“We don't try and chase everybody around to be everybody's best friends,” says Rat City Riot singer Noah Bricker. Though the San Diego band maintains a low local profile, Rat City Riot landed national distribution for their Dirty Rotten Games CD, and they toured Europe.
“We pay for our flights over there,” says Bricker about his band's first European tour. “Once we get there, they drive us around and handle our food...sometimes we get $300 for a show. Once we got as little as $10. We don't have a strong booking agent. Sometimes we don't have a guarantee.”
Bricker says his street rock band relies on merchandise and CD sales when it tours. He says that while they were on a six-month tour late in 2006, they almost ran out of CDs to sell.
“Curtis [Casella] left us in the lurch,” says Bricker about the owner of Taang! Records, the local label that released Dirty Rotten Games. “Our last tour was six months long. They gave us a box of 120 CDs.”
Bricker sold those CDs for $10 each. When they were gone, he claims he called Taang! and asked for more to sell.
“In Salt Lake City, we were out of money and the next date was in Seattle. We almost came back. When Curtis finally called us, I told him, 'You're fucking us over.' He said he didn't think it was necessary for us to have CDs on the road. He finally sent us, like, a box of 30. But by the time we got them, the tour was over.”
Casella says that all 185 titles from his Taang! catalog (including CDs by the Lemonheads, Jerry's Kids, Battalion of Saints, Stiff Little Fingers, and Buck-O-Nine) are now distributed by Universal Music.
“Universal doesn't want the bands to sell [CDs] on the road,” says Casella. He admits he balked at sending Rat City Riot the CDs they requested. “They took a bunch of CDs and never paid us. It is their job to play shows and our job to sell records.”
Bricker says that although his band paid for the recording of Dirty Rotten Games, Taang! owns the rights to the master and can produce copies if it wants. Atlanta-based indie label Street Anthem has released Open Road, Rat City Riot's six-song disc.
Before playing New York's CBGB on March 26, 2006, “Rat City Riot roadie Brock had filled up a Gatorade bottle full of piss," says singer Noah Bricker. “You know how sometimes you have to piss in the van...so he throws it into a trash can right in front of CBGB, and as we're walking in, we see this junkie pick up the Gatorade bottle from the trash. Before we could do anything, he unscrewed the cap...he had his back to us but, when he dropped the bottle and staggered off, half the piss was missing.”
Other tour highlights (noted on ratcityriot.com): Chris Barclift says “There was a skinhead riot in Montreal.”
Josh Lopez says “We watched a 12-year-old girl get wasted in a bar in Toronto.”
Rat City Riot released a new album in September 2008, with a followup in early 2011 on Riot Gear Records, Better Than Nothing.
As of 2011, the band included singer Noah Bricker, lead guitarist Kevin Grossman (formerly of Bonecrusher and Straight Faced), rhythm guitarist Andy Mensing (formerly of the Boardlords), bassist Kevin Abrams, and drummer Gavin Glenn.
In summer 2012, their CD/vinyl/digital full-length Highway Hymns was released overseas on Germany’s I Hate People Records label, in the U.S. on Riot Gear Records, and by Knock Out Records in Europe. It includes a cover of Tina Turner’s “One of the Living” (from the Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome soundtrack) and an acoustic version of an older Rat City Riot tune, “Open Road.”
Around the same time, the band opened several shows for Rancid and embarked on a July European tour that included several high profile festivals. The 2012 lineup: Noah Bricker, Andy Mensing, Kevin Grossman, Mike Hertel, and Chris Bieck.
Andy Mensing also performs growling acoustic rock, country, punk, blues as Andy Smokeboss. Mike Hertel quit the group to co-found the Dodges in late 2016, alongside Alex Snyder. After signing to local La Escalera, they released a debut full-length, Roll With.