The Rambles Fight the Good Fight for Pop Music

North Orange County's The Rambles are warriors in the battle of reclaiming pop music from acts like Justin Bieber and Katy Perry.

Their pop revival army is made up of guitarist Eric Plunkett, rhythm guitarist and singer Isaiah Silva, lead vocalist and tambourine player Kevin Fry, bassist Brad Babinski (of Dusty Rhodes and the River Band!) and drummer Mark Kuchell.

The Rambles
Taylor Hamby
The Rambles: Mark Kuchell(from left), Kevin Fry, Isaiah Silva, Eric Plunkett, Brad Babinski.

"Pop music has a stigma nowadays. You have to be careful when you say you're a pop band," rhythm guitarist Silva says. Still, being associated with Teenage Dream-style pop isn't enough to stop the Rambles from fighting the good fight.

"We do love pop music and we want to make it cool again," drummer Kuchell says. "Not just make pop music cool again, but sincere and honest," Silva says. "To take away that negative stigma is something that as a band, we would like to do."

According to Silva, the mainstream music industry is at fault.

"I can't relate to Justin Bieber. I can't relate to Katy Perry. There's nothing on the radio that kids our age can relate to. There are no big bands that represent our generation," Silva says.

This, Silva says, is dangerous ground for a band in today's underground music scene. "You can't have aspirations to be big. Because if you want to make it big, you're a fucking sellout," Silva adds.

That's the paradox, he says--you have to choose between selling out and being a career musician. "Very few people in this world get to do what they love for a living. And for us, to do art for a living would be a great thing," Silva says.

Plunkett, Fry, and Silva  write most of the songs, and it's a formula they feel works well.

"We don't mull over the melodies too much. The melody aspect of our writing is pretty intuitive. A lot of times we know exactly what the other is thinking," singer Fry says.

Part of being self-proclaimed pop musicians is writing verse-chorus-verse style songs, which they said they see no problem with. Some may call it too simple or easy, but they said they appreciate a well-structured song.

"We do write some personal songs that come from personal places. Positve things and negative things. But a lot of times we're observing our culture," Silva says. "We're sarcastic,  satirical assholes."

For all the cynicism in their songs, there's an equal amount of sincerity. "There's actual heart in there," guitarist Plunkett says. "It's part tongue in cheek, part heart in mouth," Silva adds.

One piece of ammunition in their pop revolt is bringing fun to their live concerts.

"We want to be inclusive with the audience at shows, too. Our music and our live performances are very extroverted," Fry says.

Their antics at shows, such as Fry coming out on stage at a show at a church in a unicorn suit and rollerblades, aren't always received well--especially in Orange County. Some people claim that they don't take music serious enough. The Rambles reply they're just writing songs and performing they way they want to. They don't follow the perscription for undergound local bands.

"When I see a show in Orange County, I see 90 percent of the audience there with their hands folded. When we play in LA the audience is wasted and everybody's dancing and having a great time," Silva says--which is why, he adds, the Rambles play very few concerts in Orange County. Whenever they play in Los Angeles, he says, they have a great time. "Stop wondering if this is cool or not, and just have a great time. It's about having fun," Plunkett says.

It's been the mantra since the Rambles formed in 2007. (In fact, they used to be called Fun Tree.) Everyone met at El Dorado High School in Placentia and they all were all friends and in different bands. (Fry and Silva even played for Katy Perry early in her career as a favor when she couldn't afford her own band.) 

Babinski is the Ramble's latest addition. He joined two weeks ago as their new bassist, and was in Dusty Rhodes and the River Band. Plunkett called Babinski their secret weapon. "We're at a very opportunistic moment," Kuchell said.

They have plans of a tour, new booking agency, and record deal all in the near future. "We want to work. We're a hardworking band. We're not entitled little cunts," Silva said.

They recorded an EP at the Village Recorder with Ken Caillat in Santa Monica, but said they were disappointed with the results. "It was a great experience. He was a shit producer. He's a nice guy, bad producer. We got along with him as a person, but we didn't see eye to eye. The recording was not what we wanted at all," Silva said.

Silva said that they wanted the recording to capture their distinct sound. "We want to have it where when you hear it you go, 'That's The Rambles.' We want to have a sound, but he made it so fucking generic," Silva said.

"And we do have a sound," Kuchell said. "He sucked the life out of it."

Kuchell also said that they plan to rerecord their songs in the near future and hopefully capture that raw and vibrant sound that comes across clearly at their shows.

In the past, Kurt Vonnegut's daughter jumped on stage "to pick a fight." Silva has been known to strip down to his underwear, and Fry freak danced Lindsay Lohan while she was in the audience and got kicked out of his own show. It is common for the whole band to jump into the audience during a concert.

If they don't feel a proper amount of enthusiasm in a particular crowd, they will bring out the ballads.

"You guys bore me, I'm going to bore you," Silva said.

The Rambles' next show is Thursday at the House of Blues Anaheim with Jeramiah Red. On Monday they will play at Cinespace and on Wednesday they will play at Club Moscow at Boardners, both in LA.

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