Interview by Derek Nielsen | Photo by Vince Sadonis
It’s an awesome feeling when you put on a record and the first song violently snaps you out of the general malaise of adulthood. Ramona’s debut album, Deals, Deals, Deals!, released in June via Red Scare Industries, manages to sound huge while maintaining the aesthetic of a trio of friends who consume shitty beer and grew up watching too much TV. With song titles like “Mambo 69” and “Panama by Van Halen,” you know you’re in for a good time. Ramona imbue Deals, Deals, Deals! with meaty power chords, booming drums, and crystal-clear vocals while maintaining a dirty-tour-van vibe.
Below, the band discuss their recent move from Seattle to Philly, working with Defeater’s Jay Maas and Rebuilder’s Sal Medrano, and their love of all things pop culture.
How are things in Philadelphia?
If we spent enough time in Philly recently, we could tell ya. We just finished our third recent tour out of five, which, between that and other life commitments, has kept us busy and often out of our home city. Generally, Philly has opened up a lot of opportunities for us and is a great place to live but hasn’t given us that strong feeling of community that we had in Seattle. That feeling is greatly missed, but overall, we’ve come here and done what we came here to do.
What do you feel sets Deals, Deals, Deals! apart from your prior records?
This is the first recording that we’ve made and thought, “This is what we sound like,” partially because our performances are where we want them to be—after four years of almost constant show-playing and practicing, we feel pretty solid in our abilities—[and] partially because of Jay Maas and Sal Medrano, who knew how to take our three-piece live sound and turn it into a full-sounding record, which is what we always wanted to achieve—and partially because this record has songs that were written within the past year all the way back to songs that were written before we were even a band. So, the range of song options really represents where we started as a band and where we’re headed.
You’ve said this album is a little less pop punk and more just punk rock. How much of that was a conscious decision while writing or recording it?
We talk a lot about not wanting to have any one sound or fit in to any one genre. So, there has definitely been a conscious effort at the base songwriting level to make our chord progressions a little different and bring in elements of other genres that inspire us—but also, when we take the skeleton of a new song and flesh it out as a full band, that happens naturally. We’re all super opinionated and love a ton of different kinds of music, so those varying influences come out on their own as we’ve become comfortable with our own abilities and with each other. In the end, we always go with what’s most exciting to us, but as we’ve matured as individuals and as a band, what is exciting to us has changed as well.
Your cover art and the song titles suggest that you enjoy dissecting pop culture. Do find joy in our current media-driven society or does it bum you out?
We’re definitely culture fiends. Between the three of us, we could probably talk about any topic of pop culture or media: sports, anime, reality TV, the news, and pretty much every movie that’s come out in the past 20 years. Like most parts of pop culture and media, it’s all amazingly hilarious or depressing depending on what’s happening that day, where you’re getting your media from, and your mood. We take the stance of know what’s going on, be conscious of the world around you, but also poke fun at things and try to be light when you can.
How was working Jay Maas?
Working with Jay was a dream. Great human [and] super quick in his recording style, so you don’t even have a chance to be sad about the mistake you just made, because he’s already got you back doing it again. We also knew he cared about our music and the final product, even jumping in with guitar parts when he had ideas.