Having formed in their hometown of Madison, Wisconsin in 1995, indie trio Rainer Maria now call Brooklyn, NY home. When they are lucky enough to spend some days at home, that is. The threesome have spent the better part of the last year on tour after tour taking their sweet sounds all across the country first on a headlining tour of small clubs, and now opening for up and comers The Format. The band invited me backstage before their Orlando show for a chat.
What’s your earliest musical memory?
Caithlin De Marrais: My Dad used to take out his acoustic guitar and play around the table when I was really little. He used to sing me a song about a fox that went out on a chilly night. There was a little bit of mystery in that song that made me want to hear it over and over again.
William Kuehn: When I was 5 I made my mom drive me to the mall so I could buy the Gary Numan 7-inch… I never really thought to play an instrument of my own until toward the end of high school when I started seeing smaller bands in the d.i.y. scene play house shows and stuff. I thought, “hey these are people just like me, onstage and they’re doing it.”
Give me your all-time Top 5 albums.
Caitlin: Spaceman 3 Recurring — the UK import cause I like the way the tracks are numbered on that one.
William: The Velvet Underground and Nico had a profound effect on me when I was a freshman in high school. I mean, maybe it was too early to discover it, because it scared the crap out of me! But after I revisited it a couple months later, I was like “this is amazing!”
Caitlin: Definitely some kind of folk album, like John Denver. Which I know may be considered very cheesy right now! [laughs]
William: Now Here’s Johnny Cash. Again I discovered it in high school, I picked it up at a garage sale… here’s this guy in all black and he had this attitude and I was like “well that looks kind of cool.”
Kyle Fischer: How ’bout Robert Pete Williams Louisiana Blues. A record that Bill sold to me for $3 in Madison, Wisconsin. He probably plays the furthest thing from the blues that is still definitely the blues. His whole approach… like strange chord progressions, and he seems to make everything up as he goes along, it’s really beautiful. He’s a great singer as well.
You guys have been touring quite a lot. Do you find it hard to adjust to “normal” life when you get back home?
Caitlin: Only for like a day.
William: There’s a short window of decompression time, for me anyway. I just sit in my apartment for a couple days — I don’t leave. The most I’ll do is walk to the grocery store on the corner to buy some snacks, but that’s it.
Caitlin: That’s what we all do! Don’t take me out!
William: Just get kind of readjusted to your environment. You have to force youself to go out, because the last thing you want to do after a long tour is go out/hang out at night and be social cause that’s all you did for six weeks! After a couple days, you catch up on sleep — which is always a great thing for me. The fact that you can sleep in the same bed for more than two days at a time.
Do any of you still have day jobs, or are you able to solely survive on your music?
Kyle: No, not for about 6 years or so. In NY you can never wear too many hats cause if something comes up, like”‘we’ll give you $200 to stand over there for an hour!”
That must have been a great feeling when you realized you didn’t have to work typical day jobs.
William: It was awesome, but it also put pressure on us, as musicians, to keep the music pure. Now you’re depending on your art form to be your source of income as well, so you have to toe that line and make sure you’re not sacrificing creativity for the sake of cash. But it’s totally worth it — being your own boss.
Caitlin: I’m permanently broke, so… I should be working another job, really.
Next week you’re doing Lollapalooza, right?
Excited? How did that happen, were you trying to get on that bill or did it just fall in your lap?
William: The idea came about — I think I called our label and said “hey, we’re thinking we’d like to do Lollapalooza this year.” They’re like “Yeah,” and our label is also a management company — they manage the Red Hot Chili Peppers who are headlining one of the nights — and they had been in touch with the Lollapalooza people already. They were like,”Hey what do you think about Rainer Maria playing?” and they were like, “yeah, sure.”
Will that be the biggest crowd you will have played for?
William: I think so. We played a festival out on Coney Island… that was about 10,000 and this’ll probably be even bigger.
Did you ever attend the festival as a fan?
Caitlin: Lollapalooza? Yeah, I was at the first one and I know that these guys went to a few.
Kyle: I didn’t go… I just didn’t make it to any.
So what’s on your agenda for after the tour?
Kyle: East coast college shows, some little short tours. Europe, hopefully. Songwriting, for sure.
Raner Maria: www.rainermaria.com