April 18, 2006
One project of hundreds: Ris Paul Ric’s Purple Blaze
Before Washington DC’s own Q and Not U disbanded this year, singer/guitarist Chris Richards wrote an entire acoustic album in his bedroom. When the trio parted ways, Richards put the album to disc and adopted the moniker Ris Paul Ric, a play on his full name: Ch[Ris] Paul [Ric]hards.
“Run Up Wild on Me” is the highlight of Purple Blaze. Richards’ falsetto is satisfying, firmly propped by bass slides and pops speed strummed suspended riffs, sung with tart hints of imperfection.
The album has three ambient tracks, two of which are almost reprises of the title track and “Daft Young Cannibals,” the somnambulant conclusion to Purple Blaze. Withonly one song out of twelve over four minutes, the entire album is fairly accessible, even to those with the greatest attention deficit.
Does it sounds like QANU? Not quite, its soft and compelling, pulling the punch of his previous project, but no less interesting. Many reviewers are calling it “psyche folk,” yet another awful label that does not quite fit.
Richards took a few to chat about Purple Blaze and the solo tour.
Chris, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. I know the album
was not completely solo, but the tour is. Tell me a bit about touring solo. Any highlights, disappointments, surprises?
It was the most challenging tour of my life - that's for sure. I wanted to isolate myself (literally and musically) to test my energy and desire to play music. The tour was exhausting, but I still felt like I wasn't finished when I got back to DC. So in that sense, it was a real success. But yeah, it's really hard from playing sold-out shows with your old rock band to playing for three disinterested dudes at a bar in the Midwest. But those rough nights made the good shows all the sweeter.
How was playing the Black Cat? Did it feel like homecoming?
Actually, no. I felt horrible that night - like I couldn't spark anything with the audience. I wondered about halfway through the set, "Where are all my friends?" and then it kind of dawned on me how many of my friends had left for other cities in the recent years. DC is a really a conduit city for a lot of people, so looks like I need to make some new friends!
Have you played any colleges on tour?
Nope, just college towns. Charlottesville, VA was the first stop on the trip and it was one of my favorite shows of the trip. Intimated and interested.
Purple Blaze is definitely a musical gear shift from Q And Not U, but its not an unrealistic one. If you were to introduce the album to someone who never heard your music, how would you get the idea across?
I think music should always speak for itself. I know a lot of people want to perceive this through the lens of my old group, but in the end, the songs are the songs. They have to stand up on their own two.
Were all the songs on Purple Blaze meant for a side project?
Yes, but I think the words "side project" always sound diminutive. It was just another project. I would have 100 projects going if I had enough hours in the day.
Is Ris Paul Ric a “permanent” project for you?
Permanent, like until I'm 80 years old? I don't know about that! But I really enjoy playing music alone and collaborating with others. I think it would be really great to keep it going, if only to ventilate my own creative furnace from time to time.
What are your plans for the future? Is there anything concrete?
Right now I'm playing more Ris shows over the cold months and starting a new band when I'm at home. But the future is always wide open.