An Interview with Ceremony

Ceremony is a four-piece (sometimes five) band from the North Bay in California. They played here on Sunday, June 1st to a packed house. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in this city. They will be back again on August 17th.

After the show on Sunday, we hit up Sneaky Dees and grabbed some food, as is usually done after a show. While we were waiting for our food, I interviewed Jake and Ross about what they’ve been up to lately. Zed, who was just a pal on tour and Dan, their roadie, threw their two cents in often. Photos by Jamie Lahtinen & Kayla Clark.

SITC: So who are you, what do you do, why do you do it?

Ross: My name is Ross J. Farrar. I am the vocalist and I do it because I have to.
Jake: Uh… I’m Jake. I play drums. I do it because I want to… I guess.

SITC: How’s tour going so far? You guys drove out here in like a week or two… How’s it goin?

Ross: Tour’s been rad so far. Various things have happened. We saw a girl fall through a windshield of a car. We tried to squat at a house and we thought we saw a dead person but he wasn’t dead. We went through the city… the town of Echo. I got laid… uh… what else have we done.
Jake: We saw earthwalkers.
Dan: Zed jerked off in a girls kitchen.
Zed: Live.
Dan: Live and in front of everyone and then came and then pissed in the trash can.
Ross: I did some ecstacy and skateboarded while I was on ecstacy. What else?
Zed: In Denver, everyone dressed up in tuxedos which was pretty cool.
Ross: That’s about it.
Waitress: (inaudible) …so everything is gonna be on one bill. I’m really sorry.
SITC: I’m recording you right now.
Dan: Yeah you’re on record right now, you’re on record right now.
Waitress: Yeah well you’re all gonna get fuckin’ sued! (walks away) (inaudible chatter)

SITC: So… I’m doing the general stuff right now… With what you guys are doing, where do you find your musical influences? And also, tied to that, on the last two records you guys have recorded, you’ve recorded covers as well which bands don’t really do that often anymore… if they ever really did it often. So what’s the story behind that… why do you feel the need to do that?

Ross: Alright, I’m gonna answer the first question. Um. Inspiration comes from various places. We kind of have weird inspirations cause we all listen to… uh… wacky stuff, not… we don’t really listen to as much hardcore as people think we do. Um. Like, for example, on the new record, “Still I Think Moves You,” I got a lot of inspiration from “Dark Side of the Moon,” Pink Floyd… and um… just kind of like weird isoteric bands… Cold Sweat, this band from Seattle, really like them a lot. Got some inspiration from them. The Nihilistics, which is another band we got some inspiration on. And uh… the cover thing… we didn’t do it on the new record just because we want it to be all Ceremony. But… We do it just to pay homage to old bands because that’s where we get all our inspiration from. It’s like our muse is old punk rock bands.
SITC: Do you think a lot of the kids that are going out and buying Violence Violence are gonna recognize that Red C song, or think it’s a Ceremony song?
Jake: Basically… I mean… we say it’s Red C on the record.
Ross: We’ve had confusion. Some people think that it’s our song. Like… Younger kids. They’ve talked to me about it and I’ve had to tell them that it’s an old song by an older band… It’s whatever.
SITC: It’s an awesome song. Definitely fits the bands repetoire.
Ross: Yeah. It definitely fits. Fuck cops. Forever.

SITC: So, on that note… I guess fucking cops. Do you guys consider yourselves a political band?

Jake: Nah, not really.
SITC: Not at all?
Ross: I mean, not at all. I’ve written political stuff in a sense but it’s not… It’s not a theme. We don’t do… We’ve done songs that are political, yes. On the new record, we have a song that is political but, generally no… More like societal stuff, you know… religion.

SITC: So also on the fucking cops tip then, what’s the story behind the little quote on the back of “Scared People”?

Ross: Oh yes, um. Prior to recording the record, I was arrested in San Francisco on… charges… basically resisting arrest was the biggest one and… when I was arrested I was really drunk and I was basically running from the cops and when they caught me they beat me up. They smashed my head into the ground and stuff. And… when I was released from custody, I… it wasn’t actually that day, it was later in the week. I shaved my head… because of that situation. Just cause I wanted to… I wanted to make a statement kind of. But it was more myself, it wasn’t for everyone until I wrote the thing on the back of the record. Then it was like, okay… it’s kind of like a compliment.

