Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pat the Bunny and Nick from Ramshackle Glory talk their new album and Plan-It-X!

The Gang in Action!
So what's the deal with Ramshackle Glory and Pat the Bunny?  Ramshackle Glory is an amazing folk-punk band that came out of the American Southwest following lead song-writer "Pat the Bunny's" successful rehabilitation with heroin and alcohol.  The first album "Live the Dream" is an ode to his past as well as an outlook on what will make him a successful human being, in the sense of staying alive.  The band incorporates a lot of really amazing arrangements that are significantly different than Pat's old bands "Johnny Hobo & the Freight Trains" and "Wingnut Dishwashers Union."  There are more instruments, simply put, as well as a more refined recording style.  There are more members of the band and a very clearly unified outlook, which is actually very level-headed and inspiring in the age of a time where Madonna can get away with having a superbowl slogan be "WORLD PEACE."

Pat and the gang also run Savage Wasteland, a music collective out of the Southwest that puts out music and distributes anarchist literature.  These guys are smart too, which, once again, is inspiring and a breath of fresh air.

Pat is a long time friend of Chris Clavin, the guy who runs Plan-It-X.  He actually knocked some sense into me because I had thought that the record label closed down about 5 months ago.  Even last week, their website was different, but now they are up and running (and by that I mean online because I'm a totally unpunk cyborg so my definition of running lies in the ability to use technology [JOKES, FRIENDS, JOKES]).  Pat, in his response, gives a hyperlink to the website down below, so you can see it there.

"Live the Dream" is one of my all-time favorite albums.  The lyrics are very clear and remarkably human.  The songs are fantastic.  In short, you should buy it.  Like seriously.  You can do so here: (< hyperlink, you dweebs!)  In addition, Chris Clavin has recently started a movement to get their first LP pressed on vinyl, a dream I've had even before I was born.  I think I was about 21 at the time.  But needless to say, you should get the album.  I think you can get it digitally or on casette, since they're out of CD's now.

The second album is coming out this year and they are about to play a BUNCH of shows across the continental U.S.

I'm flattered that you came here to only hear my speak.  I have handsome words.  But without further ado...PAT AND NICK FROM RAMSHACKLE GLORY!

Jordan: How did Savage Wasteland get started?

Nick: Most of the people in our band have musical projects outside of
our band.  Having a music collective through which to release all the
different music that all of us make is really fun and allows us to
share the responsibilities involved in putting out albums, while
remaining DIY.

Jordan: Who gets to put out music on the label?

Nick: Anyone in Ramshackle Glory, probably other people too.

Pat: We distribute a Michael Jordan Touchdown Pass release. He's not
in Ramshackle Glory, but he is my brother. The answer so far is that
you can put out music on the label if you are (1) In Ramshackle Glory
or (2) A blood relative of a Ramshackle Glory member.

Jordan: How fundamental are anarchist views to the organization?

Nick: We are a collective, so there is no hierarchy.  Nobody is the
boss, everyone does what they want/can.

Pat: The collective operates according to anarchist principles as much
as possible, as Nick mentioned. Our collective is also anarchist in
the sense that we distribute free anarchist literature at the shows we
play, contribute financially to legal support funds and and other
projects related to anarchist organizing, and use our collective web
presence to spread the word about anarchist ideas and actions. We
specifically focus on spreading the word about stuff happening in
Arizona and Tucson, because that is the local radical community we are
part of.

All of this extends naturally from the individuals in our band. We are
all anarchists, and politically engaged in ways that we consider much
more important than our punk band.

Jordan:  What kinds of things do you read/look at in order to be politically engaged or relevant?

