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Ricky resets the sound to Pure Fun

“We were just kind of hanging around smoking a lot of weed and eating mushrooms”

Ricky Schmidt: learning to love mid-tempo as mid-life approaches.
Ricky Schmidt: learning to love mid-tempo as mid-life approaches.

In 2013, local pop-punks Western Settings set sail on what would become a very active five-year run. “We had one EP out and were like, all right, we’re gonna go tour now, so we just started touring and kind of never really stopped,” bassist/singer Ricky Schmidt explains. “We did a lot of cool stuff and got to go to a lot of cool places. Some of it worked a little bit. At one point, it felt like we had a little momentum, but eventually we ended up grinding ourselves into the ground and burning out. That was just kind of how we were: ‘We have to stay on the road. We have to keep touring.’ It kind of ended up killing us in the end.”

Their journeys included tours in Europe, appearances at The Fest in Gainesville, Florida, and opening for bands such as Face to Face and the Swingin’ Utters. It was a whirlwind that calmed when Schmidt’s musical focus started to shift. “I think a lot of it was just that I was getting a little older. Western Settings was still yelling, angsty, and young. I started to get into the slower, mid-tempo stuff. I wanted to sing a little bit more, because I was tired of yelling all the time. With Western Settings, my voice would go out every show.” Since all the Western Settings songs started with Schmidt (“I would write the songs, show them the chords, and they would do their thing”), the shift led to tensions in the band. “It was a nightmare. We were all arguing a lot about it and not getting along. If you listen to the last Western Settings record, it kind of has a shift toward the direction of what I’m doing now.”

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What he’s doing now started back in 2019, when he began writing songs for his first solo album. He ditched his last name and released Palm Trees as Ricky in November 2020: a blast of psychedelic, fuzzed-out guitars and power pop. A key ingredient in the album’s mix were the flourishes of percussion and little noises here and there that gave it a sort of island vibe. This was courtesy of Shane Hendry, who played drums and percussion on the album and brought his love of exotic music to the project as well. “It’s like the shit you hear at tiki bars. I think it was created when the sailors were coming back from the Pacific. They tried to create tiki bars and that whole culture. It’s tropical noises and instruments. Birds and stuff in the background.”

The new Ricky album, Pure Fun, luxuriates even more in the spacey, psychedelic exotica that was sprinkled all over Palm Trees. “It kind of feels a little bit like a drug album, which makes sense, because a lot of those songs were written in 2022. We were just kind of hanging around smoking a lot of weed and eating mushrooms and going camping. I think maybe some of that came into it.” Perhaps to hammer home this point, the video for “Africa” centers on Schmidt skateboarding down the Mission Beach boardwalk while smoking a joint. (Also of note: an actual $100 bill was not burned in the video, and that the boardwalk footage was shot on an iPhone duct-taped to the back of a bicycle Schmidt was trailing behind.)

Schmidt is anticipating taking his solo band on the road at the end of January. His other band, Hey, Chels is writing songs for a new full-length of their own. They will likely be woodshedding until the second half of 2023, when Schmidt guesses they will have the album ready and will start playing out again. He already has a couple of songs in the works for his next solo album, and even a potential title.

“Remember when that hurricane came up our coast not too long ago and everybody thought we were gonna get a big storm? I was so excited because I love storms and I knew we weren’t gonna get super-messed up. Then it literally didn’t hit us at all. I texted my friend: ‘More like Hurricane Lame.’ Then I was like, ‘That’s gonna be my next record.’”

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Ricky Schmidt: learning to love mid-tempo as mid-life approaches.
Ricky Schmidt: learning to love mid-tempo as mid-life approaches.

In 2013, local pop-punks Western Settings set sail on what would become a very active five-year run. “We had one EP out and were like, all right, we’re gonna go tour now, so we just started touring and kind of never really stopped,” bassist/singer Ricky Schmidt explains. “We did a lot of cool stuff and got to go to a lot of cool places. Some of it worked a little bit. At one point, it felt like we had a little momentum, but eventually we ended up grinding ourselves into the ground and burning out. That was just kind of how we were: ‘We have to stay on the road. We have to keep touring.’ It kind of ended up killing us in the end.”

Their journeys included tours in Europe, appearances at The Fest in Gainesville, Florida, and opening for bands such as Face to Face and the Swingin’ Utters. It was a whirlwind that calmed when Schmidt’s musical focus started to shift. “I think a lot of it was just that I was getting a little older. Western Settings was still yelling, angsty, and young. I started to get into the slower, mid-tempo stuff. I wanted to sing a little bit more, because I was tired of yelling all the time. With Western Settings, my voice would go out every show.” Since all the Western Settings songs started with Schmidt (“I would write the songs, show them the chords, and they would do their thing”), the shift led to tensions in the band. “It was a nightmare. We were all arguing a lot about it and not getting along. If you listen to the last Western Settings record, it kind of has a shift toward the direction of what I’m doing now.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

What he’s doing now started back in 2019, when he began writing songs for his first solo album. He ditched his last name and released Palm Trees as Ricky in November 2020: a blast of psychedelic, fuzzed-out guitars and power pop. A key ingredient in the album’s mix were the flourishes of percussion and little noises here and there that gave it a sort of island vibe. This was courtesy of Shane Hendry, who played drums and percussion on the album and brought his love of exotic music to the project as well. “It’s like the shit you hear at tiki bars. I think it was created when the sailors were coming back from the Pacific. They tried to create tiki bars and that whole culture. It’s tropical noises and instruments. Birds and stuff in the background.”

The new Ricky album, Pure Fun, luxuriates even more in the spacey, psychedelic exotica that was sprinkled all over Palm Trees. “It kind of feels a little bit like a drug album, which makes sense, because a lot of those songs were written in 2022. We were just kind of hanging around smoking a lot of weed and eating mushrooms and going camping. I think maybe some of that came into it.” Perhaps to hammer home this point, the video for “Africa” centers on Schmidt skateboarding down the Mission Beach boardwalk while smoking a joint. (Also of note: an actual $100 bill was not burned in the video, and that the boardwalk footage was shot on an iPhone duct-taped to the back of a bicycle Schmidt was trailing behind.)

Schmidt is anticipating taking his solo band on the road at the end of January. His other band, Hey, Chels is writing songs for a new full-length of their own. They will likely be woodshedding until the second half of 2023, when Schmidt guesses they will have the album ready and will start playing out again. He already has a couple of songs in the works for his next solo album, and even a potential title.

“Remember when that hurricane came up our coast not too long ago and everybody thought we were gonna get a big storm? I was so excited because I love storms and I knew we weren’t gonna get super-messed up. Then it literally didn’t hit us at all. I texted my friend: ‘More like Hurricane Lame.’ Then I was like, ‘That’s gonna be my next record.’”

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