When I first saw the name, The Memories, I immediately thought of the Dean Martin classic, “Memories Are Made Of This,” which if you aren’t familiar with the magic of Dino, may God have mercy on your soul. The opening stand-up bass lick into the classic crooner backup refrain and uke is a vintage sonic refreshment. Takes me to a place I’ve never been. (the 1950s)
This Los Angeles lo-fi jangle rock band however, has its own magic and uniqueness. The Memories is and has been comprised of a rotational who’s who of various talented musicians. Rikky “Free Weed” Gage is the nucleus and pulse of this morphing incarnation that also features Izak Arida, Chris “Unkle Funkle” Uehlein, Jimmy “Jerry Rogers” Leslie, and songwriter Colleen Green. One can’t help but wonder why poor Izak Arida is exempt from a nickname. Through the years, the band has taken in various friends to help collaborate, which results in a Wu-Tang Clan-type collective. Gage and Leslie are also members of the Portland-bred band White Fang.
Leave it to Gage and company to release their latest single, “In My Heart, I Am Sailing,” on 4/20, which is what caught our ear initially. The song delivers a delightful folk jangle-pop sensation with joyous, optimistic harmonies, and brings about intrigue of just what other pleasant numbers might also be on their approaching album, Pickles and Pies. One other such song to be featured on the album is an Ace of Base cover of “The Sign” sung by Green, which has a simply killer David Lynch-ian underwater vibe going on.
Gage was kind enough to cut out some time in his daily routine to answer some questions we volleyed his way about the band, the album, his pickle and pie preference (false but realizing we should’ve asked), and more.
I dig that y’all can’t really be pigeon-holed one way or another and have many incarnations. So how long has this current lineup been going at it?
Well there is no current line up; it’s always fluid with the constant core being myself, Izak, and Jimmy on drums, who is actually not on the album at all because he wasn’t able to make the trip to NYC when we originally recorded it, lol.
When might you plan on releasing your new album, Pickles & Pies?
From my understanding, Pickles & Pies is out May 29th but not sure how long the vinyl will take; pre-orders are live though!
How did the album title come to be?
It’s the name of the 24-hour bodega across the street from the studio in Rockaway Park / Rockaway Beach, Queens, NYC. It’s also a straight up homage to Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique.
What was the songwriting process like for the album?
90% of it was written in the studio over the course of the two weeks we were in Rockaway working on it! The other stuff we brought into the studio were just a few verses and a few guitar parts mainly. Everything was pretty much a product of our studio style. Everyone in the team is a songwriter, so there was no shortage of ideas going around. It [“In My Heart, I Am Sailing”] is the third single, following “The Sign” and “Second Try.” The fourth and final single, “Purple” (Feat. PYNKIE)” is out May 13th.
What’s the idea and inspiration behind your tune “In My Heart, I Am Sailing”?
That’s the one song I did kind of have a skeleton of when I flew out of LA. It’s a pretty straightforward folky pop song using sailing & sailors as a metaphor for sailing the seas of love before finally coming home to anchor. It was also kind of the catalyst for the vaguely nautical / boardwalk theme of the album. Recording on the other side of the block from the actual beach boardwalk was a big inspiration behind that motif as well.
How did y’all get hooked up with Burger Records?
I run a cassette label called Gnar Tapes, established January 2008, just a few months after Burger was established. We became friends through the tape world mainly. They had been getting word about us from bands they were friends with and eventually they hit us up after Unkle Funkle released his Easter Christian parody song. Sean at Burger is a massive Weird Al Yankovic fan, like us, so the satirical nature of the song appealed to him immediately. Then, The Memories first album came out on Gnar Tapes and later on vinyl through Underwater Peoples and we started putting out Memories stuff together. To be clear though, we have always had a true friendship relationship based off of a shared love of music and movies, with lots of weed and sleepovers at the Burger store cataloged in the banks of our memories. Friends first.
What are you doing to maintain momentum for your releases during the shit storm we’re currently in maybe other than livestreaming?
I don’t really give a shit hahaha. I have a pretty active personal Instagram that is where I keep my fans engaged. Through that there are fans of The Memories plus my other band, White Fang. But I mainly just do lifestyle shit on there, plus selling art and records.
What does the perfect show entail for The Memories? (assuming they will exist again)
Good rider with some tequila or Tito’s vodka; a nice place to smoke weed and have people backstage. A nice dinner, lots of merch sales, etc.
How do you define musical success?
Success is like a diamond and the more cuts and surfaces there are the more ways you can look at it. If people like the music that’s a start. There’s levels to it. I have friends who are in it for the money and the big tours and owning houses, etc. and I have friends that still have 8 roommates and spend their days at the lake when it’s hot and making little tapes in their room when it’s not. Happiness is success and anything other than that is human melodrama distracting you from your infinite truth. I like Alan Watts and Baba Ram Dass just as much as I love Dr. Dre and Weird Al.
What do you hope the world, or at least our country, will take away from this pandemic?
I’m just looking forward to all the bands having to start over playing shows all at the same time. It’s going to be fun and funny. Other than that I just hope it’s not like an acid trip where the message gets lost due to the duration length. Hopefully there’s not a civil war when they try to pass the vaccine out, lol.