Pat: The answer to that question is changing all the time. Recently
I've been reading some of the analysis that came out of the November
2, 2011 General Strike in Oakland, specifically exploring what a
"strike" is in a contemporary capitalist economy and which social
classes are the subject of a strike in this context. The basic
argument outlined is that, because so few of us in the United States
are employed in the production of commodities through factory
production, the contemporary strike will not take the form of
voluntary withdrawal of labor from that process. Instead, the strike
takes the form of disrupting the flow and distribution of capital.
This is achieved mainly through blockading the routes by which
commodities are distributed (shutting down ports, roads, rails) and
sabotage directed at any stage of commodity production or the
circulation of investment capital (smashing banks, looting stores,

Given this change in the form of the strike, it no longer makes sense
to look at "the working class" as the legitimate or primary subject of
the strike, because voluntary labor withdrawal is only one small part
of what a strike is today. An expanded definition of the
proletariat--all those with nothing to sell in the market economy to
maintain survival except their own skin and labor--is the current
subject of the strike. In addition to wage-workers, many social
elements that Marx would have dismissed as "lumpen-proletariat" are
now at the fore-front of proletarian struggle: the unemployed, the
homeless, petty criminals, etc.

This is not to say that workers are no longer involved in the strike.
Clearly they are, but proletarians who are currently trapped outside
the process of commodity production are no longer mere appendages to a
movement organized by those proletarians trapped inside that process.
The truth of this statement is hinted at in the 2011 Oakland General
Strike, which was called for and pulled off by an Occupy Oakland
encampment composed disproportionately of the homeless and unemployed,
not the industrial proletarians of traditional Marxist theory.

If you're interested in this stuff I recommend checking out
That piece discusses the themes I just touched on with much more
context, nuance, etc. I like interesting analysis that proposes
concrete ways of looking at the struggle and suggests some of the
methods through which that struggle might be carried out. Such
material is depressingly rare from what I see making the rounds of
anarchist news sites and such, but it's still out there if you are
looking for it.

Jordan: How did you all know each other/decide to start a band

Nick: Some of us met in VT, some of us met in New Jersey, some of us
met here [in Tucson].  We ended up recording this album together, then
we decided to be a band.

Jordan: What does the name "Ramshackle Glory" come from?

Nick: We put a bunch of words in a hat and pulled them out and put
them together in different ways.

Jordan: I'm familiar with Pat the Bunny's old bands/projects "Johnny Hobo" & "Wingnut Dishwashers Union," but did the rest of the band play in other bands before?

Nick: We have all been involved in various bands in the past; some of
them still exist, and we put them out. Luke and Douglas are in a
really awesome punk band called Not Sorry. Savage Wasteland is putting
out their next album. Douglas, Luke and I had a band called Devil's
Coachwhip when we started Ramshackle Glory, which kinda dissolved and
is now just the name of my solo project.  Luke just started a new band
called Cottontail, which has a new album coming out soon too.

Jordan: The first album came out after Pat completed rehab and seemed to me to deal  with the highest points of redemption and terrible lows in personal history and society, what kinds of events inspired this?

Pat: It's mostly about getting wasted all the time and shooting
heroin, and what it took for me to stop. Much of it revolves around
the experience of wanting to stop, but not being able to. There is
some exploration of the guilt surrounding things I did while using and
drinking. Other parts are related to a fundamental change in the way I
experience life, to the extent that I no longer need to--or want
to--get loaded. Some of it is about how anarchism and punk integrate
into the principles which guide my recovery from addiction.

Jordan: How does the tone of the second album differ from the first in terms of both  lyrics and musical arrangement?

Pat: This album is much heavier, lyrically and musically. It's
probably more explicitly political, more of the time.

Nick: In terms of musical arrangement, I think this album is way more
exciting.  Recording the last album was pretty much the first thing we
did together as a band, whereas now we have been playing together for
over a year.  We've gotten a lot better at making up cool parts that
sound good together and just playing together in general.

Jordan: Are there any new people playing on the album?

Nick: Yes! Dane is playing bass and Eric is playing Trumpet. It is
really awesome having them in our band!

Jordan: Do you all have any plans to tour outside of the Southwest?

