Twitch the Ripper, a synthpop duo based out of New Haven, Connecticut, opened the Tryptich Tour’s Pittsburgh stop with a solid, moody set that with overt notes of earlier Depeche Mode. During the show I ran into their programming/synth guy Lonn Bologna and, well, you know how this goes. After a chunk of written interview on his musical influences in a noisy hallway we commandeered one of the Rex’s back rooms so I could learn what these guys are about.
I apologize, I feel terrible because I’m making this up as I go—
Lonn: Yeah, but that’s the best way to do it: make it up as you go along and you end up somewhere—at least you don’t end up nowhere.
So as we were: You were talking about hip-hop and music from the late 80’s, early 90’s?
Lonn: I feel like things that came from the 80’s and 90’s were more raw, less processed. That’s why it’s hard for me to pick modern influences because I don’t really have too many. But—on the record, now that it’s recording I’ll say it—everything from Siouxsie and the Banshees to Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode, Massive Attack . . . But me personally, I’m influenced by Wu Tang Clan, stuff like that—because it’s something raw that people built themselves from the streets, from the ground up, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We have no label, we have no backing, it’s just us out here. We self-released our CD Bodiless in February and getting to this point now, having done our second tour to support it, was a big personal victory for us. We wanted to prove we could do it with no label and from the ground up ourselves. That’s what I always live by. Some people are just independent artists, they do what they want to do regardless of if anyone wants to put them up or not. We find a way to get in there somehow . . . This is our third time playing Pittsburgh this year, so I guess we found a way to get back here. It’s really good—Jim’s been really awesome, really helpful too . . . All right, I’m babbling.
That’s okay—you should’ve seen Jim’s interview. It went for forty-five minutes.
Lonn: Forty-five minutes? (laughs) You know, I could listen to him for a while too. That’s what I told him, I like playing shows for him because he has such a positive energy, a positive vibe, he’s not about any kind of anything—no ego, no pretension, nothing. He’s just super-cool about everything. That’s what we try to be—really laid back, appreciative. He seems to appreciate everything, obviously, after what he’s been through.
You feel that there’s . . . I don’t want to use the word, but more of a purity to the people who are producing on their own?
Lonn: Yeah, definitely. I think when you have a label behind you it’s a lot easier, but . . . It’s kind of a cliché thing, but the people who would do it with no label will be the people who always do it, whether they make a dollar for it or lose a thousand. That’s what you have to do for your life. That’s kind of where I’m coming from. We have a small project studio in Connecticut, where we’re from, and I pretty much spend my nights there. I’m always trying to get better, to find a way to connect with people. I think when you’re independent you’re doing it for the right reasons. It’s not somebody handing you a contract. That’s why it’s cool that every band we tour with is a self-made band. Especially with Imperative and God Module and everything—they’re just people that love music, and they do what they do, and they’ve been lucky enough to take it this far.
So of the places you’ve gone . . . Where have you been that’s been your favorite, or fun?
Lonn: I’m gonna say Chicago because we had two really awesome shows there this year. One was actually three days ago, we played with Imperative and a couple other bands . . . That was super-awesome. Chicago seems like a good music town, the food is amazing, just . . . Everything about it. It’s like another New York! Coming from Connecticut we play New York all the time, but New York is hard because there’s eighteen shows in a night, every band plays there all the time and every tour plays there, so people are so spoiled it’s hard to get them to give a shit about your little corner of music, your little niche. People are jaded because everybody goes through there—especially Brooklyn, because they have their own kind of exclusive scene. We tried really hard to get into that, somewhat successfully.
But yeah, I’d say Chicago is really cool, and Los Angeles just because people are about arts out there. San Francisco too—we’ve had a couple really good shows there in the past year. It seems like anywhere that’s about their arts and culture . . . Not to say anything about Connecticut, but it’s a little bit stifled as far as culture sometimes just because it’s not really as progressive as everywhere else that we’ve been. But I do love it.
And for the final and most important question . . . In the event of the zombie apocalypse, what are your plans?
Lonn: My plans? Well, I don’t know . . . I live mostly on a starvation diet, so I’ll be pretty good as far as survival technique. Zombie apocalypse . . . I’m at a loss. (To Trevor from Imperative Reaction) If there’s a zombie apocalypse, what are you gonna do, man?
Trevor: Forget condoms!
Lonn: I’m gonna get my shotgun and just fuckin’ get ready to hole up. I’ll go out like Return of the Living Dead, where you just hole up in the basement and once they come in and overtake you that’s it. I’m not gonna flee, like Dawn of the Dead style—you end up just getting killed anyway. (laughs) You’re fucked. That’s my response.
I picked up a copy of Twitch the Ripper’s CD Bodiless, and while a few of the tracks seem to strain vocalist Jon Dobyns’s vocal range—warping his sound from breathy to groany—I’d still recommend people who like synthpop or Depeche Mode give it a listen.
More photos from the Tryptich tour: