Austin Rickert wears whatever he can get his hands on.
The 23-year-old Arizona native says he's very communistic with his clothing. "I give all my clothing away, borrow everyone's clothes, and I'm not opposed to girl clothes, either," he says, toying with his colorful fishnet top, which he's sure is meant for women to wear.
The thrifted top is one small glimpse into Rickert's ever-changing and never-permanent wardrobe. His outfit will never be put together in the same way again after today.
"I hate repetition," he says. "It's the death of magic. I don't even want to be caught wearing this outfit again."
The musician and frontman of the new band Bacchus and the Demon Sluts doesn't even repeat outfits when he goes onstage. Rickert respects the notion of a matching musical group -- think The Hives -- but for his own style, he finds it too forced and inauthentic. He's a big believer in the idea that true entertainment is about creating an exciting aesthetic.
"I try to come up with most exciting things I can find. I'll hit up new people I've never borrowed clothes from before and ask if I can wear their clothes for a show. I think that if I'm entertaining you in my dress, it's just another cool thing people can remember."
Rickert says he will sometimes walk into the living room of his house and ask his roommates if what he's wearing is the dumbest thing he's ever put together. "If they tell me it's only pretty dumb, I go back into my closet and come out with something hopefully dumber. I'll ask them if it is better or worse until I find the ugliest combination possible. Then I know I'm ready to go out."
Rickert is a saxophone player and natural frontman. His ability to reflect varied musical influences in projects that blend all kinds of genres together is impressive. The coolest part is Rickert's continued excitement about what he's creating. "Miles Davis would have a different band on every album," he says. "It's weird to be a frontman as a horn player unless you're a straight jazz musician, and I wouldn't consider myself that. I like the idea of bands so much more than a lot of other jazz musicians."
His first real band, the now-defunct Naked Pizza, was together for two years. After the feisty ska punk band broke up, Rickert took half of his old bandmates who wanted to gig harder and formed the more instrumental and danceable jazz-funk outfit Bacchus. "We've got some hip-hop influences now, but we're still pretty angry," the frontman and saxophone player states matter-of-factly. "We're really energetic and really angry."
The band, named after the Roman god of wine, revelry, and giving into your inhibitions, is about fully letting go through both music and performance. Rickert says he's tired of Phoenix musicians standing still and not dressing up. Wearing gym shorts and work shirts to play a show is cheap and lazy in his opinion.
"When you come to a Bacchaus show, it's a party. You're going to have fun for the next hour. That's why I do this. I want to have fun for an hour and I want other people to have fun for an hour, and I want to do it again next time."
Rickert is part of an upcoming fashion show at Parliament, the new Tempe music venue that Rickert and 15 other people are running. Starting this January, Bacchaus and the Demon Sluts will take up residency at Lost Leaf. You can see them every Tuesday night from 9 to 11 p.m.
What are you wearing? I'm wearing a pretty ridiculous hodgepodge. I just moved into a new house, and the people who lived here before were part of a band called JerusaFunk. They left for South America and left all these clothes, so these pants and shoes are theirs. This fur coat is my great friend Sam's, who found it at a thrift store. I made this shirt and I got this fishnet undershirt from a thrift store in Flagstaff.
What is the last item of clothing you bought? It's been a while since I bought anything, but the best clothes that I acquired recently were this fur jacket and a really cool bow-tie I got for my birthday that's white with red polka dots on it.
Where do you usually shop? Goodwill, Buffalo Exchange, thrift stores, and my friends' closets
Name five items every man should have in his closet. 1) One good pair of jeans that you can wear a lot 2) A good leather or jean jacket 3) Accessories like rings and jewelry to give people something else to look at 4) Sunglasses 5) Crazy socks
What's one fashion trend you can't stand? This has been around for a long time and it doesn't make any sense to me: people who wear really flimsy sweaters and tie them in a knot around their shoulders. I don't know what you're doing with that! Why don't you just wear it like you're supposed to? It is so funny to me that someone looked at that and said, "This is classy." I'm so open to all clothing. I cross-dress! But that is the only thing that I don't get. Functionally, it doesn't make sense, and it's never cool.
Give us a childhood memory of you and clothes. Before I turned 18, I didn't know how to dress at all. My mother dressed me. I was very into sports, and for a while I thought I was going to be a professional baseball player, so I just wore sports jerseys and cargo shorts and nerdy white tennis shoes from Costco. I didn't even try to dress myself until 17 or 18.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
What is your one piece of fashion advice? Look at what everyone is wearing and understand that stealing is the best and most flattering thing you can do. When someone else copies you, it means they think you're cool. People who get upset for being copied aren't really thinking it through, because what's happening is you're sharing a cool thing and getting stale in the process, so it gives you an opportunity to come up with something new.
Give up on the idea of "owning" an idea. Share and steal.