Nick: We are going on a 2 and a half month tour this summer. We will
be playing most places in the continental U.S.

Jordan: What is the craziest show you all have played?

Pat: Lots of the shows we play seem crazy to me, because of the way
people treat us. Our band is not a very big deal: we have a modest fan
base that appreciates the music we make, and we are lucky enough to
have that kind of support lots of places around the country and world.
That's a big deal to us, in the sense that we are lucky to be able to
do what we want to do, on something close to our own terms (at least
so far as anything can be in a capitalist, sexist, racist society
governed by the state).

But a lot of times people interact with us as if our band was a big
deal in a different sense--a sense that makes me uncomfortable. They
want to get autographs and take pictures with us. I don't understand.
We're a punk band. We aren't very cool. We aren't famous. If more than
100 people are at a show we are playing, that's a big show to us.

Many times people treat us like we are cooler than them. I don't like
this, especially because I don't know how to undermine it. As an
anarchist, I cannot passively accept anyone being socially
more-or-less powerful than somebody else. I belong to certain social
groups that are, as a whole, given social power denied to other social
groups—for example, as a man I am granted forms of social power denied
to women—and that's quite enough material for a lifetime of
deconstructing, and trying to subvert, the ways I reinforce various
systems of social hierarchy and authority.

But the way that our band is often treated by people at shows is one
of my only experiences being granted specific social power--as an
individual, and not just as one among a privileged social group. I
suppose I would compare it to finding out you have been elected to a
political office, even though you never ran for it and consistently
declared your opposition to political power.

Some people at shows treat our band in a way that assigns me a social
power that I do not want, but don't know how to destroy. If we don't
give autographs, we make people feel bad—which also reinforces the
nature of hierarchy, namely that those higher up within it are
disproportionately able to inflict suffering and violence on those
lower down. If we give autographs, we perpetuate the idea that we are
people who are worth getting autographs from—as opposed to everyone
else at the show, who presumably was not worth getting an autograph

I am not aware of a graceful solution to this problem, and
encountering it so consistently at shows makes me feel crazy.

Jordan: What are some of your top albums of 2011?

Pat: I wouldn't know. I've mostly been listening to podcasts about the economy.

Jordan:  Has anyone specifically inspired you during both this upcoming album or in the creation of Ramshackle Glory?

Pat: Not really. From my perspective of things, the core members of
Ramshackle Glory were the house mates of Nick, the only punk I
happened to know when I moved to Tucson. I asked him to play on a
record I wanted to make. Nick got his house-mate Douglas to play
banjo, so that Nick could play accordion. Luke came home from work
while we were practicing and offered to play drums. That's where our
band comes from.

All of these people turned out to be some of the most incredible
musicians and human beings that I've ever met, but that was just how
it happened, not the result of any inspiration or planning. The
instrumentation is also more a product of what instruments the people
in our band play, or want to learn how to play, rather than any
conscious decisions.

Jordan: What's the deal with Plan-It-X?  I know Plan-It-X fest is still happening  and you all will be there, but I was surprised that they won't be releasing music really.
Pat: It would be surprising if Plan-It-X wasn't releasing music, but
that's simply not true. There never has been a significant period of
time where PIX didn't release anything, although Chris has talked
off-and-on about stopping the label in the last couple years. The new
Ghost Mice record just came out on Plan-It-X about a month ago. Chris
(the guy most responsible for running Plan-It-X during most of its
operation since 1994) is getting money together to release Ramshackle
Glory vinyl on Plan-It-X by the summer.

He's not going to press CDs anymore, because not many people buy CDs
from Plan-It-X anymore, but releases on tape, vinyl, and digital
formats will continue. (Anyone interested in Plan-It-X should check
out the revamped website at

Jordan: Thanks again, y'all!  I'll see you for sure at Plan-It-X fest this summer,  but good luck with the album!
Pat: Thanks, see you then! 

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