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LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

January 6, 2003
We Ragazzi's new album, The Ache, is hitting droves of new fans in both the loins and the heart with their stylistic mix of electrifying make-out music for dance savvy indie rockers. But if they ever need a new marketing tool, it's a fact that most guys would pay big bucks for this if they knew how the wanton passion they create affects the ol' hormones. So, if you see an expertly crafted CD pawned off as Spanish Fly, you'll know they've hit an infomercial level of pay dirt. In the meantime, Lost at Sea's Sarah Peters caught up Colleen Burke and Tony Rolando to chat about The Simpsons, their night in a dollhouse, and of course, the music - all the while doodling their name in hearts on her personal top 10 list.

LAS: Since there are many new fans just finding out about you guys, what is the history of We Ragazzi? I notice you have a new member.

Colleen: Yes. We have one other album that was out in 1999, called Suicide Sound System. It was put out by My Pal God. Our first album had a woman playing with us. We stayed in that line-up for two years, and then broke up for about a year. Tony & I formed again with our new drummer, Tim, and it's gone from there.

What do you feel is the biggest difference between The Ache and your debut CD, and how do you feel it changes things?

Colleen: A different drummer has a lot to do with it. The first record is very simple and straightforward, really tuneful in its own way. Our second drummer maybe pushed the songwriting a little bit in a different direction.

Tony:I think that the amount of time we spent made the biggest difference. We produced it ourselves, went after various styles and approaches, and did a lot of soul-searching as artists. Our first was like a document, it was cut a lot quicker, and the next will also probably be quicker too, but this one took a long time. We didn't really have an end goal of what we wanted, and it may have been nice to have one, but by the end it just all came together.

So it was a labor on all of your parts, then, for a really nice end product…

Tony:Yeah.

What's the biggest struggle you faced in getting this record out to the public?

Tony:I think the time thing had a lot to do with it, because it took us so long to get it the way we wanted. And then we were shopping around for labels. We had some in New York City lined up, but a lot of places were in the process of releasing so many other things. The people at Self-Starter were going to get it out sooner, and they were really, really friendly. We wanted the same things. We had a good feeling, and just went with our gut. They've been great.

Two of the major themes of the new album are sex and loneliness. Timeless, yet you seem to capture something raw. To get a little philosophical, how do you feel the two are inextricably linked?

Tony:It really depends on what you get out of it. For me, it's not such a faraway loneliness as it is just temporary. I suppose it could also be the kind of thing you never get out of. It just depends, I guess.

What's the most bizarre musical comparison you've seen for your band?

Colleen: We always get a lot of Mick Jagger, The Make-Up, Prince…

It's the numbers. Your songs have numbers in them, so people think, "Yeah, they're just like Prince!"

Tony:Yeah! That's totally it. The really weird ones… people say I sound like Robert Smith, or The Doors… I don't see either of those, but they come up a lot. Pere Ubu… Actually, I read a lot of comparisons with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and that one's really weird. It catches me off guard every time.

I see from a bit of wandering on the Internet that you've become a favorite of The Mountain Goats. What kind of warmth does that put in your heart?

Colleen: Actually, I didn't know anything about that! That's cool, I'm going to have to look it up…

Yeah, he has a web log where he goes on for near-on ten separate pages, just raving about how much he loves the album. The Mountain Goats have a new album out, too, it's good stuff. Speaking of which (since we're all tabulating these at LAS), what are some of your top picks for albums released this year?

Tony:90 Day Men's new one, To Everybody… Boas (they're on Overcoat, but I don't know if it's out yet)…

Colleen: Actually, I really, really love the new Lovelife album the guys at Jagjaguwar put out. Really love that. I like To Everybody a lot - even better than (It (Is) It) - oh, and I really love Handsome and Mr. Popular.

Never heard of it. Sounds interesting. What's that?

Colleen: It's a concept piece about the rise and fall of an R&B artist and a Rap artist, featuring one of the members of the Oxes. It's pretty hard to find, it really only spread by word of mouth, but it's great if you can get a hold of it. I really love that, too.

What are each of your goals, now that you've put out a landmark album?

Tony:Well, we've written about six more songs right now, we want to get those tracked. And of course, touring.

Colleen: In January, we're going to be out for about a week, then we go to South by Southwest in March - I think it's a label showcase. We'll spend the first three weeks or so touring. And we're at the demo stage with our new stuff.

So, no guest spots on The Simpsons as a life goal?

Tony:Well, as a life goal, yeah, that's always a life goal.

Colleen: Yeah! [laughter]

Tony:Maybe next time Homer goes to Lollapalooza or something, we can be a part of it.

Any fun stories from the tours you have gone on?

Colleen: Oh… Well, one night on tour, we stayed in a house filled with hundreds and hundreds of really fucked up dolls. They were in weird positions, and in the bathtubs, and all over the chairs.

I hope the rest of your tour wasn't that scary. And I hope you didn't see Red Dragon soon after that.

Colleen: No, he was this really nice guy who invited us to stay with him, but his house was just filled with lace and dolls. It's funny you mention Red Dragon though, because that's a remake of Manhunter. And the guy we stayed with looked exactly like Tom Noonan, the psychotic killer in Manhunter. We had a hard time sleeping that night.

Oh, God! Anything a little less frightening?

Colleen: We had a lot of fun with our friends from Austin, Explosions in the Sky, they're amazing live, and even better guys. We hope to get out with them again in the fall.

Who else would you like to tour with, ideally?

Colleen: Ideally? God, so many bands. The Scene Creamers - the new band with Ian and Michelle from the Make-Up...

Tony:The 90 Day Men…

How was your homecoming show in Chicago? You played the Empty Bottle, right?

Tony:Yeah, the Empty Bottle is my favorite place in Chicago for shows.

It reminds me of the Fireside for grownups.

Tony:Yeah. [laughter] Yeah, but there's not nearly as big of a problem getting a beer.

Did you have a good turnout?

Tony:It was amazing! It was the same night as the Mission of Burma show, so we thought it was going to be a total failure; but the club owner mixed up this crazy concoction, and we had an amazing turnout.

Have you noticed your crowds getting bigger now that the new record is out?

Tony:Oh, yeah, I think people were kind of waiting for us to put a new record out, since we've been back together for a while. They wanted to see what we were going to do next.

SEE ALSO: www.suicidesqueeze.net
SEE ALSO: www.selfstarterfoundation.com
SEE ALSO: www.mypalgodrecords.com

--
Sarah Peters
A former music editor and staff writer for LAS, Sarah Peters recently disappeared. Perhaps one day she will surface again, who knows.

See other articles by Sarah Peters.

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