Multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Scott Von Ryper and Aimee Nash, who make up the Black Ryder, could easily fit on a concert bill with My Bloody Valentine, Spacemen 3, and Mazzy Star. Their debut record, Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride -- a bewitching and quixotic soundscape filled with swirling, fuzzed-out guitars and guest appearances by members of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Brian Jonestown Massacre -- was voted one of 2009's best albums by Rolling Stone Australia. It gained further attention from the award-winning video for the dark country track "Sweet Come Down," directed by Michael Spiccia.
With Buy The Ticket's recent release in the U.S. (Mexican Summer) and Japan (Vinyl Junkie), the Black Ryder has already received radio airplay on L.A.'s KCRW, and widespread exposure when the song "All That We See" found its way onto the hit TV show "House." A quick glance at the band's Facebook page reveals how it's developing a following from reputedly transfixing live shows.
Over the phone on a recent Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles, Nash sips a glass of wine and sounds relaxed speaking about her hometown. "In Sydney, I started to feel stuck in a rut," she says. "Sydney's essentially sunny, but my last memories are of it being grey and raining with lots of people in business suits. We felt like we'd done our dash in Australia. We'd toured with B.R.M.C., The Raveonettes, The Charlatans, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and The Cult -- and, once you do the five major cities in Australia, you're kind of done."
Having toured the United States when Von Ryper and Nash were members of Australian band The Morning After Girls, the move to Los Angeles felt natural. "We'd spent quite a bit of time here, so it felt more familiar and easier to settle in here and we have friends here. LA was always somewhere, out of all the places I'd been, that I desired to move to."
It was San Francisco-via-L.A.'s Black Rebel Motorcycle Club that spurred Von Ryper and Nash to finish their debut record. "Scott and I started writing and recording and didn't think about becoming a live band," says Nash. "I was over in L.A. visiting friends, and I caught up with the Black Rebel guys. They were going to tour Australia and I said, 'Give us support.' And, they did. So, I went back to Australia and said, 'Scott, we better get busy writing some songs and recording.' At that point, we only had three songs, so I was full of bravado, saying, 'We can do this,' but, we did."
Filled with loneliness, yearning, tenderness, love and despair, Buy the Ticket often sounds like an intimate conversation between emotionally disconnected lovers trying desperately to find their way to each other -- while walking down train tracks on a foggy night. Think that's a stretch?
"Scott and I are actually divorced," says Nash. "We were together for 12 years and for 8 of those we were married. We have such a devotion to the music and it's hard to keep your sanity working on an album together like that.
Currently rehearsing for the San Francisco show, where the band's continuously rotating live line-up will include Los Angeles bassist Malia James (who directed the B.R.M.C. video "Beat The Devil's Tattoo") and Gliss' Martin Klingman, the duo hopes to continue to grow the fan base it widened during a recent tour with the Cult.
"I love The Cult," says Nash. "When I was sixteen, I screamed myself hoarse at their show, I love them so much."
Though the Black Ryder's commitment to their music is serious, having moved half way around the world to make a go of it, Nash's consistent sense of humor is light and engaging. Even over the phone, she has an easy charisma. Laughing, she recounts a story from the recent tour when The Black Ryder were onstage. "There was a quiet moment between songs and a guy screamed out loud, 'You suck! [The Cult's] Ian Astbury was watching the show at the monitor desk. He saw the guy and went up to him and said, 'What are you doing?' The guy said, 'I think they (The Black Ryder) suck." Ian said, 'Who are you here to see?' and the guy said, 'I am here to see Ian Astbury' and Ian said, 'You are looking at him, motherfucker.'"
Named after "The Black Rider," a musical fable collaboration between Tom Waits and William S. Burroughs in which the main character makes a deal with the devil (which, of course, results in disastrous consequences), The Black Ryder plan to avoid making the mistake of their namesake. "We haven't made deals with any devils...just yet," jokes Nash.