SITC: Do you think hardcore right now… I guess this kind of relates to something I was gonna ask about the current state of hardcore… but do you think… I mean… If you look back, hating cops is almost cliche now right? Do you find any bands are sincere about it? What’s your opinion on that as far as what other bands think? I’m kind of wording it poorly…

Ross: I don’t really know. I haven’t really talked to bands personally about that subject and I really haven’t come into contact with bands who… um… I don’t know…. have a lot of hatred towards police… I guess… as much as I do and a lot of people in the band do.
Jake: I think everyone just automatically hates police.
Ross: A lot of our friends automatically do… you know… hate police enforcement. But…
Zed: It’s just the way they make you feel when they drive by…
Dan: It’s like a bro that has a gun. It’s some dude who wants nothing more than to lock you in a cage. That’s what he decided he wanted to do for his career is to chain you up and lock you in a cage.
Jake: Yeah it sucks.
Ross: I’ve had a lot of bad experiences with police enforcement and the law. That just comes out normally in the songs.
SITC: It’s funny. Like me personally, one of my best friends… a guy I grew up with… just joined the force. So it’s interesting to see, on a personal level… just one of my best friends is wearing a badge and a gun.
Zed: Can I spit a quick theory?
SITC: Yeah.
Zed: If police are necessary you’ve gotta think about the type of people who would… you know, there’s exceptions… maybe like your friend. But the majority of people that sign up to be police… like, who does that? Who signs up to have this power over other people. I think that’s a lot of what has to do with it is the people that sign up to do it. That’s just my theory.
Jake: I just don’t like to be scared walking down the street just because you don’t like the things I do.

SITC: Related to that, how do you feel about the current state of hardcore in general?

Jake: I’d say it’s the same as it ever was… just people making bands. Some people like the bands, some people don’t like the bands. It’s always been the same right?
Ross: I don’t really have an opinion on the hardcore scene right now.
Zed: There’s good bands, there’s shitty bands. Sabertooth Zombie is hella good.

SITC: You guys just set up a phone line right? What’s the story behind that? Why’d you guys set up a phone line?

Ross: Um. I don’t know. That’s not really our deal. It was the toast’s idea to do that. I mean it’s cool, I like the idea.
Jake: It’s a phoneline. It’s so you can call find shit out whenever you want, wherever you are.
Ross: Some people don’t like to use the internet. They kind of shun the internet and they don’t want to be technological and whatever… then they can call the hotline. That’s what it’s for.

SITC: So… When did you guys record the full-length and what was that process like?
Ross: (to Jake) What were the dates for the recording? The full length… what were the dates.
Jake: I don’t know…
Ross: April?
Dan: End of April right?
Ross: Yeah the end of April. I don’t even remember the exact dates. And it was Dan… what was Dan’s last name?
Dan: Rathman.
Ross: Dan Rathman.
Dan: At Polymorph in Oakland. It’s where Tragedy recorded and a few other really good bands. Iron Lung from Seattle recorded there.
Ross: Yeah, His Hero is Gone… a bunch of bands have recorded there. It’s pretty cool. He’s like an industrial guy and he does everything analog so that was really interesting doing the record with him cause most the record we’ve done… well all the records we’ve done so far have been, you know, on the computer and stuff. This was really fun, more hands on. The whole process of the record, mixing an everything, took about 3 days because we had to be there telling him we liked this sound, that sound.
Zed: It flows and shit too, like a show. Instead of sounding really electronic and clicky.
Ross: It’s very raw sounding, we’re very pleased with it.

SITC: So, I guess in relation to the older stuff you’ve done, what can kids expect?

Jake: It’s fast. It’s just more fast hardcore shit.
Ross: Yeah it’s pretty fast. It’s a pretty eclectic record because there’s all kinds of different songs… there’s punk songs… there’s actually a lot more punk influence on this. And there’s some powerviolence songs… (our food came, we were interrupted) but uh… it’s all kind of different songs on there,. It’s not like one specific genre of music, it’s totally wacky. (inaudible) It’s experimental. We did a lot of experimental stuff on it. Interludes and stuff.
Dan: Yeah interludes. (To Jake) Yeah talk about the one you did.
Jake: I recorded an interlude using a recorder like this (points to my cassette recorder) or two recorders like this. So I recorded a drum track say, on this, then I played a guitar track to the drum track, on this, while the drum track and the guitar were going into another one. Know what I mean? Yeah and we used that exact recording and put that on the record. You’ll be able to tell which one it is.
Ross: There’s subliminal messages on the record but you gotta really listen to them
SITC: Like “join the army” and shit like that?
Ross: Yeah, go army.

SITC: I guess again, in relation to the full length, what’s it like working with Bridge 9 as they’re growing?

