Tuning to the key of textbooks

The Ride Theory rides in to Kingston this Thursday at Clark.
The Ride Theory rides in to Kingston this Thursday at Clark.
Photo courtesy of theridetheory.com

Music Interview: The Ride Theory @ Clark Hall Pub, Feb. 9

Juggling coursework and a social life is more than enough for the average university student. Some even manage to take on jobs and/or romantic relationships. Then there’s Noah Fralick, ArtSci ’06, who hops the red-eye bus to Toronto in between term papers to make it to his band’s latest gig.

Fralick’s band, The Ride Theory, has been going strong since its Hamilton-based inception in 2002, despite the obstacles of geography and scheduling.

What began as a “rock ’n’ roll lifestyle” for drummer Fralick and guitarist Aron D’Alesio in 2002—the summer before Fralick’s first year at Queen’s—has morphed into a four-piece rock outfit with elements of classic rock, blues, and garage. Bassist John Smith and guitarist Kyle Kuchmey round out the band’s full-flavoured sound.

“It’s actually guys that I’ve grown up with in Hamilton,” Fralick explained in an interview last Friday with the Journal. “So I’ve never actually gone to school with any of them. But Aron and I grew up together and Kyle’s his cousin, so it’s just this thing that clicked. No school connection.”

Back in their hometown, “the Hammer,” The Ride Theory has developed a solid following.

“The other guys [in the band] go McMaster and Mohawk College in Hamilton. We’re all going to be finished in May, so that’s when things are going to get serious.”

For The Ride Theory, Hamilton seems to offer a certain something, and rather than grappling for a Toronto foothold, they’re reveling in their hometown roots. Much of their music embraces Hamilton’s gritty, blue-collar texture.

“The Hammer has definitely played a great role in our outlook on life, and definitely in our song craft,” Fralick said. “Hamilton’s got a great musical history, [with] punk bands like Teenage Head [and] The Killjoys. It’s got a really vibrant art scene, but it’s very industrial. It’s a very modern city in the sense that it’s got that kind of urban decline, and the downtown’s kind of dead. But at the same time, it’s this real kind of raw, grassroots, arts-collective kind of mentality. We’re happy to be part of that.”

Energetic delivery and hook-laden melodies keep their fan base hungry for more. And despite D’Alesio and Kuchmey’s primary role in songwriting, Fralick is quick to underline the equal footing of all of the band members in the creative process.

“We’re very democratic in the way we write something,” Fralick said. “If one of us doesn’t like one of the ideas, then we usually just scrap it. If it’s not sitting well, it’s not going to feel well to play. So we all have an equal voice.” The band found themselves in the recording studio over three days in mid-2005. Last summer’s album, In This City, has been picked up by a Toronto indie label for re-release in March of 2006. This will heighten the activity level of the band even more, with several dates and an appearance at the Canadian Music Week festival in early March.

“In between now and the end of March, I’m going to be going home more or less every weekend for a show,” Fralick said.

As previously mentioned, Fralick’s had to stretch himself thin to meet the demands of being a Queen’s student and a member of a fledgling band. More often than not, he’s found himself shuttling back and forth from Ghetto to gig, readings to rehearsals, post-midterms to pre-shows.

“I think, if anything, it’s been somewhat of a benefit because we’ve refined the ways that we write songs,” Fralick noted. “Whenever we’re all together in Hamilton, we really maximize the time we put into the band. So that’s been good, because we understand that we don’t have time to slack and we’re very serious when we are together.”

Despite any obstacles incurred, The Ride Theory’s had some pretty amazing experiences over the last few years. How many kids in their early twenties have shared the stage with the likes of The Arcade Fire, The Rheostatics, Joel Plaskett, Billy Talent, Tricky Woo and The Sadies?

“There’s been a few gigs that we’ve had to pass up because of exams and stuff like that, but we’ve still managed to do a whole shitload of stuff,” Fralick said. “Several tours, hundreds of shows, played with a lot of really big-name acts, so we’ve been really lucky. We don’t have many regrets, considering our circumstances.”

With their graduations on the horizon, what’s in store for The Ride Theory? Now, they can finally focus their efforts on their music and the future of the band.

“Over the last year or so, [D’Alesio and Kuchmey] have undertaken new forms of songwriting,” Fralick said. “It’s a more sort of holistic, more of a crafting than just a sort of ‘jamming and coming up with an idea.’ We found [our time constraints] really beneficial for making well-crafted songs, as opposed to just hook-based songs that just sound good as we play them.” Fralick smiles and shrugs his shoulders. “But we are looking forward to a more full-time relationship come May.”

The Ride Theory will be playing Clark Hall Pub on Thursday with The Midways. Check out theridetheory.com for audio clips from In This City.

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