September 26, 2008

RRIICCEE Frontman Aims for Unstructured Sound

By Michael Machosky

Vincent Gallo, with his collective creative output as actor, filmmaker, model, painter, musician and general all-around weirdo, doesn't elicit many tepid reactions. People tend to either love him or hate him.

He's probably best known for his film work -- like the stunning indie classic "Buffalo 66" (1998), which he wrote, directed, acted in and composed the music, as well as the semi-coherent, scandalous catastrophe "The Brown Bunny" (2003), which provoked a famous fight with critic Roger Ebert at Cannes.

Whatever he is or claims to be, he's never boring or predictable. Gallo's new band, RRIICCEE, is his current focus, and, like most Gallo projects, it's not easy to describe. The band will perform Friday at Garfield Artworks.

Just don't expect to know ahead of time what they'll sound like. Gallo doesn't really know, either.

"We're trying to stay out of musical cliche as much as possible, and find a way to grow musically to the point where we're on the cusp of new musical forms," Gallo explains. "The only thing I can say that our music isn't, is jammy," Gallo says. "It's not jamming - - not a bunch of solos around a musical form. Don't expect jazz or blues."

The band features twins Nikolai and Simon Haas (brothers of actor Lukas Haas) and Eric Erlandson, a co-founder of the band Hole. For the most part, it's a pretty traditional rock band setup, with guitars, bass, keys and drums. Gallo sometimes plays mellotron, melodica and other things.

It's largely improvised music, and never the same thing twice. That implies a lot of risk for the musicians -- falling completely flat is an option.

"There's so much risk in chaos -- that's how you grow," Gallo says. "You respond to things you've never heard before, that you didn't plan on. Things come out of you that were not intentional.

"What I used to think for the audience is that there's a risk of it being a good show or a bad show. I don't think in those terms anymore. I listen back to some of the tapes I've made of shows. ... Some that I thought were not as good -- they weren't as structured or pretty -- were actually the strongest and most original."

Although he's most associated with the film world, he's been playing in bands since the '80s.

"Most of them were bands where nobody had a background in studying music -- I go back a long way with people who are not necessarily over-trained," Gallo says. "I played in a band with (artist) Jean-Michel Basquiat, called Gray -- a very marvelous experience for me. With Jean-Michel Basquiat, I learned to abandon my expectations, and the stories stuck in my head from the past. I had to really let them go and think on my own -- to be the person I am, not the person I learned to be by listening to other things."

RRIICCEE has no plans to make any recordings for sale. Gallo says the band is only interested in the music created in the room at the time of the performance. For those who come to hear it, keep in mind that the music you're hearing will always be unique.

"They should understand they're going to see a performance that's unrehearsed," Gallo says. "Expect there will be some ups and downs regarding the level of clarity. They should try to forget the more traditional music experiences they have."

(c) 2008 Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.