Ross: We’ve been pleased so far. They’ve been rad to us.
Jake: Good. Good as far as I know. I mean, it’s not like I know a lot about what a record label (interrupted again…)
SITC: Anybody order tacos?
Jake: Jesus Christ.
Zed: You were right about the food. (Food gets handed out)
SITC: What’s it like working with Bridge 9?
Ross: Oh yeah. They’ve been great to us so far. No problems at all.

SITC: One of the last things I need to ask is, what’s the… I saw on the internet… (Zed distracted us by literally shovelling a burrito in his mouth using his fork)…I saw on a message board, last week or the week before, that you guys, for Rain Fest, decided to do a t-shirt that was an exact replica of Sex Vid, from Portland’s latest 7″. What’s the story behind that?

Ross: Well let me start this off. For one, I was never fuckin’ told about this. Toast just came up with the idea and didn’t tell anyone in the fuckin’ band. So I didn’t know this was happening until the day before Rain Fest. When I found out about it I was kind of upset because… you know, that’s kind of just a stupid joke that we didn’t really care for, all the rest of the people in the band besides Toast.
Dan: And it’s internet related.
Ross: And it’s internet related. We don’t give a fuck about that. Supposedly Sex Vid said some shit about us that didn’t bother me at all…
Dan: And that Sex Vid 7″ is rad as fuck. And you guys played a show with them and there was no beef at all.
Ross: What is it? They think…
Dan: I think that they think that they’re hot shit or something.
Ross: I think what they said to us was something along the lines of… (Dan gets his side of guacamole) we’re introducing a style of hardcore to kids that don’t deserve it or something…
Dan: Basically that idea and they had a sort of elitist attitude, but people have the right to feel that way.
Ross: Yeah we don’t care about it and Toast took it upon himself to do somethin that we didn’t know about at all. That’s the whole thing. Whatever.
Jake: We didn’t know that was gonna happen. It was supposed to be a joke I guess. He thought it was funny.
SITC: So there’s no beef?
Ross: No beef.
Jake: No beef.
Zed: Except in your nachos.
Ross: Yeah except in the nachos I’m eating right now.
SITC: What’s your opinion the food here?
Jake: It’s good.
Ross: It’s big. Big portions.
Dan: It’s not mexican food.
Zed: It’s tight, but it’s no North Bay La Fav.
Dan: It’s not Favorito. It’s not El Fav.
Ross: Yeah California forever.
SITC: California Uber Alles?
Ross: Yeah, exactly.
Dan: You might say that.
SITC: I’m gonna let you guys eat, is there anyone you want to shout out as we wrap this up?
Dan: JC.
Jake: Trash Talk.
Ross: Trash Talk, Sabertooth. JP’s having a baby. Congratulations.
Dan: Mack Drizzay all damn Diz-ay.
Zed: Brown-eye behind my back.
Ross: Hannah.
Zed: Miley Cyrus. Who else? Vik. Let’s give a shout out to Vik for sure.
Dan: We gave him a ride he showed us how to get here. (I asked if Ross was mad, he was confused. A bunch of bullshit followed.)

SITC: What’s the best question you’ve ever been asked?

Dan: Do you want a blow job or a rim job.
Ross: Fuck, I don’t know. It’s too sudden.
Zed: Wait… in an interview or just in life?
SITC: Either or.
Dan: In life and what was the question?
Ross: I can’t talk about this right now.
SITC: Thanks for doing the interview guys.

(After we turned off the recorder and committed to chowing down, Zed said he wanted to clear something up about what he said about cops. The first time I listened to it is as I transcribed it.)

Zed: What I meant to say about the cop thing is, in addition to what I already said, if you think about all the kids from your graduating class from high school, the ones who became cops and think about all the friends who you admired for what they were doing with their mind and their life, how many of those friends became cops? Just think about the people who become cops. (Zed and Jake proceeded to ramble purposely into the mic.)

If you’re into Ceremony, do yourself a big favour and go out and buy the Infest discography. You can pick up Violence Violence, Scared People and that new Sex Vid 7″ all at Hits and Misses.


5 Responses to “An Interview with Ceremony”

  1. 2 rcs December 15, 2008 at 12:11 am

    What is it thats written on the back of the seven inch i only have it on a cassette my friend made for me.

  2. 3 Julia November 12, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Hey, I just came upon your interview. It’s great, I just interviewed Ross myself but it was very quick and so much was going on I have yet to post it up.
    Me and my b/f love Ceremony I found Scared People at a record store and gave it to him for his bday, which i somewhat regret but oh well.

    How is wordpress doing for ya? I’ve seen a lot of people use it lately

    keep it up

  3. 5 jacob edge November 1, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    best band!

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