Between the COVID-19 pandemic, a harrowing presidential election, and peak levels of social unrest, 2020 has been a year of strife and chaos. But we forget that amid all this negativity, local artists are still creating great work. Phoenix New Times touched base with musicians from across the musical spectrum to gauge how they're faring personally, the ways in which their work has been influenced, and what all this madness really means. Through these conversations, we might just find the spark to make it through 2020 after all.
The four members of Ring Finger No Pinky graduated high school into a worldwide pandemic. But when you speak with them, you'd never know they were living in darkness. These brash young punks are plotting a trail forward, trying to add utterly daring ideas and influences into their noisy rock. With time on their side, and a sturdy ethos to boot, they may emerge on the other side as something new and exciting.
Phoenix New Times: You're definitely among the younger bands out there. Was it a huge bummer to have to stop all of a sudden and launch into this new world?
Griffin Brown: Quarantine has kind of hindered us a little bit. But we've been able to practice, just David and I, because we're the main contributors. I think we always strive to get better. This quarantine has allowed us the time to just practice in our drummer's basement and just harass their parents with this really harsh noise.
Given the band's age, is this a good time to try to be engaged in the political conversation?
GB: We're working on an album now and I think it's really powerful to the times we're in. I think the most powerful thing is to inspire people and have them create their own sound. We can have a voice out there with our musical skills, so we might as well use it.
Is the world being on fire more of a reason to embrace punk? Because punk and politics have almost always gone hand in hand.
David Erickson: I feel like especially now with the political climate, there's definitely like a resurgence that needs to happen with this type of music. My favorite part of, like, old-school punk music is just the emotion, especially in the voice of the singer. We want to take attributes of the past, the powerful sound of punk with more Led Zeppelin-like structures to really build the world in a song.
We've just tried to expand our sound, with more stuff from the '80s and what. We've been doing experimental stuff with different noises and MOOD pedals. It's obviously not gonna sound like Twenty One Pilots, but it's that same sort of style where you go from like something like Vessel to BLURRYFACE, and they build on their core principles, but they add something new to give that listener a new sound.
On the flipside, do you feel like you have to pull from things just because you're a punk band in 2020?
GB: I think a lot of people are going to come out with music in the next year or two that is more macro-based, like the whole picture. And what we're working on now in particular, I think is a little more about change in oneself that you need to go through. I think we're taking some attributes of the EP over to the album, but it's mostly a new sound. We always want to change and we don't want to do the same thing ever.
If no one's listened to your music, what do you want to tell them?
DE: We're there to question authority where it needs to be questioned and bring up issues. We don't want people to get stuck in their view, on either side. You want to stay fluid with how you think.