Oyster Cult, The Dregs, Damnation Of Adam Blessing, Glass Harp. I could keep going but that should give a good idea of the musical influence.
MSJ: What's ahead for you? 
Right now, we’re working on a new album which is by far the best thing I’ve done musically in my entire life. I believe the rest of the band feels exactly the same way from the conversations we’ve had at rehearsal. We’re putting together some great gigs too.
MSJ: Are there musicians you'd like to play with in the future? 
We’re having Sam Guinta from Syzygy play on our upcoming album, that should be great. I’ve jammed with Sam quite a few times since the mid ’70’s. The Rick Ray Band is also backing up Ray Benich (from Damnation Of Adam Blessing) for some recordings, very cool. I’d love to jam with Robin Trower, I’ve opened for him quite a few times but have never had the chance to jam.
MSJ: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree? 
I don’t understand people wanting mp3’s over actual CD’s. Say the info on a CD looks like this: IIIIIIIII. The info on an mp3 looks like this I I I I I. You’re missing a lot of digital information that messes up the EQ and fluidity of the song. As for the major labels, they’re not really releasing anything worth hearing these days so that’s the reason for lower sales, not downloading.
MSJ: In a related question how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them? 
I think it actually helps promote whoever it is they’re recording.
MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch-nemesis and why?
Michael Jackson as he represented “everything” that’s wrong in the music world. Maybe Bruce Springsteen also for single handedly destroying FM radio.
MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band, who would be in it? 
I’m very happy with the band I’m in and consider this version the ultimate band but if you mean musicians that are pretty much household names or at least close to it… Keith Emerson - keys (ELP), Andy West – bass (The Dregs), Bobby Caldwell - drums (Captain Beyond), Davey Pattison – vocals (Robin Trower) and myself on guitar.
MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view, who would be playing? 
ELP, The Rick Ray Band, Robin Trower, The original King Crimson - Reunion (while they’re all still here on earth), The Dregs, The original Captain Beyond - Reunion (while they’re all still here on earth). Keep it at six bands for an all day event so all bands have a good amount of time to play.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately? 
I’ve been listening to Brain Salad Surgery a lot lately…the “Karn Evil 9” Impressions are absolutely phenomenal - some of the best written music ever released.
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment? 
I normally only end up at concerts when we open for someone…but I went to a Pete Best Band concert a little while back and was blown away…the energy was unbelievable and it made me feel I was at the Cavern in the early 60’s…it was a great Beatle concert. I’ve seen Paul twice and Ringo once, both cool concerts but Pete really put on a true Beatle concert and he’s a very underrated drummer - fast and fluid and very intense.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Taking over a gig for a band back in the ’70’s. We subbed for them. It ended up being a bar that was converted from a chicken coop. Our PA blew up so the singer went and sat down and drank and we put on an instrumental show. A group of Amish women (very big and muscular women) went into the bathroom, changed clothes and made our singer dance with them. I could actually write a complete book on this gig alone due to all the insane things that happened.
MSJ: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you'd like to get out there?
Thanks to everyone who has helped further the forward movement of the Rick Ray Band and death to Empty V and anything like it because that kind of stuff has stifled the music world almost to the point of killing it.
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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